List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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me with an opportunity of appreciating you, that I would not delay
any longer the pleasure of making you a personal avowal of my
past sentiments, and of those with which you now inspire me."

The tone in which madame de Flaracourt uttered these words was so
gracious and so persuasive, that I could not resist the pleasure of
embracing her.  She returned my kiss with the same eagerness,
and would not listen to my thanks.

"All is explained between us," she continued, "let us forget the
past, and let us do as if meeting for the first time to-day; we
henceforward date this as the first of our acquaintance."

"The affability with which you have presented yourself to me," I
replied, "does not permit me to believe that I have only known
you from this morning; I am in an illusion which will only allow
me to look on our recent alliance as an ancient friendship."

After having exchanged some conversation of the same tenor, we
talked of my situation as regarded the other females of the court.

"They hate you for two reasons," said the countess: "in the first
place, because you have made a conquest which all the world envies
you; secondly because you are not one of us.  There is not one
family who can lean on you in virtue of the rights of blood, or
alliances which stand instead of it.  You have superseded a woman
who more than any other could have a claim to your good fortune:
she is sister to the prime minister, who has in her train, like
Lucifer, more than a third part of heaven, for all the courtiers
hang on her brother.

"On the other hand, we are not accustomed to remain so long in
opposition to the will of the king.  Such a resistance is not natural
to us; it weighs upon us, it harms us, the favor of our master
being our chief good.  We are only something thro' him, and when
combatting against him we have neither the courage nor the
perseverance.  Thus you may be very certain that the majority
of women who oppose you do it against the grain: and if you add
to this that they are incessantly exposed to the murmurs and
complaints of their husbands, sons, brothers, and lovers, you
will easily be convinced that they only aspire to finding a means
of reconciling the regard they owe to the Choiseuls and the terror
which they inspire, with the desire they have to seek your
protection and the friendship of the king.  The cabal only flies
on one wing, and I cannot divine its situation at the commencement
of the next winter.  Do not disquiet yourself any more with what
it can do: keep yourself quiet; continue to please the 'master,'
and you will triumph over the multitude as easily as you have
conquered the resistance of mesdames."

Such was the language of the comtesse de Flaracourt: it agreed,
as you will perceive, with that of madame de Mirepoix, and I
ought the more to believe it, as it was the fruit of their
experience and profound knowledge of court manners.  Their
example proved to me, as well as their words, that all those who
approached the king could not bear for a long time the position in
which he placed those whom he did not look upon with pleasure.
However, Louis XV evinced more plainly from day to day the
ascendancy I had over his mind.  He assisted publicly at my toilet*,
he walked out with me, left me as little as possible, and sought
by every attention to console me for the impertinences with which
my enemies bespattered me.  The following anecdote will prove to
you how little consideration he had for those persons who dared to
insult me openly.

One day at Marly, I entered the drawing-room; there was a vacant
seat near the princesse de Guemenee, I went to it, and scarcely
was seated when my neighbor got up, saying, "What horror!"  and
betook herself to the further end of the room.  I was much confused:
the offence was too public for me to restrain my resentment, and
even when I wished to do so the thing was scarcely possible.  The
comte Jean, who had witnessed it, and my sisters-in-law, who
learnt it from him, were enraged.  I was compelled to complain to
the king, who instantly sent the princesse de Guemenee an order
to quit Marly forthwith, and betake herself to the princesse de
Marsan,  of the children of the royal family of France,
of whose post she had the reversion.

Never did a just chastisement produce a greater effect.  The
outcry against me was louder than ever, it seemed as tho' the
whole nobility of France was immolated at "one fell swoop."
To have heard the universal clamor, it would have been thought
that the princess had been sent to the most obscure prison in the
kingdom.  This proof of the king's regard for me did much mischief,
no doubt, as it furnished my enemies with a pretext to accuse me
of a vindictive spirit.  Could I do otherwise?  Ought I to have
allowed myself to be overwhelmed with impunity, and was it
consistent with the dignity of my august protector, that I should
be insulted thus openly by his subjects, his courtiers, his guests,
even in the private apartments of his palace?

However, this wrath of the nobility did not prevent the Choiseul
family from experiencing a feeling of fright.  They had just
received a signal favor.  The government of Strasbourg, considered
as the key of France and Alsace, had been given in reversion to
the comte de Stainville, brother of the duc de Choiseul.  Certainly
this choice was a very great proof of the indulgence of the king,
and the moment was badly chosen to pay with ingratitude a benefit
so important.  This did not hinder the duchesse de Grammont, and
all the women of her house, or who were her allies, from continuing
to intrigue against me.  It was natural to believe that the king
would not permit such doing for a long time, and that should he
become enraged at them, that I should attempt to soothe his anger.

Matters were in this state, when one morning, after his accustomed
routine, the duc de Choiseul requested a private audience of the
king.  "I grant it this moment," said the prince, "what have you
to say to me?"

"I wish to explain to your majesty how excessively painful is the
situation in which I am placed with regard to some of the members
of my family.  All the females, and my sister at their head, attack
me about a quarrel which is strange to me, and with which I have
declared I would not meddle."

"You do well, monsieur le duc," said the king, with cool gravity,
"I am much vexed at all that is going on, and have resolved not
to suffer it any longer."

The decision of this discourse made a deep impression M. de
Choiseul: he sought to conceal it whilst he replied:

"It is difficult, sire, to make women listen to reason."

"All are not unreasonable," rejoined the king: "your wife, for
instance, is a model of reason and wisdom: she has perfect control
of herself.  She is the wise woman of scripture."

This flattery and justly merited eulogium, which the king made of
the duchess whenever he found an opportunity, was the more painful
to M. de Choiseul, as his conduct was not irreproachable towards
a woman whose virtues he alone did not justly appreciate.  It was
a direct satire against his sister's conduct, whose ascendancy over
him, her brother, the king well knew.  He replied that the good
behavior of his wife was the safeguard of his family, and he
greatly regretted that the duchesse de Grammont had not a right to
the same eulogium.

"I beg you," said the prince, "to engage her to change her language,
and to conduct herself with less boldness, if she would not have
me force her to repent."

"That, sire, is a mission painful to fulfil, and words very hard
to convey to her."

"So much the worse for her," replied the king, elevating his
voice, "if she bear any friendship for you, let her prove it in

this particular: your interests should keep her mouth shut."

The duke had no difficulty to comprehend the indirect menace
implied: he instantly renewed his regrets for the 
disturbances that had occurred.

"Add ," said Louis XV.  "I am content with you and
your services, duke.  I have just proved this to you, by giving
your brother more than he could expect from me; but have not I
the right to have my intimacies respected?  It appears to me that
if you spoke more decidedly in your family you would command
more attention."

"This makes me fear, sire, that your majesty does not believe me
sincere in my expression of the regret which I just took the
liberty to utter to your majesty."

", monsieur le duc, you certainly do not like
madame du Barry."

"I neither like nor hate her, sire; but I see with trouble that
she receives at her house all my enemies."

"Whose fault is that if it be so?  Your own; you, who would never
visit her; she would have received you with pleasure, and I have
not concealed from you the satisfaction I should have experienced."

These last words made the duke start, his eyes became animated.
After a moment's reflection he said to the king,

"Sire, is it indispensably necessary for the service of  the state
that I endeavor to attain the good-will of madame la comtesse
du Barry?"


"Well, then, sire, allow matters to remain as they are.  It would
cost me much to quarrel with my whole family, the more so as
this sacrifice is not useful to you, and would in no wise alter
my position with your majesty."

However painful to the king such a determination might be, he
did not allow the duke to perceive it; he dissembled the resentment
he felt, and contented himself with saying,

"Duc de Choiseul, I do not pretend to impose chains on you; I
have spoken to you as a friend rather than as a sovereign.  Now
I return to what was said at first, and accept with confidence the
promise you make me not to torment a lady whom I love most sincerely."

Thus ended a conversation from which the duke, with a less haughty
disposition, might have extracted greater advantages and played
a surer game.  It was the last plank of safety offered in the
shipwreck which menaced him.  He disdained it: the opportunity of
seizing it did not present itself again.  I doubt not but that if

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