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Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
Baron Etienne Leon Lamothe-Langon
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Fête given by the comtesse de Valentinois--The comtesse du Barry feigns an
indisposition--Her dress--The duc de Cosse-The comte and comtesse de
Provence--Dramatic entertainment--Favart and Voisenon--A few observations--A
pension--The marechale de Luxembourg --Adventure of M. de Bombelles--Copy
of a letter addressed to him-- Louis XV--M. de Maupeou and madame du Barry
My present situation was not a little embarrassing; known and recognised as the
mistress of the king, it but ill accorded with my feelings to be compelled to add to
that title the superintendent of his pleasures; and I had not yet been sufficiently
initiated into the intrigues of a court life to accept this strange charge without
manifest dislike and hesitation. Nevertheless, whilst so many were contending for
the honour of that which I condemned, I was compelled to stifle my feelings and
resign myself to the bad as well as the good afforded by my present situation; at
a future period I shall have occasion again to revert to the
the period of my reign, but for the present I wish to change the subject by relating
to you what befell me at a fete given me by madame de Valentinois, while she
feigned to give it in the honour of madame de Provence.
The comtesse de Valentinois, flattered by the kindness of the dauphiness's
manner towards her, and wishing still further to insinuate herself into her favour,
imagined she should promote her object by requesting that princess would do
her the honour to pass an evening at her house; her request was granted, and
that too before the duchesse de la Vauguyon could interfere to prevent it. Furious
at not having been apprized of the invitation till too late to cause its rejection, she
vowed to make the triumphant countess pay dearly for her triumph; for my own
part I troubled myself very little with the success of madame de Valentinois,
which, in fact, I perceived would rather assist than interfere with my projects.
Hitherto I had not made my appearance at any of the houses of the nobility when
the princesses were invited thither; this clearly proved to the public, in general,
how great was the opposition I experienced from the court party. I was now
delighted to prove to the Parisians that I was not always to lead the life of a
recluse, but that I could freely present myself at those parties to which other
ladies were invited. However, as my friends apprehended that the comtesse de
Provence might prevail upon her lady of honour not to invite me, by the advice of
the chancellor and the minister for foreign affairs, it was arranged that I should for
a week previous to the fete feign a severe indisposition. It would be impossible to
describe the joy with which these false tidings were received by my enemies. We
are all apt to picture things as we would have them, and already the eager
imaginations of the opposing party had converted the account of my illness into
an incurable and mortal disease.
Every hour my friends brought me in fresh anecdotes of the avidity with which the
rumour of my dangerous state had been received, whilst I lay upon what the
credulous hopes of my enemies had determined to be my death-bed, laughing
heartily at their folly, and preparing fresh schemes to confound and disappoint
their anticipated triumph.