The Count of Saint-Germain.

At the time, the rumours about the Count of Saint-Germain’s age did not necessarily give him a good reputation.  But as he accomplished all his visible religious duties, was very charitable and had the purest of life-styles, Marshal de Belle-Isle does not hesitate to present him to the King.  There then occur the sad events which lead to the death of Madame de Chateauroux at the age of twenty-seven.  The Count arrives at her bedside as fast as he can.  However, upon arriving in the lady’s apartments, he tells the King that he can do nothing.  The Bien-Aime wants to know why.  The Count replies that it is too late.

Questioned later on the reasons for his attitude, in an affair where the empirics with pointed hats would have blown all the smoke of their false science, Saint-Germain replies:

“If I had cured the Duchess, I would have become responsible for all of the violent deaths which could have arrived after that…  Each family would have ordered me to perform a miracle and woe betide me if I had failed in the enterprise!  That is how men are, quite egoistic… “

A very pertinent answer at an epoch where the horrors of La Brinvilliers and the Affair of the Poisons were still in everyone’s memory.  But the astonishing thing is that the monarch, far from blaming him for this admission of helplessness, does not want to do without him from then on.  How do we explain this?  Of course, the Count knows the smallest secrets of the European Gotha, and at first, it is above all the tales of the secret failings of some of the greats which amuse the King, and their genealogical mishaps, which the Count’s prodigious memory instantaneously restitutes.  Madame de Pompadour, who has quickly replaced the unfortunate Duchess in Louis’ heart, is his surest ally, for, none better that he can dissipate the monarch’s neurasthenia, which he contracted young, and which will make Abbot Galiani say:

“He has the worst job, the job of king, as much against his will as possible… “

Between the Duke de Chaulnes whom she calls “mon cochon” [my pig] and Madame d’Amblimont who is “mon torchon” [my rag], she finds in Saint-Germain the man of wit, mysterious and unsettling, the living remedy against this spleen which, from 1750, she is officially entrusted with dissipating…

Soon, the Count is in all of the secret discussions and the King demands that he be among those privileged people whom he takes with him to the country residences where Madame de Pompadour succeeds in creating the illusion of a home for her royal lover.  There, he finally ceases to be timid and dares to confess, with intelligence and vivacity, everything that obsesses him, above all this ungovernable France, whose refusals and seditions have dulled all his good dispositions from the beginning of his reign.  His fear of death too, that Saint-Germain tries to dissipate by initiating him into the hidden mysteries of Nature…

Soon, the King consents to renounce his sad debaucheries and to no longer occupy himself with tapistery works or stews that he cooks himself, but to apply himself to the Great Art…  Louis XV, alchemist!  This is the prodigy that Saint-Germain succeeds in performing inside two laboratories at the Trianon, where he firstly teaches the King to melt and distill.  To a delighted Duke des Deux-Ponts, Louis XV one day shows a diamond of the finest water, weighing twelve carats.  He says:

“I melted 24 carats of little diamonds, which gave me this which has been reduced to 12 by having it polished!”…

But what the King appreciates above all in Saint-Germain is his frank speech which cleanses him of the lies and hypocrisy of the Court.  In front of Monsieur de Brancas and Abbot Bernis, the Count tells him straight out that, to have any estime for men, you must be neither a Confessor, a Minister, nor Lieutenant de Police.  Louis enquires about King.  Saint-Germain answers:

“You saw, Sire, the fog a few days ago?  One couldn’t see four paces ahead.  Kings are surrounded by even thicker fogs, which give birth all around them to plotters, unfaithful ministers and all those who agree everywhere to make them see things in a different aspect to reality!”

And, it is true that Saint-Germain always gives disinterested advice.  Never is he seen to promote someone and never does he solicite a favour.  Around 1756, Louis XV has installed for him at Chambord, in the shade of the 365 chimneys of the biggest castle in the kingdom, a much bigger laboratory, where the Count also has working some alchemists whom he brought with him after a trip to Germany.  Pure self-interest from a sovereign who is hoping to fill his very empty coffers in this way?  Perhaps.  But when his works on the making of gold from a vile metal reveal themselves to be not profitable enough, the King still gives him his friendship.  In exchange, it is true, for a few services…

In 1756, Louis XV had an alchemical laboratory installed in Chambord Castle so that Saint-Germain could work in peace.

During one of these “little suppers”, where everyone lets himself go in the greatest gaiety, and where it is not even forbidden to mock the King, on condition that it is witty, France’s master asks him suddenly:

“It appears, Monsieur, that you have also succeeded in finding the secret for making the faults in diamonds disappear… ”

“I have been able to do it sometimes, Sire… ”

“In that case, you are the man to make me earn four thousand pounds on this one, for my jeweller, while estimating this diamond at six thousand pounds, told me that without the fault it would be worth ten!… “

Saint-Germain examines the stone.

“It’s a big fault.  But it is not impossible to remove it.  I shall bring this stone back to Your Majesty in two weeks… “

Two weeks later, Saint Germain presents the King with a diamond of the most perfect purety.  The Court jeweller carefully examines it, weighs it and notices that the difference in weight is almost nothing.  He says:

“Truly, Monsieur, you must be a wizard!”

Monsieur de Gontaut is immediately sent to the Paris jeweller and receives 9,600 pounds for it.

To be continued.

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