Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

no king of France to avenge me."

"You are severe, madame," replied Louis XV, turning his imposing
and handsome face towards me, and to which he vainly endeavored
to give an air of anger.  I saw my success, and added,

"Yes, sire, it is insupportable for me to think that I am supposed
not to possess your friendship, and that I only play the part of a
temporary friend.  It makes me wretched: you must not be angry if
I complain of you to your royal self."

"Well, well, you madcap, what must I do?  Whom must I banish?"

"Oh, sire, no one: with your august support I fear no person;
nothing but appearances."

"You are an excellent creature; in your place madame de Pompadour
would have imprisoned half France."

"That was because she loved revenge better than she loved your
majesty.  As for me, I should be miserable if I were the cause of
one single family complaining against you."

The king, delighted at these words, which really came from my
heart, embraced me tenderly two or three times, and said,

"I wish your enemies could understand you, for they would soon
be at your knees.  But if we imprison or exile no person, how
shall we strike terror into them?"

"It is not terror but envy that I would excite.  Let me be
presented at court, and all my wishes will be satisfied."

"I cannot for the life of me divine why you should lay so much
stress on coming to weary yourself with the ceremonies of myself
and daughters.  Heaven preserve you from all the irksomeness of
court ceremony!"  And Louis XV sighed.  "Did you ever think," he
added, "of all the vanities, all the interests I have to manage;
all the intrigues that are perpetually agitating, and all the opposition
made to me?  The court, the city, the people, will rise against
me: they will clamor, groan, complain; verse, prose, epigram, and
pamphlet will appear in uninterrupted succession.  You would be
first attacked, and hatred will perhaps extend to me.  I shall see
again the times when the Damiens, in the name of the parliaments,
as one party says, in the name of the Jesuits, as the other party
says, and, what is more true, in the name--"

The king suddenly paused; a deep shade of melancholy settled on
his features, his noble head dropped on his bosom.  Louis XV
remained for some time motionless; at length,

"Well," he exclaimed, attempting to force a smile, "well!  I will
write to the ladies de Grammont, to inform them that they need
not give themselves the trouble to remain near me at the chateau."

On his saying these words I darted towards the door, and went
into my chamber.  The king followed, and finding there mademoiselle
Chon, who was working at some tapestry, said to her,

"Mademoiselle, I confide to your care, and by oral , the most amiable little devil in France.  And now,
mademoiselle du Barry, having nothing further to add, I pray
God to take you to His powerful and holy keeping."

After this pleasantry the king, delighted at the gay termination
of a somewhat serious scene, went, or rather vanished; for to
use a proverbial expression, he ran like a thief.

As soon as I was alone with my sister-in-law, I told her all that
had passed.

"I see," said she, "that the king is fearful of offending the duc
de Choiseul, and giving annoyance to his daughters.  But a step
must be determined on which will place you out of the reach of
complete disgrace.  Would it not be best to get some nobleman,
who can do so with influence, to speak to him on the subject?  If
the duc de Richelieu were here--"

"But," I instantly exclaimed, "have we not his nephew, the duc d'
Aiguillon?  He is well with the king, and I am certain will take
the most lively interest in all that concerns me."

"I have no doubt of it," said Chon, with a sly look.  "Write to
him to come, and you can arrange your ulterior proceedings."

On this advice, which was quite to my taste, I went instantly to
my writing-table, the last present which the king had made me.
It was made of silver gilt, and china slabs beautifully painted.
When I opened it, a glass was lifted which reflected my countenance.
I sat down and wrote the following note to the duc d'Aiguillon:--

"You must be content.  I want your assistance, I
really want it.  The moment has come for deserving
all my confidence.  Will you have it at all risks and
perils?  Reflect well before you undertake this: if
you accept, come to-day at five o'clock precisely,
neither later nor sooner."

A little while afterwards the following reply was brought.

"One thing displeases me in your letter which else
enchants me.  You appear to doubt my obedience.
Am I not your slave?  And when you say to me ,
will I not ?  Rely on me as on yourself; even
more: for your vivacity may lead you into error,
and I shall preserve my reason.  Yes, madame, I
will, when near you, preserve my reason when your
interests are at stake.  At the fixed hour I shall
have the honor to lay at your feet my respectful
homage and boundless devotion."

It was impossible to express a real sentiment with more delicacy.
I was charmed at it, no longer doubting that the duke would
consider my interests as his own.  I awaited the hour of five
with impatience, when my good fortune brought the prince de
Soubise.  After the first compliments,

"Well, madame la comtesse, when is your presentation to take place?"

"I do not know, monsieur le marechal; there are obstacles in the
way.  I fear that they who wish to injure me abuse their influence
with the king."

"I see that his majesty hesitates, altho' he is desirous of giving
you station.  He must be stimulated to know that he is master;
and that if he shows any wavering in this particular, it will be
made use of to govern him hereafter."

Heartily did I applaud the language of M. de Soubise: I did not
suspect that the dear prince had another motive behind.  At the
end of the interview he said,

"Madame, you would not have been as you now are had you been
more conciliatory towards me.  I know the king, and know how to
manage him.  I flatter myself that you would have been now presented
had you deigned to hear my advice."

"Did I reject it?  Was I wrong in declining to have mademoiselle
Guimard as ambassadress?  Were you assured of her silence?
Might she not have compromised us?"

"You are right; I did as one would have done at your age, and you
have done as I should do at mine; but there is always time to amend."

"Certainly, prince."

"You accept my advice, then."

"Yes," I replied, seeing the defile in which he wished to entrap
me, "yes, if I am presented thro' your influence, from that
moment you become my guide and mentor.  But it is important
that the presentation be not delayed; I rely on you to speak to
the king this day about it; and I know that he will give me every
particular of the immense service you will render me."

For once the madcap girl got the better of the practised courtier.
M. de Soubise, taken in his own snare, politely excused himself,
and left me with an assurance that he would speak to the king.
He did speak, but obtained nothing more than any other.  You
will see in my next letter that I did not arrive at the
accomplishment of my wishes without much trouble.  There were
in this affair more intrigues for and against me than were afterwards
set on foot to decide war with America.


The comtesse and the duc d'Aiguillon--M. de Soubise--Louis XV
and the duc d'Aiguillon--Letter from the comtesse  to the king--
Answer of the king-The ""--The comtesse and
Louis XV--The supper--The court ladies mystified--The comtesse and
M. de Sartines

I was still triumphing at the skill which I had displayed
in my conference with the prince de Soubise when the
duc d'Aiguillon entered.

"Good heaven," said he, kissing my hand very tenderly, "into
what inquietude did you throw me by your dear and cruel letter.
The ambiguity of your style has caused me inexpressible sorrow;
and you have added to it by not allowing me to come to you at
the first moment."

"I could not: I thought it would be dangerous for you to appear
before the king previously to having seen me."

"Would the king have thought my visit strange?"  asked the duke,
not without some emotion.

"That is not the point.  The black spite of my enemies has not
yet deprived me of the counsels of a friend.  But as it is necessary
to speak to the king in my favor, I wish that he should not know
that you do so at my request."

After this I related to the duke my conversation with the king.

"Your situation is delicate," said he to me, "but it should not
trouble you.  The king is weak, we must give him courage.  It is
his pliancy of disposition rather than his resistance that we must
contend with, and I go to act upon it.  "

I then instructed the duke with what had passed between me and
the prince de Soubise.  When I had done, the duke replied :

"Expect nothing from the prince de Soubise: he will speak, no
doubt; but how?  In a jesting, laughing way.  If, however, you
think he can at all serve you, give him all your confidence."

"No, no, never," I replied with quickness; "it is not a thing to be
done lightly; we do not select a confidant, counsellor, or friend,
at random.  Do you not know this, M. le duc?  It is requisite that
the heart of the one who speaks should repose itself on the heart
of the friend who listens.  I repeat to you that I have no feeling of
confidence towards M. de Soubise.  In fact," I added with visible
and troubled emotion, "my choice is made, and you have too much
heroism to wish to combat it."

At these flattering words the duke precipitated himself at my feet,
and swore to support my cause with all his power and interest.  I
replied that I fully relied on his devotion and prudence.  Comte
Jean entered, and it was agreed between us three that I should say
no more to the king of my presentation before the duc d'Aiguillon
had spoken to him of it; that I should content myself with
complaining without peevishness, and that we should leave the

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: