Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

dined with the marechale, and then returned to sleep at Paris.

On the following day.  at an early hour, I repaired to the Port
a l'Anglaise; M. de Rumas arrived there a few minutes after
myself.  He had the air and look of an honest man, but perhaps
no species of deceit is more easily detected than that quiet,
subdued manner, compressed lips, and uplifted eye.  Now-a-days
such a mode of dissembling would be too flimsy to impose even on
children; and hypocrites are ever greater proficients in their
art than was even M. de Rumas.

Madame de Mirepoix left us alone together, in order that I might
converse more freely with him.  I knew not how to begin, but
made many attempts to convey, in an indirect manner, the reasons
for his being summoned to that day's conference.  However, hints
and insinuations were alike thrown away upon one who had determined
neither to use eye's nor ears but as interest pointed out the
reasonableness of so doing; and accordingly, unable longer to
repress my impatience, I exclaimed abruptly,

"Pray, sir, do you know who I am?"

"Yes, madam," replied he, with a profound bow, and look of the
deepest humility, "you are the comtesse du Barry."

"Well, sir," added I, "and you are equally well aware, no doubt,
of the relation in which I stand to the king?"

"But, madam--"

"Nay, sir, answer without hesitation; I wish you to be candid,
otherwise my exceeding frankness may displease you."

"I know, madam," replied the hypocrite, "that his majesty finds
great pleasure in your charming society."

"And yet, sir," answered I, "his majesty experiences equal delight
in the company of your wife.  How answer you that, M. de Rumas?"

"My wife, madam!"

"Yes, sir, in the company of madame de Rumas; he pays her many
private visits, secretly corresponds with her--"

"The confidence of his majesty must ever honor his subjects."

"But," replied I, quickly, "may dishonor a husband."

"How, madam!  What is it you would insinuate?"

"That your wife would fain supplant me, and that she is now the
mistress of the king, although compelled to be such in secret."

"Impossible," exclaimed M. de Rumas, "and some enemy to my wife
has thus aspersed her to you."

"And do you treat it as a mere calumny?"  said I.  "No, sir,
nothing can be more true; and if you would wish further confirmation,
behold the letter which madame de Rumas wrote to the king only
the day before yesterday; take it and read it."

"Heaven preserve me, madam," exclaimed the time-serving wretch,
"from.  presuming to cast my eyes over what is meant only for his
majesty's gracious perusal; it would be an act of treason I am not
capable of committing."

"Then, sir," returned I, "I may reasonably conclude that it is with
your sanction and concurrence your wife intrigues with the king?"

"Ah, madam," answered the wily de Rumas, in a soft and expostulating
tone, "trouble not, I pray you, the repose of my family.  I know
too well the virtue of madame de Rumas, her delicacy, and the
severity of her principles; I know too well likewise the sentiments
in which her excellent parents educated her, and I defy the blackest
malice to injure her in my estimation."

"Wonderfully, sir!"  cried I; "so you determine to believe your
wife's virtue incorruptible, all the while you are profiting by
her intrigues.  However, I am too certain of what I assert to
look on with the culpable indifference you are pleased to assume,
whilst your  wife is seeking to supplant me at the
chateau; you shall hear of me before long.  Adieu, sir."

So saying, I quitted the room in search of the marechale, to
whom I related what had passed.

"And now, what think you of so base a hypocrite?"  asked I, when
I had finished my account.

"He well deserves having the mask torn from his face," replied
she; " but give yourself no further concern; return home, and
depend upon it, that, one way or other, I will force him into
the path of honor."

I accordingly ordered my carriage and returned to Versailles,
where, on the same evening, I received the following letter
from the marechale:--

"MY DEAR COUNTESS, --My efforts have been
attended with no better success than yours.  Well
may the proverb say, 'There is none so deaf as he
who will not hear,' and M. de Rumas perseveres in
treating all I advanced respecting his wife as
calumnious falsehoods.  According to his version
of the tale, madame de Rumas has no other
motive in seeing Louis XV so frequently, but to
implore his aid in favor of the poor in her
neighborhood.  I really lost all patience when
I heard him attempting to veil his infamous conduct
under the mask of charity; I therefore proceeded at
once to menaces, telling him that you bad so many
advantages over his wife, that you scorned to
consider her your rival: but that, nevertheless,
you did not choose that any upstart pretender
should dare ask to share his majesty's heart.
To all this he made no reply; and as the sight of
him only increased my indignation, I at length
desired him to quit me.  I trust you will pardon
me for having spoken in as queenlike a manner
as you could have done yourself.

"Adieu, my sweet friend."

This letter was far from satisfying me, and I determined upon
striking a decisive blow.  I sent for Chamilly, and treating him
with all the contempt he deserved, I told him, that if the king
did not immediately give up this woman he might prepare for his
own immediate dismissal.  At first Chamilly sought to appease my
anger by eager protestations of innocence, but when he found I
already knew the whole affair, and was firmly fixed in my
determination, he became alarmed, threw himself at my knees, and
promised to do all I would have him.  We then agreed to tell
Louis XV some tale of madame de Rumas that should effectually
deter him from thinking further of her.

In pursuance with this resolution, Chamilly informed the king,
that he had just been informed that madame de Rumas had a lover,
who boasted of being able to turn his majesty which way he pleased,
through the intervention of his mistress.  Louis XV wrote off
instantly to M. de Sartines, to have a watchful eye over the
proceedings of the Rumas family.  The lieutenant of police, who
had some regard for me, and a still greater portion of fear, was
faithful to my interests, and rendered to Louis XV the most
horrible particulars of the profligate mode of life pursued by
madame de Rumas; assuring him, that from every consideration of
personal safety, his majesty should shun the acquaintance.  The
king, incensed at the trick put upon him by these seemingly
virtuous people, was at first for confining both husband and wife
in prison, but this measure I opposed with all my power; for,
satisfied with the victory I had gained, I cared for no further
hurt to my adversaries.  I contrived, to insinuate to the worthy
pair the propriety of their avoiding the impending storm by a
timely retreat into the country, a hint they were wise enough to
follow up, so that I was entirely freed from all further dread
of their machinations.

All those who had served me in this affair I liberally rewarded;
Marin received for his share 500 louis.  It is true he lost the
confidence of Chamilly, but he gained mine instead, so that it
will easily be believed he was no sufferer by the exchange.  I
caused the marechale to receive from the king a superb Turkey
carpet, to which I added a complete service of Sevres porcelain,
with a beautiful breakfast set, on which were landscapes most
delicately and skilfully drawn in blue and gold: I gave her also
two large blue porcelain cots, as finely executed as those you
have so frequently admired in my small saloon.  These trifles
cost me no less a sum than 2800 livres.  I did not forget my
good friend M. de Sartines, who received a cane, headed with gold,
around which was a small band of diamonds.  As for Chamilly, I
granted him his pardon; and I think you will admit that was being
sufficiently generous.

After having thus recompensed the zeal of my friends, I had
leisure to think of taking vengeance upon the duc de Richelieu
for the part he had acted.  He came of his own accord to throw
himself into the very heat of my anger.  He had been calling on
the marechale de Mirepoix, where he had seen with envious eyes
the magnificent carpet I had presented her with; the cupidity of
the duke induced him, after continually recurring to the subject,
to say, that where my friends were concerned, no one could accuse
me of want of liberality.  "No, sir," answered I, "I consider that
no price can sufficiently repay the kind and faithful services of
a true friend, nor can baseness and treachery be too generally
exposed and punished."  From the tone in which I spoke the old
marechal easily perceived to what I was alluding.  He was wise
enough to be silent, whilst I followed up this first burst of my
indignation, by adding,

"For instance, monsieur le duc, how can I sufficiently repay your
friendly zeal to supply the king with a new mistress?"

"I, madam?"

"Yes, sir, you; I am aware of all your kind offices, and only

lament my inability to reward them in a suitable manner."

"In that case I shall not attempt to deny my share in the business."

"You have then sufficient honor to avow your enmity towards me?"

"By no means enmity, madam.  I merely admit my desire to contribute
to the amusement of the king, and surely, when I see all around
anxious to promote the gratification of their sovereign, I need
not be withheld from following so loyal an example.  The duc de
Duras was willing to present his own relation for his majesty's
acceptance, the abbe Terray offers his own daughter, Comte Jean
his sister-in-law, whilst I simply threw a humble and modest
female in his majesty's path.  I cannot see in what my fault
exceeds that of the gentlemen I have just mentioned."

"You really are the most audacious of men," replied I, laughing;
"I shall be obliged to solicit a  to hold you
a prisoner in Guienne.  Upon my word, your nephew and myself

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: