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

gentlemen and the French ministers and lords, went to the king's
cabinet, in which two arm-chairs precisely alike were prepared,
but his majesty of Denmark positively refused to be seated.  He
entered into conversation, and felicitated himself on seeing a
monarch, whose renown filled Europe, and whom he should take as
his model.  During this conversation Christian VII displayed the
greatest amiability.  Our king, speaking to him, said, "I am old
enough to be your father" ; to which he replied, "All my conduct
towards you shall be that of a son."  This was thought admirable;
and at the termination of the interview Louis XV appeared charmed
with his brother of Denmark.  "He is a complete Frenchman," said he
to me, "and I should be sorry if he left me dissatisfied."

That same evening Christian VII visited monseigneur the dauphin,
in whom he did not find the urbanity of his grandfather.  The
conversation was short and abridged out of regard to our prince,
who only stammered, without being able to find one polished
phrase.  Never was there in his youth a more timid and awkwardly
conducted prince than the present king.  I shall mention him and
his brothers hereafter, but will now direct my immediate attention
to the king of Denmark.  He supped the same evening with Louis XV
at a table with four and twenty ladies of the court, selected from
amongst those most celebrated for the charms of their persons or
their wit.  As his Danish majesty was greatly struck with madame
de Flaracourt, the king asked him how old the lady might be in
his opinion.

"Thirty, perhaps," was the reply.

"Thirty, brother!  she is fifty."

"Then age has no influence at your court."
I shall not copy the "" to tell you of the
sojourn of Christian VII at Paris.  I am not  writing the journal
of this prince but of myself.  The king one day said to me,

"My brother of Denmark has expressed to the duc de Duras a
great desire to pay his respects to you, if you will accede to his
wishes.  I leave you entirely sovereign mistress of yourself, not
without some fear however that the young king will steal away
your heart from me."

"Ah, sire," I replied, "that is an unjust suspicion; I should be
angry about it if it were not a joke, and would refuse to see the
king of Denmark did I not know how fully you are assured of my
attachment to you."

"I should not be so jealous, madame, if I did not set so much value
on it," was the reply of the king, as he kissed my hand.

The duc de Duras came the next day to inform me of the request of
his new king.  It was agreed, in order to keep the interview secret,
that I should receive him at my own mansion in the Rue de la
Jussienne, and that he should come there without suite, and with
the strictest incognito.  At the day and hour agreed he entered my
house, escorting two strangers of admirable presence.  One was the
king of Denmark, under the name of comte de ------, and the other
a nobleman of his suite.  Christian VII appeared to me a very
handsome man.  He had large and singularly expressive eyes; too
much so, perhaps, for their brilliancy was not of good augury;
and I was not surprised at hearing subsequently that his reason
had abandoned him, altho' he possessed and exerted his wit most
perfectly during our conversation, in which he displayed the
greatest gallantry.  I could not reproach him with one single
expression that was objectionable, altho' the subject of conversation
was delicate.  He discoursed of the feelings of the king towards
me, and yet said not a word that was unsuited or out of place,
nothing but what was in the best taste, and expressed with the
utmost delicacy.  I asked him if the ladies of Denmark were
handsome.  "I thought, madame," was his reply, "until now, that
the ladies of my kingdom were the most lovely in Europe."

We did not talk of myself only: Christian VII spoke of Paris with
enthusiasm.  "It is the capital of the world," he remarked, "and
our states are but the provinces."  He sought out our most celebrated
 and , and was particularly delighted with
d'Alembert, Diderot, la Harpe, and M. the comte de Buffon.  He
greatly regretted that Voltaire was not in Paris, and expressed
his great desire to see at Ferney the great genius (as he termed
him) who instructed and amused the world.  He appeared weary of
the fetes which were given, and especially with the deadly-lively
company of the two Duras.  It was enough to kill you to have only
one of them, and you may imagine the torture of being bored with
both.  The duke had promised Louis XV to be as amusing as possible
too!  After a conversation of three hours, which his majesty (of
course) said had appeared but of a moment, he left me delighted
with his person, wit, and manners.

When Louis XV saw me, he inquired my opinion of his Danish majesty.

"He is," I replied, "a well-educated king, and that they say is a rarity."

"True," said Louis XV, "there are so many persons who are
interested in our ignorance, that it is a miracle if we escape out
of their hands as reasonable beings."

I went on to tell the king our conversation.

"Ah," cried he, "here is one who will increase the vanity of the
literary tribe: they want it, certainly.  All these wits are our
natural born enemies; and think themselves above us; and the
more we honor them, the greater right do they assume to censure
and despise us."

This was the usual burden of his song: he hated men of learning.
Voltaire especially was his detestation, on account of the numerous
epigrams which this great man had written against him; and Voltaire
had just given fresh subject of offence by publishing "" cried the duke, "would you lose yourself in the
eyes of all France?  You would place yourself in a fine situation
by declaring yourself the persecutrix of Voltaire.  Only an enemy
could have thus advised you."

"That enemy was comte Jean."

"Then your imprudence equals your zeal.  Do you not perceive the
advantage it would give to your adversaries were we to act in
this manner?  To the hatred of the court would be united that of
the , women, and young persons.  Voltaire is a god, who
is not to be smitten without sacrilege."

"Must I then tamely submit to be beaten?"

"Yes, for the moment.  But it will not last long; I have just
written this letter to M. de Voltaire, that peace may be made
between you:--

"SIR,--The superiority of your genius places you
amongst the number of the potentates of Europe.
Every one desires, not only to be at peace with you,
but even, if it be possible, to obtain your esteem.
I flatter myself with being included in the ranks of
your admirers; my uncle has spoken to you many times
of my attachment to your person, and I embrace the
opportunity of proving this by a means that now
presents itself.

"Persons in whom you place too much confidence have
spread abroad, under your name, copies of a poem,
entitled '' In this, wherein
insult is cast on a personage who should be exempt
from such offence, is also outraged, in a most indecent
way, a lovely female, whom you would adore as we do,
if you had the happiness to know her.  Is it for the
poet of the lover of Gabrielle to carry desolation into
the kingdom of the Graces?

"Your correspondents use you ill by leaving you in
ignorance, that this young person has immense favor
here; that we are all at her feet; that she is all
powerful, and her anger is to be particularly avoided.
She is the more to be propitiated, as yesterday, in
Presence of a certain person whom your verses had
greatly irritated, she took up your defence with as
much grace as generosity.  You see, sir, that you
ought not to be on bad terms with her.

"My uncle allows me to see, as one of the initiated,
what you call your scraps, which are delicious feasts
to us.  I read them to the lady in question, who takes
great delight in reciting, or hearing others recite,
your verses, and she begs you will send her some as a
proof of your repentance.  Under these circumstances,
if your bellicose disposition urges you on to war, we
hope, before you continue it, that you will loyally and
frankly declare it.

"In conclusion, be assured that I shall defend you to
my utmost, and am for life,

"Yours, etc."

Whilst we were awaiting Voltaire's reply, I determined to avenge
myself on the duchesse de Grammont, who had encouraged him in
his attack; and thus did I serve this lady.  Persuaded that she did
not know the writing of his Danish majesty, I wrote the following
letter to her:--

"MADAME LA DUCHESSE,--I have struggled to this time
to avoid confessing to you how I am subdued.  Happy
should I be could I throw myself at your feet.  My
rank alone must excuse my boldness.  Nothing would
equal my joy if this evening, at the theatre at madame
de Villeroi's, you would appear with blue feathers in
your head-dress.  I do not add my name; it is one of
those which should not be found at the bottom of a
declaration of love."

In spite of all her penetration, the duchesse de Grammont did not
perceive, in the emphatic tone of this letter, that it was a trick.
Her self-love made her believe that a woman of more than forty

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: