I have never admired those general lovers who profess to love every one, nor do I feel quite sure it is a very strong recommendation to say a person is beloved by all who know her. Read, now, a striking contrast to the short but sympathizing billet of madame d'Aiguillon, in the following heartless letter f from the marechale de Mirepoix, which was put into my hands as I was ascending the carriage.
"MY LOVELY COUNTESS,--I am all astonishment! Can it be possible that you are to quit Versailles? You are right in saying you have been the friend of every one, and those who could speak ill of you are to be pitied for not having had better opportunities of understanding your real character. But fear not, the dauphiness is virtue personified, and the dauphin equally perfect. Every thing promises a peaceful and indulgent reign, should we have the misfortune to lose his present majesty. Still there will always be a great void left at Versailles; as far as I am concerned, I have passed so much of my time with you, that I cannot imagine what I shall do with my evenings; it will cost me much of my age to alter habits and customs now so long fixed and settled, but such is life; nothing certain, nothing stable. We should imitate cats in our attachments, and rather identify ourselves with the house than the possessor of it. I trust you have secured an ample provision for the future; neglect not the present, to-morrow may come in vain for you.
"Be sure you let me know the spot to which you permanently retire, and I will endeavour to see you as frequently as my engagements will admit of.
Spite of the bitterness of my feelings, this letter drew a smile to my lips; the allusion to cats which had escaped the marechale exactly applied to her own character, of which I had been warned before I became acquainted with her; but her protestations of warm and unutterable attachment had gained my confidence, and I allowed myself to be guided implicitly by her.
The duchesse d'Aiguillon was waiting for me while I perused the above letter; at length, with a sigh, I prepared to quit that palace of delights where I had reigned absolute mistress. I cast a mournful look around me, on those splendid walks, fountains and statues, worthy the gardens of Armida, but where there reigned, at this early hour, a sort of gloomy silence; whilst, in that chamber where love had well nigh deified me and recognised me as queen of France, lay extended the monarch so lately my protector and friend.
It was the Wednesday of the fifth of May that I took my seat in the carriage of the duchesse d'Aiguillon accompanied by my sister-in-law and the vicomtesse Adolphe, who would not forsake me. Bischi remained with madame d'Hargicourt, whose duties detained her with the comtesse d'Artois. Her husband also remained at Versailles, while comte Jean and his son proceeded to Paris. I will not attempt to describe the emotions with which I quitted my magnificent suite of apartments, and traversed the halls and staircases already crowded by persons anxiously awaiting the first intimation of the king's decease. I was wrapped in my pelisse, and effectually eluded observation. It has been said that I left Versailles at four o'clock in the morning, but that was a mere invention on the part of my servants to baffle the curiosity of those who might have annoyed me by their presence.
We pursued our way in mournful reflection, whilst madame d'Aiguillon, with her wonted goodness, sought by every means to distract me from the dejection in which I was buried. Her husband, who remained with the king, engaged to write me a true account of all that transpired during my absence, and I shall very shortly present you with a specimen of the fidelity with which he performed his promise. The duchess did the honours of Ruel.
"Here," said she, "the great cardinal Richelieu loved to repose himself from the bustle and turmoil of a court."
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