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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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his fears still more.

The courier, who had been despatched to madame Louise, returned,
bringing a letter from that princess to her sisters, under cover to
madame Adelaide, in which she implored of them not to suffer any
consideration to prevent their immediately acquainting their father
with the dangerous condition he was in.  The duty, she added, was
imperative, and the greatest calamity that could befall them, would
be to see this dearly loved parent expire in a state of sinful
indifference as to his spiritual welfare.

The august recluse, detached from all sublunary considerations,
saw nothing but the glorious hereafter, where she would fain
join company with all her beloved friends and connexions of
this world.

The archbishop of Paris, M. de Beaumont, a prelate highly esteemed
for his many excellent private qualities, but who had frequently
embarrassed the king by his pertinacity, did not forget him on
this occasion; for no sooner did the account of his majesty's 
illness reach him, than, although suffering with a most painful
complaint, he hastened to Versailles, where his presence embarrassed
every one, particularly the grand almoner, who, a better courtier
than priest, was excessively careful never to give offence to any
person, even though the king's salvation depended upon it; he,
therefore, kept his apartment, giving it out that he was
indisposed, and even took to his bed, the better to avoid any
disagreeable or inconvenient request.  The sight of the archbishop
of Paris was far from being agreeable to him.  This prelate went
first in search of the princesses who were not to be seen on
account of their being with their father.  A message was despatched
to them, and mesdames Adelaide and Sophie, after having a long
conference with him, by his advice, summoned the bishops of
Meaux, Goss, and de Senlis, and held a species of council, in
which it was unanimously agreed that nothing ought to prevent
their entering upon an explanation with the king, and offering
him spiritual succour.

Who was to undertake the delicate commission, became the next
point to consider.  M. de Roquelaire declined, not wishing, as he
said, to infringe upon the rights of the grand almoner, who was
now at Versailles.  M. de la Roche Aymon was therefore sent for,
requesting his immediate attendance.  Never did invitation arrive
more , or more cruelly disturb any manoeuvring
soul.  However, to refuse was impossible, and the cardinal arrived,
execrating the zeal of his reverend brother of Paris; who, after
having explained the state of affairs to him, informed him that
he was sent for the purpose of discharging his office by preparing
the king for confession.

The grand almoner replied, that the sacred duty by no means
belonged to him; that his place at court was of a very different
nature, and had nothing at all to do with directing the king's
conscience.  His majesty, he said, had a confessor, who ought
to be sent for, and the very sight of him in the royal chamber
would be sufficient to apprize the illustrious invalid of the
motives which brought him thither.  In a word, the grand almoner
got rid of the affair, by saying, "that, as it was one of the utmost
importance, it would be necessary to confer with his royal
highness, the dauphin, respecting it."  


 First proceedings of the council--The dauphin receives the prelates
with great coolness--Situation of the archbishop of Paris--
Richelieu evades the project for confessing the king--The friends
of madame du Barry come forward--The English physician--The
abbe Terray--Interview with the prince de Soubise--The prince
and the courtiers--La Martiniere informs the king of France the
true nature of his complaint--Consequences of this disclosure

The different members of this  declared
themselves in favour of this advice, much to the grief and chagrin
of the princess Adelaide.  She easily perceived by this proposition
that the court would very shortly change masters, and could she
hope to preserve the same influence during the reign of her nephew
she had managed to obtain whilst her father held the sceptre?
However, she made no opposition to the resolution of the prelates,
who forthwith proceeded to the dauphin, who received them with
considerable coolness.  As yet, but ill-assured in the new part
he had to play, the prince showed himself fearful and embarrassed.
The dauphiness would willingly have advised him, but that prudence
would not permit her to do, so that the dauphin, left wholly to
himself, knew not on what to determine.

This was precisely what the grand almoner had hoped and expected,
and he laughed in his sleeve at the useless trouble taken by the
archbishop; and whilst he openly affected to promote his desires
as much as was in his power, he secretly took measures to prevent
their success.  M. de Beaumont, who was of a most open and upright
nature, was far from suspecting these intrigues; indeed, his simple
and pious character but ill-qualified him for the corrupt and deceitful
atmosphere of a court, especially such a one as Versailles.  His
situation now became one of difficulty; abandoned by the bishops
and the grand almoner, disappointed in his hopes of finding a
supporter in the dauphin, what could he do alone with the
princesses, who, in their dread of causing an emotion, which
might be fatal to their parent, knew not what to resolve upon.  As
a last resource, they summoned the  abbe Mandaux, the king's
confessor.  The prelate excited his zeal in all its fervour, and
this simple and obscure priest determined to undertake that
which many more eminent personages had shrunk from attempting.

He therefore sought admittance into the chamber of the king, where
 he found the ducs de Duras and de Richelieu, to whom he
communicated the mission upon which he was come.

At this declaration, the consequences of which he plainly foresaw,
the duc de Duras hesitated to reply, scarcely knowing how to ward
off a blow the responsibility of which must fall upon him alone.
The duc de Richelieu, with greater self-command, extricated him
from his difficulty.

"Sir," said he to the abbe, "your zeal is highly praise-worthy,
both the duke and myself are aware of all that should be done
upon such an occasion as the present; and although I freely
admit that the sacred act you speak of is of an imperative nature,
yet I would observe, that the king being still in ignorance of his
fatal malady, neither your duties nor ours can begin, until the
moment when the physicians shall have thought proper to reveal
the whole truth to his majesty.  This is a matter of form and
etiquette to which all must submit who have any functions to
fulfil in the chateau."

The duc de Duras could have hugged his colleague for this well-
timed reply.  The abbe Mandaux felt all the justness of the
observation, yet with all the tenacity of his profession, he replied,

"That since it rested with the physicians to apprize the king of
his being ill with the small-pox, they ought to be summoned and
consulted as to the part to take."

At these words the duc de Duras slipped away from the group,
and went himself in search of Doctor Bordeu, whom he brought
into an angle of the chamber out of sight of the king's bed.  The
duc de Duras having explained to him what the abbe had just been
saying to them, as well as the desire he had manifested of
preparing the king to receive the last sacraments, the doctor
regarded the abbe fixedly for some instance, and then inquired 
in a severe tone, "Whether he had promised any person to murder
the king?"

This abrupt and alarming question made the priest change colour,
whilst he asked for an explanation of such a singular charge.

"I say, sir," replied Bordeu, "that whoever speaks at present to
his majesty of small-pox, confession, or extreme unction, will
have to answer for his life."

"Do you, indeed, believe," asked the duc de Richelieu, "that the
mention of these things would produce so fatal a result?"

"Most assuredly I do; and out of one hundred sick persons it
would have the same effect upon sixty, perhaps eighty; indeed,

I have known the shock produce instantaneous death.  This I am
willing to sign with my own blood if it be necessary, and my
professional brother there will not dispute its truth."

At these words he made a sign for Lemonnier to advance, and
after having explained to him the subject of conversation, begged
of him to speak his opinion openly and candidly.  Lemonnier was
somewhat of a courtier, and one glance at the two noblemen before
whom he stood, was sufficient to apprize him what opinion was
expected from him.  He, therefore, fully and unhesitatingly
confirmed all that Bordeu had previously advanced.

Strong in these decisions, the duc de Duras expressed his regret
to the confessor at being unable to accord his request.  "But,"
added he, "You perceive the thing is impossible, unless to him
who would become a regicide."

This terrible expression renewed the former terror of the abbe,
who, satisfied with having shown his zeal, was, perhaps, not
very sorry for having met with such insurmountable obstacles.  He
immediately returned to the apartment of madame Sophie, where
the council was still assembled, and related the particulars of
his visit; whilst the poor archbishop of Paris, thus foiled in
every attempt, was compelled to leave Versailles
wholly unsuccessful.

I heard all these things from the duc de Richelieu; he told me
that nothing could have been more gratifying than the conduct of
Bordeu and Lemonnier, and that I had every reason for feeling
satisfied with the conduct of all around me.  "It is in the moment
of peril," said he, "that we are best able to know our true friends."

"I see it," replied I; "and since our danger is a mutual one ought
we not to forget our old subjects of dispute?"

"For my own part, madam," returned he, "I do not remember that
any ever existed; besides, is not my cause yours likewise?  A new
reign will place me completely in the background.  The present

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