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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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the king was as yet undecided in his choice of ministers, but
that, if the duc d'Aiguillon came into office, he would, in all
probability, be nominated to the administration of foreign affairs:
the direction of the war-office had been my noble friend's
ardent desire.

Whilst we were thus conversing together on the 24th of December,
1770, eleven o'clock struck; and we could, from the windows,
perceive M. de la Vrilliere taking his way towards that part of
the building occupied by M. de Choiseul when at the castle.  This
latter was in conversation with M. Conzie, bishop of Arras, when
the arrival of the duc de la Vrilliere, bearing the king's commands,
was signified to him.  The prelate, not doubting but the mission
related to affairs of importance, took his leave; de la Vrilliere
then presented the , accompanying it with some
remarks of his own upon the talents of the minister, and his regret
at being selected for so unpleasant an office.  "A truce to your
feigned regrets, my lord duke," replied the disgraced minister,
sarcastically, "I am well assured my dismissal could not have been
brought me by hands more ready to discharge the trust than yours."
Saying this, M. de Choiseul placed his credentials in the hands
of the duke, and slightly bowing, turned his back upon him, as
though he had forgotten his presence.  M. de Choiseul then retired
to summon his sister, to communicate to her and his wife the
misfortune which had befallen him: he then set out for Paris, to
make the necessary preparations for removing to Chanteloup.
There an officer from the king, charged to accompany him to his
place of exile, gave him his majesty's orders that he should see
no person, and receive no visits.

This order did not proceed from me, but was the work of the duc
de la Vrilliere, who sought, by this paltry action, to avenge himself
upon M. de Choiseul for the reception he had given him.  It was
wholly useless, however, for in the exile of the duke was seen a
thing unheard of, perhaps, before, and, in all probability, unlikely
ever to occur again--the sight of a whole court espousing the part
of an exiled minister, and openly censuring the monarch who could
thus reward his services.  You, no doubt, remember equally well
as myself the long file of carriages that for two days blocked up
the road to Chanteloup.  In vain did Louis XV express his dissatisfaction;
his court flocked in crowds to visit M. de Choiseul.

On the other hand, the castle was not in a more tranquil state.
At the news of the dismissal and banishment of M. de Choiseul, a
general hue and cry was raised against me and my friends: one
might have supposed, by the clamours it occasioned, that the
ex-minister had been the atlas of the monarchy; and that, deprived
of his succour, the state must fall into ruins.  The princesses
were loud in their anger, and accused me publicly of having
conspired against virtue itself!  The virtue of such a sister and
brother!  I ask you, my friend, is not the idea truly ludicrous?

The dauphiness bewailed his fall with many tears; at least, so I
was informed by a lady of her suite, madame de Campan.  This
lady was a most loquacious person; she frequently visited my
sister-in-law; and, thanks to her love of talking, we were always
well-informed of all that was passing in the household of Marie
Antoinette.  However, the dauphin was far from sharing the grief
Of his illustrious spouse.  When informed of the dismissal of the
duke, he cried out, "Well, madame du Barry has saved me an infinity
of trouble--that of getting rid of so dangerous a man, in the event
of my ever ascending the throne."  The prince did not usually
speak of me in the most flattering terms, but I forgave him on
the present occasion, so much was I charmed with his expression
relative to the late minister; it afforded me the certainty that
I should not have to dread the possibility of his recalling de Choiseul.

Whilst many were bewailing the downfall of the des Choiseuls,
others, who had an eye more to self-interest, presented themselves
to share in the spoils of his fortune.  There were the princes
de Soubise and de Conde, the duc de la Vauguyon, the comtes de
Broglie, de Maillebois, and de Castries, the marquis de Monteynard
and many others, equally anxious for a tempting slice of the
ministry, and who would have made but one mouthful of the finest
and best.

The marquise de 1' Hopital came to solicit my interest for the
prince de Soubise, her lover.  I replied, that his majesty would
rather have the marechal for his friend than his minister; that,
in fact, the different appointments had taken place; and that, if
the names of the parties were not immediately divulged, it was
to spare the feelings of certain aspirants to the ministry: madame
de 1' Hopital withdrew, evidently much disconcerted at my reply.
Certainly M. de Soubise must have lost his reason, when he supposed
that the successor of M. de Choiseul would be himself, the most
insignificant prince of France; he only could suppose that he was
equal to such an elevation.  However this may be, he took upon
himself to behave very much like an offended person for some days;
but, finding such a line of conduct produced no good, he came
round again, and presented himself as usual at my parties, whilst
I received him as though nothing had occurred.

I had more difficulty in freeing myself from the importunities
of Messieurs de Broglie and de Maillebois.  I had given to each
of them a sort of promise; I had allowed them to hope, and yet,
when the time came to realize these hopes, I told them, that I
possessed much less influence than was generally imagined; to
which they replied, that they knew my power to serve them was
much greater than I appeared to believe.  After a while, I
succeeded in deadening the expectations of M. de Broglie, but
M. de Maillebois was long ere he would abandon his pursuit.  When
every chance of success had left him, he gave way to so much
violence and bitterness against M. d'Aiguillon, that the duke was
compelled to punish him for his impudent rage.  I will mention
the other candidates for the ministry at another opportunity.



CHAPTER XXVII


The comte de la Marche and the comtesse du Barry--The countess and
the prince de Conde--The duc de la Vauguyon and the countess--
Provisional minister--Refusal of the secretaryship of war--Displeasure
of the king--The marechale de Mirepoix--Unpublished letter from
Voltaire to Madame du Barry--Her reply

The comte de la Marche had always evinced the warmest regard for
me, and he sought, on the present occasion, to be repaid for his
attachment.  Both he and the prince de Conde had their ambitious
speculations in the present change of ministers; and both fancied,
that because their relation, the duke, had governed during the
king's minority, the right to the several appointments now vacant,
belonged as a matter of course to their family.  The count had
already sent to solicit my interest, through the mediation of
madame de Monaco, mistress to the prince de Conde; and, as I
shrewdly suspect, the occasional  of himself.  Finding
this measure did not produce all the good he expected, he came,
without further preface, to speak to me himself about it.  Unwilling
to come to an open rupture with him, I endeavoured to make him
comprehend, that the policy of the sovereign would never permit
his placing any of the administrative power in the hands of the
princes of his family; that he had consented, most reluctantly, to
investing them with military command, and that it would be fruitless
to urge more.

The comte de la Marche appeared struck by the justness of my
arguments; he replied,

"Well, madam, since I cannot be a minister, I must e'en give up
my wishes; but, for the love of heaven intreat of the king to
bestow his favours in the shape of a little pecuniary aid.  Things
look ill at present; they may take a worse turn, but he may
confidently rely on my loyalty and devotion: the supreme courts,
driven to the last extremity, will make a stand, and princes and
peers will range themselves under the banners.  We well know
how much this resistance will displease his majesty; I pledge
myself never to forsake your cause, but to defend it with my life;
that is, if my present pressing necessity for money be satisfied.
How say you, madam; can you procure it for me?"

"Very probably I may be enabled to assist you," replied I; "but
you must first inform me how much will satisfy you."

"Oh," answered he, carelessly, "something less than the mines of
Peru will suffice; I am not extravagant, and  merely ask for so
much as is absolutely necessary.  In the first place 60,000
livres paid down, and secondly, a yearly payment of 200,000 more."

This demand did not appear to me unreasonable, and I undertook
to arrange the matter to the prince's satisfaction, well pleased
on my own side to secure so illustrious an ally at so cheap a
rate, I procured the assent of the king and the comptroller-general;
the 60,000 livres were bestowed on the comte de la Marche in two
separate payments, the pension settled on him, and, still further,
an annuity of 30,000 livres was secured to madame de Monaco; and
I must do the count the justice to say, that he remained faithful
to our cause amidst every danger and difficulty; braving alike
insults, opprobrium, and the torrent of pamphlets and epigrams
of which he was the object; in fact, we had good reason for
congratulating ourselves upon securing such devotion and zeal at
so poor a price.

The prince de Conde, surrounded by a greater degree of worldly
state and consideration, was equally important to us, although
in another way.  He had in some degree compromised popularity
by attaching himself to me from the commencement of my court
favour, and the reception he bestowed on me at Chantilly had
completed his disgrace in the eyes of nobility.  He visited at my
house upon the most friendly footing; and whenever he found me,
he would turn the conversation upon politics, the state of affairs,

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