Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
The duc d'Aiguillon--The duc de Fronsac--The duchesse de Grammont--The
meeting--Sharp words on both sides--The duc de Choiseul--Mesdames
d'Aiguillon--Letter from the duc d'Aiguillon-- Reply of madame du Barry--
Mademoiselle Guimard--The prince de Soubise--Explanation--The Rohans--
Madame de Marsan--Court friendships
The duc de Richelieu, who was in haste to go to Guienne, lost no time in
presenting to me the duc d'Aiguillon. He was not young, but handsome and well
made, with much amiability and great courage. A sincere friend, no consideration
could weaken his regard; an adversary to be dreaded, no obstacle could repress
his boldness. His enemies--and amongst them he included the whole magistracy-
-his enemies, I say, have used him shamefully, but he treated them too ill for
them to be believed in any thing they say of him. If he were ambitious, he had the
excuse of superior merit, and if he showed himself too severe in one particular, it
proceeded from an energy of mind which did not allow him to have more pity for
others than they had for him. Do not, my friend, think that the attachment I had
for him can transport me beyond just limits. Since he is in his grave, my illusions,
if I had any, have dissipated. I only give to my deceased friends the tribute due to
them--truth and tears. But really, without thinking of it, I am attributing to myself
these virtues without necessity, forgetting that you are not one of those who
would fain render me as black as possible in the eyes of posterity.
In proportion as the first sight of the uncle had prejudiced me against him, so
much more did it propitiate me towards the nephew. I saw in him a generous
heart, and a genius capable of lofty actions which you would vainly have sought
for in the marechal de Richelieu. No doubt at the beginning of our liaison the duc
d'Aiguillon only saw in me a woman who could be useful to his projects and
plans; but soon his heart joined the alliance, and a devotion of calculation was
succeeded by a vehement passion, of which I was justly proud, as it subdued to
my chains the most accomplished of courtiers.
Our first interview was lively. The marechal and he supported the conversation
with much gaiety. M. de Richelieu, as I have already told you, had neither wit nor
information, but possessed that ease of the first circles, those manners of high
breeding, those courtly graces, which often surpass wit and information.
"My nephew," said he to the duke, "madame can do much for us, but we must
first do something for her. Without support, without friends, she will be lost at
Versailles; let us be her partisans if she will allow it, and let her youth have the
benefit of our experience."
The tone in which the duc d'Aiguillon replied delighted me. He said he was but
too happy to serve me, and begged me to rely on him as I would on myself.
"But," he continued, "but we have to struggle with a powerful party. The
duchesse de Grammont and her brother are not the persons to give up the field
without striking a blow. But, madame, by the assistance of your happy and lovely
star, I will enter the lists with pleasure, and if a glance of your eyes will
recompense a conqueror, I shall be he."