List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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"you are overflowing with kindness towards me, and I wish that all
the members of your family would treat me with the same indulgence."

Like a real courtier he pretended not to understand me, and made
no reply, hoping, no doubt, that the warmth of conversation would
lead me to some other subject; but this one occupied me too fully
to allow me to divert my attention from it; and, seeing that he
 continued silent, I continued: "Far from treating me as well as you
do, madame your daughter-in-law behaves towards me like a declared
enemy; she assails me by all sorts of provocation, and at last will
so act, that I shall find myself compelled to struggle against her
with open force."

You must be a courtier, you must have been in the presence of a
king who is flattered from morning to night in all his caprices, to
appreciate the frightful state in which my direct attack placed the

prince de Soubise.  Neither his political instinct, nor the tone of
pleasantry which he essayed to assume, nor the more dangerous
resource of offended dignity, could extricate him from the
embarrassment in which he was thrown by my words.  He could do
nothing but stammer out a few unintelligible phrases; and his
confusion was so great and so visible, that the marquis de Chauvelin,
his not over sincere friend, came to his assistance.  The king, equally
surprised at what I had just said, hastily turned and spoke to Chon,
who told me afterwards, that the astonishment of Louis XV had
been equal to that of the prince de Soubise, and that he had evinced
it by the absence of mind which he had manifested in his discourse
and manners.

M. de Chauvelin then turning towards me, said, "Well, madame, on
what evil herb have you walked to-day?  Can it be possible that
you would make the prince, who is your friend, responsible for the
hatred which ought to be flattering rather than painful to you, since
it is a homage exacted towards your brilliant loveliness?"

"In the first place," I replied, "I have no intention to cast on
monsieur le marechal, whom I love with all my heart, the least
responsibility relative to the object of which I complain.  I only
wished to evince to him the regret I experienced at not seeing all
the members of his family like him: this is all.  I should be in
despair if I thought I had said anything that would wound him;
and if I have done so, I most sincerely ask his pardon."

On saying these words I presented my hand to the prince, who
instantly kissed it.

"You are," said he, "at the same time cruel and yet most amiable:
but if you have the painful advantage of growing old at court, you
will learn that my children have not all the deference and respect
towards me which they owe to their father; and I often am pained
to see them act in a manner entirely opposite to my desires,
however openly manifested.  If my daughter does not love you, it
is to me, most probably, that you must look for the  and
: it is because I love you so much that she is against
you.  I have committed an error in praising you before her, and
her jealousy was not proof against it."

"That is very amiable in you," said I; "and now whatever may be
my feelings against the princesse de Guemenee, I will endeavor to
dissemble it out of regard for you; and, I assure you, that however
little consideration your daughter-in-law may testify towards me, I
will show her a fair side: endeavor to make peace between us.  I
only ask to be let alone, for I do not seek to become the enemy
of any person."

Altho' M. de Soubise said that he had no influence over the
princesse de Guemenee, I learned, subsequently, that the day after
this scene he testified to the Guemenee some fears as to his future
destiny at court.  He begged her not to oppose herself to me; to
be silent with respect to me, and to keep herself somewhat in the
shade if she would not make some advances towards me.  His daughter-
in-law, whose arrogance equalled her dissipation and dissolute
manners, replied, that she was too much above a woman of my sort
to fear or care for me; that my reign at the chateau would be but
brief, whilst hers would only terminate with her life: that she
would never consent to an act of weakness that would be derogatory
to her character and rank.  In vain did the prince try to soften
her, and make her consider that my influence over the king was
immense: he preached to the desert, and was compelled to abandon
his purpose without getting any thing by his endeavors.

I now return to my conversation with him.  During the time it lasted
the king did not cease talking to Chon, all the time listening with
attention to what the prince and I were saying; and he did not
approach us until the intervention of M. de Chauvelin had terminated
this kind of a quarrel.  He returned to his seat in front of the
fire; and when we were alone, said to me,

"You have been very spiteful to the poor marechal, and I suffered
for him."

"You are an excellent friend; and, no doubt, it is the affection
you bear to M. de Soubise which makes you behave so harshly to me.
Can I not, without displeasing you, defend myself when I am attacked?"

"I did not say so; but is it necessary that he must be responsible
for the follies of his relations?"

"In truth, sire, so much the worse for the father who cannot make
his children respect him.  If the marechal was respected by the
public, believe me he would be so by his family."

This retort was perhaps too severe.  I found this by the silence
of the king; but as, in fact, it imported little, and, by God's
help, I was never under much constraint with him, I saw him blush,
and then he said to me,

"Now, I undertake to bring madame de Guemenee into proper order.
The favor I ask is, that you would not meddle.  I have power
enough to satisfy you, but, for heaven's sake, do not enter into
more quarrels than you have already.  It seems to me that you
ought to avoid them instead of creating such disturbances."

He had assumed a grave tone in reading me this lecture: but as we
were in a place in which majesty could not be committed, I began
to laugh heartily, and to startle him, I said that henceforward I
would pilot my bark myself, and defend myself by openly assailing
all persons who testified an aversion to me.  How laughable it
was to see the comic despair in which this determination threw the
king.  It seemed to him that the whole court would be at loggerheads;
and he could not restrain himself from exclaiming, that he would a
hundred times rather struggle against the king of Prussia and the
emperor of Germany united, than against three or four females of
the chateau.  In a word, I frightened him so completely, that he
decided on the greatest act of courage he had ever essayed in my
favor: it was, to desire the intervention of the duc de Choiseul
in all these quarrels.

The credit of this minister was immense, and this credit was based
on four powerful auxiliaries; namely the parliament, the philosophers,
the , and the women.  The high magistracy found in him
a public and private protector.  The parliaments had themselves a
great many clients, and their voices, given to the duc de Choiseul,
gave him great power in the different provinces.  The philosophers,
ranged under the banner of Voltaire, who was their god, and of
d'Alembert, their patriarch, knew all his inclinations for them, and
knew how far they might rely on his support in all attempts which
they made to weaken the power of the clergy, and to diminish the
gigantic riches which had been amassed by prelates and monasteries.
The writers were equally devoted to him: they progressed with the
age, and as on all sides they essayed to effect important reforms,
it was natural that they should rally about him in whose hands
was the power of their operations.

The ladies admired his gallantry: in fact, the duc de Choiseul was
a man who understood marvellously well how to combine serious
labors with pleasure.  I was, perhaps, the only woman of the court
whom he would not love, and yet I was not the least agreeable nor
the most ugly.  It was very natural for them to exalt his merit
and take him under their especial protection.  Thus was he
supported in every quarter by them; they boasted of his measures,
and by dint of repeating in the ears of every body that M. de
Choiseul was a minister , and the support of
monarchy, they had contrived to persuade themselves of the truth
of their assertion.  In fact, if France found herself freed from
the Jesuits, it was to the duc de Choiseul that this was owing, and
this paramount benefit assured to him universal gratitude.

The king was fully aware of this unanimity of public opinion in
favor of his minister.  He was, besides, persuaded, that in
arranging the , and concluding the alliance
with the imperial house, the duc de Choiseul had evinced admirable
diplomatic talents, and rendered France real, and important, service.
His attachment to him was incumbent, and rested on solid
foundations.  If, at a subsequent period, he dismissed him, it was
because he was deceived by a shameful intrigue which it will cost
me pain to develop to you, because I took by far too much a leading
part in it, which now causes me the deepest regret.

Now, by the act of my presentation, the duc de Choiseul would be
compelled to meet me often, which would render our mutual situation
very disagreeable.  On this account the king sought to reconcile
us, and would have had no difficulty in effecting his wishes had
he only had the resistance of the minister and his wife to
encounter.  The lady had not much influence over her husband, and
besides she had too much good sense to struggle against the wishes
of the king: but the duchesse de Grammont was there, and this
haughty and imperious dame had so great an ascendancy with her
brother, and behaved with so little caution, that the most odious
reports were in circulation about their intimacy.

It could scarcely be hoped that we could tame this towering spirit,
which saw in me an odious rival.  Louis XV did not flatter himself

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