Make your own free website on Tripod.com

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

his eyes, persuaded me but too plainly that all hope was at an end.

"Is the king dead?"  cried I, in a stifled voice.

"No, madam," replied he, "Louis XV still lives, nor is it by any
means certain that the misfortune you apprehend is in store for us."

"He sends me from him, then," exclaimed I, with a convulsive cry,
"and my enemies have triumphed."

"His majesty is but of human nature, madam," replied the duke;
"he feels himself dangerously ill, dreads the future, and believes
that he owes his people a sort of reparation for past errors."

"How, my lord duke," interrupted I, "this grave language in your
lips--but no matter.  Inform me only at whose desire you state
these melancholy facts; speak, I am prepared for your mission,
be it what it may."

"You shall hear everything, madam," replied the duke, leading me
to an arm-chair.  I seated myself; my sisters- in-law, my niece,
and comte Jean stood around me, eagerly waiting the duke's
communication.  "A few hours after you had been removed from his
chamber, the king inquired of the princess Adelaide whether it
were generally known at Paris that he had the small-pox.  The
princess replied in the affirmative, adding:

"'The archbishop of Paris was here twice during yesterday to
inquire after you.'

"'Yet I belong more properly to the diocese of Chartres,' returned
the king, 'and surely M. de Fleury would not interest himself less
about me than M. de Beaumont.'

"'They are both truly anxious about you, my dearest father, and
if you would only see them--'

"'No, no,' answered Louis XV; 'they must not be taken from the
duties of their respective dioceses; besides, in case of need, I
have my grand almoner.'

"Madame Adelaide did not venture to urge the matter further just
then, and, after a short interval of silence, a message was
brought from you, inquiring whether you could see the king, to
 which he himself replied, that he felt inclined to sleep, and
would rather not see any person that night.  I was in the chamber,
and he very shortly called me to him, and said:

"'Duc d'Aiguillon, I have the small-pox; and you are aware that
there is a sort of etiquette in my family which enjoins my
immediately discharging my duties as a Christian.'

"'Yes, sire, if the malady wore a serious aspect; but in your case--'

"'May God grant,' replied he, 'that my disorder be not dangerous;
however, it may become so, if it is as yet harmless, and I would
fain die as a believer rather than an infidel.  I have been a great
sinner, doubtless; but I have ever observed Lent with a most
scrupulous exactitude.  I have caused more than a hundred thousand
masses to be said for the repose of unhappy souls; I have
respected the clergy, and punished the authors of all impious
works, so that I flatter myself I have not been a very bad Christian.'

"I listened to his discourse with a heavy heart, yet I still
strove to reassure the king respecting his health, of which, I
assured him, there was not the slightest doubt.

"'There is one sacrifice,' said the king, in a low and hurried
tone, 'that my daughter Louise, her sisters, and the clergy, will
not be long in exacting from me in the name of etiquette.  I
recollect the scene of Metz, and it would be highly disagreeable
to me to have it repeated at Versailles; let us, therefore, take
our precautions in time to prevent it.  Tell the duchesse
d'Aiguillon that she will oblige me by taking the comtesse du
Barry to pass two or three days with her at Ruel.'

"'How, sire!' exclaimed I, 'send your dearest friend from you at
a time when you most require her cares?'

"'I do not send her away,' answered the king, with mournful
tenderness, 'I but yield to present necessity; let her submit as
she values my happiness, and say to her, that I hope and believe
her absence will be very short.'"

The duke here ceased his recital, which fully confirmed all my
previous anticipations.  My female relatives sobbed aloud, while
comte Jean, compressing his lips, endeavoured to assume that
firmness he did not really possess.  By a violent effort I forced
myself to assume a sort of resignation.

"Am I required to depart immediately?"  inquired I.

"No," said the duke; "to leave the chateau in the middle of the
night would be to assume the air of a flight, we had better
await the coming day; it will, besides, afford time to apprize
the duchess.  "

While the duc d'Aiguillon was thus gone to arrange for my departure,
I requested to be left alone.  My heart was oppressed, and I felt
the need of venting my grief upon some friendly bosom.  After a
few moments, spent in collecting my thoughts, I addressed two
letters, one to the  marechale de Mirepoix, and the other to the
duc de Cosse; to the former I wrote on account of my retirement
to Ruel, bewailed the sad turn my prospects had assumed, expressed
my deep concern for the severe illness of my excellent friend and
benefactor, begging of her to defend my character from all unjust
attacks, and to allow me to be blamed for no faults but such as
I had really been guilty of.  I concluded with these words, "I
set out at seven o'clock to-morrow morning; the duchesse
d'Aiguillon will conduct me to Ruel, where I shall remain until
I am ordered elsewhere."

To the duke I merely sent a short account of my present prospects,
hour of departure, etc.  And, my feelings somewhat relieved by the
penning of these epistles, I threw myself upon a couch to await
the morning.  Upon awaking, I received the following note from
the duchesse d'Aiguillon:--

"MADAME LA COMTESSE,--I owe his majesty many
thanks for the pleasing, yet mournful, task he has
allotted me.  Your kindness to my family,
independently of my private regard for you, gives
you the surest claim of my best services during
this afflicting period.  Let me beseech of you not
to despair, but cheerfully anticipate brighter days.

"I will call for you at seven o'clock, and if you
approve of it, we will use my carriage.  Ruel is
entirely at your disposal and that of your family."


This note was truly characteristic of its amiable writer, who at
court passed for a cold-hearted, frigid being, whilst, in reality,
the warm feelings of her excellent heart were reserved for her
chosen friends.

I have never admired those general lovers who profess to love
every one, nor do I feel quite sure it is a very strong
recommendation to say a person is beloved by all who know her.
Read, now, a striking contrast to the short but sympathizing
billet of madame d'Aiguillon, in the following heartless letter f
from the marechale de Mirepoix, which was put into my hands as I
was ascending the carriage.

"MY LOVELY COUNTESS,--I am all astonishment!  Can
it be possible that you are to quit Versailles?
You are right in saying you have been the friend
of every one, and those who could speak ill of you
are to be pitied for not having had better
opportunities of understanding your real character.
But fear not, the dauphiness is virtue personified,
and the dauphin equally perfect.  Every thing
promises a peaceful and indulgent reign, should
we have the misfortune to lose his present majesty.
Still there will always be a great void left at
Versailles; as far as I am concerned, I have passed
so much of my time with you, that I cannot imagine
what I shall do with my evenings; it will cost me
much of my age to alter habits and customs now so
long fixed and settled, but such is life; nothing
certain, nothing stable.  We should imitate cats
in our attachments, and rather identify ourselves
with the house than the possessor of it.  I trust
you have secured an ample provision for the future;
neglect not the present, to-morrow may come in
vain for you.

"Be sure you let me know the spot to which you
permanently retire, and I will endeavour to see you
as frequently as my engagements will admit of.

Adieu, ."

Spite of the bitterness of my feelings, this letter drew a smile
to my lips; the allusion to cats which had escaped the marechale
exactly applied to her own character, of which I had been warned
before I became acquainted with her; but her protestations of
warm and unutterable attachment had gained my confidence, and I
allowed myself to be guided implicitly by her.

The duchesse d'Aiguillon was waiting for me while I perused the
above letter; at length, with a sigh, I prepared to quit that
palace of delights where I had reigned absolute mistress.  I cast
a mournful look around me, on those splendid walks, fountains
and statues, worthy the gardens of Armida, but where there reigned,
at this early hour, a sort of gloomy silence; whilst, in that
chamber where love had well nigh deified me and recognised me as
queen of France, lay extended the monarch so lately my protector
and friend.

It was the Wednesday of the fifth of May that I took my seat in
the carriage of the duchesse d'Aiguillon accompanied by my
sister-in-law and the vicomtesse Adolphe, who would not forsake
me.  Bischi remained with madame d'Hargicourt, whose duties
detained her with the comtesse d'Artois.  Her husband also
remained at Versailles, while comte Jean and his son proceeded
to Paris.  I will not attempt to describe the emotions with which
I quitted my magnificent suite of apartments, and traversed the
halls and staircases already crowded by persons anxiously awaiting
the first intimation of the king's decease.  I was wrapped in my
pelisse, and effectually eluded observation.  It has been said that
I left Versailles at four o'clock in the morning, but that was a
mere invention on the part of my servants to baffle the curiosity
of those who might have annoyed me by their presence.

We pursued our way in mournful reflection, whilst madame d'Aiguillon,
with her wonted goodness, sought by every means to distract me
from the dejection in which I was buried.  Her husband, who
remained with the king, engaged to write me a true account of
all that transpired during my absence, and I shall very shortly
present you with a specimen of the fidelity with which he
performed his promise.  The duchess did the honours of Ruel.

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com