Part 3.1 is the beginning of Chapter 3.
A Childhood at Versailles consists of the first 5 chapters of the memoirs of Mme de Boigne (1781-1866), née Adèle d’Osmond, who was a French salon hostess and writer. She was born in the Château de Versailles and lived at the court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette until her family fled to England during the Revolution. Later in her long life, she married a rich soldier of fortune 30 years her senior, hosted a brilliant salon in Paris, and became an intimate of the last French queen, Marie-Amélie, consort of King Louis Philippe (r. 1830-1848). Childless herself, Mme de Boigne addressed her memoirs to her grandnephew. The memoirs were not published until 1907, under the title Récits d’une tante, or An Aunt’s Tales. They’ve never been published in English, as far as I know, so I’ve decided to translate the first 5 chapters, the ones that take place mainly at Versailles, and post them here on this blog for interested readers to enjoy for free.
The chapters are quite lengthy, so I’ve broken each one into several parts. In Part 3.1, the author relates how, as the only non-royal child at Court, she was spoiled by members of the royal family, including the King and Queen.
A Childhood at Versailles, Chapter 3, Part 1 (3.1)
I was literally raised on the knees of the royal family. The King and Queen above all heaped kindness on me. At a time when, as I have already said, children were put out to nurse, then to be weaned, and then sent to a convent, and when, dressed as little ladies and little gentlemen, they only appeared, sulky and grumpy, to be put on display, I, with my cambric frock and a profusion of blonde hair that adorned a pretty little figure, was extremely striking. My father amused himself developing my intelligence, and I was quite sincerely found to be a little prodigy. I had learned to read with such great facility that at three years old I read and declaimed Racine’s tragedies for my own pleasure and even, it was said, for that of others.
It pleased my father to take me to the theatre at Versailles. I was taken away after the first play so as not to keep me up, and I remember that sometimes the King would call me into his box to have me recount the play I had just seen. I added my own reflections, which were usually a great success. To tell the truth, one day I said to him in the midst of my literary remarks that I felt a great desire to ask a favour of him; encouraged by his indulgence, I confessed that, since my ears were going to be pierced the next day, I coveted two of the smallest pendants of the chandeliers in order to have some earrings made.