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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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might have supposed, by the closeness of his questions, that he
already fancied he had identified this mysterious personage: he
then examined the box, which stood on the table, and remarked,
"This is a very serious affair, nor can I undertake the management
of it alone; it involves a too great responsibility.  Spite of the
lady's assertions, I am confident the fullest confidence might
be placed in all the ministers.  However, I will first have a
conference with M. de Saint-Florentin and the chancellor, in
whose presence I will send for the lieutenant of police; and the
contents of these bottles shall be immediately analyzed."

The duke, without quitting me, wrote immediately to his two
colleagues as well as to M. de Sartines, requesting this latter
to repair to my apartment without delay.  One of the ministers
summoned by M. d'Aiguillon was not at that moment at Versailles,
having left at an early hour in the morning for Paris.  Neither
he nor M. de Sartines could possibly be with us before eight
o'clock in the evening; it was therefore agreed to adjourn our
conference till their arrival.  Meanwhile M. d'Aiguillon, the
marechale, and myself, remained in a state of the most cruel
anxiety.  The duke first blamed me for not having caused the
woman to be arrested, and afterwards he confessed to the marechale,
that perhaps it was better the conspiracy should be allowed time
to ripen into maturity.  Daring this time the liquid contained
in the four bottles was being decomposed: M. Quesnay, first
physician, Messrs.  Thiebault and Varennes, visiting physicians,
M. de la Martiniere, counsellor of state, surgeon to his majesty,
as well as Messrs.  Ducor and Prost, apothecaries to his majesty,
had been collected together for this purpose by the duc d'Aiguillon.

These gentlemen came to report the termination of their experiments
at the very moment when the chancellor and lieutenant of police
entered the room; the duc de la Vrilliere had preceded them by
about five minutes; the duc d'Aiguillon requested these gentlemen
to be seated.  The doctors Quesnay and la Martiniere were
introduced, and desired to make known the result of their operations.
My newly-arrived guests, who as yet understood nothing of what
was going on, were struck with astonishment at hearing it said,
that the four bottles of orange-flower water contained a
considerable proportion of a most active poison, of which a few
drops would be sufficient to cause instantaneous death.  Having
thus executed their commission, the medical gentlemen bowed
and retired.

M. d'Aiguillon then explained to my wondering friends the horrible
affair which had occasioned their being sent for so hastily.  I
cannot tell you what effect this disclosure produced on M. de la
Vrilliere or M. de Maupeou, my whole attention being fixed upon
M. de Sartines.  You may suppose that a lieutenant of police,
particularly one who piqued himself upon knowing every thing,
could not feel very much at his ease, when each word that was
uttered convicted him either of incapacity or negligence.  His
brow became contracted, he hemmed, choked, fidgeted about, and
appeared as though he would have given every thing in the world f
or liberty to justify himself, but etiquette forbade it, and he
was only permitted to speak after the secretaries of state then
present, or if called upon by either of them.

When M. d'Aiguillon had ceased speaking, the chancellor in his
turn took up the conversation.  M. de Maupeou was by nature cold
and sarcastic, delighting in annoying any person; but, on the
present occasion, the ill-nature inherent in him was still excited
by the decided hatred he bore to the unfortunate M. de Sartines.
He began by saying, that the conspiracy was evident, and was
easily explained by the state of exasperation in which the Jesuits
and parliamentarians now were; both orders looking for no other
prospect of amendment in their condition than such as might arise
from some sudden convulsion of the kingdom.  He expressed his
opinion of the necessity of instituting a rigorous inquiry into the
conduct of these two bodies; and then, turning to M. de Sartines,
whose cheek grew pale at the movement, he charged him to lay
before the council all those particulars which he must necessarily
possess as head of the police, either respecting the present plot,
or relating to any of the ancient members of parliament or the
order of Jesuits.

This was a dagger to the heart of M. de Sartines, who in vain
sought to frame a suitable reply: but what could he say?  He did
not in reality possess any of the information for which he had
received credit, and after many awkward endeavours at explaining
himself, he was compelled frankly to confess, that he knew not a
word more of the conspiracy than he had just then heard.

It was now the turn of M. de la Vrilliere to speak.  He also
would fain have attacked the unfortunate lieutenant of police;
but, whether M. de Maupeou thought that his own correction had
been sufficiently strong, or whether he begrudged any other
person interfering with his vengeance upon his personal foe, he
abruptly interrupted the tirade of M. de la Vrilliere, by observing,
that a conspiracy conducted by only eight persons might very
possibly escape the eye of the police; but, furnished as it now
was with so many circumstances and particulars, it was impossible
that the plot should any longer defy their vigilant researches.

M. d'Aiguillon fully concurred in this observation, and M. de
Sartines, recovered in some measure from his first alarm, promised
every thing they could desire; and it was finally arranged that
the police should this night use every precautionary measure in
Paris, and that the officers of the guard should receive orders
to redouble their zeal and activity in watching the chateau; and
that when the unknown female called again on me, she should be
conducted by madame de Mirepoix to the duc d'Aiguillon, who
would interrogate her closely.

These measures decided on, the council broke up, and I went to
receive the king, who was this evening to do me the favour of
taking his supper in my apartments.



CHAPTER XXXVIII


Conclusion of this affair -A letter from the incognita--Her
examination--Arrest of Cabert the Swiss--He dies in the Bastille of
poison--Madame Lorimer is arrested and poisoned--The innocence
of the Jesuits acknowledged--Madame de Mirepoix and the
100,000 francs--Forgetfulness on the part of the lieutenant of
police--A visit from comte Jean--Madame de Mirepoix

M. de Sartines did not sleep on his post, but his researches were
fruitless; and, on the following day, three successive messengers
came to announce to us that they had as yet made no discovery.
The day passed without bringing any fresh intelligence, and our
anxiety increased daily.  At length arrived the period fixed for
the visit of the .  I awaited the coming of this female
with an impatience impossible to describe.  About mid-day a note
was brought me; I instantly recognized the writing as that of my
mysterious friend, and hastily breaking the seal, read as follows:

"MADAM,--I must entreat your pardon for breaking
the appointment for to-day, imperative duties still
detain me in Paris.

"Since our last interview I have been unceasingly
occupied in endeavouring to discover the names of
the eight persons of whom I spoke to you, and, I
am sorry to say, I have but partially succeeded.
The person who has hitherto furnished me with my
information obstinately refuses to state who are
the parliamentarians concerned in the conspiracy.
I am, however, enabled to forward you the names
of the four Jesuits, with some few particulars relating
to these worthy fathers.

"The Jesuits in question are Messrs.  Corbin,
Berthier, Cerulti, and Dumas; the first of whom
was employed in the education of the dauphin,
the second and the third are sufficiently known;
as for the fourth, he is a bold and enterprising
Parisian, capable of conceiving and executing the
most daring schemes.  Whilst the order remained
in possession of power he had no opportunity of
displaying his extraordinary talents, and consequently
he obtained but a trifling reputation; but since its
banishment he has become its firmest support and
principal hope.  All the treasures of the brotherhood
are at his disposal, and I learn, that the day
before yesterday he received a considerable sum
from Lyons.

"This intrepid and daring spirit is the very soul
of the conspiracy; he it is who conceived the
plan and set the whole machine in action.  It would
be effectually extinguished could we but once
secure him, but this is by no means an easy task;
he has no fixed abode; never sleeps two nights
following in the same home; one day he may be
found in one part of Paris and the next at the very
opposite corner; he changes his manner of dress
as frequently as he does his abode.

"I shall have the honour of seeing you to-morrow
or the day after at furthest.  Meanwhile lay aside
all uneasiness for his majesty's safety: I pledge
you my word he is for the present in perfect
security.  The execution of the plot is still
deferred for the want of a Damiens sufficiently
sanguinary to undertake the task.

"Deign, madam, to accept the assurance of my
sincere devotion, and believe that I will neglect
no opportunity of affording you proofs of it.
"Yours, madam, etc., etc."

I immediately communicated this letter to the duc d'Aiguillon, who
convoked a fresh meeting of the persons who had been present on
the preceding day.  It was at first deliberated whether or not to
arrest the whole body of Jesuits then in Paris, but this, although
the advice of M. d'Aiguillon, was by no means approved of by the
chancellor.  M. de Sartines and M. de la  Vrilliere were for
carrying the idea into execution, but the objections of M. de
Maupeou were too powerful to be overruled, and the scheme was for
the present abandoned.  The chancellor maintained that the other
conspirators, warned of their own, danger by the seizure of their
friends, would either escape the vengeance of the laws by flight

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