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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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advantages of his authority over the poor creature's mind, to
seduce her from the paths of virtue.  Unfortunately, just at the
time when she expected to produce a living witness of their amour,
and when she trusted to the cares of the cure to procure for her
those comforts her unfortunate situation required, the author of
her shame was suddenly carried off by a violent death, and the
wretched girl, either thro' ignorance or the shame of having
listened to the illicit passion of a priest, neglected to make any
of those formal declarations required by the law, and gave birth
to a dead infant.  The justice of the village, informed of her
fault, caused her to be arrested, and recorded against her sentence
of death, a decision which was afterwards approved by parliament.

The poor girl was in this extremity when, happily for her, M. de
Mandeville, a worthy man from either Normandy or Picardy, who
had served in the black musketeers, resolved upon attempting
the revocation of the severe sentence which had been passed upon
her, by addressing the king thro' my mediation; he accordingly
followed me to Marly, where I then was, and lost no time in
forwarding to me the following billet:--

"MADAME,-- Beauty has ever been found the
inseparable companion of goodness; to yours I
would appeal to obtain the favor of an immediate
audience.  My reasons for requesting it are not
to solicit either place or pension, but to save the
life of an erring creature whose crime has been
that of ignorance.  I await your reply with the
most lively impatience, and have the honor to
remain, etc., etc."

This note puzzled me excessively, however I gave orders for the
immediate introduction of M. de Mandeville, whose appearance
was even more prepossessing than his note; he looked and spoke
like an honorable man endowed with that sensibility so precious
and so rare; he put into my hands the petition, whilst he explained
to me the particulars relative to it, and I instantly wrote to the
chancellor the following note, of which a thousand copies were
taken in the course of the day.  Altho' it has been many times in
 print, I shall offer no apologies for again submitting it to
your perusal.

"MONSIEUR LE CHANCELLOR,--I do not profess
to understand your laws, but they seem to me as
unjust as barbarous.  They are contrary to both
reason and humanity, if they put to death an
unfortunate female for giving birth to a
still-born child without having previously disclosed
her situation to any one; and yet, according to
the memorial annexed to this, the petitioner is
so circumstanced.  Here is an unhappy girl
about to pay with the forfeit of her life for
her ignorance of such a law, or because the
modesty and even shame attendant upon her
disgraced condition prevented her conforming
to it.  I appeal to your sense of justice; the
wretched girl, concerning whom I write, is a
fit object for the exercise of your lenity, and I
venture to assure myself that you will at least
effect the commutation of her punishment.
Your own kind feelings will dictate all I would
ask further for her.

"I am, etc., etc."

I felt very certain that, from the manner in which I had expressed
myself, the consent of M. de Maupeou was quite certain; I therefore
said to my visitor, the handsome musketeer,

"And now, sir, the noble work of charity, in which you have
associated me must be completed: go yourself and see the chancellor,
tell him you come from me, and do not quit him till you obtain
the reply I have solicited."

M.  de Mandeville loaded me with thanks and praises which I did
not really merit, because in the present instance I acted as much
from the wish to gratify my own feelings as his.  My name and my
letter were talismans before which all doors flew open, and he
reached, without difficulty, the presence of the chief administrator
of justice, who, having read the memorial and the note I had
affixed to it, said, "That is sufficient, sir; have the goodness to
assure madame la comtesse du Barry, my cousin, that the reprieve
she desires is already granted; and as my fair relation appears to
fear trusting implicitly to my personal friendship and humanity,
I will set her mind at rest by putting you in possession of the
legal forms requisite for the prisoner."

He immediately issued the necessary orders for suspending the
execution of the sentence, which M. de Mandeville lost no time
in communicating to the poor girl, who, a very few days afterwards,
received a full pardon, and was thus, in a manner, snatched from
an unmerited and ignominious death.  The musketeer requested
permission to present my  to my notice.  She really
was a very pretty girl, her feelings overpowered her, and she
fainted in her attempt to throw herself at my feet; I soon revived
her by the aid of those restoratives which my staring people
stupidly did not try to offer, and then to send her away perfectly
happy and cheerful, I slipped into the pocket of her apron a
 of fifty louis which the king had given me for her use.
And here I must remark, that this prince, avaricious as he naturally
was, was yet always ready to perform a good action, and, indeed,
in this respect, he possessed many excellent qualities to which no
one has ever yet done justice.
When I next saw the chancellor--"Do you know, my fair cousin,"
said he, "that if I wished to set you and the parliament quarreling
together I need only just whisper in what manner you treat our laws?"

"Your laws," exclaimed I, "are barbarous edicts, made rather for
tigers than for men.  Your punishments are atrocious, nor do I
see their application to correct a single malefactor; particularly
in the case of this young girl it is abominable, and if the king
would listen to me such savage edicts should not long remain unrepealed."

"That may do very well," replied M. de Maupeou, "some time hence,
but not just now; ere our penal code can be revised we must have
magistrates more supple than those who now dispute our slightest
innovation; and if, by the grace of God, we can manage to make a clear
house of them, why we may confidently anticipate the noblest results."

By these and similar insinuations the chancellor bespoke that aid
and assistance which I afterwards so largely rendered him when he
commenced the ruin of parliaments.

Upon another occasion my credit and influence were employed with
equal success.  The objects of my present exertions were the
comte and comtesse de Louerne.  Both husband and wife were deeply
loaded with debts, a thing common enough with the nobility of the
time; these debts they never paid, another thing by no means unusual;
their creditors, whose flinty hearts were but little moved by the
considerations of their rank and high blood, sent officers to
enforce payment, when the Louernes opposed them with positive
force and violence, and the laws, thus outraged, condemned them
to suffer death.  In vain did persons of the highest rank in the
kingdom intercede in their behalf, imploring of the chancellor to
interpose with the king; altho' deaf to every other entreaty he
instantly granted a reprieve at my solicitation, declaring I was
the only person who could have effected so much in behalf of the
distressed culprits, as well as being the only source thro' which
the king's mercy could be obtained.

Immediately upon this notification, I was waited upon by the
comtesse de Moyau, their daughter, and the baronne d'Heldorf,
their daughter-in-law; both these ladies came to me in the deepest
sorrow, and I mingled my sighs and tears with those they so
plentifully shed; but this was rendering poor service, and if I
desired to aid their cause it was requisite I should speak to the
king, who was little disposed to show any indulgence in such
cases, and was never known to pass over any attempts on the part
of the nobility to resist the laws; he looked with horror on
every prospect of the return of those times which he hoped and
believed were passed and gone never to return.  I well knew his
sentiments on the subject, and yet, trusting to my great influence
over his mind, I did not despair of success; besides Chon, my
sister-in-law, was constantly reminding me that people of a
certain rank should support one another, and that now was the
time or never.  I therefore resolved upon befriending the daughters
of comte de Louerne to the utmost of my power, and for that
purpose I placed them both in a corner of the drawing-room so as
to catch the king's eye as he entered; he observed them, and
inquired who those two ladies were.  "Sire," replied I, "they
are the heart-broken daughters of the comte and comtesse de
Louerne, who implore clemency of your majesty to save the lives
of the authors of their being."

"Ah!"  returned he, "madame, you know I can do nothing against
the law which they have offended."

At these cruel words the two young ladies threw themselves at his
feet, exclaiming, "Pardon, pardon, sire; in the name of heaven and
your illustrious ancestors."

"Rise, ladies," said the king; "I would willingly serve you,
but I have not the power."

"No, sire," cried I, "you must not, you cannot refuse our united
prayers; and I here vow to remain kneeling at your feet till your
lips shall pronounce the word which shall restore life and happiness
to so many afflicted hearts."

"Madame," said the king, altho' in a tone less firm, "you force
me to do what my principles condemn; but since it must be so, I
yield; and only rejoice that the first personal favor you request
of me is to perform an act of beneficence.  Ladies," added he,
turning towards the comtesse de Moyau and her sister-in-law,
"you owe the lives of your parents to the generous mediation
of the comtesse du Barry."

The joy of the Louernes was only equalled by the base calumny of
my enemies, who accused me of having prepared this scene, which
was got up by the king and myself to produce effect and excite
popularity.  Could such disgusting falsehoods have entered the
minds of any but the most depraved?  Yet those who continually
watched and misrepresented my least action appeared anxious to

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