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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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their family; sometimes, a lover rich and powerful kept them
concealed to satisfy his love.  One thought she belonged to a
German prince, another to an English lord.  There were some,
however, who, better informed, either by their predecessors, or
by chance, knew precisely what was in store for them, and accordingly
built some exceedingly fine castles in the air.  But when they
were suspected to be so knowing, they were sent away, and either
married (if pregnant), or compelled to enter a cloister or chapter.

The noble damsels were served with peculiar etiquette, their
servants wore a green livery.  Those who belonged to the ignobles,
had their valets clothed only in gray.  The king had arranged this,
and applauded it as one of the most admirable decisions of his
life, and contended with me that the families who paid this impost
for his pleasures, were greatly indebted to him for it.  I assure
you, my friend, that there are often very peculiar ideas in the
head of a king.

After , the , the young ladies, came a
lady, who had no title in the house, because she "carried on the
war" out of doors, but still was a most useful personage.  In
very truth la Mere Bompart was a wonderful animal.  Paint to
yourself a woman rather small than large, rather fat than lean,
rather old than young, with a good foot, a good eye, as robust as
a trooper, with a decided "call" for intrigue, drinking nothing
but wine, telling nothing but lies, swearing by, or denying God,
as suited her purpose.  Fancy such an one, and you will have before
you .

She was in correspondence with all sorts of persons, with the
most celebrated , and of course with the most
noted pimps.  She treated Lebel as her equal, went familiarly to
M. de Sartines and occasionally condescended to visit M. de
Saint-Florentin.  Everybody at court received her graciously;
everybody but the king and myself, who held her in equal horror.

The  cost enormous sums.  The lowest expense
was calculated at 150,000 livres, to pay only the functionaries
and the domestics, the education and the board of the < eleves >,
etc.  This does not include the cost of the ,
the indemnities paid to families, the dowry given with them in
marriage, the presents made to them, and the expenses of the
illegitimate children: this was enormous in cost, at least 2,000,000
livres a year, and yet I make the lowest estimation.  The
 was kept up for thirty-four years: it cost
annually 4 or 5,000,000 livres, and that will amount to
nearly 150,000,000 (£ 6,250,000).  If you think I mistake, go
through the calculation.

A short time after my sojourn at Versailles, when I was the
acknowledged mistress of the king, the duc de Richelieu asked me
if I had heard of the ?  I asked him, in my turn,
what he meant, and if I could procure any account of the place.
He then told me of the care which madame de Pompadour bestowed
On the place, the advantage she drew from it, and assured me of
the necessity for following her example.  I spoke of this to comte
Jean, and begged his advice.  My brother-in-law replied:--

"You must do as the marquise de Pompadour did, and as the duc de
Richelieu has advised.  They spend a vast deal of money in this
house, and I undertake to look over their accounts.  Nominate me
your prime minister, and I shall be the happiest of men.  It is
impossible but there must be something to be gleaned from
his majesty."

"In truth, my dear brother-in-law, you would be in your element;
money to handle and young girls to manage.  What more could you
covet?  You will establish a gaming table at the ,
and never quit it again."

Comte Jean began to laugh, and then seriously advised me to
follow the plain counsel of the duc de Richelieu.

I decided on doing so.  I sent for Madame.  She came with all the
dignity of an abbess of a regally founded convent.  But in spite
of her pretensions, I only saw in her the rival of Gourdan and
Paris, and treated her as such; that is, with some contempt, for
with that feeling her office inspired me.  She told me all I have
described to you, and many other things which have since escaped
me.  At that time there were only four < eleves > in the house.
When she had given me all the details I wished, I sent her away,
desiring to be informed of all that passed in her establishment.




CHAPTER XXX


Fête given by the comtesse de Valentinois--The comtesse du Barry
feigns an indisposition--Her dress--The duc de Cosse-The comte
and comtesse de Provence--Dramatic entertainment--Favart and
Voisenon--A few observations--A pension--The marechale de Luxembourg
--Adventure of M. de Bombelles--Copy of a letter addressed to him--
Louis XV--M. de Maupeou and madame du Barry

My present situation was not a little embarrassing; known and
recognised as the mistress of the king, it but ill accorded with
my feelings to be compelled to add to that title the superintendent
of his pleasures; and I had not yet been sufficiently initiated
into the intrigues of a court life to accept this strange charge
without manifest dislike and hesitation.  Nevertheless, whilst so
many were contending for the honour of that which I condemned,
I was compelled to stifle my feelings and resign myself to the
bad as well as the good afforded by my present situation; at a
future period I shall have occasion again to revert to the
 during the period of my reign, but for the
present I wish to change the subject by relating to you what
befell me at a fete given me by madame de Valentinois, while she
feigned to give it in the honour of madame de Provence.

The comtesse de Valentinois, flattered by the kindness of the
dauphiness's manner towards her, and wishing still further to
insinuate herself into her favour, imagined she should promote
her object by requesting that princess would do her the honour
to pass an evening at her house; her request was granted, and
that too before the duchesse de la Vauguyon could interfere to
prevent it.  Furious at not having been apprized of the invitation
till too late to cause its rejection, she vowed to make the triumphant
countess pay dearly for her triumph; for my own part I troubled
myself very little with the success of madame de Valentinois,
which, in fact, I perceived would rather assist than interfere
with my projects.  Hitherto I had not made my appearance at any
of the houses of the nobility when the princesses were invited
thither; this clearly proved to the public, in general, how great
was the opposition I experienced from the court party.  I was
now delighted to prove to the Parisians that I was not always to
lead the life of a recluse, but that I could freely present myself
at those parties to which other ladies were invited.  However,
as my friends apprehended that the comtesse de Provence might
prevail upon her lady of honour not to invite me, by the advice
of the chancellor and the minister for foreign affairs, it was
arranged that I should for a week previous to the fete feign a
severe indisposition.  It would be impossible to describe the joy
with which these false tidings were received by my enemies.  We
are all apt to picture things as we would have them, and already
the eager imaginations of the opposing party had converted the
account of my illness into an incurable and mortal disease.

Every hour my friends brought me in fresh anecdotes of the avidity
with which the rumour of my dangerous state had been received,
whilst I lay upon what the credulous hopes of my enemies had
determined to be my death-bed, laughing heartily at their folly,
and preparing fresh schemes to confound and disappoint their
anticipated triumph.

One very important object of consideration was my dress for the
coming occasion.  The king presented me with a new set of jewels,
and himself selected the materials for my robe and train, which
were to be composed of a rich green satin embroidered with gold,
trimmed with wreaths of roses, and looped up with pearls; the lower
part of this magnificent dress was trimmed with a profusion of
the finest Flemish lace.  I wore on my head a garland of full blown
roses, composed of the finest green and gold work; round my
forehead was a string of beautiful pearls, from the centre of
which depended a diamond star; add to this a pair of splendid ear-rings,
valued at 100,000 crowns, with a variety of jewels equally costly,
and you may form some idea of my appearance on that eventful
evening.  The, king, who presided at my toilette, could not
repress his admiration; he even insisted upon clasping my necklace,
in order that he might, as he said, flatter himself with having
completed such a triumph of nature and art.

At the hour fixed upon I set out, conducted by the ducs d'Aiguillon
and de Cosse and now I remember I have introduced this latter to
you for the first time, however I will promise that it will not
be for the last; he possessed, and still possesses all the virtues
of his noble house, he was impetuous from a deeply feeling heart,
and proud from a consciousness of being properly appreciated.
Young, handsome, and daring, he was pre-eminently calculated both
to inspire love, and to feel it; it was quite impossible for him
to fail in winning the affections of any female he exerted himself
to please, and even at the present time that he has lost some of
his earlier graces, he is still irresistible as ever; his naturally
gay disposition was but ill suited to nourishing grave or philosophic
reasoning, but then he was the soul of company, and possessed a
fine and delicate wit which ever vented itself in the most brilliant
sallies.  M. de Cosse like the knights of old, was wholly devoted
to his king and his mistress, and would, I am sure, had the
occasion required it, have nobly died in defence of either; I only
pray he may never be put to the proof.  I saw much of him at the
 beginning of our acquaintance, but as his many amiable qualities

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