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

king's death-warrant.

To every person who approached him the despairing monarch could
utter only the fatal phrase, "I have the small-pox," which, in
his lips, was tantamount to his declaring himself a dead man.
Alas!  had his malady been confined to the small-pox, he might
still have been spared to our prayers; but, unhappily, a
complication of evils, which had long been lurking in his veins,
burst forth with a violence which, united to his cruel complaint,
bade defiance to surgical or medical skill.

Yet, spite of the terror with which the august sufferer
contemplated his approaching end, he did not lose sight of the
interests of the nation as vested in the person of the dauphin,
whom he positively prohibited, as well as his other grandsons,
from entering his chamber or even visiting the part of the chateau
he occupied.  After this he seemed to divest himself of all
further care for sublunary things; no papers were brought for his
inspection, nor did he ever more sign any official document.

The next request made by Louis XV was for his daughters, who
presented themselves bathed in tears, and vainly striving to
repress that grief which burst forth  in spite of all their
endeavours.  The king replied to their sobs, by saying, "My
children, I have the small-pox; but weep not.  These gentlemen
 [pointing towards the physicians] assure me they can cure me."
But, while uttering this cheerful sentence, his eye caught the
stern and iron countenance of La Martiniere, whose look of cool
disbelief seemed to deny the possibility of such an event.

With a view to divert her father from the gloom which all at
once came over his features, the princess Adelaide informed him
that she had a letter addressed to him by her sister, madame Louise.

"Let me hear it," cried the king; "it is, no doubt, some heavenly
mission with which she is charged.  But who knows?"  He stopped,
but it was easy to perceive that to the fear of death was added a
dread of his well-being in another world.  Madame Adelaide then
read the letter with a low voice, while the attendants retired
to a respectful distance.  All eyes were directed to the
countenance of the king, in order to read there the nature of its
contents; but already had the ravages of his fatal disease robbed
his features of every expression, save that of pain and suffering.

The princesses now took their stations beside their parent, and
established themselves as nurses, an office which, I can with
truth affirm, they continued to fill unto the last with all the
devotion of the purest filial piety.

 On this same day Louis XV caused me to be sent for.  I ran to
his bedside trembling with alarm.  The various persons engaged in
his apartment retired when they saw me, and we were left alone.

"My beloved friend," said the king, 'I have the small-pox; I am
still very ill."

"Nay, sire," interrupted I, "you must not fancy things worse than
they are; you will do well, depend upon it, and we shall yet pass
many happy days together."

"Do you indeed think so?"  returned Louis XV.  "May heaven grant
your prophecy be a correct one.  But see the state in which I now
am; give me your hand."

He took my hand and made me feel the pustules with which his
burning cheeks were covered.  I know not what effect this touch
of my hand might have produced, but the king in his turn patted
my face, pushed back the curls which hung negligently over my
brow; then, inclining me towards him, drew my head upon his
pillow.  I submitted to this whim with all the courage I could
assume; I even went so far as to be upon the point of bestowing
a gentle kiss upon his forehead.  But, stopping me, with a
mournful air, he said, "No, my lovely countess; I am no longer
myself, but here is a miniature which has not undergone the same
change as its unfortunate master."

I took the miniature, which I placed with respectful tenderness
in my bosom, nor have I ever parted with it since.

This scene lasted for some minutes, after which I was retiring,
but the king called me back, seized my hand, which he tenderly
kissed, and then whispered an affectionate "Adieu."  These were
the last words I ever heard from his lips.

Upon re-entering my apartments I found madame de Mirepoix awaiting
me, to whom I related all that had taken place, expressing, at the
same time, my earnest hope of being again summoned, ere long, to
the presence of my friend and benefactor.

"Do not deceive yourself, my dear," said she; "depend upon it
you have had your last interview; you should have employed it
more profitably.  His portrait!  why, if I mistake not, you have
 already.  Why did you not carry about with you some deed
of settlement ready for signature?  he would have denied you
nothing at such a moment, when you may rest assured he knew
himself to be taking his last farewell."

"Is it possible?"  exclaimed I.  "And can you really suppose the
king believed he spoke to me for the last time?"

"I have not the slightest doubt of it; I have known him for many
a day.  He remembers the scene of Metz, and looks upon you as 

forming the second edition of the poor duchesse de Chateauroux,
who, by the by, was not equal to you in any respect."

I burst into a fit of tears, but not of regret for having allowed
my late interview with the king to pass in so unprofitable a
manner.  However, the marechale, misconceiving the cause of this
burst of grief, exclaimed, "Come, come; it is too late now, and
all your sorrow cannot recall the last half-hour.  But,
mademoiselle du Barry," continued she, "I advise you to commence
 your packing up at once, that when the grand move comes you may
not in your hurry, leave anything behind you."

These remarks increased my affliction, but the marechale had no
intention of wounding my feelings, and worldly-minded as she was,
considered all that could be saved out of the wreck as the only
subject worthy attention.  Meanwhile, comte Jean, with a gloomy
and desponding air, continued silently with folded arms to pace
the room, till all at once, as if suddenly struck by the arguments
of madame de Mirepoix, he exclaimed,

"The marechale is right"; and abruptly quitted the apartment, as
if to commence his own preparations.

Ere madame de Mirepoix had left me and she remained till a late
hour, the ducs d'Aiguillon and de Cosse arrived, who, although
less experienced in their knowledge of the king's character, were
yet fully of her opinion respecting my last visit to him.

Scarcely had these visitors withdrawn, than I was apprized that
the chancellor of France desired to see me.  He was admitted,
and the first glance of the countenance of M. de Maupeou convinced
me that our day of power was rapidly closing.

"Your servant, cousin," said he, seating himself without the
smallest ceremony; "at what page of our history have we arrived?"

"By the unusual freedom and effrontery of your manner," answered
I, "I should surmise that we have reached the word ."

"Oh," replied the chancellor, "I crave your pardon for having
omitted my best bow; but, my good cousin, my present visit is a
friendly one, to advise you to burn your papers with as little
delay as possible."

"Thank you for your considerate counsel," said I, coolly, " but I
have no papers to destroy.  I have neither mixed with any state
intrigue, nor received a pension from the English government.
Nothing will be found in my drawers but some unanswered

"Then as I can do nothing for you, my good cousin, oblige me by
giving this paper to the duc d'Aiguillon."

"What is it?"  inquired I, with much curiosity.

"Have you forgotten our mutual engagement to support each other,
and not to quit the ministry until the other retired also?  I have
lately been compelled (from perceiving how deeply the duke was
manoeuvering against me) to send him a copy of this agreement.
Under other circumstances I might have availed myself of this
writing, but now it matters not; the blow which dismisses me
proceeds from other hands than his, and I am willing to leave
him the consolation of remaining in power a few days after myself.
Give him, then, this useless document; and now, farewell, my
pretty cousin, let us take a last embrace."

Upon which the chancellor, presuming until the last upon our
imaginary relationship, kissed my cheek, and having put into my
hands the paper in question, retired with a profound bow.

This ironical leave taking left me stupefied with astonishment,
and well I presaged my coming disgrace from the absurd mummery
the chancellor had thought fit to play off.

Comte Jean, who had seen M. de Maupeou quit the house, entered
my apartment to inquire the reason of his visit.  Silent and
dejected, I allowed my brother-in-law to take up the paper,
which he read without any ceremony.  "What is the meaning of this
scrawl?"  cried comte Jean, with one of his usual oaths; "upon my
word our cousin is a fine fellow," continued he, crushing the
paper between his fingers.  "I'll engage that he still hopes to
keep his place; however, one thing consoles me, and that is, that
both he and his parliament will soon be sent to the right about."

Our conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Chamilly, who
came to acquaint me that the king was sleeping, and did not wish
to be again disturbed that night.  Remembering my usual
omnipotence in the chateau, I was about, like a true idiot, to
prove to Chamilly that the king's interdict did not extend to me,
when I was stopped in my purpose by the appearance of the duc
d'Aiguillon; and as it was now nearly eleven o'clock at night, I
could scarcely doubt his being the bearer of some
extraordinary message.


 The duc d'Aiguillon brings an order for the immediate departure
of madame du Barry--The king's remarks recapitulated--The countess
holds a privy council--Letter to madame de Mirepoix and the ducs
de Cosse and d'Aiguillon--Night of departure--Ruel--Visit from
madame de Forcalquier

I said I did not expect the duc d'Aiguillon; and the grief which
was spread over his features, and the large tears which stood in

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: