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Archives nationales. On this letter is written : " Un mois avant
sa mort."


'You will be my last thought." These words must
have seemed to Madame du Barry a presentiment of
approaching disaster, and an event which occurred a
few days after she received her lover's letter increased
her fears for his safety.

The duke's aide-de-camp, Maussabre, happened to
be at the Tuileries when the palace was attacked by
the mob on the morning of August 10, and had taken
part in its defence. He was wounded, and, like the
Gardes-du-Corps three years earlier, took refuge at
Louveciennes, where Madame du Barry concealed him
in a room in the pavilion. He imagined himself in
safety, but his hopes were vain, for a band of local
Jacobins, eager to emulate the deeds of their Paris
brethren, came to search the house, and the wretched
lad he was but eighteen was torn from his hiding-
place and dragged away to Paris, prison, and death. 11

The invasion of her house showed but too plainly
that the unpopularity of Brissac was gradually envel-
oping his mistress, and that she was regarded as his
accomplice; and the Courrier franqais, in its issue of
September 2, announced the countess's arrest, no doubt
with the intention of still further inflaming public
opinion against her:

"Madame du Barry has been arrested at Louvecien-
nes, and has been brought to Paris. It was ascer-
tained that the old heroine of the late Government was
constantly sending emissaries to Orleans. M. de Bris-
sac's aide-de-camp had been arrested at her house. It
was thought and there was good reason for doing
so that these frequent messages had some other pur-
pose than love, which Madame du Barry must now
forget. As the mistress and confidential friend of the
Due de Brissac, she shared his wealth and his pleas-

1 He was murdered during the September massacres : see p.
345, infra.


ures; who knows if she does not, at the same time,
share his anti-revolutionary ambition?

"It will be piquant reading for our descendants
when they learn that Madame du Barry was arrested
almost simultaneously with the pulling down of the
statue of the Maid of Orleans. She was arrested dur-
ing the night of the 30^1-31 st, about 2 A.M."

On the same day on which this article appeared
began the frightful massacres which deluged the pris-
ons with blood; and while these atrocities still con-
tinued, Madame du Barry received intelligence that
Brissac and the rest of the Orleans prisoners were to
be transferred to Paris. It appeared that several of
those confined in the convent in the Rue Illiers had
contrived to effect their escape, while four others, who
had been tried by the High Court, had been acquitted.
The fear that yet more of their destined victims might
succeed in evading their doom roused the indignation
of the more sanguinary of the Paris revolutionists, and
petitions from the sections and the clubs demanding
that the remaining prisoners should be immediately
brought to Paris for trial poured in upon the Assem-
bly. 12 The Assembly, dismayed at the scenes of blood-
shed which were being enacted around it, and well
aware what would be the result of compliance with
such a demand, could not bring itself to consent, until
its hand was forced by a body of volunteers from Mar-
seilles, who set out for Orleans, with the intention of
bringing back the prisoners; whereupon Fournier 13 was

"At the same time, a pamphlet, 'entitled Tetes a prix, was
being circulated in Paris, the writer of which offered 12,000
livres he did not say by whom the money was to be paid to
the man who should " make a little Saint-Denis of M. Timoleon

13 Surnamed I'Americain, as he had spent some years of his life
in San Domingo. He was one of the most violent of Jacobins,
and had taken a prominent part in the attack on the Bastille, the
affair in the Champ de Mars, and the events of August 10.


despatched at the head of 1800 of the National Guard,
with instructions to conduct the prisoners not to the
capital but to the Chateau of Saumur. Fournier, how^
ever, misunderstood, or, more probably, deliberately
disobeyed, his orders, and, when Brissac and his com-
panions had been handed over to him, took the road to

Madame du Barry learned of the duke's removal
from Orleans from a letter which is supposed to have
been written by the Chevalier d'Escourre, the tone of
which was far from calculated to reassure her :



"Paris, September 6.

'The Orleans prisoners are to arrive to-morrow at
Versailles. It is to be hoped that they will arrive safe
and sound, and that, by gaining- time, their lives will
be saved. Besides, the Assembly is tired of so much
bloodshed and proposes to grant an amnesty. The
sacrifice is not a very great one, seeing that none of
them are guilty.

"I have been to see the editor of the Courrier fran-
gais, who will to-morrow retract the false article about
you. I promised him a reward, if the article was sat-

"I have received from Orleans ten letters for the
deputies, imploring them to avert the terrible fate
which awaits the prisoners. At Orleans, it is believed
that as soon as they arrive, they will be murdered.

"I had the letters delivered at once. Madame de
Maurepas, when she heard of the duke's transfer,
wished to go at once to the Assembly, but was dis-
suaded from doing so. She then wrote to Danton and
the Abbe Fauchet. Madame de Flammarens and I


took the letters, and the Abbe Fauchet was much in-
terested in them.

"Poor Maussabre would have been spared, had he
not lost his head. He tried to hide in a chimney ; they
lighted straw to stifle him and force him to come
down; he fell, and they shot him without listening to
his appeals for mercy.

"I am cast down body and soul; I shall only be
at rest when I know the duke is at Versailles. If it
is possible to get through, I will send some one, if I
cannot go myself. Do you also send some one,
but above all be careful and avoid taking any steps
which might be made public and be injurious to
you both."

Brissac and his fellow captives, to the number of
fifty-three, left Orleans on September 3, in tumbrils
supplied by a force of artillery stationed in the neigh-
bourhood, escorted by the National Guards and the
Marseillais. The authorities saw them depart with
considerable misgivings, though Fournier swore that
he would sacrifice "even his life" in their defence, and
the force under his command was certainly strong
enough to overawe any number of fanatical sans-
culottes. On the 6th they reached Etampes, half-way
between Orleans and Paris, and halted there till the
following day, the prisoners taking advantage of the
delay to write letters to their friends, which they
handed to Fournier for transmission, and which that
worthy subsequently sent to the Convention.

The terrible scenes which were taking place in Paris
had thrown the whole of the surrounding country into
a ferment of excitement, and as the cortege neared
Versailles, the cries of "A bas les seigneurs! a bas les
seigneurs!" grew more frequent and more threatening,

"Cited in Vatel's Histoire de Madame du Barry, iii. 177.


Brissac being in particular the object of hostile dem-

The general council of the Commune of Versailles,
fearing that an attack would be made upon the pris-
oners, had sent orders that they should not be con-
ducted through the more populous part of the town,
and should be confined for the night in the cages of
the Menagerie, "which would have the advantage of
satisfying the popular resentment and lessening the
sentiment of hatred, by giving rise to feelings of con-
tempt." This precaution, however, was quite useless;
the rabble of Versailles was determined to follow in
the footsteps of the murderers of the Faubourg Saint-
Antoine, and was not to be baulked of its prey.

On Sunday, the Qth, about one o'clock in the after-
noon, the cortege entered the town by the Petit-Mon-
treuil Gate, passed along the Rue de la Surintendance
(now the Rue de la Bibliotheque) and the Place
d'Armes, and began to descend the Rue de 1'Orangerie.
Up to that moment, the people who lined the way had
contented themselves with shouting "Vive la Nation!"
and hooting the prisoners ; but opposite the Ministry of
War the procession was stopped by a raging mob
armed with spikes, sabres, and other weapons. The
Mayor of Versailles endeavoured to pacify them, but
to no purpose, although the leaders announced that if
Brissac and Lessart, the former Minister for Foreign
Affairs, were given up, the others would be spared.
Meanwhile, the Orangery Gate, for which the tumbrils
were making, had been shut, and the escape of the
prisoners cut off.

As to remain stationary was to court certain disas-
ter, orders were given to turn back and ascend the
street. The mob allowed the procession to get as far
as the corner of the Rue Satory, and then, sweeping
15 Vatel's Histoire de Madame du Barry, iii. 175.


the escort, which made not the slightest attempt at
resistance, 1 " aside, cut the traces of the horses, and fell
savagely upon the hapless prisoners. 17

Snatching a knife from one of his assailants, Brissac
defended himself bravely, but he was soon overpow-
ered by numbers, dragged from his tumbril, and des-
patched. His body was horribly mutilated, and his
head, having been cut off, was fixed upon a pike, with
a label bearing his name on the forehead, and carried
through the streets in triumph. Later in the day, it
was taken to Louveciennes and thrown into the gar-
den, or, according to one account, into the salon of
Madame du Barry. 18

