Copyright
H. Noel (Hugh Noel) Williams.

Memoirs of Madame Du Barry of the court of Louis XV online

. (page 27 of 28)
Online LibraryH. Noel (Hugh Noel) WilliamsMemoirs of Madame Du Barry of the court of Louis XV → online text (page 27 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


count of which will be found in M. Vatel's interesting
work, was a very lengthy one, but we shall confine our-
selves to the more important points of the examina-
tion.

Q. From whom did you receive while in London the
money you required for your expenses and the con-
duct of your lawsuit?

A. From the Citizen Vandenyver, banker of Paris,
Rue Vivienne, who gave me a letter of credit on Thel-
lusson ; it was during my last journey that I made use
of that.

Q. Is your lawsuit concluded?

5 Tribunaux revolutionnaires, dossier de la nominee Jeanne
Vaubernier du Barry . . . et des Vendenyver, prevenus d'intel-
ligences et correspondances contre-revolutionnaires aves les emi-
gres: Archives nationales. E. and J. de Goncourt's La Du Barry,
pp. 273-278.



MADAME DU BARRY 359

A. My lawsuit was concluded on February 27, the
last day of term.

Q, Was not the time you were to spend in London
specified in your passport ?

A. No date was specified, and could not reasonably
be, as a lawsuit had to be concluded.

Q. During the time you were in London, decrees
were issued by the National Convention ordering all
French who had left the Republic within a certain
time to return, under pain of being regarded as
emigres and treated as such. Were you aware of
this?

A. I was aware of these decrees, but did not con-
sider that they concerned me, as I had left for a definite
reason and was provided with a passport.

Q. During your stay in London, war was declared
between the French Republic and the King of Great
Britain. Why, under these circumstances, did you not
quit the enemy's territory?

A. War was declared such a short time before my
departure,* and my case was on the point of being de-
cided. I therefore prolonged my stay, in order to
avoid a fresh journey.

She was then questioned about her loan of 200,000
livres to the Due de Rohan-Chabot, which she admit-
ted, but stoutly denied that she had advanced a similar
sum to the Bishop of Rouen, and persisted in denying
all knowledge of such a transaction, though shown a
letter from the Vandenyvers referring to a proposed
loan to that prelate. 7

6 Exactly a month. War was declared on February I, 1793,
and Madame du Barry left England on March I.

7 This was an important point, as Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld,
Bishop of Rouen, was a bitter opponent of the Revolution. He
had signed the protest of September 21, 1791, against the in-
novations in religion made by the National Assembly, incited
his clergy to resistance, and, after the events of August 10, had
emigrated.



360 MADAME DU BARRY

The letters seized at Louveciennes and annotated by
Grieve were next produced, and the prisoner taken
through them, with a twofold purpose: to make her
incriminate herself, and to ascertain particulars about
her correspondents which might be used against them
hereafter. In the latter object the questioners were
but too successful, as Madame du Barry admitted that
the writer of a letter which contained an innocent re-
mark about Marie Antoinette was the Princess Lubo-
mirska, a member of an old Polish family, who had
come to Paris the previous year with her little
daughter; and the unhappy lady was arrested on a
charge of "conspiring to effect the escape of the widow
Capet," condemned, and executed. It also transpired
that the detective Forth Grieve' s "famous English
spy" who had been employed by Madame du Barry
to recover her diamonds, had, before the outbreak of
war, been in the habit of conveying letters from
emigres in London to their friends in France, and that
the lady, in her turn, had been requested by a gentle-
man who had since lost his head to take charge of a
letter for Madame Calonne, which, however, she de-
clared she had not delivered.

The commissioners then proceeded to interrogate
her in regard to her relations with emigres while in
England. She admitted that she had received visits
from a few whom she had known previously, "as it
was difficult for her to close her doors to them/' and
had visited them, but denied having given them money,
except small sums in two instances, and only as loans.
Shown a memorandum of her expenses during her
last visit to London and asked to explain, amongst
others, payments made to Frondeville, ex-President of
the Parliament of Rouen, and a person named Fortune,
she answered that the money had been given them "to
gamble for her," and had been repaid.



MADAME DU BARRY 361

The jewel robbery at Louveciennes was the next
point raised.

Q. Was the list of the diamonds which you had
printed correct? Did it not contain a description of
other stones besides those stolen?

A. The description was perfectly correct, with the
exception of a chain of emeralds and diamonds, which
was stolen, and which was brought to M. de Brissac
during my third visit to England. M. de Brissac gave
a hundred louis to the person who brought it to him.

