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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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tidings of the morning.  The day following still brought a
continuation of favorable accounts, but the next letter was in
these words:--

"MADAM, AND MOST HONORED FRIEND,--Arm yourself
with courage; the king is extremely ill, and I ought
not to conceal from you that serious apprehensions
are entertained for his life; he has passed a wretched
night, His daughters, who never quitted his bedside,
whispered to him that the archbishop of Paris and
his grand almoner were in the anteroom if he desired
to see them.  The king did not seem to hear their
words, but about three o'clock in the morning he
called the duc de Duras, whom he bade inquire
whether M. Mandoux were in the chateau; and, if
so, to apprize him he wished to speak with him.

"At these words the princesses and all who heard
them burst into a fit of weeping, which was only
interrupted by the arrival of the confessor, who,
approaching the bedside of the penitent, held a
conference with him of nearly a quarter of an hour:
this being concluded, the king, in a low and firm
voice, inquired for his almoner.  The latter soon
presented himself, anxious to discharge the duties
of his sacred office.  His majesty kept continually
repeating to his afflicted children, 'My daughters,
why should what I am now about to do agitate or
alarm you?  You are well aware, that having the
small-pox, the etiquette established in my family
compels me to receive the last solemn rites of the
 church, and I but acquit myself of an obligation
in submitting to it.'

"The tone in which the king spoke convinced his
attendants that he rather strove to re-assure
 himself than his children, by the persuasion that
the receiving extreme unction was not so much
the consequence of his own dangerous state as a
mere act of obedience to an established custom.
It was then decided that the sacred ceremony should
take place at seven o'clock in the morning; and
here arose some little embarrassment; the
ecclesiastics insisting upon the necessity of the
king's making some striking and open atonement
for what they were pleased to term the scandal of
his private life.

"The king's chamber now presented a picture at
once solemn and gloomy.  Grouped together on one
side the bed might be seen the different noblemen
in attendance upon his majesty; a little removed
stood the clergy, concealed from the invalid by
the closely-drawn curtains; in the midst of these
contending parties were the princesses going from
one to the other, vainly seeking by mild and gentle
mediation to produce a satisfactory arrangement.
It was at length understood, that, on account of
the extreme weakness of the invalid, the grand
almoner should pronounce in his name a kind of
honorable apology for past offences.

"You can scarcely imagine, madam, the universal
consternation spread throughout the chateau by
the information that the king was about to receive
the last rites of his church.  The terror and alarm
became overpowering for a while, but subsiding
into a more religious feeling crowds of persons
followed with solemn reverence the holy procession
as it passed along, bearing the holy sacrament to
the expiring monarch.  At the moment when it was
administered the grand almoner, turning towards
all present, pronounced the following words in
the king's name:--

"'Gentlemen, the weakness of his majesty preventing
him from expressing himself, he has commanded me
to inform you, that although he is responsible to
God alone for his conduct, he yet regrets having
caused any scandal to his people by the irregularities
of his life, that he sincerely repents of his sins,
 and, should Providence restore him to health, he
purposes living henceforward in all the virtue and
morality of his youth, in the defence and
maintenance of religion, in preserving a true
faith, and in watching over the best interests
of his people.'

"Yours, madam, etc., etc."

I learned also, through another channel, that (according to 


custom) forty hours' prayer had been enjoined in every church in
France to implore the mercy of heaven for the king.  I heard too
that the shrine of Saint Genevieve had been displayed for the
veneration of true believers.

I passed a miserable night, dreaming of graves, winding-sheets,
and funeral-torches, from which I only awoke to receive the
morning's despatches.  Alas! the news but confirmed the distressing
state of the king.  The very solitude in which I was left at Ruel
might alone have served to convince me of my misfortune; for,
with the exception of the duc de Cosse, no person came near us.
M. de Cosse invited me to walk with him in the garden; I accepted
the arm of this noble friend, and we directed our steps towards
the wood.  When we were there secure from interruption, the duke
inquired what were my plans for the future?

"How can I tell you," answered I; "what is henceforward to be
my fate is better known to our future queen than to myself."

"That is precisely what I dread," replied M. de Cosse.  "Unfortunately
you have deeply offended the queen elect, who has irritated her
husband's mind against you; and then the Choiseul faction will,
in all probability, come into power."

"I see all this," returned I, "and am prepared for whatever
may happen."

"I admire your calmness in a moment like the present," cried the
duke; "but have a care.  Perhaps the best thing would be to remove
you beyond the reach of the first shock of court displeasure.  In
your place I would request passports from the duc d'Aiguillon and
travel into England."

"Oh, speak not of such a thing, I conjure you," interrupted I;
"I have a horror of such journeys, and would much rather trust
to the generosity of the dauphiness.  She is about to become a
great queen, while I shall be a creature so humiliated and
abased, that the very difference between our situations will be a
sufficient vengeance in her eyes."

We returned to the house, and had scarcely entered, when M. de
Palchelbel, plenipotentiary to the prince des Deux Ponts,
was announced.

"M. de Palchelbel," cried I, extending my hand, "what good wind
brings you here?"

"I have been honoured by the commands of the prince, my master,
madam," replied he, "to bring you the assurances of his unalterable
friendship; and to say further, that whenever you feel dissatisfied
with your residence in France, you will find at Deux Ponts an
asylum, which the most earnest endeavors of the prince, my
gracious patron, will strive to render agreeable to you."

I was much affected by this mark of generous regard on the part
of prince Charles Auguste; and, turning quickly towards the duke,
I exclaimed,

"What think you of all this?  Will you henceforward believe those
self-dubbed philosophers, who assert that friendship is unknown
to royalty?  You have here a proof of the contrary.  For my own
part, M. de Palchelbel," continued I, turning towards the minister,
"I am much gratified by your message, and entreat of you to thank
his royal highness most sincerely for me.  I will write to him
myself on the subject, but beg of you to repeat that, kind as are
his offers, I cannot accept of them; but shall certainly remain in
France until the new sovereign commands or permits me to quit it."

I afterwards repeated to the minister of Deux Ponts what I had
previously stated in the garden to M. de  Cosse, and had the
satisfaction of hearing madam d'Aiguillon approve of my sentiments.

When I retired to my apartment I was followed by my niece.

"How happy are you, dear aunt," said she, 'to preserve such
friends in your present troubles."

"I owe them," replied I, "to my simplicity and candor."

"Will you not retire to Germany?"

"Certainly not," answered I.

"Yet it would be better to allow the first burst of displeasure
on the part of the dauphiness to pass over."

"Who gave you this counsel, my dear niece?  I am quite sure it
does not originate in yourself."

"I had promised not to tell," answered she; "but if you insist
upon it, I must confess, that I was persuaded by the prince de
Conde and M. de Soubise to urge you to follow it."

"Do they then wish for my absence?"  inquired I, angrily.

"Only for your own sake, dearest aunt."

"I thank them; but my resolution is formed to commit myself
entirely to Providence in this melancholy affair."

The day passed on; and with feverish impatience I waited the
arrival of the next courier: he came, at length, and confirmed
my worst fears; the king was entirely given over by his physicians,
and his dissolution was hourly expected.  The letter containing
this mournful tidings concluded thus:--

"I have just seen comte Jean, he is here incognito.
We had entirely forgotten that passports would be
necessary; however, I have now furnished him with
four for England, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
The count is far from partaking of your sense of
security, and is wisely anxious (as I think) of
shielding himself from the first burst of royal
vengeance.  The duchess has informed me of your
refusal of an asylum at Deux Ponts; and, while I
admire your courage, permit me to add, that you
should rather have listened to the dictates of
prudence than magnanimity under present circumstances."

The following morning, at an early hour, comte Jean entered my
chamber, saying,

"I understand the king is dead; have you heard anything of it?"

"Were the report correct," answered I, "I should have known it
ere the intelligence reached Paris."

"Well, living or dead, I am advised to keep out of the way; and
this night will see me on my journey from Paris.  Will you
accompany me?"

"No, I replied I; "I have refused travelling with a much more
creditable companion than yourself."

"There you are wrong then; for, depend upon it, a cloister will
be your fate; at any rate my business here is at an end.  The new
monarch is young, and attached to his wife, and my daughter-in-law
is too great a simpleton to be turned to any account at court."

My brother-in-law then requested I would furnish him with money.
I gave him what I had, and placed in his hands diamonds to the

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