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

became better known, I found myself almost continually in his
society, indeed as I have something to confess in the business, I
could hardly choose a better opportunity than the present, did I
not recollect that the good duc d'Aiguillon is waiting all this
while for me to announce the < entree > of our party into the
ante-room of Madame de Valentinois.

My entrance was a complete .  I had been
imagined languishing on the bed of sickness, yet there I stood
in all the fulness of health and freshness of beauty.  I could
very easily read upon each countenance the vexation and rage my
appearance of entire freedom from all ailment excited; however,
I proceeded without any delay to the mistress of the house, whom
I found busily engaged in seating her visitors, and playing the
amiable to the dauphiness.  This princess seemed equally astonished
at my unexpected apparition; nevertheless, taken off her guard,
she could not prevent herself from courteously returning the
profound salutation I made her.  As for the duchesse de la
Vauguyon, when she saw me, she turned alternately from red to
white, and was even weak enough to give public vent to her fury.
The comte de Provence, who had been told that I was not expected,
began to laugh when he perceived me, and taking the first
opportunity of approaching me, he said, "Ah, madame!  so you too
can mystify your friends, I see!  Have a care; the sight of charms
like yours is sufficient to strike terror into any adversaries,
without having recourse to any expedient to heighten their effect."
Saying this he passed on without giving me the opportunity of
replying, as I could have wished to have done.

The marechale de Mirepoix, to whom I had confided my secret, and
of whose fidelity I was assured, was present at the fete.  I availed
myself of the offer of a seat near her and directly we were seated,
"You are a clever creature," said she, "for you have completely
bewildered all the female part of this evening's society, and by
way of a finishing stroke will run away with the hearts of all the
flutterers here, before the fair ladies they were previously
hovering around, have recovered their first astonishment."

"Upon my word," said I, smiling, "I do not wonder at the kind
looks with which the ladies favour me, if my presence is capable
of producing so much mischief."

"Pray, my dear," answered the marechale, "be under no mistake:
you might be as much beloved as others are, if you did not
monopolize the king's affections; the consequence is, that every
woman with even a passable face looks upon you as the usurper of
her right, and as the fickle gentlemen who woo these gentle ladies
are all ready to transfer their homage to you directly you appear,
you must admit that your presence is calculated to produce no
inconsiderable degree of confusion."

The commencement of a play which formed part of the evening's
entertainment obliged us to cease further conversation.  The first
piece represented was ","a charming pastoral, to
which the music of Monsigny gave a fresh charm; the actors were
selected from among the best of the Comedie Italienne--the divine
Clairval, and the fascinating mademoiselle Caroline.  I was
completely enchanted whilst the play lasted; I forgot both my
cabals and recent triumph, and for a while believed myself
actually transported to the rural scenes it represented, surrounded
by the honest villagers so well depicted; but this delightful
vision soon passed away, and soon, too soon I awoke from it to
find myself surrounded by my  friends at court.

"" was followed by a species of comedy mixed with
songs.  This piece was wholly in honour of the dauphiness, with
the exception of some flattering and gallant allusions to myself
and some gross compliments to my cousin the chancellor, who, in
new silk robe and a fine powdered  wig, was also present at this fete.

The performers in this little piece, who were Favart, the actor,
and Voisenon, the priest, must have been fully satisfied with the
reception they obtained, for the comedy was applauded as though
it had been one of the  of Voltaire.  In general
a private audience is very indulgent so long as the representation
lasts, but no sooner has the curtain fallen than they indulge in
a greater severity of criticism than a public audience would do.
And so it happened on the evening in question; one couplet had
particularly excited the discontent of the spectators, male and
female; I know not what prophetic spirit inspired the lines.

The unfortunate couplet was productive of much offence against
the husband and lover of madame Favart, for the greater part of
the persons present perfectly detested my poor cousin, who was
"to clip the wings of chicanery."  Favart managed to escape just
in time, and the abbe de Voisenon, who was already not in very
high favour with his judges, was compelled to endure the full
weight of their complaints and reproaches; every voice was
against him, and even his brethren of the French academy, departing
from their accustomed indulgence upon such matters, openly
reprimanded him for the grossness of his flattery; the poor abbe
attempted to justify himself by protesting that he knew nothing
of the hateful couplet, and that Favart alone was the guilty
person upon whom they should expend their anger.