Q. Did you ever entertain the idea of selling your
diamonds, and did you not take steps for that purpose
and send them abroad? If so, when?

A. In 1789 or 1790. I applied to Vandenyver, who
sent part of them to Holland ; but the price offered not
being sufficient, I withdrew the jewels from Vande-
nyver and gave him a receipt cancelling the one he
had given me.

After some further questions she was asked what
money she had in her house, and replied that she had
given instructions to her servants to conceal "eleven
bags, each containing 1200 livres, 1531 louis d'or
(which she had borrowed from the Due de Brissac to
pay the reward for her diamonds), 40 double louis,
and some English half-guineas. She was, however,
in ignorance where her people had hidden the money.

The last question put to her was in reference to the
shelter she had given to the Abbe de la Roche-Fonten-
ille, nephew of the Abbess of Pont-aux-Dames. She
admitted that she had given the abbe a room at Louve-
ciennes, "as a return for the kindness which his aunt
had shown her," but she had not seen him since Sep-
tember 1792, and did not know what had become of
him.

At this the inquisitors must have smiled grimly, for
the poor Abbe de la Roche-Fontenille had been des-



362 MADAME DU BARRY

patched to another world, by way of the Place de la
Revolution, three days previously.

Two days later (Brumaire n), the elder Vande-
nyver was examined, and questioned very closely as to
the money he had furnished to Madame du Barry
while in England, and particularly in regard to the
supposed loan of 200,000 livres to the Bishop of
Rouen. He admitted paying the sum in question, on
his client's instructions, to a person who had called at
the bank for the money, but declared that he had never
seen the man before, and could not say "positively" if
it was intended for the bishop. 8

On Brumaire 29 (November 19) the Committee of
General Security issued the following decree:

"29 Brumaire Year II. of the French Republic one and
indivisible.

'The Committee of General Security having taken
cognisance of the various documents found at the
house of the Du Barry, placed under arrest as a meas-
ure of general security as a suspected person, by the
terms of the decree of September 17 last, 9 and being
of opinion that the said documents show that the
woman Du Barry has been guilty of emigration and of
having, during the sojourn which she made in London
from the month of October 1792 to the month of
March last, furnished to emigres who have sought
refuge there pecuniary assistance, and carried on with
them a suspicious correspondence, decrees that the said
Du Barry shall be transferred to the Revolutionary
Court, to be there prosecuted and judged by the Pub-
lic Prosecutor."

8 Vatel's Histoire de Madame du Barry, iii. 221, et seq.

9 Evidently an error. The warrant for her arrest was issued
September 21.

10 Dossier du Barry: Archives nationales. E. and J. de Gon-
court's La Du Barry, p. 280.



MADAME DU BARRY 363

Three days later, Madame du Barry was brought
from Sainte-Pelagie, where she had already spent two
weary months, to the Palais de Justice, and interro-
gated by Robespierre's henchman, the brutal Dumas,
vice-president of the Revolutionary Court, in the pres-
ence of the Public Prosecutor and the clerk to the
court. Dumas asked her a great many questions about
the sums she had squandered during her favour, the
extent of her influence over Louis XV., the gratifica-
tions and pensions she had obtained for her friends,
and so forth. He then declared his belief that the
jewel robbery and the lawsuit were only pretexts to
conceal a political secret, and that she had "conspired
against the Republic." Madame du Barry contented
herself with a simple denial, and was then taken back
to Sainte-Pelagie, whence she addressed the following
letter to the Public Prosecutor:

MADAME DU BARRY to FOUQUIER-TINVTLLE.

"CITIZEN PUBLIC PROSECUTOR, I hope that thou,
in the impartial examination of this unhappy affair
that Grieve and his confederates have brought against
me, wilt see that I am the victim of a plot to ruin
me.

"I never emigrated, and I never intended to.

'The use that I made of the two hundred thousand
livres that d'Escourre placed for me with the Citizen
Rohan 12 should prove this to the most prejudiced
eyes.

: 'I never furnished money to the emigres, and I
never carried on any criminal correspondence with
them ; and if circumstances compelled me to see, either
in London or in France, courtiers or persons who were

1 Vatel's Histolrc de Madame du Barry, iii. 241.
"The Due de Rohan-Chabot.



364 MADAME DU BARRY

not in sympathy with the Revolution, I hope, Citizen
Public Prosecutor, that thou wilt, in the justice and
equity of thine heart, take into consideration the cir-
cumstances in which I found myself, and my known
and forced liaison with the Citizen Brissac, 13 whose
correspondence is before thine eyes.

"I rely on thy justice : thou canst rely on the eternal
gratitude of thy consitoyenne (sic)."

The estimable Fouquier was not quite so well known
at this period as he became in the following spring,
when the star of Robespierre was in the ascendant and
the guillotine was mowing down Royalists and Hebert-
ists and Dantonists at the rate of a hundred a week, or
poor Madame du Barry would have been aware that
she had no mercy to expect at his hands. He threw
her appeal unread into a portfolio in which he kept
the letters and papers he did not wish to attend to, and,
harassed as he was by the importunities of Grieve,
hurried on the trial. On December 4, the ex-favourite

13 It is not clear what Madame du Barry meant by her forced
liaison with Brissac, and M. Vatel is of opinion that, in her hurry
and agitation, she must have omitted several words.

14 Cited in Memoir es de Favrolle, iv. 122.

15 In his Memoires, Dutens relates the following anecdote, a
prop os of Madame du Barry's imprisonment at the Concier-
gerie :

" Shortly before the Comtesse du Barry was guillotined, on
December 8, 1793, an Irish priest found means to visit her at the
Conciergerie and offered to save her, provided she could give
him the amount which would be required for bribing the gaolers
and paying the expenses connected with the journey. She in-
quired if he could save two persons ; but he replied that his plan
would only permit him to save one. ' In that case,' said Madame
du Barry, *I am willing to give you an order on my banker
which will enable you to obtain the necessary amount ; but I pre-
fer you to save the Duchesse de Mortemart rather than myself.
She is hidden in a garret of such and such a house in Calais;
here is an order on my banker ; fly to her help.' The priest en-
treated her to allow him to rescue her from the prison; but, on
perceiving that she was resolved to save the duchess, took the
order, obtained the money, went to Calais, and brought the



MADAME DU BARRY 365

was transferred from Sainte-Pelagie to the Concier-
gerie, "the threshold of the scaffold," the walls of
which were still stained with the blood of the victims
of the September Massacres, 15 and, at nine o'clock on
the morning of the 6th, she and the three Vande-
nyvers were brought before the Revolutionary Court.

duchess out of her hiding place. Then, having disguised her as
a common woman, he gave her his arm, and travelled with
her on foot, saying that he was a good constitutional priest
and married to this woman. Every one cried 'Bravo/ and al-
lowed him to pass. He then crossed the French lines at Ostend,
and embarked for England with Madame de Mortemart, whom
I have since seen in London." Memoires d'un voyageur qui se
repose, iii. 115.

M. Forneron, in his Histoire generate des Emigres, and the
Goncourts, in their La Du Barry, accept this story; but M. Vatel,
in spite of his strong predilection for Madame du Barry, declines
to place any faith in it, at 1'east in its original form. In the first
place, he points out, the lady's banker was, like herself, under
lock and key, and, in the second, escape from the Conciergerie
was absolutely impossible. On the other hand, a Madame de
Mortemart not the duchess, but her sister-in-law does appear to
have been in hiding at Calais at this time, and he therefore thinks
that what really happened was that the priest in question having,
like a gallant Irishman, offered to attempt the impossible on
behalf of the poor lady, she replied: "You cannot save me; try
to save Madame de Mortemart.'* Even in this modified form,
however, the anecdote still reflects credit on Madame du Barry.






CHAPTER XXV

THE Revolutionary Court, which had been
created in the previous March, in spite of the
strenuous opposition of the Girondins, to judge
without appeal conspirators against the State, still re-
tained all the forms of justice it was not until June
1794 that the hearing of counsel and calling of wit-
nesses were dispensed with but its proceedings were,
in the great majority of cases, a hollow farce. The
judges were appointed from the ranks of the most
ruthless Terrorists, the jurymen, nominated by the
Convention, were all "gens d' expedition," while, as to
give evidence on behalf of an accused person was to
incur the danger of sharing his fate, witnesses for the
defence could with difficulty be induced to come for-
ward. Appalling indeed is the record of the Revolu-
tionary Court. From the time of its institution in
March 1793 to its reorganisation on June 10 of the
following year it condemned to death 1259 persons,
and after June 18, 1794, in seven weeks it sent 1368
persons to the guillotine. 1

Such was the tribunal before which Madame du
Barry and the Vandenyvers appeared that dark Decem-
ber morning. Dumas occupied the president's seat,,
assisted in his deliberations by three other judges,
David, Denisot, and Bravet; the infamous Fouquier,
of course, prosecuted; while upon the jury were
Topino-Lebrun, the painter, Robespierre's satellite,

1 For a full account of this famous or rather infamous court,
see M. Henri Wallon's fine work, Histoire du Tribunal revolu-
tionnaire (Paris: 1880-1882, 6 volumes).

366



MADAME DU BARRY 367

Payan, and Sambat and Trinchard, who had been
members of the jury which had condemned Marie An-
toinette. Chauveau-Lagarde,who had defended Brissot,
Charlotte Corday, and the Queen, represented the
Vandenyvers ; Lafleuterie, Madame du Barry.

The Bulletin du Tribunal revolutionnaire contains
no account of the trial, but we have, in its place, a
document of incontestable value in the shape of the
notes taken by Fouquier-Tinville, who wrote with ex-
traordinary rapidity, and jotted down all the answers
given he did not trouble to transcribe the questions
and has also left us a verbatim copy of his own
speeches for the prosecution.

The jury having been sworn, the president turned to
the accused and demanded their names, ages, profes-
sions, and places of birth and residence, to which they
gave the following answers :

"Jeanne Vaubernier, separated wife of Du Barry,
aged forty-two years, 2 born at Vaucouleurs, residing
at Louveciennes."

"Jean Baptiste Vandenyver, aged sixty-six, banker,
born at Amsterdam, residing at Paris, Rue Vivienne."

"Edme Jean Baptiste Vandenyver, aged twenty-nine,
banker, born at Paris, residing in the same street."

"Antoine Auguste Vandenyver, aged thirty-two,
banker, born at Paris, residing here, also in the Rue
Vivienne."

The greffier then read the indictment, and Fouquier
rose to open the attack.

After detailing the various steps which had been
taken against the accused, the seizure of their papers,
their interrogatories, and so forth, and a piquant ac-
count of the career of Madame du Barry at the Court
of Louis XV., the prosecutor declared that the exami-
nation of the documents found at Louveciennes proved
8 She was, of course, fifty, having been born August 2g, 1743.



368 MADAME DU BARRY

that "the Aspasia of the French Sardanapajus" had
been the instrument and accomplice of emigres, and
the support and protector of those aristocrats who had
remained in France; and he mentioned the unfortu-
nate Abbe de la Roche-Fontenille as having found an
asylum with her. He declared that, in her desire to
render assistance to the emigres, she had invented a
robbery of diamonds in the night of January 10-11,
1791 * that this pretended robbery was a pretext con-
cocted with Forth, an English agent, to place her in
communication with all the anti-Revolutionary agents
in London ; that during her four visits to London she
had lived only with emigres and English aristocrats
hostile to the Revolution, particularly with "the in-
famous Pitt, that implacable enemy of the human
race," and that she had brought back with her "a
medal bearing the effigy of the monster." He declared
that her purse was at the disposal of all the rebels in
France ; that she had advanced a sum of 200,000 livres
to Rohan-Chabot, possessor of large estates in La
Vendee, "the present centre of rebellion"; 200,000
livres to La Rochefoucauld, former Bishop of Rouen,
and large amounts to the Chevalier d'Escourre, his
nephew, Labondie, and other disaffected persons. He
declared that it had been her intention to make her
house into "a little stronghold," which was proved by
the fact that several guns had been found upon the
premises. He spoke of the treasures which she had
concealed and of the collection of anti-revolutionary
pamphlets and engravings discovered at Louveciennes ;
declared that she had worn mourning in London for

8 When Fouqui'er said this, he lied deliberately, as he had before
him all the proofs of the robbery, and, in particular, a deposition
of the spy Blache, admitting that he had seen the stolen jewels
at the Lord Mayor's Court in London, no doubt when the jew-
eller Rouen was identifying them. This fact, needless to say,
was not disclosed at the trial.



MADAME DU BARRY 369

the late King, and had carried on a constant corre-
spondence with the most bitter enemies of the Repub-
lic : Calonne, Brissac, Maussabre, Mortemart, Nar-
bonne, and many others.

Passing to the Vandenyvers, he described them as
the intermediaries between the Du Barry and the
emigres. He accused them of having sent the dia-
monds of the Du Barry to Holland; of having pro-
vided her during her visits to England with several let-
ters of credit, one for 50,000 and another "for an
unlimited amount" ; of having advanced the loans for
Rohan-Chabot and La Rochefoucauld, and all the
money wherewith their client had provided the emigres.
He declared that they had been "at all times the ene-
mies of France," and in 1782 had been concerned in
a vast plot to ruin the credit of the country and "per-
petuate the slavery of the French," and ended by ac-
cusing them of being "chevaliers du poignard," and
of having co-operated "in the massacre of the people."

He then proceeded to call his witnesses, beginning
with Grieve, who deposed that he had found, hidden in
various parts of the chateau and grounds at Louve-
ciennes, a quantity of precious stones, gold and silver,
portraits of Louis XV. (as a Carmelite friar), Anne
of Austria, and the Regent d'Orleans, and a medal
bearing the likeness of Pitt. He added that an En-
glish spy, named Forth, made frequent journeys be-
tween London and Louveciennes, previous to the out-
break of war; that the general opinion in the village
was that the robbery had never taken place; and that
the accused had obtained her passports under false
pretences, as so far from her jewels being the only

4 Apparently, the only foundation for this last charge was a
statement of Heron that the elder Vandenyver had fired at him
with a gun during the disturbances which followed the storming
of the Tuileries on August IO, 1792.



370 MADAME DU BARRY

security of her creditors, as she had stated in her let-
ter to the President of the Convention, 5 she was pos-
sessed of "immense treasures, valued at ten to twelve
million livres," lived in most luxurious style, and kept
forty servants. He also stated that she had placed
obstacles in the way of recruiting at Louveciennes,
and gave evidence concerning the papers found at her
house.

Xavier Audouin, attached to the Ministry of War,
deposed that some days after the events of August 10,
1792, while patrolling with an armed force the en-
virons of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, information was
brought him that the Chateau de Louveciennes was
"full of ci-devant noblemen of the Court" ; that he had
repaired thither and questioned the mistress of the
house, who offered him refreshments and denied that
there was any person concealed on her premises ; that,
her manner appearing to him suspicious, he had broken
into a room, which she had assured him was a linen-
closet, and found there Maussabre, Brissac's aide-de-
camp, whom he arrested and removed to prison.

Jean Baptiste Blache, commissary of the Committee
of General Security, stated that he formerly resided in
London, where he had seen the accused in the com-
pany of various emigres and the supposed English spy,
Forth. After the death of "Capet," the Du Barry
wore mourning, "avec le plus grand faste anglais,"
and attended all the memorial services.

Dumas, vice-president: "What answer have you to
make to the evidence of this witness?"

Madame du Barry: '"I wish to say that I certainly
saw in London Mesdames de Calonne and Mortemart,
but that our relations were merely those of friendship."

Dumas: "Did you wear mourning in London for
Capet?"

5 See p. 339, supra.



MADAME DU BARRY 371

Madame du Barry: "I wore a black dress, because
I had brought dresses of no other colour with



me.'



The next witness was a friend, the Chevalier
d'Escourre, who was brought up from La Force, and
courageously endeavoured to take upon himself the
responsibility of the loan to Rohan-Chabot, stating
that, being aware that Madame du Barry was desirous
of finding an investment for the money, he had sug-
gested the mortgage in question. 7

When the chevalier had concluded his evidence,
Fouquier-Tinville rose and demanded that the witness
should be at once removed from La Force to the Con-
ciergerie and brought to trial. His request was grant-
ed, and poor d'Escourre, condemned for "practising
machinations against the Republic," was executed on
December n.

Then commenced the evidence of the treacherous
servants and the other witnesses whom Grieve had
recommended.

The thievish Salanave, now a member of the revolu-
tionary committee of Versailles, spoke to the visits of
Brissac, Labondie, d'Escourre, the Marquise de Bru-
noy, and other aristocrats to Louveciennes, and added
that, "in his quality of patriot," he had been badly
treated by his fellow servants, and, finally, dismissed
by his mistress.

Madame du Barry, when asked if she had anything
to say to the evidence just given, informed the court
that the dismissal of Salanave was due. not to his
political opinions, but to his unfortunate weakness for
her porcelain, "which disappeared daily."

' This was no doubt true, as she was in mourning for Brissac.

7 It should be mentioned that the loan to Rohan-Chabot was a
duly executed mortgage on the duke's estates in Brittany, bear-
ing interest at four and a half per cent., and that the court had
the deed in its possession.



372 MADAME DU BARRY

Louis-Benoit Zamor, native of Bengal, stated that he
had been brought up by the accused since the age of
eleven; that her house was frequented by aristocrats,
who rejoiced openly over the checks which the armies
of the Republic sustained; that he had remonstrated
with the accused on the folly and wickedness of her


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 27

Online LibraryH. Noel (Hugh Noel) WilliamsMemoirs of Madame Du Barry of the court of Louis XV → online text (page 27 of 28)