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Author: Yonge, Charles Duke, 1812-1891
Title: The Life of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): marie antoinette; antoinette; maria teresa; louis; queen; marie; madame; king; assembly; paris
Contributor(s): Kleiser, Grenville, 1868-1953 [Editor]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 197,335 words (longer than most) Grade range: 15-18 (college) Readability score: 43 (average)
Identifier: etext10555
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Title: The Life of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France

Author: Charles Duke Yonge

Release Date: January 1, 2004 [EBook #10555]
[Date last updated: October 8, 2005]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Anne Soulard, Michigan University, Joshua Hutchinson and
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[Illustration: Marie Antoinette]





The principal authorities for the following work are the four volumes of
Correspondence published by M. Arneth, and the six volumes published by M.
Feuillet de Conches. M. Arneth's two collections[1] contain not only a
number of letters which passed between the queen, her mother the Empress-
queen (Maria Teresa), and her brothers Joseph and Leopold, who
successively became emperors after the death of their father; but also a
regular series of letters from the imperial embassador at Paris, the Count
Mercy d'Argenteau, which may almost be said to form a complete history of
the court of France, especially in all the transactions in which Marie
Antoinette, whether as dauphiness or queen, was concerned, till the death
of Maria Teresa, at Christmas, 1780. The correspondence with her two
brothers, the emperors Joseph and Leopold, only ceases with the death of
the latter in March, 1792.

The collection published by M. Feuillet de Conches[2] has been vehemently
attacked, as containing a series of clever forgeries rather than of
genuine letters. And there does seem reason to believe that in a few
instances, chiefly in the earlier portion of the correspondence, the
critical acuteness of the editor was imposed upon, and that some of the
letters inserted were not written by the persons alleged to be the
authors. But of the majority of the letters there seems no solid ground
for questioning the authenticity. Indeed, in the later and more important
portion of the correspondence, that which belongs to the period after the
death of the Empress-queen, the genuineness of the Queen's letters is
continually supported by the collection of M. Arneth, who has himself
published many of them, having found them in the archives at Vienna, where
M.F. de Conches had previously copied them,[3] and who refers to others,
the publication of which did not come within his own plan. M. Feuillet de
Conches' work also contains narratives of some of the most important
transactions after the commencement of the Revolution, which are of great
value, as having been compiled from authentic sources.

Besides these collections, the author has consulted the lives of Marie
Antoinette by Montjoye, Lafont d'Aussonne, Chambrier, and the MM.
Goncourt; "La Vraie Marie Antoinette" of M. Lescure; the Memoirs of Mme.
Campan, Clery, Hue, the Duchesse d'Angouleme, Bertrand de Moleville
("Memoires Particuliers"), the Comte de Tilly, the Baron de Besenval, the
Marquis de la Fayette, the Marquise de Crequy, the Princess Lamballe; the
"Souvenirs de Quarante Ans," by Mlle. de Tourzel; the "Diary" of M. de
Viel Castel; the correspondence of Mme. du Deffand; the account of the
affair of the necklace by M. de Campardon; the very valuable
correspondence between the Count de la Marck and Mirabeau, which also
contains a narrative by the Count de la Marck of many very important
incidents; Dumont's "Souvenirs sur Mirabeau;" "Beaumarchais et son Temps,"
by M. de Lomenie; "Gustavus III. et la Cour de Paris," by M. Geoffroy;
the first seven volumes of the Histoire de la Terreur, by M. Mortimer
Ternaux; Dr. Moore's journal of his visit to France, and view of the
French Revolution; and a great number of other works in which there is
cursory mention of different incidents, especially in the earlier part of
the Revolution; such as the journals of Arthur Young, Madame de Stael's
elaborate treatise on the Revolution; several articles in the last series
of the "Causeries de Lundi," by Sainte-Beuve, and others in the _Revue des
Deux Mondes_, etc., etc., and to those may of course be added the regular
histories of Lacretelle, Sismondi, Martin, and Lamartine's "History of the



Importance of Marie Antoinette in the Revolution.--Value of her
Correspondence as a Means of estimating her Character.--Her Birth,
November 2d, 1755.--Epigram of Metastasio.--Habits of the Imperial
Family.--Schoenbrunn.--Death of the Emperor.--Projects for the Marriage of
the Archduchess.--Her Education.--The Abbe de Vermond.--Metastasio.--


Proposal for the Marriage of Marie Antoinette to the Dauphin.--Early
Education of the Dauphin.--The Archduchess leaves Vienna in April, 1770.--
Her Reception at Strasburg.--She meets the King at Compiegne.--The
Marriage takes place May 16th, 1770.


Feelings in Germany and France on the Subject of the Marriage.--Letter of
Maria Teresa to the Dauphin.--Characters of the Different Members of the
Royal Family.--Difficulties which beset Marie Antoinette.--Maria Teresa's
Letter of Advice.--The Comte de Mercy is sent as Embassador to France
to act as the Adviser of the Dauphiness.--The Princesse de Lorraine at
the State Ball.--A Great Disaster takes place at the Fire-works in Paris.
--The Peasant at Fontainebleau.--Marie Antoinette pleases the King.--
Description of her Personal Appearance.--Mercy's Report of the Impression
she made on her First Arrival.


Marie Antoinette gives her Mother her First Impressions of the Court and
of her own Position and Prospects.--Court Life at Versailles.--Marie
Antoinette shows her Dislike of Etiquette.--Character of the Duc
d'Aiguillon.--Cabals against the Dauphiness.--Jealousy of Mme. du Barri.--
The Aunts, too, are Jealous of Her.--She becomes more and more Popular.--
Parties for Donkey-riding.--Scantiness of the Dauphiness's Income.--Her
Influence over the King.--The Duc de Choiseul is dismissed.--She begins
to have Great Influence over the Dauphin.


Mercy's Correspondence with the Empress.--Distress and Discontent pervade
France.--Goldsmith predicts a Revolution.--Apathy of the King.--The
Aunts mislead Marie Antoinette.--Maria Teresa hears that the Dauphiness
neglects her German Visitors.--Marriage of the Count de Provence.--Growing
Preference of Louis XV. for the Dauphiness.--The Dauphiness applies
herself to Study.--Marie Antoinette becomes a Horsewoman.--Her Kindness
to all beneath her.--Cabals of the Adherents of the Mistress.--The
Royal Family become united.--Concerts in the Apartments of the Dauphiness.


Marie Antoinette wishes to see Paris.--Intrigues of Madame Adelaide.--
Characters of the Dauphin and the Count de Provence.--Grand Review at
Fontainebleau.--Marie Antoinette in the Hunting Field.--Letter from her to
the Empress. Mischievous Influence of the Dauphin's Aunts on her
Character.--Letter of Marie Antoinette to the Empress.--Her Affection for
her Old Home.--The Princes are recalled from Exile.--Lord Stormont.--Great
Fire at the Hotel-Dieu.--Liberality of Charity of Marie Antoinette.--She
goes to the Bal d'Opera.--Her Feelings about the Partition of Poland.--The
King discusses Politics with her, and thinks highly of her Ability.


Marie Antoinette is anxious for the Maintenance of the Alliance between
France and Austria.--She, with the Dauphin, makes a State Entry into
Paris.--The "Dames de la Halle."--She praises the Courtesy of the
Dauphin.--Her Delight at the Enthusiasm of the Citizens.--She, with the
Dauphin, goes to the Theatre, and to the Fair of St. Ovide, and to St.
Cloud.--Is enthusiastically received everywhere.--She learns to drive.
--She makes some Relaxations in Etiquette.--Marriage of the Comte
d'Artois.--The King's Health grows Bad.--Visit of Marshal Lacy to
Versailles.--The King catches the Small-pox.--Madame du Barri quits
Versailles.--The King dies.


The Court leaves Versailles for La Muette.--Feelings of the New
Sovereigns.--Madame du Barri is sent to a Convent.--Marie Antoinette
writes to Maria Teresa.--The Good Intentions of the New Sovereigns.--
Madame Adelaide has the Small-pox.--Anxieties of Maria Teresa.--
Mischievous Influence of the Aunts.--Position and Influence of the Count
de Mercy.--Louis consults the Queen on Matters of Policy.--Her Prudence.--
She begins to Purify the Court, and to relax the Rules of Etiquette.--Her
Care of her Pages.--The King and she renounce the Gifts of Le Joyeux
Avenement, and La Ceinture de la Reine.--She procures the Pardon of the
Duc de Choiseul.


The Comte de Provence intrigues against the Queen.--The King gives her the
Little Trianon.--She lays out an English Garden.--Maria Teresa cautions
her against Expense.--The King and Queen abolish some of the Old Forms.--
The Queen endeavors to establish Friendships with some of her Younger
Ladies.--They abuse her Favor.--Her Eagerness for Amusement.--Louis
enters into her Views.--Etiquette is abridged.--Private Parties at
Choisy.--Supper Parties.--Opposition of the Princesses.--Some of the
Courtiers are dissatisfied at the Relaxation of Etiquette.--Marie
Antoinette is accused of Austrian Preferences.


Settlement of the Queen's Allowance.--Character and Views of Turgot.--She
induces Gluck to visit Paris.--Performance of his Opera of "Iphigenie
en Aulide."--The First Encore.--Marie Antoinette advocates the
Re-establishment of the Parliaments, and receives an Address from them.--
English Visitors at the Court.--The King is compared to Louis XII. and
Henri IV.--The Archduke Maximilian visits his Sister.--Factious Conduct of
the Princes of the Blood.--Anti-Austrian Feeling in Paris.--The War of
Grains.--The King is crowned at Rheims.--Feelings of Marie Antoinette.--
Her Improvements at the Trianon.--Her Garden Parties there.--Description
of her Beauty by Burke, and by Horace Walpole.


Tea is introduced.--Horse-racing of Count d'Artois.--Marie Antoinette goes
to see it.--The Queen's Submissiveness to the Reproofs of the Empress.--
Birth of the Duc d'Angouleme.--She at times speaks lightly of the King.--
The Emperor remonstrates with her.--Character of some of the Queen's
Friends.--The Princess de Lamballe.--The Countess Jules de Polignac.--They
set the Queen against Turgot.--She procures his Dismissal.--She
gratifies Madame Polignac's Friends.--Her Regard for the French People.--
Water Parties on the Seine.--Her Health is Delicate.--Gambling at
the Palace.


Marie Antoinette finds herself in Debt.--Forgeries of her Name are
committed.--The Queen devotes herself too much to Madame de Polignac and
others.--Versailles is less frequented.--Remonstrances of the Empress.--
Volatile Character of the Queen.--She goes to the Bals d'Opera at Paris.--
She receives the Duke of Dorset and other English Nobles with Favor.--
Grand Entertainment given her by the Count de Provence.--Character of
the Emperor Joseph.--He visits Paris and Versailles.--His Feelings toward
and Conversations with the King and Queen.--He goes to the Opera.--His
Opinion of the Queen's Friends.--Marie Antoinette's Letter to the
Empress on his Departure.--The Emperor leaves her a Letter of Advice.


Impressions made on the Queen by the Emperor's Visit.--Mutual Jealousies
of her Favorites.--The Story of the Chevalier d'Assas.--The Terrace
Concerts at Versailles.--More Inroads on Etiquette.--Insolence and
Unpopularity of the Count d'Artois.--Marie Antoinette takes Interest in
Politics.--France concludes an Alliance with the United States.--Affairs
of Bavaria.--Character of the Queen's Letters on Politics.--The Queen
expects to become a Mother.--Voltaire returns to Paris.--The Queen
declines to receive him.--Misconduct of the Duke of Orleans in the Action
off Ushant.--The Queen uses her Influence in his Favor.


Birth of Madame Royale.--Festivities of Thanksgiving.--The Dames de la
Halle at the Theatre.--Thanksgiving at Notre Dame.--The King goes to a Bal
d'Opera.--The Queen's Carriage breaks down.--Marie Antoinette has the
Measles.--Her Anxiety about the War.--Retrenchments of Expense.


Anglomania in Paris.--The Winter at Versailles.--Hunting.--Private
Theatricals.--Death of Prince Charles of Lorraine.--Successes of the
English in America.--Education of the Duc d'Angouleme.--Libelous Attacks
on the Queen.--Death of the Empress.--Favor shown some of the Swedish
Nobles.--The Count de Fersen.--Necker retires from Office.--His Character.


The Queen expects to be confined again.--Increasing Unpopularity of the
King's Brothers.--Birth of the Dauphin.--Festivities.--Deputations from
the Different Trades.--Songs of the Dames de la Halle.--Ball given by the
Body-guard,--Unwavering Fidelity of the Regiment.--The Queen offers up
her Thanksgiving at Notre Dame.--Banquet at the Hotel de Ville.--
Rejoicings in Paris.


Madame de Guimenee resigns the Office of Governess of the Royal
Children.--Madame de Polignac succeeds her.--Marie Antoinette's Views of
Education.--Character of Madame Royale.--The Grand Duke Paul and his Grand
Duchess visit the French Court.--Their Characters.--Entertainments given
in their Honor.--Insolence of the Cardinal de Rohan.--His Character and
previous Life.--Grand Festivities at Chantilly.--Events of the War.--
Rodney defeats De Grasse.--The Siege of Gibraltar fails.--M. de Suffrein
fights five Drawn Battles with Sir E. Hughes in the Indian Seas.--The
Queen receives him with Great Honor on his Return.


Peace is re-established.--Embarrassments of the Ministry.--Distress of the
Kingdom.--M. de Calonne becomes Finance Minister.--The Winter of
1783-'84 is very Severe.--The Queen devotes Large Sums to Charity.--Her
Political Influence increases.--Correspondence between the Emperor and
her on European Politics.--The State of France.--The Baron de Breteuil.--
Her Description of the Character of the King.


"The Marriage of Figaro."--Previous History and Character of
Beaumarchais.--The Performance of the Play is forbidden.--It is said to be
a little altered.--It is licensed.--Displeasure of the Queen.--Visit of
Gustavus III. of Sweden.--Fete at the Trianon.--Balloon Ascent.


St. Cloud is purchased for the Queen.--Libelous Attacks on her.--Birth of
the Duc de Normandie.--Joseph presses her to make France support his
Views in the Low Countries.--The Affair of the Necklace.--Share which the
Cardinal de Rohan had in it.--The Queen's Indignation at his Acquittal.--
Subsequent Career of the Cardinal.


The King visits Cherbourg.--Rarity of Royal Journeys.--The Princess
Christine visits the Queen.--Hostility of the Duc d'Orleans to the Queen.
--Libels on her.--She is called Madame Deficit.--She has a Second
Daughter, who dies.--Ill Health of the Dauphin.--Unskillfulness and
Extravagance of Calonne's System of Finance.--Distress of the Kingdom.--He
assembles the Notables.--They oppose his Plans.--Letters of Marie
Antoinette on the Subject.--Her Ideas of the English Parliament.--
Dismissal of Calonne.--Character of Archbishop Lomenie de Brienne.--
Obstinacy of Necker.--The Archbishop is appointed Minister.--The Distress
increases.--The Notables are dissolved.--Violent Opposition of the
Parliament.--Resemblance of the French Revolution to the English Rebellion
of 1642.--Arrest of D'Espremesnil and Montsabert.


Formidable Riots take place in some Provinces.--The Archbishop invites
Necker to join his Ministry.--Letter of Marie Antoinette describing her
Interview with the Archbishop, and her Views.--Necker refuses.--The
Queen sends Messages to Necker.--The Archbishop resigns, and Necker
becomes Minister.--The Queen's View of his Character.--General Rejoicing.
--Defects in Necker's Character.--He recalls the Parliament.--Riots in
Paris.--Severe Winter.--General Distress.--Charities of the King and
Queen.--Gratitude of the Citizens.--The Princes are concerned in the
Libels published against the Queen.--Preparations for the Meeting of the
States-general.--Long Disuse of that Assembly.--Need of Reform.--Vices
of the Old Feudal System.--Necker's Blunders in the Arrangements for the
Meeting of the States.--An Edict of the King concedes the Chief Demands
of the Commons.--Views of the Queen.


The Reveillon Riot.--Opening of the States-general.--The Queen is insulted
by the Partisans of the Duc d'Orleans.--Discussions as to the Number of
Chambers.--Career and Character of Mirabeau.--Necker rejects his Support.
--He determines to revenge himself.--Death of the Dauphin.


Troops are brought up from the Frontier.--The Assembly petitions the King
to withdraw them.--He refuses.--Ho dismisses Necker.--The Baron de
Breteuil is appointed Prime Minister.--Terrible Riots in Paris.--The
Tricolor Flag is adopted.--Storming of the Bastile and Murder of the
Governor.--The Count d'Artois and other Princes fly from the Kingdom.--The
King recalls Necker.--Withdraws the Soldiers and visits Paris.--Formation
of the National Guard.--Insolence of La Fayette and Bailly.--Madame
de Tourzel becomes Governess of the Royal Children.--Letters of Marie
Antoinette on their Character, and on her own Views of Education.


Necker resumes Office.--Outrages in the Provinces.--Pusillanimity of the
Body of the Nation.--Parties in the Assembly.--Views of the
Constitutionalists or "Plain."--Barnave makes Overtures to the Court.--The
Queen rejects them.--The Assembly abolishes all Privileges, August
4th.--Debates on the Veto.--An Attack on Versailles is threatened.--Great
Scarcity in Paris.--The King sends his Plate to be melted down.--The
Regiment of Flanders is brought up to Versailles.--A Military Banquet
is held in the Opera-house.--October 5th, a Mob from Paris marches
on Versailles.--Blunders of La Fayette.--Ferocity of the Mob on the 5th.
--Attack on the Palace on the 6th.--Danger and Heroism of the Queen.--The
Royal Family remove to Paris.--Their Reception at the Barrier and
at the Hotel de Ville.--Shabbiness of the Tuileries.--The King fixes his
Residence there.


Feelings of Marie Antoinette on coming to the Tuileries.--Her Tact in
winning the Hearts of the Common People.--Mirabeau changes his Views.--
Quarrel between La Fayette and the Duc d'Orleans.--Mirabeau desires to
offer his Services to the Queen.--Riots in Paris.--Murder of Francois.--
The Assembly pass a Vote prohibiting any Member from taking Office.--The
Emigration.--Death of the Emperor Joseph II.--Investigation into
the Riots of October.--The Queen refuses to give Evidence.--Violent
Proceedings in the Assembly.--Execution of the Marquis de Favras.


The King accepts the Constitution so far as it has been settled.--The
Queen makes a Speech to the Deputies.--She is well received at the
Theatre.--Negotiations with Mirabeau.--The Queen's Views of the Position
of Affairs.--The Jacobin Club denounces Mirabeau.--Deputation of
Anacharsis Clootz.--Demolition of the Statue of Louis XIV.--Abolition of
Titles of Honor.--The Queen admits Mirabeau to an Audience.--His
Admiration of her Courage and Talents.--Anniversary of the Capture of the
Bastile.--Fete of the Champ de Mars.--Presence of Mind of the Queen.


Great Tumults in the Provinces.--Mutiny in the Marquis de Bouille's Army.
--Disorder of the Assembly.--Difficulty of managing Mirabeau.--Mercy is
removed to The Hague.--Marie Antoinette sees constant Changes in the
Aspect of Affairs.--Marat denounces Her.--Attempts are made to assassinate
Her.--Resignation of Mirabeau.--Misconduct of the Emigrant Princes.


Louis and Marie Antoinette contemplate Foreign Intervention.--The Assembly
passes Laws to subordinate the Church to the Civil Power.--Insolence
of La Fayette.--Marie Antoinette refuses to quit France by Herself.--The
Jacobins and La Fayette try to revive the Story of the Necklace.--Marie
Antoinette with her Family.--Flight from Paris is decided on.--The Queen's
Preparations and Views.--An Oath to observe the new Ecclesiastical
Constitution is imposed on the Clergy.--The King's Aunts leave France.


The Mob attacks the Castle at Vincennes.--La Fayette saves it.--He insults
the Nobles who come to protect the King.--Perverseness of the Count
d'Artois and the Emigrants.--Mirabeau dies.--General Sorrow for his
Death.--He would probably not have been able to arrest the Revolution.--
The Mob prevent the King from visiting St. Cloud.--The Assembly passes a
Vote to forbid him to go more than twenty Leagues from Paris.


Plans for the Escape of the Royal Family.--Dangers of Discovery.--
Resolution of the Queen.--The Royal Family leave the Palace.--They are
recognized at Ste. Menehould.--Are arrested at Varennes.--Tumult in the
City, and in the Assembly.--The King and Queen are brought back to Paris.


Marie Antoinette's Feelings on her Return.--She sees Hopes of
Improvement.--The 17th of July.--The Assembly inquire into the King's
Conduct on leaving Paris.--They resolve that there is no Reason for taking
Proceedings.--Excitement in Foreign Countries.--The Assembly proceeds to
complete the Constitution.--It declares all the Members Incapable of
Election to the New Assembly.--Letters of Marie Antoinette to the Emperor
and to Mercy.--The Declaration of Pilnitz.--The King accepts the
Constitution.--Insults offered to him at the Festival of the Champ de
Mars.--And to the Queen at the Theatre.--The First or Constituent Assembly
is dissolved.


Composition of the New Assembly.--Rise of the Girondins.--Their Corruption
and Eventual Fate.--Vergniaud's Motions against the King.--Favorable
Reception of the King at the Assembly, and at the Opera.--Changes
in the Ministry.--The King's and Queen's Language to M. Bertrand de
Moleville.--The Count de Narbonne.--Petion is elected Mayor of Paris.--
Scarcity of Money, and Great Hardships of the Royal  Family.--Presents
arrive from Tippoo Sahib.--The Dauphin.--The Assembly passes Decrees
against the Priests and the Emigrants.--Misconduct of the Emigrants.--
Louis refuses his Assent to the Decrees.--He issues a Circular condemning


Death of Leopold.--Murder of Gustavus of Sweden--Violence of Vergniaud.--
The Ministers resign.--A Girondin Ministry is appointed.--Character of
Dumouriez.--Origin of the Name Sans-culottes.--Union of Different Parties
against the Queen.--War is declared against the Empire.--Operations in
the Netherlands.--Unskillfulness of La Fayette.--The King falls into a
State of Torpor.--Fresh Libels on the Queen.--Barnave's Advice.--Dumouriez
has an Audience of the Queen.--Dissolution of the Constitutional
Guard.--Formation of a Camp near Paris.--Louis adheres to his Refusal
to assent to the Decree against the Priests.--Dumouriez resigns his
Office, and takes command of the Army.


The Insurrection of June 20th.


Feelings of Marie Antoinette.--Different Plans are formed for her Escape.
--She hopes for Aid from Austria and Prussia.--La Fayette comes to Paris.
--His Mismanagement--An Attempt is made to assassinate the Queen.--The
Motion of Bishop Lamourette.--The Feast of the Federation.--La Fayette
proposes a Plan for the King's Escape.--Bertrand proposes Another.--Both
are rejected by the Queen.


Preparation for a New Insurrection.--Barbaroux brings up a Gang from
Marseilles.--The King's last Levee.--The Assembly rejects a Motion for the
Impeachment of La Fayette.--It removes some Regiments from Paris.--
Preparations of the Court for Defense.--The 10th of August.--The City
is in Insurrection.--Murder of Mandat.--Louis reviews the Guards.--He
takes Refuge with the Assembly.--Massacre of the Swiss Guards.--Sack
of the Tuileries.--Discussions in the Assembly.--The Royal Authority is


Indignities to which the Royal Family are subjected.--They are removed to
the Temple.--Divisions in the Assembly.--Flight of La Fayette.--Advance
of the Prussians.--Lady Sutherland supplies the Dauphin with Clothes.--
Mode of Life in the Temple.--The Massacres of September.--The Death of
the Princess de Lamballe.--Insults are heaped on the King and Queen.--The
Trial of the King.--His Last Interview with his Family.--His Death.


The Queen is refused Leave to see Clery.--Madame Royale is taken Ill.--
Plans are formed for the Queen's Escape by MM. Jarjayes, Toulan, and by
the Baron de Batz.--Marie Antoinette refuses to leave her Son.--Illness
of the young King.--Overthrow of the Girondins.--Insanity of the Woman
Tison.--Kindness of the Queen to her.--Her Son is taken from her, and
intrusted to Simon.--His Ill-treatment.--The Queen is removed to the
Conciergerie.--She is tried before the Revolutionary Tribunal.--She is
condemned.--Her last Letter to the Princess Elizabeth.--Her Death and




Importance of Marie Antoinette in the Revolution.--Value of her
Correspondence as a Means of estimating her Character.--Her Birth,
November 2d, 1755.--Epigram of Metastasio.--Habits of the Imperial
Family.--Schoenbrunn.--Death of the Emperor.--Projects for the Marriage of
the Archduchess.--Her Education.--The Abbe de Vermond.--Metastasio.--

The most striking event in the annals of modern Europe is unquestionably
the French Revolution of 1789--a Revolution which, in one sense, may be
said to be still in progress, but which, is a more limited view, may be
regarded as having been, consummated by the deposition and murder of the
sovereign of the country. It is equally undeniable that, during its first
period, the person who most attracts and rivets attention is the queen.
One of the moat brilliant of modern French writers[1] has recently
remarked that, in spite of the number of years which have elapsed since
the grave closed over the sorrows of Marie Antoinette, and of the almost
unbroken series of exciting events which have marked the annals of France
in the interval, the interest excited by her story is as fresh and
engrossing as ever; that such as Hecuba and Andromache were to the
ancients, objects never named to inattentive ears, never contemplated
without lively sympathy, such still is their hapless queen to all honest
and intelligent Frenchmen. It may even be said that that interest has
increased of late years. The respectful and remorseful pity which her fate
could not fail to awaken has been quickened by the publication of her
correspondence with her family and intimate friends, which has laid bare,
without disguise, all her inmost thoughts and feelings, her errors as well
as her good deeds, her weaknesses equally with her virtues. Few, indeed,
even of those whom the world regards with its highest favor and esteem,
could endure such an ordeal without some diminution of their fame. Yet it
is but recording the general verdict of all whose judgment is of value, to
affirm that Marie Antoinette has triumphantly surmounted it; and that the
result of a scrutiny as minute and severe as any to which a human being
has ever been subjected, has been greatly to raise her reputation.

Not that she was one of those paragons whom painters of model heroines
have delighted to imagine to themselves; one who from childhood gave
manifest indications of excellence and greatness, and whose whole life was
but a steady progressive development of its early promise. She was rather
one in whom adversity brought forth great qualities, her possession of
which, had her life been one of that unbroken sunshine which is regarded
by many as the natural and inseparable attendant of royalty, might never
have been even suspected. We meet with her first, at an age scarcely
advanced beyond childhood, transported from her school-room to a foreign
court, as wife to the heir of one of the noblest kingdoms of Europe. And
in that situation we see her for a while a light-hearted, merry girl,
annoyed rather than elated by her new magnificence; thoughtless, if not
frivolous, in her pursuits; fond of dress; eager in her appetite for
amusement, tempered only by an innate purity of feeling which never
deserted her; the brightest features of her character being apparently a
frank affability, and a genuine and active kindness and humanity which
were displayed to all classes and on all occasions. We see her presently
as queen, hardly yet arrived at womanhood, little changed in disposition
or in outward demeanor, though profiting to the utmost by the
opportunities which her increased power afforded her of proving the
genuine tenderness of her heart, by munificent and judicious works of
charity and benevolence; and exerting her authority, if possible, still
more beneficially by protecting virtue, discountenancing vice, and
purifying a court whose shameless profligacy had for many generations been
the scandal of Christendom. It is probable, indeed, that much of her early
levity was prompted by a desire to drive from her mind disappointments and
mortifications of which few suspected the existence, but which were only
the more keenly felt because she was compelled to keep them to herself;
but it is certain that during the first eight or ten years of her
residence in France there was little in her habits and conduct, however
amiable and attractive, which could have led her warmest friends to
discern in her the high qualities which she was destined to exhibit before
its close.

Presently, however, she becomes a mother; and in this new relation we
begin to perceive glimpses of a loftier nature. From the moment of the
birth of her first child, she performed those new duties which, perhaps
more than any others, call forth all the best and most peculiar virtues of
the female heart in such a manner as to add esteem and respect to the
good-will which her affability and courtesy had already inspired;
recognizing to the full the claims which the nation had upon her, that
she should, in person, superintend the education of her children, and
especially of her son as its future ruler; and discharging that sacred
duty, not only with the most affectionate solicitude, but also with the
most admirable judgment.

But years so spent were years of happiness; and, though such may suffice
to display the amiable virtues, it is by adversity that the grander
qualities of the head and heart are more strikingly drawn forth. To the
trials of that stern inquisitress, Marie Antoinette was fully exposed in
her later years; and not only did she rise above them, but the more
terrible and unexampled they were, the more conspicuous was the
superiority of her mind to fortune. It is no exaggeration to say that the
history of the whole world has preserved no record of greater heroism, in
either sex, than was shown by Marie Antoinette during the closing years of
her life. No courage was ever put to the proof by such a variety and such
an accumulation of dangers and miseries; and no one ever came out of an
encounter with even far inferior calamities with greater glory. Her moral
courage and her physical courage were equally tried. It was not only that
her own life, and lives far dearer to her than her own, were exposed to
daily and hourly peril, or that to this danger were added repeated
vexations of hopes baffled and trusts betrayed; but these griefs were
largely aggravated by the character and conduct of those nearest to her.
Instead of meeting with counsel and support from her husband and his
brothers, she had to guide and support Louis himself, and even to find him
so incurably weak as to be incapable of being kept in the path of wisdom
by her sagacity, or of deriving vigor from her fortitude; while the
princes were acting in selfish and disloyal opposition to him, and so, in
a great degree, sacrificing him and her to their perverse conceit, if we
may not say to their faithless ambition. She had to think for all, to act
for all, to struggle for all; and to beat up against the conviction that
her thoughts, and actions, and struggles were being balked of their effect
by the very persona for whom she was exerting herself; that she was but
laboring to save those who would not be saved. Yet, throughout that
protracted agony of more than four years she bore herself with an
unswerving righteousness of purpose and an unfaltering fearlessness of
resolution which could not have been exceeded had she been encouraged by
the most constant success. And in the last terrible hours, when the
monsters who had already murdered her husband were preparing the same fate
for herself, she met their hatred and ferocity with a loftiness of spirit
which even hopelessness could not subdue. Long before, she had declared
that she had learned, from the example of her mother, not to fear death;
and she showed that this was no empty boast when she rose in the last
scenes of her life as much even above her earlier displays of courage and
magnanimity as she also rose above the utmost malice of her vile enemies.

    *    *    *    *    *

Marie Antoinette Josephe Jeanne was the youngest daughter of Francis,
originally Duke of Lorraine, afterward Grand Duke of Tuscany, and
eventually Emperor of Germany, and of Maria Teresa, Archduchess of
Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, more generally known, after the
attainment of the imperial dignity by her husband in 1745, as the Empress-
queen. Of her brothers, two, Joseph and Leopold, succeeded in turn to the
imperial dignity; and one of her sisters, Caroline, became the wife of the
King of Naples. She was born on the 2d of November, 1755, a day which,
when her later years were darkened by misfortune, was often referred to as
having foreshadowed it by its evil omens, since it was that on which the
terrible earthquake which laid Lisbon in ruins reached its height. But, at
the time, the Viennese rejoiced too sincerely at every event which could
contribute to their sovereign's happiness to pay any regard to the
calamities of another capital, and the courtly poet was but giving
utterance to the unanimous feeling of her subjects when he spoke of the
princess's birth as calculated to diffuse universal joy. Daughters had
been by far the larger part of Maria Teresa's family, so that she was,
consequently, anxious for another son; and, knowing her wishes, the Duke
of Tarouka, one of the nobles whom she admitted to her intimacy, laid her
a small wager that they would be realized by the sex of the expected
infant. He lost his bet, but felt some embarrassment, in devising a
graceful mode of paying it. In his perplexity, he sought the advice of the
celebrated Metastasio, who had been for some time established at Vienna as
the favorite poet of the court, and the Italian, with the ready wit of his
country, at once supplied him with a quatrain, which, in her
disappointment itself, could mid ground for compliment:

  "Io perdei; l' augusta figlia
  A pagar m' ha condannato;
  Ma s'e ver che a voi somiglia,
  Tutto il mondo ha guadagnato."

The customs of the imperial court had undergone a great change since the
death of Charles VI. It had been pre-eminent for pompous ceremony, which
was thought to become the dignity of the sovereign who boasted of being
the representative of the Roman Caesars. But the Lorraine princes had been
bred up in a simpler fashion; and Francis had an innate dislike to all
ostentation, while Maria Teresa had her attention too constantly fixed on
matters of solid importance to have much leisure to spare for the
consideration of trifles. Both husband and wife greatly preferred to their
gorgeous palace at Vienna a smaller house which they possessed in the
neighborhood, called Schoenbrunn, where they could lay aside their state,
and enjoy the unpretending pleasures of domestic and rural life,
cultivating their garden, and, as far as the imperious calls of public
affairs would allow them time, watching over the education of their
children, to whom the example of their own tastes and habits was
imperceptibly affording the best of all lessons, a preference for simple
and innocent pleasures.

In this tranquil retreat, the childhood of Marie Antoinette was happily
passed; her bright looks, which already gave promise of future loveliness,
her quick intelligence, and her affectionate disposition combining to make
her the special favorite of her parents. It was she whom Francis, when
quitting his family in the summer of 1764 for that journey to Innspruck
which proved his last, specially ordered to be brought to him, saying, as
if he felt some foreboding of his approaching illness, that he must
embrace her once more before he departed; and his death, which took place
before she was nine years old, was the first sorrow which ever brought a
tear into her eyes.

The superintendence of her vast empire occupied a greater share of Maria
Teresa's attention than the management of her family. But as Marie
Antoinette grew up, the Empress-queen's ambition, ever on the watch to
maintain and augment the prosperity of her country, perceived in her
child's increasing attractions a prospect of cementing more closely an
alliance which she had contracted some years before, and on which she
prided herself the more because it had terminated an enmity of two
centuries and a half. From the day on which Charles V, prevailed over
Francis I. in the competition for the imperial crown, the attitude of the
Emperor of Germany and of the King of France to each other had been one of
mutual hostility, which, with but rare exceptions, had been greatly in
favor of the latter country. The very first years of Maria Teresa's own
reign had been imbittered by the union of France with Prussia in a war
which had deprived her of an extensive province; and she regarded it as
one of the great triumphs of Austrian diplomacy to have subsequently won
over the French ministry to exchange the friendship of Frederick of
Prussia for her own, and to engage as her ally in a war which had for its
object the recovery of the lost Silesia. Silesia was not recovered. But
she still clung to the French alliance as fondly as if the objects which
she had originally hoped to gain by it had been fully accomplished; and,
as the heir to the French monarchy was very nearly of the same age as the
young archduchess, she began to entertain hopes of uniting the two royal
families by a marriage which should render the union between the two
nations indissoluble. She mentioned the project to some of the French
visitors at her court, whom she thought likely to repeat her conversation
on their return to their own country. She took care that reports of her
daughter's beauty should from time to time reach the ears of Louis XV. She
had her picture painted by French artists. She made a proficiency in the
French language the principal object of her education; bringing over some
French actors to Vienna to instruct her in the graces of elocution, and
subsequently establishing as her chief tutor a French ecclesiastic, the
Abbe de Vermond, a man of extensive learning, of excellent judgment, and
of most conscientious integrity. The appointment would have been in every
respect a most fortunate one, had it not been suggested by Lomenie de
Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, who thus laid the abbe under an
obligation which was requited, to the great injury of France, nearly
twenty years afterward, when M. de Vermond, who still remained about the
person of his royal mistress, had an opportunity of exerting his influence
to make the archbishop prime minister.

Not that her studies were confined to French. Metastasio taught her
Italian; Gluck, whose recently published opera of "Orfeo" had, established
for him a reputation as one of the greatest musicians of the age, gave her
lessons on the harpsichord. But we fear it can not be said that she
obtained any high degree of excellence in these or in any other
accomplishments. She was not inclined to study; and, with the exception of
the abbe, her masters and mistresses were too courtly to be peremptory
with an archduchess. Their favorable reports to the Empress-queen were
indeed neutralized by the frankness with which their pupil herself
confessed her idleness and failure to improve. But Maria Teresa was too
much absorbed in politics to give much heed to the confession, or to
insist on greater diligence; though at a later day Marie Antoinette
herself repented of her neglect, and did her best to repair it, taking
lessons in more than one accomplishment with great perseverance during the
first years of her residence at Versailles, because, as she expressed
herself, the dauphiness was bound to take care of the character of the

There are, however, lessons of greater importance to a child than any
which are given by even the most accomplished masters--those which flow
from the example of a virtuous and sensible mother; and those the young
archduchess showed a greater aptitude for learning. Maria Teresa had set
an example not only to her own family, but to all sovereigns, among whom
principles and practices such as hers had hitherto been little recognized,
of regarding an attention to the personal welfare of all her subjects,
even of those of the lowest class, as among the most imperative of her
duties. She had been accessible to all. She had accustomed the peasantry
to accost her in her walks; she had visited their cottages to inquire into
and relieve their wants. And the little Antoinette, who, more than any
other of her children, seems to have taken her for an especial model, had
thus, from her very earliest childhood, learned to feel a friendly
interest in the well-doing of the people in general; to think no one too
lowly for her notice, to sympathize with sorrow, to be indignant at
injustice and ingratitude, to succor misfortune and distress. And these
were habits which, as being implanted in her heart, she was not likely to
forget; but which might be expected rather to gain strength by indulgence,
and to make her both welcome and useful to any people among whom her lot
might be cast.


Proposal for the Marriage of Marie Antoinette to the Dauphin.--Early
Education of the Dauphin.--The Archduchess leaves Vienna in April, 1770.--
Her Reception at Strasburg.--She meets the King at Compiegne.--The
Marriage takes place May 16th, 1770.

Royal marriages had been so constantly regarded as affairs of state, to be
arranged for political reasons, that it had become usual on the Continent
to betroth princes and princesses to each other at a very early age; and
it was therefore not considered as denoting any premature impatience on
the part of either the Empress-queen or the King of France, Louis XV.,
when, at the beginning of 1769, when Marie Antoinette had but just
completed her thirteenth year, the Duc de Choiseul, the French Minister
for Foreign Affairs, who was himself a native of Lorraine, instructed the
Marquis de Durfort, the French embassador at Vienna, to negotiate with the
celebrated Austrian prime minister, the Prince de Kaunitz, for her
marriage to the heir of the French throne, who was not quite fifteen
months older. Louis XV. had had several daughters, but only one son. That
son, born in 1729, had been married at the age of fifteen to a Spanish
infanta, who, within a year of her marriage, died in her confinement, and
whom he replaced in a few months by a daughter of Augustus III., King of
Saxony. His second wife bore him four sons and two daughters. The eldest
son, the Duc de Bourgogne, who was born in 1750, and was generally
regarded as a child of great promise, died in his eleventh year; and when
he himself died in 1765, his second son, previously known as the Duc de
Berri, succeeded him in his title of dauphin. This prince, now the suitor
of the archduchess, had been born on the 23d of August, 1754, and was
therefore not quite fifteen. As yet but little was known of him. Very
little pains had been taken with his education; his governor, the Duc de
la Vauguyon, was a man who had been appointed to that most important post
by the cabals of the infamous mistress and parasites who formed the court
of Louis XV., without one qualification for the discharge of its duties. A
servile, intriguing spirit had alone recommended him to his patrons, while
his frivolous indolence was in harmony with the inclinations of the king
himself, who, worn out with a long course of profligacy, had no longer
sufficient energy even for vice. Under such a governor, the young prince
had but little chance of receiving a wholesome education, even if there
was not a settled design to enfeeble his mind by neglect.

His father had been a man of a character very different from that of the
king. By a sort of natural reaction or silent protest against the infamies
which he saw around him, he had cherished a serious and devout
disposition, and had observed a conduct of the most rigorous virtue. He
was even suspected of regarding the Jesuits with especial favor, and was
believed to have formed plans for the reformation of morals, and perhaps
of the State. It was not strange that, on the first news of the illness
which proved fatal to him, the people flocked to the churches with prayers
for his recovery, and that his death was regarded by all the right-
thinking portion of the community as a national calamity. But the
courtiers, who had regarded his approaching reign with not unnatural
alarm, hailed his removal with joy, and were, above all things, anxious to
prevent his son, who had now become the heir to the crown, from following
such a path as the father had marked out for himself. The negligence of
some, thus combining with the deliberate malice of others, and aided by
peculiarities in the constitution and disposition of the young prince
himself, which became more and more marked as he grew up, exercised a
pernicious influence on his boyhood. Not only was his education in the
ordinary branches of youthful knowledge neglected, but no care was even
taken to cultivate his taste or to polish his manners, though a certain
delicacy of taste and refinement of manners were regarded by the
courtiers, and by Louis XV. himself, as the pre-eminent distinction of his
reign. He was kept studiously in the background, discountenanced and
depressed, till he contracted an awkward timidity and reserve which
throughout his life he could never shake off; while a still more
unfortunate defect, which was another result of this system, was an
inability to think or decide for himself, or even to act steadily on the
advice of others after he had professed to adopt it.

But these deficiencies in his character had as yet hardly had time to
display themselves; and, had they been ever so notorious, they were not of
a nature to divert Maria Teresa from her purpose. For her political
objects, it would not, perhaps, have seemed to her altogether undesirable
that the future sovereign of France should be likely to rely on the
judgment and to submit to the influence of another, so long as the person
who should have the best opportunity of influencing him was her own
daughter. A negotiation for the success of which both parties were equally
anxious did not require a long time for its conclusion; and by the
beginning of July, 1769, all the preliminaries were arranged; the French
newspapers were authorized to allude to the marriage, and to speak of the
diligence with which preparations for it were being made in both
countries; those in which the French king took the greatest interest being
the building of some carriages of extraordinary magnificence, to receive
the archduchess as soon as she should have arrived on French ground; while
those which were being made in Germany indicated a more elementary state
of civilization, as the first requisite appeared to be to put the roads
between Vienna and the frontier in a state of repair, to prevent the
journey from being too fatiguing.

By the spring of the next year all the necessary preparations had been
completed; and on the evening of the 10th of April, 1770, a grand court
was held in the Palace of Vienna. Through a double row of guards of the
palace, of body-guards, and of a still more select guard, composed wholly
of nobles, M. de Durfort was conducted into the presence of the Emperor
Joseph II., and of his widowed mother, the Empress-queen, still, though
only dowager-empress, the independent sovereign of her own hereditary
dominions; and to both he proffered, on the part of the King of France, a
formal request for the hand of the Archduchess Marie Antoinette for the
dauphin. When the Emperor and Empress had given their gracious consent to
the demand, the archduchess herself was summoned to the hall and informed
of the proposal which had been made, and of the approval which her mother
and her brother had announced; while, to incline her also to regard it
with equal favor, the embassador presented her with a letter from her
intended husband, and with his miniature, which she at once hung round her
neck. After which, the whole party adjourned to the private theatre of the
palace to witness the performance of a French play, "The Confident Mother"
of Marivaux, the title of which, so emblematic of the feelings of Maria
Teresa, may probably have procured it the honor of selection.

The next day the young princess executed a formal renunciation of all
right of succession to any part of her mother's dominions which might at
any time devolve on her; though the number of her brothers and elder
sisters rendered any such occurrence in the highest degree improbable, and
though one conspicuous precedent in the history of both countries had,
within the memory of persons still living, proved the worthlessness of
such renunciations.[1] A few days were then devoted to appropriate
festivities. That which is most especially mentioned by the chroniclers of
the court being, in accordance with the prevailing taste of the time, a
grand masked ball,[2] for which a saloon four hundred feet long had been
expressly constructed. And on the 26th of April the young bride quit her
home, the mother from whom she had never been separated, and the friends
and playmates among whom her whole life had been hitherto passed, for a
country which was wholly strange to her, and in which she had not as yet a
single acquaintance. Her very husband, to whom she was to be confided, she
had never seen.

Though both mother and daughter felt the most entire confidence that the
new position, on which she was about to enter, would be full of nothing
but glory and happiness, it was inevitable that they should be, as they
were, deeply agitated at so complete a separation. And, if we may believe
the testimony of witnesses who were at Vienna at the time,[3] the grief of
the mother, who was never to see her child again, was shared not only by
the members of the imperial household, whom constant intercourse had
enabled to know and appreciate her amiable qualities, but by the
population of the capital and the surrounding districts, all of whom had
heard of her numerous acts of kindness and benevolence, which, young as
she was, many of them had also experienced, and who thronged the streets
along which she passed on her departure, mingling tears of genuine sorrow
with their acclamations, and following her carriage to the outermost gate
of the city that they might gaze their last on the darling of many hearts.

Kehl was the last German town through which she was to pass, Strasburg was
the first French city which was to receive her, and, as the islands which
dot the Rhine at that portion of the noble boundary river were regarded as
a kind of neutral ground, the French monarch had selected the principal
one to be occupied by a pavilion built for the purpose and decorated with
great magnificence, that it might serve for another stage of the wedding
ceremony. In this pavilion she was to cease to be German, and was to
become French; she was to bid farewell to her Austrian attendants, and to
receive into her service the French officers of her household, male and
female, who were to replace them. She was even to divest herself of every
article of her German attire, and to apparel herself anew in garments of
French manufacture sent from Paris. The pavilion was divided into two
compartments. In the chief apartment of the German division, the Austrian
officials who had escorted her so far formally resigned their charge, and
surrendered her to the Comte de Noailles, who had been appointed
embassador extraordinary to receive her; and, when all the deeds necessary
to release from their responsibly the German nobles whose duties were now
terminated had been duly signed, the doors were thrown open, and Marie
Antoinette passed into the French division, as a French princess, to
receive the homage of a splendid train of French courtiers, who were
waiting in loyal eagerness to offer their first salutations to their new
mistress. Yet, as if at every period of her life she was to be beset with
omens, the celebrated German writer, Goethe, who was at that time pursuing
his studies at Strasburg, perceived one which he regarded as of most
inauspicious significance in the tapestry which decorated the walls of the
chief saloon. It represented the history of Jason and Medea. On one side
was portrayed the king's bride in the agonies of death; on the other, the
royal father was bewailing his murdered children. Above them both, Medea
was fleeing away in a car drawn by fire-breathing dragons, and driven by
the Furies; and the youthful poet could not avoid reflecting that a record
of the most miserable union that even the ancient mythology had recorded
was a singularly inappropriate and ill-omened ornament for nuptial

A bridge reached from the island to the left bank of the river; and, on
quitting the pavilion, the archduchess found the carriages, which had been
built for her in Paris, ready to receive her, that she might make her
state entry into Strasburg. They were marvels of the coach-maker's art.
The prime minister himself had furnished the designs, and they had
attracted the curiosity of the fashionable world in Paris throughout the
winter. One was covered with crimson velvet, having pictures, emblematical
of the four seasons, embroidered in gold on the principal panels; on the
other the velvet was blue, and the elements took the place of the seasons;
while the roof of each was surmounted by nosegays of flowers, carved in
gold, enameled in appropriate colors, and wrought with such exquisite
delicacy that every movement of the carriage, or even the lightest breeze,
caused them to wave as if they were the natural produce of the garden.[5]

In this superb conveyance Marie Antoinette passed on under a succession of
triumphal arches to the gates of Strasburg, which, on this auspicious
occasion, seemed as if it desired to put itself forward as the
representative of the joy of the whole nation by the splendid cordiality
of its welcome. Whole regiments of cavalry, drawn up in line of battle,
received her with a grand salute as she advanced. Battery after battery
pealed forth along the whole extent of the vast ramparts; the bells of
every church rang out a festive peal; fountains ran with wine in the Grand
Square. She proceeded to the episcopal palace, where the archbishop, the
Cardinal de Rohan, with his coadjutor, the Prince Louis de Rohan (a man
afterward rendered unhappily notorious by his complicity in a vile
conspiracy against her) received her at the head of the most august
chapter that the whole land could produce, the counts of the cathedral, as
they were styled; the Prince of Lorraine being the grand dean, the
Archbishop of Bordeaux the grand provost, and not one post in the chapter
being filled by any one below the rank of count. She held a court for the
reception of all the female nobility of the province. She dined publicly
in state; a procession of the municipal magistrates presented her a sample
of the wines of the district; and, as she tasted the luscious offering,
the coopers celebrated what they called a feast of Bacchus, waving their
hoops as they danced round the room in grotesque figures.

It was a busy day for her, that first day of her arrival on French soil.
From the dinner-table she went to the theatre; on quitting the theatre,
she was driven through the streets to see the illuminations, which made
every part of the city as bright as at midday, the great square in front
of the episcopal palace being converted into a complete garden of
fire-works; and at midnight she attended a ball which the governor of the
province, the Marechal de Contades, gave in her honor to all the principal
inhabitants of the city and district. Quitting Strasburg the next day,
after a grand reception of the clergy, the nobles, and the magistrates of
the province, she proceeded by easy stages through Nancy, Chalons, Rheims,
and Soissons, the whole population of every town through which she passed
collecting on the road to gaze on her beauty, the renown of which had
readied the least curious ears; and to receive marks of her affability,
reports of which were at least as widely spread, in the cheerful eagerness
with which she threw down the windows of her carriage, and the frank,
smiling recognition and genuine pleasure with which she replied to their
enthusiastic acclamations. It was long remembered that, when the students
of the college at Soissons presented her with a Latin address, she replied
to them in a sentence or two in the same language.

Soissons was her last resting-place before she was introduced to her new
family. On the afternoon of Monday, the 14th of May, she quit it for
Compiegne, which the king and all the court had reached in the course of
the morning. As she approached the town she was met by the minister, the
Duc de Choiseul, and he was the precursor of Louis himself, who,
accompanied by the dauphin and his daughters, and escorted by his gorgeous
company of the guards of the household,[6] had driven out to receive her.
She and all her train dismounted from their carriages. Her master of the
horse and her "knight of honor[7]" took her by the hand and conducted her
to the royal coach. She sunk on her knee in the performance of her
respectful homage; but Louis promptly raised her up, and, having embraced
her with a tenderness which gracefully combined royal dignity with
paternal affection, and having addressed her in a brief speech,[8] which
was specially acceptable to her, as containing a well-timed compliment to
her mother, introduced her to the dauphin; and, when they reached the
palace, he also presented to her his more distant relatives, the princes
and princesses of the blood,[9] the Duc d'Orleans and his son, the Duc de
Chartres, destined hereafter to prove one of the foulest and most
mischievous of her enemies; the Duc de Bourbon, the Princes of Conde and
Conti, and one lady whose connection with royalty was Italian rather than
French, but to whom the acquaintance, commenced on this day, proved the
cause of a miserable and horrible death, the beautiful Princesse de

Compiegne, however, was not to be honored by the marriage ceremony. The
next morning the whole party started for Versailles, turning out of the
road, at the express request of the archduchess herself, to pay a brief
visit to the king's youngest daughter, the Princess Louise, who had taken
on herself the Carmelite vows, and resided in the Convent of St. Denis.
The request had been suggested by Choiseul, who was well aware that the
princess shared the dislike entertained by her more worldly sisters to the
house of Austria; but it was accepted as a personal compliment by the king
himself, who was already fascinated by her charms, which, as he affirmed,
surpassed those of her portrait, and was predisposed to view all her words
and actions in the most favorable light. Avoiding Paris, which Louis, ever
since the riots of 1750, had constantly refused to enter, they reached the
hunting-lodge of La Muette, in the Bois de Boulogne, for supper. Here she
made the acquaintance of the brothers and sisters of her future husband,
the Counts of Provence and Artois, both destined, in their turn, to
succeed him on the throne; of the Princess Clotilde, who may be regarded
as the most fortunate of her race, in being saved by a foreign marriage
and an early death from witnessing the worst calamities of her family and
her native land; of the Princess Elizabeth, who was fated to share them in
all their bitterness and horror; and (a strangely incongruous sequel to
the morning visit to the Carmelite convent), the Countess du Barri also
came into her presence, and was admitted to sup at the royal table; as if,
even at the very moment when he might have been expected to conduct
himself with some degree of respectful decency to the pure-minded young
girl whom he was receiving into his family, Louis XV. was bent on
exhibiting to the whole world his incurable shamelessness in its most
offensive form.

At midnight he, with the dauphin, proceeded to Versailles, whither, the
next morning, the archduchess followed them. And at one o'clock on the
16th, in the chapel of the palace, the Primate of France, the Archbishop
of Rheims, performed the marriage ceremony. A canopy of cloth of silver
was held over the heads of the youthful pair by the bishops of Senlis and
Chartres. The dauphin, after he had placed the wedding-ring on his bride's
finger, added, as a token that he endowed her with his worldly wealth, a
gift of thirteen pieces of gold, which, as well as the ring, had received
the episcopal benediction, and Marie Antoinette was dauphiness of France.


Feelings in Germany and France on the Subject of the Marriage.--Letter of
Maria Teresa to the Dauphin--Characters of the Different Members of the
Royal Family.--Difficulties which beset Marie Antoinette.--Maria Teresa's
Letter of Advice.--The Comte de Mercy is sent as Embassador to France
to act as the Adviser of the Dauphiness.--The Princesse de Lorraine at
the State Ball.--A Great Disaster takes place at the Fire-works in Paris.
--The Peasant at Fontainebleau.--Marie Antoinette pleases the King.--
Description of her Personal Appearance.--Mercy's Report of the Impression
she made on her First Arrival.

The marriage which was thus accomplished was regarded with unmodified
pleasure by the family of the bride, and with almost equal satisfaction by
the French king. In spite of the public rejoicings in both countries with
which it was accompanied, it can not be said to have been equally
acceptable to the majority of the people of either nation. There was still
a strong anti-French party at Vienna,[1] and (a circumstance of far
greater influence on the fortunes of the young couple) there was a strong
anti-Austrian party in France, which was not without its supporters even
in the king's palace. That the marriage should have been so earnestly
desired at the imperial court is a strange instance of the extent to which
political motives overpowered every other consideration in the mind of the
great Empress-queen, for she was not ignorant of the real character of the
French court, of the degree in which it was divided by factions, of the
base and unworthy intrigues which were its sole business, and of the
sagacity and address which were requisite for any one who would steer his
way with safety and honor through its complicated mazes.

Judgment and prudence were not the qualities most naturally to be expected
in a young princess not yet fifteen years old. The best prospect which
Marie Antoinette had of surmounting the numerous and varied difficulties
which beset her lay in the affection which she speedily conceived for her
husband, and in the sincerity, we can hardly say warmth, with which he
returned her love. Maria Teresa had bespoken his tenderness for her in a
letter which she wrote to him on the day on which her daughter left
Vienna, and which has often been quoted as a composition worthy of her
alike as a mother and as a Christian sovereign; and as admirably
calculated to impress the heart of her new son-in-law by claiming his
attachment for his bride, on the ground of the pains which she had taken
to make her worthy of her fortune.

"Your bride, my dear dauphin, has just left me. I do hope that she will
cause your happiness. I have brought her up with the design that she
should do so, because I have for some time forseen that she would share
your destiny.

"I have inspired her with an eager desire to do her duty to you, with a
tender attachment to your person, with a resolution to be attentive to
think and do every thing which may please you. I have also been most
careful to enjoin her a tender devotion toward the Master of all
Sovereigns, being thoroughly persuaded that we are but badly providing for
the welfare of the nations which are intrusted to us when we fail in our
duty to Him who breaks sceptres and overthrows thrones according to his

"I say, then, to you, my dear dauphin, as I say to my daughter: 'Cultivate
your duties toward God. Seek to cause the happiness of the people over
whom you will reign (it will be too soon, come when it may). Love the
king, your grandfather; be humane like him; be always accessible to the
unfortunate. If you behave in this manner, it is impossible that happiness
can fail to be your lot.' My daughter will love you, I am certain, because
I know her. But the more that I answer to you for her affection, and for
her anxiety to please you, the more earnestly do I entreat you to vow to
her the most sincere attachment.

"Farewell, my dear dauphin. May you be happy. I am bathed in tears.[2]"

The dauphin did not falsify the hopes thus expressed by the Empress-queen.
But his was not the character to afford his wife either the advice or
support which she needed, while, strange to say, he was the only member of
the royal family to whom she could look for either. The king was not only
utterly worthless and shameless, but weak and irresolute in the most
ordinary matters. Even when in the flower and vigor of his age, he had
never been able to summon courage to give verbal orders or reproofs to his
own children,[3] but had intimated his pleasure or displeasure by letters.
He had been gradually falling lower and lower, both in his own vices and
in the estimation of the world; and was now, still more than when Lord
Chesterfield first drew his picture,[4] both hated and despised. The
dauphin's brothers, for such mere boys, were singularly selfish and
unamiable; and the only female relations of her husband, his aunts, to
whom, as such, it would have been natural that a young foreigner should
look for friendship and advice, were not only narrow-minded, intriguing,
and malicious, but were predisposed to regard her with jealousy as likely
to interfere with the influence which they had hoped to exert over their
nephew when he should become their sovereign.

Marie Antoinette had, therefore, difficulties and enemies to contend with
from the very first commencement of her residence in France. And many even
of her own virtues were unfavorable to her chances of happiness,
calculated as they were to lay her at the mercy of her ill-wishers, and to
deprive her of some of the defenses which might have been found in a
different temperament. Full of health and spirits, she was naturally eager
in the pursuit of enjoyment, and anxious to please every one, from feeling
nothing but kindness toward every one; she was frank, open, and sincere;
and, being perfectly guileless herself, she was, as through her whole life
she continued to be, entirely unsuspicious of unfriendliness, much more of
treachery in others. Her affability and condescension combined with this
trustful disposition to make her too often the tool of designing and
grasping courtiers, who sought to gain their own ends at her expense, and
who presumed on her good-nature and inexperience to make requests which,
as they well knew, should never have been made, but which they also
reckoned that she would be unwilling to refuse.

But lest this general amiability and desire to give pleasure to those
around her might seem to impart a prevailing tinge of weakness to her
character, it is fair to add that she united to these softer feelings,
robuster virtues calculated to deserve and to win universal admiration;
though some of them, never having yet been called forth by circumstances,
were for a long time unsuspected by the world at large. She had pride--
pride of birth, pride of rank--though never did that feeling show itself
more nobly or more beneficially. It never led her to think herself above
the very meanest of her subjects. It never made her indifferent to the
interests, to the joys or sorrows, of a single individual. The idea with
which it inspired her was, that a princess of her race was never to commit
an unworthy act, was never to fail in purity of virtue, in truth, in
courage; that she was to be careful to set an example of these virtues to
those who would naturally look up to her; and that she herself was to keep
constantly in her mind the example of her illustrious mother, and never,
by act, or word, or thought, to discredit her mother's name. And as she
thus regarded courage as her birthright, so she possessed it in abundance
and in variety. She had courage to plan, and courage to act; courage to
resolve, and courage to adhere to the resolution once deliberately formed;
and, above all, courage to endure and to suffer, and, in the very
extremity of misery, to animate and support others less royally endowed.

Such, then, as she was, with both her manifest and her latent
excellencies, as well as with those more mixed qualities which had some
defects mingled with their sweetness, Marie Antoinette, at the age of
fourteen years and a half, was thrown into a world wholly new to her, to
guide herself so far by her own discretion that there was no one who had
both judgment and authority to control her in her line of conduct or in
any single action. She had, indeed, an adviser whom her mother had
provided for her, though without allowing her to suspect the nature or
full extent of the duties which she had imposed upon him. Maria Teresa had
been in some respects a strict mother, one whom her children in general
feared almost as much as they loved her; and the rigorous superintendence
on some points of conduct which she had exercised over Marie Antoinette
while at home, she was not inclined wholly to resign, even after she had
made her apparently independent. At the moment of her departure from
Vienna, she gave her a letter of advice which she entreated her to read
over every month, and in which the most affectionate and judicious counsel
is more than once couched in a tone of very authoritative command; the
whole letter showing not only the most experienced wisdom and the most
affectionate interest in her daughter's happiness, but likewise a thorough
insight into her character, so precisely are some of the errors against
which the letter most emphatically warns her those into which she most
frequently fell. And she appointed a statesman in whom she deservedly
placed great confidence, the Count de Mercy-Argenteau, her embassador to
the court at Versailles, with the express design that he should always be
at hand to afford the dauphiness his advice in all the difficulties which
she could not avoid foreseeing for her; and who should also keep the
Empress-queen herself fully informed of every particular of her conduct,
and of every transaction by which she was in any way affected. This part
of his commission was wholly unsuspected by the young princess; but the
count discharged such portions of the delicate duty thus imposed upon him
with rare discretion, contriving in its performance to combine the
strictest fidelity to his imperial mistress with the most entire devotion
to the interests of his pupil, and to preserve the unqualified regard and
esteem of both mother and daughter to the end of their lives. Toward the
latter, as dauphiness, and even as queen, he stood for some years in a
position very similar to that which Baron Stockmar fills in the history of
the late Prince Consort of England, being, however, more frequent in his
admonitions, and occasionally more severe in his reproofs, as the youth
and inexperience of Marie Antoinette not unnaturally led her into greater
mistakes than the scrupulous conscientiousness and almost premature
prudence of the prince consort ever suffered him to commit; and his
diligent reports to the Empress-queen, amounting at times to a diary of
the proceedings of the French court, have a lasting and inestimable value,
since they furnish us with so trustworthy a record of the whole life of
Marie Antoinette for the first ten years of her residence in France,[5] of
her actions, her language, and her very thoughts (for she ever scorned to
give a reason or to make an excuse which was not absolutely and strictly
true), that there is perhaps no person of historical importance whose
conduct in every transaction of gravity or interest is more minutely
known, or whose character there are fuller materials for appreciating.

The very day of her marriage did not pass without her receiving a strange
specimen of the factious spirit which prevailed at the court, and of the
hollowness of the welcome with which the chief nobles had greeted her
arrival. A state ball was given at the palace to celebrate the wedding,
and as the Princess of Lorraine, a cousin of the Emperor Francis, was the
only blood-relation of Marie Antoinette who was at Versailles at the time,
the king assigned her a place in the first quadrille, giving her
precedence for that occasion, next to the princes of the blood. It did not
seem a great stretch of courtesy to show to a foreigner, even had she not
been related to the princess in whose honor the ball was given; but the
dukes and peers fired up at the arrangement, as if an insult had been
offered them. They held a meeting at which they resolved that no member of
their families should attend, and carried out their resolution so
obstinately that at five o'clock, when the dancing was to commence, except
the royal princesses there were only three ladies in the room. The king,
who, following the example of Louis XIV., acted on these occasions as his
own master of ceremonies, was forced to send special and personal orders
to some of those who had absented themselves to attend without delay. And
so by seven o'clock twelve or fourteen couples were collected[6] (the
number of persons admitted to such entertainments was always extremely
small), and the rude disloyalty of the protest was to outward appearance
effaced by the submission of the recusants.

But all the troubles which arose out of the wedding festivities were not
so easily terminated. Little as was the good-will which subsisted between
Louis XV. and the Parisians, the civic authorities thought their own
credit at stake in doing appropriate honor to an occasion so important as
the marriage of the heir of the monarchy, and on the 30th of May they
closed a succession of balls and banquets by a display of fire-works, in
which the ingenuity of the most celebrated artists had been exhausted to
outshine all previous displays of the sort. Three sides of the Place Louis
XV. were filled up with pyramids and colonnades. Here dolphins darted out
many-colored flames from their ever-open mouths. There, rivers of fire
poured forth cascades spangled with all the variegated brilliancy with
which the chemist's art can embellish the work of the pyrotechnist. The
centre was occupied with a gorgeous Temple of Hymen, which seemed to lean
for support on the well-known statue of the king, in front of which it was
constructed; and which was, as it were, to be carried up to the skies by
above three thousand rockets and fire-balls into which it was intended to
dissolve. The whole square was packed with spectators, the pedestrians in
front, the carriages in the rear, when one of the explosions set fire to a
portion of the platforms on which the different figures had been
constructed. At first the increase of the blaze was regarded only as an
ingenious surprise on the part of the artist. But soon it became clear
that the conflagration was undesigned and real; panic-succeeded to
delight, and the terror-stricken crowd, seeing themselves surrounded with
flames, began to make frantic efforts to escape from the danger; but there
was only one side of the square uninclosed, and that was blocked up by
carriages. The uproar and the glare made the horses unmanageable, and in a
few moments the whole mass, human beings and animals, was mingled in
helpless confusion, making flight impossible by their very eagerness to
fly, and trampling one another underfoot in bewildered misery. Of those
who did succeed in extricating themselves from the square, half made their
way to the road which runs along the bank of the river, and found that
they had only exchanged one danger for another, which, though of an
opposite character, was equally destructive. Still overwhelmed with
terror, though the first peril was over, the fugitives pushed one another
into the stream, in which great numbers were drowned. The number of the
killed could never be accurately ascertained: but no calculation estimated
the number of those who perished at less than six hundred, while those who
were grievously injured were at least as many more.

The dauphin and dauphiness were deeply shocked by a disaster so painfully
at variance with their own happiness, which, in one sense, had caused it.
Their first thought was, as far as they might be able, to mitigate it.
Most of the victims were of the poorer class, the grief of whose surviving
relatives was, in many instances, aggravated by the loss of the means of
livelihood which the labors of those who had been cut off had hitherto
supplied; and, to give temporary succor to this distress, the dauphin and
dauphiness at once drew out from the royal treasury the sums allowed to
them for their private expenses for the month, and sent the money to the
municipal authorities to be applied to the relief of the sufferers. But
Marie Antoinette did more. She felt that to give money only was but cold
benevolence; and she made personal visits to many of those families which
had been most grievously afflicted, showing the sincerity of her sympathy
by the touching kindness of her language, and by the tears which she
mingled with those of the widow and the orphan.[7] Such unmerited kindness
made a deep impression on the citizens. Since the time of Henry IV. no
prince had ever shown the slightest interest in the happiness or misery of
the lower classes; and the feeling of affectionate gratitude which this
unprecedented recognition of their claims to be sympathized with as
fellow-creatures awakened was fixed still more deeply in their hearts a
short time afterward, when, at one of the hunting-parties which took place
at Fontainebleau, the stag charged a crowd of the spectators and severely
wounded a peasant with his horns. Marie Antoinette sprung to the ground at
the sight, helped to bind up the wound, and had the man driven in her own
carriage to his cabin, whither she followed him herself to see that every
proper attention was paid to him.[8] And the affection which she thus
inspired among the poor was fully shared by the chief personage in the
kingdom, the sovereign himself. A life of profligacy had not rendered
Louis wholly insensible to the superior attractions of innocence and
virtue. Perhaps a secret sense of shame at the slavery in which his vices
held him, and which, as he well knew, excited the contempt of even his
most dissolute courtiers, though he had not sufficient energy to shake it
off, may have for a moment quickened his better feelings; and the fresh
beauty of the young princess, who, from the first moment of her arrival at
the court, treated him with the most affectionate and caressing respect,
awakened in him a genuine admiration and good-will. He praised her beauty
and her grace to all his nobles with a warmth that excited the jealousy of
his infamous mistress, the Countess du Barri. He made allowance for some
childishness of manner as natural at her age,[9] showed an anxiety for
every thing which could amuse or gratify her, which afforded a marked
contrast to his ordinary apathy. And, though in so young a girl it was
rather the promise of future beauty than its developed perfection that her
feat-* as yet presented, they already exhibited sufficient charms to
exempt those who extolled them from the suspicion of flattery. A clear and
open forehead, a delicately cut nose, a complexion of dazzling brilliancy,
with bright blue eyes, whose ever-varying lustre seemed equally calculated
to show every feeling which could move her heart; which could, at times
seem almost fierce with anger, indignation, or contempt, but whose
prevailing expression was that of kindly benevolence or light-hearted
mirth were united with a figure of exquisite proportions, sufficiently
tall for dignity, though as yet, of course, slight and unformed, and every
movement of which was directed by a grace that could neither be taught nor
imitated. If any defect could be discovered in her face, it consisted in a
somewhat undue thickness of the lips, especially of the lower lip, which
had for some generations been the prevailing characteristic of her family.

Accordingly, a month after her marriage, Mercy could report to Maria
Teresa that she had had complete success, and was a universal favorite;
that, besides the king, who openly expressed his satisfaction, she had won
the heart of the dauphin, who had been very unqualified in the language in
which he had praised both her beauty and her agreeable qualities to his
aunts; and that even those princesses were "enchanted" with her. The whole
court, and the people in general, extolled her affability, and the
graciousness with which she said kind things to all who approached her.
Though the well-informed embassador had already discovered signs of the
cabals which the mistress and her partisans were forming against her, and
had been rendered a little uneasy by the handle which she had more than
once afforded to her secret enemies, when, "in gayety of heart and without
the slightest ill-will," she had allowed herself to jest on some persons
and circumstances which struck her as ridiculous, her jests being seasoned
with a wit and piquancy which rendered them keener to those who were their
objects, and more so mischievous to herself. He especially praised the
unaffected dignity with which she had received the mistress who had
attended in her apartments to pay her court, though in no respect deceived
as to the lady's disposition, her penetration into the characters of all
with whom she had been brought into contact, denoting, as it struck him,
"a sagacity" which, at her age, was "truly astonishing.[10]"


Marie Antoinette gives her Mother her First Impressions of the Court and
of her own Position and Prospects.--Court Life at Versailles.--Marie
Antoinette shows her Dislike of Etiquette.--Character of the Duc
d'Aiguillon.--Cabals against the Dauphiness.--Jealousy of Mme. du Barri.--
The Aunts, too, are Jealous of Her.--She becomes more and more Popular.--
Parties for Donkey-riding.--Scantiness of the Dauphiness's Income.--Her
Influence over the King.--The Duc de Choiseul is dismissed.--She begins
to have Great Influence over the Dauphin.

Marie Antoinette herself was inclined to be delighted with all that befell
her, and to make light of what she could hardly regard as pleasant or
becoming; and two of her first letters to her mother, written in the early
part of July,[1] give us an insight into the feelings with which she
regarded her new family and her own position, as well as a picture of her
daily occupations and of the singular customs of the French court,
strangely inconsistent in what it permitted and in what it disallowed,
and, in the publicity in which its princes lived, curiously incompatible
with ordinary ideas of comfort and even delicacy.

"The king," she says, "is full of kindnesses toward me, and I love him
tenderly. But it is pitiable to see his weakness for Madame du Barri, who
is the silliest and most impertinent creature that it is possible to
conceive. She has played with us every evening at Marly,[2] and she has
twice been seated next to me; but she has not spoken to me, and I have not
attempted to engage in conversation with her; but, when it was necessary,
I have said a word or two to her.

"As for my dear husband, he is greatly changed, and in a most advantageous
manner. He shows a great deal of affection for me, and is even beginning
to treat me with great confidence. He certainly does not like M. de la,
Vauguyon; but he is afraid of him. A curious thing happened about the duke
the other day. I was alone with my husband, when M. de la Vauguyon stole
hurriedly up to the doors to listen. A servant, who was either a fool or a
very honest man, opened the door, and there stood his grace the duke
planted like a sentinel, without being able to retreat. I pointed out to
my husband the inconvenience that there was in having people listening at
the doors, and he took my remark very well."

She did not tell the empress the whole of this occurrence; she had been
too indignant at the duke's meanness to suppress her feelings, and she
reproved the duke himself with a severity which can hardly be said to have
been misplaced.

"Duke de la Vauguyon," she said, "my lord the dauphin is now of an age to
dispense with a governor; and I have no need of a spy. I beg you not to
appear again in my presence.[3]"

Between the writing of her first and second letters she had heard from
Maria Teresa; and she "can not describe how the affection her mother
expresses for her has gone to her heart. Every letter which she has
received has filled her eyes with tears of regret at being separated from
so tender and loving a mother, and, happy as she is in France, she would
give the world to see her family again, if it were but for a moment. As
her mother wishes to know how the days are passed; she gets up between
nine and ten, and, having dressed herself and said her morning prayers,
she breakfasts, and then she goes to the apartments of her aunts, whose
she usually finds the king. That lasts till half-past ten; then at eleven
she has her hair dressed.

"At twelve," she proceeds to say, "what is called the Chamber is held, and
there every one who does not belong to the common people may enter. I put
on my rouge and wash my hands before all the world; the men go out, and
the women remain; and then I dress myself in their presence. Then comes
mass. If the king is at Versailles, I go to mass with him, my husband, and
my aunts; if he is not there, I go alone with the dauphin, but always at
the same hour. After mass we two dine by ourselves in the presence of all
the world; but dinner is over by half-past one, as we both eat very fast.
From the dinner-table I go to the dauphin's apartments, and if he has
business, I return to my own rooms, where I read, write, or work; for I am
making a waistcoat for the king, which gets on but slowly, though, I
trust, with God's grace, it will be finished before many years are over.
At three o'clock I go again to visit my aunts, and the king comes to them
at the same hour. At four the abbe[4] comes to me, and at five I have
every day either my harpsichord-master or my singing-master till six. At
half-past six I go almost every day to my aunts, except when I go out
walking. And you must understand that when I go to visit my aunts, my
husband almost always goes with me. At seven we play cards till nine
o'clock; but when the weather is fine I go out walking, and then there is
no play in my apartments, but it is held at my aunts'. At nine we sup; and
when the king is not there, my aunts come to sup with us; but when the
king is there, we go after supper to their rooms, waiting there for the
king, who usually comes about a quarter to eleven; and I lie down on a
grand sofa and go to sleep till he comes. But when he is not there, we go
to bed at eleven o'clock."

The play-table which is alluded to in these letters was one of the most
curious and mischievous institutions of the court. Gambling had been one
of its established vices ever since the time of Henry IV., whose enormous
losses at play had formed the subject of Sully's most incessant
remonstrances. And from the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV., a
gaming-table had formed a regular part of the evening's amusement. It was
the one thing which was allowed to break down the barrier of etiquette. On
all other occasions, the rules which regulated who might and who might not
be admitted to the royal presence were as precise and strict as in many
cases they were unreasonable and unintelligible. But at the gaming-table
every one who could make the slightest pretensions to gentle birth was
allowed to present himself and stake his money; [5] and the leveling
influence of play was almost as fully exemplified in the king's palace as
in the ordinary gaming-houses, since, though the presence of royalty so
far acted as a restraint on the gamblers as to prevent any open explosion,
accusations of foul play and dishonest tricks were as rife as in the most
vulgar company.

Marie Antoinette was winning many hearts by her loveliness and affability;
but she could not scatter her kind speeches and friendly smiles among all
with whom she came into contact without running counter to the prejudices
of some of the old courtiers who had been formed on a different system; to
whom the maintenance of a rigid etiquette was as the very breath of their
nostrils, and in whose eyes its very first rule and principle was that
princes should keep all the world at a distance. Foremost among these
sticklers for old ideas was the Countess de Noailles, her principal "lady
of honor," whose uneasiness on the subject speedily became so notorious as
to give rise to numerous court squibs and satirical odes, the authors of
which seemed glad to compliment the dauphin and to vex her ladyship at the
same time, but who could not be deterred by these effusions from lecturing
Marie Antoinette on her disregard of her rank, and on the danger of making
herself too familiar, till she provoked the young princess into giving her
the nickname of Madame Etiquette; and, no doubt, in her childish
playfulness, to utter many a speech and do many an act whose principle
object was to excite the astonishment or provoke the frowns of the too
prim lady of honor.

There can be no doubt that, though she often pushed her strictness too
far, Madame de Noailles to some extent had reason on her side; and that a
certain degree of ceremony and stately reserve is indispensable in court
life. It is a penalty which those born in the purple must pay for their
dignity, that they can have no friend on a perfect equality with
themselves; and those who in different ages and countries have tried to
emancipate themselves from this law of their rank have not generally won
even the respect of those to whom they have condescended, and still less
the approbation of the outer world, whose members have perhaps a secret
dislike to see those whom they regard as their own equals lifted above
them by the familiarity of princes.

This, however, was a matter of comparatively slight importance. An excess
of condescension is at the worst a venial and an amiable error; but even
at the early period plots were being contrived against the young princess,
which, if successful, would have been wholly destructive of her happiness,
and which, though she was fully aware of them, she had not means by
herself to disconcert or defeat. They were the more formidable because
they were partly political, embracing a scheme for the removal of a
minister, and consequently conciliated more supporters and insured greater
perseverance than if they had merely aimed at securing a preponderance of
court favor for the plotters. Like all the other mistresses who had
successfully reigned in the French courts, Madame du Barri had a party of
adherents who hoped to rise by her patronage. The Duc de Choiseul himself
had owed his promotion to her predecessor, Madame de Pompadour, and those
who hoped to supplant him saw in a similar influence the best prospect of
attaining their end. One of the least respectable of the French nobles was
the Duc d'Aiguillon. As Governor of Brittany, he had behaved with
notorious cowardice in the Seven Years' War. He had since been, if
possible, still more dishonored by charges of oppression, peculation, and
subornation, on which the authorities of the province had prosecuted him,
and which the Parisian Parliament had pronounced to be established. But no
kind of infamy was a barrier to the favor of Louis XV. He cancelled the
resolution of the Parliament, and showed such countenance to the culprit
that d'Aiguillon, who was both ambitious and covetous, conceived the idea
of supplanting Choiseul in the Government. As one of Choiseul's principal
measures had been the negotiation of the dauphin's marriage, Marie
Antoinette was known to regard him with a good-will which was founded on
gratitude. But, unfortunately, her feelings on this point were not shared
by her husband; for Choiseul had had notorious differences with his
father, the late dauphin, and, though it was perfectly certain that that
prince had died of natural disease, people had been found to whisper in
his son's ear suspicions that he had been poisoned, and that the minister
to whom he was unfriendly had been concerned in his death.

The two plots, therefore, to overthrow the minister and to weaken the
influence of the dauphiness, went hand-in-hand, and, as might have been
expected from the character of the patroness of both, no means were too
vile or wicked for the intriguers who had set them on foot. Madame du
Barri was, indeed, seriously alarmed for the maintenance of her own
ascendency. The king took such undisguised pleasure in his new
granddaughter's company, that some of the most experienced courtiers began
to anticipate that she would soon gain entire influence over him[6]. The
mistress began, therefore, to disparage her personal charms, never
speaking of her to Louis ("France," as she generally called him), except
as "the little blowsy,[7]" while her ally, De la Vauguyon, endeavored to
further her views by exerting the influence which he mistakenly flattered
himself that he still retained over the dauphin, to surround her with his
own creatures. He tried to procure the dismissal of the Abbe de Vermond,
who, having been, as we have seen, the tutor of Marie Antoinette at
Vienna, still remained attached to her person as her reader; and whose
complete knowledge of all the ways of the court, joined to a thorough
honesty and devoted fidelity to her best interests, rendered his services
most valuable to his mistress in her new sphere. He sought to recommend a
creature of his own as her confessor; to obtain for his own daughter the
appointment of one of her chief ladies; and, with a wickedness peculiar to
the French court, he even endeavored to imitate the vile arts by which the
Duc de Richelieu had deprived Marie Leczinska of the affections of the
king, to alienate the dauphin from his young wife, and to induce him to
commit himself to the guidance of Madame du Barri. But this part of the
scheme failed. The dauphin was strangely insensible to the personal charms
of Marie Antoinette herself, and was wholly inaccessible to any inferior
temptations; and, as far as the arrangements of the court were concerned,
the success of the mistress's cabal was limited to procuring the dismissal
of the mistress of the robes, the Countess de Grammont, for refusing to
cede to Madame du Barri and some of her friends the place which belonged
to her office at some private theatricals which were held in the palace.

Louis XIV. had taught his nobles the pernicious notion that an order to
withdraw from the court was a penal banishment, and his successor now
banished Madame de Grammont fourteen leagues from Versailles, and for some
time refused to recall his sentence, though Marie Antoinette herself wrote
to him to complain of one of her servants being so treated for such a
cause. She had not, as she reported to her mother, been very willing to
write, knowing that Madame du Barri read all the king's letters; but Mercy
had urged her to take the step, thinking it very important that she should
establish the practice of communicating directly with Louis on all matters
relating to her own household, and that she should avoid the blunder of
his daughters, her aunts, whose conduct toward their father had, in his
opinion, been mischievously timid, and to follow whose example would be
prejudicial both to her dignity and to her comfort.

The aunts too, and especially the eldest, Madame Adelaide, had schemes of
their own, which, they also sought to carry out by underhand methods. The
more conscious they were that they themselves had no influence over their
father, the less could they endure the chance of their niece acquiring
any, though it could not have been said to have been established at their
expense. On the other hand, they had before his marriage had considerable
power with the dauphin, which they had now but little hope of retaining.
They saw also that Marie Antoinette had in a few weeks gained a general
popularity such as they had never won in their whole lives, and on all
these accounts they were painfully jealous of her. They put ideas and
plans into her head which they expected to grate upon their father's taste
or indolence, and then contrived to have them represented or
misrepresented to him, though he disappointed their malice by regarding
such things as childish ebullitions natural to a girl of her age, and was
far more inclined to humor than to reprove her. With the same object, they
tried to induce her to interfere in appointments in which she had no
concern; but she remembered her mother's advice, and on this point kept
steadily in the path which that affectionate adviser had marked out for
her. They even ventured to make disparaging observations on her manners,
as inexperienced and unformed, to the dauphin himself, till he silenced
them by the warmth of his praises alike of her beauty and of her
disposition; and they were so afraid of any addition to her popularity
with the nation at large, that, when the city of Paris and the states of
Languedoc presented her with an address, they recommended her to make no
reply, assuring her that on similar occasions they themselves had never
given any answers. Luckily, she had a better adviser, who on this occasion
was the Abbe de Vermond. He told her truly that in this matter the conduct
which the older princesses had pursued was a warning, not a pattern: that
they had made all France discontented; and at his suggestion Marie
Antoinette gave to each address "an answer full of graciousness, with
which the public was enchanted."

Thus in the first year of her marriage, by her kindness of heart, guided
by the advice of Mercy and the abbe, to which she listened with the
greatest docility, she had won general affection, and had made no enemies
but those whose enmity was an honor. She was, as she wrote to her mother,
perfectly happy, though, had she not wished to make the best of matters,
she was not, in fact, wholly free from disappointments and vexations, some
of which continued for years to cause her uneasiness and anxiety, though
others were comparatively trivial or temporary, while one was of an almost
comical nature.

She had conceived a great desire to learn to ride. Her mother had been a
great horsewoman; and, as the dauphin, like the king, was passionately
addicted to hunting, which hitherto she had only witnessed from a
carriage, Marie Antoinette not unnaturally desired to be mistress of an
accomplishment which would enable her to give him more of her
companionship. Unluckily Mercy disapproved of the idea. It is impossible
to read his correspondence with the empress, and in subsequent years with
Marie Antoinette herself, without being forcibly impressed with respect
for his consummate prudence, his sound judgment in matters of public
policy, and his unswerving fidelity to the interests of both mother and
daughter. But at the same time it is difficult to avoid seeing that he was
too little inclined to make allowance for the youthful eagerness for
amusements which was natural to her age, and that at times he carried his
supervision into matters on which his statesman-like experience and
sagacity had hardly qualified him to form an opinion. He was proud of his
princess's beauty; and, considering himself in charge of her figure as
well as of her conduct, he had made himself very uneasy by the fancied
discovery that she was becoming crooked. He was sure that one shoulder was
growing higher than the other; he earnestly recommended stays, and was
very much displeased with her aunts for setting her against them, because
they were not fashionable in Paris. And when the horse exercise was
proposed, he set his face against it; he wrote to Maria Teresa, who agreed
with him in thinking it ruinous to the complexion, injurious to the shape,
and not to be safely indulged in under thirty years of age[8]; and, lest
distance should weaken the authority of the empress, he enlisted Madame de
Noailles and Choiseul on his side, and Choiseul persuaded the king that it
was a very objectionable pastime for a young bride.

There was not as yet the slightest prospect of the dauphiness becoming a
mother (a circumstance which was, in fact, the most serious of her
vexations, and that which lasted longest): but the king on this point
agreed with his minister, and after some discussion a compromise was hit
upon, and it was decided that she might ride a donkey. The whole country
was immediately ransacked for a stud of quiet donkeys.[9] In September the
court moved to Compiegne, and day after day, while the king and the
dauphin were shooting in one part of the woods, on the other side a
cavalcade of donkey-riders, the aunts and the king's brothers all swelling
Marie Antoinette's train, trotted up and down the glades, and sought out
shady spots for rural luncheons out-of-doors; and, though even this
pastime was occasionally found liable to as much danger as an expedition
on nobler steeds, the merry dauphiness contrived to extract amusement for
herself and her followers from her very disasters. It was long a standing
joke that on one occasion, when her donkey and herself came down in a soft
place, her royal highness, before she would allow her attendants to
extricate her from the mud, bid them go to Madame de Noailles, and ask her
what the rules of etiquette prescribed when a dauphiness of France failed
to keep her seat upon a donkey.

She had also another annoyance which was even of a less royal character
than being doomed to ride on a donkey. She had absolutely no pocket-money.
For many generations the princes of the country had been accustomed to dip
their hands so unrestrainedly into the national treasury, that their
legitimate appointments had been fixed on a very moderate, if not scanty,
scale; so that any one who, like the dauphin and dauphiness, might be
scrupulous not to exceed their income (though that scruple had probably
affected no one before) could not fail to be greatly straitened. The
allowance of Marie Antoinette was fixed at no higher amount than six
thousand francs a month; and of this small sum, according to a report
which, in the course of the autumn, Mercy made to the empress, not a
single crown really reached the princess for her private use.[10] Nearly
half of the money was stopped to pay some pensions granted Marie
Leczinska, with which the dauphiness could by no possibility have the
slightest concern. Almost as much more was intrusted to the gentlemen of
her chamber for the expenses of the play table, at which she was expected
to preside, since there was no queen to discharge that duty; and whether
her royal highness's cards won or lost, the money equally disappeared,[11]
and the remainder was distributed in presents to her ladies, at the
discretion of Madame de Noailles. Had not Maria Teresa, when she first
quit Vienna, intrusted Mercy with a thousand pounds for her use, and had
she not herself been singularly economical in her ideas, she would have
been in the humiliating position of being unable to provide for her own
most ordinary wants, and, a matter about which she was even more anxious,
for her constant charities. Yet so inveterate was the mismanagement in
both the court and the government, that it was some time before Mercy
could succeed, by the strongest remonstrances supported by clear proofs of
the real situation of her royal highness, in getting her affairs and her
resources placed upon a proper footing.

In spite of all the efforts of the cabal, the king's regard for her
increased daily. He had not for many years been used to being treated with
respect, and she, not from any artfulness, but from her native propriety
of feeling, which forbade her ever to forget that he was her husband's
grandfather and her king, united a tone of the most loyal respect with her
filial caresses. She called him papa, and even paid him the tacit
compliment of grounding occasional requests on considerations of humanity
and justice, little as such motives had ever influenced Louis, and rarely
as their names had of late been heard in the precincts of the palace. She
even induced him to pardon Madame de Grammont; insisting on such a
concession as due to herself, when she demanded it for one of her own
retinue, till he laughed, and replied, "Madame, your orders shall be
executed." And the steadiness she thus showed in protecting her own
servants won her many hearts among the courtiers, at the same time that it
filled her aunts with astonishment, who, while commending her firmness,
could not avoid adding that "it was easy to see that she did not belong to
their race.[12]" And how strong as well as how general was of respect and
good-will which she had thus diffused was seen in a remarkable manner at
some of the private theatricals, which were a frequent diversion of the
king, when the actor, at the end of one of his songs, introduced some
verses which he had composed in her honor, and the whole body of courtiers
who were present showed their approbation by a vehement clapping of their
hands, in defiance of a standing order of the court, which prohibited any
such demonstrations being made in the sovereign's presence.[13]

It, however, more than counterbalanced these triumphs that, before the end
of the year, the cabal of the mistress succeeded in procuring the
dismissal of the Choiseul, and the appointment of the Duc d'Aiguillon as
minister. For Choiseul had been not only a faithful, but a most judicious,
friend to her. If others showed too often that they regarded her as a
foreigner, he only remembered it as a reason for giving her hints as to
the feelings of the nation or of individuals which a native would not have
required. And she thankfully acknowledged that his suggestions had always
been both kind and useful, and expressed her sense of her obligations to
him, and her concern at his dismissal to her mother, who fully shared her
feelings on the subject.

And, encouraged by this victory over her most powerful adherent, the cabal
began to venture to attack Marie Antoinette herself. They surrounded her
with spies; they even spread a report that Louis had begun to see through
and to distrust her, in the hope that, when it should reach the king's own
ears, it might perhaps lay the foundation of the alienation which it
pretended to assert; and they grew the bolder because the king's next
brother was about to be married to a Savoyard princess, of whose favor De
la Vauguyon flattered himself that he was already assured. Under these
circumstances Marie Antoinette behaved with consummate prudence, as far at
least as her enemies were concerned. She despised the efforts made to
lower her in the general estimation so completely that she seemed wholly
unconscious of them. She did not even allow herself to be provoked into
treating the authors of the calumnies with additional coldness; but gave
no handle to any of them to complain of her, so that the critical and
anxious eyes of Mercy himself found nothing to wish altered in her conduct
toward them.[14] And throughout the winter she pursued the even tenor of
her way, making herself chiefly remarkable by almost countless acts of
charity, which she dispensed with such judgment as showed that they
proceeded, not from a heedless disregard of money, but from a thoughtful
and vigilant kindness, which did not think the feelings any more than the
necessities of the poor beneath her notice.

Circumstances to which she contributed only indirectly enhanced her
popularity and weakened the effects of the mistress's hostility.
Versailles had not been so gay for many winters, and the votaries of mere
amusement, always a strong party at every court, rejoiced at the addition
to the royal family to whom the gayety was owing. Louis roused himself to
gratify the young princess, who enlivened his place with the first
respectable pleasures which it or he had known for years. When he saw that
she liked dramatic performances, he opened the private theatre of the
palace twice a week. Because she was fond of dancing, he encouraged her to
have a weekly ball in her own apartments, at which she herself was the
principal attraction, not solely by the elegance of her every movement,
but still more by the graciousness with which she received and treated her
guests, having a kind smile and an affable word for all, apparently
forgetting her rank in the frankness of her condescension, yet at the same
time bearing herself with an innate dignity which prevented the most
forward from presuming on her kindness or venturing on any undue

The winter of 1770 was one of unusual severity; and she found resources
for a further enlivenment of the court in the frost itself. Sledging on
the snow was an habitual pastime at Vienna, where the cold is more severe
than at Paris; nor in former years had sledges been wholly unknown in the
Bois de Boulogne. And now Marie Antoinette, whose hardy habits made
exercise in the fresh air almost a necessity for her, had sledges built
for herself and her attendants; and the inhabitants of Versailles and the
neighborhood, as fond of novelty as all their countrymen, were delighted
at the merry sledging-parties which, as long as the snow lasted, explored
the surrounding country, while the woods rang with the horses' bells, and,
almost as loudly and still more cheerfully, with the laughter of the

Her liveliness had, as it were, given a new tone to the whole court; and
though the dauphin held out longer against the genial influence of his
wife's disposition than most people, it at last in some degree thawed even
his frigidity. She ascribed his apathy and apparent dislike to female
society rather to the neglect or malice of his early tutors than to any
natural defect of capacity or perversity of disposition; and often
lectured him on his deficiencies, and even on some of his favorite
pursuits, which she looked upon as contributing to strengthen his shyness
with ladies. She was not unacquainted with English literature, in which
the rusticity and coarseness of the fox-hunting squires formed a piquant
subject for the mirth of dramatists and novelists; and if Squire Western
had been the type of sportsmen in all countries, she could not have
inveighed more vigorously than she did against her husband's addiction to
hunting. One evening, when he did not return from the field till the play
in the theatre was half over, she not only frowned upon him all the rest
of the entertainment, but when, after the company had retired, he began to
enter into an explanation of the cause of his delay, a scene ensued which
it will be best to give in the very words of Mercy's report to the

"The dauphiness made him a short but very energetic sermon, in which she
represented to him with vivacity all the evils of the uncivilized kind of
life he was leading. She showed him that no one of his attendants could
stand that kind of life, and that they would like it the less that his own
air and rude manners made no amends to those who were attached to his
train; and that, by following this plan of life, he would end by ruining
his health and making himself detested. The dauphin received this lecture
with gentleness and submission, confessed that he was wrong, promised to
amend, and formally begged her pardon. This circumstance is certainly very
remarkable, and the more so because the next day people observed that he
paid the dauphiness much more attention, and behaved toward her with a
much more lively affection than usual.[16]"

We do not, however, find in reality that the severity of her admonitions
produced any permanent diminution of his fondness for hunting and
shooting; but the gentleness of her general manners, and the delight which
he saw that all around her took in her graciousness, so far excited his
admiration that he began to follow her example. He said that "she had such
native grace that every thing which she did succeeded to perfection; that
it must be admitted that she was charming." And before the end of the
winter he had come to take an active part both in her Monday balls, and in
those which her ladies occasionally gave in her honor; "dancing himself
the whole of the evening, and conversing with all the company with an air
of cheerfulness and good-nature of which no one before had ever thought
him capable.[17]" The happy change in his demeanor was universally
attributed to the dauphiness; and, as the character of their future king
was naturally watched with anxiety as a matter of the highest importance,
it greatly increased the attachment of all who had the welfare of the
nation at heart to the princess, whose general example had produced so
beneficial an effect.


Mercy's Correspondence with Empress.--Distress and Discontent pervade
France.--Goldsmith predicts a Revolution.--Apathy of the King.--The
Aunts mislead Marie Antoinette.--Maria Teresa hears that the Dauphiness
neglects her German Visitors.--Marriage of the Count de Provence.--Growing
Preference of Louis XV. for the Dauphiness.--The Dauphiness applies
herself to Study.--Marie Antoinette becomes a Horsewoman.--Her Kindness
to all beneath her.--Cabals of the Adherents of the Mistress.--The
Royal Family become united.--Concerts in the Apartments of the Dauphiness.

Marie Antoinette was not a very zealous or copious letter-writer. Her only
correspondent In her earlier years was her mother, and even to her her
letters are less effusive and less full of details than might have been
expected, one reason for their brevity arising out of the intrigues of the
court, since she had cause to believe herself so watched and spied upon
that her very desk was not safe; and, consequently, she never ventured to
begin a letter to the empress before the morning on which it was to be
sent, lest it should be read by those for whose eyes it was not intended.
For our knowledge, therefore, of her acts and feelings at this period of
her life, we still have to rely principally on Mercy's correspondence,
which is, however, a sufficiently trustworthy guide, so accurate was his
information, and so entire the frankness with which she opened herself to
him on all occasions and on all subjects.

The spring of 1771 opened very unfavorably for the new administration;
omens of impending dangers were to be seen on all sides. Ten or twelve
years before, Goldsmith, whose occasional silliness of manner prevented
him from always obtaining the attention to which his sagacity entitled
him, had named the growing audacity of the French parliaments as not only
an indication of the approach of great changes in that country, but as
likely also to be their moving cause.[1] And they had recently shown such
determined resistance to the royal authority, that, though in the most
conspicuous instance of it, their assertion of their right to pronounce an
independent judgment on the charges brought against the Duc d'Aiguillon,
they were unquestionably in the right; and though their pretensions were
supported by almost the whole body of the princes of the blood, some of
whom were immediately banished for their contumacy, Louis had been
persuaded to abolish them altogether. And Marie Antoinette, though she
carefully avoided mixing herself up with politics, was, as she reported to
her mother,[2] astonished beyond measure at their conduct, which she
looked upon as arising out of the grossest disloyalty, and which certainly
indicated the existence of a feeling very dangerous to the maintenance of
the royal authority on the part of those very men who were most bound to
uphold it. There was also great and general distress. For a moment in the
autumn it had been relieved by a fall in the price of bread, which the
unreasoning gratitude of the populace had attributed to the benevolence of
the dauphiness; but the severity of the winter had brought it back with
aggravated intensity till it reached even to the palace, and compelled a
curtailment of some of the festivities with which it had been intended to
celebrate the marriage of the Count de Provence, which was fixed for the
approaching May.

Distress is the sure parent of discontent, unless the people have a very
complete confidence in their government. And this was so far from being
the case in France at this time, that the distrust of and contempt for
those in the highest places increased daily more and more. The influence
which Madame du Barri exerted over the king became more rooted as he
became more used to submit to it, and more notorious as he grew more
shameless in his avowal of it. She felt her power, and her intrigues
became in the same proportion more busy and more diversified in their
objects. In the vigorous description of Mercy, Versailles was wholly
occupied by treachery, hatred, and vengeance; not one feeling of honesty
or decency remained; while the people, ever quick-witted to perceive the
vices of their rulers, especially when they are indulged at their expense,
revenged themselves by bitter and seditious language, and by satires and
pasquinades in which neither respect nor mercy was shown even to the
sacred person of the sovereign himself. He was callous to all marks of
contempt displayed for himself; but was, or was induced to profess
himself, deeply annoyed at the conduct of the dauphin, who showed a fixed
aversion for the mistress, which, however, his grandfather did not regard
as dictated by his own feelings. Louis rather believed that it was
fostered by Marie Antoinette, and that she, in encouraging her husband,
was but following the advice of her aunts; and he threatened to
remonstrate with the dauphiness on the subject, though, as Mercy correctly
divined, he could not nerve himself to the necessary resolution.

It was true that Marie Antoinette did often allow herself to be far too
much influenced by those princesses. She confessed to Mercy that she was
afraid to displease or thwart them; a feeling which he regarded as the
more unfortunate because, when she was not actuated by that consideration,
her own judgment and her own impulses would always guide her aright; and
because, too, the elder princesses were the most unsafe of all advisers.
They were notoriously jealous of one another, and each at times tried to
inspire her niece with her feelings toward the other two; and they often,
without meaning it, played into the hands of the mistress's cabal,
intriguing for selfish objects of their own with as much malice and
meanness as could be practiced by Madame du Barri herself.

Still, in spite of these drawbacks, it was almost inevitable that they
should have great influence over their niece. Their experience might well
be presumed by her to have given them a correct insight into the ways of
the court, and the best mode of behaving to their own father; and she, a
foreigner and almost a child, was not only in need of counsel and
guidance, but had no one else of her own sex to whom she could so
naturally look for information or advice. They were, as she explained to
Mercy, her only society; and, though she was too clear-sighted not to see
their faults, and not at times to be aware that she was suffering from
their perverseness, she, like other people, was often compelled to
tolerate what she could not mend, and to shut her eyes to disagreeable
qualities when forced to live on terms of intimacy with the possessors.

On this point Maria Teresa was, perhaps, hardly inclined to make
sufficient allowance for her difficulties, and insisted over and over
again on the mischief which would arise to her from the habit of
surrendering her judgment to these princesses. She told her that, though
far from being devoid of virtues and real merit, "they had never succeeded
in making themselves loved or esteemed by either their father or the
public;[3]" and she added other admonitions which, as they were avowedly
suggested by reports that had reached her, may be taken as indicating some
errors into which her daughter's lightness of heart had occasionally
betrayed her. She entreated her not to show an exclusive preference for
the more youthful portion of her society, to the neglect of those who were
older, and commonly of higher consideration; never to laugh at people or
turn them into ridicule--no habit could be more injurious to herself, and
indulgence in it would give reason to doubt her good-nature; it might gain
her the applause of a few young people, but it would alienate a much
greater number, and those the people of the most real weight and
respectability. "This is not," said the experienced and wise empress, "a
trivial matter in a princess. We live on the stage of the great world, and
it is above all things essential that people should entertain a high idea
of us. If you will only not allow others to lead you astray, you are sure
of success; a kind Providence has endowed you so liberally with beauty,
and with so many charms, that all hearts are yours if you are but

The empress would have had her exhibit this prudence in her conduct also
to Madame du Barri. She pressed upon her that she was justified in
appearing ignorant of that lady's real position and character; that she
need only be aware that she was received at court, and that respect for
the king should prevent her from suspecting him of countenancing
undeserving people.

One other detail in the accounts of Marie Antoinette's conduct, which from
time to time reached Vienna, had also vexed the empress, and it should be
kept in mind by any one who would fairly estimate the truth of the charge
brought against her, and urged with such rancor after she had become
queen--of postponing the interests of France to those of her native land,
of being Austrian at heart. Maria Teresa had heard, on the contrary, that
she had given those Austrians who had presented themselves at Versailles
but a cold reception, and she did not attempt to conceal her discontent.
With a natural and becoming pride in and jealousy for her own loyal and
devoted subjects, she entreated her daughter never to feel ashamed of
them, or ashamed of being German herself, even if, comparatively speaking,
the name should imply some deficiency in polish. "The French themselves
would esteem her more if they saw in her something of German solidity and

The daughter answered the mother with some adroitness. She took no notice
of the advice about her behavior to Madame du Barri. It was the one topic
on which her own feelings of propriety, as well as those of the dauphin,
coincided with the suggestions of the aunts, and she did not desire to vex
or provoke the empress by a prolonged discussion of the question; but the
charge of coldness to her own countrymen she denied earnestly. "She should
always glory in being a German. Some of those nobles whom the empress had
expressly named she had treated with careful distinction, and had even
danced with them, though they were not men of the very highest character.
She well knew that the Germans had many good qualities which she could
wish that the French shared with them;" and she promised that, whenever
any of her mother's subjects of such standing and merit as to be worthy of
her attention came to the court, they should have no cause to complain of
her reception of them. Her language on the subject is so measured and
careful as to lead us almost inevitably to the inference that the reports
which had excited such dissatisfaction at Vienna were not without
foundation, but that the French gayety, even if often descending to
frivolity, was more to her taste than the German solidity which her mother
so highly esteemed, and that she had been at no great pains to hide a
preference which must naturally he acceptable to those among whom her
future life was to be spent.

In the middle of May, the Count de Provence was married to the Princess
Josephine Louise of Savoy, and the court went to Fontainebleau to receive
the bride. The necessity for leaving Madame du Barri behind threw the king
more into the company of the dauphiness than he had been on any previous
occasion, and her unaffected graces seemed for the moment to have made a
complete conquest of him. He came in his dressing-gown to her apartments
for breakfast, and spent a great portion of the day there. The courtiers
again began to speculate on her breaking down the ascendency of the
favorite, remarking that, though Louis was careful to pay his new relative
the honors which, were her due as a stranger and a bride, he returned as
speedily as he could with decency to the dauphiness as if for relief; and
that, though she herself took care to put her new sister-in-law forward on
all occasions, and treated her with the most marked cordiality and
affection, every one else made the dauphiness the principal object of
homage even in the festivities which were celebrated in honor of the
countess. Indeed, it was evident from the very first that any attempt of
the mistress's cabal to establish a rivalry between the two princesses
must be out of the question. The Countess de Provence had no beauty, nor
accomplishments, nor graciousness. Horace Walpole, who was meditating a
visit to Paris, where he had some diligent correspondents, was told that
he would lose his senses when he saw the dauphiness, but would be
disenchanted by her sister; and the saying, though that of a blind old
lady, expressed the opinion of all Frenchmen who could see.[6]

Indeed, so obvious was the king's partiality for her that even Madame du
Barri more than once sought to propitiate her by speaking in praise of her
to Mercy, and professing an eager desire to aid in procuring the
gratification of any of her wishes. But he was too shrewd and too
well-informed to place the least confidence in her sincerity, though he
did not fear half as much harm to his pupil from her enmity as from the
pretended affection of the aunts, who, from a mixture of folly and
treachery, were unwearied in their attempts to keep her at a distance
from the king, by inspiring her with a fear of him, for which his
disposition, which had as much good-nature in it as was compatible with
weakness, gave no ground whatever. Indeed, the mischief they did was not
confined to their influence over her, if Mercy was correct in his belief
that it was their disagreeable tempers and manners which at this time,
and for the remainder of the reign, prevented Louis from associating
more with his family, which, had all been like the dauphiness, he would
have preferred to do.

It would probably have been in vain that Mercy remonstrated against her
submitting as she did to the aunts, had he not been at all times able to
secure the co-operation of the empress, who placed the most implicit
confidence in his judgment in all matters relating to the French court,
and remonstrated with her daughter energetically on the want of proper
self-respect which was implied in her surrendering her own judgment to
that of the aunts, as if she were a slave or a child. And Marie
Antoinette replied to her mother in a tone of such mingled submissiveness
and affection as showed how sincere was her desire to remove every shade
of annoyance from the empress's mind; and which may, perhaps, lead to a
suspicion that even her subservience to the aunts proceeded in a great
degree from her anxiety to win the good-will of every one, and from the
kindness which could not endure to thwart those with whom she was much
associated; though at the same time she complained to the ambassador that
her mother wrote without sufficient knowledge of the difficulties with
which she was surrounded. But she had too deep an affection and reverence
for her mother to allow her words to fall to the ground; and gradually
Mercy began to see a difference in her conduct, and a greater inclination
to assert her own independence, which was the feeling that above all
others he thought most desirable to foster in her.

Another topic which we find constantly urged in the empress's letters
would seem strangely inconsistent with Marie Antoinette's position, if we
did not remember how very young she still was. For her mother writes to
her in many respects as if she were still at school, and continually
inculcates on her the necessity of profiting by De Vermond's instructions,
and applying herself to a course of solid reading in theology and history.
And here, though her natural appetite for amusement interfered with her
studies somewhat more than the empress, prompted by Mercy, was willing to
make allowance for, she profited much more willingly by her mother's
advice, having indeed a natural inclination for the works of history and
biography, and a decided distaste for novels and romances. She could not
have had a better guide in such matters than De Vermond, who was a man of
extensive information and of a very correct taste; and under his guidance
and with his assistance she studied Sully's memoirs, Madame de Sevigne's
letters, and any other books which he recommended to her, and which gave
her an idea of the past history of the country as well as the masterpieces
of the great French dramatists.[7]

The latter part of the year 1771 was marked by no very striking
occurrences. Marie Antoinette had carried her point, and had begun to ride
on horseback without either her figure or her complexion suffering from
the exercise. On the contrary, she was admitted to have improved in
beauty. She sent her measure to Vienna, to show Maria Teresa how much she
had grown, adding that her husband had grown as much, and had become
stronger and more healthy-looking, and that she had made use of her
saddle-horses to accompany him in his hunting and shooting excursions.
Like a true wife, she boasted to her mother of his skill as a shot: the
very day that she wrote he had killed forty head of game. (She did not
mention that a French sportsman's bag was not confined to the larger game,
but that thrushes, blackbirds, and even, red-breasts, were admitted to
swell the list.) And the increased facilities for companionship with him
that her riding afforded increased his tenderness for her, so that she was
happier than ever. Except that as yet she saw no prospect of presenting
the empress with a grandchild, she had hardly a wish ungratified.

Her taste for open-air exercise of this kind added also to the attachment
felt for her by the lower classes, from the opportunities which arose out
of it for showing her unvarying and considerate kindness. The contrast
which her conduct afforded to that of previous princes, and indeed to that
of all the present race except her husband, caused her actions of this
sort to be estimated rather above their real importance. But how great was
the impression which they did make on those who witnessed them may be seen
in the unanimity with which the chroniclers of the time record her
forbidding her postilions to drive over a field of corn which lay between
her and the stag, because she would rather miss the sight of the chase
than injure the farmer; and relate how, on one occasion, she gave up
riding for a week or two, and sent her horses back from Compiegne to
Versailles, because the wife of her head-groom was on the point of her
confinement, and she wished her to have her husband near her at such a
moment; and on another, when the horse of one of her attendants kicked
her, and inflicted a severe bruise on her foot, she abstained from
mentioning the hurt, lest it should bring the rider into disgrace by being
attributed to his awkward management.

Not that the intrigues of the mistress and her adherents were at all
diminished. They were even more active than ever since the marriage of the
Count de Provence, who, in an underhanded way, instigated his wife to show
countenance to Madame du Barri, and who allowed, if he did not encourage,
the mistress and her friends to speak slightingly of the dauphiness in his
presence. But, as Marie Antoinette felt firmer in her own position, she
could afford to disregard the malice of these caballers more than she had
felt that she could do at first, and even to defy them. On one occasion
that the Count de Provence was imprudent enough to discuss some of his
schemes with the door open while she was in the next room, she told him
frankly that she had heard all that he said, and reproached him for his
duplicity; and the dauphin coming in at the moment, she flew to him,
throwing her arms round his neck, and telling him how she appreciated his
honesty and candor, and how the more she compared him with the others, the
more she saw his superiority. Indeed, she soon began to find that the
Countess de Provence was as little to be trusted as her husband; and the
only member of the family whom she really liked, or of whom she had at all
a favorable opinion, was the Count d'Artois, who, though not yet out of
the school-room, "showed," as she told her mother, "sentiments of honesty
which he could never have learned of his governor.[8]"

Her indefatigable guardian, Mercy, reported to the empress that she
improved every day. He had learned to conceive a very high idea of her
abilities; and he dilated with especial satisfaction on the powers of
conversation which she was developing; on her wit and readiness in
repartee; on her originality, as well as facility of expression; and on
her perfect possession of the royal art of speaking to a whole company
with such notice of each member of it, that each thought himself the
person to whom her remarks were principally addressed. She possessed
another accomplishment, also, of great value to princes--a tenacious
recollection of faces and names. And she had made herself acquainted with
the history of all the chief nobles, so as to be able to make graceful
allusions to facts in their family annals of which they were proud, and,
what was perhaps even more important, to avoid unpleasant or dangerous
topics. The king himself was not insensible to the increase of attraction
which her charms, both of person and manner, conferred on the royal
palace. He was perfectly satisfied with the civility of her behavior to
Madame du Barri, who admitted that she had nothing to complain of. And
the only point in which even Mercy, the most critical of judges, saw any
room for alteration in her conduct was a certain remissness in bestowing
her notice on men of real eminence, and on foreign visitors if they were
not of the very highest rank; the remark as to the latter class being
perhaps dictated by a somewhat excessive natural susceptibility, and by a
laudable desire that any Germans who returned from France to their own
country should sing her praises in her native land.

Perhaps one of the strongest proofs of the regard in which, at this time,
she was held by all parties in the court is found in the circumstance that
the Count de Provence himself very soon found it impossible to continue
his countenance to the intrigues against her which he had previously
favored. He preferred ingratiating himself and the countess with her.
Marie Antoinette was always placable, and from the first had been eager,
as the head of the family, to place her sister-in-law at her ease; so that
when the count evinced his desire to stand on a friendly footing with her,
she showed every disposition to meet his wishes, and the spring and summer
of 1772 exhibited to the courtiers, who were little accustomed to such
scenes, a happy example of an intimate family union. Marie Antoinette had
always been fond of music, and, as we have seen before, ever since her
arrival in France, had devoted fixed hours to her music-master. And now,
on almost every evening which was not otherwise preoccupied, she gave
little concerts in her apartments to the royal family, their principal
attendants, and a few of the chief nobles of the court; being herself
occasionally one of the performers, and maintaining her character as a
hostess by a combined affability and dignity which made all her guests
pleased with themselves as with her, and set all imitation and all
detraction alike at defiance.


Marie Antoinette wishes to see Paris.--Intrigues of Madame Adelaide.--
Characters of the Dauphin and the Count de Provence.--Grand Review at
Fontainebleau.--Marie Antoinette ill the Hunting Field.--Letter from her
to the Empress.--Mischievous Influence of the Dauphin's Aunts on her
Character.--Letter of Marie Antoinette to the Empress.--Her Affection for
her Old House.--The Princes are recalled from Exile.--Lord Stormont.--
Great Fire at the Hotel-Dieu.--Liberality and Charity of Marie
Antoinette.--She goes to the Bal d'Opera.---Her Feelings about the
Partition of Poland.--The King discusses Politics with her, and thinks
highly of her Ability.

It was a curious proof of the mischievousness as well as of the extent of
the influence which Madame Adelaide and her sister were able to exert over
the indolence and apathy of their father, that when Marie Antoinette had
for more than two years been married and living within twelve miles of
Paris, she had never yet seen it by daylight, although the universal and
natural expectation of the citizens had been that the royal pair would pay
the city a state visit immediately after their marriage. Her own wishes
had not been consulted in the matter; for she was naturally anxious to see
the beautiful city of which she had heard so much; and the delay which had
taken place was equally at variance with Madame de Noailles' notions of
propriety. But when the countess suggested a plan for visiting the capital
_incognito_, proposing that the dauphiness should drive as far as the
entrance to the suburbs, and then, having sent on her saddle-horses,
should ride along the boulevards, Madame Adelaide, professing a desire to
join the party, raised so many difficulties on the subject of the retinue
which was to follow, and was so successful in creating jealousies between
her own ladies and those in attendance on Marie Antoinette, that Madame de
Noailles was forced to recommend the abandonment of the project. Mercy was
far more annoyed than his young mistress; he saw that the secret object of
Madame Adelaide was to throw as many hindrance as possible in the way of
the dauphiness winning popularity by appearing in public, while he also
correctly judged hat it would be consistent both with propriety and with
her interest, as the future queen of the country, rather to seek and even
make opportunities for enabling the people to become acquainted with her.
But to Marie Antoinette any disappointment of that kind was a very
trifling matter. She had vexations which, as she told the embassador, she
could not explain even to him; and they kept alive in her a feeling of
homesickness which, in all persons of amiable and affectionate
disposition, must require some, time to subdue. Even when her brother, the
Archduke Ferdinand, had quit Vienna in the preceding autumn to enter on
the honorable post of Governor of Lombardy, she had not congratulated, but
condoled with him, "feeling by her own experience how much it costs to be
separated from one's family." And what she had found in her own home did
not as yet make up to her for all she had left behind. Even her husband,
though uniformly kind in language and behavior, was of a singularly cold
and undemonstrative disposition; and it almost seemed as if the gayety
which he exhibited at her balls were an effort so foreign to his nature
that he indemnified himself by unpardonable boorishness on other
occasions. The Count de Provence had but little more polish, and a far
worse temper. Squabbles often took place between the two brothers. Though
both married men, they were still in age only boys; and on more than one
occasion they proceeded to acts of personal violence to each other in her
presence. Luckily no one else was by, and she was able to pacify and
reconcile them; but she could hardly avoid feeling ashamed of having been
called on to exert herself in such a cause, or contrasting the undignified
boisterousness (to give it no worse name) of such scenes with the decorous
self-respect which, with all their simplicity of character, had always
governed the conduct of her own relations.

Not but that, in the opinion of Mercy,[1] the dauphin was endowed by
nature with a more than ordinary share of good qualities. His faults were
only such as proceeded from an excessively bad education. He had many most
essential virtues. He was a young man of perfect integrity and
straightforwardness; he was desirous to hear the truth; and it was never
necessary to beat about the bush, or to have recourse to roundabout ways
of bringing it before him. On the contrary, to speak to him with perfect
frankness was the surest way both to win his esteem and to convince his
reason. On one or two occasions in which he had consulted the embassador,
Mercy had expressed his opinions without the least reserve, and had
perceived that the young prince had liked him better for his candor.

The king still kept up the habit of spending the greater part of the
autumn at Compiegne and Fontainebleau, visits which Marie Antoinette
welcomed as a holiday from the etiquette of Versailles. She wrote word to
her mother that she was growing very fast, and taking asses' milk to keep
up her strength; that that regimen, with constant exercise, was doing her
great good; and that she had gained great praise for the excellence of her
riding. On one occasion, when they were at Fontainebleau, she especially
delighted the officers of her husband's regiment of cuirassiers, when the
king reviewed it in person. The dauphin himself took the command of his
men, and put them through their evolutions while she rode by his side; he
then presented each of the officers to her separately, and she distributed
cockades to the whole body. The first she gave to the dauphin himself,[2]
who placed it in his hat. Each officer, as he received his, did the same.
And after the king had taken his departure, she, with her husband,
remained on the field for an hour, conversing freely with the soldiers,
and showing the greatest interest in all that concerned the regiment.
Throughout the day the young prince had exhibited a knowledge of the
profession, and a readiness as well as an ease of manner, which had
surprised all the spectators, and Mercy had the satisfaction of hearing
every one attribute the admirable appearance which he had made on so
important an occasion (for it was the first time of his appearing in such
a position) to the example and hints of the dauphiness.

It was scarcely less of a public appearance, while it was one in which the
king himself probably took more interest, when, a few days afterward, on
the occasion of a grand stag-hunt in the forest, she joined in the chase
in a hunting uniform of her own devising. The king was so delighted that
he scarcely left her side, and extolled her taste in dress, as well as her
skill in horsemanship, to all whom he honored with his conversation. But
the empress was not quite so well pleased. Her disapproval of horse
exercise for young married women was as strong as ever. She had also
interpreted some of her daughter's submissive replies to her admonitions
on the subject as a promise that she would not ride, and she scolded her
severely (no weaker word can express the asperity of her language) for
neglect of her engagement, as well as for the risk of accidents which are
incurred by those who follow the hounds, and some of which, as she heard,
had befallen the dauphiness herself. Her daughter's explanation was as
frank as it deserved to be accounted sufficient, while her letter is
interesting also, as showing her constant eagerness to exculpate herself
from the charge of indifference to her German countrymen, an eagerness
which proves how firmly she believed the notion to be fixed in the
empress's mind.

"I expect, my dear mamma, that people must have told you more about my
rides than there really was to be told. I will tell you the exact truth.
The king and the dauphin both like to see me on horseback. I only say this
because all the world perceives it, and especially while we were absent
from Versailles they were delighted to see me in my riding-habit. But,
though I own it was no great effort for me to conform myself to their
desires, I can assure you that I never once let myself he carried away by
too much eagerness to keep close to the hounds; and I hope that, in spite
of all my giddiness, I shall always allow myself to be restrained by the
experienced hunters who constantly accompany me, and I shall never thrust
myself into the crowd. I should never have supposed any one could have
reported to you as an accident what happened to me in Fontainebleau. Every
now and then one finds in the forest large stepping stones; and as we were
going on very gently my horse stumbled on one covered with sand, which he
did not see; but I easily held him up, and we went on.... Esterhazy was at
our ball yesterday. Every one was greatly pleased with his dignified
manner and with his style of dancing. I ought to have spoken to him when
he was presented to me, and my silence only proceeded from embarrassment,
as I did not know him. It would be doing me great injustice to think that
I have any feeling of indifference to my country; I have more reason than
any one to feel, every day of my life, the value of the blood which flows
in my veins, and it is only from prudence that at times I abstain from
showing how proud I am of it.... I never neglect any mode of paying
attention to the king, and of anticipating his wishes as far as I can. I
hope that he is pleased with me. It is my duty to please him, my duty and
also my glory, if by such means I can contribute to maintain the alliance
of the two houses....[3]"

The empress was but half pacified about the riding and hunting. She owned
that, if both the king and the dauphin approved of it, she had nothing
more to say, though she still blamed the dauphiness for forgetting a
promise which she understood to have been made to herself. At the same
time, no language could be kinder than that in which she asked "whether
her daughter could believe that she would wish to deprive her of so
innocent a pleasure, she who would give her very life to procure her one,
if she were not apprehensive of mischievous consequences;" her
apprehensions being solely dictated by her anxiety to see her daughter
bear an heir to the throne. But she would by no means admit her excuses
for giving the Hungarian prince a cold reception. "How," she said, "could
she forget that her little Antoinette, when not above twelve or thirteen
years old, knew how to receive people publicly, and say something polite
and gracious to every one, and how could she suppose that the same
daughter, now that she was dauphiness, could feel embarrassment?
Embarrassment was a mere chimera."

But the truth was that it was not a mere chimera. Mercy had more than once
deplored, as one among the mischievous effects of Madame Adelaide's
constant interference and domineering influence, that it had bred in Marie
Antoinette a timidity which was wholly foreign to her nature. And indeed
it was hardly possible for one still so young to be aware that she was
surrounded by unfriendly intriguers and spies, and to preserve that
uniform presence of mind which her rank and position made so desirable for
her, and which was in truth so natural to her that she at once recovered
it the moment that her circumstances changed.

And a probability of an early change was already apparent. During the last
months of 1772 there was a general idea that the king's health and mental
faculties were both giving away; and all the different parties about
Versailles began to show their sense of her approaching authority. It was
remarked that both the ministers and the mistress had become very guarded
in their language, and in their behavior to her and her husband. The Count
de Provence took a curious way of showing his expectation of a change, by
delivering her a long paper of counsels for her guidance, the chief object
of which was to warn her against holding such frequent conversations with
Mercy. She apparently thought that the writer's desire was to remove the
embassador from her confidence that he himself might occupy the vacant
place, and she showed her opinion of the value of the advice by reading it
to Mercy and then putting it into the fire.

Some extracts from the first letter which she wrote to her mother in 1773
will serve to give us a fair idea of her feelings at this time, both from
what it does and from what it does not mention. The intelligence which has
reached her about her sister recalls to her mind her own anxiety to become
a mother, her disappointment in this matter being, indeed, one of the most
constant topics of lamentation in the letters of both daughter and mother,
till it was removed by the birth of the princess royal. But that is her
only vexation. In every other respect she seems perfectly contented with
the course which affairs are taking; while we see how thoroughly unspoiled
she is both in the warmth of the affection with which she speaks of her
family and greets the little memorials of home which have been sent her;
and still more in the continuance of her acts of charity, and in her
design that her benevolence should be unknown.

"I hear that the queen[4] is expecting to be confined. I hope her child
will be a son. When shall I be able to say the same of myself? They tell
me, too, that the grand duke[5] and his wife are going into Spain. I
greatly wish that they would conceive a dread of the sea-voyage, and take
this place in their way. The journey would be a little longer; but they
would be well received here, for my brother is very highly thought of;
and, besides, I am somewhat jealous at being the only one of my family
unacquainted with my sister-in-law.

"The pictures of my little brothers which you have sent me have given me
great pleasure. I have had them set in a ring, and wear it every day.
Those who have seen my brothers at Vienna pronounce the pictures very
like, and every one thinks them very good-looking. New-year's-day here is
a day of a great crowd and grand ceremony. There was nothing either to
blame or to praise in the degree in which I adopted my dear mamma's
advice. The Favorite came to pay her respects to me at a moment when my
apartment was very full It was impossible for me to address myself to
every one separately, so I spoke to the whole company in a body; and I
have reason to believe that both the Favorite and her sister, who is her
principal adviser, were pleased; though I have also reason to believe
that, two days afterward, M. d'Aiguillon tried to persuade them that they
had been ill-treated. As for the minister himself, he has never complained
of me, and, indeed, I have always been careful to treat him equally well
with the rest of his colleagues.

"You will have learned, my dear mamma, that the Duc d'Orleans and the Duc
de Chartres are returned from banishment. I am glad of it for the sake of
peace, and for that of the tranquillity and comfort of the king. But, if
she had been in the king's place, I do not think my dear mamma would have
accepted the letter which they have dared to write, and which they have
got printed in foreign newspapers.[6]

"I was glad to see M. de Stormont.[7] I asked him all the news about my
dear family, and it was a pleasure to him to inform me. He seems to me to
have overcome his prejudices, and every one here thinks him a man of
thorough high-breeding. I have desired M. de Mercy to invite him to one of
my Monday balls. We are going to have one at, Madame de Noailles'. They
will last till Ash-Wednesday. They will begin an hour or two later than
they used to, that we may not be so tired as we were last year when we
came to Lent In spite of the amusements of the carnival, I am always
faithful to my poor harp, and they say that I make great progress with it.
I sing, too, every week at the concert given by my sister of Provence.
Although there are very few people there, they are very well amused; and
my singing gives great pleasure to my two sisters.[8] I also find time to
read a little. I have begun the 'History of England' by Mr. Hume. It seems
to me very interesting, though it is necessary to recollect that it is a
Protestant who has written it.

"All the newspapers have spoken of the terrible fire at the Hotel-Dieu.[9]
They were obliged to remove the patients into the cathedral and the
archbishop's palace. There are generally from five to six thousand
patients in the hospital. In spite of all the exertions that were made, it
was impossible to prevent the destruction of a great part of the building;
and, though it is now a fortnight since the accident happened, the tire is
still smoldering in the cellars. The archbishop has enjoined a collection
to be made for the sufferers, and I have sent him a thousand crowns. I
said nothing of my having done so to any one, and the compliments which
they have paid me on it have been embarrassing to me; but they have said
it was right to let it be known that I had sent this money, for the sake
of the example."

She was on this, as on many other occasions, one of those who

  "Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame."

One of her sayings, with which she more than once repressed the panegyrics
of those who, as it seemed to her, extolled her benevolence too loudly,
was that it was not worth while to say a great deal about giving a little
assistance; and, on this occasion, so secret had she intended to keep her
benevolence that she had not mentioned it to De Vermond, or even to Mercy.
But she judged rightly that the empress would enter into the feelings
which had prompted both the act and also the silence; and she was amply
rewarded by her mother's praise.

"I have been enchanted," the empress wrote, in instant reply, "with the
thousand crowns that you have sent to the Hotel-Dieu, and you speak very
properly in saying that you have been vexed at people speaking to you
about it. Such actions ought to be known to God alone, and I am certain
that you acted in that spirit. Still, those who published your act had
good reasons for what they did, as you say yourself, thinking of the
influence of your example. My dear little girl, we owe this example to the
world, and to set such is one of the most essential and most delicate
duties of our condition. The more frequently you can perform acts of
benevolence and generosity without crippling your means too much, the
better; and what would be ostentation and prodigality in another is
becoming and necessary for those of our rank. We have no other resources
but those of conferring benefits and showing kindness; and this is even
more the case with a dauphiness or a queen consort, which I myself have
not been."

There could hardly be a better specimen of the principles on which the
empress herself had governed her extensive dominions, or of the value of
her example and instructions to her daughter, than that which is contained
in these few lines; but it is not always that such lessons are so closely
followed as they were by the virtuous and beneficent dauphiness. The
winter passed on cheerfully; the ordinary amusements of the palace being
varied by her going with the dauphin and the Count and Countess of
Provence to one of the public masked balls of the opera-house, a diversion
which, considering the unavoidably mixed character of the company, it is
hard to avoid thinking somewhat unsuited to so august a party, but one
which had been too frequently countenanced by different members of the
royal family for several years for such a visit to cause remarks, though
the masks of the princes and princesses could not long preserve their
secret Another favorite amusement of the court at this time was the
representation of proverbs, in which Marie Antoinette acted with the
little Elizabeth; and we have a special account of one such performance,
which was given in her honor by one of her ladies, having been originally
devised for the Day of Saint Anthony, as her saint's day,[10] though it
was postponed on account of her being confined to her room with a cold.
The proverb was, "Better late than never;" and, as the most acceptable
compliment to the dauphiness, the managers introduced a number of
characters attired in a diversity of costumes, intended to represent the
natives of all the countries ruled over by the Empress-queen, each of whom
made a speech, in which the praises of Maria Teresa and Marie Antoinette
were happily combined.

The king got better, and intrigues of all kinds were revived; but, aided
by Mercy's counsels, and supported by the dauphin's unalterable affection,
Marie Antoinette disconcerted all that were aimed at her by the uniform
prudence of her conduct. Happily for her, with all his defects, her
husband was still one in whom she could feel perfect confidence. As she
told Mercy, under any conceivable circumstances she was sure of his views
and intentions being always right; the only difficulty was to engage him
in a sufficiently decided course of action, which his timid and sluggish
disposition rendered almost painful to him. And just at this moment she
was more anxious than usual to inspire him with her own feelings and
spirit, because she could not avoid fearing that the discontent with which
the few people in France who deserved the name of statesmen regarded the
recent partition of Poland might create a coolness between France and
Austria, calculated to endanger the alliance, the continuance of which was
so indispensable to her happiness, and, as she was firmly convinced, to
the welfare of both countries. She conversed more than once with Mercy on
the subject, and her reflections, both on the partition, and on the degree
in which the mutual interest of the two nations was concerned in their
remaining united, gave him a very good idea of her political capacity. He
also reported to his imperial mistress that he had found out that King
Louis had conceived the same opinion of her, and had begun to discuss
affairs of importance with her. He trusted that his majesty would get a
habit of doing so; since, if his life should be spared, she would thus in
time become able to exert a very useful influence over him; and as, at all
events, "it was absolutely certain that some day or other she would govern
the kingdom, it was of the very greatest consequence to the success of the
great and brilliant career which she had before her that she should
previously accustom herself to regard affairs with such principles and
views as were suitable to the position which she must occupy."


Marie Antoinette is anxious for the Maintenance of the Alliance between
France and Austria.--She, with the Dauphin, makes a State Entry into
Paris.--The "Dames de la Halle."--She praises the Courtesy of the
Dauphin.--Her Delight at the Enthusiasm of the Citizens.--She, with the
Dauphin, goes to the Theatre, and to the Fair of St. Ovide, and to St.
Cloud.--Is enthusiastically received everywhere.--She learns to drive.--
She makes some Relaxations in Etiquette.--Marriage of the Comte d'Artois.
--The King's Health grows Bad.--Visit of Marshal Lacy to Versailles.--The
King catches the Small-pox.--Madame du Barri quits Versailles.--The King

Politics were, indeed, taking such a hold over Marie Antoinette that they
begin to furnish some topics for her letters to her mother, one of which
shows that she had already formed that opinion of French fickleness which
she had afterward too abundant cause to maintain. "I do hope," she says,
"that the good intelligence between our two nations will last. One good
thing in this country is, that if ill-natured feelings are quick to arise,
they disappear with equal rapidity. The King of Prussia is innately a bad
neighbor, but the English will also always be bad neighbors to France, and
the sea has never prevented them from doing her great mischief." We might,
firstly, demur to any actions of our statesmen being classed with the
treacherous aggressions of Frederick of Prussia, nor did many years of her
husband's reign pass over before the greatest of English ministers
proposed and concluded a treaty between the two countries, which he fondly
and wisely hoped would lay the foundations of a better understanding, if
not of a lasting peace, between the two countries. But even before that
treaty was framed, and before Pitt's voice had become predominant in the
State, Marie Antoinette's complaint that the sea had never disarmed us of
power to injure France had received the strongest exemplification that as
yet the history of the two nations afforded in Rodney's great victory.
However, she soon turns to more agreeable subject, and proceeds to speak
of a pleasure to which she was looking forward, and which, as we have
already seen, had been unaccountably deferred till this time, in defiance
of all propriety and of all precedent. "I hope that the dauphin and I
shall make our entry into Paris next month, which will be a great delight
to me. I do not venture to speak of it yet, though I have the king's
promise: it would not be the first time that they had made him change his

The most elaborate exposure of the cabals and intrigues which ever since
her marriage had been persistently directed against Marie Antoinette could
not paint them so forcibly as the simple fact that three years had now
elapsed since her marriage; and that, though the state entrance of the
heir of the crown and his bride into the metropolis of the kingdom ought
to have been a prominent part of the marriage festivities, it had never
yet taken place. Nor, though Louis had at last given his formal promise
that it should be no longer delayed, did the young pair even yet feel sure
that an influence superior to theirs might not induce him to recall it.
However, at last the intrigues were baffled, and, on the 8th of June, the
visit, which had been expected by the Parisians with an eagerness
exceeding that of the dauphiness herself, was made. It was in every
respect successful; and it is due to Marie Antoinette to let the outline
of the proceeding be described by herself.

"Versailles, June 14th.

"MY DEAREST MOTHER,--I absolutely blush for your kindness to me. The day
before yesterday Mercy sent me your precious letter, and yesterday I
received a second. That is indeed passing one's fete day happily. On
Tuesday I had a fete which I shall never forget all my life. We made our
entrance into Paris. As for honors, we received all that we could possibly
imagine; but they, though very well in their way, were not what touched me
most. What was really affecting was the tenderness and earnestness of the
poor people, who, in spite of the taxes with which they are overwhelmed,
were transported with joy at seeing us. When we went to walk in the
Tuileries, there was so vast a crowd that we were three-quarters of an
hour without being able to move either forward or backward. The dauphin
and I gave repeated orders to the Guards not to beat any one, which had a
very good effect. Such excellent order was kept the whole day that, in
spite of the enormous crowd which followed us everywhere, not a person was
hurt. When we returned from our walk we went up to an open terrace, and
staid there half an hour. I can not describe to you, my dear mamma, the
transports of joy and affection which every one exhibited toward us.
Before we withdrew we kissed our hands to the people, which gave them
great pleasure. What a happy, thing it is for persons in our rank to gain
the love of a whole nation so cheaply! Yet there is nothing so precious; I
felt it thoroughly, and shall never forget it.

"Another circumstance which gave great pleasure on that glorious day was
the behavior of the dauphin. He made admirable replies to every address,
and remarked every thing that was done in his honor, and especially the
earnestness and delight of the people, to whom he showed great kindness.
Of all the copies of verses which were given me on this occasion, these
are the prettiest which I inclose to you.[1] Tomorrow we are going to
Paris to the opera, There is great anxiety for us to do so; and I believe
that we shall go on two other days also to visit the French and the
Italian comedy. I feel more and more, every day of my life, how much my
dear mamma has done for my establishment. I was the youngest of all her
daughters, and she has treated me as if I were the eldest; so that my
whole soul is filled with the most tender gratitude.

"The king has had the kindness to procure the release of three hundred and
twenty prisoners, for debts due to nurses who have brought up their
children. Their release took place two days after our entrance. I wished
to attend Divine service on my fete day; but the evening before, my
sister, the Countess of Provence, had a party for me, a proverb with songs
and fire-works, and this distraction forced me to put off going to church
till the next day.

"I am very glad to hear that you have such good hope of the continuance of
peace. While the intriguers of this country are devouring one another,
they will not harass their neighbors nor their allies."

She does not enter into details; the pomp and ceremony of their reception
by nobles and magistrates had been in her eyes as nothing in comparison
with the cordial welcome given to them by the poorer citizens. While they,
on their part, must have been equally gratified at perceiving the sincere
pleasure with which she and the dauphin accepted their salutations; a
feeling how different from that which had animated any of their princes
for many years, we may judge from the order given to the guards to forbear
beating the crowd which gathered round them, as no doubt, without such an
order, the soldiers would have thought it usual and natural to do.

Not that the proceedings of the day had not been magnificent and imposing
enough to attract the admiration of any who thought less of the hearts of
the citizens than of pomp and splendor. The royal train, conveyed from
Versailles in six state carriages, was received at the city gate by the
governor, the Marshal Duc de Brissac, accompanied by the head of the
police, the provost of the merchants, and all the other municipal
authorities. The marshal himself was the heir of the Comte de Brissac who,
nearly two centuries before, being also Governor of Paris, had tendered to
the victorious Henry IV. the submission of the city. But Henry was as yet
only the chief of a party, not the accepted sovereign of the whole nation;
and the enthusiasm with which half the citizens rained their shouts of
exultation in his honor had its drawback in the sullen silence of the
other half, who regarded the great Bourbon as their conqueror rather than
their king, and his triumphant entrance as their defeat and humiliation.

To-day all the citizens were but one party. As but one voice was heard, so
but one heart gave utterance to it. The joy was as unanimous as it was
loud. From the city gates the royal party passed on to the great national
cathedral of Notre Dame, and from thence to the church dedicated by
Clovis, the first Christian king, to St. Genevieve, whose recent
restoration was the most creditable work of the present reign, and which
subsequently, under the new name of the Pantheon, was destined to become
the resting-place of many of the worthies whose memory the nation
cherishes with enduring pride. At last they reached the Tuileries, their
progress having been arrested at different points by deputations of all
kinds with loyal and congratulatory addresses; at the Hotel-Dieu by the
prioress with a company of nuns; on the Quai Conti by the Provost of the
Mint with his officers; before the college bearing the name of its
founder, Louis le Grand, the Rector of the University, at the head of his
students, greeted them in a Latin speech, at the close of which he secured
the re-doubling of the acclamations of the pupils by promising them a
holiday. Not that the cheers required any increase. The citizens in their
ecstasy did not even think their voices sufficient. As the royal couple
moved slowly through the gardens of the Tuileries arm-in-arm, every hand
was employed in clapping, hats were thrown up, and every token of joy
which enthusiasm ever devised was displayed to the equally delighted
visitors. "Good heavens, what a crowd!" said Marie Antoinette to De
Brissac, who had some difficulty in keeping his place at her side.
"Madame," said the old warrior, as courtly as he was valiant, "if I may
say so without offending my lord the dauphin, they are all so many
lovers." When they had made the circuit of the garden and returned to the
palace, the most curious part of the day's ceremonies awaited them. A
banqueting-table was arranged for six hundred guests, and those guests
were not the nobles of the nation, nor the clergy, nor the must renowned
warriors, nor the municipal officers, but the fish-women of the city
market. A custom so old that its origin can not be traced had established
the right of these dames to bear an especial part in such festivities. In
the course of the morning they had made their future queen free of their
market, with an offering of fruits and flowers. And now, as, according to
a singular usage of the court, no male subject was ever allowed to sit at
table with a queen or dauphiness of France, the dinner party over which
the youthful pair, sitting side by side, presided, consisted wholly of
these dames whose profession is not generally considered as imparting any
great refinement to the manners, and who, before the close of the
entertainment, showed, in more cases than one, that they had imported some
of the notions and fashions of their more ordinary places of resort into
the royal palace.

It was characteristic of Marie Antoinette that, in her description of the
day to her mother, she had dwelt with special emphasis on the gracious
deportment of her husband. It was equally natural for Mercy to assure the
empress[2] that it had been the grace and elegance of the dauphiness
herself which had attracted general admiration, and that it was to her
example and instruction that every one attributed the courteous demeanor
which, as he did not deny, the young prince had unquestionably exhibited.
It was she whom the king, as he affirmed, had complimented on the result
of the day; a success which she had gracefully attributed to himself,
saying that he must be greatly beloved by the Parisians to induce them to
give his children so splendid a reception[3]. To whomsoever it was owing,
the embassador certainly did not exaggerate the opinion of the world
around him when he affirmed that, in the memory of man, no one recollected
any ceremony which had made so great a sensation, and had been attended by
so complete a success.

And it was followed up, as she expected, by several visits to the
different Parisian theatres, which, in compliance with the king's express
direction, were made in all the state which would have been observed had
he himself been present. Salutes were fired from the Bastile and the Hotel
des Invalides; companies of Royal Guards lined the vestibule and the
passage of the theatre; sentinels stood even on the stage; but, fond as
the French are of martial finery and parade, the spectators paid little
attention to the soldiers, or even to the actors. All eyes were fixed on
the dauphiness alone. At Mercy's suggestion, the dauphin and she had
previously obtained the king's permission to allow the violation of the
rule which forbade any clapping of hands in the presence of royalty. This
relaxation of etiquette was hailed as a great condescension by the
play-goers, and throughout the evening of their appearance at the Italian
comedy the spectators had already made abundant use of their new
privilege, when the enthusiasm was brought to a height by a chorus which
ended with the loyal burden of "Vive le roi!" Clerval, the performer of
the principal part, added, "Et ses chers enfants;" and the compliment was
re-echoed from every part of the house with continued clapping and
cheering, till it reminded Marie Antoinette of a somewhat similar scene
which, as a child, she had witnessed in the theatre of Vienna,[4] when the
empress, from her box, had announced to the audience that a son (the heir
to the empire) had just been born to the Archduke Leopold.

The ice being, thus, as it were, once broken, the dauphin and dauphiness
took many opportunities of appearing in public during the following
months, visiting the great Paris fair of St. Ovide, as it was called,
walking up and down the alleys, and making purchases at the stalls the
whole Place Louis XV., to which the fair had recently been removed, being
illuminated, and the crowd greeting them with repeated and enthusiastic
cheers. They also went in state to the exhibition of pictures at the
Louvre, and drove to St. Cloud to walk about the park attached to that
palace, which was one of the most favorite places of resort for the
Parisians on the fine summer evenings; so that, while the court was at
Versailles, scarcely a week elapsed without her giving them an opportunity
of seeing her, in which it was evident that she fully shared their
pleasure. To be loved was with her a necessity of her very nature; and, as
she was constantly referring with pride to the attachment felt by the
Austrians for her mother, she fixed her own chief wishes on inspiring with
a similar feeling those who were to become her and her husband's subjects.
She was, at least for the time, rewarded as she desired. This is, indeed,
said they, the best of innovations, the best of revolutions,[5] to see the
princes mingling with the people, and interesting themselves in their
amusements. This was really to unite all classes; to attach the country to
the palace and the palace to the country; and it was to the dauphiness
that the credit of this new state of things was universally attributed.

She was looking forward to a greater pleasure in a visit from her.
brother, the emperor, which the empress hoped might be attended with
consequences more important than those of passing pleasure; since she
trusted to his influence, and, if opportunity should occur, to his
remonstrances, to induce the dauphin to break through the unaccountable
coldness with which, in some respects, he still treated his beautiful
wife. But Joseph was forced to postpone his visit, and the fulfillment of
the empress's anticipations was also postponed for some years.

However, Marie Antoinette never allowed disappointments to dwell in her
mind longer than she could help. She rather strove to dispel the
recollection of them by such amusements as were within her reach. She
learned to drive, and found great diversion in being her own charioteer
through the glades of the forest. She began to make further inroads in the
court etiquette, giving balls in which she broke through the custom which
prescribed that special places should be marked out for the royal family,
and directed that the princes and princesses should sit with the rest of
the company during the intervals between the dances; an arrangement which
enabled her to talk to every one, and which gained her general good-will
from the graciousness of her manner. She did not greatly trouble herself
at the jealousy of her popularity openly displayed by her aunts and her
sister-in-law, who could not bear to hear her called "La bellissima.[6]"
Nor was her influence weakened when, in November, a fresh princess, the
sister of Madame de Provence, arrived from Italy, to be married to the
Comte d'Artois, for the bride was even less attractive than her sister.
According to Mercy, she was pale and thin, had a long nose and a wide
mouth, danced badly, and was very awkward in manner. So that Louis
himself, though usually very punctilious in his courtesies to those in her
position, could not forbear showing how little he admired her.

An incident occurred on the evening of the marriage which is worth
remarking, from the change which subsequently took place in the taste of
the dauphiness, who a few years afterward provoked unfavorable comments by
the ardor with which she surrendered herself to the excitement of the
gaming-table. As a matter of course, a grand party was invited to the
palace to celebrate the event of the morning; and, as an invariable part
of such entertainments, a table was set out for the then fashionable game
of lansquenet, at which the king himself played, with the royal family and
all the principal persons of the court. In the course of the evening Marie
Antoinette won more than seven hundred pounds; but she was rather
embarrassed than gratified by her good fortune. She had tried to lose the
money back; but, as she had been unable to succeed, the next morning she
sent the greater part of it to the curates of Versailles to be distributed
among the poor, and gave the rest to some of her own attendants who seemed
to her to need it, being determined, as she said, to keep none of it for

The winter revived the apprehensions concerning the king's health; he was
manifestly sinking into the grave, while

  "That which should accompany old age,
  As love, obedience, honor, troops of friends,
  He might not look to have."

His very mistress began with great zeal than ever, though with no better
taste, to seek to conciliate the dauphiness. She tried to purchase her
good-will by a bribe. She was aware that the princess greatly admired
diamonds, and, learning that a jeweler of Paris had a pair of ear-rings of
a size and brilliancy so extraordinary that the price which he asked for
them was 700,000 francs, she persuaded the Comte de Noailles to carry them
to Marie Antoinette to show them, with a message from herself that if the
dauphiness liked to keep them, she would induce the king to make her a
present of them.[7] Whether Marie Antoinette admired them or not, she had
far too proper a sense of dignity to allow herself to be entrapped into
the acceptance of an obligation by one whom she so deservedly despised.
She replied coldly that she had jewels enough, and did not desire to
increase the number. But the overture thus made by Madame du Barri could
not be kept secret, and more than one of her partisans followed the hint
afforded by her example, and showed a desire to make their peace with
their future queen. The Duc d'Aiguillon himself was among the foremost of
her courtiers, and entreated the mediation of Mercy in his favor, making
the ambassador his messenger to assure her that "he should impose it upon
himself as a law to comply with her wishes in every thing;" and only
desired that he might be allowed to know which of the requests that she
might make were dictated by her own judgment, and which merely proceeded
from her indulgent favor to the importunities of others. For Marie
Antoinette had of late often broken through the rule which, in compliance
with her mother's advice, she had at first laid down for herself, to
abstain from recommending persons for preferment; and had pressed many a
petition on the minister's notice as to which it was self-evident that she
could know nothing of their merits, nor feel any personal interest in
their success.

In the spring of 1774 she had an opportunity of convincing her mother that
any imputation of neglect of her countrymen when visiting the court was
unfounded, by the marked honors which she paid to Marshal Lacy, one of the
most honored veterans of the Seven Years' War. Knowing how highly he was
esteemed by her mother, she took care to be informed beforehand of the day
of his arrival. She gave orders that he should find invitations to her
parties awaiting him. She made arrangements to give him a private audience
even before he saw the king, where her reception of him showed how deep
and ineffaceable was her love for her family and her old home, even while
fairly recognizing the fact that her first duties and her first affections
now belonged to France. The old warrior avowed that he had been greatly
moved by the touching affection with which she spoke to him of her love
and veneration for her mother; and by the tears which he saw in her eyes
when she said that the one thing wanting to her happiness was the hope of
being allowed one day to see that dear mother once more. She showed him
some of the last presents which the empress had sent her, and dwelt with
fond minuteness of observation on some views of Schoenbrunn and other spots
in the neighborhood of Vienna which were endeared to her by her early

The return of mild weather seemed to be bringing with it same return of
strength to the king, when, on the 28th of April, he was suddenly seized
with illness, which was presently pronounced by the physicians to be the
small-pox. All was consternation at Versailles, for it was soon perceived
to be a severe if not a malignant attack; and at the same time all was
perplexity. Thirty years before, when Louis had been supposed to be on his
deathbed at Metz, bishops, peers, and ministers had found in the loss of
royal favor reason to repent the precipitation with which they had
insisted on the withdrawal of Madame de Chateauroux; and now, should he
again recover, it was likely that Madame du Barri would he equally
resentful, and that the confessor who should make her removal a necessary
condition of his administering the sacraments of the Church to the king,
and the courtiers who should support or act upon their requisition, would
surely find reason to repent it. Accordingly, for the first few days of
Louis's illness, she remained at Versailles; but he grew visibly worse.
His daughters, who, though they had not had the disease themselves, tended
his sick-bed with the most devoted and fearless affection, consulted the
physicians, who declared it dangerous to admit of any further delay in the
ministration of the rites of the Church. He himself gave his sanction to
the ladies' departure, and then the royal confessor administered the
sacraments, and drew up a declaration to be published in the royal name,
that, "though he owed no account of his conduct to any but God alone, he
nevertheless declared that he repented having given rise to scandal among
his subjects, and only desired to live for the support of religion and the
welfare of his people."

Even this avowal the Cardinal de Roche-Aymer promised Madame du Barri to
suppress; but the royal confessor, the Abbe Mandoux, overruled him, and
compelled its publication, in spite of the Duc de Richelieu, the chief
confidant of the mistress, and long the chief minister and promoter of the
king's debaucheries, who insulted the cardinal with the grossest abuse for
his breach of promise.[8] It may be doubted whether such a compromise with
profligacy, and such a profanation of the most solemn rites of the Church
by its ministers, were not the greatest scandal of all; but it was in too
complete harmony with their conduct throughout the whole of the reign.
And, as it was impossible but that religion itself should suffer in the
estimation of worldly men from such an open disregard of all but its mere
outward forms, it can hardly be denied that the French cardinals and
prelates about the court had almost as great a share in bringing about
that general feeling of contempt for all religion which led to that formal
disavowal of God himself which was witnessed twenty years later, as the
scoffers who were now uniting against it, or the professed infidels who
then, renounced it. Such as it was, the king's act of penitence was not
performed too soon. At the end of the first week of May all prospect of
his recovery vanished. Mortification set in, and on the 10th of May he


The Court leaves Versailles for La Muette.--Feelings of the New
Sovereigns.--Madame du Barri is sent to a Convent.--Marie Antoinette
writes to Maria Teresa.--The Good Intentions of the New Sovereigns.--
Madame Adelaide has the Small-pox.--Anxieties of Maria Teresa.--
Mischievous Influence of the Aunts.--Position and Influence of the Count
de Mercy.--Louis consults the Queen on Matters of Policy.--Her Prudence.--
She begins to Purify the Court, and to relax the Rules of Etiquette.--Her
Care of her Pages.--The King and the renounce the Gifts of Le Joyeux
Avenement and La Ceinture de la Reine.---She procures the Pardon of the
Due de Choiseul.

Throughout the morning of the 10th of May there was great confusion and
agitation at Versailles. The physicians declared that the king could not
live out the day; and the dauphin had decided on removing his household to
the smaller palace of La Muette at Choisy, to spend in that comparative
retirement the first week or two after his grandfather's death, during
which it would hardly be decorous for the royal family to be seen in
public. But, as it was not thought seemly to appear to anticipate the
event by quitting Versailles while Louis was still alive, a lighted candle
was placed in the window of the sick-room, which, the moment that the king
had expired, was to be extinguished, as a signal to the equerries to
prepare the carriages. The dauphin and dauphiness were in an adjoining
room awaiting the intelligence, when, at about three o'clock in the
afternoon, a sudden trampling of feet was heard, and Madame de Noailles
entered the apartment to entreat them to advance into the saloon to
receive the homage of the princes and principal officers of the court, who
were waiting to pay their respects to their new sovereigns. They came
forward arm-in-arm; and in tears, in which sincere sorrow was mingled with
not unnatural nervousness, received the salutations of the courtiers, and
immediately afterward left Versailles with all the family.

Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette had now reached the pinnacle of human
greatness, as sovereigns of one of the noblest empires in the world. Yet
the first feelings which their elevation had excited in both, and
especially in the queen, were rather those of dismay and perplexity than
of exultation. In the preceding autumn, Mercy[1] had remarked to the
empress, with surprise and vexation, that, though the dauphiness exhibited
singular readiness and acuteness in comprehending political questions, she
was very unwilling, and, as it seemed to him, afraid of dealing with them,
and that she shrunk from the thought that the day would come when she must
possess power and authority. And the continuance of this feeling is
visible in her first letter to her mother, some passages of which show a
sobriety of mind under such a change of circumstances, which, almost as
much as the benevolence which the letter also displays, augured well for
the happiness of the people over whom she was to reign, so far at least as
that happiness depended on the virtues of the sovereign.

"Choisy, May 14th.

"My Dearest Mother,--Mercy will have informed you of the circumstances of
our misfortune. Happily his cruel disease left the king in possession of
his senses till the last moment, and his end was very edifying. The new
king seems to have the affection of his people. Two days before the death
of his grandfather, he sent two hundred thousand[2] francs to the poor,
which has produced a great effect. Since he has been here, he has been
working unceasingly, answering with his own hand the letters of the
ministers, whom as yet he can not see, and many others likewise. One thing
is certain, and that is that he has a taste for economy, and the greatest
desire possible to make his people happy. In every thing he has as great a
desire to be rightly instructed as he has need to be. I trust that God
will bless his good intentions.

"The public expected great changes in a moment. The king has limited
himself to sending away the creature[3] to a convent, and to driving from
the court every thing which is connected with that scandal. The king even
owed this example to the people of Versailles, who, at the very moment of
his grandfather's death, insulted Madame do Mazarin,[4] one of the
humblest servants of the favorite. I am earnestly entreated to exhort the
king to mercy toward a number of corrupt souls who had done much mischief
for many years; and I am strongly inclined to comply with the request.

    *    *    *    *    *

"A messenger has just arrived to forbid my going to see my Aunt Adelaide,
who has a great deal of fever. They are afraid of the small-pox for her. I
am horrified, and can not bring myself to think of the consequences. It is
a terrible thing for her to pay so immediately for the sacrifice which she

"I am very glad that Marshal Lacy was pleased with me. I confess, my dear
mamma, that I was greatly affected when he took leave of me, at thinking
how rarely it happens to me to see any of my countrymen, and especially of
those who have the happiness to approach you. A little time back I saw
Madame de Marmier, which was a great pleasure to me, since I know how
highly you value her.

"The king has allowed me myself to name the ladies who are to have places
in my household, now that I am queen; and I have had the satisfaction of
giving the Lorrainers[5] a proof of my regard, in taking for my chief
almoner the Abbe de Sabran, a man of excellent character, of noble birth,
and already named for the bishopric about to be established at Nancy.

"Although it pleased God that I should be born in the rank which I this
day occupy, still I can not forbear admiring the bounty of Providence in
choosing me, the youngest of your daughters, for the noblest kingdom in
Europe. I feel more than ever what I owe to the tenderness of my august
mother, who expended such pains and labor in procuring for me this
splendid establishment. I have never so greatly longed to throw myself at
her feet, to embrace her, to lay open my whole soul to her, and to show
her how entirely it is filled with respect and tenderness and gratitude."

It is impossible to read these glowing words, so full of the joy and hope
of youth, and breathing a confidence of happiness apparently so
well-founded, since it was built on a resolution to use the power placed
in the writer's hands for the welfare of the people over whom it was to
be exerted, without reflecting how painful a contrast to the hopes now
expressed is presented by the reality of the destiny in store for her
and her husband. At the moment he was as little disturbed by forebodings
of evil as his queen, and willingly yielded to her request to add a few
lines with his own hand to the empress, that, on so momentous an
occasion as his accession she might not be left to gather his feelings
solely from her report of them. The postscript of the letter is
accordingly their joint performance, he evidently desiring to gratify
Maria Teresa by praise of her daughter; and she, while pleased at his
acquiescence, not concealing her amusement at the clumsiness, or, to say
the least, the rusticity, of some of his expressions.

P.S. in the king's hand: "I am very glad, my dear mamma, to find an
occasion to prove to you my tenderness and my attachment. I should be very
glad to have your advice at this time, which is so embarrassing. I should
be enchanted to be able to please you, and to show by my conduct all my
attachment and the gratitude which I feel for your kindness in giving me
your daughter, with whom I am as well satisfied as possible."

P.S. by the queen: "The king would not let my letter go without adding a
word from himself. I am quite aware that it would not have been too much
for him to do to write an entire letter. But I must beg my dear mamma to
excuse him, in consideration of the mass of business with which he is
occupied, and also a little on account of his timidity and the embarrassed
manner which is natural to him. You see, my dear mamma, by his compliment
at the end, that, though he has great affection for me, he does not spoil
me by insipid flatteries."

It is almost equally remarkable that the empress herself, though thus to
see her favorite daughter on the throne of France had been her most ardent
wish, was far from regarding the consummation of her desires with
unalloyed pleasure. She was so completely a politician above all things,
that, though she was well aware that Louis XV. had been one of the most
infamous kings that ever dishonored a throne, she looked upon him solely
as an ally; described him to her daughter as "that good and tender
prince;" declared that she should never cease to regret him, and that she
would wear mourning for him all the rest of her life. At the same time,
she did not conceal from herself that he had left his kingdom in a most
deplorable condition. She had, as she declared, herself experienced how
heavy is the burden of an empire; she reflected how young her daughter
was; and expressed a sad fear that "her days of happiness were over." "She
was now in a position in which there was no half-way between complete
greatness and great misery.[6]" The best hopes for her future the empress
saw in the character for purity and kindness which Marie Antoinette had
already established and in the esteem and affection of the people which
those qualities had won for her; and she entreated her, taking it for
granted that in advising her she was advising the king also, to be prudent
and cautious, to avoid making any sudden changes, and above all things to
maintain the alliance between the two countries, and to listen to the
experienced and faithful advice of her embassador.

Maria Teresa was mistaken when she thought that her daughter would at all
times be able to lead her husband. Though slow in action, Louis was not
deficient in perception. On many subjects he had views of his own, which,
in some cases, were clear and sound enough, and to which, even when they
were not so, he adhered with considerable tenacity. At the same time,
though he had but little affection for his aunts, and still less respect
for their judgment, he had been so long accustomed to listen to their
advice while he had no authority, that he could not as yet wholly shake
off all feeling of deference for it, and their influence was exerted with
most mischievous effect in the first week of his reign. Indeed, it had
been exhibited even before the reign began, though the form which it took
greatly interfered with the personal comfort of the young sovereigns. It
had been settled that the king and queen should go by themselves to La
Muette, and that the rest of the royal family should remove to the
Trianon. But Madame Adelaide had no inclination for a plan which would
separate her from her nephew at a moment when so many matters of
importance would come before her for decision. At the last moment she
prevailed upon him to consent that the whole family should go to Choisy
together; and the very next day she induced him to dismiss his ministers,
and to place the Comte de Maurepas at the head of the Government, though
Louis himself had selected another-statesman for the office, M. Machault,
who, as finance minister twenty-five years before, had shown both ability
and integrity, and who had enjoyed the confidence of the king's father,
and though Maurepas had never been supposed to be either able or honest,
and might well have been regarded as superannuated, since he had begun his
official life under Louis XIV.

With the change in the position of Marie Antoinette, Mercy's position had
also been changed, and likewise his view of the line of conduct which it
was desirable for her to adopt. Hitherto he had been the counselor of a
princess who, without wary walking, was liable every moment to be
overwhelmed by the intrigues with which she was surrounded; and his chief
object had been to enable his royal pupil to escape the snares and dangers
which encompassed her. Now, as far as his duties could be determined by
the wish of the empress, in which her daughter fully acquiesced, he was
elevated to the post of confidential adviser to a great queen, who, in his
opinion, was inevitably destined to be the real ruler of the kingdom. It
was a strange position for so experienced a politician as the empress to
desire for him, and for so prudent a statesman to accept. Yet, anomalous
as it was, and dangerous as it would usually be for a foreign embassador
to interfere in the internal politics of the kingdom to which he is sent,
his correspondence bears ample testimony to both his sagacity and his
disinterestedness. And it would have been well for both his royal pupil
and her adopted country had his advice more frequently and more steadily
guided the course of both.

On one point of primary importance his advice to the queen differed from
that which he had been wont to give to the dauphiness. While dauphiness,
he had urged her to abstain from any interference in public affairs. He
now, on the contrary, desired to see her take an active part in them,
explaining to the empress that the reason which actuated him was the
character of the new king, who, as he regarded him, was never likely to
exert the authority which belonged to him with independence or steadiness,
but was certain to be led by some one or other, while it would in the
highest degree endanger the maintenance of the alliance between France and
Austria (which, coinciding with the judgment of his imperial mistress, he
regarded as the most important of all political objects), and be most
injurious to the welfare of France and to her own personal comfort, if
that leader should be any one but the queen.[7]

But, as we have seen, he could not prevent Louis from yielding at times to
other influences. Taking the same view of the situation as the empress, if
indeed Maria Teresa had not adopted it from him, he had urged Marie
Antoinette to prevent any change in the ministry being made at first, in
which it is highly probable that she did not coincide with him, though
equally likely that Maurepas was not the minister whom she would have
preferred. Another piece of advice which he gave was, however, taken, and
with the happiest effect The poorer classes in Paris and its neighborhood
were suffering from a scarcity which almost amounted to a famine; and,
before the death of Louis XV., Mercy had recommended that the first
measure of the new reign should be one which should lower the price of
bread. That counsel was too entirely in harmony with the active
benevolence of the new monarch to be neglected. The necessary edicts were
issued. In twenty-four hours the price of the loaf was reduced by
two-fifths, and Mercy had the satisfaction of hearing the relief
generally attributed to the influence of the new queen.

It can not he supposed that the king knew either the opinion which the
empress and the embassador had formed of his capacity and disposition, or
the advice which they had consequently given to the queen. But he very
early began to show that he himself also appreciated his wife's quickness
of intelligence and correctness of judgment. Maria Teresa, in pressing on
her daughter her opinion of the general character of the policy which the
interest of France required, explained her view of her daughter's position
to be that she was "the friend and confidante of the king.[8]" And June
had hardly arrived before he began to discuss all his plans and
difficulties with her; while she spared his pride and won his further
confidence by avoiding all appearances of pressing for it, as if her
advice were necessary to him, but at the same time showing with what
satisfaction she received it. To those who solicited her intervention, her
language was most carefully guarded. "She did not," she said, "interfere
in any affair of state; she only coincided in all the wishes and
intentions of the king."

There were, however, matters which were strictly and exclusively within
her own province; and in them she at once began to exert her authority
most beneficially. Her first desire was to purify the court where
licentiousness in either sex had long been the surest road to royal favor.
She began by making a regulation, that she would receive no lady who was
separated from her husband; and she abolished a senseless and inexplicable
rule of etiquette which had hitherto prohibited the queen and princesses
from dining or supping in company with their husbands.[9] Such an
exclusion from the king's table of those who were its most natural and
becoming ornaments had notoriously facilitated and augmented the disorders
of the last reign; and it was obvious that its maintenance must at least
have a tendency to lead to a repetition of the old irregularities.
Fortunately, the king was as little inclined to approve of it as the
queen. All his tastes were domestic, and he gladly assented to her
proposal to abolish the custom. Throughout the reign, at all ordinary
meals, at his suppers when he came in late from hunting, when he had
perhaps invited some of his fellow-sportsmen to share his repast, and at
State banquets, Marie Antoinette took her seat at his side, not only
adding grace and liveliness to the entertainment, but effectually
preventing license, and even the suspicion of scandal; and, as she desired
that her household as well as her family should set an example of
regularity and propriety to the nation, she exercised a careful
superintendence over the behavior of those who had hitherto been among the
least-considered members of the royal establishment. Even the king's
confessor had thought the morals of the royal pages either beneath his
notice or beyond his control; but Marie Antoinette took a higher view of
her duties. She considered her pages[10] as placed under her charge, and
herself as bound to extend what one of themselves calls a maternal care
and kindness to them, restraining as far as she could, and when she could
not restrain, reproving their boyish excesses, softening their hearts and
winning their affections by the gentle dignity of her admonitions, and by
the condescending and hopeful indulgence with which she accepted their
expressions of contrition and their promises of amendment. In one matter,
too, which, if not exactly political, was at all events of public
interest, she acted in a manner of which none of her predecessors had set
an example. By a custom of immemorial antiquity, at the accession of a new
sovereign, a tax had been levied on the whole kingdom as an offering to
the king, known as "the gift of the happy accession;[11]" when there was a
queen, a similar tax was imposed upon the Parisians, to provide what was
called "the girdle of the queen.[12]" It has already been mentioned that
the distress which existed in Paris at this time was so severe that, just
before the death of the late king, Louis and Marie Antoinette had relieved
it by a munificent gift from their private purse; and to lay additional
burdens on the people at such a time was not only repugnant to their
feelings, but seemed especially inconsistent with their recent generosity.
Accordingly, the very first edict of the new reign announced that neither
tax would be imposed. The people felt the kindness which dictated such a
relief more than even the relief itself, and repaid it with expressions of
gratitude such as no French sovereign had heard for above a century; but
Marie Antoinette, with the humility natural to her on such subjects, made
light of her own share in the act of benevolence, turning off the
compliments which were paid to her with a playful jest, that it was
impossible for a queen to affix a purse to her girdle, now that girdles
had gone out of fashion.[13]

On another subject, also, not wholly unconnected with politics, Since the
nobleman concerned had once been the chief minister, but in which Marie
Antoinette's interest was personal, she broke through her usual rule of
not beginning the discussion with the king, and requested the recall from
banishment of the Due de Choiseul. An unfounded prejudice based upon
calumnies set on foot by the cabal of Madame du Barri, had envenomed
Louis's mind against the duke. He bad been led to suspect that his own
father, the late dauphin, had been poisoned, and that Choiseul had been
accessory to the crime. There was nothing more certain than that the
dauphin's death had been natural; but a dislike of the accused duke
lingered in the king's mind, and he eluded compliance with his wife's
request till she put it on entirely personal grounds, by declaring it to
be humiliating to herself that one to whom she was under the deepest
obligations as the negotiator of her own happy marriage should be under
the king's displeasure without her being able to procure his pardon. Louis
felt the force of the appeal thus made to him. "If she used that argument,
he could deny her nothing," and the duke's sentence was remitted, though
his royal patroness was unable to procure his re-admission to office. Nor
did Maria Teresa regret that she failed in that object; since she feared
his restless character, and felt the alliance between the two countries
safer in the hands of the new foreign secretary, the Count de Vergennes.


The Comte de Provence intrigues against the Queen.--The King gives her the
Little Trianon,--She lays out an English Garden.--Maria Teresa cautions
her against Expense.--The King and Queen abolish some of the Old Forms.--
The Queen endeavors to establish Friendships with some of her Younger
Ladies.--They abuse her Favor.--Her Eagerness for Amusement.--Louis enters
into her Views.--Etiquette is abridged.--Private Parties at Choisy.--
Supper Parties.--Opposition of the Princesses.--Some of the Courtiers are
dissatisfied at the Relaxation of Etiquette.--Marie Antoinette is accused
of Austrian Preferences.

Her accession to the throne, however, had not entirely delivered Marie
Antoinette from intrigues. It had only changed their direction and object,
and also the persona of the intriguers. Her chief enemy now was the prince
who ought to have been her best friend, the next brother of her husband,
the Comte de Provence. Among the papers of Louis XV. the king had found
proofs, in letters from both count and countess, that they had both been
actively employed in trying to make mischief, and to poison the mind of
their grandfather against the dauphiness. They became still more busy now,
since each day seemed to diminish the probability of Marie Antoinette
becoming a mother; while, if she should leave no children, the Comte de
Provence would be heir to the throne. He scarcely made any secret that he
was already contemplating the probability of his succession; and, as there
were not wanting courtiers to speculate also on the chance, it soon became
known that there was no such sure road to the favor of monsieur[1] as that
of disparaging and vilifying the queen. There might have been some safety
for her in being put on her guard against her enemy; and the king himself,
who called his brother Tartuffe, did, in consequence of his discovery, use
great caution and circumspection in his behavior toward him; but Marie
Antoinette was of a temper as singularly forgiving as it was open: she
could not bear to regard with suspicion even those of whose unfriendliness
and treachery she had had proofs; and after a few days she resumed her old
familiarity with the pair, as if she had no reason to distrust them,
slighting on this subject the remonstrances of Mercy, who pointed out to
her in vain that she was putting weapons into their hands which they would
be sure to turn against herself.

At this moment she was especially happy with a new pastime. Amidst the
stately halls of Versailles she had often longed for a villa on a smaller
scale, which she might call her own; and the wish was now gratified. On
one side of the park of Versailles, and about a mile from the palace, the
late king had built an exquisite little pavilion for his mistress, which
was known as the Little Trianon. There had been a building of one kind or
another on the same spot for above a century. Louis XIV. had erected there
a cottage of porcelain for his imperious favorite, Madame de Montespan;
and it was the more sumptuous palace with which, after her death, he
replaced it, that gave rise to the strange quarrel between the haughty
monarch and his equally haughty minister, Louvois, of which St. Simon has
left us so curious an account.[2] This had been allowed to fall into a
state of decay; and a few years before his death, Louis XV. had pulled
down what remained of it, and had built a third on its foundations, which
had been the most favorite abode of Madame du Barri during his life, but
which was now rendered vacant by her dismissal. The house was decorated
with an exquisite delicacy of taste, in which Louis XV. had far surpassed
his predecessor; but the chief charm of the place was generally accounted
to be the garden, which had been laid out by Le Notre, an artist, whose
original genius as a landscape gardener was regarded by many of his
contemporaries as greatly superior to his more technical skill as an

A few hundred yards off was another palace, the Great Trianon; but it was
the Little Trianon which caught the queen's fancy; and, on her expression
of a wish to have it for her own, the king at once made it over to her;
and, pleased with her new toy, Marie Antoinette, still a girl in her
impulsive eagerness for a fresh pleasure (she was not yet nineteen), began
to busy herself with remodeling the pleasure-grounds with which it was
surrounded. Before the time of Le Notre, the finest gardens in the country
had been laid out on what was called the Italian plan. He was too good a
patriot to copy the foreigners: he drove out the Italians, and introduced
a new arrangement, known as the French style, which was, in fact, but an
imitation of the stiff, formal Dutch mode. But of late the English
gardeners had established that supremacy in the art which they have ever
since maintained; and the present aim of every fashionable horticulturist
in France was to copy the effects produced on the banks of the Thames by
Wise and Browne.

Marie Antoinette fell in with the prevailing taste. She imported English
drawings and hired English, gardeners. She visited in person the Count de
Caraman, and one or two other nobles, who had already done something by
their example to inoculate the Parisians with the new fashion. And
presently lawns and shrubberies, widening invariably simple flower-beds,
supplanted the stately uniformity of terraces, alleys converging on
central fountains, or on alcoves as solid and stiff as the palace itself,
and trees cut into all kinds of fantastic shapes, which had previously
been regarded as the masterpieces of the gardeners' invention. Her
happiness was at its height when, at the end of a few months, all was
completed to her liking, and she could invite her husband to an
entertainment in a retreat which was wholly her own, and the chief
beauties of which were her own work.

As yet, therefore, all was happiness, and prospect of happiness. Even
Maria Teresa, whose unceasing anxiety for her daughter often induced her
to see the worst side of things, was rendered for a moment almost playful
by the reports which reached Vienna of the universal popularity of "Louis
XVI. and his little queen!" "She blushed," she said, "to think that in
thirty-three years of her reign she had not done as much as Louis had done
in thirty-three days.[4]" But she still warned her daughter that every
thing depended on keeping up the happy impression already made; that much
still remained to be done. And the queen's answer showed that her new
authority had brought with it some cares. "It is true," she writes, "that
the praises of the king resound everywhere. He deserves it well by the
uprightness of his heart, and the desire which he has to act rightly; but
this French enthusiasm disquiets me for the future. The little that I
understand of business shows me that some matters are full of difficulty
and embarrassment. All agree that the late king has left his affairs in a
very bad state. Men's minds are divided; and it will be impossible to
please all the world in a country where the vivacity of the people wants
every thing to be done in a moment. My dear mamma is quite right when she
says we must lay down principles, and not depart from them. The king will
not have the same weakness as his grandfather. I hope that he will have no
favorites; but I am afraid that he is too mild and too easy. You may
depend upon it that I will not draw the king into any great expenses."
(The empress had expressed a fear lest the Trianon might prove a cause of
extravagance.) "On the contrary, I, of my own accord, have refused to make
demands on him for money which some have recommended me to make."

Some relaxations, too, of the formality which had previously been
maintained between the sovereign and the subordinate members of the royal
family, and especially an order of the king that his brothers and sisters
were not in private intercourse to address him as his majesty, had grated
on the empress's sense of the distance always to be preserved between a
monarch and the very highest of his subjects. And she had complained that
reports had reached her that "there was no distinction between the queen
and the other princesses; and that the familiarity subsisting in the court
was extreme." But Marie Antoinette replied, in defense of the king and
herself, that there was "great exaggeration in these reports, as indeed
there was about every thing that went on at the court; that the
familiarity spoken of was seen but by very few. It is not for me," she
said, "to judge; but it seems to me that what exists among us is only the
air of kindly affection and gayety which is suitable to our age. It is
true that the Count d'Artois" (who had been the special subject of some of
the empress's unfavorable comments) "is very lively and very giddy, but I
can always keep him in order. As for my aunts, no one can any longer say
that they lead me; and as for monsieur and madame, I am very far from
placing entire confidence in them.

"I must confess that I am fond of amusement, and am not very greatly
inclined to grave subjects. I hope, however, to improve by degrees; and,
without ever mixing myself up in intrigues, to qualify myself gradually to
be of service to the king when he makes me his confidante, since he treats
me at all times with the most perfect affection."

Her reflections on the impulsiveness and impatience of the French
character, and of the difficulties which those qualities placed in the
path of their rulers, justify the praises which Mercy had lavished on her
sagacity, for it is evident that to them the chief troubles of her later
years may be clearly traced. And it is difficult to avoid agreeing with
her rather than with her mother, and thinking the most entire freedom of
intercourse between the king and his nearest relations as desirable as it
was natural. Royalty is, as the empress herself described it, a burden
sufficiently heavy, without its weight being augmented by observances and
restrictions which would leave the rulers without a single friend even
among the members of their own family. And probably the empress herself
might have seen less reason for her admonitions on the subject, had it not
been for the circumstance, which was no doubt unfortunate, that the royal
family at this time contained no member of a graver age and a settled
respectability of character who might, by his example, have tempered the
exuberance natural to the extreme youth of the sovereigns and their

Not that Marie Antoinette was content to limit the number of those whom
she admitted to familiarity to her husband's kinsmen and kinswomen. Still
fretting in secret over the want of any object on whom to lavish a
mother's tenderness, she sought for friendship as a substitute, shutting
her eyes to the fact that persons in her rank, as having no equals, can
have no friends, in the true sense of the word. Nor, had such a thing been
possible anywhere, was France the country in which to find it. There
disinterestedness and integrity had long been banished from her own sex
almost as completely as from the other; and most of those whom she took
into favor made it their first object to render that favor profitable to
themselves. If she professed in their society to forget for a few hours
that she was queen, they never forgot it; they never lost sight of the
fact that she could confer places and pensions, and they often discarded
moderation and decency in the extravagance of their solicitations; while
she frequently, with an overamiable facility, surrendering her own
judgment to their importunities, not only granted their requests, but at
times even adopted their prejudices, and yielded herself as an instrument
to gratify their antipathies or resentments.

And the same feeling of vacancy in her heart, of which she was ever
painfully conscious, produced in her also a constant restlessness, and a
craving for excitement which exhibited itself in an insatiable appetite
for amusement (as she confessed to her mother), and led her to seek
distraction even in pastimes for which naturally she had but little
inclination. In these respects it can not be said that, during the first
year of her reign, she was as uniformly prudent as she had been while
dauphiness. The restraint in which she had lived for those four years had
not been unwholesome for one so young; but it had no doubt been irksome to
her. And the feeling of complete liberty and independence which had
succeeded it had, by a sort of natural reaction, sharpened the energy with
which she now pursued her various diversions. It is possible, too, that
the zest with which she indulged herself may have derived additional
keenness from the knowledge that her ill-wishers found in it pretext for
misconstruction and calumny; and that, being conscious of entire purity in
thought, word, and deed, she looked on it as due to her own character to
show that she set all such detraction and detractors at defiance. To all
cavilers, as also to her mother, whose uneasiness was frequently aroused
by gossip which reached Vienna from Paris, her invariable reply was that
her way of life had the king her husband's entire approbation. And while
he felt a conjugal satisfaction in the contemplation of his queen's
attractions and graces, the qualities in which, as he was well aware, he
himself was most deficient, Louis might well also cherish the most
absolute reliance on her unswerving rectitude, knowing the pride with
which she was wont to refer to her mother's example, and to boast that the
lesson which, above all others, she had learned from it was that to
princes of her birth and rank wickedness and baseness were unpardonable.

Indeed, many of the amusements Louis not only approved, but shared with
her, while she associated herself with those in which he delighted, as far
as she could, joining his hunting parties twice a week, either on
horseback or in her carriage, and at all times exhibiting a pattern of
domestic union of which the whole previous history of the nation afforded
no similar example. The citizens of Paris could hardly believe their eyes
when they saw their king and queen walk arm-in-arm along the boulevards;
and the courtiers received a lesson, if they had been disposed to profit
by it, when on each Sunday morning they saw the royal pair repair to the
parish church for divine service, the day being closed by their public
supper in the queen's apartment.

And this appearance of domestic felicity was augmented by the introduction
of what may be called private parties, with which, at the queen's
instigation, Louis consented to vary the cold formality of the ordinary
entertainments of the court. In the autumn they followed the example of
Louis XV. by exchanging for a few weeks the grandeur of Versailles for the
comparative quiet of some of their smaller palaces; and, while they were
at Choisy, they issued invitations once or twice a week to several of the
Parisian ladies to come out and spend the day at the palace, when, as the
principal officers of the household were not on duty, they themselves did
the honors to their guests, the queen conversing with every one with her
habitual graciousness, while the king also threw off his ordinary reserve,
and seemed to enter into the pleasures of the day with a gayety and
cordiality which surprised the party, and which, from the contrast that it
presented to his manner when he was by himself, was very generally
attributed to the influence of the queen's example.

And these quiet festivities were so much to his taste that afterward, when
the court moved to Fontainebleau, and when they settled at Versailles for
the winter, he cheerfully agreed to a proposal of Marie Antoinette to have
a weekly supper party; adopting also another suggestion of hers which was
indispensable to render such reunions agreeable, or even, it may be said,
practicable. At her request he abolished the ridiculous rule which, under
the last two kings, had forbidden gentlemen to be admitted to sit at table
with any princess of the royal family. But natural as the idea seemed, it
was not carried out without opposition on the part of Madame Adelaide and
her sisters, who remonstrated against it as an infraction of all the old
observances of the court, till it became a contest for superiority between
the queen and themselves. Marie Antoinette took counsel with Mercy, and,
by his advice, pointed out to her husband that to abandon the plan after
it had been announced, in submission to an opposition which the princesses
had no right to make, would be to humiliate her in the eyes of the whole
court. Louis had not yet shaken off all fear of his aunts; but they were
luckily absent, so he yielded to the influence which was nearest. The
suppers took place. He and the queen themselves made out the lists of the
guests to be invited, the men being named by him, and the ladies being
selected by the queen. They were a great success; and, as the history of
the affair became known, the court and the Parisians generally rejoiced in
the queen's triumph, and were grateful to her for this as for every other
innovation which had a tendency to break down the haughty barrier which,
during the last two reigns, had been established between the sovereign and
his subjects. Nor were these pleasant informal parties the only instances
in which, great inroads were made on the old etiquette. The Comte de
Mirabeau, a man fatally connected in subsequent years with some of the
most terrible of the insults which were offered to the royal family, about
this time described etiquette as a system invented for the express purpose
of blunting the capacity of the French princes, and fixing them in
position of complete dependence. And Marie Antoinette seems to have
regarded it with similar eyes; her dislike of it being quickened by the
expectations which its partisans and champions entertained that her every
movement was to be regulated by it. And its requirements were sufficiently
burdensome to tax a far better-trained patience that was natural to one
who though a queen, was not yet nineteen. Not only was no guest of the
male sex, except the king, allowed to sit at table with her, but no
man-servant, no male officer of her household, might be present when the
king and she dined together, as indeed usually happened; even his
presence could not sanction the introduction of any other man. The lady
of honor, on her knees, though in full dress, presented him the napkin
to wipe his fingers and filled his glass; ladies in waiting in the same
grand attire changed the plates of the royal pair; and after dinner, as
indeed throughout the day, the queen could not quit one room in the
palace for another, unless some of her ladies were at hand in complete
court dress to attend upon her.[5] These usages, which were in reality
so many chains to restrain all freedom, and to render comfort
impossible, were abolished in the first few months of the new reign;
but, little as was the foundation which they had in common sense, and
equally little as was the addition which they made to the royal dignity,
it is certain that many of the courtiers, besides Madame de Noailles,
were greatly disconcerted at their extinction. They regarded the queen's
orders on the subject as a proof of a settled preference for Austrian
over French fashions. They began to speak of her as "the Austrian," a
name which, though Madame Adelaide had more than once chosen it to
describe her during the first year of her marriage, had since that time
been almost forgotten, but which was now revived, and was continually
reproduced by a certain party to cast odium on many of her most simple
tastes and most innocent actions. Her enemies oven affirmed that in
private she was wont to call the Trianon her "little Vienna,[6]" as if
the garden, which she was laying out with a taste that long made it the
admiration of all the visitors to Versailles, were dear to her, not as
affording a healthful and becoming occupation, nor for the sale of the
giver, but only because it recalled to her memory the gardens of
Schoenbrunn, to which, as their malice suggested, she never ceased to
look back with unpatriotic regret.

In one point of view they were unquestionably correct. The queen did
undoubtedly desire to establish in the French court the customs and the
feelings which, during her childhood, had prevailed at Vienna; but they
were wholly wrong in thinking them Austrian usages. They were Lorrainese
in their origin; they had been imported to Vienna for the first time by
her own father, the Emperor Francis; when she referred to them, it was as
"the patriarchal manners of the House of Lorraine[7]" that she spoke of
them; and her preference for them was founded on the conviction that it
was to them that her mother and her mother's family were indebted for the
love and reverence of the people which all the trials and distresses of
the struggle against Frederic had never been able to impair.

Nor was it only the old stiffness and formality, which had been compatible
with the grossest license, that was now discountenanced. A wholly new
spirit was introduced to animate the conversation with which those royal
entertainments were enlivened. Under Louis XV., and indeed before his
reign, intrigue and faction had been the real rulers of the court,
spiteful detraction and scandal had been its sole language. But, to the
dispositions, as benevolent as they were pure, of the young queen and her
husband, malice and calumny were almost as hateful as profligacy itself.
She held, with the great English dramatist, her contemporary, that true
wit was nearly allied to good-nature;[8] and she showed herself more
decided in nothing than in discouraging and checking every tendency to
disparagement of the absent, and diffusing a tone of friendly kindness
over society. On one occasion, when she heard some of her ladies laughing
over a spiteful story, she reproved them plainly for their mirth as "bad
taste." On another she asked some who were thus amusing themselves, "How
they would like any one to speak thus of themselves in their absence, and
before her?" and her precept, fortified by example (for no unkind comment
on any one was ever heard to pass her lips), so effectually extinguished
the habit of detraction that in a very short time it was remarked that no
courtier ventured on an ill-natured word in her presence, and that even
the Comte de Provence, who especially aimed at the reputation of a sayer
of good things, and affected a character for cynical sharpness, learned at
last to restrain his sarcastic tongue, and at least to pretend a
disposition to look at people's characters and actions with as much
indulgence as herself.


Settlement of the Queen's Allowance.--Character and Views of Turgot.--She
induces Gluck to visit Paris.--Performance of his Opera of "Iphigenie
en Aulide."--The First Encore.--Marie Antoinette advocates the
Re-establishment of the Parliaments, and receives an Address from them.--
English Visitors at the Court.--The King is compared to Louis XII. and
Henri IV.--The Archduke Maximilian visits his Sister.--Factious Conduct of
the Princes of the Blood.--Anti-Austrian Feeling in Paris.--The War of
Grains.--The King is crowned at Rheims.--Feelings of Marie Antoinette.--
Her Improvements at the Trianon.--Her Garden Parties there.--Description
of her Beauty by Burke, and by Horace Walpole.

Maria Teresa had warned her daughter against extravagance, a warning which
would have been regarded as wholly misplaced by any other of the French
princes, who were accustomed to treat the national treasury as a fund
intended to supply the means for their utmost profusion, but which
certainly coincided with the views of Marie Antoinette herself, who, as we
have seen, vindicated herself from the charge of prodigality, and declared
that she took great care that her improvements at the Trianon should not
be beyond her means. Yet it would not have been surprising if they had
been found to be so, since, even after she became queen, her income
continued to be far too narrow for her rank. The nominal allowance of all
former kings and queens had been fixed at an unreasonably low rate, from
the pernicious custom of drawing on the treasury for all deficiencies; but
this mode of proceeding was inconsistent with the notions of propriety
entertained by the new sovereigns, and with those of the new finance

Maurepas himself had never been distinguished for ability, but he was
sufficiently clear-sighted to be aware that the principal difficulties of
the State arose from the disorder into which the profligacy and
prodigality of the late reign, ever since the death of the wise Fleury,
had thrown its finances; and he had made a most happy choice for the
office of comptroller-general of finance, appointing to it a man named
Turgot, who, as Intendant of the Limousin, had brought that province into
a condition of prosperity which had made it a model for the rest of the
kingdom. In his new and more enlarged sphere of action, Turgot's abilities
expanded; or, perhaps it should rather be said, had a fairer field for
their display. He showed himself equally capable in every department of
his duties; as a financial reformer, as an administrator, and as a
legislator. No minister in the history of the nation had ever so united
large-minded genius with disinterested integrity. He had not accepted
office without a full perception of its difficulties. He saw all that had
to be done, and applied himself to putting the finances of the nation on a
healthy footing, as an indispensable preface to other reforms equally
necessary. He easily secured the co-operation of the king and queen, Louis
cheerfully adopting the retrenchments which he recommended, though some of
them, such as the reduction in the hunting establishment, touched his
personal tastes. But at the same time, as there was no illiberality in his
economy, or, rather, as he saw that real economy could only be practiced
if the sovereigns had a fixed income really adequate to the call upon it,
he placed their allowances on a more satisfactory footing than had ever
been fixed for them before, the queen's privy purse being settled at a sum
which Mercy agreed with him would prove sufficient for all her expenses,
though it was but 200,000 francs a year.

And so it was generally found to be; for, with the exception of an
occasional fancy for some splendid jewel, Marie Antoinette had no
expensive tastes. Her economy was even far greater than her attendants
approved, extending to details which they would have wished her to regard
as beneath the dignity of a sovereign;[1] and so judiciously did she
manage her resources that she was able to defray out of her privy purse
the pensions which she occasionally conferred on men eminent in arts or
literature, whom she rightly judged it a royal duty to encourage.

One of her first acts of liberality of this kind was exercised in favor of
a countryman of her own, the celebrated Gluck. Music was one of her most
favorite accomplishments. She still devoted a portion of almost every day
in taking lessons on the harp; but the French music was not to her taste;
while, since the death of Handel, Gluck's superiority to all his other
musical contemporaries had been generally acknowledged in all countries.
She now, by the gift of a pension of 6000 francs, induced him to visit
Paris. It was at the French opera that many of his most celebrated works
were first given to the world; and an incident which took place at the
performance of one of them showed that, if the frequenters of Versailles
were dissatisfied at the inroads lately made on the old etiquette, the
queen had a compensation in the warm attachment with which she had
inspired the Parisians. Instead of conveying the performers to Versailles,
as had been the extravagant practice of the late reign, Louis and Marie
Antoinette went into Paris when they desired to visit the theatre. The
citizens, delighted at the contrast which their frequent visits to the
capital afforded to the marked dislike of it shown by the late king,
crowded the theatre on every night on which they were expected; and on one
of these occasions Gluck's "Iphigenie" was the opera selected for
performance. It contains a chorus in which, according to the design of the
dramatist, Achilles was directed to turn to his followers with the words

  "Chantez, celebrez votre reine."

But the French opera-singers were a courtly race. The French opera had
been established a century before as a Royal Academy of Music by Louis
XIV., who had issued letters patent which declared the profession of an
opera-singer one that might be followed even by a nobleman; and it seemed,
therefore, quite consistent with the rank thus conferred on them that they
should take the lead in paying loyal compliments to their princes.
Accordingly, when the performer who represented the invincible son of
Thetis, the popular tenor singer, Le Gros, came to the chorus in question,
he was found to have prepared a slight change in his part. He did not
address himself to the myrmidons behind him, but he came forward, and,
with a bow to the boxes and pit, substituted the following,

  "Chantons, celebrons notre reine,
  L'hymen, que sous ses lois l'enchaine,
  Va nous rendre a jamais heureux."

The audience was taken by surprise, but it was a surprise of delight. The
whole house rose to its feet, cheering and clapping their hands. For the
first time in theatrical history, the repetition of a song was demanded.
The now familiar term of "Encore!" was heard and obeyed. The queen herself
was affected to tears by the enthusiastic affection displayed toward her,
nor at such a moment did she suffer her feeling of the evanescent
character of popularity among so light-minded a people to dwell in her
mind, or to mar the pleasure which such a reception was well calculated to

Popularity at this moment seemed doubly valuable to her, because she was
not ignorant that the feeling of disappointment at the unproductiveness of
her marriage had recently been increased by the knowledge that the young
Countess d'Artois was about to become a mother. And the attachment which
she inspired was not confined to the play-goers; it was shared by a body
so little inclined to exhibitions of impulsive loyalty as the Parliament.
It has been seen that Louis XV. had abolished that body; but one of the
first proposals made by Maurepas to the new king had had its
re-establishment for its object. The question had been discussed in the
king's council, and also in the royal family, with great eagerness. The
ablest of the ministers protested against the restoration of an assembly
which had invariably shown itself turbulent and usurping, and the king
himself was generally understood to share their views. But Marie
Antoinette, led by the advice of Choiseul, was eager in her support of
Maurepas, and it was believed that her influence decided Louis. If it was
so, it was an exertion of her power that she had ample cause to repent at
a subsequent period; but at the time she thought of nothing but showing
her sense of the general superiority of Choiseul, and so requiting some of
the obligations under which she considered that she lay to him for
arranging her marriage; and she received a deputation from the
re-established Parliament with marked pleasure, and replied to their
address with a graciousness which seemed intended to show that she
sincerely rejoiced at the event which had given cause for it.

It was not till Christmas that the royal family went out of mourning; but,
as soon as it was left off, the court returned to its accustomed gayety--
balls, concerts, and private theatricals occupying the evenings; though
the people remarked with undisguised satisfaction that the expenses of
former years had been greatly retrenched. It was also noticed that many
foreigners of distinction, and especially some English ladies of high
rank, gladly accepted invitations to the balls, which they certainly would
not have done while their presence was likely to bring them into contact
with Madame du Barri. Lady Ailesbury is especially mentioned as having
been received with marked distinction by the queen, and also by the king,
who was careful to show his approval of her entertainments by the share
which he took in them; and, as he paraded the saloons arm-in-arm with her,
to distinguish those whom she noticed, so that, to quote the words of one
of the most lively chroniclers of the day, their example seemed to be fast
bringing conjugal love and fidelity into fashion. She even persuaded him
to depart still further from his usual reserve, so as to appear in costume
at more than one fancy ball; the dress which he chose being that of the
only predecessor of his own house whom he could in any point have desired
to resemble, Henry IV. He had already been indirectly compared to that
monarch, the first Bourbon king, by the ingenious flattery of a print-
*seller. In the long list of sovereigns who had reigned over France in the
five hundred years which had passed by since the warrior-saint of the
Crusades had laid down his life on the sands of Tunis, there had been but
two to whom their countrymen could look back with affection or respect--
Louis XII., to whom his subjects had given the title of The Good, and
Henry, to whom more than one memorial still preserved the surname of The
Great. And the courtly picture-dealer, eager to make his market of the
gratitude with which his fellow-citizens greeted the reforms with which
the reigning sovereign had already inaugurated his reign, contrived to
extract a compliment to him even out of the severe prose of the
multiplication-table; publishing a joint portrait of the three kings,
Louis XII., Henry IV., and Louis XVI., with an inscription beneath to
testify that 12 and 4 made 16.

In the spring of 1775, Marie Antoinette received a great pleasure in a
visit from her younger brother, Maximilian. He was the only member of her
family whom she had seen in the five years that had elapsed since she left
Vienna. But, eagerly as she had looked forward to his visit, it did not
bring her unmixed satisfaction, being marred by the ill-breeding of the
princes of the blood, and still more by the approval of their conduct
displayed by the citizens of Paris, which seemed to afford a convincing
evidence of the small effect which even the queen's virtues and graces had
produced in softening the old national feeling of enmity to the house of
Austria. The archduke, who was still but a youth, did not assert his royal
rank while on his travels, but preserved such an _incognito_ as princes on
such occasions are wont to assume, and took the title of Count de Burgau.
The king's brothers, however, like the king himself, paid no regard to his
disguise, but visited him at the first instant of his arrival; but the
princes of the blood stood on their dignity, refused to acknowledge a rank
which was not publicly avowed, or to recollect that the visitor was a
foreigner and brother to their queen, and insisted on receiving the
attention of the first visit from him. The excitement which the question
caused in the palace, and the queen's indignation at the slight thus
offered, as she conceived, to her brother, were great. High words passed
between her and the Duc d'Orleans, the chief of the recusants, on the
subject; and one part of her remonstrance throws a curious additional
light on the strange distance which, as has been already pointed out, the
etiquette of the French court had established between the sovereigns and
the very highest of their subjects, even the nearest of their relations.
The duke had insisted on the _incognito_ as debarring Maximilian from all
claim to attention from a prince like himself whose rank was not
concealed. She urged that the king and his brothers had not regarded it in
that light. "The duke knew," she said, "that the king had treated
Maximilian as a brother; that he even invited him to sup in private with
himself and her, an honor to which no prince of the blood had ever
pretended." And, finally, warming with her subject, she told him that,
though her brother would be sorry not to make the acquaintance of the
princes of the blood, he had many other things in Paris to see, and would
manage to do without it.[2] Her expostulation was fruitless. The princes
adhered to their resolution, and she to hers. They were not admitted to
any of the festivities of the palace during the archduke's stay, and were
even excluded from all the private entertainments which were given in his
honor, since she made it known that the king and she would refuse to
attend any to which they were invited. But, though their conduct was
surely both discourteous to a foreigner and disrespectful to their
sovereign, the Parisian populace took their part; and some of them who
showed themselves ostentatiously in the streets of the city on days on
which there were parties at Versailles were loudly applauded by a crowd
which was not entirely drawn from the lower classes. It was noticed that
the Duc de Chartres, the son of the Duc d'Orleans, was one of the foremost
in exciting this anti-Austrian feeling, the outbreak of which was
especially remarkable as the first instance in which the enthusiasm of the
citizens for Marie Antoinette seemed to have cooled, or at least to have
been interrupted. And this change in their feelings produced so painful an
impression on her mind, that, after her brother's departure, she abandoned
her intention of going to the opera, though Gluck's "Orfeo" was to be
performed, lest she should meet with a reception less cordial than that to
which she had hitherto been accustomed.

This ebullition against the house of Austria, however, was at the moment
dictated rather by discontent with the Home Government than by any settled
feeling on the subject of foreign politics. Corn had been at a rather high
price in Paris and its neighborhood throughout the winter; and the
dearness was taken advantage of by the enemies of Turgot, and employed by
them as an argument to prove the impolicy of his measures to introduce
freedom of trade. They even organized[3] formidable riots at Paris and
Versailles, which, however, Turgot, whose resolution was equal to his
capacity, prevailed on the king to repress by acts of vigor very unusual
to him, and very foreign to his disposition. The troops were called out;
the Parliament was summoned to a Bed of Justice, and enjoined to put the
law in force against the guilty; two of the most violent revolters were
executed; order was restored, and the wholly factitious character of the
outbreak was proved by the tranquillity which ensued, though the price of
bread remained unaltered till the commencement of the harvest, the
citizens themselves presently making a jest of their sedition, and
nicknaming it The War of the Grains.[4]

In France, one excitement soon drives out another, and the whole attention
of the nation was now fixed on the coronation, which had been appointed to
take place in June. After some discussion, it had been settled that Louis
should be crowned alone. There had not been many precedents for the
coronation of a queen in France; and the last instance, that of Marie de
Medicis, as having been followed by the assassination of her husband, was
regarded by many as a bad omen. If Marie Antoinette had herself expressed
any wish to be her husband's partner in the solemnity, it would certainly
have been complied with, and their subsequent fate would have been
regarded as a confirmation of the evil augury. But she was indifferent on
the subject, and quite contented to behold it as a spectator. It took
place on Sunday, the 11th of June, in the grand Cathedral at Rheims. The
progress of the royal family, which had quit Versailles for that city on
the preceding Monday, had resembled a triumphant procession, so
enthusiastic had been the acclamations which had greeted the king and
queen at each town through which they had passed; and all the previous
displays of joy were outdone by the demonstrations afforded by the
citizens of Rheims itself. It was midnight, on the 8th of June, when the
queen reached the gates; but the road outside and the streets inside were
thronged with a crowd as dense as midday could have produced, which
followed her to the archbishop's palace, making the whole city resound
with their loyal cheers; and which, the next morning, awaited her
coming-forth after holding a grand reception of all the nobles of the
province, to meet the king when he made his solemn entry in the
afternoon. The ceremony in the cathedral was one of great magnificence;
but, in the account of the day which, after her return to Versailles,
she wrote to her mother, she does not enter into details, as being
necessarily known to the empress in their general character; confining
herself rather to a description of the impression which the manifest
cordiality with which the whole people had entered into the spirit of
the solemnity had made upon her own mind and heart.[5]

"The coronation was perfect in every respect. It was made plain that every
one was highly delighted with the king, and so he deserves that all his
subjects should be. Great and small, all displayed the greatest interest
in him; and at the moment of placing the crown on his head the ceremonies
of the church were interrupted by the most touching acclamations. I could
not restrain myself; my tears flowed in spite of all my efforts, and the
people were pleased to see them. During the whole time of our journey I
did my best to correspond to the earnestness of the people; and although
the heat was great, and the crowd immense, I do not regret my fatigue,
which, moreover, has not injured my health. It is a very astonishing
circumstance, but at the same time a very pleasant one, to be so well
received only two months after the revolt, and in spite of the high price
of bread, which unhappily still continues. It is a strange peculiarity in
the French character to allow themselves to be so easily led away by
mischievous suggestions, and then immediately to return to good behavior.
It is very certain that when we see people, even in times of distress,
treating us so well, we are the more bound to labor for their happiness.
The king seems to me penetrated with this truth. As for me, I feel that
all my life, even if I were to live a hundred years, I shall never forget
the coronation day."

But all the tumultuous pomp and exultation only made her return with
renewed pleasure to her quiet retreat of the Trianon, which, with the
assistance of the illustrious Buffon, then superintendent of the king's
gardens, and of Bernard de Jussieu, Director of the Jardin des Plantes,
and celebrated as one of the first botanists of Europe, she was laying out
with a delicate taste that long rendered it one of the chief attractions
to all the inhabitants of the district. For the sentiment which she
expressed in the letter to the empress, which has just been quoted, was
not the mere formal utterance of a barren philanthropy, but was dictated
and carried out by an active benevolence. She felt in her inmost heart the
duty which she there professed, of exerting herself to promote the
happiness of the people, and was far too unselfish to desire to keep to
herself the whole of the delight her gardens were calculated to afford.
The Trianon was a possession exactly calculated to gratify her taste for
innocent rural pleasure. As she said herself, at Versailles she was a
queen; here she was a plain country lady, superintending not only her
flowers, but her farm-yard and her dairy, taking pride in her stock and
her produce. She would invite the king and the rest of the royal family to
garden parties, where, at a table set out under a bower of honeysuckle,
she would pour out their coffee with her own hands, boasting of the
thickness of her cream, the freshness of her eggs, the ruddiness and
flavor of her strawberries, as so many proofs of her skill in managing her
establishment; and would not fear to shock her aunts by tempting one of
her sisters-in-law to a game at ball, or battledoor and shuttlecock. But
she probably enjoyed still more the power of gratifying the inhabitants of
Versailles and the neighborhood. The moment that her improvements were
completed, she opened the gardens to the public to walk in, and gave
out-of-door parties and children's dances, to which all the inhabitants of
Versailles who presented themselves in decent apparel were admitted. She
would even open the dance herself with some well-conducted boy, and
afterward stroll among the crowd, talking affably to all the company, even
to the governesses and nurses, and delighting the parents with the
interest which she exhibited in the characters, the growth, and even the
names of the children.

There were some who, startled at the unwonted sight of a sovereign so
treating her subjects as fellow-creatures, confessed a fear that such
familiarity was not without its dangers;[6] but the objects of her
condescension worshiped her for it; and for a time at least the great
majority of the nation forgot that she was Austrian. She was now nearly
twenty years of age. Her form had developed into a rare perfection of
elegance. Her features had added to the original brilliancy of her girlish
loveliness something of that higher beauty which judgment and sagacity
inspire, and which dignity renders only the more imposing; while the same
benevolence and purity beamed in every look which were remarked as her
most sterling characteristics on her first arrival in the country. And it
is not to her French or German admirers alone that we are reduced to trust
for the impression which at this time she made on all beholders. We have
seen that English gentlemen and ladies of rank were frequent visitors to
the French court; and from two of these, men of widely different
characters, talents, and turns of mind, we have a striking concurrence of
testimony as to the power of the fascination which she exerted on all who
came within the sphere of her influence. Burke was the earlier visitor.
Indeed, it was in the last months of the preceding reign, while she was
still dauphiness, that she had excited in his enthusiastic imagination
those emotions which he afterward described in words which will live as
long as the English language. It was in the spring of 1774 that it seemed
to him that "surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to
touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon,
decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in--
glittering like the morning-star, full of life, and splendor, and joy." No
one could be less like Burke than Horace Walpole, a cynical observer, who
piqued himself on indifference, and especially on a superiority to the
vulgar belief in the merits and attractions of kings and princes. Yet his
report of the charms of Marie Antoinette, as he saw them in the autumn of
this year, 1775, reveals an admiration of them as vivid as that of the
warm-hearted and more poetical Irishman. He saw her, as he reports to Lady
Ossory, first at a state court hall,[7] given on the occasion of the
marriage of the Princess Clotilde, in the theatre of the palace; and he
would have desired to give his correspondent some description of the
beauty of the building; "the bravest in the universe, and yet one in which
taste predominates over expense;" but he was absorbed by the still more
powerful attractions of the princess whom he had seen in it: "What I have
to say I can tell your ladyship in a word, for it was impossible to see
any thing but the queen. Hebes, and Floras, and Helens, and Graces are
street-walkers to her. She is a statue and beauty when standing or
sitting; grace itself when she moves." As he is writing to a lady, he
proceeds to describe her dress, which to ladies of the present day may
still have its interest: "She was dressed in silver, scattered over with
_laurier_ roses; few diamonds; and feathers, much lower than the
monument." He proceeds to describe the ball itself, and some of the
company, which was, however, very select; but at every sentence or two he
comes back to the queen, so deep and so real was the impression which she
had made on him. "Monsieur is very handsome. The Comte d'Artois is a
better figure and a better dancer. Their characters approach to those of
two other royal dukes.[8] There were but eight minuets, and, except the
queen and princesses, only eight lady dancers; I was not so much struck
with the dancing as I expected. For beauty I saw none, or the queen
effaced all the rest. After the minuets were French country-dances, much
incumbered by the long trains, longer tresses, and hoops. In the intervals
of dancing, baskets of peaches, china oranges (a little out of season),
biscuits, ices, and wine-and-water were presented to the royal family and
dancers. The ball lasted just two hours. The monarch did not dance, but
for the first two rounds of the minuet even the queen does not turn her
back to him. Yet her behavior is as easy as divine."

Such was a French court ball on days of most special ceremony, a somewhat
solemn affair, which required graciousness such as that of Marie
Antoinette to make admission to every one a very enviable privilege; even
though its stiffness had been in some degree relieved by a new regulation
of the queen, that the invitations, which had hitherto been confined to
matrons, should be extended to unmarried girls. Scarcely any change
produced greater consternation among the admirers of old customs. The
dowagers searched all the registers of those who had been admitted to the
court balls since the beginning of the century to fortify their
objections. But, to their dismay, some of the early festivities in the
time of Marie Leczinska proved to have been shared by one or two noble
maidens. The discovery was of little importance, since Marie Antoinette
had shown that she was not afraid of making precedents. But still it in
some degree silenced the grumblers, and for the rest of the reign no one
contested the queen's right to decide who should, and who should not, be
admitted to her society.


Tea is introduced.--Horse-racing of Count d'Artois.--Marie Antoinette goes
to see it--The Queen's Submissiveness to the Reproofs of the Empress.--
Birth of the Duc d'Angouleme.--She at times speaks lightly of the King.--
The Emperor remonstrates with her.--Character of some of the Queen's
Friends.--The Princess de Lamballe.--The Countess Jules de Polignac.--
They set the Queen against Turgot.--She procures his Dismissal.--She
gratifies Madame Polignac's Friends.--Her Regard for the French People.--
Water Parties on the Seine.--Her Health is Delicate.--Gambling at the

Nor were these the only innovations which marked the age. A rage for
adopting English fashions--_Anglomanie_, as it was called--began to
prevail; and, among the different modes in which it exhibited itself, it
is especially noticed that tea[1] was now introduced, and began to share
with coffee the privileges of affording sober refreshment to those who
aspired in their different ways to give the tone to French society.

A less innocent novelty was a passion for horse-racing, in which the Comte
d'Artois and the Duc de Chartres set the example of indulging,
establishing a race-course in the Bois de Boulogne. The count had but
little difficulty in persuading the queen to attend it, and she soon
showed so decided a fancy for the sport, and became so regular a visitor
of it, that a small stand was built for her, which in subsequent years
provoked some unfavorable comments, when the princess obtained her leave
to give luncheon in it to some of their racing friends, who were not in
all instances of a character deserving to be brought into a royal

She pursued this, as she pursued every other amusement which she took up,
with great keenness for a while, so much so as to provoke earnest
remonstrances from her mother, whose letters were commonly dictated by
Mercy's reports and suggestions. Nor, if she felt uneasiness, did Maria
Teresa spare her daughter, or take any great care to moderate her language
of reproof. At times her tone is so severe as to excite a feeling of
wonder at the submissiveness with which her letters were received. No
express eulogy of her admirers could give so great an idea of Marie
Antoinette's amiability, good-nature, genuine modesty, and sincere
affection for her mother, as the ingenuousness with which she admits
errors, or the temper with which she urges excuses. To that venerated
parent she is just as patient of admonition, now that she is seated on a
throne, as she could have been in her schoolroom at Schoenbrunn; and, in
reply to the scoldings (no milder word can do justice to the earnest
vehemence of the letters which at this time she received from Vienna), she
pleads not only that an appetite for amusement is natural to her age, but
that she enters into none of which the king does not fully approve, and
none which are ever allowed to interfere with her giving him full
enjoyment of her society whenever he has leisure or inclination for it.

But her replies to her mother hint also at the continuance of the old
causes for her restlessness, and for her eager pursuit of new diversions
to distract her thoughts. Her natural desire for children of her own was
greatly increased when, on the 12th of August, her sister-in-law, the
Countess d'Artois, presented her husband with a son.[2] She treated the
young mother with a sisterly kindness suited to the occasion, which
extorted the unqualified praise of Mercy himself; but she could not
restrain her feelings on the subject to her mother, and she expressed to
her frankly the extreme pain "which she suffered at thus seeing an heir to
the throne who was not her own child." Nor is it strange that at such
moments she should feel hurt at the coldness with which her husband
continued to behave toward her, or that she should ran eagerly after any
excitement which might aid in diverting her mind from a comparison of her
own position with that of her happier sister-in-law.[3]

It would have been well if she had confined her expressions of
disappointment to her mother. But since we may not disguise her occasional
acts of imprudence, it must be confessed that at times her mortification
led her to speak of her husband to strangers in a tone of disparagement
which was highly unbecoming. Maximilian had been accompanied by the Count
de Rosenburg, who had in consequence been admitted to the intimate society
of the court during the archduke's visit, and who had inspired Marie
Antoinette with so favorable an opinion of his character and judgment that
after his return to Vienna she more than once sent him an account of the
proceedings at the palace since her brother's departure. She describes to
him a series of concerts, at which she had sung herself with some of her
ladies. She gives him a list of the guests, remarking, with a
particularity which seems to show that she expects her words to be
reported to the empress, that the gentlemen, though amiable and well bred,
were not young. But she also complains that the king's tastes do not
resemble hers, that he cares for nothing but hunting and mechanical
employments; and, indulging in an unwonted bit of sarcasm, she proceeds:
"You will allow that I should not look well beside a forge. I could never
become a Vulcan; and the part of Venus would displease him more than my
real tastes, which he does not disapprove." In another letter she mentions
him in a tone of contemptuous pity, almost equally unbecoming, speaking of
him as "the poor man" whom she had made a tool of to further some views of
her own, though Mercy assured the empress that her assertion of having so
treated him was a mere fiction of her imagination, to impart a sort of
lively tone to her letter; that, in spite of occasional outbursts of
levity, she had in reality the firmest affection and esteem for Louis; and
that nothing could be more irreproachable than her conduct toward him in
every respect. He added that the people in general did her full justice on
this head; that if her popularity with the Parisians had for a moment
suffered any diminution through the artifices of faction, the cloud had
been blown away; and that she had been recently received at the different
theatres with as fervent a loyalty as had greeted even her first

The empress, however, was so uneasy that she induced her son, the Emperor
Joseph, to add his expostulations to hers; and he, who was a prince of
considerable shrewdness, as well as of a high idea of the proprieties of
his rank, wrote her a long letter of remonstrance; imputing with great
truth the failings, which he pointed out with sufficient plainness, to a
facility of disposition which made her indulgent to the manoeuvres of
those whom she admitted to her friendship, but who did not deserve such an
honor. He even spoke of the society which she had gathered round her, as
calculated to prevent him from performing his promise of paying her a
visit; "for what should he do in a court of frivolous intriguers?" And he
concluded by urging her to prevent these false friends from making a tool
of her for the gratification of their own selfishness and rapacity; and to
be solicitous for no friendship or confidence but that of her husband; the
study of whose wishes was to her not only a state duty, but the only one
which would make her permanently happy, and secure to her the lasting
affection of the people.

There was, however, no subject on which Marie Antoinette was so little
amenable to advice as the choice of her friends, and none on which she
more required it. Above all the frequenters of the court, two ladies were
distinguished by her especial favor--the Princess de Lamballe and the
Countess de Polignac. The princess, a daughter of the Prince de Carignan
in Savoy, having been married to the son of the Duc de Penthievre, was
left a widow before she was twenty years of age. She had been originally
recommended to Mario Antoinette in the first year of her residence in
France, partly by her royal birth, and partly by her misfortunes; and the
attachment which the dauphiness at once conceived for her was cemented by
the ardor with which it was returned. In many respects the princess well
deserved the favor with which she was regarded. Her temper was sweet and
amiable; her character singularly truthful and sincere; and, that she
might never be separated from her friend, the place of superintendent of
the queen's household was revived for her. Some cavilers were disposed to
grumble at the re-establishment of an office which had been suppressed as
useless and costly; but no one could allege that Madame de Lamballe abused
the royal favor, and her share in the calamities of later days justified
the queen's choice by the proof it afforded of the princess's unalterable
fidelity and devotion.

But the countess was a very different character. She had, indeed, a
well-bred air of good humor, but that, with her youth (she was but
twenty years of age), was her only qualification; for her capacity was
narrow, her disposition selfish and grasping, and she was so inveterate
a manoeuvrer, that, when she had no intrigues of her own on foot, she
was always ready to lend herself to the plots of others. What was worse,
she did not enjoy an untainted character. The name of the Comte de
Vaudreuil was often coupled with hers in the scandals of the court. And
the queen, since she could hardly be ignorant of the reports which were
circulated, incurred, by the marked favor which she showed to the
countess, the imputation of shutting her eyes to the frailties of her
friends, and thus showing that dissoluteness was not an insuperable
barrier to her partiality. It was only the earnest remonstrance of Mercy
which prevented her from conferring the place of lady of honor on the
countess; but she allowed her to exert a pernicious influence over her
in many ways, for the countess was unwearied in soliciting appointments
and pensions for her relatives; at times making demands in such numbers,
and of so exorbitant a character, that the queen herself was forced to
admit the impossibility of granting them all, though she still sought to
gratify her to far too great an extent, and would not allow the proved
insatiability of her and her family to open her eyes to her real

It was, however, a far more mischievous submission to the influence of the
countess and her coterie, when she permitted them to prejudice her against
Turgot, whom she had more than once described to her mother as an upright
statesman, and who had constantly shown, so far as he could make
compliance consistent with his duty to the State, a sincere desire to
consult her wishes. But as the Polignac party saw in his prudence,
integrity, and firmness the most formidable obstacle to their project of
using the queen's favor to enrich themselves, she now yielded up her
judgment to their calumnies. Forgetting her former praises of the
minister's integrity, she began to disparage him as one whose measures
caused general dissatisfaction, and at last she pushed her hostility to
him so far that she actually tried to induce Louis not to be content with
dismissing him from office, but to send him as a prisoner to the
Bastille.[4] That she could not avoid feeling some shame at the part which
she had acted may be inferred from the pains which she took to conceal it
from her mother, whom she assured that, though she was not sorry for his
dismissal, she had in no degree interfered in the matter; but "her conduct
and even her intentions were well known, and known to be far removed from
all manoeuvres and intrigues.[5]"

Unfortunately the ambassador's letters tell a different story. As a
sincere friend as well as a loyal servant of Marie Antoinette, he
expresses to the empress his deep feeling that, "as the comptroller-
general enjoyed a great reputation for integrity, and was beloved by the
people, it was a melancholy thing that his dismissal should be in part the
queen's work,[6]" and his fear that her conduct in the affair may
"hereafter bring upon her the reproaches of the king her husband, and even
of the entire nation." The foreboding thus uttered was but too sadly
realized. She had driven from her husband's councils the only man who
combined with the penetration to perceive the absolute necessity of a
large reform and the character of the changes required, the genius to
devise them and the firmness to carry them out.

Thirteen years later, a variety of causes, some of which will be unfolded
in the course of this narrative, had contributed to irritate the
impatience of the nation, while the unskillfulness of the existing
minister had disarmed the royal authority. And the very same reforms which
would now have been accepted with general thankfulness were then only used
by demagogues as a pretext for further inflaming the minds of the
multitude against every thing which bore the slightest appearance of
authority, even against the very sovereign who had granted them. France
and all Europe to this day feel the sad effects of Marie Antoinette's

She had given fatal proof of the truth of the words wrung from her by
nervous excitement at the moment of the late king's death, when she
declared that Louis and she were too young to reign; and the best excuse
that can be found for her is that she was not yet one-and-twenty. It was
not, however, wholly from submission to the interested malevolence of
others that she had shown herself the enemy of the great financier and
statesman. She had a spontaneous dislike to the retrenchments which
necessarily formed a great portion of his economical measures; not as
interfering with the indulgence of any extravagant tastes of her own, but
as restraining her power of gratifying her friends. For she was entirely
impressed with the idea that no person or body could have any right to
call in question the king's disposal of the national revenue; and that
there was no prerogative of the crown of which the exercise was more
becoming to the royal dignity than that of granting pensions or creating
sinecures with no limitations but such as might be imposed by his own will
or discretion. And on this point her husband fully shared her feelings.
"What," said he, on one occasion to Turgot, who was urging him to refuse
an utterly unwarrantable application for a pension. "What are a thousand
crowns a year?" "Sire," replied the minister, "they are the taxation of a
village." The king acquiesced for the moment, but probably not without
some secret wincing at the control to which he seemed to be subjected; and
we may, perhaps, suppose that even the queen's disapproval of the minister
would have been less effectual had it not been re-enforced by the king's
own feelings.

In fact, that the part which she took against the great minister was the
fruit of mere inconsiderateness and ignorance of the feelings and
necessities of the nation, and that, if she had known the depth of the
people's distress, and the degree in which it was caused by the
viciousness of the whole existing system of government, she would gladly
have promoted every measure which could tend to their relief, we may find
abundant proof in a letter which she had written to her mother, a few
weeks earlier. Maria Teresa had spoken with some harshness of the French
fickleness. Marie Antoinette replies:[7]

"You are quite right in all you say about French levity, but I am truly
grieved that on that account you should conceive an aversion for the
nation. The disposition of the people is very inconsistent, but it is not
bad. Pens and tongues utter a great many things which are not in their
heart. The proof that they do not cherish hatred is that on the very
slightest occasion they speak well of one, and even praise one much more
than one deserves. I have just this moment myself had experience of this.
There had been a terrible fire in Paris in the Palace of Justice, and the
same day I was to have gone to the opera, so I did not go, but sent two
hundred louis to relieve the most pressing cases of distress;[8] and ever
since the fire, the very same people who had been circulating libels and
songs against me[9] have been extolling me to the skies."

These revelations of her inmost thoughts to her mother show how real and
warm was her affection for the French as a nation, as well as how little
she claimed any merit for her endeavors to benefit them; though a
subsequent passage in the same letter also shows that she had been so much
annoyed by some pasquinades and libels, of which she had been the subject,
that she had become careful not to furnish fresh opportunities to her
enemies: "We have had here such a quantity of snow as has not been seen
for many years, so that people are going about in sledges, as they do at
Vienna. We were out in them yesterday about this place; and to-day there
is to be a grand procession of them through Paris. I should greatly have
liked to be able to go; but, as a queen has never been seen at such
things, people might have made up stories if I had gone, and I preferred
giving up the pleasure to being worried by fresh libels."

She was still as eager as ever in the pursuit of amusement, and especially
of novelties in that way, when not restrained by considerations such as
those which she here mentions. When at Choisy, she gave water parties on
the river in boats with awnings, which she called gondolas, rowing down as
far as the very entrance to the city. It was not quite a prudent diversion
for her, for at this time her health was not very strong. She easily
caught cold, and the reports of such attacks often caused great uneasiness
at Vienna; but the watermen were highly delighted, looking on her act in
putting herself under their care as a compliment to their craft; and some
of them, to increase her pleasure, jumped overboard and swam about. Their
well-meant gallantry, however, was nearly having an unfavorable effect;
unaware that it was not an accident, she thought that their lives were in
danger, and the fear for them turned her sick, while Madame de Lamballe
fainted away. But when she perceived the truth, the qualm passed away, and
she rewarded them handsomely for their ducking; begging, however, that it
might not be repeated, and assuring them that she needed no such proof to
convince her of their dutiful and faithful loyalty.

But the craving for excitement which was bred and nourished by the
continuance of her unnatural position with respect to her husband in some
parts of his treatment of her, was threatening to produce a very
pernicious effect by leading her to become a gambler. Some of those ladies
whom she admitted to her intimacy were deeply infected with this fatal
passion; and one of the most mischievous and intriguing of the whole
company, the Princess de Guimenee, introduced a play-table at some of her
balls, which she induced Marie Antoinette to attend. At first the queen
took no share in the play; as she had hitherto borne none, or only a
formal part, in the gaming which, as we have seen, had long been a
recognized feature in court entertainments; but gradually the hope of
banishing vexation, if only by the substitution of a heavier care, got
dominion over her, and in the autumn of 1776 we find Mercy commenting on
her losses at lansquenet and faro, at that time the two most fashionable
round games, the stakes at which often rose to a very considerable amount.
Though she continued to indulge in this unhealthy pastime for some time,
in Mercy's opinion she never took any real interest in it. She practiced
it only because she wished to pass the time, and to drive away thought;
and because the one accomplishment she wanted was the art of refusing. She
even carried her complaisance so far as to allow professed gaming-table
keepers to be brought from Paris to manage a faro-bank in her apartments,
where the play was often continued long after midnight. It was not the
least evil of this habit that it unavoidably left the king, who never quit
his own apartments in the evening, to pass a great deal of time by
himself; but, as if to make up for his coldness in one way, he was most
indulgent in every other, and seemed to have made it a rule never to
discountenance any thing which could amuse her. His behavior to her, in
Mercy's eyes, seemed to resemble servility; "it was that of the most
attentive courtier," and was carried so far as to treat with marked
distinction persons whose character he was known to disapprove, solely
because she regarded them with favor.[10]

In cases such as these the defects in the king's character contributed
very injuriously to aggravate those in hers. She required control, and he
was too young to exercise it. He had too little liveliness to enter into
her amusements; too little penetration to see that, though many of them--
it may be said all, except the gaming-table--were innocent if he partook
of them, indulgence in them, when he did not share them, could hardly fail
to lead to unfriendly comments and misconstruction; though even his
presence could hardly have saved his queen's dignity from some humiliation
when wrangles took place, and accusations of cheating were made in her
presence. The gaming-table is a notorious leveler of distinctions, and the
worst-behaved of the guests were too frequently the king's own brothers;
they were rude, overbearing, and ill-tempered. The Count de Provence on
one occasion so wholly forgot the respect due to her, that he assaulted a
gentleman in her presence; and the Count d'Artois, who played for very
high stakes, invariably lost his temper when he lost his money. Indeed,
the queen seems to have felt the discredit of such scenes; and it is
probable that it was their frequent occurrence which led to a temporary
suspension of the faro-bank; as a violent quarrel on the race-course
between d'Artois and his cousin, the Duke de Chartres, whom he openly
accused of cheating him, for a while disgusted her with horse-races, and
led her to propose a substitution of some of the old exercises of
chivalry, such as running at the ring; a proposal which had a great
element of popularity in it, as being calculated to lead to a renewal of
the old French pastimes, which seemed greatly preferable to the existing
rage for copying, and copying badly, the fashions and pursuits of England.


Marie Antoinette finds herself in Debt.--Forgeries of her Name are
committed.--The Queen devotes herself too much to Madame de Polignac and
others.--Versailles is less frequented.--Remonstrances of the Empress.--
Volatile Character of the Queen.--She goes to the Bals d'Opera at Paris.--
She receives the Duke of Dorset and other English Nobles with Favor.--
Grand Entertainment given her by the Count de Provence.--Character of the
Emperor Joseph.--He visits Paris and Versailles.--His Feelings toward and
Conversations with the King and Queen.--He goes to the Opera.--His Opinion
of the Queen's Friends.--Marie Antoinette's Letter to the Empress on his
Departure.--The Emperor leaves her a Letter of Advice.

But this addiction to play, though it was that consequence of the
influence of the society to which Marie Antoinette was at this time so
devoted, which would have seemed the most objectionable in the eyes of
rigid moralists, was not that which excited the greatest dissatisfaction
in the neighborhood of the court. Excessive gambling had so long been a
notorious vice of the French princes, that her letting herself down to
join the gaming-table was not regarded as indicating any peculiar laxity
of principle; while the stakes which she permitted herself, and the losses
she incurred, though they seemed heavy to her anxious German friends, were
as nothing when compared with those of the king's brothers. Even when it
became known that she was involved in debt, that again was regarded as an
ordinary occurrence, apparently even by the king himself, who paid the
amount (about L20,000) without a word of remonstrance, merely remarking
that he did not wonder at her funds being exhausted since she had such a
passion for diamonds. For a great portion of the debts had been incurred
for some diamond ear-rings which the queen herself did not wish for, and
had only bought to gratify Madame de Polignac, who had promised her custom
to the jeweler who had them for sale. Marie Antoinette had evidently
become less careful in regulating her expenses, till she was awakened by
the discovery of a crime which she herself imputed to her own carelessness
in such matters. The wife of the king's treasurer had borrowed money in
her name, and had forged her handwriting to letters of acknowledgment of
the loans. The fraud was only discovered through Mercy's vigilance, and
the criminal was at seized and punished, but it proved a wholesome lesson
to the queen, who never forgot it, though, as we shall see hereafter, if
others remembered it, the recollection only served to induce them to try
and enrich themselves by similar knaveries.

And this devotion of the queen to the society of the Polignacs and
Guimenees, "her society," as she sometimes called it,[1] had also a
mischievous effect in diminishing her popularity with the great body of
the nobles. The custom of former sovereigns had been to hold receptions
several evenings in each week, to which the men and women of the highest
rank were proud to repair to pay their court. But now the royal apartments
were generally empty, the king being alone in his private cabinet, while
the queen was passing her time at some small private party of young
people, by her presence often seeming to countenance intrigues of which
she did not in her heart approve, and giddy conversation which was hardly
consistent with her royal position; though Mercy, in reporting these
habits to the empress, adds that the queen's own demeanor, even in the
moments of apparently unrestrained familiarity, was marked by such uniform
self-possession and dignity, that no one ever ventured to take liberties
with her, or to approach her without the most entire respect.[2]

It was hardly strange, then, that those who were not members of this
society should feel offended at finding the court, as it were, closed
against them, and should cease to frequent the palace when they had no
certainty of meeting any thing but empty rooms. They even absented
themselves from the queen's balls, which in consequence were so thinly
attended that sometimes there were scarcely a dozen dancers of each sex,
so that it was universally remarked that never within the memory of the
oldest courtiers had Versailles been so deserted as it was this winter;
the difference between the scene which the palace presented now from what
had been witnessed in previous seasons striking the queen herself, and
inclining her to listen more readily to the remonstrances which, at
Mercy's instigation, the empress addressed to her. Her mother pointed out
to her, with all the weight of her own long experience, the
incompatibility of a private mode of life, such as is suitable for
subjects, with the state befitting a great sovereign; and urged her to
recollect that all the king's subjects, so long as their rank and
characters were such as to entitle them to admission at court, had an
equal right to her attention; and that the system of exclusiveness which
she had adopted was a dereliction of her duty, not only to those who were
thus deprived of the honors of the reception to which they were entitled,
but also to the king, her husband, who was injured by any line of conduct
which tended to discourage the nobles of the land from paying their
respects to him.

In the midst of all her giddiness, Marie Antoinette always listened with
good humor, it may even be said with docility, to honest advice. No one
ever in her rank was so unspoiled by authority; and more than one
conversation which she held with the ambassador on the subject showed that
these remonstrances, re-enforced as they were by the undeniable fact of
the thinness of the company at the palace, had made an impression on her
mind; though such impressions were as yet too apt to be fleeting, and too
liable to be overborne by fresh temptations; for in volatile impulsiveness
she resembled the French themselves, and the good resolutions she made one
day were always liable to be forgotten the next. Nothing as yet was steady
and unalterable in her character but her kindness of heart and
graciousness of manner; they never changed; and it was on her genuine
goodness of disposition and righteousness of intention that her German
friends relied for producing an amendment as she grew older, far more than
on any regrets for the past, or intentions of improvement for the future,
which might be wrung from her by any momentary reflection or vexation.

If Versailles was less lively than usual, Paris, on the other hand, had
never been so gay as during the carnival of 1777. The queen went to
several of the masked balls at the opera with one or other of her
brothers-in-law and their wives; the king expressing his perfect
willingness that she should so amuse herself, but never being able to
overcome his own indolence and shyness so far as to accompany her. It
could not have been a very lively amusement. She did not dance, but sat in
an arm-chair surveying the dancers, or walked down the saloon attended by
an officer of the bodyguard and one lady in waiting, both masked like
herself. Occasionally she would grant to some noble of high rank the honor
of walking at her side; but it was remarked that those whom she thus
distinguished were often foreigners; some English noblemen, such as the
Duke of Dorset and Lord Strathavon being especially favored, for a reason
which, as given by Mercy, shows that that insular stiffness which, with
national self-complacency, Britons sometimes confess as a not unbecoming
characteristic, was not at that time attributed to them by others; since
the ambassador explains the queen's preference by the self-evident fact
that the English gentlemen were the best dancers, and made the best figure
in the ball-room.

But all the other festivities of this winter were thrown into the shade by
an entertainment of extraordinary magnificence, which was given in the
queen's honor by the Count de Provence at his villa at Brunoy.[3] The
count was an admirer of Spenser, and appeared to desire to embody the
spirit of that poet of the ancient chivalry in the scene which he
presented to the view of his illustrious guest when she entered his
grounds. Every one seemed asleep. Groups of cavaliers, armed _cap-a-pie_,
and surrounded by a splendid retinue of squires and pages, were seen
slumbering on the ground; their lances lying by their sides, their shields
hanging on the trees which overshadowed them; their very horses reposing
idly on the grass on which they cared not to browse. All seemed under the
influence of a spell as powerful as that under which Merlin had bound the
pitiless daughter of Arthur; but the moment that Marie Antoinette passed
within the gates the enchantment was dissolved; the pages sprung to their
feet, and brought the easily roused steeds to their awakened masters.
Twenty-five challengers, with scarfs of green, the queen's favorite color,
on snow-white chargers, overthrew an equal number of antagonists; but no
deadly wounds were given. The victory of her champions having been
decided, both parties of combatants mingled as spectators at a play, and
afterward as dancers at a grand ball which was wound up by a display of
fire-works and a superb illumination, of which the principal ornament was
a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, in many-colored fire, lighting up the
inscription "Vive Louis! Vive Marie Antoinette!"

At last, however, the carnival came to an end. Not too soon for the
queen's good, since hunts and long rides by day, and balls kept up till a
late hour by night, had been too much for her strength,[4] so that even
indifferent observers remarked that she looked ill and had grown thin. But
even had Lent not interrupted her amusements, she would have ceased for a
while to regard them, her whole mind being now devoted to preparing for
the reception of her brother, the Emperor Joseph, whose visit, which had
been promised in the previous year, was at last fixed for the month of
April. It was anticipated with anxiety by the Empress and Mercy, as well
as by Marie Antoinette. He was a prince of a peculiar disposition and
habits. Before his accession to the imperial throne, he had been kept,
apparently not greatly against his will, in the background. Nor, while his
father lived, did he give any indications of a desire for power, or of any
capacity for exercising it; but since he had been placed on the throne he
had displayed great activity and energy, though he was still, in the
opinion of many, more of a philosopher--a detractor might said more of a
pedant--than of a statesman. He studied theories of government, and was
extremely fond of giving advice; and as both Louis and Marie Antoinette
were persons who in many respects stood in need of friendly counsel, Mercy
and Maria Teresa had both looked forward to his visit to the French court
as an event likely to be of material service to both, while his sister
regarded it with a mixed feeling of hope and fear, in which, however, the
pleasurable emotions predominated.

She was not insensible to the probability that he would disapprove of some
of her habits; indeed, we have already seen that he had expressed his
disapproval of them, and of some of her friends, in the preceding year;
and she dreaded his lectures; but, on the other hand, she felt confident
that a personal acquaintance with the court would prove to him that many
of the tales to her prejudice which had readied him had been mischievous
exaggerations, and that thus he would be able to disabuse their mother,
and to tranquilize her mind on many points. She hoped, too, that a
personal knowledge of each other by him and her own husband would tend to
cement a real friendship between them; and that his stronger mind would
obtain an influence over Louis, which might induce him to rouse himself
from his ordinary apathy and reserve, and make him more of a man of the
world and more of a companion for her. Lastly, but probably above all, she
thirsted with sisterly affection for the sight of her brother, and
anticipated with pride the opportunity of presenting to her new countrymen
a relation of whom she was proud on account of his personal endowments and
character, and whose imperial rank made his visit wear the appearance of a
marked compliment to the whole French nation.

High-strung expectations often insure their own disappointment, but it was
not so in this instance; though the august visitor's first act displayed
an eccentricity of disposition which must have led more people than one to
entertain secret misgivings as to the consequences which might flow from a
visit which had such a commencement. Like his brother Maximilian, he too
traveled incognito, under the title of the Count Falkenstein; and he
persisted in maintaining his disguise so absolutely that he refused to
occupy the apartments which the queen had prepared for him in the palace,
and insisted on taking up his quarters with Mercy in Paris, and at a
hotel, for the few days which he passed at Versailles.

However, though by his conduct in this matter he to some extent
disappointed the hope which his sister had conceived of an uninterrupted
intercourse with him during his stay in France, in every other respect the
visit passed off to the satisfaction of all the parties principally
concerned. Fortunately, at their first interview Marie Antoinette herself
made a most favorable impression on him. She had been but a child when he
had last seen her. She was now a woman, and he was wholly unprepared for
the matured and queenly beauty at which she had arrived. He was not a man
to flatter any one, but almost his first words to her were that, had she
not been his sister, he could not have refrained from seeking her hand
that he might secure to himself so lovely a partner; and each succeeding
meeting strengthened his admiration of her personal graces. She, always
eager to please, was gratified at the feeling she had inspired; and thus
an affectionate tone was from the first established between them, and all
reserve was banished from their conversation. It was not diminished by the
admonitions which, as he conceived, his age and greater experience
entitled him to address to her, though sometimes they took the form of
banter and ridicule, sometimes that of serious reproof;[5] but she bore
all his lectures with unvarying good humor, promising him that the time
should come when she would make the amendment which he desired; never
attempting to conceal from him, and scarcely to excuse, the faults of
which she was not unconscious, nor the vexations which in some particulars
continually disquieted her.

It was, at least, equally fortunate that the king also conceived a great
liking for his brother-in-law at first sight. His character disposed him
to receive with eagerness advice from one who had himself occupied a
throne for several years, and whose relationship seemed a sufficient
warrant that his counsels would be honest and disinterested. Accordingly
those about him soon remarked that Louis treated the emperor with a
cordiality that he had never shown to any one else. They had many long and
interesting conversations, sometimes with Marie Antoinette as a third
party, sometimes by themselves. Louis discussed with the emperor his
anxiety to have a family, and his hopes of such a result; and Joseph
expressed his opinion freely on all subjects, even volunteering
suggestions of a change in the king's habits; as when he recommended him,
as a part of his kingly duty, to visit the different provinces, sea-ports,
cities, and manufacturing towns of his kingdom, so as to acquaint himself
generally with the feelings and resources of the people. Louis listened
with attention. If there was any case in which the emperor's advice was
thrown away, it was, if the queen's suspicions were correct, when he
recommended to the king a line of conduct adverse to her influence.

Mercy had told the emperor that Louis was devotedly attached to the queen,
but that he feared her at least as much as he loved her; and Joseph would
have desired to see some of this fear transferred to and felt by her; and
showed his wish that the king should exert his legitimate authority as a
husband to check those habits of his wife of which they both disapproved,
and which she herself did not defend. But, even if Louis did for a moment
make up his mind to adopt a tone of authority, his resolution faded away
in his wife's presence before her superior resolution; and to the end of
their days she continued to be the leader, and he to follow her guidance.

It need hardly be told that so august a visitor had entertainments given
in his honor. The king gave banquets at Versailles, the queen less formal
parties at her Little Trianon, though gayeties were not much to Joseph's
taste; and, at a visit which his sister compelled him to pay to the opera,
he remained ensconced at the back of her box till she dragged him forward,
and, as if by main force, presented him to the audience. The whole theatre
resounded with applause, expressed in such a way as to mark that it was to
the queen's brother, fully as much as to the emperor, that the homage was
paid. The opera was "Iphigenie," the chorus in which, "_Chantons,
celebrons notre reine_," had by this time been almost as fully adopted, as
the expression of the national loyalty, as "God save the Queen" is in
England. But even on its first performance it had not been hailed with
more rapturous cheering than shook the whole house on this occasion; and
Joseph had the satisfaction of believing that his sister's hold on the
affection and on the respect of the Parisians was securely established.

He was less pleased at the races in the Bois de Boulogne, which he visited
the next day. No inconsiderable part of Mercy's disapproval of such
gatherings had been founded on the impropriety of gentlemen appearing in
the queen's presence in top-boots and leather breeches, instead of in
court dress; and the emperor's displeasure appears to have been chiefly
excited by the hurry and want of stately order which were inseparable from
the excitement of a race-course, and which, indifferent as he was to many
points of etiquette, seemed even to him derogatory to the majesty of a
queen to witness so closely. But he was far more dissatisfied with the
company at the Princess de Guimenee's, to which the queen, with not quite
her usual judgment, persuaded him one evening to accompany her. He saw not
only gambling for much higher stakes than could be right for any lady to
venture (the queen did not play herself), but he saw those who took part
in the play lose their tempers over their cards and quarrel with one
another; while he heard the hostess herself accused of cheating, the
gamesters forgetting the respect due to their queen in their excitement
and intemperance. He spoke strongly on the subject to Marie Antoinette,
declaring that the apartment was no better than a common gaming-house; but
was greatly mortified to see that his reproofs on this subject were
received with less than the usual attention, and that she allowed her
partiality for those whom she called her friends to outweigh her feeling
of the impropriety of disorders of which she could not deny the existence.

But entertainments and amusements were not permitted to engross much of
his time. If he visited the king and queen as a brother, he was visiting
France and Paris as a sovereign and a statesman, and as such he made a
careful inspection of all that Paris had most worthy of his attention--of
the barracks, the arsenals, the hospitals, the manufactories. And he
acquired a very high idea of the capabilities and resources of the
country, though, at the same time, a very low opinion of the talents and
integrity of the existing ministers. Of the king himself he conceived a
favorable estimate. Of his desire to do his duty to his people he had
always been convinced, but, in a long conversation which he had held with
him on the character of the French people,[6] and of the best mode of
governing them, in which Louis entered into many details, he found his
correctness of judgment and general knowledge of sound principles of
policy far superior to his anticipations, though at the same time he felt
convinced that his want of readiness and decision, and his timidity in
action, would always render and keep him very inferior to the queen,
especially whenever it should be necessary to come to a prompt decision on
matters of moment.

After a visit of six weeks, he quit Paris for his dominions in the
Netherlands at the end of May, and a letter of the queen to her mother is
very expressive of the pleasure which she had received from his visit, and
of the lasting benefits which she hoped to derive from it.

"Versailles, June 14th.

"MY DEAREST MOTHER,--It is plain truth that the departure of the emperor
has left a void in my heart from which I can not recover. I was so happy
during the short time of his visit that at this moment it all seems like a
dream. But one thing will never be a dream to me, and that is, the good
advice and counsel which he gave me, and which is forever engraven in my

"I must tell my dear mamma that he gave me one thing which I earnestly
begged of him, and which causes me the greatest pleasure: it is a packet
of advice, which he has left me in writing. At this moment it constitutes
my chief reading; and, if ever I could forget what he said to me, which I
do not believe I ever could, I should still have this paper always before
me, which would soon recall me to my duty. My dear mamma will have learned
by the courier, who started yesterday, how well the king behaved during
the last moments of my brother's visit. I can assure you that I thoroughly
understand him, and that he was really affected at the emperor's
departure. As he does not always recollect to pay attention to forms, he
does not at all times show his feelings to the outer world, but all that I
see proves to me that he is truly attached to my brother, and that he has
the greatest regard for him; and at the moment of my brother's departure,
when I was in the deepest distress, he showed an attention to, and a
tenderness for, me which all my life I shall never forget, and which would
attach me to him, if I had not been attached to him already.

"It is impossible that my brother should not have been pleased with this
nation. For one who, like him, knows how to estimate men, must have seen
that, in spite of the exceeding levity which is inveterate in the people,
there is a manliness and cleverness in them, and, speaking generally, an
excellent heart, and a desire to do right. The only thing is to manage
them properly.... I have this moment received your dear letter by the
post. What goodness yours is, at a moment when you have so much business
to think of, to recollect my name day! It overwhelms me. You offer up
prayers for my happiness. The greatest happiness that I can have is to
know that you are pleased with me, to deserve your kindness, and to
convince you that no one in the world feels greater affection or greater
respect for you than I."

It is a letter very characteristic of the writer, as showing that neither
time nor distance could chill her affection for her family; and that the
attainment of royal authority had in no degree extinguished her habitual
feeling of duty: that it had even strengthened it by making its
performance of importance not only to herself, but to others. Nor is the
jealousy for the reputation of the French people, and the desire so warmly
professed that they should have won her brother's favorable opinion, less
becoming in a queen of France; while, to descend to minor points, the
neatness and felicity of the language may be admitted to prove, if her
education had been incomplete when she left Austria, with how much pains,
since her progress had depended on herself, she had labored to make up for
its deficiencies. That she should have asked her brother, as she here
mentions, to leave her his advice in writing, is a practical proof that
her expression of an earnest desire to do her duty was not a mere form of
words; while the resolution which she avows never to forget his
admonitions shows a genuine humility and candor, a sincere desire to be
told of and to amend her faults, which one is hardly prepared to meet with
in a queen of one-and-twenty. For Joseph did not spare her, nor forbear to
set before her in the plainest light those parts of her conduct which he
disapproved. He told her plainly that if in France people paid her respect
and observance, it was only as the wife of their king that they honored
her; and that the tone of superiority in which she sometimes allowed
herself to speak of him was as ill-judged as it was unbecoming. He hinted
his dissatisfaction at her conduct toward him as her husband in a series
of questions which, unless she could answer as he wished, must, even in
her own judgment, convict her of some failure in her duties to him. Did
she show him that she was wholly occupied with him, that her study was to
make him shine in the opinion of his subjects without any thought of
herself? Did she stifle every wish to shine at his expense, to be affable
when he was not so, to seem to attend to matters which he neglected? Did
she preserve a discreet silence as to his faults and weaknesses, and make
others keep silence about them also? Did she make excuses for him, and
keep secret the fact of her acting as his adviser? Did, she study his
character, his wishes? Did she take care never to seem cold or weary when
with him, never indifferent to his conversation or his caresses?

The other matters on which the emperor chiefly dwells were those on which
Mercy, and, by Mercy's advice, Maria Teresa also, had repeatedly pressed
her. But those questions of Joseph's set plainly before us some of his
young sister's difficulties and temptations, and, it must be confessed,
some points in which her conduct was not wholly unimpeachable in
discretion, even though her solid affection for her husband never wavered
for a moment. In some respects they were an ill-assorted couple. He was
slow, reserved, and awkward. She was clever, graceful, lively, and looking
for liveliness. Both were thoroughly upright and conscientious; but he was
indifferent to the opinions formed of him, while she was eager to please,
to be applauded, to be loved. The temptation was great, to one so young,
at times to put her graces in contrast to his uncouthness; to be seen to
lead him who had a right to lead her; and, though we may regret, we can
not greatly wonder, that she had not always steadiness to resist it. One
tie was still wanting to bind her to him more closely; and happily the day
was not far distant when that was added to complete and rivet their union.


Impressions made on the Queen by the Emperor's Visit.--Mutual Jealousies
of her Favorites.--The Story of the Chevalier d'Assas.--The Terrace
Concerts at Versailles--More Inroads on Etiquette.--Insolence and
Unpopularity of the Count d'Artois.--Marie Antoinette takes Interest in
Politics.--France concludes an Alliance with the United States.--Affairs
of Bavaria.--Character of the Queen's Letters on Politics.--The Queen
expects to become a Mother.--Voltaire returns to Paris.--The Queen
declines to receive him.--Misconduct of the Duke of Orleans in the Action
off Ushant.--The Queen uses her Influence in his Favor.

The emperor's admonitions and counsels had not been altogether unfruitful.
If they had not at once entirely extinguished his sister's taste for the
practices which he condemned, they had evidently weakened it; even though,
as the first impression wore off, and her fear of being overwhelmed with
_ennui_[1] resumed its empire, she relapsed for a while into her old
habits, it was no longer with the same eagerness as before, and not
without frequent avowals that they had lost their attraction. She visibly
drew off from the entanglements of the coterie with which she had
surrounded herself. The members had grown jealous of one another. Madame
de Polignac feared the influence of the superior disinterestedness of the
Princess de Lamballe; Madame de Guimenee, who was suspected of a want of
even common honesty, grudged every favor that was bestowed on Madame de
Polignac; and their rivalry, which was not always suppressed even in the
queen's presence, was not only felt by her to be degrading to herself, but
was also wearisome.

Throughout the autumn her occupations and amusements were of a simpler
kind. She read more, and agreeably surprised De Vermond by the soundness
of her reflections on many incidents and characters in history. Accounts
of chivalrous deeds had an especial charm for her. Hume was still her
favorite author. And it happened that, while the gallantry of the loyal
champions of Charles I. was fresh in her memory, a casual conversation
threw in her way an opportunity of doing honor to the self-devoted heroism
of a French soldier whom the proudest of the British cavaliers might have
welcomed as a brother, but whose valiant and self-sacrificing fidelity had
been left unnoticed by the worthless sovereign in whose service he had
perished, and by his ministers, who thought only of securing the favor of
the reigning mistress--favor to be won by actions of a very different

In the Seven Years' War, when the French army, under the Marshal De
Broglie, and the Prussians, under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, were
watching one another in the neighborhood of Wesel, the Chevalier d'Assas,
a captain in the regiment of Auvergne, was in command of an outpost on a
dark night of October. He had strolled a little in advance of his sentries
into the wood which fronted his position, when suddenly he found himself
surrounded and seized by a body of armed enemies. They were the advanced
guard of the prince's army, who was marching to surprise De Broglie by a
night attack, and they threatened him with instant death if he made the
slightest noise. If he were but silent, he was safe as a prisoner of war;
but his safety would have been the ruin of the whole French army, which
had no suspicion of its danger. He did not for even a moment hesitate.
With all the strength of his voice he shouted to his men, who were within
hearing, that the enemy were upon them, and fell, bayoneted to death,
almost before the words had passed his lips. He had saved his comrades and
his commander, and had influenced the issue of the whole campaign. The
enemy, whose well-planned enterprise his self-devotion had baffled, paid a
cordial tribute of praise to his heroism, Ferdinand himself publicly
expressing his regret at the fate of one whose valor had shed honor on
every brother-soldier; but not the slightest notice had been taken of him
by those in authority in France till his exploit was accidentally
mentioned in the queen's apartments. It filled her with admiration. She
asked what had been done to commemorate so noble a deed. She was told
"nothing;" the man and his gallantry had been alike forgotten. "Had he
left descendants or kinsmen?" "He had a brother and two nephews; the
brother a retired veteran of the same regiment, the nephews officers in
different corps of the army." The dead hero was forgotten no longer. Marie
Antoinette never rested till she had procured an adequate pension for the
brother, which was settled in perpetuity on the family; and promotion for
both the nephews; and, as a further compliment, Clostercamp, the name of
the village which was the scene of the brave deed, was added forever to
their family name. The pension is paid to this day. For a time, indeed, it
was suspended while France was under the sway of the rapacious and
insensible murderers of the king who had granted it; but Napoleon restored
it; and, amidst all the changes that have since taken place in the
government of the country, every succeeding ruler has felt it equally
honorable and politic to recognize the eternal claims which patriotic
virtue has on the gratitude of the country.

Marie Antoinette had thus the honor of setting an example to the
Government and the nation. Her heart was getting lighter as the vexations
under which she had so long fretted began to disappear. The late
card-parties were often superseded, throughout the autumn, by concerts on
the terrace at Versailles, where the regimental bands were the performers,
and to which all the well-dressed towns-people were admitted, while the
queen, attended by the princesses and her ladies, and occasionally
escorted by Louis himself, strolled up and down and among the crowd,
diffusing even greater pleasure than they themselves enjoyed; Marie
Antoinette, as usual, being the central object of attraction, and greeting
all with a teaming brightness of expression, and an affability as cordial
as it was dignified, which deserved to win all hearts. One of the
entertainments which she gave to the king at the Little Trianon may he
recorded, not for any unusual sumptuousness of the spectacle, but as
having been the occasion on which she made one more inroad on the
established etiquette of the court in one of its most unaccountable
restrictions: to such royal parties the king's ministers had never been
regarded as admissible, but on this night Marie Antoinette commanded the
company of the Count and Countess de Maurepas. And the innovation was
regarded not only by them as a singular favor, but by all their colleagues
as a marked compliment to the whole body of ministers, and served to
increase their desire to consult her inclinations in every matter in which
she took an interest.

And the esteem which she thus conciliated was at this time not destitute
of real importance, since the conduct of the other members of the royal
family excited very different feelings. The Count de Provence was
generally distrusted as intriguing and insincere. And the Count d'Artois,
whose bad qualities were of a more conspicuous character, was becoming an
object of general dislike, not so much from his dissipated mode of life as
from the overbearing arrogance which he imparted into his pleasures. No
rank was high enough to protect the objects of his displeasure from his
insolence; even ladies were not safe from it;[2] while his extravagance
was beyond all bounds since he considered himself entitled to claim from,
the national treasury whatever he might require in addition to his stated
income. He was at the same time repairing one castle, that of St. Germain,
which the king had given him; rebuilding another large house which he had
purchased in the same neighborhood; and pulling down and rebuilding a
third, named Bagatelle, in the Bois de Boulogne, which he had just bought,
and as to which he had laid an enormous wager that it should be completed
and furnished in sixty days. To win his bet nearly a thousand workmen were
employed day and night, and, as the requisite materials could not be
provided at so short a notice, he sent patrols of his regiment to scour
the roads, and seize every cart loaded with stones or timber for other
employers, which he thus appropriated to his own use. He did, indeed, pay
for the goods thus seized, and he won his bet, but when the princes of the
land made so open a parade of their disregard of all law and all decency,
one can hardly wonder that men in secret began, to talk of a revolution,
or that all the graces and gentleness of the queen should be needed to
outweigh such grave causes of discontent and indignation.

As the new year opened, affairs of a very different kind began to occupy
the queen's attention. On political questions, the advice which the
empress gave her differed in some degree from that of her embassador.
Maria Teresa was an earnest politician, but she was also a mother; and, as
being eager above all things for her daughter's happiness, while she
entreated Marie Antoinette to study politics, history, and such other
subjects as might qualify her to be an intelligent companion of the king,
and so far as or whenever he might require it, his chief confidante, she
warned her also against ever wishing to rule him. But Mercy was a
statesman above every thing, and, feeling secure of being able to guide
the queen, he desired to instill into her mind an ambition to govern the
king. On one most important question she proved wholly unable to do so,
since the decision taken was not even in accordance with the judgment or
inclination of Louis himself; but he allowed himself to be persuaded by
two of his ministers to adopt a course against which Joseph had earnestly
warned him in the preceding year, and which, as he had been then
convinced, was inconsistent alike with his position as a king and with his
interests as King of France.

