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

that liberty you have so generously sacrificed to my interests.
Conscious of the ennui which oppresses you in this part of the
country, I write to entreat that you will allow no consideration
connected with me to detain you longer in a place so irksome, but,
since our visit to Marly is concluded, fly upon the wings of
impatience to the gay scenes of Paris and Luxembourg.  Be assured
that it will at all times afford me much pleasure to evince the
gratitude with which I shall ever remain,

"Madame, yours sincerely,


"P.  S.  I am commissioned to entreat your acceptance of the
accompanying casket; it is the gift of one whose favors are never
refused; you will easily guess, to whom I allude, and I doubt not
bring yourself to conform to the usual custom."

The jewels sent were a pair of ear-rings and an  of emeralds
encircled with diamonds.  The king was desirous of bestowing upon
madame de Bearn this particular mark of his recollection of her
services towards me, but it did not allay the indignation with
which she expressed her sense of my bitter ingratitude, as she
termed it, as tho' her interested cooperation had not been
sufficiently repaid .  Nevertheless, she forbore to come to a
decided quarrel with me, but satisfied herself with loading me
with every reproach in private, whilst she wrote to thank me for
all the favors I had bestowed upon her, and entreated I would keep
her remembrance alive in the mind of my royal protector.
As there was nothing offensive in the style of the letter I
showed it to the king; when he came to the part where madame de
Bearn recommended herself to his kind recollection, and expressed
her desire to be permitted to throw herself once more at his feet,
"Heaven preserve me," cried he, "from receiving this mark of the
lady's respect.  No, no, she is bad enough at a distance; I should
be bored to death were she so near to me as she prays for.  Thank
God we have got rid of her, and now trust to your own guidance;
try the powers of your own wings to bear you in safety, I feel
persuaded you will never be at a loss."

About this time the prince de Soubise, anxious to evince that he
no longer retained any feelings of coolness towards me, requested
his mistress, madame de l'Hopital, to call upon me.  This lady,
without being a regular beauty, was yet very attractive.  She was
past the meridian of her charms, but what she wanted in youth
she amply compensated for by the vivacity and brilliancy of her
conversation, as well as the freedom of her ideas, which made
her the idol of all the old libertines of the court.  The prince
de Soubise was greatly attached to her, and preferred her in
reality, to mademoiselle Guimard, whom he only retained for form's
sake, and because he thought it suitable to his dignity to have
an opera dancer in his pay; this nobleman (as you will find) had
rather singular ideas of the duties attached to his station.

Madame de l'Hopital had had a vast number of gallant adventures,
which she was very fond of relating.  I shall mention two of the
most amusing, which will serve to convey an idea of the skilfulness
and ready wit with which she extricated herself from the most
embarrassing circumstances.

A young man, whose love she permitted, whose name was the chevalier
de Cressy, was obliged, in order to visit her, to scale a terrace
upon which a window opened, which conducted to the sleeping-room
of his mistress.  He was generally accompanied by his valet, a
good-looking youth, who, disliking a state of idleness, had
contrived to insinuate himself into the good graces of the lady's
maid.  The valet, during his master's stay with madame, had
likewise ascended the terrace, and penetrated, by the aid of another
window, into the chamber where reposed the object of his tender
love.  All this was accomplished with as little noise as possible,
in order to prevent the mischance of awakening the marquis de
l'Hopital, who was quietly asleep in an adjoining room.

One clear moonlight night, at the very instant when M. de Cressy
was about to step out of the window, in order to return to his own
apartment, a terrible crash of broken glass was heard.  The
terrified chevalier sought the aid of his ladder, but it had
disappeared.  Not knowing what to do, the chevalier returned to
madame de l'Hopital, who, seized with terror, had only just time
to conceal him in her chamber, when the marquis opened his window
to ascertain the cause of all this confusion.  In an instant the
alarm spread, and heads were popped out of the different windows
of the castle, each vieing with the other in vociferating "Thieves!
thieves!  murder!  fire!"

The unfortunate author of all this disturbance was the unlucky
valet; who, in his overeagerness to reach his Dulcinea, had
attempted to climb his ladder so nimbly, that it fell down, and,
striking against the windows of a room near which he had fixed
it, had broken several panes of glass.  The poor valet never
stopped to replace the ladder; but, terrified as well as hurt by
his rapid descent, scrambled off as well as he could, abandoning
his master in his present critical situation.

The ladder thrown down in the courtyard was abundant proof that
some audacious attempt had been made upon the lives and safety
of the inhabitants of the castle; and the general determination
was to catch the thieves: for, it was presumed, as no outlet for
their escape was discernible, that they must be concealed within
its walls.  The servants, with their master at their head, were
speedily assembled for the purpose, when the absence of the
chevalier de Cressy was observed.  Where could he be?  was the
general wonder.  Was it possible that, amidst the universal
uproar with which the castle had resounded, he had slept so
soundly as to be yet unconscious of all this bustle?  An
over-officious friend was upon the point of going to his chamber,
to ascertain the cause of his absenting himself at such a moment,
when madame de l'Hopital sent to request her husband would come
to her immediately.  "Sir," said she, when they were alone, "the
disturbance which has thus broken our rest is not the work of
thieves, but originates in the shameless licentiousness of a man
unworthy of his name and the rank he occupies.  The chevalier de
Cressy, forgetful of his being your guest, and of respecting the
honor of all beneath your roof, has dared to carry on a base
intrigue with my woman, in whose apartment you will find him at
this very minute.  A conduct so profligate and insulting fills me
with an indignation which I think that you, sir, after what you
have heard, cannot but partake."

The marquis de l'Hopital, who did not see the thing in the same
serious light, sought to appease the virtuous indignation of his
lady, and went himself to release the chevalier from his place of
concealment; leading him thro' his own apartment to join the
crowd of armed servants, who, as may be supposed, were unable to
detect the supposed invaders of their repose.

On the following morning the chevalier as agreed upon, wrote a
penitential letter to madame, entreating her pardon for his
improper attentions to her servant, whom she affected to dismiss
with every mark of gravest displeasure.  The weeping Abigail
threw herself at the feet of her mistress: and the compassionate
marquis (before whom the scene was enacted), touched with pity,
implored his lady to receive the afflicted and penitent Javotte
once more into her service.  This was at length granted to his
solicitations; and Javotte received a hundred louis as the price
of her silence, and found it sufficient compensation for the bad
opinion the marquis entertained of her virtue.

The second trick the marchioness played her husband was not
less amusing.

The chevalier de Cressy and herself could not meet so frequently
as both desired; and whilst suffering under the void occasioned
by his absence, chance threw in her way a young relative of her
husband's, a youth of about eighteen, as beautiful as Love, and
as daring as that god.  They were then in the country during the
fine days of summer, and both time and place were favorable to
the prosecution of their growing passion.  One day madame de
l'Hopital and her cousin were sauntering about the park heedless
of the approaching dinner-hour, and equally deaf to the sound of
the dinner-bell, which rung its accustomed peal in vain for them
whose ears were occupied in listening to sweeter sounds.  At
length the master of the house, alarmed at the protracted absence
of his wife and friend, went himself, attended by many guests
assembled at his house, in search of the stray ones; the servants
likewise received orders to disperse themselves over the grounds
in different directions; and madame de l'Hopital and her companion
were only aroused to a recollection of the flight of time by
hearing their names loudly shouted by a dozen different voices.
Fortunately they were just in time to separate in opposite paths,
and thus to enter the castle without any suspicion being excited
of their having been so recently in each other's company.  The
marquis angrily remonstrated with his lady for having obliged
him to send in search of her, and she excused herself by protesting
that she had not heard the dinner-bell.  The marquis replied, that
the thing was impossible; and after some angry discussion the
matter rested there.

A few days after this the marchioness, with her husband and
cousin, were rambling over the grounds, when they found themselves
at the entrance of a hermitage, where madame de l'Hopital had
told the marquis she had sat down to rest herself on the day of
her failing to attend the dinner-hour.  M. de l'Hopital resumed
the dispute, by protesting that from this situation the dinner-bell
might easily be heard: the lady continued firm in protesting it
could not, till, at last, feigning extreme anger, she exclaimed.
"Well then, sir, since you refuse to believe  assertion, go
yourself and ring the bell as loudly as you please, your cousin
will remain here with me, and determine if it be possible to

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: