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

Spite of the many endeavors he made to appear smiling and good
humored, a deep rage kept its station round his mouth, and
contracted his lips even in the midst of the artificial smile with
which he sought to dissimulate his wrath.

"Madame, good morning," said he to me, "I come to offer my
congratulations, you really are become quite one of us; upon my
word, the most experienced courtier has nothing more to teach you."

"I am as yet in ignorance of the cause to which I may ascribe
these compliments, M. le marechal, which I greatly fear surpass
my poor merits; and which even you will be compelled to retract
them when I am better known to you."

"Fear it not, madame," said he, "your commencement is a master-stroke;
and the letter you yesterday addressed to the comtesse d'Egmont--"

"Ah, sir," exclaimed I, with unfeigned astonishment, "in her place
I certainly should not have selected you as my confidant in
the affair."

"And who could she better have selected than her father?  But
that is not the matter in hand.  My daughter is filled with anger
against you; and if I must speak the truth, I do not think your
behavior towards her quite what it should have been."

"Really, monsieur, I was not prepared for a reproach of this kind;
and what can madame d'Egmont allege against me?  'Tis she who
has pursued me with the most bitter sarcasms, the most determined
malice; and, I may add, the most impertinent behavior.  I entreat
your pardon for using such strong expressions, but her behavior
allows of none milder.  And what have I done in my turn?  snatched
from a lingering death an unfortunate young man, whose only
crime consisted in having pleased this unreasonable madame
d'Egmont.  I procured the king's protection for the miserable
object of the princess's affection; I obtained his safe removal
to another country; and, having done all this, I communicated my
knowledge of the transaction to the comtesse d'Egmont.  Does this
bear any comparison with her line of conduct towards me?"

"But your letter, madame; your letter--"

"Would bear alterations and amendments, sir, I am aware: I admit I
did not sufficiently insist upon the atrocity of such an abuse
of power."

"You are then resolved, madame, to make us your enemies."

"I should be very sorry, monsieur le duc, to be compelled to such
extremities; but if your friendship can only be purchased at the
price of my submitting to continually receive the insults of your
family, I should be the first to cease to aspire to it.  If
Madame d'Egmont holds herself aggrieved by me, let her carry her
complaint before the parliament; we shall then see what redress
she will get.  She has compromised the king's name by an arbitrary
act; and since you thus attack me, you must not take it amiss if
I make the king acquainted with the whole business."

The marechal, surprised at so severe a reply, could no longer
restrain the rage which filled him.  "I should have thought,
madame," said he, "that my daughter, in whose veins flows royal
blood, might have merited some little consideration from the
comtesse du Barry."

"It is well, then, monsieur le duc," replied I, "to point out to
you your error.  I see in my enemies their works and actions
alone, without any reference to their birth, be it high or low;
and the conduct of madame d'Egmont has been so violent and
unceasing towards me, that it leaves me without the smallest
regret for that I have pursued towards her."

I had imagined that this reply would still further irritate the
angry feelings of the duc de Richelieu, but it did not: he easily
guessed that nothing but the king's support could have inspired
me to express myself with so much energy; and, if paternal
vanity strove in his heart, personal interests spoke there with
even a louder voice.  He therefore sought to lay aside his anger,
and, like a skilful courtier, changing his angry look and tone
for one of cheerfulness:

"Madame," said he, "I yield; I see it will not do to enter the
lists against you.  I confess I came this morning but to sound
your courage, and already you have driven me off the field
vanquished.  There is one favor I would implore of your generosity,
and that is, to be silent as to all that has transpired."

"I shall not speak of it, monsieur le duc," replied I, much moved,
"unless you or madame d'Egmont set me the example."

"In that case the affair will for ever remain buried in oblivion;
but, madame, I will not conceal from you, that my daughter has
become your most bitter and irreconcilable enemy.  "

"The motives which have actuated me, monsieur le  marechal, are
such as to leave me very little concern upon that subject.  I

flatter myself this affair will not keep you away from me, who
would fain reckon as firmly on your friendship as yon may do on mine."

The marechal kissed my hand in token of amity, and from that
moment the matter was never mentioned.

A similar scene had already occurred with the prince de Soubise,
relative to the exile of his daughter.  Was it not somewhat
strange, as well as unjust, that all the noblemen of the day wished
to preserve to their relations the right of offending me with
impunity, without permitting me even the right of defending myself.


Madame du Barry separates from madame de Bearn--Letters between
these ladies--Portrait of madame de l'Hopital--The ladder--The
bell--Conversation with madame de Mirepoix--First visit to Chantilly--
Intrigues to prevent the countess from going thither--The king's
Displeasure towards the princesses--The archbishop de Senlis
The spoiled child of fortune, I had now attained the height of my
wishes.  The king's passion augmented daily, and my empire became
such as to defy the utmost endeavors of my enemies to undermine
it.  Another woman in my place would have employed her power in
striking terror amongst all who were opposed to her,  but for my
own part I contented myself with repulsing their attempts to injure
me, and in proceeding to severity only when my personal interests
were too deeply concerned to admit of my passing the matter
over in silence.

There was no accusation too infamous to be laid to my charge;
amongst other enormities they scrupled not to allege that I had
been the murderess of Lebel, the king's , who
died by poison!  Was it likely, was it probable that I should seek
the destruction of him to whom I owed my elevation, the most
devoted of friends, and for whom my heart cherished the most
lively sense of gratitude?  What interest could I possibly derive
from the perpetration of such a crime?  The imputation was too
absurd for belief, but slander cares little for the seeming
improbability of such an event.  The simple fact remained that
Lebel was dead, of course the cruel and unjust consequence
became in the hands of my enemies, that I had been the principal
accessory to it.

My most trifling actions were misrepresented with the same black
malignity.  They even made it a crime in me to have written to
madame de Bearn, thanking her for her past kindnesses, and thus
setting her at liberty to retire from the mercenary services she
pretended to have afforded me.  And who could blame me for seeking
to render myself independent of her control, or for becoming weary
of the tyrannical guidance of one who had taken it into her head
that I had become her sole property, and who, in pursuance of
this idea, bored and tormented me to death with her follies and
exactions, and even took upon herself to be out of humor at the
least indication of my attaching myself to any other lady of the
court.  According to her view of things, gratitude imposed on me
the rigorous law of forming an intimacy with her alone; in a word,
she exercised over me the most galling dominion, which my family
had long counselled me to shake off; in truth, I was perfectly
tired of bearing the yoke her capricious and overbearing temper
imposed upon me, but I determined, if possible, to do nothing
hastily, and to endure it with patience as long as I could.  But
now that the number of my female friends was augmented by the
addition of the marquise de Montmorency and the comtesse de
l'Hopital I determined no longer to bear the constant display of
madame de Bearn's despotic sway, and finding no chance of accommodating
our tastes and humors, I resolved to free myself from her thraldom.
Another powerful reason for this measure was the dislike with
which the king regarded her; not that she was deficient in birth or
good breeding, but amidst the polish of high life she occasionally 
introduced the most vulgar and provincial manners, a fault of all
others most offensive to the king, whose disgust was further
excited by the undisguised avidity with which, at every opportunity,
she sought to turn her admission to the king's private society to
account, by preferring some request or soliciting some particular
favor.  Instead of giving herself up to the joy and hilarity that
reigned around, she seemed always on the watch to seize every
possible advantage to herself.  Immediately that the king was
apprized of my intention of dismissing her from any further cares
for me, "You are quite right," said he, "to get rid of this
troublesome woman, who never visits us without calculating the
degree of interest she can derive from it, and seems to me,
whenever she approaches me, as tho' she were devising some fresh
petition to obtain from me.  And now, too, that the first ladies
of the court fill your drawing-rooms, why should you endure her
importunate presence?"

Strengthened by these sentiments on the king's part, I lost no
time in writing to madame de Bearn a letter, of which many false
copies were circulated; however, I subjoin the following as the
veritable epistle addressed by me to the countess:--

"MADAME,--It would be the height of selfishness on my part to
tax further the kindness and attention you have been pleased to
show me.  I am well aware how many public and private duties claim
your care, and I therefore (with much regret) beg to restore to you

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: