Friday, January 2, 2009

Vexations from Versailles...

"As the summer turned into autumn in that eventful year of 1743, we laboured ceaselessly on forging l'armee de l'Oise, seeking through our efforts to sharpen it into a finely-honed foil with which to lunge at the King's enemies.

To that end, I was ever involved in seemingly endless cycles of correspondence with Versailles concerning the outfitting, victualling, and financing of the army, and furthermore found myself deep in a constant inundation of letters of introduction and and recommendations. We were subject to a veritable tide of candidates, great and humble, all hoping to be selected for posts of honour and responsibility as general and regimental officers.

I was determined to officer my corps with men that had shown aptitude & talent in the Profession of Mars, and who were well-versed in the social graces and of good family. In short, such gentlemen who would bring us honour and help to eradicate the shame that was Dettingen.

But we live in a world in which power, politics, and influence are unbounded. While I was on many occasion able to secure the services of worthy and dedicated individuals that would do us credit on the field, in other circumstances I was not always as fortunate. Oft was I compelled to walk a fine line and to broker agreements or compromises. And at times, composing myself with the resignation necessary in one who frequents the gaming table, I had just to accept the inevitable hand that fate (in the person of His Majesty) had dealt me.

Such a one was
M. Le Chevalier Raymond Boniface de St. Estampie-Galliard.

One morning as I was in the company of my comrade-in-arms, M. de Debrouillier, and with whom I was sharing a half-bottle of claret and quiche as a quick breakfast before making our customary inspections, we were disturbed from our deliberations by the arrival of a
post-chaise bearing a hefty packet of correspondence from Versailles.

Steadily going through the voluminous pile of envelopes contained within- being for the most part a collection of requests for receipts, notices of accounts payable, & provisioning letters-of-credit along with other such sundry matters of administration- I was dismayed to discover a missive closed with the heavy and ornate seal which marked the sender as being the esteemed- and most influential- Minister of War,
M. Marc-Pierre de Voyer de Paulmy, Comte d'Argenson.

I opened and read the letter with some apprehension. The essential contents of which, thereof, the Good Count- after proffering the best of wishes for my welfare and for my continued robust health- was pleased to inform me that His Majesty had tendered the "suggestion" that I take on the services of the said knight,
M. Le Chevalier Raymond Boniface de St. Estampie-Galliard. Who, I was assured, would render me honourable and energetic service if given the opportunity to command a brigade of horse.

Now such a recommendation carried with it the weight of Mighty Jove, and, having already used up considerable credit with the authorities in Versailles in my efforts to obtain the services of my new Quartermaster-General, M.
le chevalier Gouvrement de la Taille, I quickly calculated with sinking hope that this would be one appointment for which I would have to graciously submit to the benevolence and will of His Majesty.

Well able to ascertain my sudden and considerable feelings of vexation, M. de Debrouiller at once poured me another glass of claret, and inquired solicitously of the source of my evident and wholly unexpected chagrin."



Bluebear Jeff said...

Well, what?

Is this one of those infernal "cliffhangers"? Please tell us more.

-- Jeff

Robert said...

All shall be revealed, Jeff! : )