year 1777; but M. Vatel thinks it was not until 1779
or 1780, as in one of the countess's letters, written
while they were still only friends, she speaks of a little
girl called Cornichon, "who talks of you constantly."
This little girl, says M. Vatel, who was the daughter
of the gardener at Louveciennes, and a great pet of the
mistress of the chateau, was not born until 1775, and,
therefore, must have been at that time three or four
years of age at least.
The liaison between Henry Seymour and Madame
du Barry does not appear to have been exempt from
storms, nor was it of long duration. However, while
it lasted, it was undoubtedly a genuine passion, and
the ladv's letters to her lover bear the unmistakable
stamp of sincerity. 'What an unlooked-for tone in
this correspondence! How different a du Barry is
revealed to you in the shadow, behind the popular du
Barry of pamphlets and romances ! It is no longer the
courtesan, no longer the favourite ; it is a woman who
MADAME DU BARRY 289
loves." "What a romantic passion, what sensibility,
what transport ! It was a real love drama, with elegies,
pastorals, and eclogues to satisfy the least sentimental
man in the world."
In the first letter, we find Madame du Barry inquir-
ing anxiously after the health of Seymour's younger
daughter, who is ill, and assuring him of the deep
sympathy she feels for him in his trouble :
"I am greatly touched, Monsieur, by the cause which
deprives me of the pleasure of seeing you at my house,
and I most sincerely pity your daughter in the illness
from which she is suffering. I imagine that your heart
is undergoing quite as much pain as hers, and I share
your sensibility. I can only exhort you to take cour-
age, since the doctor assures you there is no danger.
If the interest that I take (ji prans!) were able to be
of some consolation to you, you would be less agitated.
"Mademoiselle du Barry ('Chon') is as sensible as
I am to all that concerns you and begs me to assure
you of it.
"Our journey has been very fortunate; Cornichon
does not forget you and talks of you constantly. I am
delighted that the little dog affords your daughter a
"Accept, Monsieur, the assurance of the sentiments
that I have for you.
" Louveciennes, Saturday, 6 o'clock"
In the next, they are still only friends, but the lady
is evidently glad to avail herself of any excuse for
writing to him :
"It has long been remarked that little attentions pre-
serve friendship, and Monsieur Seymour ought to be
*E. and J. de Goncourt's La Du Barry, p. 211.
8 Nouvelles a la main sur Madame du Barry, a pretended
manuscript published by Emile Cantril in 1761.
7 See p. 288, supra.
290 MADAME DU BARRY
well persuaded of the extent to which Louveciennes is
interested in all that can please or satisfy him. He ap-
pears to be very anxious to possess a coin squandered
very unsuitably in the little game of loto; 8 it is of the
time of Louis XIV. Monsieur Seymour is a great ad-
mirer of that age, so fertile (fegont!) in marvels. Here
is a miniature of it, which the Louveciennes ladies
send you. They part with it with pleasure, because
they know that Monsieur Seymour will appreciate the
sacrifice, and will be well assured that the ladies will
find more essential occasions of proving their friend-
ship for him.
'We have no news here, except of the little dog,
which is well and drinks of its own accord."
In the third letter, friendship has developed into
love into passion. He has become necessary to her
happiness : she desires to be constantly with him :
"Now that I am deprived of the satisfaction of see-
ing you, I have a thousand things to tell you, a thou-
sand things to communicate to you. . . . Never have
I felt so much as at this moment how necessary you
are to me. Rest assured that it would be a happiness
to be constantly with you. . . . Adieu, my friend.
What an age between now and Saturday !"
The next letter was, apparently, written later in the
same week. She is all impatience for Saturday to ar-
'The assurance of your affection, my affectionate
friend, is the happiness of my life. Believe that my
8 She probably means that the coin had been used as a counter
9 Apparently a puppy which Seymour had given her, in returr
for the little dog she had sent his daughter.
MADAME DU BARRY 291
heart finds these two days very long and that were it in
my power to curtail them, it would have no more un-
easiness. I await you on Saturday with all the im-
patience of a soul entirely yours, and I hope that you
will desire nothing (sic). I mean to be rid of all my
ailments by Saturday, and to feel alone the pleasure of
proving to you how dear you are to me. Adieu, I
" Thursday, 2 o'clock."
The letter which follows is in an equally passionate
"My heart is undividedly yours, and, if I have failed
to keep my promise, my fingers alone are to blame. I
have been very unwell since you left me, and I assure
you that I have only strength to think of you. Adieu,
my affectionate friend ; I love you I repeat it, and I
believe myself happy. I embrace you a thousand times,
and am yours. Come early.'
From the next it would appear that a little cloud had
arisen upon the lover's horizon; Seymour had evi-
dently a suspicion that the lady's heart was no longer
undividedly his :
'You will only have a single word, and it would be
a reproach if my heart could make you one. I am so
tired after four long letters which I have just written
that I have only strength to tell that I love yon. To-
morrow I will tell you what has prevented me giving
you tidings of myself, but believe me that, whatever
you say, you will be the only friend of my heart.
"Friday, 2, o'clock"
Printed in the catalogue at a sale of autographs in February
1755, and published by the Goncourts.
Memoirs 10 Vol. 2
292 MADAME DU BARRY
The tone of its successor, however, must have been
calculated to reassure him :
"Mon Dieu! my affectionate friend, how melancholy
are the days which follow those that I have had the
pleasure of spending with you, and with what joy I
see the moment arrive which is to bring you to me !"
But at the time the next was written the cloud had
"I shall not go to Paris to-day, because the person I
was to go and see came on Tuesday just after you left.
His (or her) visit greatly embarrassed me, for I be-
lieve that you were the object of it. Adieu; I await
you with the impatience of a heart entirely yours and
which, in spite of your injustice, feels that it cannot
be another's. I think of you; I tell you so and repeat
it, and have no other regret than that of not being able
to tell you so every moment.
" LowuecienneSf noon"
The ambiguities of the French language, as Mr.
Alger points out, prevent us from knowing whether
la personne and sa visite mentioned in the aforegoing
letter refer to a man or woman. "Was it Mrs. Seymour
suspicious of her husband's intimacy with Madame du
Barry, or was it the Due de Brissac, already hovering
round his future mistress?" Both he and M. Vatel in-
cline to the opinion that it was the latter ; and the lady's
complaint of Seymour's "injustice," presumably un-
just suspicions, certainly strengthens this supposition.
However, all doubt on the matter is set at rest by the
next letter, which, together with the four which follow
it, is not given in the works of the Goncourts or Vatel,
but was published, we believe, for the first time by Mr.
MADAME DU BARRY 293
"I am as much surprised as you, my affectionate
friend, at the visit. I assure you that it gave me no
pleasure. I am so absorbed with you that I could not
be diverted by anything that was not you. How un-
just and cruel you are! What pleasure do you take
in tormenting a heart which cannot and will not be
anybody's but yours !
"Adieu; do not forget line atnie who loves you. I
have no strength to tell you more. I would fain, but
cannot, flee from you."
But if Seymour was jealous of Brissac, Madame du
Barry was jealous of Mrs. Seymour :
"I wish it were possible for you to live for me alone,
just as I would live only for you; but your ties are an
invincible obstacle, and every moment of my life, even
those I pass with you, is embittered by this cruel idea."
From another letter it would appear that Seymour
had proposed to visit Madame du Barry, but that she
had had a prior engagement, possibly with his rival:
"I am vexed at having an engagement to-day. I am
not much in Society, but as we cannot pass our lives in
a tete-a-tete, you will understand that I require a few
The next shows that relations between them were
becoming very strained, and that Seymour had re-
proached her bitterly, and threatened to break off the
"I feel the value of such a friend as you, Monsieur.
I form empty plans, which I should not have the
strength to carry out. Your letter has rent my soul ;
294 MADAME DU BARRY
the idea of seeing you no more adds to all my suffer-
ings. Come, my friend, strengthen my still wavering
heart. Your tender and persuasive friendship can
alone assuage the throbbing wound of my soul. Come
back, my affectionate friend ; I cannot be happy with-
She will not, cannot, give him up; he has become
necessary to her very existence :
"Understand my heart and my weakness, my friend.
I would fain renounce and shun you, but I am so ill
that I believe it would be impossible to live without
But the rupture comes none the less, and it is her
own hand which severs the chain :
"It is needless to speak to you of my affection and
sensibility ; you know it ; but what you do not know are
my sufferings. You have not condescended to reassure
me as to what disturbs my mind. Therefore I think
that my tranquillity and happiness are immaterial to
you. It is with regret that I speak to you of this, but
it is for the last time. My head is well, my heart is
what suffers; but with much resolution and courage I
shall succeed in subduing it. The task is hard and
grievous, but it is necessary. It is the last sacrifice
that remains for me to make. My heart has made all
the others ; it is for my reason to make this. Adieu ;
be assured that you alone fill my heart.
" Wednesday, midnight."
Seymour does not appear to have been altogether an
amiable person. He had an illegitimate son, with
whom his relations were strained, and he was on very
MADAME DU BARRY 295
bad terms with his wife. In January 1781 they
separated, having for some months previously com-
municated only in writing, though living in the same
house; but, according to Mr. Alger, it is doubtful
whether the husband's attentions to Madame du Barry
were responsible for their disagreement. 11
Seymour continued to reside at Prunay down to
August 1792, when, alarmed at the progress of the
Revolution, he fled to England, leaving all his papers
behind him. He was registered as an emigre, and his
property appears to have been confiscated and sold.
"Madame du Barry's letters," says Mr. Alger, "must
have been included in the seizure, and Seymour's pres-
ervation of them, coupled with his continued residence
at Prunay, seems to show that, parting in sorrow not
in anger, they remained acquaintances, if not friends;
but the letters either never reached the Archives or
were abstracted. They are said to have been purchased
by Barriere, the editor of "Memoirs of the Eighteenth
Century and of the Revolution," at a sale of auto-
graphs in 1837, perhaps the Baillot sale of October 25,
1837. But Barriere, who was a clerk at the Prefecture
of Police, may have found them there, or have come
by them in some clandestine way. We know what
collectors are capable of, and Barriere appears to have
made a mystery of them. In 1838 he communicated
six of them to the brothers Goncourt for publication
in their Portraits Intimes, and, twenty years, later he
produced a seventh, which appeared in their Mattresses
de Louis XV. He evidently gave them the impression
that he had no others, but Vatel, Madame du Barry's
latest biographer, was presented by him with an eighth,
which he bequeathed to a Versailles publisher. Yet
11 See Mr. Alger's article on Henry Seymour in the West-
minster Review, January 1897, in which he gives some interest-
ing details about Mrs. Seymour.
296 MADAME DU BARRY
Barriere was all along in possession of thirty others,
which, together with the lock of hair, were not dis-
posed of till 1892. Though the whole collection is
doubtless in safe keeping, I have been unable to ascer-
tain its whereabouts."
Seymour spent the rest of his life at his Wiltshire
seat, Knoyle, where he died in 1805. His heirs after
Waterloo claimed 8000 out of the compensation paid
by France for losses of British subjects, and Mr. Alger
thinks that the claim was allowed. His son, Henry,
who lived till the age of seventy-three, also resided at
Knoyle, and was High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1835.
He married a Miss Hopkinson, of Bath, but his mar-
riage vows, like those of his father, seem to have been
but lightly regarded, for after Waterloo he revisited
France, and formed a connection with a lady of the
Bourbon-Conti family. Of this intrigue a daughter
was born, who married Sir James Tichborne, and be-
came the mother of the young man personated by "the
Westminster Review, January 1897.
MADAME du Barry would not appear to have
experienced much difficulty in finding con-
solation for the loss of her English lover, for
not long afterwards she formed what the Goncourts
call "une liaison tendreinent maritale" with the Due
de Brissac, 1 whose attentions to her, if M. Vatel's and
Mr. Alger's suppositions are correct, had been re-
sponsible for her breach with the jealous Seymour.
The Due de Brissac, 2 who until the death of his
father, the Marechal Due de Brissac, in December
1 780, was known as the Due de Cosse, was a very great
personage indeed. He was Governor of Paris, Captain
of the Hundred Swiss, and Grand Pantler, 8 and was, in
addition, a man of considerable wealth. His friend-
ship with Madame du Barry was of many years stand-
1 The Goncourts confound the Due de Brissac with his father,
the Marechal de Brissac, who died in December 1780: "Enfant
gatee de 1'amour, elle (Madame du Barry) finit par 1'adoration
d'un chevalier, du dernier preux de France ! . . . Ce heros d'un
autre temps, dont Tame est, comme 1'habit, a la mode de Louis
XIV., 1'heritier des males vertus de la vieille France; ce beau
vieillard, le dernier courtisan des femmes, eleve dans le mond'e
et presque dans la langue des grands sentiments et des raffine-
ments de tendresse de Clelie et de TAstree," &c. &c. The ab-
surdity of this error will be appreciated when we mention that
at the time of Louis XV.'s death the Marechal de Brissac was
already seventy-six and had been paralysed for more than
twenty years !
2 He was the eighth holder of the title, the dukedum dating
from 1620. The family of Cosse-Brissac came originally from
Anjou, and had had several distinguished members, including
four Marechals de France.
3 This office appears to have been hereditary in the family.
298 MADAME DU BARRY
ing, and it will be remembered that on the death of the
Duchesse de Villars, in 1772, the then favourite had
succeeded in procuring for the duke's wife the post of
dame d'atours to Marie Antoinette. 4
At what date the friendship between Brissac and
Madame du Barry developed into intimacy is uncer-
tain. Some writers place it as early as 1780; but in
December of that year Hardy speaks of the duke at-
tending his father's funeral at Saint-Sulpice, and
"ogling with misplaced affectation every member of the
sex who crossed his path," conduct which greatly
scandalised the worthy bookseller, and which M. Vatel
considers entirely inconsistent with the possession of a
grande passion. On the other hand, in the summer of
1783, the Memoir es secrets give publicity to an un-
founded rumour that the quondam favourite had had
a child by Brissac; 5 while Hardy reports that Madame
du Barry was fast ruining her noble lover, 6 and both
express their belief that the affair would end in the lady
being relegated a second time to Pont-aux-Dames.
From this it would appear that the liaison w r as not a
new one, and the probability is that it began about
However that may be, by the middle of the follow-
ing year, as we have seen, the connection between the
two was a matter of common knowledge. The duke
passed a great part of his time at Louveciennes, while
Madame du Barry often came to Paris, "enveloped in
*The duchess did not share her husband', admiration for
Madame du Barry. In the autumn of 1772 she declined to attend
a supper given by the Due de La Vrilliere to the favourite, and
when Brissac wrote her a harsh letter, demanding that she should
show her regard for the Comtesse du Barry and never refuse
to do anything that might please her, replied that " she would
rather resign her post than do anything which might expose her
to being put on a level with the favourite."
* Memoir es secrets, June 5, 1783.
6 Journal, July 13, 1783.
MADAME DU BARRY 299
the strictest incognito," to spend a day or two with
her lover at his hotel in the Rue de Crenelle Saint-
Germain, and even had letters addressed to her there.
What the poor, neglected Duchesse de Brissac, who,
Creutz tells us, was "beloved and revered for her
virtues and her charm of mind," had to say to these
arrangements history does not record; presumably she
accepted the situation, as the majority of wives simi-
larly circumstanced did in those days.
The affair seems to have been regarded with an in-
dulgence remarkable even in that age of easy morality.
"The love for M. de Brissac," writes d'Allonville, as a
rule, by no means inclined to be over-tender towards
the ex-favourite, "did Madame du Barry the greatest
honour. It would have been equivalent to the purifica-
tion of her past life, had it not been illegitimate and
doubly adulterous from a moral point of view," r and
this was the general opinion of their contemporaries.
The duke wrote a number of love-letters to his mis-
tress, some of which have fortunately been preserved,
and "show the depth, and, if we may be excused the
expression, the purity of his affection."
THE Due DE BRISSAC to MADAME DU BARRY.
" Sunday, 2.0 P. M.
'A thousand loves, a thousand thanks, dear heart.
This evening I shall be with you. Yes, I find my hap-
piness in being loved by you. I have this evening, at
eight o'clock, an appointment with Madame Lascases.
I do not know what she wants with me. I shall go to
her house, as I will not give her the trouble to come
to mine, although no one can touch my heart but you.
"Adieu ; I love you and for ever. I am waiting for
my visitors, who, I think, will be many."
7 Memoir es, \. 154.
3 Bingham's " Marriages of the Bourbons," ii. 428.
300 MADAME DU BARRY
THE Due DE BRISSAC to MADAME DU BARRY,
"La Fltche, August 26, 1786, 10 A.M.
"I arrived here yesterday at one o'clock, and all the
people who were to travel by post passed before me,
so that, dear heart, I am waiting here for horses. I
shall have to take a cross road, along which one can
only go at a walking pace, and shall thus be delayed
one day. I am none the less impatient to join you.
Yes, dear heart, the moment for our reunion, not in
spirit for my thoughts are ever with you but bodily^
is a violent desire that nothing can appease. . . . Adieu,
dear heart; I kiss you thousands and thousands of
times with all my heart. Expect me Tuesday or Wed-
THE Due DE BRISSAC to MADAME DU BARRY.
" Vensdosme (sic}, August 16, 1789.
"I should have wished, dear heart, that you could
have informed me of your complete recovery, and that
you had recovered your plumpness ; but you say
nothing about either. Nevertheless, dear heart, I must
rejoice at your new fit of laziness, which is a strange
thing for you, since it makes me hope that you will not
be so much away from me. . . . Dear friend, I must
now go and inspect my troops and leave you. I must
tell yo-u that I love you and how happy I shall be to
see you again in as good health as I wish you to be."
THE Due DE BRISSAC to MADAME DU BARRY.
"Angers, August 29, Noon.
"... What a wise and philosophic letter is yours
of the 22nd, Madame la Comtesse ! yes, indeed, it is
necessary to speak of hope and philosophy and of
patience also when far from you, and when the States-
General work so slowly on the truly important matters
MADAME DU BARRY 301
which all France awaits, and which ought to tranquil-
lise her . . .
"I wish I could share with you the splendid crop of
fruit that the beautiful Angevin Ceres has procured
us this year; but it would be neither wise nor possible
to attempt to send you any, for the municipalities are
afraid of the people, who, not content with the neces-
saries of life, wish to appropriate the luxuries.
"But adieu, adieu, Madame la Comtesse; it is nearly
noon, and I intend going to dine at Brissac. I offer
you my respects, and my thanks for the punctuality
with which you write to me. My only joys are the
reception of your letters, the thought of you, and the
everlasting- affection I have for you, and which I offer
you with my whole heart.
"I might have received a letter from you yesterday,
but I did not."
THE Due DE BRISSAC to MADAME DU BARRY.
"The Tuileries, Wednesday, November n, 1789.
"I am going to remain in bed, dear heart, so that my
cold may be better to-morrow, and that I may be a
more pleasant companion for you than I should be if I
were as ill as I am now. This cold is the consequence
of biliousness, which comes from the stagnation of a
too long stay in Paris, to which I am unaccustomed,
and will end in killing me or sending me mad, if I am
not soon allowed to change my residence. I hope that
I shall; but I do not speak to you of it for fear that
premature rejoicing may retard it.
"Adieu, dear friend. I love you and kiss you a
thousand times from the heart which is the most tender,
of our two I mean mine but I will not erase what
my pen has written, for I love to think that our hearts
are one for ever. Adieu till to-morrow. Everything
that happens appears to me mysterious and foolish,
302 MADAME DU BARRY
and the only wisdom is for us to be together. Adieu,
affectionate friend; adieu, dear heart. I love you and
The affection of the devoted Brissac does not appear
to have altogether consoled Madame du Barry for all
that she had lost by the death of Louis XV. In 1783,
Belleval, "her chevau-leger" paid her a visit at Louve-
ciennes, and found her as beautiful as ever; "indeed
her beauty seemed more remarkable and more per-
fect.'' On the other hand, she gave him the impression
of being sad and lonely. ''Instead of the laughter of
former days, the tears welled from her eyes. She
harped always on the past, in which I saw, with pity,
she took refuge as much as possible, for it was worth
more to her than the present. When I left her, she
gave me her hand and said adieu to me in a voice full
In the spring of that same year, Madame du Barry
commuted 50,000 livres per annum which had been
secured to her by Louis XV. on the rentes of the Hotel
de Ville for a sum of 1,200,000 livres. Even that
zealous champion of the lady, M. Vatel, feels bound
to protest against this "senseless munificence" on the
part of the Government, and declares that she received
at least half a million francs more than her claim was
worth. If such were the case, however, her good
fortune could not have benefited her very much, as the
news that she was in possession of a large sum of
money brought down upon her a whole horde of
clamorous creditors. Amongst others, the Marquis
de Claveyron, the second husband of Sophie de Tour-
non, poor Adolphe du Barry's widow, put in a claim
for his wife's dot, and compelled the countess to give
"Vatel's Histoire de Madame du Barry, iii. passim.
10 Souvenirs d'un Chevau-leger, p. 136.
MADAME DU BARRY 303
security for the payment of the interest thereon. This
demand must have been particularly annoying to
Madame du Barry, for not only does the interest in
question appear to have been regularly paid up to that
date, but one of the reasons given by her niece for
dropping her first husband's name in 1780 had been the