List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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his sleeve.  At a premeditated signal the duc d'Aiguillon, one of
the guests, asked his majesty if he had seen the comtesse du Barry
that day.  This terrible name, thrown suddenly into the midst of
my enemies, had the effect of a thunder-clap.  All the ladies looked
at each other first and then at the king, and the duc d'Aiguillon,
reserving profound silence.  His majesty then replied, that he had
not had the happiness of visiting me that day, not having had one
moment's leisure; then eulogized me at great length, and ended by
saying to the duke,  "If you see the comtesse before I do, be sure
to say that I drank this glass of wine to her health."

The ladies did not anticipate this.  The duchesse de Grammont
particularly, in spite of long residence at court, turned pale to
her very ears, and I believe but for etiquette she would have
fallen into a swoon.  I learnt afterwards from the marechale de
Mirepoix, that the duchesse, on going home, gave herself up to a
fit of rage, which did not terminate even on the following day.
When the king related this occurrence to me, he was as proud
of it as if he had done a most courageous deed.

But I have omitted a day which was of great importance to me in its
consequences.  I mean the day which followed that on which I had
complained to the duc de Duras of M. the lieutenant of police.  In
the morning early my sister-in-law came into my room.

"Sister," said she, "comte Jean is here with M. de Sartines, who
begs to pay his respects to you.  Will you receive him?"

"M. de Sartines!  Yes, let him come in; I will treat him as
he deserves."

Comte Jean then came in, preceded by the lieutenant of police: he
wore a large peruke with white powder, and curled with the utmost
care.  Wigs were his mania, and he had a room filled from floor
to ceiling with these ornaments.  The duc d'Ayen said, that he
never should be in trouble about the council of state, for in case
of need, it might be found and replenished from the house of the
lieutenant of police.  Let us leave wigs and revert to M. de Sartines.

He appeared before me with the air of Tartuffe, and, forgive the
phrase, .

"Madame," said he to me, "I have been informed that I am in
disgrace with you, and have come to inquire how I may extricate
myself from this misfortune."

"You ought to know, sir.  Twice in one month have I been shamefully
insulted; and yet the first intimation of such a thing ought to have
put you on your guard."

M. de Sartines, whom my tone had much surprised, endeavored to
justify himself, when comte Jean said to him,

"My dear lieutenant of police, all you have said goes for nothing.
One thing is certain, and that is, that there is a deficiency of
respect towards my sister-in-law.  You say that it is not your
fault: what proof do you give us of this?  What inquiries have
you made?  What measures have you taken?  Any?  Why do you come
to us if you aid our enemies?"

M. de Sartines would fain have ensconced himself in his own dignity.

"M. du Barry," was his reply, "I shall render an account of my
conduct to the king."

"Very well, sir," I replied, "but do not suppose that either you
or the Choiseuls can give me any cause of fear."

M. de Sartines was thunderstruck; my boldness astonished him.  At
length he said,

"Madame, you are angry with me causelessly; I am more negligent
than culpable.  It is useless to say this to the king."

"I will not conceal from you, sir, that he knows it all, and is
greatly discontented with you.  "

"I am lost then," said M. de Sartines.

"Lost!  not precisely," replied comte Jean; "but you must decide
at once and for ever what party you will join.  If you are with us
they will use you harshly; if you take the opposite party look to
yourself.  Choose."

After some turnings and twistings, accompanied with compliments,
M. de Sartines declared that he would range himself under our
banner.  Then I extended to him my hand in token of reconciliation;
he took it with respect, and kissed it with gallantry.  Up to this
time we had conversed with feelings of restraint and standing; but
now we seated ourselves, and begun a conference in form, as to the
manner of preventing a recurrence of the offensive outrages against
me.  As a proof of good intention M. de Sartines told me the author
of the two articles of which I complained.  He was a wretch, named
Ledoux, who for twelve hundred livres per annum wrote down all
those who displeased the duchesse de Grammont.  This lady had no
fear of doing all that was necessary to remove every obstacle to the
publication of such infamies.

After M. de Sartines had given us all the details which we desired,
and after I had promised to reconcile him to his master, he went
away delighted with having seen me.  Believe me, my friend, it is
necessary to be as handsome as I am, that is to say, as I was, to
seduce a lieutenant of police.


The sieur Ledoux--The --The duc de la Vrilliere--
Madame de Langeac--M. de Maupeou--Louis XV--The comte Jean

On that very evening, the king having come to me, I said to him,

"Sire, I have made acquaintance with M. de Sartines."

"What!  has he been to make friends with you?"

"Something like it: but he has appeared to me less culpable than I
thought.  He had only yielded to the solicitation of my personal enemy."

"You cannot have one at my court, madame; the lieutenant of police
would have done well not to have named her to you."

"Thanks to him, however, I shall now know whom I ought to mistrust.
I know also who is the author of the two scurrilous paragraphs."

"Some scamp, no doubt; some beggarly scoundrel."

"A monsieur Ledoux."

"Ah, I know the fellow.  His bad reputation has reached me.  It
must be stopped at last."

So saying, Louis XV went to the chimney, and pulled the bell-rope
with so much vehemence that ten persons answered it at once.

"Send for the duc de la Vrilliere; if he be not suitably attired let
him come in his night-gown, no matter so that he appear quickly."

On hearing an order given in this manner a stranger might have
supposed the king crazy, and not intent on imprisoning a miserable
libeller.  I interceded in his favor, but Louis XV, delighted at an
opportunity of playing the king at a small cost, told me that it
was no person's business, and he would be dictated to by no one.
I was silent, reserving myself until another opportunity when I
could undertake the defence of the poor devil.

The duc de la Vrilliere arrived, not in a dressing-gown, as the
king had authorized, but in magnificent costume.  He piqued himself
on his expenditure, and always appeared superbly attired, altho'
the splendor of his apparel could not conceal the meanness of his
look.  He was the oldest secretary of state, and certainly was the
least skilful, least esteemed, least considered.  Some time after
his death some one said of him in the presence of the duc d'Ayen,
that he had been an unfortunate man, for he had been all his life
the butt of public hatred and universal contempt.  "Rather say,"
replied the duke, "that he has been a fortunate man; for if justice
had been rendered to him according to his deserts, he would have
been hanged at least a dozen times."

The duc d'Ayen was right: M. de la Vrilliere was a brazen-faced
rogue; a complete thief, without dignity, character, or heart.  His
cupidity was boundless: the  emanated from his
office, and he carried on an execrable trade in them.  If any person
wished to get rid of a father, brother, or husband, they only had
to apply to M. de la Vrilliere.  He sold the king's signature to
all who paid ready money for it.  This man inspired me with an
invincible horror and repugnance.  For his part, as I was not
disgusting, he contented himself with hating me; he was animated
against me by his old and avaricious mistress, madame de Langeac,
alias Subutin.  Langeac could not endure me.  She felt that it was
better to be the mistress of Louis XV than that of the , for so her lover was called at court.  I knew that she
was no friend of mine, and that her lover sided with the Choiseuls
against me; and was consequently the more delighted to see the
little scoundrel come to receive the order for avenging me.  He
entered with an air of embarrassment; and whilst he made me a
salute as low as to the king, this latter, in a brief severe tone,
ordered him to send the sieur Ledoux to Saint Lazare forthwith.
He departed without reply, and half an hour afterwards returned,
to say that it was done.  The king then said to him,

"Do you know this lady?"

"No, sire."

"Well, I desire you henceforward to have the greatest consideration
for her as my best friend, and whoever wishes to prove his zeal for
me, will honor and cherish her."

The king then invited him to sup with us, and I am sure that during
the whole repast I was the hardest morsel he had to digest.

Some days afterwards I made acquaintance with a person much more
important than the little duke, and destined to play a great part
in the history of France.  I mean M. de Maupeou, the late chancellor,
who, in his disgrace, would not resign his charge.  M. de Maupeou
possessed one of those firm and superior minds, which, in spite
of all obstacles, change the face of empires.  Ardent, yet cool;
bold, but reflective; the clamors of the populace did not astonish,
nor did any obstacles arrest him.  He went on in the direct path
which his will chalked out.  Quitting the magistracy, he became its
most implacable enemy, and after a deadly combat he came off
conqueror.  He felt that the moment had arrived for freeing royalty
from the chains which it had imposed on itself.  It was necessary,
he has said to me a hundred times, for the kings of France in past
ages to have a popular power on which they could rely for the
overturning of the feudal power.  This power they found in the
high magistracy; but since the reign of Louis XIII the mission
of the parliaments had finished, the nobility was reduced, and

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