the affair had taken. When I next saw the king, I said to him, "Your daughters, sire, are as amiable as you would have them; they have been informed that some evil disposed persons have asserted, that they had prohibited my being of the party to Chantilly; and in order to testify how differently they were disposed towards me, they despatched the bishop de Senlis." "A most fit person to be intrusted with such a commission," replied the king; "for I have, in every instance, endeavored to justify the wishes of this holy pillar of the church, this worthy prelate with his double-faced politeness, towards those whom he openly compliments, and reviles in private, just as his interest may require it. Well! and what did you say to him?" "That I most humbly thanked the princesses, but that the state of my health did not permit of my visiting Chantilly for the present." "That is all very well," answered Louis XV; "you have framed your excuse with much generosity, which I greatly fear will meet with a very different turn; for if you do not accompany me to Chantilly, the report circulated will be, that the princesses have forbidden you their presence; which my dearly beloved daughters, whose characters I fully understand, will neither affirm nor deny before the public, whilst in private they will vow that they prohibited you from following them. Always excepting madame Louise, who is an angel upon earth, as she will most assuredly be one day in heaven, where I trust her prayers for me and mine will be heard." I did not at the time pay any particular attention to the latter part of the king's discourse, for, indeed, the beginning was far more interesting to me; but when I afterwards learnt that madame Louise had quitted the grandeurs of Versailles for the gloom and austerity of a convent I recollected it, and easily comprehended that it was spoken in allusion to an event which took place some time afterwards, and of which I shall speak in its proper place. However, the king's prediction was exactly verified; and the report in general circulation was, that the princesses had declared their intention of not going to Chantilly; it was further rumored, that I was there, but in a private and concealed manner. This is wholly untrue; the king would never have permitted such a humiliation; nor do I believe I should have submitted to it had he even desired it. However all this may be, he sought to recompense me for his absence by writing a most delightful letter, which I will subjoin for your gratification. To me it was of so much the greater value, that having its royal writer's permission to show it, it became the first death-blow I aimed at the cabal against me. The king possessed a much greater portion of wit and talent than the weakness and timidity of his character permitted to appear. CHAPTER XX Unpublished letter of Louis XV--Madame du Barry's cousin, M. de Maupeou--The comtesse du Barry saves the life of a young girl seduced by the arts of the cure of her village--She obtains pardon of the comte and comtesse de Louerne--The king presents her with Lucienne--A second meeting with the youthful prophet--His further predictions--He is sought for--His mysterious letter to the countess "How does my sweet friend contrive to bear our tedious separation? is she happy and amused? In that case I can say, she has greatly the advantage over him who now addresses her. No, my lovely countess, I am dragging on a tedious and uninteresting existence, spite of the great and earnest endeavors of my good cousin and host to provide for my enjoying the gaiety by which I am surrounded; but, alas! amidst the many faces with which his mansion is thronged, that one which is dearest to me is wanting, and all becomes a blank in my eyes; and I yawn with irrepressible weariness in the midst of the glittering pageants given to honor my arrival; and you may rest assured that I shall hail with delight the termination of a visit, which seems already to have swelled the period of our separation into ages. I will not attempt to conceal from you, that those who have good cause to envy your supreme dominion over my heart, have set every scheme in action to lead me even into a temporary oblivion of you, but their attempts are as vain as their impotent rivalry, and need cause no uneasiness to you, my beloved friend. I frequently smile at the vast pains and precautions of which my '
' is the object; and I am encountering ' ' some of those fair ladies who would fain usurp your place, sometimes bedecked with jewels rare, and sometimes, as Racine says, "<------ dans le simple appareil D'une beaute, qu'on vient d'arracher au sommeil.>' "Madame de Grammont, for instance, takes an infinity of trouble respecting my choice of your successor, which she is resolved shall be either herself or one of her choosing. I protest to you that I find all these plots and counterplots very amusing; and can only say, that my daughters, who are completely duped by those practising them, must be more completely deceived than I had imagined possible. Nor can I quite deny that I feel a half mischievous delight in reducing to despair, "'<-------ce peuple de rivales Qui toutes, disputant, d'un si grand interet, Des yeux d'Assuerus attendent leur arret.>' " (which, of course, means me) keeps one perpetual reply to all their high-sounding praises and eulogiums of such or such a lady. 'She is well enough, certainly; but the comtesse du Barry excels her a hundredfold': then follow such shrugs, such contortions of countenance, and such vain efforts to repress the rage of disappointed vanity and ambition, that I am nearly ready to die with laughter. "Apropos of dying; I inquired the number of deaths which took place at Chantilly last week; only four, they say! Now I think that number quite sufficient for the size of the place. I walked as far as the village cemetery, which is large and judiciously placed. I must tell you, that one of my footmen has gone to that last journey from which none return: he was a tall, presuming sort of fellow, remarkable for nothing but his impertinence, and the continual scrapes he was forever getting into amongst the soubrettes. However, he met with his death in some sudden brawl. My people sought to conceal this piece of intelligence from me; but having once heard of it, I despatched Flamarens to ascertain in what corner of the cemetery he has been interred. "The duc de Tresmes talks much of you, and boasts greatly to the honor of your friendship; he has dubbed himself your ' '; this is not amiss for a peer of France, and what is still more gratifying, he has assumed a title which, I believe, no one in the kingdom will attempt to dispute his incontestable claim to call his own. Villeroi is all impatience to return to Versailles. The dukes of Richelieu and d'Aiguillon, both uncle and nephew, recommend themselves to your kind recollection. Thus you see you may reckon upon a few devoted and attached friends, even without him, whose hand is busily tracing these lines, and he, I can promise you, is inferior to none in the truest love and affection for you. "The ladies of whom I would have you be most on your guard are mesdames de C., de B., de P., de G. They really throw themselves in my way till I can call them nothing but fools for their pains; but I must do them the justice to say that they are less ambitious than you, and so that they could rob you of your place would care very little whether I could offer them my heart with the other honors to which they aspire; in fact, 'tis time we were together again, for the people here seem determined to profit by my stay amongst them. My cousin entertains us magnificently, and pleasure succeeds pleasure in a continual round of enchantment: he tells me he has others still more charming in store against the time when you will honor him with your presence. Am I right in promising this will be ere very long? Adieu, what a long letter have I written you. I will now conclude by bestowing an imaginary kiss on that lovely face, which must satisfy me till I have the felicity of seeing you again. "And now, my dear friend and fairest countess, I will end my lengthened epistle by praying God to have you ever in His holy care and keeping." The receipt of this letter afforded me the liveliest pleasure, and I wrote to the king regularly every night and morning. I might here introduce a specimen of my own epistolary style, but I will not; for altho' the whimsical and extravagant things my pen gave utterance to were exactly to the king's taste, they might surprise you; but my royal correspondent loved the wild and bizarre turn of my expressions, and I fulfilled his wishes; perhaps it was not the only instance in which I gratified his inclination. My , the chancellor of France, had remained to keep me company instead of joining the party at Chantilly. , say you, and by what right or title could M. de Maupeou become such? I will tell you. First of all he only aspired to the honor of relationship, but afterwards, turning over the archives of his family, he found the most incontestable proofs of his belonging to the ancient families of the du Barry; and full of joy, he hurried to me, unrolling at my feet his genealogical tree, to the great amusement of comte Jean and my sisters-in-law, who, after a long examination, declared that he was justly entitled to the appellation of first cousin; from that period he always addressed me , which I flattered him by returning whenever I was in the humor. About this period I was the happy instrument in saving from death a young girl whose judges (as will be seen) were about to sentence her to be hanged without fully understanding whether she were innocent or guilty. This unfortunate creature was a young and pretty country girl, whose worthy pastor, the cure de Liancourt, had availed himself of the influence he possessed, and of the
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