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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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necessary will perhaps be contented with the
skim-milk as they cannot get the cream.- TRANS.

Thy beauty, seductress, leads mortals astray,
Over hearts, Lise, how vast and resistless thy sway.
Cease, duchess, to blush!  cease, princess, to rave--
Venus sprang from the foam of the ocean wave.
All the gods pay their homage at her beauteous shrine,
And adore her as potent, resistless, divine!
To her Paris, the shepherd, awarded the prize,
Sought by Juno the regal, and Pallas the wise.

Who rules o'er her lord in the Turkish ,
Reigns queen of his heart, and e'er basks in his smile?
'Tis she, who resplendent, shines loveliest of all,
And beauty holds power in her magic thrall.
Then heed not the clamors that Grammont may raise,
How natural her anger!  how vain her dispraise!
'Tis not a mere mortal our monarch can charm,
Free from pride is the beauty that bears off the palm.

This song was to be found in almost every part of France.  Altho'
the last couplet was generally suppressed, so evident was its
partial tone towards me, in the midst of it all I could not help
being highly amused with the simplicity evinced by the good
people of France, who, in censuring the king's conduct, found
nothing reprehensible but his having omitted to select his mistress
from elevated rank.

The citizens resented this falling off in royalty with as much
warmth and indignation as the grandees of the court; and I could
enjoy a laugh on the subject of their angry displeasure as soon
as my presentation was decided upon.

The intrigues carried on by those about the princesses, and the
necessity of awaiting the perfect recovery of madame de Bearn,
delayed this (to me) important day till the end of the month of
April, 1770.  On the evening of the 21st the king, according to
custom, announced a presentation for the following day; but he
durst not explain himself more frankly; he hesitated, appeared
embarrassed, and only pronounced my name in a low and uncertain
voice; it seemed as tho' he feared his own authority was insufficient
to support him in such a measure.  This I did not learn till some
time afterwards; and when I did hear it, I took the liberty of
speaking my opinion upon it freely to his majesty.

On the next day, the 22d, I was solely engrossed with my dress:
it was the most important era of my life, and I would not have
appeared on it to any disadvantage.  A few days previously, the
king had sent me, by the crown jeweller, Boemer, a set of diamonds,
valued at 150,000 livres, of which he begged my acceptance.
Delighted with so munificent a present I set about the duties of
the toilette with a zeal and desire of pleasing which the importance
of the occasion well excused.  I will spare you the description of
my dress; were I writing to a woman I would go into all these
details; but as I know they would not be to your taste, I will
pass all these uninteresting particulars over in silence, and
proceed to more important matter.

Paris and Versailles were filled with various reports.  Thro'out
the city, within, without the castle, all manner of questions
were asked, as tho' the monarchy itself was in danger.  Couriers
were dispatched every instant with fresh tidings of the great
event which was going on.  A stranger who had observed the general
agitation would easily have remarked the contrast between the rage
and consternation of my enemies and the joy of my partizans, who
crowded in numbers to the different avenues of the palace, in
order to feast their eyes upon the pageantry of my triumphal
visit to court.

Nothing could surpass the impatience with which I was expected;
hundreds were counting the minutes, whilst I, under the care of
my hairdresser and robemaker, was insensible to the rapid flight
of time, which had already carried us beyond the hour appointed
for my appearance.  The king himself was a prey to an unusual
uneasiness; the day appeared to him interminable; and the eagerness
with which he awaited me made my delay still more apparent.  A
thousand conjectures were afloat as to the cause of it.  Some
asserted that my presentation had been deferred for the present,
and, in all probability, would never take place; that the princesses
had opposed it in the most decided manner, and had refused upon
any pretense whatever to admit me to their presence.  All these
suppositions charmed my enemies, and filled them with hopes
which their leaders, better informed, did not partake.

Meanwhile the king's restlessness increased; he kept continually
approaching the window to observe what was going on in the
court-yard of the castle, and seeing there no symptoms of my
equipage being in attendance, began to lose both temper and
patience.  It has been asserted, that he gave orders to have the
presentation put off till a future period, and that the duc de
Richelieu procured my  by force; this is partly true and
partly false.  Whilst in ignorance of the real cause of my being
so late, the king said to the first gentleman of the chamber,

"You will see that this poor countess has met with some accident,
or else that her joy has been too much for her, and made her too
ill to attend our court to-day; if that be the case, it is my pleasure
that her presentation should not be delayed beyond to-morrow."

