No convent, don’t speak to me of a convent! I want nothing to do with a convent

 

The Duc de Saint-Simon’s report of the death of Philippe, Duc d’Orleans in his Memoires.  Morbidly amusing in its own way, but more noteworthy because it feels the type of scene that influenced Proust – several of his characters, especially in the Guermantes family, react to deaths or the news of deaths as no more than personal inconveniences designed to keep them from attending parties etc.

At the departure of the king the crowd melted away from Saint-Cloud bit by bit and Monsieur [the Duc d’Orleans, the king’s brother] lay dying on a day-bed in his study….

Mdame [his wife], however, was in her apartment.  She had never had either great affection or great esteem for her husband, but she felt fully her loss and her fall, and she was shouting spiritedly in her grief: “No convent, don’t speak to me of a convent! I want nothing to do with a convent.”  The good princess had not lost her senses; she knew that, according to her marriage contract, she had to choose on becoming a widow – either a convent or residence at the Chateau de Montargis.

Au départ du roi la foule s’écoula de Saint-Cloud peu à peu, en sorte que Monsieur mourant, jeté sur un lit de repos dans son cabinet

Madame était cependant dans son cabinet qui n’avait jamais eu ni grande affection ni grande estime pour Monsieur, mais qui sentait sa perte et sa chute, et qui s’écriait dans sa douleur de toute sa force: « Point de couvent! qu’on ne me parle point de couvent! je ne veux point de couvent. » La bonne princesse n’avait pas perdu le jugement; elle savait que, par son contrat de mariage, elle devait opter, devenant veuve, un couvent, ou l’habitation du château de Montargis.

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