List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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Jean du Barry to give her the title of viscountess.  "Better still,"
exclaimed Jean, "I will give you the title of countess.  My brother
will marry you; he is a male scamp, and you are the female.  What
a beautiful marriage!"

So they were united.  The newly made countess was solemnly
presented at court by a countess of an ancient date, namely, the
Countess de Bearn.  King Voltaire protested, in a satire entitled
"" (topsy-turvy), afterwards denying
it.  The duc de Choiseul protested, France protested, but all
Versailles threw itself passionately at the feet of the new countess.
Even the daughters of the King paid her court, and allowed her to
call them by their pet names: Loque, Chiffe, and Graille.  The King,
jealous of this gracious familiarity, wished her to call him by some
pet name, and so the Bacchante, who believed that through the
King she held all France in her hand, called him "La France," making
him a wife to his Gray Musketeers.

Oh, that happy time!  Du Barry and Louis XV hid their life--like
the sage--in their little apartments.  She honeyed his chocolate,
and he himself made her coffee.  Royalty consecrated a new verb
for the dictionary of the Academy, and Madame du Barry said to
the King: "At home, I can love you to madness."  The King gave
the castle of Lucienne to his mistress in order to be able to sing
the same song.  Truly the Romeo and Juliet .

Du Barry threw out her fish-wifely epithets with ineffable tenderness.
She only opened her eyes half way, even when she took him by the
throat.  The King was enchanted by these humors.  It was a new
world.  But someone said to him: "Ah, Sire, it is easy to see that
your Majesty has never been at the house of Gourdan."

Yet Du Barry was adored by poets and artists.  She extended both
hands to them.  Jeanne's beauty had a penetrating, singular charm.
At once she was blonde and brunette--black eyebrows and lashes
with blue eyes, rebellious light hair with darker shadows, cheeks
of ideal contour, whose pale rose tints were often heightened by
two or three touches--a lie "formed by the hand of Love," as
anthology puts it--a nose with expressive nostrils, an air of
childlike candour, and a look seductive to intoxication.  A bold
yet shrinking Venus, a Hebe yet a Bacchante.  With much grace
Voltaire says:


"M. de la Borde tells me that you have ordered him
to kiss me on both cheeks for you:

"What!  Two kisses at life's end
What a passport to send me!
Two is one too much, Adorable Nymph;
I should die of pleasure at the first.

"He showed me your portrait, and be not offended,
Madame, when I tell you that I have taken the liberty
of giving that the two kisses."

Perhaps Voltaire would not have written this letter, had he not
read the one written by the King to the Duc de Choiseul, who
refused to pay court to the left-hand queen:

"My Cousin,

"The discontent which your acts cause me forces me to
exile you to Chanteloup, where you will take yourself
within twenty-four hours.  I would have sent you farther
away were it not for the particular esteem in which I
hold Madame de Choiseul.  With this, I pray God, my
cousin, to take you into His safe and holy protection.

This exile was the only crime of the courtesan.  On none of her
enemies did she close the gates of the Bastille.  And more than
once did she place a pen in the hands of Louis XV with which to
sign a pardon.  Sometimes, indeed, she was ironic in her compassion.

"Madame," said M. de Sartines to her one day, "I have discovered
a rogue who is scattering songs about you; what is to be done with him?"

"Sentence him to sing them for a livelihood."

But she afterwards made the mistake of pensioning Chevalier de
Morande to buy silence.

The pleasures of the King and his favorite were troubled only by
the fortune-tellers.  Neither the King nor the countess believed in
the predictions of the philosophers, but they did believe in
divination.  One day, returning from Choisy, Louis XV found
under a cushion of his coach a slip of paper on which was transcribed
this prediction of the monk Aimonius, the savant who could read
all things from the vast book of the stars:

"As soon as Childeric had returned from
Thuringia, he was crowned King of France
And no sooner was he King than he espoused
Basine, wife of the King of Thuringia.
She came herself to find Childeric.  The
first night of the marriage, and before the King
had retired, the queen begged Childeric to look
from one of the palace windows which opened on a
park, and tell what he saw there.  Childeric
looked out and, much terrified, reported to the
princess that he had seen tigers and lions.
Basine sent him a second time to look out.
This time the prince only saw bears and wolves,
and the third time he perceived only cats and dogs,
fighting and combating each other.  Then Basine
said to him: I will give you an explanation of what
you have seen: The first figure shows you your
successors, who will excel you in courage and power;
the second represents another race which will be
illustrious for their conquests, and which will augment
your kingdom for many centuries; but the third denotes
the end of your kingdom, which will be given over to pleasures
and will lose to you the friendship of your subjects;
and this because the little animals signify a people who,
emancipated from fear of princes, will massacre them and
make war upon each other."