The grief and horror which the terrible death of
her lover occasioned Madame du Barry may be judged
from the following letter which the countess wrote, a
few days after the tragic event, to Madame de Morte-



"No one has felt more than myself, Madame, the
extent of the loss which you have just sustained, and
I trust that you will not be under a misapprehension
as to the motive which has prevented me from paying
you the sad compliment of mingling my tears with
yours before this. The fear of augmenting your justi-

"Fournier afterwards declared that he was himself attacked
and dragged from his horse, and would have been killed, had
it not been for the intervention of his men. But there can be
no possible doubt that he was in collusion with the assassins.

17 Statements of Antoine and Pierre Baudin made before a
notary in Paris, September 12, 1792, cited by Vatel.

18 "We are assured that the head of M. de Brissac was taken
to Louveciennes and left in the salon of Madame du Barry."
Courrier frangais, September 15, 1792.


fiable grief prevents me from speaking to you of it.
Mine is complete; a life which ought to have been so
great, so glorious! What an end! Grand Dieu!

"The last wish of your unhappy father, Madame,
was that I should love you as a sister. This wish is too
much in conformity with my heart for me not to ful-
fil it. Accept the assurance of it, and never doubt the
affection which attaches me to you for the rest of my

To which the duchess replied :



"September 30.

"I received your letter this morning. Accept my
thanks for the good you have done me. You have
lessened my anguish and brought tears to my eyes.
Many times I have been ready to write to you and
speak of my grief; my heart is rent, broken. Ever
since the fatal day on which my father left Paris I
have suffered, and I still suffer more than I can ex-
press. But I judged it wiser to wait until I could
contain some of my feelings. I must open my heart
to you, who alone are able to realise my grief.

' 'I am eager to fulfil the last wish of him whose
memory I cherish, and whom I shall mourn for ever;
I will indeed love you as a sister, and my attachment
to you will end only with my life. The least of my
father's wishes is a command sacred to me. If I could
only obey every one of the desires he had, or must have
had, in his last moments, I would spare nothing to do so.

"Pardon my scribble. My head aches so that I
cannot see. Deign to accept, Madame, the expression
of my everlasting affection."

19 Tribunaux revolutionnaires, dossier de Madame du Barry,
Archives nationales. E. and J. de Goncourt's La Du Barry, p.


EARLY in the following month Madame du
Barry prepared for a fourth journey to Eng-
land. On February 6, 1792, the French courts
had duly condemned the authors of the robbery at
Louveciennes, and declared the jewels found in their
possession to be the property of the mistress of the
chateau ; but since then a fresh difficulty had arisen.

The unfortunate handbill in which Rouen had
advertised the loss of the jewels had been framed in
very ambiguous terms. It had offered two thousand
louis reward, "and a fair and proportionate reward
for the objects which might be recovered." Madame
du Barry maintained that the payment of the two
thousand louis ought to be accepted in full satisfaction
of all claims against her, and such, without doubt, had
been Rouen's intention when he drew up the bill. But
Simon, the London jeweller whose information had
led to the apprehension of the thieves, protested that
he was entitled not only to the above-mentioned sum,
but to a commission on the value of the property recov-
ered, and brought an action to enforce his claim, which
necessitated the lady's return to England.

Aware that she was now an object of suspicion and
dislike to the more violent partisans of the Revolution,
Madame du Barry, ere leaving France, took every pos-
sible precaution to guard against the risk of being
denounced as an emigree during her absence. She
applied to Lebrun, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, for
a passport; and when he advised her to procure one
from the municipality of Louveciennes, was careful to



have it vise both by the directoire of Versailles and the
administration of her department (Seine-et-Oise).
Not content with this, she gave a formal undertaking
to the municipal authorities that she would return to
France as soon as her lawsuit should be concluded, and
wrote to Thuriot, the President of the Convention, to
the same effect :



"MONSIEUR LE PRESIDENT, A robbery which de-
prived me, twenty-one months since, of the most valu-
able portion of my property and the only security that
my creditors possess, necessitated a lawsuit in England,
on account of which I have already been obliged to
make two 1 very expensive journeys. I am advised
that the suit will be definitely decided this month, and
that it is absolutely necessary for me to go to London,
on pain of being condemned in default and losing the
considerable expenses to which I have already been
put. I have the honour to assure you, Monsieur le
President, that I have not the least intention of desert-
ing my country, where I am leaving all the remainder
of my property, but that, on the contrary, I am enter-
ing into a most solemn engagement to return to my
residence of Louveciennes as soon as my suit is de-
cided. I am placing an undertaking to that effect in
the hands of my municipality, from which I am well
assured that I have nothing but favourable testimony
to expect.

"I am, with respect . . .'

Thus protected at all points, as she fondly imagined,

1 She had, of cours'e, made three journeys.

2 Dossier de Madame du Barry, Archives nationales. E. and J.
de Goncourt's La Du Barry, p. 248.


Madame du Barry set out for England on October 14,
accompanied by a M. Labondie, a nephew of the Chev-
alier d'Escourre. Her case, however, so far from
being concluded in a few weeks, dragged on for more
than four months, and it was not until February 27
that the court gave a verdict in Simon's favour for
one thousand louis, and decided that the jewels were
to be handed over to the countess on her paying that
sum and the costs of the proceedings. What these
amounted to we are not told, but they would appear
to have been very considerable, as, when Madame du
Barry was arrested in the following September, the
jewels were still lying in Ransom's Bank, waiting for
their owner to redeem them.

Owing, no doubt, to her grief at the tragic death of
poor Brissac, Madame du Barry seems to have gone
but little into English society during this visit, and we
find no mention of her movements in Walpole's letters.
She dined, however, on one occasion at the house of
Thellusson, the banker, and there met the young Due
de Choiseul, her old enemy's nephew and successor.
"I was placed next to her at table," says the duke, "and
during dinner, at which she endeavoured to be very
amiable, she spoke to me much about my uncle, de-
plored the counsels which she had followed, and gave
me to understand that she had had for him a coquet-
terie rede, but that she had found him cold and re-

The news of the execution of Louis XVI. on Janu-
ary 21, 1793, created a profound impression in Eng-
land. Court mourning was ordered and worn by per-
sons of all ranks in the metropolis, and Requiem
Masses were said in all the Catholic churches. Ma-
dame du Barry not only wore mourning, but attended
the service in the chapel of the Spanish Embassy; in-
3 Revue de Paris, 1829, vol. iv. p. 48.


discretions which, together with several visits which
she paid to the houses of the Comte de Narbonne,
Calonne, Talleyrand, and other emigres, were duly
noted by the spies of the Republic with whom London
swarmed, and were not forgotten when the poor
woman appeared before the Revolutionary Tribunal.
The countess left for France on March i* but as
war had broken out between England and France a
month previously, she was compelled to remain some
time at Calais before she could procure a passport. 6
At length, on the i7th, she was permitted to set out for
Louveciennes, where a most unpleasant surprise
awaited her.

Soon after Madame du Barry quitted Louveciennes
on her last journey to England, a person named

4 Very much against the advice of her friends, who implored
her to remain. According to Madame Guenard, shortly before
her departure Madame du Barry had an interview with Pitt, who
presented her with a medal bearing his portrait, and warned
her that if she returned to France she would meet the fate of
Regulus. This story is probably apocryphal ; but Madame du
Barry does seem to have been acquainted with Pitt, and also
possessed a medal of the kind described ; for " living habitually
with Pitt and wearing a medal bearing the effigy of the monster"
was one of the charges against her at her trial.

5 Here is the passport :

Republique Franchise

Au nom de la loi
Departement du Pas-de-Calais, district et municipalite de Calais

No. 4829

Laissez passer la citoyenne Devaubergnier Dubarri, Frangaise,
domicile a Louveciennes, municipalite de Louveciennes, district
de Versailles, departem'ent de Seine-et-Oise

Agee de quarante ans ( !)

Taille de cinq pieds un pouce

Cheveux blond (sic)

Sourcils chatain

Yeux bleux (sic)

Nez bien fait

Bouche moyenne

M'enton rond

Visage ovale et plein
Et pretez-lui aide et assistance, &c.


George Grieve, or Greive, as he wrote his name in later
years, came to the village and took up his quarters at
the inn. This Grieve was an Englishman, a member
of a respectable family at Alnwick, in Northumber-
land. His father, Richard Grieve, was an attorney,
and his brother, Richardson David Grieve, had been
high-sheriff of Northumberland in 1788. The Grieves,
however, had always been ardent politicians, and of a
particularly turbulent kind. Both the grandfather,
Ralph Grieve, and Richard Grieve had been expelled
from the Common Council at Alnwick for riotous con-
duct during elections, and George seems to have in-
herited the family weakness in a very marked degree.
In 1774, he took an active part in defeating the Duke
of Northumberland's attempt to nominate both mem-
bers for the county, and, four years later, headed a
mob which levelled the fences of a part of the moor
wrongly presented by the corporation to the duke's
agent. About 1780, having got into pecuniary dif-
ficulties, Grieve left England and went to America,
where he became acquainted with Washington and
other founders of the Republic, and appears to have
supported himself by his pen. From America he pro-
ceeded to Holland, it is said, on some political mission,
and about 1 783 took up his abode in Paris. 6

Until the arrival of Grieve in their midst, the inhabi-
tants of Louveciennes had been, comparatively speak-
ing, unaffected by the disturbances which were going
on around them ; but Grieve, who had acquired a thor-
ough mastery of the French language, and seems to

Delivre en la maison commune de Calais, le 17 mars 1793
L'An II. de la Republique et ont signes (sic) Reisenthal, officier
municipal; Tellier; Roullier secretaire commis greffier, qui a
signe pour le present et Devaubergnier Dubarri. Vatel's Histoire
de Madame du Barry, iii. 189.

8 Mr. J. G. Alger's " Englishmen in the French Revolution,"
p. 187, et seq.


have been a fluent and persuasive speaker, soon suc-
ceeded in working a complete transformation in that
peaceful spot ; and by the time Madame du Barry re-
turned it would have been difficult to find a nest of
more rabid Jacobins in all France.

But it was against the mistress of the chateau her-
self that the agitator's machinations were mainly di-
rected, though what motive he could have had for the
implacable hatred he evinced towards her has never
been satisfactorily explained, and must, we fear,
always remain a matter of conjecture. Some writers
think that he was prompted by Marat, with whom he
was on intimate terms, and who, as we have seen, had
already attacked Madame du Barry in his journal;
others, that he intended to terrify her into purchasing
his silence; while others, again, incline to the belief
that he was enamoured of the lady and persecuted her
either out of revenge for her having rejected his ad-
dresses or in the hope of compelling her to accept
them. The most probable solution of the mystery,
however, is that he was merely a fanatic possessed with
a mania for delation 7 he subsequently boasted of hav-
ing brought no less than seventeen persons to the guil-
lotine and imagined that the ruin of so prominent a
representative of the old regime as the former mistress
of Louis XV. would add lustre to his sanguinary

However that may be, Grieve appears to have left
no stone unturned to compass the destruction of the
unhappy lady. By bribes or threats, he won over two
of her servants, Salanave and the Hindoo, Zamor;
wormed all their mistress's secrets out of them ; organ-
ised a club, which had the impudence to meet in her
salon and pass resolutions against her; contrived to

7 He denounced one unfortunate person merely because he had
observed him " look furious " when visiting Marat.


persuade the authorities at Versailles that the
countess's prolonged absence meant that she had be-
come an emigree; and, finally, on February 16, ob-
tained an order for seals to be placed on her property.
When Madame du Barry returned and found what
had been done, she was highly indignant and addressed
a vigorous remonstrance to the administrators of her
district :


Vaubernier du Barry is very astonished that after all
the reasons for her being compelled to visit England
with which she has furnished you, you have treated her
as an emigree. Before her departure, she communi-
cated to you the declaration that she had made to her
municipality; you have registered it at your offices,
and you are aware that this is the fourth journey that
she has been obliged to undertake, always for the
same object. She hopes that you will be willing to re-
move the seals which have been imposed at her house,
against all justice, since the law has never prohibited
those persons whom private and urgent affairs call to
foreign countries leaving the realm. All France is
aware of the robbery which took place on the night

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Online LibraryH. Noel (Hugh Noel) WilliamsMemoirs of Madame Du Barry of the court of Louis XV → online text (page 25 of 28)