"I am always," cried he, "doomed to suffer for the offences of
others; every kind of folly is made a present to me."

"Have a care, monsieur l' abbe," exclaimed d'Alembert, who was
among the guests, "have a care!  men seldom lavish their gifts
but upon those who are rich enough to return the original present

in a tenfold degree."  This somewhat sarcastic remark was most
favourably received by all who heard it, it quickly circulated
through the room, while the poor, oppressed abbe protested,
with vehement action.

The fete itself was most splendidly and tastefully conducted,
and might have sent the different visitors home pleased and
gratified in an eminent degree, had not spite and ill-nature
suggested to madame de la Vauguyon, that as the chancellor and
myself were present, it must necessarily have been given with a
view of complimenting us rather than madame de Provence.  She
even sought to irritate the dauphiness by insinuating the same
mean and contemptible observations, and so far did she succeed,
that when madame de Valentinois approached to express her hopes
that the entertainment which she had honoured with her presence
had been to her royal highness's satisfaction, the dauphiness
coolly replied, "Do not, madame, affect to style this evening's
fete one bestowed in honour of myself, or any part of my family;
'tis true we have been the ostensible causes, and have, by our
presence, given it all the effect you desired, but you will pardon
our omitting to thank you for an attention, which was in reality,
directed to the comtesse du Barry and M. de Maupeou."



(photograph of original handwritten note omitted)

 	Heavens!  my dear friend, how sad are the days
when I am deprived of the happiness of passing the time
with you, and with what joy do I watch for the moment
which will bring you to me.  I shall not go to Paris
to-day, because the person I was going to see is
coming Thursday.  As you will be going away, I shall
visit the barracks instead, for I believe you approve
of the object.  Adieu.  I await you with impatience,
with a heart wholly yours, which, in spite of your
injustice, could never belong to any other, even
if I had the wish.  I think of you and that word of
yours which you will surely regret; and still another
regret is that I am deprived of you.  That is the
watchword of each instant.


At Louvecienne, Noon.

Madame de Valentinois came to me with tears in her eyes to repeat
the cruel remark of the princess; the marechale de Mirepoix,
who heard her, sought to console her by assurances, that it would
in no degree affect her interest at court.  "Never mind, my good
friend," said she; "the pretty bird merely warbles the notes it
learns from its keeper la Vauguyon, and will as quickly forget  as
learn them.  Nevertheless, the king owes you recompense for the
vexation it has occasioned you."

Immediately that I found myself alone with the marechale, I inquired
of her what was the nature of the reparation she considered
madame de Valentinois entitled to expect from the hands of his
majesty.  She replied, "'Tis on your account alone that the poor
countess has received her late mortification; the king is therefore
bound to atone for it in the form of a pension.  Money, my dear,
money is a sovereign cure at court; calms every grief and heals
every wound."

I fully agreed with the good-natured marechale; and, when I bade
the sorrowful madame de Valentinois good night, I assured her I
would implore his majesty to repair the mischief my presence had
caused.  Accordingly on the following day, when the king questioned
me as to how far I had been amused with the fete given by madame
de Valentinois, I availed myself of the opening to state my entire
satisfaction, as well as to relate the disgrace into which she had
fallen, and to pray his majesty to bestow upon her a pension of
15,000 livres.

"Upon my word," exclaimed Louis XV, hastily traversing the chamber,
"this fete seems likely to prove a costly one to me."

"Nay, sire," said I, "it was a most delightful evening; and you
will not, I hope, refuse me such a trifle for those who lavished
so much for my amusement."

"Well," cried he, "be it so; the countess shall have the sum she requires, but upon
condition that she does not apply to me again."

"Really your majesty talks," replied I, "as though this trifling
pension were to be drawn from your own purse."

The king began to smile at my remark, like a man who knows himself
found out.  I knew him well enough to be certain that, had he
intended the pension awarded madame de Valentinois to come from

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: