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Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry

Chapter 19
Madame du Barry separates from madame de Bearn--Letters between these
ladies--Portrait of madame de l'Hopital--The ladder--The bell--Conversation with
madame de Mirepoix--First visit to Chantilly-- Intrigues to prevent the countess
from going thither--The king's Displeasure towards the princesses--The
archbishop de Senlis The spoiled child of fortune, I had now attained the height
of my wishes. The king's passion augmented daily, and my empire became such
as to defy the utmost endeavors of my enemies to undermine it. Another woman
in my place would have employed her power in striking terror amongst all who
were opposed to her, but for my own part I contented myself with repulsing their
attempts to injure me, and in proceeding to severity only when my personal
interests were too deeply concerned to admit of my passing the matter over in
There was no accusation too infamous to be laid to my charge; amongst other
enormities they scrupled not to allege that I had been the murderess of Lebel, the
king's valet-de-chambre, who died by poison! Was it likely, was it probable that I
should seek the destruction of him to whom I owed my elevation, the most
devoted of friends, and for whom my heart cherished the most lively sense of
gratitude? What interest could I possibly derive from the perpetration of such a
crime? The imputation was too absurd for belief, but slander cares little for the
seeming improbability of such an event. The simple fact remained that Lebel was
dead, of course the cruel and unjust consequence became in the hands of my
enemies, that I had been the principal accessory to it.
My most trifling actions were misrepresented with the same black malignity. They
even made it a crime in me to have written to madame de Bearn, thanking her for
her past kindnesses, and thus setting her at liberty to retire from the mercenary
services she pretended to have afforded me. And who could blame me for
seeking to render myself independent of her control, or for becoming weary of
the tyrannical guidance of one who had taken it into her head that I had become
her sole property, and who, in pursuance of this idea, bored and tormented me to
death with her follies and exactions, and even took upon herself to be out of
humor at the least indication of my attaching myself to any other lady of the court.
According to her view of things, gratitude imposed on me the rigorous law of
forming an intimacy with her alone; in a word, she exercised over me the most
galling dominion, which my family had long counselled me to shake off; in truth, I
was perfectly tired of bearing the yoke her capricious and overbearing temper
imposed upon me, but I determined, if possible, to do nothing hastily, and to
endure it with patience as long as I could. But now that the number of my female
friends was augmented by the addition of the marquise de Montmorency and the
comtesse de l'Hopital I determined no longer to bear the constant display of
madame de Bearn's despotic sway, and finding no chance of accommodating our
tastes and humors, I resolved to free myself from her thraldom. Another powerful
reason for this measure was the dislike with which the king regarded her; not that
she was deficient in birth or good breeding, but amidst the polish of high life she
occasionally introduced the most vulgar and provincial manners, a fault of all