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

his own privy purse, he would scarcely have consented to bestowing
on her more than a shabby pittance of a thousand livres per annum.
It is scarcely possible to conceive an idea of the excessive
economy of this prince.  I remember, that upon some great occasion,
when it was requisite to support the public treasury, which was
failing, by a timely contribution, the duc de Choiseul offered the
loan of 250,000 livres, whilst the king, to the astonishment of
all who heard him, confined his aid to 2,000 louis!  The marechale
de Mirepoix used to assert that Louis XV was the only prince of
his line who ever knew the value of a crown.  She had,
nevertheless, managed to receive plenty from him, although, I
must own, that she had had no small difficulty in obtaining them;
nor did the king part with his beloved gold without many a sigh
of regret.

At the house of madame de Valentinois I met the marechale de
Luxembourg, who had recently returned from Chanteloup.  There
really was something of infatuation in the general mania which
seemed to prevail of treating the king's sentiments with
indifference, and considering his displeasure as an affair of no
consequence.  Before the disgrace of the Choiseuls they were
equally the objects of madame de Luxembourg's most bitter hatred,
nor was madame de Grammont backward in returning her animosity;
yet, strange as it may seem, no sooner was the Choiseul party
exiled, than the marechale never rested till she saw her name
engraved on the famous pillar erected to perpetuate the remembrance
of all those who had visited the exiles.  She employed their
mutual friends to effect a reconciliation, which was at length
effected by letter, and a friendly embrace exchanged by proxy.
These preliminaries over, the marechale came to the king to make
the request to which he had now become accustomed, but which did
not the less amuse him.  Of course Louis XV made no hesitation in
granting her the request she solicited.  Speaking to me of the
subject, he said, "The  meeting of madame de Grammont
and the marechal de Luxembourg must indeed be an overpowering
sight; I only trust these two ladies may not drop the mask too
soon, and bite each other's ear while they are embracing."

Madame de Luxembourg, daughter of the duc de Villeroi, had been
first married to the duc de Boufflers, whose brows she helped to
adorn with other ornaments than the ducal coronet; nor whilst her
youth and beauty lasted was she less generous to her second
husband: she was generally considered a most fascinating woman,
from the loveliness of her person and the vivacity of her manners;
but behind an ever ready wit, lurked the most implacable malice
and hatred against all who crossed her path or purpose.  As she
advanced in life she became more guarded and circumspect, until
at last she set herself up as the arbitress of high life, and the
youthful part of the nobility crowded around her, to hear the
lessons of her past experience.  By the number and by the power
of her pupils, she could command both the court and city; her
censures were dreaded, because pronounced in language so strong
and severe, as to fill those who incurred them with no hope of
ever shining in public opinion whilst so formidable a  was
uttered against them; and her decrees, from which there was no
appeal, either stamped a man with dishonour, or introduced him as
a first-rate candidate for universal admiration and esteem, and
her hatred was as much dreaded as ever her smiles had been courted:
for my own part, I always felt afraid of her, and never willingly
found myself in her presence.

After I had obtained for madame de Valentinois the boon I solicited,
I was conversing with the king respecting madame de Luxembourg,
when the chancellor entered the room; he came to relate to his
majesty an affair which had occasioned various reports, and much
scandal.  The viscount de Bombelles, an officer in an hussar
regiment, had married a mademoiselle Camp, Reasons, unnecessary
for me to seek to discover, induced him, all at once, to annul his
marriage, and profiting by a regulation which forbade all good
Catholics from intermarrying with those of the reformed religion,
He demanded the dissolution of his union with mademoiselle Camp.
This attempt on his part to violate, upon such grounds, the
sanctity of the nuptial vow, whilst it was calculated to rekindle
the spirit of religious persecution, was productive of very
unfavourable consequences to the character of M. de Bombelles;
the great cry was against him, he stood alone and unsupported in
the contest, for even the greatest bigots themselves would not
intermeddle or appear to applaud a matter which attacked both
honour and good feeling: the comrades of M. de Bombelles refused
to associate with him; but the finishing stroke came from his old
companions at the military school, where he had been brought up.
On the 27th of November, 1771, the council of this establishment
wrote him the following letter:--

"The military school have perused with equal
indignation and grief the memorials which have
appeared respecting you in the public prints.  Had
you not been educated in this establishment, we
should merely have looked upon your affair with
mademoiselle Camp as a scene too distressing for
humanity and it would have been buried in our
peaceful walls beneath the veil of modesty and
silence; but we owe it to the youth sent to us by
his majesty, for the inculcation of those principles
which become the soldier as the man, not to pass
over the present opportunity of inspiring them with
a just horror of your misguided conduct, as well
as feeling it an imperative duty to ourselves not
to appear indifferent to the scandal and disgraceful
confusion your proceedings have occasioned in
the capital.  We leave to the ministers of our
religion, and the magistrates who are appointed
to guard our laws.  to decide upon the legality of
the bonds between yourself and mademoiselle Camp,
but by one tribunal you are distinctly pronounced
guilty towards her, and that is the tribunal of
honour, before that tribunal which exists in the
heart of every good man.  You have been universally
cited and condemned.  There are some errors which
all the impetuosity of youth is unable to excuse,
and yours are unhappily of that sort.  The different
persons composing this establishment, therefore,
concur not only in praying of us to signify their
sentiments, but likewise to apprize you, that you
are unanimously forbidden to appear within these
walls again."

The chancellor brought to the king a copy of this severe letter,
to which I listened with much emotion, nor did the king seem
more calm than myself.

'This is, indeed," said he at length, "a very sad affair; we shall
have all the quarrels of Protestantism renewed, as if I had not
had already enough of those of the Jansenists and Jesuits.  As
far as I can judge, M. de Bombelles is entitled to the relief he
seeks, and every marriage contracted with a Protestant is null
and void by the laws of France."

"Oh, sire," cried I, " would I had married a Protestant."

The king smiled for a moment at my jest, then resumed:

"I blame the military school."

"Is it your majesty's pleasure," inquired the chancellor, "that I
should signify your displeasure to them?"

"No, sir," replied Louis, "it does not come within your line of
duty, and devolves rather upon the minister of war; and very
possibly he would object to executing such a commission; for how
could I step forward as the protector of one who would shake off
the moral obligation of an oath directly it suits his inclinations
to doubt its legality?  This affair gives me great uneasiness,
and involves the most serious consequences.  You will see that I
shall be overwhelmed with petitions and pamphlets, demanding of
me the revocation of the edict of Nantes."

"And what, sire," asked the chancellor gravely, "could you do,
that would better consolidate the glory of your reign?"

"Chancellor," exclaimed Louis XV, stepping back with unfeigned
astonishment, "have you lost your senses?  What would the clergy
say or do?  The very thought makes me shudder.  Do you then believe,
M. de Maupeou, that the race of the Clements, the Ravaillacs, the
Damiens, are extinct in France?"

"Ah, sire, what needless fears."

"Not so needless as you may deem them," answered the king.  "I
have been caught once, I am not going to expose myself to danger
a second time.  You know the proverb,--no, no, let us leave things
as my predecessors left them; besides, I shall not be sorry to
leave a little employment for my successor; he may get through it
how he can, and spite of all the clamouring of the philosophers,
the Protestants shall hold their present privileges so long as I
live.  I will have neither civil nor religious war, but live in
peace and eat my supper with a good appetite with you, my fair
comtesse, for my constant guest, and you, M. de Maupeou, for
this evening's visitor."

The conversation here terminated.


 Madame du Barry purchases the services of Marin the gazetteer
--Louis XV and madame de Rumas--M. de Rumas and the comtesse du
Barry--An intrigue----A present upon the occasion--The
duc de Richelieu in disgrace--100,000 livres

This Marin, a provencal by birth, in his childhood one of the
choristers, and afterwards organist of the village church, was,
at the period of which I am speaking, one of the most useful men
possible.  Nominated by M. de St. Florentin to the post of censor
royal, this friend to the philosophers was remarkable for the
peculiar talent, with which he would alternately applaud and
condemn the writings of these gentlemen.  Affixing his sanction
to two lines in a tragedy by Dorat had cost him twenty-four hours'
meditation within the walls of the Bastille; and for permitting
the representation of some opera (the name of which I forget) he
had been deprived of a pension of 2,000 francs; but, wedded to
the delights of his snug post, Marin always contrived, after
every storm, to find his way back to its safe harbor.  He had

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: