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Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry

Chapter 8
The sieur Ledoux--The lettre de cachet--The duc de la Vrilliere-- Madame de
Langeac--M. de Maupeou--Louis XV--The comte Jean
On that very evening, the king having come to me, I said to him,
"Sire, I have made acquaintance with M. de Sartines."
"What! has he been to make friends with you?"
"Something like it: but he has appeared to me less culpable than I thought. He
had only yielded to the solicitation of my personal enemy."
"You cannot have one at my court, madame; the lieutenant of police would have
done well not to have named her to you."
"Thanks to him, however, I shall now know whom I ought to mistrust. I know also
who is the author of the two scurrilous paragraphs."
"Some scamp, no doubt; some beggarly scoundrel."
"A monsieur Ledoux."
"Ah, I know the fellow. His bad reputation has reached me. It must be stopped at
So saying, Louis XV went to the chimney, and pulled the bell-rope with so much
vehemence that ten persons answered it at once.
"Send for the duc de la Vrilliere; if he be not suitably attired let him come in his
night-gown, no matter so that he appear quickly."
On hearing an order given in this manner a stranger might have supposed the
king crazy, and not intent on imprisoning a miserable libeller. I interceded in his
favor, but Louis XV, delighted at an opportunity of playing the king at a small
cost, told me that it was no person's business, and he would be dictated to by no
one. I was silent, reserving myself until another opportunity when I could
undertake the defence of the poor devil.
The duc de la Vrilliere arrived, not in a dressing-gown, as the king had
authorized, but in magnificent costume. He piqued himself on his expenditure,
and always appeared superbly attired, altho' the splendor of his apparel could not
conceal the meanness of his look. He was the oldest secretary of state, and
certainly was the least skilful, least esteemed, least considered. Some time after
his death some one said of him in the presence of the duc d'Ayen, that he had
been an unfortunate man, for he had been all his life the butt of public hatred and
universal contempt. "Rather say," replied the duke, "that he has been a fortunate
man; for if justice had been rendered to him according to his deserts, he would
have been hanged at least a dozen times."
The duc d'Ayen was right: M. de la Vrilliere was a brazen-faced rogue; a
complete thief, without dignity, character, or heart. His cupidity was boundless:
the lettres de cachet emanated from his office, and he carried on an execrable
trade in them. If any person wished to get rid of a father, brother, or husband,
they only had to apply to M. de la Vrilliere. He sold the king's signature to all who
paid ready money for it. This man inspired me with an invincible horror and
repugnance. For his part, as I was not disgusting, he contented himself with
hating me; he was animated against me by his old and avaricious mistress,
madame de Langeac, alias Subutin. Langeac could not endure me. She felt that