Louis read the prediction and passed the paper to the Countess:
"After us the end of the world," said she gaily.  The King laughed,
but the abbe de Beauvais celebrated high mass at Versailles after
the carnival of 1774, and dared to say, in righteous anger: "This
carnival is the last; yet forty days and Nineveh shall perish."
Louis turned pale.  "Is it God who speaks thus?"  murmured he,
raising his eyes to the altar.  The next day he went to the hunt
in grand style, but from that evening he was afraid of solitude
and silence: "It is like the tomb; I do not wish to put myself in
such a place," said he to Madame du Barry.  The duc de Richelieu
tried to divert him.  "No," said he suddenly, as if the Trappist's
denunciation had again recurred to him, "I shall be at ease only
when these forty days have passed."  He died on the fortieth day.

Du Barry believed neither in God nor in the devil, but she believed
in the almanac of Liege.  She scarcely read any book but this--
faithful to her earliest habits.  And the almanac of Liege, in its
prediction for April, 1774, said: "A woman, the greatest of
favorites, will play her last role."  So Madame the Countess du
Barry said without ceasing: "I shall not be tranquil until these
forty days have passed."  The thirty-seventh day the King went to
the hunt attended with all the respect due to his rank.  Jeanne
wept in silence and prayed to God as one who has long neglected
her prayers.

Louis XV had not neglected his prayers, and gave two hundred
thousand livres to the poor, besides ordering masses at St.
Genevieve.  Parliament opened the shrine, and knelt gravely
before that miraculous relic.  The least serious of all these good
worshippers was, strange to say, the curate of St. Genevieve:
"Ah, well!"  said he gaily, when Louis was dead, "let us continue
to talk of the miracles of St. Genevieve.  Of what can you
complain?  Is not the King dead?"

At the last moment it was not God who held the heart of Louis--it
was his mistress.  "Ask the Countess to come here again," he said.

"Sire, you know that she has gone away," they answered.

"Ah!  has she gone?  Then I must go!"  So he departed.

His end drew forth some maledictions.  There were insults even
at his funeral services.  "Nevertheless," said one old soldier, "he
was at the battle of Fontenoy."  That was the most eloquent
funeral oration of Louis XV.

"The King is dead, long live the King!"  But before the death of
Louis XVI they cried:  "The king is dead, long live the Republic!"

Rose-colored mourning was worn in the good city of Paris.  The
funeral oration of the King and a lament for his mistress were
pronounced by Sophie Arnould, of which masterpiece of sacred
eloquence the last words only are preserved: "Behold us orphaned
both of father and mother."

If Madame du Barry was one of the seven plagues of royalty, she
died faithful to royalty.  After her exile to Pont aux Dames she
returned to Lucienne, where the duc de Cosse Brissac consoled
her for the death of Louis XV.  But what she loved in Louis was
that he was a king; her true country was Versailles; her true
light was the sun of court life.  Like Montespan, also a courtesan
of high order, she often went in these dark days to cast a loving
look upon the solitary park in the maze of the Trianon.  Yet she
was particularly happy at Lucienne.

I have compared her to Manon Lescaut, and I believe her to have
been also a sister to Ganesin.  All three were destroyed by passion.

One day she found herself still young at Lucienne, although her
sun was setting.  She loved the duc de Brissac, and how many
pages of her past romance would she that day have liked to
erase and forget!

"Why do you weep, Countess?"  asked her lover.

"My friend," she responded, "I weep because I love you, shall I
say it?  I weep because I am happy."

She was right; happiness is a festival that should know no
to-morrow.  But on the morrow of her happiness, the Revolution
knocked at the castle gate of Lucienne.

"Who goes there?"

"I am justice; prepare for destiny."

The Queen, the true queen, had been good to her as to everybody.
Marie Antoinette remembered that the favorite had not been wicked.
The debts of Du Barry were paid and money enough was given to her
so that she could still give with both hands.  Lucienne became an
echo of Versailles.  Foreign kings and Parisian philosophers came
to chat in its portals.  Minerva visited shameless Venus.  But
wisdom took not root at Lucienne.

For the Revolution, alas! had to cut off this charming head,
which was at one time the ideal of beauty--of court beauty.

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