stones, which I gave to Chon, to whom it rightfully belonged. CHAPTER VI Journey to Choisy--The comtesse du Barry and Louis XV--The king of Denmark--The czar Peter--Frederick II--The abbe de la Chapelle-- An experiment--New intrigues--Secret agents-The comtesse and Louis XV--Of the presentation--Letter of the comtesse to the duc d'Aiguillon--Reply--Prince de Soubise Up to this period I had resided constantly at Versailles or Paris, according to the pleasure of the king, but had never followed his majesty in any of his journeys. He wished to pass some days at his delightful chateau at Choisy, situated on the banks of the Seine. It was decided that I should be of the party, taking the name of the baroness de Pamklek, a German lady, as that would save me from the embarrassment in which I should be placed with the king in consequence of my non-presentation. The prince de Soubise, the ducs de la Trimoulle, d'Ayen, d'Aiguillon, and the marquis de Chauvelin, were also to attend the king. The king remained nearly the whole time with me, and the < entree > to my apartment became a favor not accorded to every body. A small committee met there, and talked of every thing except what is rational; and I can assure you that with such conversation time passes very quickly. One day the king entered my apartment holding in his hand a letter. "I am about to receive," said he, "a visit that will not give me much pleasure. My brother of Denmark is traversing Europe, and is about to come to France.
! what inconvenient persons are your travelling kings! Why do they leave their kingdoms? I think they are very well at home." "Yes, sire, but there is an excuse for them: they are weary of admiring your majesty at a distance, and wish for the happiness of knowing you." At this compliment the king rubbed his hands with a smile, which he always did when he was satisfied, and then said, "There is not in the hearts of foreign potentates the same affection towards my person as you feel. It is not me but France they wish to see. I remember that when very young I received a visit from the czar Peter the Great, Peter the First I mean to say. He was not deficient in sense, but yet behaved like a boor: he passed his time in running over the academies, libraries, and manufactories: I never saw such an ill-bred man. Imagine him embracing me at our first interview, and carrying me in his arms as one of my valets would have done. He was dirty, coarse, and ill-dressed. Well, all the Frenchmen ran after him; one would have supposed by their eagerness that they had never seen a regal countenance." "Yet there was no occasion to run very far to see the handsome face of a king." "Hold your tongue, madame la baronne de Pamklek, you are a flatterer. There is a crowned head which for thirty years has desired to visit France, but I have always turned a deaf ear, and will resist it as long as possible." "Who, sire, is the king so unfortunate as to banished by you from your majesty's presence?" "Who? The king of philosophers, the rival of Voltaire, my brother of Prussia. Ah, my dear baronne, he is a bad fellow; he detests me, and I have no love for him. A king does wisely, certainly, to submit his works to the judgment of a Freron! It would be outrageous scandal if he came here. Great and small would crowd around him, and there would not be twenty persons in my train." "Ah! sire , do you think so?" "I am sure of it. The French now-a-days do not care for their kings, and will be renewed at an early day. After all, philosophers believe that Frederick II protects them: the honest man laughs both at them and me." "At you, sire? Impossible." "No, no; I know the impertinences he is guilty of towards me: but let him. I prefer making my court to the pretty women of my kingdom instead of to my pages. You may depend upon it that if he came to Versailles he would debauch some of them." The king, charmed at having said this malicious speech, rubbed his hands again. "Really, sire," I replied, "I am astonished that this prince, having such disgusting inclinations, can have much attached to his name." "Ah, that is because he has great qualities: he will not allow himself to be cheated. Do you know that he is acquainted with the disposal of his finances to the last farthing?" "Sire, he must be a miser." "No, madame, he is a man of method. But enough of him. As to his majesty of Denmark, altho' he would have been as welcome to stay at home, I shall receive him with as much attention as possible. The kings of Denmark and Sweden are my natural allies." The king changed the subject, and said, "There is an abbe, named la Chapelle, whom I think half cracked. He flatters himself that he can, thro' the medium of some apparatus, remain on the water without sinking. He begs my permission to exhibit his experiment before me; and if it would amuse you, we will have the exhibition to-morrow." I accepted the king's proposal with pleasure. On the next day we went in a body to the terrace of the chateau. The king was near me with his hat in his hand; the duc de Duras gave me his arm. M. l' abbe waited us in a boat: he flung himself bodily into the water, dressed in a sort of cork-jacket, moved in any direction in the water, drank, ate, and fired off a gun. So far all went off well, but the poor abbe, to close the affair, wrote a letter to the king. The letter was carried in great pomp to his majesty. It contained two verses of Racine, which had some double allusion to the experiment. This, you may be sure, was interpreted in the worst manner. The duc d'Ayen gave the finishing stroke to the whole, on his opinion being asked by the king. "Sire," said he, "such men ought to be thrown into the water; but all we can wish for them is, that they should remain there." The abbe was not more fortunate in the evening. He presented himself at supper, but the king did not address a word to him, and he was compelled to bear the malicious jokes of the courtiers. But let us leave Choisy and the experimentalist, and return to Versailles and myself. My friends were excessively desirous for my presentation, which would decide my position at the chateau. As yet I only had an equivocal existence, having rank neither at play, theatre, or public festival; so that if the king should be capricious I could be dismissed as one of the demoiselles of the . The duc d'Aiguillon, whose attachment to me increased, calculated accurately all the advantages of this presentation. It would place me on the same footing with madame de Pompadour, and compel the ministers to come and work with me. The duke did not doubt but that M. de Choiseul would refuse to pay his to me, and that his resistance would lead to his fall. But for my presentation, it was necessary not only that the king should consent, for of that I was certain, but that he should desire it, and his desire could not be depended on. Louis XV was excessively timid: with an air which appeared of a dreadnaught quality, he was fearful at heart. The clamors of Versailles kept him in alarm; and he kept at his own court and at foreign courts secret agents, whose only care was to report to him the complaints of the people and the sarcasms and satires of society. The king was attached to them; and when the force of circumstances compelled him to abandon them, he still supported them clandestinely with all his power. A proof of what I advance may be known as regards the chevalier or chevaliere d'Eon, I know not which. But these secret agents were, unknown to the king, all devoted to the parliaments, and consequently inimical to courtiers, favorites, and especially mistresses. God knows how they disposed of us! By these unpropitious channels the king had learnt all the hatred which was borne to madame de Pompadour. He was afraid of exciting the discontent of the people by announcing another mistress, and was no less intimidated at the severity of madame Louise, and the ill-humor of his other children. He loved his pleasure much, but his ease more. Comte Jean, who was restrained by no considerations, advised me to overleap all difficulty, by asking the king myself for the favor which I coveted. His advice seemed rational, and I was besides urged on to do so. Each day brought to me impertinences said of me by the noble ladies of the chateau. I learnt that they boasted that I should never set foot in the great apartments, but should remain the obscure mistress of the king. This made me impatient, and by degrees deprived me of my natural gaiety. One day when the king was with me, he perceived my want of spirits. "What ails you?" said be, with the greatest solicitude. "What ails me!" replied I, "I wish I were dead, rather than see myself the butt of all the scandal of the foul-mouthed gossips of your court." The king, suspecting the confidence I was about to repose in him, was sorry he had asked for it, and was silent. He began to play a tattoo with his fingers on the chimney-piece. At this moment mademoiselle Chon came in. The king, delighted at seeing her, instantly inquired into her state of health. She, after a profound reverence, said, "Sire, how can I be well when there is trouble in my family?" "Ah, ! what is this?" said he, turning to me. "I am insulted, hooted: they say that I have the misfortune to be no longer in the good graces of your majesty." "Ah, tell them they lie in their throats," replied the king, kissing me on the forehead; "you are the woman of my heart, and she whom I would fain load with honors. " "Your majesty speaks to me," I answered, "with great condescension [my sister-in-law left the room that she might not spoil the explanation], but yet you are the cause of the insolences which I am subjected to from the vile crew." "What is the matter with you to-day? In truth you are a perfect little devil." "I wish I were, that I might punish evil tongues, since there is
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