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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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Have no objection to us poor monarchs imitating him; and allow me
the same privilege in mine.  After all, why should I need his or
any other person's opinion; let the whole world applaud or condemn,
I shall still act according to my own best judgment."

On my side I was far from feeling quite satisfied with the
accounts I continued to receive from Chanteloup; above all I
felt  irritated at the parade of attachment made by the prince
de Beauvau  for the exiles, and I complained bitterly of it to
the marechale de Mirepoix.

"What can I do to help it," said she; "my sister-in-law is a
simpleton; who, after having ruined her brother, will certainly
cause the downfall of her husband.  I beseech you, my dear, out
of regard for me, to put up with the unthinking conduct of the
prince de Beauvau for a little while; he will soon see his error
and amend it."  He did indeed return to our party, but his
obedience was purchased at a heavy price.

Some days after the disgrace of the duc de Choiseul, I received
a letter from M. de Voltaire.  This writer, who carped at and
attacked all subjects, whether sacred or profane, and from whose
satires neither great nor small were exempt, had continual need
of some powerful friend at court.  When his protector, M. de
Choiseul, was dismissed, he saw clearly enough that the only
person on whom he could henceforward depend to aid and support
him, was she who had been chiefly instrumental in removing his
first patron.  With these ideas he addressed to me the following
letter of condolence or, to speak more correctly, of congratulation.
It was as follows:--

"MADAME LA COMTESSE,--Fame, with her hundred
tongues, has announced to, me in my retreat the fall
of M. de Choiseul and your triumph.  This piece of
news has not occasioned me much surprise, I always
believed in the potency of beauty to carry all before
it; but, shall I confess it?  I scarcely know whether
I ought to congratulate myself on the success
you have obtained over your enemies.  M, de
Choiseul was one of my kindest friends, and his
all-powerful protection sufficed to sustain me
against the malice of my numerous enemies.
May a humble creature like me flatter himself
with the hope of finding in you the same generous
support?  for when the god Mars is no longer
to be found, what can be more natural than to
seek the aid of Pallas, the goddess of the line arts?
Will she refuse to protect with her aegis the
most humble of her adorers?

"Permit me, madam, to avail myself of this
opportunity to lay at your feet the assurance
of my most respectful devotion.  I dare not
give utterance to all my prayers in your behalf,
because I am open to a charge of infidelity
from some, yet none shall ever detect me
unfaithful in my present professions; at my
age, 'tis time our choice was made, and our
affections fixed.  Be assured, lovely countess,
that I shall ever remain your attached friend;
and that no day will pass without my teaching
the echoes of the Alps to repeat your
much-esteemed name.

"I have the honour to remain, malady, yours, etc., etc."

You may be quite sure, my friend, that I did not allow so singular
an epistle to remain long unanswered.  I replied to it in the
following words:--

"SIR,--The perusal of your agreeable letter made me
almost grieve for the disgrace of the duc de
Choiseul.  Be assured, that to his own conduct,
and that of his family, may be alone attributed
the misfortune you deplore.

"The regrets you so feelingly express for the
calamity which has befallen your late protector
do honour to your generous heart; but
recollect that your old friends were not the
only persons who could
appreciate and value your fine talents; to
be esteemed worthy the honourable appellation
of your patron is a glory which the proudest
might envy; and, although I cannot boast of
being a Minerva, who, after all, was possibly
no wiser than the rest of us, I shall always
feel proud and happy to serve you with my
utmost credit and influence.

"I return you my best thanks for the wishes
you express, and the attachment you so kindly
profess.  You honour me too much by repeating
my name amidst the bosom of the Alps!  be assured,
that I shall not be behindhand in making the saloons
of Paris and Versailles resound with yours.  Had I
leisure for the undertaking, I would go and
teach it to the only mountain worthy of re-echoing
it--at the foot of Parnassus.

"I am, sir, yours, etc., etc."

You perceive, my friend, that I intended this reply should be
couched in the wittiest style imaginable, yet, upon reading it
over at this lapse of time, it appears to me the silliest thing
ever penned; nevertheless, I flattered myself I had caught the
tone and manner in which M. de Voltaire had addressed me: he
perceived my intention, and was delighted with the flattering
deference it expressed.  You know the vanity of men of letters;
and M. de Voltaire, as the first writer of the age, possessed,
in proportion, the largest portion of conceit.



CHAPTER XXVIII


 A few words respecting Jean Jacques Rousseau--The comtesse du Barry
is desirous of his acquaintance--The countess visits Jean Jacques
Rousseau--His household furniture-- His portrait--Therese-- second
visit from madame du Barry to Jean Jacques Rousseau--The countess
relates her visit to the king--Billet from J.  J.  Rousseau to madame
du Barry--The two duchesses d'Aiguillon

Spite of the little estimation in which I held men of letters,
generally speaking, you must not take it for granted that I
entertained an equal indifference for all these gentlemen.  I
have already, I fear, tired your patience when dwelling upon my
ardent admiration of M. de Voltaire; I have now to speak to you
of that with which his illustrious rival, Jean Jacques Rousseau,
inspired me--the man who, after a life so filled with constant
trouble and misfortunes, died a few years since in so deplorable
a manner.  At the period of which I am now speaking this man,
who had filled Europe with his fame, was living at Paris, in a
state bordering upon indigence.  I must here mention, that it was
owing to my solicitation that he had been permitted to return
from his exile, I having successfully interceded for him with
the chancellor and the attorney-general.  M. Seguier made no
difficulty to my request, because he looked upon Jean Jacques
Rousseau as the greatest enemy to a set of men whom he mortally
hated--the philosophers.  Neither did M. de Maupeou, from the
moment he effected the overthrow of the parliament, see any
objection to bestowing his protection upon a man whom the
parliaments had exiled.  In this manner, therefore, without his
being aware of it, Rousseau owed to me the permission to
re-enter Paris.  Spite of the mortifying terms in which this
celebrated writer had spoken of the king's mistresses, I had a
lively curiosity to know him; all that his enemies repeated of
his uncouthness, and even of his malicious nature, far from
weakening the powerful interest with which he inspired me, rather
augmented it, by strengthening the idea I had previously formed
of his having been greatly calumniated.  The generous vengeance
which he had recently taken for the injuries he had received
from Voltaire particularly charmed me.*  I thought only how I
could effect my design of seeing him by one means or another,
and in this resolution I was confirmed by an accident which befell
me one day.

*Jean Jacques Rousseau in his journey through
Lyons in June 1770 subscribed for the statue
of Voltaire.--author

It was the commencement of April, 1771, I was reading for the
fourth time, the ","and for the tenth, or,
probably, twelfth, the account of the party on the lake, when
the marechale de Mirepoix entered the room.  I laid my open
volume on the mantel-piece, and the marechale, glancing her eye
upon the book I had just put down, smilingly begged my pardon  for
disturbing my grave studies, and taking it in her hand, exclaimed,

"Ah!  I see you have been perusing ''; I
have just been having more than an hour's conversation respecting
its author."

"What were you saying of him?"  asked I.

"Why, my dear, I happened to be at the house of madame de
Luxembourg, where I met with the comtesse
de Boufflers."

"Yes, I remember," said I, "the former of these ladies was the
particular friend of Jean Jacques Rousseau."

"And the second also," answered she; "and I can promise you, that
neither the one or the other spoke too well of him."

"Is it possible?"  exclaimed I, with a warmth I could  not repress.

"The duchess," resumed madame de Mirepoix, "says he is an ill-bred
and ungrateful man, and the countess insists upon it he is a
downright pedant."

'Shameful, indeed," cried I; "but can you, my dear friend,
account for the ill-nature with which these ladies speak of
poor Rousseau?"

"Oh!  Yes," replied the marechale, "their motives are
easily explained, and I will tell you a little secret, for
the truth of which I can vouch.  Madame de Luxembourg had at
one time conceived the most lively passion for Jean Jacques."

"Indeed!"  cried I; "and he--"

"Did not return it.  As for madame de Bouffiers, the case was
exactly reversed; and Rousseau has excited her resentment by
daring long to nurse a hopeless flame, of which she was the
object: this presumption on the part of the poet our dignified
countess could never pardon.  However, I entreat of you not to
repeat this; remember, I tell you in strictest secrecy."

"Oh, be assured of my discretion," said I; "I promise you not to
publish your secret" (which, by the way, I was very certain was
not communicated for the first time when told to me).

This confidence on the part of the marechale had, in some
unaccountable  manner, only increased the ardent desire I felt
to see the author  of the ""; and I observed
to madame de Mirepoix, that I had a great curiosity to be
introduced to Rousseau.

"I fear," said she, "you will never be able to persuade him to
visit at the chateau."

"How then can I accomplish my desire of seeing this celebrated man?"

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