"Sire," replied the duke, "your majesty's commands are absolute."

These words, but half understood, were eagerly caught up, and
interpreted their own way by those who were eager to seize anything
that might tell to my prejudice.

At length I appeared; and never had I been more successful in
appearance.  I was conducted by my godmother, who, decked like
an altar, was all joy and satisfaction to see herself a sharer in
such pomp and splendor.  The princesses received me most courteously;
the affability, either real or feigned, which shone in their eyes
as they regarded me, and the flattering words with which they
welcomed my arrival, was a mortal blow to many of the spectators,
especially to the ladies of honor.  The princesses would not suffer
me to bend my knee before them, but at the first movement I
made to perform this act of homage, they hastened to raise me,
speaking to me at the same time in the most gracious manner.

But my greatest triumph was with the king.  I appeared before him
in all my glory, and his eyes declared in a manner not to be
misunderstood by all around him the impetuous love which he felt
for me.  He had threatened the previous evening to let me fall
at his feet without the least effort on his part to prevent it.
I told him that I was sure his gallantry would not allow him to
act in this manner; and we had laid a bet on the matter.  As soon
as I approached him, and he took my hand to prevent me, as I
began to stoop before him, "You have lost, sire," said I to him.

"How is it possible to preserve my dignity in the presence of so
many graces?"  was his reply.

These gracious words of his majesty were heard by all around
him.  My enemies were wofully chagrined; but what perfected their
annihilation was the palpable lie which my appearance gave to
their false assertions.  They had blazoned forth everywhere that
my manners were those of a housemaid; that I was absurd and
unladylike in my conduct; and that it was only requisite to have
a glimpse of me to recognize both the baseness of my extraction,
and the class of society in which my life had been hitherto spent.

But I showed manners so easy and so elegant that the people soon
shook off their preconceived prejudice against me.  I heard my
demeanor lauded as greatly as my charms and the splendor of my
attire.  Nothing could be more agreeable to me.  In a word, I
obtained complete success, and thenceforward learnt experimentally
how much the exterior and a noble carriage add to the consideration
in which a person is held.  I have seen individuals of high rank
and proud behavior who carried no influence in their looks,
because their features were plain and common place; whilst persons
of low station, whose face was gifted with natural dignity, had
only to show themselves to attract the respect of the multitude.

Nothing about me bespoke that I was sprung from a vulgar stock,
and thus scandal of that kind ceased from the day of my presentation;
and public opinion having done me justice in this particular, slander
was compelled to seek for food elsewhere.

That evening I had a large circle at my house.  The chancellor,
the bishop of Orleans, M. de Saint-Florentin, M. Bertin, the
prince de Soubise, the ducs de Richelieu, de la Trimouille, de
Duras, d'Aiguillon, and d'Ayen.  This last did not hesitate to
come to spy out all that passed in my apartments, that he might
go and spread it abroad, augmented by a thousand malicious
commentaries.  I had also M. de Sartines, my brother-in-law,
etc.  The duc de la Vauguyon alone was absent.  I knew beforehand
that he would not come, and that it was a sacrifice which he thought
himself compelled to make to the cabal.  The ladies were mesdames
de Bearn and d'Aloigny, with my sisters-in-law.  Amongst the
ladies presented they were the only ones with whom I had formed
any intimacy; as for the rest I was always the "horrible creature,"
of whom they would not hear on any account.

The king, on entering, embraced me before the whole party.  "You
are a charming creature," said he to me, "and the brilliancy of
your beauty has to-day reminded me of the device of my
glorious ancestor."

This was a flattering commencement; the rest of the company
chimed in with their master, and each tried to take the first
part in the chorus.  The duc d'Ayen even talked of my grace of
manner.  "Ah, sir," said I to him, "I have had time to learn it
from Pharamond to the reigning king."

This allusion was bitter, and did not escape the duke, who turned
pale in spite of his presence of mind, on finding that I was aware
of the malicious repartee which he had made to the king when
talking of me, and which I have already mentioned to you.  The
chancellor said to me,

"You have produced a great effect, but especially have you

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