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desire to dissociate herself from a family which had
caused so much scandal. She had been, she declared,
at the time of her marriage to the "viscount" in entire
ignorance of the position of the Comtesse du Barry;
but, having ascertained the truth, her virtue would no
longer permit her to bear the same name! She was
ready enough, it appeared, to acknowledge the re-
lationship when there was anything to be gained by so
doing.

One day in the year 1782 a very pretty young 1
woman had called at Louveciennes, informed Madame
du Barry that she was a descendant of an illegitimate
branch of the House of Valois, and, apparently un-
aware that the lady before her was no longer a persona
grata at Court, had begged her to present a petition
on her behalf to Louis XVI., begging for the restora-
tion of certain estates which had been granted to her
family by Henri I., but had subsequently reverted to
the Crown. This young woman was none other than
the notorious Comtesse de la Motte, the adventuress
whose machinations got the jpor Cardinal de Rohan
into such terrible hot water; and when the famous
Diamond Necklace affair came on for trial, in 1786,
before the Parliament of Paris, the ex- favourite was
one of the witnesses examined.

Madame du Barry's evidence does not appear to
have been of much importance, and the only interesting
part of it was her statement that on hearing that the
order sent by La Motte to the jeweller Bohmer was
signed "Marie Antoinette de France/' she had ex-



304 MADAME DU BARRY

claimed. "Why, there is no forgery there ; that is her
signature!" as she had remembered that the petition
which she had been requested to present to the
King bore the signature, "Marie Antoinette de France,
de Saint-Remy de Valois." However, the evidence
against the adventuress was too overwhelming for this
testimony in her favour to carry any weight. 11

In her Memoir es justificatifs, published in London
shortly before her death, La Motte violently attacked
Madame du Barry and asserted that the forged letters
had been fabricated at the ex- favourite's house ; but the
statements of so worthless a woman are, of course,
utterly undeserving of credence.

Apart from the above-mentioned incidents, and a
visit which she received from the ambassadors whom
Tippoo Sahib sent to France in 1788 to seek assistance
against the English, and who came to Louveciennes to
pay their court to its fair owner, in the belief that she
was the mistress of the reigning and not of the late
King, there is little in Madame du Barry's life to call
for remark until the Revolution. She lived entirely
at Louveciennes, visited occasionally by some stranger
of distinction, "who came to see her as the most curi-
ous relic of the last reign," and by a few intimate
friends. The Marquise de Brunoy, wife of the spend-
thrift son of the famous financier, Paris de Mont-
martel, Madame de Souza, the Portuguese Ambassa-
dress, and Madame Vigee Lebrun, the painter, were al-
most the only friends of her own sex whom she saw;
and these, with the Due de Brissac and a M. Monville,
"an amiable and very elegant person," who lived in a
chateau modelled on a Chinese padoga in the midst
of an estate which he called "The Desert," seem to
have formed her circle.

In the Souvenirs of Madame Lebrun we find some
"Vatel's Histoire de Madame du Barry, iii. 70.



MADAME DU BARRY 305

interesting information about life at Louveciennes
during these years. The magnificence of the little
chateau, the writer tells us, which, with its busts, vases,
columns, rare marbles, and other precious objects,
"gave you the impression that you were in the house
of the mistress of several sovereigns, who had all en-
riched her with their gifts," contrasted oddly with the
simplicity observed by the countess both in her toilette
and manner of living. Both in summer and winter
Madame du Barry wore only white muslin or cot-
ton-cambric peignoirs, and every day, no matter
how severe the weather, she walked in the park and
sometimes beyond it, "without feeling any ill
effects, so much strengthened was she by her country
life."

In the evenings, when Madame Lebrun and her
hostess were alone, they would sit by the fire, and the
latter would occasionally speak of Louis XV. and his
Court, "always with the greatest respect for the one
and very cautiously about the other." But, as she
avoided all details, and it was evident that she pre-
ferred not to mention the subject, her conversation
struck the disappointed auditor as rather uninteresting.

Madame Lebrun expresses her conviction that
Madame du Barry was "a good woman both in words
and actions," and says that she was most benevolent
and assisted all the poor people at Louveciennes. On
one occasion, they went to visit a woman in the village
who had just given birth to a child and was in great
want. 'What!' cried Madame du Barry, 'you have
had neither linen, wine, nor soup?' 'Alas! neither,
madame.' As soon as she returned to the chateau,
Madame du Barry sent for her housekeeper and the
other servants who had not executed her orders. I
cannot describe to you the indignation she was in, and
she ordered them to make up a parcel of linen in her



306 MADAME DU BARRY

presence and take it at once to the poor woman, with
soup and Bordeaux wine."

Every day after dinner they adjourned to the
famous pavilion for coffee. The first time Madame
Lebrun entered it, the ex-favourite said : "It was in
this room that Louis XV. did me the honour to dine
with me. There was a tribune above for the musicians
who played during the meal." When the Due de Bris-
sac happened to be at Louveciennes, which appears
to have been pretty frequently, he accompanied them ;
but it was his habit, as soon as he had finished his
coffee, to throw himself on one of the luxurious
couches in the salon and indulge in a siesta, leaving the
ladies to stroll about the grounds. Madame Lebrun,
however, is careful to tell us that "nothing either in
his manner or in that of Madame du Barry would have
caused any one to suppose that he was anything more
than a friend of the mistress of the chateau."

The favourable opinion which Madame Lebrun
formed of Madame du Barry \vas shared by another
person who saw her for the first time about the same
period, and whose impressions of the lady are of con-
siderable interest, as from 1751-1764 he had oc-
cupied the post of "introducteur des ambassadeurs"
and would, therefore, hardly have failed to remark
upon the fact, had he observed in the ex-favourite any
of that vulgarity and bad taste with which so many
historians have charged her.

This was the Comte Dufort de Cheverny, who met
Madame du Barry, in 1785, at the house of a certain
Don Olivadez de Pilos, a wealthy Spanish gentleman,
who had fled to France to escape the vengeance of the
Inquisition, 13 and had settled in Paris, where, according

12 Souvenirs de Madame Vigee Lebrun, i. 109, et seq.

13 Don Olavidez had been condemned as a heretic to the follow-



MADAME DU BARRY 307

to Grimm, he speedily forgot his misfortunes "amidst
our theatres, our philosophers, our Aspasias, and some-
times our Phrynes." Madame du Barry, Cheverny
tells us, had "a marked veneration" for this victim of
priestly intolerance, and was "so to speak at his or-
ders," and when, therefore, Don Olivadez informed
her that he had some friends who were extremely anx-
ious to be presented to her, she readily agreed to
gratify their desire.

"It was freezing hard enough to freeze a stone,"
the chronicler continues. "She arrived alone in a car-
riage drawn by six horses. She was tall, extremely
well made, and, in short, a very pretty woman in every
respect. At the end of a quarter of an hour she was as
much at her ease with us as we were with her. My
wife was the only other lady present. Madame du
Barry paid marked attention to my wife and the master
of the house, but was pleasant and amiable to all.
President de Salaberry 1 * and his nephew, the Chevalier
de Pontgibault, 16 were there, and several others. She
bore the brunt of the conversation, spoke of Louve-
ciennes, and invited us to come and see it and dine with

ing penalties: (i) To make a public recantation of his errors,
" without prejudice to the confiscation of all his goods." (2)
To be confined eight years in a monastery and subjected to the
most rigorous discipline. (3) To be afterwards exiled twenty
leagues from any royal palace or important town. (4) Never
to ride on horseback or in a coach. (5) Never to hold any office
or enjoy any title. (6) Never to wear cloth, silk, or velvet,
but to dress always in yellow serge.

14 Charles Victor Frangois dTrumberry de Salaberry, President
of the Chambre des Cotnptes. He perished on the scaffold in
1794. He was the father of Charles Maurice d'lrumberry, Comte
d'e Salaberry, who fought in the wars in La Vendee and took a
prominent part in politics after the Restoration, in which he
distinguished himself by his reactionary tendencies.

5 The Chevalier de Pontgibault, or Pontgibaud, as the name is
commonly spelt, had accompanied La Fayette to America. His
Memoires, wherein he relates his experiences during the War of
Independence, are of considerable interest.



308 MADAME DU BARRY

her. We accepted the invitation, but without naming
any particular day.

"Her pretty face was slightly flushed; she told us
that she took a cold bath every day. She showed
us that under her long furred pelisse she had only
her chemise and a very thin manteau de lit. Every-
thing she wore was of such costly material, relics
of her former splendour, that I have never seen
finer batiste. She insisted that we should feel her
petticoats, to prove to us how little she cared for
the cold.

'The dinner was delightful; she told us a hundred
anecdotes about Versailles, all in her own style, and
she w r as very interesting to listen to. Seeing that Pont-
gibault wore the Cross of Cincinnatus, she related to
us the following story : 'When I was at Versailles my
name made a great impression, and I had six lackeys
called footmen, the finest men that could be found;
but they were the noisiest and most unruly rascals in
all the world. The ringleader of them gave me so
much trouble that he saw plainly that I should be
obliged to dismiss him. It was at the beginning of the
war in America, and he came to me and asked for
letters of recommendation. I gave them to him, and
he left me with a well-filled purse, and I was only too
glad to get rid of him. A year ago he came to see me,
and he was wearing the Cross of Cincinnatus/ We
all laughed at the story, except the Chevalier de Pont-
gibault.

"The conversation after dinner took a more serious
turn. She spoke with a charming frankness about the
Due de Choiseul, and expressed regret for not having
been on friendly terms with him ; she told us of all the
trouble she had taken to bring about a better under-
standing, and said that, had it not been for his sister,
the Duchesse de Gramont, she would have succeeded



MADAME DU BARRY 309

in the end; she did not complain of any one and said
nothing spiteful."

Cheverny happening to mention that once, during
her favour, he had made an unsuccessful atempt to
obtain a post at Court for one of his friends, Madame
du Barry exclaimed : 'Why did you not come to me ?
I wanted to oblige everybody. Ah! if M. de Choiseul
had but known me, instead of yielding to the counsels
of interested persons, he would have kept his place and
have given me some good advice, instead of which I
was forced to fall into the hands of people whose in-
terest is was to ruin us, and the King was no better
off."

When she had gone, Cheverny and his friends were
unanimous in praise of the good humour with which
she accepted her changed fortunes, and all agreed that
they no longer felt any surprise at the influence she had
exercised over a blase old man of sixty-four, "as she
must have been a charming mistress."

de Cheverny, ii. 22, et seq.



CHAPTER XXI

THE year 1789 arrived. Posing for her portrait
to Madame Lebrun in the gardens of Louve-
ciennes, Madame du Barry was startled by the
distant boom of the cannon which announced the
taking of the Bastille and the end of the old regime,
and which so frightened poor Madame Lebrun that she
rushed off home the same day and never returned to
finish the picture. 1

However, the former favourite continued to live
quietly at Louveciennes, and except that she was made
the heroine of a satirical and somewhat licentious
poem by Saint-Just, the future colleague of Robes-
pierre, and was attacked in an obscure newspaper
called Le Petit Journal du Palais-Royal, ou Affiches,
Annonces, et Avis divers, which only survived for six
numbers, no notice appears to have been taken of her
during the first year of the Revolution. 2

1 The head, however, had already been painted and the bust
and arms traced out, and some years after the death of Madame
du Barry the artist completed it. Madame Lebrun tells us that
she painted two other portraits of her friend the first, at half-
length, " in a peignoir and straw hat " ; the other, representing
the countess " robed in white satin, with a wreath in one hand,
and one of her arms resting on a pedestal." Both of these
pictures had been commissioned by Brissac.

2 Organt, pocme en vingt chants, an Vatican, 1789, was the title
of Saint-Just's production. Madame du Barry, who figures un-
der the name of Adelinde, is thus described :

" Ces yeux errants sous leur paupiere brune,
Ces bras d'ivoire etendus mollement,
Ce sein de lait que le soupir agite
Et sur lequel deux fraises surnageaient,
Et cette bouche et vermeille et petite,
Oi\ le corail et les perles brillaient,
Au dieu d'amour les baisers demandaient."

310



MADAME DU BARRY 311

Her lover, the Due de Brissac, in spite of the fact
that he was, to a certain extent, in sympathy with the
new ideas, was not so fortunate. A fortnight after
the fall of the Bastille, while on his way to visit his
estates in Anjou, he was arrested at Durtal, near La
Fleche, and a courier despatched, by the local author-
ities, to Paris to ascertain if his "patriotism" was under
suspicion, and whether he was to be imprisoned there
or sent back to the capital. After a short detention,
he was released, or contrived to effect his escape, and
no further attempt was made to molest him for some
time; but the incident foreshadowed the terrible fate
which awaited him three years later.

In the Notices historiqiws appended to his Memoires
de la Reine de France, by Laffont d'Aussonne, the fol-
lowing passage occurs :

"When the Revolution broke out, the house of
Madame du Barry became the rendezvous of all the
friends of Louis XVI. and the Queen. The Gardes-
du-corps who escaped the massacre of October 6
dragged themselves from Versailles to Louveciennes,
and the countess nursed them in her chateau as their
own relatives would have done. The Queen, informed
at Paris of this amiable and generous conduct on the
part of the countess, charged some nobles in her con-
fidence to go to Louveciennes and carry thither her
sincere thanks. Upon this, Madame du Barry had the
honour to address to the Queen the words I am about
to transcribe. I had them from one of her relatives:

'MADAME.- -The young men who were wounded
only regret that they did not die along with their com-
rades for a princess so perfect and so worthy of all
respect as Your Majesty assuredly is. What I am do-
ing for these brave soldiers is much less than they



312 MADAME DU BARRY

deserve. Had I had no waiting-women or other serv-
ants, I would have attended to your guards myself.
I console, I honour them for the wounds they have re-
ceived, when I reflect that, but for their devotion and
their wounds, Your Majesty might be no longer alive.
'Luciennes is at your disposal, Madame. Is it not
to your favour and kindness that I owe it ? 3 All that I
possess is derived from the Royal Family, and I have
too much good feeling and gratitude ever to forget
that. The late King, by a sort of presentiment, made
me accept a number of valuable presents before send-
ing me away from his person. I had the honour to
offer you this treasure at the time of the meeting of
the Notables. 4 I offer it you again, Madame, with
eagerness and in all sincerity; you have so many ex-
penses to bear and benefits without number to bestow.
Permit me, I beg, to render unto Caesar the things that
are Caesar's.

" 'Your Majesty's most faithful subject and servant,

" 'COMTESSE DU BARRY/ '

Laffont d'Aussonne is not a chronicler in whom
very much confidence is reposed, and this, combined
with the fact that the style and orthography of the
above letter are much superior to those of Madame du
Barry's which we possess, has caused its authenticity
to be doubted. M. Vatel, however, discovered that
two of the wounded Gardes-du-corps did take refuge

3 She means that it was due to the magnanimity of the King
and Queen that she had been allowed to retain Louveciennes
after the death of Louis XV.

* In February 1787, Calonne, the Comptroller-General, called
together an extraordinary council or assembly of notables,
nominated by the King, and proposed to them the reform of the
entire system of administration and taxation. This assembly,
however, composed almost entirely of privileged persons, was
unfavourable to the proposed reforms, and Calonne soon after-
wards resigned.



MADAME DU BARRY 313

at Louveciennes after the events of October 6, and that
their names were Marion de Barghon-Monteil and
Lefebvre de Lubersac, and his conclusion is that the
circumstances as stated by Laffont d'Aussonne are cor-
rect, though the letter is probably a paraphrase of the
one written by the ex- favourite. There was certainly
nothing surprising in Marie Antoinette sending to
thank Madame du Barry for her care of the soldiers
wounded by her defence, while it was but natural that
the favourite should acknowledge the Queen's con-
descension.

With regard to the offer made at the time of the
meeting of the Notables, M. Vatel professes himself
unable to discover any proof of this "in spite of per-
severing researches" ; but it is certain that the King
received a number of offers of this kind, both from
private individuals and corporations. 5

Every day the situation became more serious ; every
day it became more and more apparent that for the
despotism of the Crown France was substituting the
infinitely worse despotism of the mob. Most of the
great nobles followed the example of the Comte
d'Artois and took refuge across the frontier; but Bris-
sac, though well aware of the fate which awaited him
were the enemies of the Monarchy to triumph, coura-
geously refused to desert his sovereign and remained
at his post.

And Madame du Barry remained too. Love, and
possibly also the knowledge that her departure would
almost inevitably entail the confiscation of her property,
kept her at Louveciennes that beautiful spot from
whose terrace she could perceive the spires of the great
city so soon to run red with blood. Nor at first did
she have any reason to regret her decision, for the
year 1790, so fruitful in great events, was for her as
6 Vatel's Histoire de Madame du Barry, iii. 132.



3 H MADAME DU BARRY

uneventful as had been its predecessor ; 6 and it is quite
possible that the storms of the Revolution might have
passed her by unscathed had it not been for an un-
fortunate incident, which served to draw public atten-
tion to her ill-gotten wealth, and was ultimately the
means of bringing her to the scaffold.

On January 10, 1791, Madame du Barry attended a
fete given by the Due de Brissac at his hotel in the
Rue de Crenelle Saint-Germain. The countess had, it
appears, intended to return to Louveciennes that eve-
ning, but, at the duke's suggestion, changed her mind
and slept at the Hotel de Brissac, where a suite of
rooms was always reserved for her use. Well indeed
would it have been for her had she carried out her
original intention, as, early on the morrow, a mes-
senger arrived in hot haste from Louveciennes with the
news that the previous night a gang of burglars had
broken into the chateau and made off with the greater
part of the countess's jewellery. 7

In great agitation, Madame du Barry at once re-
turned home, gave information of the robbery to the
local authorities, and then sent for her jeweller, Rouen,
to consult him as to the best means of recovering her
stolen treasures.

8 She was, however, the object of an attack in Marat's journal,
L'Ami du Peuple, which, in its issue of Thursday, November n,
1790, informed its readers that the National Assembly cost only
a quarter of the money which " that old sinner," Louis XV., had
squandered on his favourite wanton, and added that the writer
of the article had seen the Du Barry, twenty years before,
" covered with diamonds and giving away the louis d'or of the
nation by the basketful to her thieves of relations."

7 Madame du Barry's jewel-cases were kept in the ante-
chamber leading to her bedroom. A soldier belonging to the
Suisses rouges, quartered at Courbevoie, was on guard outside
the chateau during the night; and, before leaving home, the
countess had given orders that, in the event of her not returning
till the morrow, the gardener was to sleep in the ante-chamber.
As, however, it was not easy to put up a bed in this room,



MADAME DU BARRY 315

Now, Rouen was a very capable craftsman and an
honest man; but he appears to have been singularly
wanting in discretion ; for no sooner was he acquainted
with the extent of the disaster than he hastened back
to Paris, and, without giving a thought to the delicate
position occupied by his patroness in the face of the
Revolution, caused a handbill to be circulated through
the city bearing this sensational title :

"Two Thousand Louis Reward."
"Diamonds and Jewels lost!'

Then follows a portentously long list of the stolen
treasures : diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds
in every shape and form; rings, pendants, earrings,
watches, and bracelets; "a pair of shoe-buckles com-
posed of eighty-four brilliants, weighing seventy-seven
carats and a quarter"; "a cross of sixteen brilliants,
weighing eight to ten grains each" ; "a beautiful pair
of sprigs composed of large brilliants, valued at
120,000 livres"; "a string of four hundred pearls,
weighing four to five grains each" ; "a pair of sleeve-
buttons consisting of an emerald, a sapphire, a yellow
diamond, and a ruby, the whole encircled by rose
diamonds, weighing thirty-six to forty grains" ; a pair
of bracelets of six rows of pearls weighing four to five
grains each ; at the bottom of the bracelet is an emerald
surmounted by a cipher in diamonds, an L on one and
a D and B on the other, and two padlocks of four bril-

Morin, her head valet-de-chambre , had taken upon himself to
dispense with the attendance of the gardener; while the robbers
had taken the precaution to entertain the Swiss at a neighbour-
ing cabaret, with the result that he became temporarily unfit for
duty. Then, with the aid of a ladder which had been left near
the house, they mounted to the window of the ante-chamber,
broke the outside shutters, cut out a pane of glass, opened the
window, and ransacked the room at th'eir leisure.



316 MADAME DU BARRY

Hants, weighing eight to ten grains." It was a veritable
inventory of Golconda. 8

The effect of this ill-judged production on the minds
of the exited, half-starved "patriots" who perused it
can well be imagined. Instantly, the revolutionary
Press, ever on the alert to fan the flame of popular re-
sentment, rang with denunciations of the ex-mistress.
Prudhomme's journal, Les Revolutions de Paris, led
the way and published an article in which it accused
Madame du Barry of inventing the robbery : "It is
thought that the lady, fearing that her income would
be cut short, wanted to excite pity by representing
herself as the victim of a regrettable incident and
gaining thereby the indulgence of the inflexible Na-
tional Assembly."

Elsewhere the same journal made a violent attack on
the countess, who, it is alleged, had, on discovering the
robbery, driven off to Courbevoie in a coach and four,
and obtained from the commanding officer of the
Gardes Suisses a body of fifty men to arrest the
drunken sentry, "a young man eighteen years of age,
of an amiable appearance and very honest." : The
theft of all the diamonds of Golconda," continued the
indignant writer, "would not justify such a violation
of the rights of man and of the citizen, and, moreover,


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