For this end, they despatched as ambassador the chevalier de Coigny to the house of madame de Bearn. He, following the instruction, sought by turns to seduce and intimidate the countess, but all went for nothing. Madame de Bearn told the chevalier de Coigny, that she had been with me to ask my influence with the chancellor. The chevalier left her without being able to obtain any other information.
This bad success did not dishearten the Choiseuls. They sent this time to madame de Bearn, M. de Roquelaure, bishop of Senlis, and grand almoner to the king. This prelate was much liked at court, and in high favor with mesdames (the king's daughters). We were good friends together at last, but in this particular he was very near doing me great wrong. M. de Roquelaure having called on madame de Bearn, told her that he well knew the nature of her communications with me.
"Do not flatter yourself," said he, "that you will obtain thro' the influence of the comtesse du Barry, all that has been promised you. You will have opposed to you the most powerful adversaries and most august personages. It cannot be concealed from you, that mesdames contemplate the presentation of this creature with the utmost displeasure. They will not fail to obtain great influence over the future dauphin, and will do you mischief with him; so that, whether in the actual state of things, or in that which the age and health of the king must lead us to anticipate, you will be in a most unfortunate situation at court."
The old bishop, with his mischievous frankness, catechised madame de Bearn so closely, that at length she replied, that so much respect and deference did she entertain towards the princesses, that she would not present me until they should accord their permission for me to appear. M. de Roquelaure took this reply to the Choiseuls. Madame de Grammont, enchanted, thinking the point already gained, sent madame de Bearn an invitation to supper the next day, but this was not the countess's game. She was compelled to decide promptly, and she thought to preserve a strict neutrality until fresh orders should issue. What do you suppose she did? She wrote to us, madame de Grammont and myself, that she had scalded her foot, and that it was impossible for her to go from home.
On receiving her note I believed myself betrayed, forsaken. Comte Jean and I suspected that this was a feint, and went with all speed to call on the comtesse de Bearn. She received us with her usual courtesy, complained that we had arrived at the very moment of the dressing of her wound, and told us she would defer it; but I would not agree to this. My brother-in-law went into another room, and madame de Bearn began to unswathe her foot in my presence with the utmost caution and tenderness. I awaited the evidence of her falsehood, when, to my astonishment, I saw a horrible burn! I did not for a moment doubt, what was afterwards confirmed, namely, that madame de Bearn had actually perpetrated this, and maimed herself with her own free will. I mentally cursed her Roman courage, and would have sent my heroic godmother to the devil with all my heart.
Thus then was my presentation stopped by the foot of madame de Bearn. This mischance did not dampen the zeal of my friends. On the one hand, comte Jean, after having stirred heaven and earth, met with the comtesse d'Aloigny. She consented to become my godmother immediately after her own presentation, for eighty thousand livres and the expenses of the ceremony. But mesdames received her so unsatisfactorily, that my own feelings told me, I ought not to be presented at court under her auspices.
We thanked the comtesse d'Aloigny therefore, and sent her, as a remuneration, twenty thousand livres from the king.
Whilst comte Jean failed on one side, the duc d'Aiguillon succeeded on another. He was someway related to madame de Bearn. He went to visit her, and made her understand that, as the Choiseuls neither gave nor promised her anything, she would be wrong in declaring for them: that, on the other hand, if she declared for me, I could procure for her the favor of the king. Madame de Bearn yielded to his persuasions, and charged the duc d'Aiguillon to say to me, and even herself wrote, that she put herself entirely into my hands; and that, as soon as she was well, I might rely on her. What, I believe, finally decided this lady was, the fear that if she did not comply with what I required, I should content myself with the comtesse d'Aloigny.
Now assured of my introductress, I only directed my attention to the final obstacle of my presentation; I mean the displeasure of mesdames. I do not speak of madame Louise, of whom I can only write in terms of commendation; but I had opposed to me mesdames Victoire and Sophie, and especially madame Adelaide, who, as the eldest, gave them their plan of conduct. This latter, who had given too much cause to be spoken of herself to have any right to talk of others, never ceased haranguing about the scandal of my life; and I had recently, unknown to myself, fallen into complete disgrace with her. This is the case.
The apartment from which I had dislodged M. de Noailles had been requested of the king by madame Adelaide. Ignorant of this I had installed myself there. I soon learned that I had offended the princess, and instantly hastened to offer her the apartments she wished to have. She came into them; but as it was necessary for me to be accommodated somewhere, the king gave me the former apartments of his daughter. This was what madame Adelaide called an act of tyranny; she made the chateau echo with her complaints: she said I had driven her out, that I wished to separate her from her sisters; that I should wean her father's affection entirely from her. Such injustice distressed me excessively. I sent to request the king to come to me; and when he entered I threw myself at his feet, entreating him to appease his daughter on any terms, and to let me go away, since I brought such trouble into his family.
The king, irritated at madame Adelaide 's conduct, went to her, and told her, in a private interview, that he would make certain matters public if she did not hold her tongue; and she, alarmed, ceased her clamor, or rather, contented herself in complaining in a lower key.
Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry -by- Baron Etienne Leon Lamothe-Langon