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Yet it would be a grave mistake to consider the Queen a political nonentity. Notwithstanding the low esteem of the courtiers, she is beloved by common people, and knows it. It deprives the royal family of its most popular member. Her great rival, Madame de Pompadour, also a woman of taste and intellect, had already died a few years earlier. Louis XV is thus left to his own devices after the successive deaths of his mistress and wife. So what remains of Queen Marie Leszczynska? A few portraits, including this beautiful work by Nattier below and very little else.
Louis XV, who was only seventeen, had of course been hoping for a male heir, but he was nonetheless delighted by the birth of the girls. Elisabeth is his darling, his Babette. She has never been considered pretty like her twin Henriette, but she is bright, vivacious, willful. The bride is only twelve, and she is heartbroken when she must leave Versailles and her beloved twin, Madame Henriette. Indeed it was often true at the time: as a rule a princess, once married abroad, never set foot again in her native country.
That is, for instance, what happened to Marie-Antoinette. But, as she shall see, Madame Elisabeth will never allow herself to be bound by rules applicable to ordinary princesses. Once in Spain, Elisabeth is not unhappy with her husband, a kind and self-effacing man, but she does not get along with her mother-in-law, Queen Isabella Farnese, another strong personality. Elisabeth is only fourteen when she gives birth to her first child, a girl named Marie-Isabelle.
She intends to find her husband a throne of his own, preferably far from the Spanish court and her mother-in-law. Her wishes come true when the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, at the conclusion of the War of Austrian Succession, makes available the Duchy of Parma, a small independent state in northern Italy. Elisabeth, alone, hastens to Versailles to make sure her father intervenes to secure the Duchy for her husband. Louis XV obliges. This portrait by Nattier, representing Elisabeth, then 23, with her daughter Marie-Isabelle, is painted during this Versailles stay.
Louis XV is delighted to see his dear Babette again, and the young woman is in no hurry to leave for her new Duchy of Parma. This causes tensions with her siblings, who hate the favorite, but Madame Elisabeth puts ambition ahead of personal preferences. After ten months in Versailles, she must, if only for the sake of appearances, leave to join her husband in Parma.
There she gives birth to two more children, a boy, Ferdinand, and another girl, Marie-Louise, in January and December of , respectively. In her new Duchy, Elisabeth promotes French style, gives her son French tutors who espouse the values of the Enlightenment, and tries her best to emulate Versailles in her little Italian court.
Elisabeth had remained very close to her twin in spite of their differences over Madame de Pompadour. A grieving Elisabeth leaves for Versailles for another one-year stay, before reluctantly returning to Parma. She comes back again to Versailles a few years later, in , to better arrange an alliance with Empress Maria Theresa. Elisabeth hopes to obtain from the Empress the appointment of her husband as Governor of the Austrian Netherlands.
To strengthen her alliance with Austria, she negotiates the marriage of her elder daughter, Marie-Isabelle the little girl in the Nattier portrait, who is no longer a little girl, but now a bright, beautiful teenager with the heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Joseph, future Emperor Joseph II. Unfortunately Madame Elisabeth falls ill. Her mother, Queen Marie Leszczynska, nurses her, but soon it becomes clear that the princess, like her twin sister a few years earlier, has contracted smallpox.
She dies at the age of 32 in her beloved Versailles. To conclude this post, I chose a family portrait painted in Parma below. Elisabeth is seated on the sofa, next to her husband. After her death, no one, least of all himself, would think of another throne for hapless Philippe de Bourbon. But the marriage arranged by Elisabeth between their eldest daughter, Marie-Isabelle standing, with a sheet of paper in her hands and Archduke Joseph would indeed take place.
Joseph would fall passionately in love with his bride, but she would never return his feelings. Marie-Isabelle would die three years later, yet another smallpox victim. Now look closely at the two little children to the left. The boy is Ferdinand, who would succeed his father as Duke of Parma, and would be dethroned by Bonaparte during the French Revolution. The painting thus stresses the maternal ancestry of the heir.
He is the ancestor of the Bourbon-Parme branch of the French royal family. This was a family of strong women. Anne-Henriette de France, thanks to her beautiful portrait by Nattier with a viole de gambe cello , sparked the idea of this series on the daughters of Louis XV and Marie Leszczynska. She was born on August 14, , minutes after Madame Elisabeth. The sisters, as is obvious from their respective portraits, were fraternal twins. They had quite different personalities as well.
DU BARRY - Definition and synonyms of du Barry in the English dictionary
Henriette was as reserved as Elisabeth was assertive and outgoing. Louis XV was very attached to both of his elder daughters. Young Louis-Philippe too was in love with Henriette, and asked for her hand. Yet Louis XV, fond as he was of his daughters, never let his paternal feelings stand in the way of dynastic considerations.
The Spanish Bourbons had been outraged by the abrupt dismissal of the little Infanta-Queen when Louis XV had married Marie Leszczynska, and the marriage of Madame Elisabeth with a son of the King of Spain had been designed to soothe any lingering ill-will between France and Spain. As for Henriette, she had no choice but to resign herself to her fate. She found solace in her music and took lessons from Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Forqueray, the leading cellist of the time. Her affection for that instrument was memorialized by Nattier. She was also very close to her younger brother, the Dauphin Louis-Ferdinand.
She died on February , at the age of 24, from smallpox. Maybe indeed Madame Henriette would have prevented the emergence, much to the discredit of the monarchy, of that new favorite. Yes, the very man who would vote in for the immediate execution of his cousin Louis XVI. Everyone, most of all her parents, hoped for a boy this time, since women were not eligible to inherit the French crown in their own right. As soon as it became known that the baby was a girl, all of the celebrations that had been planned in anticipation of the birth of a Dauphin were canceled, except for a mass in at the Royal Chapel of the Palace.
We have scant information about little Madame Marie-Louise, apart from the circumstances of her untimely death. Fortunately remains this charming portrait of the princess as a toddler, by Pierre Gobert.
A healthy, plump little girl, with a rather determined jawline and fearless gaze. During the winter of , when she was four and a half years old, she caught a cold. To alleviate her fever, he bled her four times in a row. This in itself must have caused severe dehydration, which was aggravated by the emetic she was given. Vatel says that Madame de la Garde certainly had two sons, Nicolas and Frangois Pierre, but they were not romantic youths, but middle-aged and married men, occupying responsible positions, Nicolas being, like his father before him, a farmer-general, and Francois Pierre a maitre des requetes.
Moreover, they did not reside with their mother, but had separate establishments of their own, the elder living in the Place Louis-le-Grand and the younger in the Rue Neuve du Luxembourg. Towards the close of the year , or at the beginning of , she left Madame de la Garde, and was apprenticed by her parents ap- parently under the name of Mademoiselle Lange, or 1'Ange to a man-milliner called Labille, in the Rue Neuve des Petits-Champs.
The account given by the Goncourts of Madame du Barry passing the shop on her way to the scaffold in , and gazing pathetically up at the girls crowding to the windows to catch a glimpse of the ex-milliner, is a myth. Jeanne does not appear to have remained long at Labille's shop, and little is known of her life during the next two or three years, in which some writers assert that she sank so low as to become a woman of the town, and even for a time an inmate of an establish- ment kept by a notorious entremetteuse called La Gourdan.
Vatel discusses this very unpleasant question at considerable length, and his conclusion is that the charge is devoid of foundation and was a mere invention of the Choiseul party, about whose methods of warfare we shall have occasion to speak hereafter. More- over when in the woman Gourdan, having been indiscreet enough to allow the wife of a magistrate to make assignations at her house, was haled before the Tournelle, or Criminal Court of the Parliament of Paris, the ledger containing the names of all her pensionnaires for many years past was impounded.
Vatel is of opinion that if Madame du Barry's had appeared therein, it would have been made known, as she was then in disgrace, and no one was interested in defending her. Vatel, in his zealous championship of Madame du Barry, appears to entirely ignore the possibility that a person who is known to have lost at least three aliases might very well have had others which have escaped the notice of historians. But if, for lack of evidence, we must acquit Jeanne Becu of having been a woman of the town, there can be no possible doubt that during these years she had be- come one of those who, as M.
Vatel delicately ex- presses it, "ignore the obligations of virtue without having the excuse of passion"; in other words, that she was a femme entretenue in the very fullest accep- tation of the term. According to Soulavie not, how- ever, a writer in whom much confidence is now re- posed a M. Lavauvenardiere was the first amant en titre of the lady; while other chroniclers mention an Abbe de Bonnac, a Colonel de Marcieu, and a M. Duval, a clerk in the Marine, as among her pro- tectors.
Towards the close of , Jeanne, who now called herself Mademoiselle Beauvarnier, or Beauvernier, seems to have been in the habit of frequenting a gambling-house in the Rue de Bourbon, kept by a "Marquise" Duquesnoy gambling-houses were the favourite haunt of the filles galantes of those days and it was here apparently that she encountered Jean du Barry, the man with whose assistance she was one day to rise "from the dregs to the zenith of her profession.
Married in to a Mademoiselle de Verongrese, "a handsome and honest person, who had nothing to say to the shameful conduct of her husband. Endowed with a hand- some presence, imperturbable assurance, a ready wit, 19 and an amusing Gascon accent, he succeeded in mak- ing a favourable impression on the Marquis de Rouille, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, and was despatched on secret missions to England, Germany, and Russia.
Rouille, however, resigned office in , and his successors, Bernis and Choiseul, turned a deaf ear to Du Barry's applications for further employ- ment, though, as some compensation for the forced abandonment of his diplomatic ambitions, he con- trived to obtain contracts both for the army and navy, and an interest in the supply of provisions to the troops of Corsica. With the profits of his contracts he plunged into all kinds of debauchery and dissipation, and the in- famy of his life was such as to astonish even the depraved society amid which he moved and earn for him the sobriquet of the "Roue" From the police reports of the time it would appear that he was in the habit of introducing young beauties of humble station generally unfortunate girls whom he had himself seduced and then grown weary of to the haunts of 19 One day at Spa, Jean du Barry was keeping a faro bank and watching very closely to avoid being cheated.
He appeared to entertain some suspicion of the Electress Dowager of Saxony, who was one of the players, and the princess expressed her amazement that he should believe her capable of any irregularity. You royal personages never cheat for anything but crowns. Madame du Hausset tells us that on one occasion, during the regime of Madame de Pom- padour, he had aspired to provide Louis XV.
I replied that there was, in fact, in a box near mine, a young woman who was surrounded by all the young gentlemen of the Court. She smiled and said : 'That was Mademoiselle Doro- thee ; she has been this evening to sup with the King, and will go to-morrow to the chase. You are aston- ished to see me so well informed, but I know still more.
He founds his hopes on the charms of Mademoiselle Dorothee, which he imagines the King will not be able to resist. She is really very pretty. I have had an opportunity of seeing her in ' my garden, to which they brought her under pretext of taking a stroll. Mademoiselle Beauvarnier and her mother accord- ingly took up their residence with Du Barry, at his house in the Rue Neuve Saint-Eustache, whence they subsequently removed to one in the Rue de Jussieu.
The presence of Madame Rangon was presumably in- tended to disguise the nature of the relations which existed between her daughter and the "count," but, if such were the object in view, it would not appear to have been attained, as the following entry in the Journal de la Police will testify: "December 14, The Marquis du Barry, who was responsible for having brought la belle Dorothee 3 from Strasburg to Paris, and for having given the demoiselle Beauvoisin her start in life, exhibited last Monday, in his box at the Comedie Italienne, the demoiselle Veauvernier sic , his mistress.
She is a person nineteen years old, tall, well-made, and of dis- tinguished appearance, with a very pretty face. No doubt he intends to dispose of her brocanter advan- tageously. When he begins to weary of a woman, he invariably has recourse to this expedient. But, at the same time, it must be admitted that he is a connoisseur, and that his merchandise is always salable. The "Roue" considered that Beauvarnier was not a sufficiently aris- tocratic patronymic, so he transformed it into Vau- bernier, with a territorial prefix, and the young lady became Mademoiselle de Vaubernier. Thus, in May , we find her laying a complaint before a police-com- missary against a dressmaker named Etienne, who had appro- priated a piece of Indian muslin which had been s'ent her to make into a gown, and used abusive language and threats towards the "Rout's" son, Adolphe, who had been deputed to remonstrate with her.
Memoirs by Barry Comtesse
Here she was in the habit of meeting- a circle of wits and men of letters : Crebillon fils the author of some of the most licentious romances ever penned, one of which, Le Soplia, so shocked Madame de Pompadour's sense of propriety that she caused him to be banished from Paris Colle, Guibert, and Favier.
At Du Barry's own house, too, Jeanne became ac- quainted with several of the most celebrated person- ages of her time, for the "Roue" consummate scoun- drel though he was, was, notwithstanding, a man of considerable attainments and charm of manner, and an admirable host. Among his visitors were that ever- green sinner, the Due de Richelieu, the Due de Duras, his alter ego the Due de Nivernais, wham Lord Ches- terfield held up as a model for his son to form himself upon,' 5 and the Prince de Ligne, whose connection with the lady is interesting, if only for the striking portrait which he has left us of her : "She is tall, well-made, ravishingly fair, with an open forehead, fine eyes, pretty lashes, an oval face with little moles upon her cheeks, which only serve to enhance her beauty, an aquiline nose, a laughing mouth, a clear skin, and a bosom with which most would be wise to shun comparison.
I do not know a better model for you to form yourself upon; pray observe and frequent him as much as you can. He will show you what manners and graces are. Lauzun, who was then in quest of consolation for his rejection at the hands of the beautiful Lady Sarah Bunbury, met Jeanne at one of the Opera balls and accepted an in- vitation from the "Roue" to sup at his house, where his host, who was suffering from inflammation of the eyes, received him in a superb robe-de-chambre, with his hat on his head, to keep in place two baked apples, which some quack had recommended as a remedy for his complaint.
The house was in good taste, and among the guests were several very pretty women, one of whom, a Madame de Fontanelle, "had come from Lyons with the design of becoming the mistress of the King, and of the first person who might ask her in the interim.
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However, the affair went no further than a flirtation. The demoiselle Beauvarnier, mis- tress, or rather vache a lait, of the si'eur du Barry. It is M. Sismondi's Hlstoire des Frangais, xxix. MADAME DU BARRY 37 suppers, with a little game of lansquenet, brelan, or passe-passe to follow, must, we fear, have proved somewhat costly experiences for the lady's admirers, and the "Roue" had, no doubt, good reason to con- gratulate himself upon his bargain. However, as the next chapter will show, the time was not far distant when Jeanne was to establish infinitely greater claims upon the gratitude of her scoundrelly protector.
The "Roue," who on the death of Louis XV. Here is what he says on the matter : 1 Dutens's Memoir es d'un voyageur qiti se repose edit. And it was then that I begged Madame Rangon and her daughter, Mademoiselle Vaubernier, to take charge of my house and do the honours of it, a task which they performed for several years with kindness and intel- ligence.
Lebel received his orders, and the latter, with whom neither she nor my- self had any acquaintance, arranged matters with her alone. The King is indulging in passades ; he throws the handkerchief to young girls and women whom he perceives at Mass or at the grand convert. Bachelier, his old prime minister Lebel's predecessor , brings them to him.
But, as it happens, his account is confirmed by two independent chroniclers, Sara Goudard and Montigny ; while we learn from the un- published Memoirs of ChoiseuT that Jeanne did actually visit the Minister at Versailles, on two oc- casions, in reference to the matter mentioned by Du Barry. But whether it was accident or design which threw Jeanne across the path of Louis XV. The secret of the extraordinary fascination which she exercised over him, and continued to exercise to the day of his death, lay not so much in her physical charms, great as these undoubtedly were, but in her high spirits, her unfailing good-humour, and, above all, in her absolute freedom from affectation.
Louis XV. He was enchanted by it. The new favourite seemed to him an exceptional being. He determined to cover her with a rain of gold and 'These memoirs, which must not be confused with the Me- moires de M. Vatel to be " as authentic as important," and such would appear to be the opinion of most historians, in- cluding, among recent writers, M. Pierre de Nolhac. On the other hand, Ritter von Arneth and M. Whether the memoirs are genuine or not, however, there can be no question that they are the work of some one intimately acquainted with the Court of Louis XV.
But, as a demoiselle, particularly one of humble birth, could not well perform the functions of a royal mistress without risk of grave scandal it was a sort of unwritten law that the favourite must be a married and titled woman he decided that a husband with the necessary qualifications must be found for her with- out delay, and communicated his wishes to Jeanne du Barry, through the medium of Lebel. However, there was no necessity to let the post pass out of his sphere of influence, as he had a bachelor brother, Guillaume by name, a needy officer or ex-officer of Marines, who lived with his widowed mother and his two sisters at the family-seat of the Du Barrys, at Levignac, near Toulouse, and who seemed expressly made for the occasion.
So angry was he that he took upon himself to remonstrate vehemently with his Majesty, who, highly incensed at his presumption, threatened to strike him with the fire-irons if he did not at once desist. This threat, we are told, affected M. Lebel so deeply as to bring on an attack of colic, whereof he died two days later. The future husband, who had been plain Guillaume du Barry in the procuration signed at Toulouse, be- comes "high and puissant seigneur, messire Guil- laume, Comte du Barry, son of the deceased messire Antoine, Comte du Barry, and of the dame Catherine Delacaze, his spouse.
The two sisters who lived with their mother had been baptized respectively Franchise and Marthe, but were known by the sobriquets of "Chon" and :t Bitschi. Lenotre's Vieilles maisons, vieux papiers, et seq. Levignac, it may be mentioned, was a little village, which probably did not contain a single house of any size apart from the chateau of the Du Barrys. But the most startling transformation is reserved for the future bride, who not only changes her name for the fourth time, but invents, or has invented for her, a father to bear it, and styles herself "the demoi- selle Jeanne Gomard de Vaubernier, a minor, daughter of the dame Rangon and of the sieur Jean Jacques Gomard de Vaubernier, interested in the affairs of the King, her first husband.
It provides that there should be no community of goods between the parties, but that the wife should charge herself with all the expenses of the menage: food, rent, table-linen, household utensils, keep of horses, and so forth, and with the maintenance and education of the children born of the marriage! In return for this, the husband was to make her an an- nual allowance of livres, payable half-yearly and in advance, in addition to a sum of livres per annum which he is declared to have already settled upon her. A paper annexed to the contract reveals the lady's fondness for jewellery and fine raiment.
Altogether her property is valued at 30, livres, which is declared to be "the result of her earnings and economies. He instituted researches into his genealogy, and quickly discovered that his family was a branch of the old Irish house of Barrymore, the arms and motto of which Bontes-en-avant the "Comtesse" du Barry forthwith assumed and retained for the rest of her life. Vatel thinks on account of the ill- ness and death of Lebel, who had died on August 17 when it took place at the Church of Saint-Laurent, at five o'clock in the morning, in order to avoid undesir- able publicity. The mysterious Gomard, the ex-Pic- pus, the soi-disant uncle and presumed father of Jeanne, 10 appeared to represent the stepfather and mother of the bride, resplendent in "a frock of maroon 9 The family of Barry of Barry's Court, Viscounts Buttevant and Earls of Barrymore, traced their descent back to one William de Barri, of Norman origin.
William de Barri's eldest son, Robert, accompanied Robert Fitz-Stephen to Ireland in , to assist Dermot, King of Leinster, to regain his throne, and, after a series of 'exploits which earned for him the name of Barrymore, was slain at Lismore, about the year One of David's lineal descendants, another David de Barri, was created Earl of Barrymore in , as a reward for his fidelity to English interests.
The title be- came extinct on the death of the eighth earl without issue in Burke' s " Dormant and Extinct Peerages," p. It is worth noting that the then Earl of Barrymore, Richard Barry, the sixth holder of the title, acknowledged Madame du Barry's claim, but, according to Mr. Robinson " The Last Earls of Barrymore," p.
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Proofs of Jeanne's claim to be the legitimate daughter of the aforementioned Gomard de Vaubernier "interested in the affairs of the King, were, of course, required ; and to furnish these wholesale forgery was resorted to. Two certificates were produced. The first, which purported to be signed by the vicar of Vaucouleurs and witnessed by the provost of the town, stated that Jeanne had been born on August 19, , instead of , from the marriage of Jeanne Becu, otherwise known as Quantigny, and Jean Jacques Gomard de Vaubernier.
It is upon this document that the erro- neous information in regard to Madame du Barry's origin to be found in so many works of reference is based. The second declared that the said Vaubernier had died in September, , at Vaucouleurs, in the presence of his "father-in-law," Fabian Becu, who had, as a matter of fact, died himself four years earlier.
Falsification of documents in those days was pun- ished by the galleys, and, in cases where the intention was to deceive the King, by death. Why then, it may be asked, were the "Roue" and his accomplices so ready to brave the terrors of the law, and who was 11 Apparently the gift of the bride, as these articles figure in an account rendered to Madame du Barry about this time by Carlier, the tailor who made her servants' liveries.
It is, in our opinion, absurd to ascribe them, as some writers do, to the impudence of Jean du Barry, who was far too astute a personage to commit such an act, unless he were well assured of absolute impunity. The matter, we fear, must always remain obscure, but there is grave reason to believe that Louis XV. Madame du Barry and her de jure husband parted at the church door, and do not appear to have ever set eyes on one another again. The latter, who imme- diately after the nuptial ceremony had received, as the price of his complaisance, a brevet conferring a pen- sion of livres upon him, did not, as the Gon- courts, M.
Vatel and Mr. Douglas all state, return the same day to Toulouse. He remained in Paris, in- stalled himself in a fine apartment in the Rue de Bourgogne, and proceeded to enjoy life. To Guillaume's credit it should be added that he seems to have been genuinely attached to Mademoiselle Lemoine,? Lenotre in Vieilles maisons, vieux papiers, p. But when, at the beginning of October, the Court migrated, as usual, to Fontainebleau, the new favourite was given a suite of apartments in the chateau itself, and his Majesty's attentions to her became so very marked that nothing else was spoken of, and the Austrian Ambassador, Mercy-Argenteau, deemed it advisable to send the fol- lowing report of the affair to his Government : MERCY to KAUNITZ.
Fontainebleau, November i, This Du Barry, at length, after having married his concubine to one of his brothers, found means, through the instrumentality of the first valet-de-chambre, named Lebel, to introduce her to the King shortly before the last visit to Com- piegne, whither this woman followed the Court, and 13 Ibid. This first appearance occasioned but little sensation, but, shortly afterwards, one saw the new favourite in possession of a very elegant equipage and a very handsomely furnished lodging. Then some young gentlemen of the Court sought to introduce themselves to her, in order to pay their respects.
The Sieur du Barry made, in the mean- while, researches into his genealogy, and discovered that he was descended from the ancient Irish family of Barrymore, whereof he assumed the arms, which one sees displayed on the carriage of Madame du Barry and on a very handsome sedan-chair, which she makes use of in the interior of the chateau. She is lodged in the court called des Fontaines, near the apartment which Madame de Pompadour used to occupy ; she has a number of servants and brilliant liveries, and on fete-days and Sundays one sees her at the King's Mass, in one of the chapels on the rez-de-chaussee, which is reserved for her.
On my side, I took measures to inform myself of the tone which this woman adopts among her intimates. I ascertained that she was beginning to give herself airs of impor- tance; that she spoke of the Government and the Ministers, and of the great services which a favourite rendered the State by enlightening the King in regard to the vices of the administration. I ascertained fur- ther that this woman expected to be publicly presented at Court, and that a subordinate cabal, supported by some persons of more exalted rank, favoured this project; that they had even sounded Mesdames de France and that one of the Mesdames was of opinion "The four unmarried daughters of Louis XV.
We agreed that he should explain his views to M. But, to our pro- found astonishment, the Minister appeared, or wished to appear, ignorant of a great part of the circum- stances of this intrigue, and M. He represented to M. This expedient has been adopted and will be carried out. Independently of that, M. Moreover, they op- posed it strongly as soon as they found that it was something more than a galanterie. See p. I am endeavouring to utilise it, through the medium of the Ambassador of Spain, in order to make M.
I cannot too highly praise the good will and zeal with which M. I repeated to him all that I had ascertained about this woman, and he professed himself much indebted to me for this overture. He permitted himself to speak very freely to me of this intrigue, with which I per- ceive he is now much occupied, and even begged me to communicate to him everything that I may learn about it in the future, though he did not confide to me the.
I have come to an understanding with the latter that we should act in concert, without allowing M. I shall exercise great care to avoid all imprudence in a matter so delicate. Jules Flatnmermont Paris, , ii. He combined in his own person the func- tions of three departments, Foreign Affairs, the Army, and the Marine, 2 and even talked of taking charge of the Finances as well. He held the surintendance des pastes, an office which placed in his hands great and much-dreaded powers, as it enabled him to violate at will the sanctity of private correspondence.
But his qualities were more showy than solid, and, compared with the illustrious statesmen of the two preceding reigns, his record is poor indeed. His relatives and proteges filled all the most lucrative positions in the Army, the Diplomatic Ser- vice and the Church; he lived in almost royal state, and enormous as was his official income, 4 his house- hold expenses alone were believed to exceed it.
Louis XV of France
Moreover, his credit abroad was immense. The foreign policy of Spain was conducted entirely on his advice; Turkey looked to him for support against Russian aggression ; at Vienna he was regarded as the mainstay of the Franco-Austrian alliance, and he had but recently concluded the arrangements for a mar- riage between the Dauphin and the Archduchess Marie Antionette. A Minister so circumstanced, one would suppose, could have afforded to regard the advent of a new mis- tress with equanimity ; but such was very far from be- ing the case. Whether from genuine concern for the dignity of the Monarchy, which he believed would be irremediably degraded by association with a woman of so humble an origin and so unenviable a reputa- tion, 5 or because he was apprehensive that Madame du Barry might develop a taste for political intrigue to his own detriment, or merely because his vanity was wounded by the King's omission to consult him in the matter, Choiseul from the very first evinced the bitterest hostility towards the lady.
It may be doubted, however, if the Minister would have carried his enmity to the lengths which he did had it not been for the influence of his sister, Madame de Gramont. Her fury and mortification, therefore, on seeing the prize for which she had so long striven snatched from her grasp by "a little girl of the streets," knew no bounds, and she and all the coterie which followed her inspirations pronounced against the favourite with the utmost violence.
She inquired of the latter if it would not displease Madame de Beauvau, and Madame de Beauvau professed that she would be delighted to receive her and do the honours. There was some talk of events which had happened in the time of Louis XV. A song called La Bourbonnaise had at this time a great vogue both in Paris and the provinces.
One of the scribes employed by Choiseul conceived the idea of writing a fresh set of verses, describing the career of Madame du Barry, and the new version, copies of which were distributed broadcast, soon ousted the old, and became so popular that, according to Grimm, there was no street or corner of the city where one did not hear it sung. La Bourbonnaise A gagne des Louis. Chez un marquis. Elle avait la beaute Pour apanage. Mais ce petit tresor Lui vaut de Tor.
On dit qu'elle a, ma foi, Plu meme au roi. Une fille de ri'en; Une fille de rien, Quelle nouvelle! Donne au roi de 1'amour Est a la cour. Elle excite avec art Un vieux paillard. Plays were written round the adventures of the new favourite, and performed at the booths and fairs in and around Paris. On October 30, Gaudon's troop of actors 8 gave a representation of a burlesque called La Bourbonnaise a la guinguette, the action of which is supposed to take place at the Cadran bleu, a well-known tavern in the Faubourg des Porcherons.
The heroine is represented as a course virago, using the argot of the slums, indulging in scandalous liaisons, and tossing off bumpers of wine and brandy. A cook, a coiffeur, a Government clerk, and the keeper of a gambling-house, characters intended to represent Anne Becu, Lametz, Saint-Foy, and the "Roue" were allotted leading parts in this precious 8 Founded by an actor named Restier in , under the name of " la grande troupe etrangere.
A few days later, a second Bourbonnaise, "an operetta with dialogues in prose," was performed by Nicolet's troupe. The Bourbonnaise is about to espouse Retappe when a neighbour interferes and urges her to exploit her beauty. The maiden and Ratappe take counsel to- gether; at first they are inclined to reject such an odious proposition, but eventually avarice proves stronger than virtue.
The scene thereupon changes to a gam- bling-house, to which Retappe brings gilded youths to pay their court to the Bourbonnaise. She invites them to join her in a game of cards, with results which may be anticipated. Then a peddling jeweller arrives, and the gilded youths expend more of their money in load- ing their hostess with presents. Further sums are extracted from them, when the Bourbonnaise's credi- tors, previously invited by the lady, make a sudden descent and refuse to leave till their claims are satis- fied.
The play concludes with a duel between two of the heroine's admirers, the arrival of the watch, and the hurried break-up of the company. Two other plays, one satirizing the favourite and the ' This troupe is the only one which has a successful existence to-day i Vatel, in his Hist o ire de Madame du Barry, ex- presses surprise that Choiseul should have con- descended to such methods of warfare, since it would have been easy for him, with the Lieutenant of Police and his numerous agents under his orders, to have procured documentary proofs of the new favourite's humble origin and discreditable past, and also of the impudent frauds perpetrated on the occasion of her marriage, and to have laid them before the King.
Had this course been adopted, he argues, all danger of Madame du Barry becoming maitresse en litre would have been averted, as, though the monarch's infatua- tion might have been strong enough to induce him to overlook her quasi-criminal complicity in the Du Barrys' forgeries, he would certainly never have dared to force her upon his Court.
Vatel, however, was unacquainted with the cor- respondence between Mercy and Kaunitz. The scandal was a public one; all France deplored it. It would be wiser to allow the echo of the rumours concerning the favourite's past to reach the ears of the monarch ; and a Minister so powerful as Choiseul could easily find means of ensuring this, without committing himself.
The pamphleteers and playwrights whom the Minister employed did their work but too well. Not content with bringing ac- cusations against the favourite which had some foun- dation in fact, their zeal led them to charge her with vices and faults of which she was wholly guiltless, such as drunkenness, vulgarity, and ignorance. What chivalry remained to Louis XV. His reply was to redouble his attentions to his mistress, to load her with favours, and, finally, to order apartments to be prepared for her at Versailles. The apartments allotted to her were those of the de- ceased valet-de-chainbre Lebel, situated on the rez-de- chanssee of the Cour Royale, and here she remained until the spring of , when she removed to the suite which had formerly been occupied by the deceased Dauphiness, Marie Josephe of Saxony, on the second floor of the chateau, immediately above the King's private apartments.
Vatel, and Mr. This, as M. Madame du Hausset says : " This same Archbishop of Paris Christophe de Beaumont gave a pension of livres to the greatest scoundrel in Paris Robbe de Beauveset , who writes abominable verses; this pension being granted on condi- tion that his poems were never printed. I was informed of this 60 MADAME DU BARRY 61 of visitors might be seen wending its way towards the apartments of the new divinity; and Madame de Gra- mont, whose windows overlooked the Cour Royale, compelled to witness the triumph of her rival, was beside herself with mortification and jealousy, and urged her brother to prosecute the campaign of slander with renewed vigour.
As soon as Madame du Barry was installed at Ver- sailles, the question of her presentation to the King was raised. The Goncourts assert that Jean du Barry was the prime mover in this affair, but, in our opinion, there can be little doubt that the responsibility rests with the Due de Richelieu, who, on January i, , had entered upon his term of office as First Gentleman of the Bedchamber, in which capacity he had charge of the presentations for the ensuing year. This hero of gallantry was now in his seventy- third year, but age had not diminished his predilection for the fair sex nor his love of intrigue.
Bitterly jealous of Choiseul's ascendency over the King, and incensed by the Minister's refusal to allow him scope for the exercise of the meddlesome activity which he mistook for genius, he had viewed with unalloyed satisfaction the advent of a rival influence. At first, having no great confidence in the permanency of the by M. He chinked the money in his pocket and said, laughing: 'This is my good archbishop's; I keep my word with him; my poem will never be printed so long as I live, but I read it.
What would the worthy prelate say if he knew that I had shared my last quarter's allowance with a charming little dancer from the Opera? Richelieu's office of First Gentleman of the Bed- chamber afforded him ample opportunity for private conversation with his royal master, and it is probable that he experienced but little difficulty in inducing the King to lend a willing ear to his suggestion. More information about this seller Contact this seller 4.
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