THERE are two ways of gaining a foothold at court,—in the clouds, and one is august; in the mud, and one is powerful. In the first case, you belong on Olympus. In the second case, you belong in the private closet. He who belongs on Olympus has but the thunderbolt to serve him; he who is in the private closet has the police at his command.
The private closet contains all the instruments of government, and sometimes (for it is a traitor) its chastisements as well. Generally it is less tragic. It is there that Alberoni admires Vendôme. Royal personages willingly make it their place of audience; it takes the place of the throne. Louis XIV. receives the Duchess of Burgundy there; Philip V. is shoulder to shoulder there with the queen. The priest penetrates into it. The private closet is sometimes a branch of the confessional; therefore it is that at court there are underground fortunes,—not always the least. If under Louis XI. you would be great, be Pierre de Rohan, Marshal of France; if you would be influential, be Olivier le Daim, the barber. If you would be glorious under Marie de Medicis, be Sillery, the Chancellor; if you would be a person of consideration, be Hannon, the maid. If you would be illustrious under Louis XV., be Choiseul, the minister; if you would be formidable, be