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He immediately issued the necessary orders for suspending the execution of the sentence, which M. de Mandeville lost no time in communicating to the poor girl, who, a very few days afterwards, received a full pardon, and was thus, in a manner, snatched from an unmerited and ignominious death. The musketeer requested permission to present my protegee to my notice. She really was a very pretty girl, her feelings overpowered her, and she fainted in her attempt to throw herself at my feet; I soon revived her by the aid of those restoratives which my staring people stupidly did not try to offer, and then to send her away perfectly happy and cheerful, I slipped into the pocket of her apron a rouleau of fifty louis which the king had given me for her use. And here I must remark, that this prince, avaricious as he naturally was, was yet always ready to perform a good action, and, indeed, in this respect, he possessed many excellent qualities to which no one has ever yet done justice. When I next saw the chancellor--"Do you know, my fair cousin," said he, "that if I wished to set you and the parliament quarreling together I need only just whisper in what manner you treat our laws?"
"Your laws," exclaimed I, "are barbarous edicts, made rather for tigers than for men. Your punishments are atrocious, nor do I see their application to correct a single malefactor; particularly in the case of this young girl it is abominable, and if the king would listen to me such savage edicts should not long remain unrepealed."
"That may do very well," replied M. de Maupeou, "some time hence, but not just now; ere our penal code can be revised we must have magistrates more supple than those who now dispute our slightest innovation; and if, by the grace of God, we can manage to make a clear house of them, why we may confidently anticipate the noblest results."
By these and similar insinuations the chancellor bespoke that aid and assistance which I afterwards so largely rendered him when he commenced the ruin of parliaments.
Upon another occasion my credit and influence were employed with equal success. The objects of my present exertions were the comte and comtesse de Louerne. Both husband and wife were deeply loaded with debts, a thing common enough with the nobility of the time; these debts they never paid, another thing by no means unusual; their creditors, whose flinty hearts were but little moved by the considerations of their rank and high blood, sent officers to enforce payment, when the Louernes opposed them with positive force and violence, and the laws, thus outraged, condemned them to suffer death. In vain did persons of the highest rank in the kingdom intercede in their behalf, imploring of the chancellor to interpose with the king; altho' deaf to every other entreaty he instantly granted a reprieve at my solicitation, declaring I was the only person who could have effected so much in behalf of the distressed culprits, as well as being the only source thro' which the king's mercy could be obtained.
Immediately upon this notification, I was waited upon by the comtesse de Moyau, their daughter, and the baronne d'Heldorf, their daughter-in-law; both these ladies came to me in the deepest sorrow, and I mingled my sighs and tears with those they so plentifully shed; but this was rendering poor service, and if I desired to aid their cause it was requisite I should speak to the king, who was little disposed to show any indulgence in such cases, and was never known to pass over any attempts on the part of the nobility to resist the laws; he looked with horror on every prospect of the return of those times which he hoped and believed were passed and gone never to return. I well knew his sentiments on the subject, and yet, trusting to my great influence over his mind, I did not despair of success; besides Chon, my sister-in-law, was constantly reminding me that people of a certain rank should support one another, and that now was the time or never. I therefore resolved upon befriending the daughters of comte de Louerne to the utmost of my power, and for that purpose I placed them both in a corner of the drawing-room so as to catch the king's eye as he entered; he observed them, and inquired who those two ladies were. "Sire," replied I, "they are the heart-broken daughters of the comte and comtesse de Louerne, who implore clemency of your majesty to save the lives of the authors of their being."
"Ah!" returned he, "madame, you know I can do nothing against the law which they have offended."
At these cruel words the two young ladies threw themselves at his feet, exclaiming, "Pardon, pardon, sire; in the name of heaven and your illustrious ancestors."
"Rise, ladies," said the king; "I would willingly serve you, but I have not the power."
"No, sire," cried I, "you must not, you cannot refuse our united prayers; and I here vow to remain kneeling at your feet till your lips shall pronounce the word which shall restore life and happiness to so many afflicted hearts."
"Madame," said the king, altho' in a tone less firm, "you force me to do what my principles condemn; but since it must be so, I yield; and only rejoice that the first personal favor you request of me is to perform an act of beneficence. Ladies," added he, turning towards the comtesse de Moyau and her sister-in-law, "you owe the lives of your parents to the generous mediation of the comtesse du Barry."
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Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry -by- Baron Etienne Leon Lamothe-Langon