List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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to the monarchy.

Meanwhile the chancellor, threatened by the parliaments, saw
only one way of averting the storm which was about to burst on
his head.  This was to introduce into the cabinet persons entirely
devoted to himself; but to accomplish his purpose, it was necessary
to exclude the duc de Choiseul and his party.  M. de Maupeou came
to me in December, and after having gently scolded me for what
he termed my carelessness, he showed me a letter from the duchesse
de Grammont, which, he said, would wonderfully aid our plans.
This letter was written to one of the presidents of the parliament
of Toulous, M. de ----.  I cannot give you his name; for, although
I have preserved the original of the letter, I have mislaid the
envelope on which the address was written.  I here give you a
copy of this curious and important production:--

"MONSIEUR LE PRESIDENT,-- I promised to give
you the exact details of all that passed in this gay
metropolis, and 'tis with much pleasure I sit down
to fulfill my engagement.  Things go on much
as usual, or, perhaps, I should be speaking more
correctly, were I to say they are rapidly
progressing from bad to worse.  We have
no longer a king in France; all power is lodged
in the hands of one sprung from the most infamous
origin; who, in conjunction with others as
intriguing as herself, seeks only to ruin the
kingdom, and to degrade it in the eyes of
other nations.

"The noble firmness of sovereign courts is
odious to people of this class; thus you may
imagine the detestation in which they regard
the candid and loyal conduct of the duke.  I
n the hopes of procuring the dismissal of my
brother, they have chosen for his successor
wretch loaded with crimes, a coward, an
extortioner, a murderer--the duc d'Aiguillon.
As for you gentlemen, who now constitute our
parliament, your places will soon be filled by a
magistracy drawn from the dregs of society; a
troop of slaves, deaf and blind, except
as he who pays them best will have them
exercise those powers.

"This is no time for indolent repose; we must
at once courageously and unanimously defeat
the guilty schemes of our enemies.  So long as
my brother retains his present post he will
support you with his best interest; but, should
he be dismissed, your business will soon be finished.

"I beg my best remembrances, first, to your
excellent lady, and after her, to madame B.
and madame L., not forgetting the marquise de
Chalret, whose wit is truly Attic; nor the marquise
de P--s, who conceals beneath the graceful exterior
of a Languedocian the soul of one of Corneille's
Roman matrons.  For yourself rely upon my warmest
friendship and endeavours to serve you.  My brother
is most anxious to know you, after the flattering
manner in which I have mentioned you to him.
When will you gratify us both by visiting Paris?

"Ever yours,"

Nothing could have arrived more  for our purpose than
this letter.  I was still engaged in its perusal when the king was
announced; I wished to hurry it back into the hands of M. de
Maupeou; but he, more crafty than I, requested I would keep it.

"It is fitting," said he, "that it should be seen by the right person."

Louis XV, astonished at the strange scene, inquired what it meant.

"A most shameful piece of scandal, sire," replied I.

"An infamous epistle," added the chancellor, "which one of my
friends managed to abstract from the post-office, and forwarded
to me: I brought it to madame la comtesse, that she might admire
the determined malice of our enemies."

"You excite my curiosity," cried Louis XV.  "Madame, have the
kindness to allow me to see this paper."

"Indeed, sire," exclaimed I, "I know not whether I ought to obey
your majesty, so entirely has the writer of the letter forgotten
the respect duc to your sacred person."

"Oh," said the king, "I do not fear that; I am but too well used
to the offence to feel astonishment at its occurrence."

I placed the paper in the hand of Louis XV, whose eye easily
recognised the handwriting of madame de Grammont.  "Ah, ah!"
cried he, "is it so?  let us see what this restless lady has to
say of us all."  I watched the countenance of the king as he read,
and saw the frown that covered it grow darker and darker;
nevertheless he continued to read on without comment till he
had reached the end; then sitting down and looking full at the
chancellor, he exclaimed,

"Well, M. de Maupeou, and what do you think of this business?"

"I am overwhelmed with consternation, sire," replied he, "when I
think that one of your majesty's ministers should be able to
conspire thus openly against you."

"Stay," cried Louis hastily, "that fact is by no means proved.
The duchesse de Grammont is a mad woman, who involves the safety
of her brother; if I only believed him capable of such treachery,
he should sleep this night in the Bastille, and to-morrow the
necessary proceedings should be commenced against him: as for his
sister, I will take care of her within four good walls, and avenge
myself for her past misconduct, by putting it out of her power to
injure me further."

"Sire," said I, in my turn, "remember she is a woman; I beseech
you to pardon her, and let the weight of your just indignation
fall upon her brother."

"Chancellor," cried the king, "this business must not be lightly
passed over."

"Nor without due consideration," replied M. de Maupeou, "your
majesty may look upon this letter as the basis of a secret plot:
as for the duchess, I am of my cousin's opinion; despise her
audacious attempts, but spare not her brother; he alone is the
guilty as well as dangerous person."

The king made no answer, but rose, and crushing the letter in
his hand, threw it from him.

"Would," exclaimed he at last, "that the fiends had those who
take such delight in disgusting me with my very existence.  Heavens!
how justly may I say I despise all men; nor have I a much better
opinion of your sex, madame la comtesse, I must warn you."

"Much obliged, sire," cried I; " really I was not prepared for
such gallantry.  It is rather hard that you should quarrel with
me because this disagreeable duchess behaves ill!  Upon my word
it is very unpleasant!"

"Come, come," said Louis XV, kissing my cheek, "don't you be a
naughty child; if I had not you, where should I turn for consolation
amidst the torments by which I am surrounded?  Shall I tell you?
In the midst of all these perplexing affairs, there are moments
in which I fear I may not be promoting the happiness of my people."

"Your majesty is greatly mistaken," replied the chancellor; "the
nation in general must esteem themselves most happy under your
reign; but it will always happen that ill-disposed persons seek to
pervert the public opinion, and to lead men's minds astray.  The
duchess, when travelling, was the faithful and active agent of
her brother.  The duke, to secure his stay in the ministry, will
eagerly avail himself of every adventitious aid; within your
kingdom he seeks the support of the parliaments and philosophers;
without, he claims the succour of Germany and Spain.  Your
majesty is certainly master of your own will, and it would ill
become me to point out the path you should tread; but my duty
compels me to say, that the duc de Choiseul is the greatest enemy
of the royal house: of this he gave me a convincing proof in the
case of your august son; and now, if he fancied he should find it
more advantageous to have the dauphin for his master--"

"Chancellor of France," cried Louis, much agitated, "do you
know what you are asserting?"

"The truth, sire," I exclaimed.  "The public voice accuses the
duc de Choiseul of the death of your son; they declare--"

"How!  you, too, madam!"  exclaimed the king looking at
me fixedly.

"And why not, sire?  I am merely repeating what is in every
one's mouth."

"I have heard this horrible charge before," added the king; "the
Jesuits informed me of it, but I could not give credit to such
a monstrosity."

"So much the worse," replied I;  "in the world in which we live
we should always be on our guard."

"Sire," added the chancellor, with the most diabolical address, "I
am persuaded that M. de Choiseul is the most honourable man in
the world, and that he would shudder at the bare idea of any
attempt upon the life of your majesty; but his relations, friends,
and creatures believe, that, supported by the dauphiness, he
would continue in office under your successor.  Who can answer
for their honour?  Who can assure you, that some one among them
may not do that for the duke which he would never venture to
attempt himself?

"This is the personal danger your majesty runs so long as M. de
Choiseul continues in office; were he dismissed, the world would
soon abandon the disgraced minister, and the dauphiness be
amongst the first to forget him."

The king was pale with agitation, and for some minutes continued
traversing the apartment with hasty strides; then he suddenly stopped.

"You are then convinced, M. de Maupeou," cried he, "that the duke
 is leagued with the parliaments to weaken my authority?"

"There are palpable proofs to that effect," replied the chancellor;
"your majesty may recollect the skilful manner in which, on the
3d of last September, he avoided attending you to parliament;
most assuredly, had he not been the friend of rebels, he would
not have shrunk from evincing by his presence how fully he shared
your just indignation."

"That is but too true," cried Louis XV; "and I felt much annoyed
at the time, that he preferred going to amuse himself at the house
of M. de Laborde, when his duty summoned him to my side."

"Your majesty cannot fail to perceive how everything condemns
him; his personal conduct, equally with that of his sister, proves
how little he regards his royal master's interest; and should your
clemency resolve upon sparing him now, you may find your mercy
produce fatal effects to yourself."

"His dismissal," resumed the king, "would disorganize all my
political measures.  Who could I put in his place?  I know no

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