Staal, Madame De

, known first by the name of mademoiselle de Launai, was thedaughter of a painter of Paris, who being obliged to quit the kingdom, left her exposed to poverty while yet a child. Chance occasioned her receiving a distinguished education in the priory of St. Louis, at Rouen; but on the death of the superior of that monastery, who was her friend, she was again reduced to extreme indigence, and finding no other resource, engaged | herself as a waiting-woman to the duchess of Maine. Unfit, however, for the duties of such an office, she lived in obscurity and sorrow, till a singular event, in which she seemed totally unconcerned, made her known much to her honour. A beautiful young lady of Paris., named Tetard, was persuaded by her mother to counterfeit being possessed. All Pans flocked to see this pretended wonder, not excepting the court; and this becoming the universal topic of conversation, mademoiselle de Launai wrote a very witty letter on the- occasion to M, de Fontenelle, which was universally admired. The duchess having discovered the writer in the person of her waiting-woman, employed he:­from that time in all the entertainments given at Sceaux, and made her her confidant. M. de Launai wrote verses for some of the pieces acted at Sceaux, drew up the plans of others, and was consulted in all. She soon also acquired the esteem of mess, de Fontenelie, de Tourreii, de Valincourt, de Chaulieu, de Malezieu, and other persons of merit, who frequented the court. This lady was involved in the duchess of Maine’s disgrace, during the regency of the duke of Orleans, and confined in the Bastile near two years; but being set at liberty, the duchess married her to M. de Staal, lieutenant of the Swiss guards, afterwards captain and marechal de camp. It is said she had refused to marry the celebrated M. Dacier. She died in 1750, and some “Memoirs of her Life,” written by herself, were soon after published in 3 vols. 12mo. They contain nothing very important, but are very amusing, and very well written, their style being pure and elegant. A fourth volume has since appeared, consisting of two pleasing plays, one entitled L’Engouement, the other La Mode, which were acted at Sceaux. 1


Memoirs. —Dict. Hist.