England had been for some years engaged in a civil war with her colonies
in North America, and from the commencement of the contest a strong
sympathy for the colonists had been evinced by a considerable party in
France. Louis, who, for several reasons disliked England and English
ideas, was at first inclined to coincide in this feeling as a development
of anti-English principles: he was far from suspecting that its source was
rather a revolutionary and republican sentiment. But he had conversed with
his brother-in-law on the possibility of advantages which might accrue to
France from the weakening of her old foe, if French aid should enable the
Americans to establish their independence. Joseph's opinion was clear and
unhesitating: "I am a king; it is my business to be royalist." And he
easily convinced Louis that for one sovereign to assist the subjects of
another monarch who were in open revolt, was to set a mischievous example
which might in time be turned against himself. But since his return to
Vienna, unprecedented disasters had befallen England; a whole army had
laid down its arms; the ultimate success of the Americans seemed to every
statesman in Europe to be assured, and the prospect gave such
encouragement to the war party in the French cabinet that Louis could
resist it no longer. In February, 1778, a treaty was concluded with the
United States, as the insurgents called themselves; and France plunged
into a war from which she had nothing to gain, which involved her in
enormous expenses, which brought on her overwhelming defeats, and which,
from its effects upon the troops sent to serve with the American army, who
thus became infected with republican principles, had no slight influence
in bringing about the calamities which, a few years later, overwhelmed
both king and people.

All Marie Antoinette's language on the subject shows that she viewed the
quarrel with England with even greater repugnance than her husband; but it
is curious to see that her chief fear was lest the war should be waged by
land, and that she felt much greater confidence in the French navy than in
the army;[3] though it was just at this time that Voltaire was pointing
out to his countrymen that England had always enjoyed and always would
possess a maritime superiority which different inquirers might attribute
to various causes, but which none could deny.[4]

Even before the conclusion of this treaty, however, the Americans had
found sympathizers in France, to one of whom some of the circumstances of
the war which they were now waging gave a subsequent importance to which
no talents or virtues of his own entitled him. The Marquis de La Fayette
was a young man of ancient family, and of fair but not excessive fortune.
He was awkward in appearance and manner, gawky, red-haired, and singularly
deficient in the accomplishments which were cultivated by other youths of
his age and rank.[5] But he was deeply imbued with the doctrines of the
new philosophy which saw virtue in the mere fact of resistance to
authority; and when the colonists took up arms, he became eager to afford
them such aid as he could give. He made the acquaintance of Silas Deane,
one of the most unscrupulous of the American agents, who promised him,
though he was only twenty years of age, the rank of major-general. As he
was at all times the slave of a most overweening conceit, he was tempted
by that bait; and, though he could not leave France without incurring the
forfeiture of his military rank in the army of his own country, in April,
1777, he crossed over to America to serve as a volunteer under Washington,
who naturally received with special distinction a recruit of such
political importance. He was present at more than one battle, and was
wounded at Brandywine; but the exploit which made him most conspicuous was
a ridiculous act of bravado in sending a challenge to Lord Carlisle, the
chief of the English Commissioners who in 1778 were dispatched to America
to endeavor to re-establish peace. However, the close of the war, which
ended, as is well known, in the humiliation of Great Britain and the
establishment of the independence of the colonies, made him seem a hero to
his countrymen on his return. The queen, always eager to encourage and
reward feats of warlike enterprise, treated him with marked distinction,
and procured him from her husband not only the restoration of his
commission, but promotion to the command of a regiment;[6] kindness which,
as will be seen, he afterward requited with the foulest ingratitude.

Nor was this most imprudent war with England the only question of foreign
politics which at this time interested Marie Antoinette. Her native land,
her mother's hereditary dominions, were also threatened with war. On the
death of the Elector of Bavaria at the end of 1777, Joseph, who had been
married to his sister, claimed a portion of his territories; and Frederick
of Prussia, that "bad neighbor," as Marie Antoinette was wont to call him,
announced his resolution to resist that claim, by force of arms if
necessary. If he should carry out the resolution which he had announced,
and if war should in consequence break out, much would depend on the
attitude which France would assume on her fidelity to or disregard of the
alliance which had now subsisted more than twenty years. So all-important
to Austria was her decision, that Maria Teresa forgot the line which, as a
general rule of conduct, she had recommended to her daughter, and wrote to
her with the most extreme earnestness to entreat her to lose no
opportunity of influencing the King's council. If it depended upon Maria
Teresa, the claim would probably not have been advanced; but Joseph had
made it on the part of the empire, and, when it was once made, the empress
could not withhold her support from her son. She therefore threw herself
into the quarrel with as much earnestness as if it had been her own.
Indeed, since Joseph had as yet no authority over her hereditary
possessions, it was only by her armies that it could be maintained; and in
her letters to her daughter she declared that Marie Antoinette had her
happiness, the welfare of her house, and of the whole Austrian nation in
her hands; that all depended on her activity and affection. She knew that
the French ministers were inclined to favor the views of Frederick, but if
the alliance should be dissolved it would kill her.[7] Marie Antoinette
grew pale at reading so ominous a denunciation. It required no art to
inflame her against Frederick. The Seven Years' War had begun when she was
but a year old; and all her life she had heard of nothing more frequently
than of the rapacity and dishonesty of that unprincipled aggressor. She
now entered with eagerness into her mother's views, and pressed them on
Louis with unremitting diligence and considerable fertility of argument,
though she was greatly dismayed at finding that not only his ministers,
but he himself, regarded Austria as actuated by an aggressive ambition,
and compared her claim to a portion of Bavaria to the partition of Poland,
which, six years before, had drawn forth unwonted expressions of honorable
indignation from even his unworthy grandfather. The idea that the alliance
between France and the empire was itself at stake on the question, made
her so anxious that she sent for the ministers themselves, pressing her
views on both Maurepas and Vergennes with great earnestness. But they,
though still faithful to the maintenance of the alliance, sympathized with
the king rather than with her in his view of the character of the claim
which the emperor had put forward; and they also urged another argument
for abstaining from any active intervention, that the finances of the
country were in so deplorable a state that France could not afford to go
to war. It was plain, as she told them, that this consideration should at
least equally have prevented their quarreling with England. But, in spite
of all her persistence, they were not to be moved from this view of the
true interest of France in the conjuncture that had arisen; and,
accordingly, in the brief war which ensued between the empire and Prussia,
France took no part, though it is more than probable that her mediation
between the belligerents, which had no little share in bringing about the
peace of Teschen,[8] was in a great degree owing to the queen's influence.

For she was not discouraged by her first failure, but renewed her
importunities from time to time; and at last did succeed in wringing a
promise from her husband that if Prussia should invade the Flemish
provinces of Austria, France would arm on the empress's side. So fully did
the affair absorb her attention that it made her indifferent to the
gayeties which the carnival always brought round. She did, indeed, as a
matter of duty, give one or two grand state balls, one of which, in which
the dancers of the quadrilles were masked, and in which their dresses
represented the male and female costumes of India, was long talked of for
both the magnificence and the novelty of the spectacle; and she attended
one or two of the opera-balls, under the escort of her brothers-in-law and
their countesses; but they had begun to pall upon her, and she made
repeated offers to the king to give them up and to spend her evenings in
quiet with him. But he was more inclined to prompt her to seek amusement
than to allow her to sacrifice any,[9] even such as he did not care to
partake of; nevertheless, he was pleased with the offer, and it was
observed by the courtiers that the mutual confidence of the husband and
wife in each other was more marked and more firmly established than ever.
He showed her all the dispatches, consulted her on all points, and
explained his reasons when he could not adopt all her views. As Marie
Antoinette wrote to her brother, "If it were possible to reckon wholly on
any man, the king was the one on whom she could thoroughly rely.[10]"

So greatly, indeed, did the quarrel between Austria and Prussia engross
her, that it even occupied the greater part of letters whose ostensible
object is to announce prospects of personal happiness which might have
been expected to extinguished every other consideration. In one, after
touching briefly on her health and hopes, she proceeds:

"How kind my dear mamma is, to express her approval of the way in which I
have conducted myself in these affairs up to the present time! Alas! there
is no need for you to feel obliged to me; it was my heart that acted in
the whole matter. I am only vexed at not being able to enter myself into
the feelings of all these ministers, so as to be able to make them
comprehend how every thing which has been done and demanded by the
authorities at Vienna is just and reasonable. But unluckily none are more
deaf than those who will not hear; and, besides, they have such a number
of terms and phrases which mean nothing, that they bewilder themselves
before they come to say a single reasonable thing. I will try one plan,
and that is to speak to them both in the king's presence, to induce them,
at least, to hold language suitable to the occasion to the King of
Prussia; and in good truth it is for the interest and glory of the
king[11] himself that I am anxious to see this done; for he can not but
gain by supporting allies who on every account ought to be so dear to him.

"In other respects, and especially in my present conditions, he behaves
most admirably, and is most attentive to me. I protest to you, my dear
mamma, that my heart would be torn by the idea that you could for a moment
suspect his good-will in what has been done. No; it is the terrible
weakness of his ministers, and tis own great want of self-reliance, which
does all the mischief; and I am sure that if he would never act but on his
own judgment, every one would see his honesty, his correctness of feeling,
and his tact, which at present they are far from appreciating.[12]"

And at the end of the month she writes again:

"I saw Mercy a day or two ago: he showed me the articles which the King of
Prussia sent to my brother. I think it is impossible to see any thing more
absurd than his proposals. In fact, they are so ridiculous that they must
strike every one here; I can answer for their appearing so to the king. I
have not been able to see the ministers. M. de Vergennes has not been here
[she is writing from Marly]; he is not well, so that I must wait till we
return to Versailles.

"I had seen before the correspondence of the King of Prussia with my
brother. It is most abominable of the former to have sent it here, and the
more so since, in truth, he has not much to boast of. His imprudence, his
bad faith, and his malignant temper are visible in every line. I have been
enchanted with my brother's answers. It is impossible to put into letters
more grace, more moderation, and at the same time more force. I am going
to say something which is very vain; but I do believe that there is not in
the whole world any one but the emperor, the son of my dearest mother, who
has the happiness of seeing her every day, who could write in such a

There is no trace in these letters of the levity and giddiness of which
Mercy so often complains, and which she at times did not deny. On the
contrary, they display an earnestness as well as a good sense and an
energy which are gracefully set off by the affection for her mother, and
the pride in her brother's firmness and address which they also express.
With respect to the conduct of Louis at this crisis we may perhaps differ
from her; and may think that he rarely showed so much self-reliance, the
general want of which was in truth his greatest defect, as when he
preferred the arguments of Vergennes to her entreaties. But if her praises
of the emperor are, as she herself terms them, vanity, it is the vanity of
sisterly and patriotic affection, which can not but be regarded with
approval; and we may see in it an additional proof of the correctness of
an assertion, repeated over and over again in Mercy's correspondence,
that, whenever Marie Antoinette gave the rein to her own natural impulses,
she invariably both thought and acted rightly.

In one of the extracts which have just been quoted, the queen alludes to
her own condition; and that, in any one less unselfish, might well have
driven all other thoughts from her head. For the event to which she had so
long looked forward as that which was wanted to crown her happiness, and
which had been so long deferred that at times she had ceased to hope for
it at all, was at last about to take place--she was about to become a
mother. Her own joy at the prospect was shared to its full extent by both
the king and the empress. Louis, roused out of his usual reserve, wrote
with his own hand to both the empress and the emperor, to give the
intelligence; and Maria Teresa declared that she had nothing left to wish
for, and that she could now close her eyes in peace. And the news was
received with almost equal pleasure by the citizens of Paris, who had long
desired to see an heir born to the crown; and by those of Vienna, who had
not yet forgotten the fair young princess, the flower of her mother's
flock, as they had fondly called her, whom they had sent to fill a foreign
throne. Her own happiness exhibited itself, as usual, in acts of
benevolence, in the distribution of liberal gifts to the poor of Paris and
Versailles, and a foundation of a hospital for those in a similar
condition with herself.[13]

In the course of the spring, Paris was for a moment excited even more than
by the declaration of war against England, or than by the expectation of
the queen's confinement, by the return of Voltaire, who had long been in
disgrace with the court, and had been for many years living in a sort of
tacit exile on the borders of the Lake of Geneva. He was now in extreme
old age, and, believing himself to have but a short time to live, he
wished to see Paris once more, putting forward as his principal motive his
desire to superintend the performance of his tragedy of "Irene." His
admirers could easily secure him a brilliant reception at the theatre; but
they were anxious above all things to obtain for him admission to the
court, or at least a private interview with the queen. She felt in a
dilemma. Joseph, a year before, had warned her against giving
encouragement to a man whose principles deserved the reprobation of all
sovereigns. He himself, though on his return to Vienna he had passed
through Geneva, had avoided an interview with him, while the empress had
been far more explicit in her condemnation of his character. On the other
hand, Marie Antoinette had not yet learned the art of refusing, when those
who solicited a favor had personal access to her; and she had also some
curiosity to see a man whose literary fame was accounted one of the chief
glories of the nation and the age. She consulted the king, but found
Louis, on this subject, in entire agreement with her mother and her
brother. He had no literary curiosity, and he disapproved equally the
lessons which Voltaire had throughout his life sought to inculcate upon
others, and the licentious habits with which he had exemplified his own
principles in action. She yielded to his objections, and Voltaire, deeply
mortified at the refusal,[14] was left to console himself as best he could
with the enthusiastic acclamations of the play-goers of the capital, who
crowned his bust on the stage, while he sat exultingly in his box, and
escorted him back in triumph to his house; those who could approach near
enough even kissing his garments as he passed, till he asked them whether
they designed to kill him with delight; as, indeed, in some sense, they
may be said to have done, for the excitement of the homage thus paid to
him day after day, whenever he was seen in public, proved too much for his
feeble frame. He was seized with illness, which, however, was but a
natural decay, and in a few weeks after his arrival in Paris he died.

As the year wore on, Marie Antoinette was fully occupied in making
arrangements for the child whose coming was expected with such impatience.
Her mother is of course her chief confidante. She is to be the child's
godmother; her name shall be the first its tongue is to learn to
pronounce; while for its early management the advice of so experienced a
parent is naturally sought with unhesitating deference. Still, Marie
Antoinette is far from being always joyful. Russia has made an alliance
with Prussia; Frederick has invaded Bohemia, and she is so overwhelmed
with anxiety that she cancels invitations for parties which she was about
to give at the Trianon, and would absent herself from the theatre and from
all public places, did not Mercy persuade her that such a withdrawal would
seem to be the effect, not of a natural anxiety, but of a despondency
which would be both unroyal and unworthy of the reliance which she ought
to feel on the proved valor of the Austrian armies.

The war with England, also, was an additional cause of solicitude and
vexation. The sailors in whom she had expressed such confidence were not
better able than before to contend with British antagonists. In an
undecisive skirmish which took place in July between two fleets of the
first magnitude, the French admiral, D'Orvilliers, had made a practical
acknowledgment of his inferiority by retreating in the night, and eluding
all the exertions of the English admiral, Keppel, to renew the action. The
discontent in Paris was great; the populace was severe on one or two of
the captains, who were thought to have taken undue care of their ships and
of themselves, and especially bitter against the Duke de Chartres, who had
had a rear-admiral's command in the fleet, and who, after having made
himself conspicuous before D'Orvilliers sailed, by his boasts of the
prowess which he intended to exhibit, had made himself equally notorious
in the action itself by the pains he took to keep himself out of danger.
On his return to Paris, shameless as he was, he scarcely dared show his
face, till the Comte d'Artois persuaded the queen to throw her shield over
him. It was impossible for him to remain in the navy; but, to soften his
fall, the count proposed that the king should create a new appointment for
him, as colonel-general of the light cavalry. Louis saw the impropriety of
such a step: truly it was but a questionable compliment to pay to his
hussars, to place in authority over them a man under whom no sailor would
willingly serve. Marie Antoinette in her heart was as indignant as any
one. Constitutionally an admirer of bravery, she had taken especial
interest in the affairs of the fleet and in the details of this action.
She had honored with the most marked eulogy the gallantry of Admiral du
Chaffault, who had been severely wounded; but now she allowed herself to
be persuaded that the duke's public disgrace would reflect on the whole
royal family, and pressed the request so earnestly on the king that at
last he yielded. In outward appearance the duke's honor was saved; but the
public, whose judgment on such matter is generally sound, and who had
revived against him some of the jests with which the comrades of Luxemburg
had shown their scorn of the Duke de Maine, blamed her interference; and
the duke himself, by the vile ingratitude with which he subsequently
repaid her protection, gave but too sad proof that of all offenders
against honor the most unworthy of royal indulgence is a coward.


Birth of Madame Royale.--Festivities of Thanksgiving.--The Dames de la
Halle at the Theatre.--Thanksgiving at Notre Dame.--The King goes to a Bal
d'Opera.--The Queen's Carriage breaks down.--Marie Antoinette has the
Measles.--Her Anxiety about the War.--Retrenchments of Expense.

Mercy, while deploring the occasional levity of the queen's conduct, and
her immoderate thirst for amusement, had constantly looked forward to the
birth of a child as the event which, by the fresh and engrossing
occupation it would afford to her mind, would be the surest remedy for her
juvenile heedlessness. And, as we have seen, the absence of any prospect
of becoming a mother had, till recently, been a constant source of anxiety
and vexation to the queen herself--the one drop of bitterness in her cup,
which, but for that, would have been filled with delights. But this
disappointment was now to pass away. From the moment that it was publicly
announced that the queen was in the way to become a mother, one general
desire seemed to prevail to show how deep an interest the whole nation
felt in the event. In cathedrals, monasteries, abbeys, universities, and
parish churches, masses were celebrated and prayers offered for her safe
delivery. In many instances, private individuals even gave extraordinary
alms to bring down the blessing of Heaven on the nation, so interested in
the expected event. And on the 19th of December, 1778, the prayers were
answered, and the hopes of the country in great measure realized by the
birth of a princess, who was instantly christened Maria Therese Charlotte,
in compliment to the empress, her godmother.

The labor was long, and had nearly proved fatal to the mother, from the
strange and senseless custom which made the queen's bed-chamber on such an
occasion a reception-room for every one, of whatever rank or station, who
could force his way in.[1] In most countries, perhaps in all, the
genuineness of a royal infant is assured by the presence of a few great
officers of state; but on this occasion not only all the ministers, with
all the members of the king's or of the queen's household, were present in
the chamber, but a promiscuous rabble filled the adjacent saloon and
gallery, and, the moment that it was announced that the birth was about to
take place, rushed in disorderly tumult into the apartment, some climbing
on the chairs and sofas, and even on the tables and wardrobes, to obtain a
better sight of the patient. The uproar was great. The heat became
intense; the queen fainted. The king himself dashed at the windows, which
were firmly closed, and by an unusual effort of strength tore down the
fastenings and admitted air into the room. The crowd was driven out, but
Marie Antoinette continued insensible; and the moment was so critical that
the physician had recourse to his lancet, and opened a vein in her foot.
As the blood came she revived. The king himself came to her side, and
announced to her that she was the mother of a daughter.

It can hardly be said that the hopes of the nation, or of the king
himself, had been fully realized, since an heir to the throne, a dauphin,
that had been universally hoped for. But in the general joy that was felt
at the queen's safety the disappointment of this hope was disregarded, and
the little princess, Madame Royale, as she was called from her birth, was
received by the still loyal people in the same spirit as that in which
Anne Boleyn's lady in waiting had announced to Henry VIII. the birth of
her "fair young maid:"

  "_King Henry_. Now by thy looks
  I guess thy message. Is the queen delivered?
  Say ay; and of a boy.

  "_Lady_. Ay, ay, my liege,
  And of a lovely boy. The God of Heaven
  Both now and ever bless her. 'Tis a girl,
  Promises boys hereafter."

And a month before the empress had expressed a similar sentiment: "I
trust," she wrote to her daughter in November, "that God will grant me the
comfort of knowing that you are safely delivered. Every thing else is a
matter of indifference. Boys will come after girls.[2]" And the same
feeling was shared by the Parisians in general, and embodied by M. Imbert,
a courtly poet, whose odes were greatly in vogue in the fashionable
circles, in an epigram which was set to music and sung in the theatres.

  "Pour toi, France, un dauphin doit naitre,
    Une Princesse vient pour en etre temoin,
  Sitot qu'on voit une grace paraitre,
    Croyez que l'amour n'est pas loin.[3]"

Marie Antoinette herself was scarcely disappointed at all. When the
attendants brought her her babe, she pressed it to her bosom. "Poor little
thing," said she, "you are not what was desired, but you shall not be the
less dear to me. A son would have belonged to the State; you will be my
own: you shall have all my care, you shall share my happiness and sweeten
my vexations.[4]"

The Count de Provence made no secret of his joy. He was still heir
presumptive to the throne. And, though no one shared his feelings on the
subject, for the next few weeks the whole kingdom, and especially the
capital, was absorbed in public rejoicings. Her own thankfullness was
displayed by Marie Antoinette in her usual way, by acts of benevolence.
She sent large sums of money to the prisons to release poor debtors; she
gave dowries to a hundred poor maidens; she applied to the chief officers
of both army and navy to recommend her veterans worthy of especial reward;
and to the curates of the metropolitan parishes to point out to her any
deserving objects of charity; and she also settled pensions on a number of
poor children who were born on the same day as the princess; one of whom,
who owed her education to this grateful and royal liberality, became
afterward known to every visitor of Paris as Madame Mars, the most
accomplished of comic actresses.[5]

One portion of the rejoicings was marked by a curious incident, in which
the same body whose right to a special place of honor at ceremonies
connected with the personal happiness of the royal family we have already
seen admitted--the ladies of the fish-market--again asserted their
pretensions with triumphant success. On Christmas-eve the theatres were
opened gratuitously, but these ladies, who, with their friends, the
coal-heavers, selected the most aristocratic theatre, La Comedie
Francaise, for the honor of their visit, arrived with aristocratic
unpunctuality, so late that the guards stopped them at the doors,
declaring that the house was full, and that there was not a seat vacant.
They declared that in any event room must be made for them. "Who were in
the boxes of the king and queen? for on such occasions those places were
theirs of right." Even they, however, were full, and the guards demurred
to the ladies' claim to be considered, though for this night only, as the
representatives of royalty, and to have the existing occupants of the
seats demanded turned out to make room for them. The box-keeper and the
manager were sent for. The registers of the house confirmed the validity
of the claim by former precedents, and a compromise was at last effected.
Rows of benches were placed on each side of the stage itself. Those on the
right were allotted to the coal-heavers as representatives of Louis; the
ladies of the fish-market sat on the left as the deputies of Marie
Antoinette. Before the play was allowed to begin, his majesty the king of
the coal-heavers read the bulletin of the day announcing the rapid
progress of the queen toward recovery; and then, giving his hand to the
queen of the fish-wives, the august pair, followed by their respective
suites, executed a dance expressive of their delight at the good news, and
then resumed their seats, and listened to Voltaire's "Zaire" with the most
edifying gravity.[6] It was evident that in some things there was already
enough, and rather more than enough, of that equality the unreasonable and
unpractical passion for which proved, a few years later, the most pregnant
cause of immeasurable misery to the whole nation.

But the demonstration most in accordance with the queen's own taste was
that which took place a few weeks later, when she went in a state
procession to the great national cathedral of Notre Dame to return thanks;
one most interesting part of the ceremony being the weddings of the
hundred young couples to whom she had given dowries, who also received a
silver medal to commemorate the day. The gayety of the spectacle, since
they, with the formal witnesses of their marriage, filled a great part of
the antechapel; and the blessings invoked on the queen's head as she left
the cathedral by the prisoners whom she had released, and by the poor
whose destitution she had relieved, made so great an impression on the
spectators, that even the highest dignitaries of the court added their
cheers and applause to those of the populace who escorted her coach to the
gates on its return to Versailles.

She was now, for the first time since her arrival in France, really and
entirely happy, without one vexation or one foreboding of evil. The king's
attachment to her was rendered, if not deeper than before, at least far
more lively and demonstrative by the birth of his daughter; his delight
carrying him at times to most unaccustomed ebullitions of gayety. On the
last Sunday of the carnival, he even went alone with the queen to the
masked opera ball, and was highly amused at finding that not one of the
company recognized either him or her. He even proposed to repeat his visit
on Shrove-Tuesday; but when the evening came he changed his mind, and
insisted on the queen's going by herself with one of her ladies, and the
change of plan led to an incident which at the time afforded great
amusement to Marie Antoinette, though it afterward proved a great
annoyance, as furnishing a pretext for malicious stories and scandal. To
preserve her _incognito_, a private carriage was hired for her, which
broke down in the street close by a silk-mercer's shop. As the queen was
already masked, the shop-men did not know her, and, at the request of the
lady who attended her, stopped for her the first hackney-coach which
passed, and in that unroyal vehicle, such as certainly no sovereign of
France had ever set foot in before, she at last reached the theatre. As
before, no one recognized her, and she might have enjoyed the scene and
returned to Versailles in the most absolute secrecy, had not her sense of
the fun of a queen using such a conveyance overpowered her wish for
concealment, so that when, in the course of the evening, she met one or
two persons of distinction whom she knew, she could not forbear telling
them who she was, and that she had come in a hackney-coach.

Her health seemed less delicate than it had been before her confinement.
But in the spring she was attacked by the measles, and her illness, slight
as it was, gave occasion to a curious passage in court history. The fear
of infection was always great at Versailles, and, as the king himself and
some of the ladies had never had the complaint, they were excluded from
her room. But that she might not be left without attendants, four nobles
of the court, the Duke de Coigny, the Duke de Guines, the Count Esterhazy,
and the Baron de Besenval, in something of the old spirit of chivalry,
devoted themselves to her service, and solicited permission to watch by
her bedside till she recovered. As has been already seen, the bed-chamber
and dressing-room of a queen of France had never been guarded from
intrusion with the jealousy which protects the apartments of ladies in
other countries, so that the proposal was less startling than it would
have been considered elsewhere, while the number of nurses removed all
pretext for scandal. Louis willingly gave the required permission, being
apparently flattered by the solicitude exhibited for his queen's health.
And each morning at seven the sick-watchers[7] took their seats in the
queen's chamber, sharing with the Countess of Provence, the Princesse de
Lamballe, and the Count d'Artois the task of keeping order and quiet in
the sick-room till eleven at night. Though there was no scandal, there was
plenty of jesting at so novel an arrangement. Wags proposed that in the
case of the king being taken ill, a list should be prepared of the ladies
who should tend his sick-bed. However, the champions were not long on
duty: at the end of little more than a week their patient was
convalescent. She herself took off the sentence of banishment which she
had pronounced against the king in a brief and affectionate note, which
said "that she had suffered a great deal, but what she had felt most was
to be for so many days deprived of the pleasure of embracing him." And the
temporary separation seemed to have but increased their mutual affection
for each other.

The Trianon was now more than ever delightful to her. The new plantations,
which contained no fewer than eight hundred different kinds of trees, rich
with every variety of foliage, were beginning, by their effectiveness, to
give evidence of the taste with which they had been laid out; while with a
charity which could not bear to keep her blessings wholly to herself, she
had set apart one corner of the grounds for a row of picturesque cottages,
in which she had established a number of pensioners whom age or infirmity
had rendered destitute, and whom she constantly visited with presents from
her dairy or her fruit-trees. Roaming about the lawns and walks, which she
had made herself, in a muslin gown and a plain straw hat, she could forget
that she was a queen. She did not suspect that the intriguers, who from
time to time maligned her most innocent actions, were misrepresenting even
these simple and natural pleasures, and whispering in their secret cabals
that her very dress was a proof that she still clung as resolutely as ever
to her Austrian preferences; that she discarded her silk gowns because
they were the work of French manufacturers, while they were her brother's
Flemish subjects who supplied her with muslins.

But, far beyond her plantations and her flowers, her child was to her a
source of unceasing delight. She could be carried by her side about the
garden a great part of the day. For, as in her anticipations and
preparations she had told her mother long before, French parents kept
their children as much as possible in the open air,[8] a fashion which
fully accorded with her own notions of what was best calculated to give an
infant health and strength. And before the babe was five months old,[9]
she flattered herself that it already distinguished her from its nurses.
That nothing might be wanting to her comfort, peace was re-established
between Austria and Prussia; and if at this time the war with England did
make her in some degree uneasy, she yet felt a sanguine anticipation of
triumph for the French arms, in the event of a battle between the hostile
fleets; a result of which, when the antagonists did come within sight of
each other, it appeared that the French and Spanish admirals felt far less
confident. Her anxieties and hopes are vividly set forth in a letter
which, in the course of the summer, she wrote to her mother, which is also
singularly interesting from its self-examination, and from the substantial
proof it supplies of the correctness of those anticipations which were
based on the salutary effect which her novel position as a mother might be
expected to have upon her character.

"Versailles, August 16th.

"My Dearest Mother,--I can not find language to express to my dear mamma
my thanks for her two letters, and for the kindness with which she
expresses her willingness to exert herself to the utmost to procure us
peace.[10] It is true that that would be a great happiness, and my heart
desires it more than any thing in the world; but, unhappily, I do not see
any appearance of it at present. Every thing depends on the moment. Our
fleets, the French and Spanish, being now united, we have a considerable

"They are now in the Channel; and I can not without great agitation
reflect that at any instant the whole fate of the war may be decided. I am
also terrified at the approach of September, when the sea is no longer
practicable. In short, it is only on the bosom of my dearest mamma that I
lay aside all my disquiet God grant that it may be groundless, but her
kindness encourages me to speak to her as I think. The king is touched,
quite as he should be, with all the service you so kindly propose to
render him; and I do not doubt that he will be always eager to profit by
it, rather than to deliver himself up to the intrigues of those who have
so frequently deceived France, and whom we must regard as our natural

"My health is completely re-established. I am going to resume my ordinary
way of life, and consequently I hope soon to be able to announce to my
dearest mother fresh news such as that of last year. She may feel quite
re-assured now as to my behavior. I feel too strongly the necessity of
having more children to be careless in that. If I have formerly done
amiss, it was my youth and my levity; but now my head is thoroughly
steadied, and you may reckon confidently on my properly feeling all my
duties. Besides that, I owe such conduct to the king as a reward for his
tenderness, and, I will venture to say it, his confidence in me, for which
I can only praise him more find more.

"... I venture to send my dear mamma the picture of my daughter: it is
very like her. The dear little thing begins to walk very well in her
leading-strings. She has been able to say "papa" for some days. Her teeth
have not yet come through, but we can feel them all. I am very glad that
her first word has been her father's name. It is one more tie for him. He
behaves to me most admirably, and nothing could be wanting to make me love
him more. My dear mamma will forgive my twaddling about the little one;
but she is so kind that sometimes I abuse her kindness."

It was well for Marie Antoinette's happiness that her husband was one in
whom, as we have seen that she told her mother, she could feel entire
confidence, for during her seclusion in the measles the intriguers of the
court had ventured to try and work upon him. Mercy had reason to suspect
that some were even wicked enough to desire to influence him against his
wife by the same means by which the Duke de Richelieu had formerly
alienated his grandfather from Marie Leczinska; and the queen herself
received proof positive that Maurepas, in spite of her civilities to him
and his countess, had become jealous of her political influence, and had
endeavored to prevent his consulting her on public affairs. But all
manoeuvres intended to disturb the conjugal felicity of the royal pair
were harmless against the honest fidelity of the king, the graceful
affection of the queen, and the firm confidence of each in the other. The
people generally felt that the influence which it was now notorious that
the queen did exert on public affairs was a salutary one; and great
satisfaction was expressed when it became known in the autumn that the
usual visit to Fontainebleau was given up, partly as being costly, and
therefore undesirable while the nation had need to concentrate all its
resources on the effective prosecution of the war, and partly that the
king might be always within reach of his ministers in the event of any
intelligence of importance arriving which required prompt decision.

Her letters to her mother at this time show how entirely her whole
attention was engrossed by the war; and, at the same time, with what wise
earnestness she desired the re-establishment of peace. Even some gleams of
success which had attended the French arms in the West Indies, where the
Marquis de Bouille, the most skillful soldier of whom France at that time
could boast, took one or two of the British islands, and the Count
d'Estaing, whose fleet of thirty-six sail was for a short time far
superior to the English force in that quarter, captured one or two more,
did not diminish her eagerness for a cessation of the war. Though it is
curious to see that she had become so deeply imbued with the principles of
statesmanship with which M. Necker, the present financial minister, was
seeking to inspire the nation, that her objections to the continuance of
the war turned chiefly on the degree in which it affected the revenue and
expenditure of the kingdom. She evidently sympathizes in the
disappointment which, as she reports to the empress, is generally felt by
the public at the mismanagement of the admiral, M. d'Orvilliers, who, with
forces so superior to those of the English, has neither been able to fall
in with them so as to give them battle, nor to hinder any of their
merchantmen from reaching their harbors in safety. As it is, he will have
spent a great deal of money in doing nothing.[12] And a month later she
repeats the complaints.[13] The king and she have renounced the journey
to Fontainebleau because of the expenses of the war; and also that they
may be in the way to receive earlier intelligence from the army. But the
fleet has not been able to fall in with the English, and has done nothing
at all. It is a campaign lost, and which has cost a great deal of money.
What is still more afflicting is, that disease has broken out on board the
ships, and has caused great havoc; and the dysentery, which is raging as
an epidemic in Brittany and Normandy, has attacked the land force also,
which was intended to embark for England ... "I greatly fear," she
proceeds, "that these misfortunes of ours will render the English
difficult to treat with, and may prevent proposals of peace, of which I
see no immediate prospect. I am constantly persuaded that if the king
should require a mediation, the intrigues of the King of Prussia will
fail, and will not prevent the king from availing himself of the offers of
my dear mamma. I shall take care never to lose sight of this object, which
is of such interest to the whole happiness of my life." So full is her
mind of the war, that four or five words in each letter to report that
"her daughter is in perfect health," or that "she has cut four teeth," are
all that she can spare for that subject, generally of such engrossing
interest to herself and the empress; while, before the end of the year, we
find her taking even the domestic troubles of England into her
calculations,[14] and speculating on the degree in which the aspect of
affairs in Ireland may affect the great preparations which the English
ministers are making for the next campaign.

The mere habit of devoting so much consideration to affairs of this kind
was beneficial as tending to mature and develop her capacity. She was
rapidly learning to take large views of political questions, even if they
were not always correct. And the acuteness and earnestness of her comments
on them daily increased her influence over both the king and the
ministers, so that in the course of the autumn Mercy could assure the
empress[15] that "the king's complaisance toward her increased every day,"
that "he made it his study to anticipate all her wishes, and that this
attention showed itself in every kind of detail," while Maurepas also was
unable to conceal from himself that her voice always prevailed "in every
case in which she chose to exert a decisive will," and accordingly "bent
himself very prudently" before a power which he had no means of resisting.
So solicitous indeed did the whole council show itself to please her, that
when the king, who was aware that her allowance, in spite of its recent
increase was insufficient to defray the charges to which she was liable,
proposed to double it, Necker himself, with all his zeal for economy and
retrenchment, eagerly embraced the suggestion; and its adoption gave the
queen a fresh opportunity of strengthening the esteem and affection of the
nation, by declaring that while the war lasted she would only accept half
the sum thus placed at her disposal.

The continuance of the war was not without its effect on the gayety of the
court, from the number of officers whom their military duties detained
with their regiments; but the quiet was beneficial to Marie Antoinette,
whose health was again becoming delicate, so much so, that after a grand
drawing-room which she held on New-year's-eve, and which was attended by
nearly two hundred of the chief ladies of the city, she was completely
knocked up, and forced to put herself under the care of her physician.

Meanwhile the war became more formidable. The English admiral, Rodney, the
greatest sailor who, as yet, had ever commanded a British fleet, in the
middle of January utterly destroyed a strong Spanish squadron off Cape St.
Vincent; and as from the coast of Spain he proceeded to the West Indies,
the French ministry had ample reason to be alarmed for the safety of the
force which they had in those regions. It was evident that it would
require every effort that could be made to enable their sailors to
maintain the contest against an antagonist so brave and so skillful And,
as one of the first steps toward such a result, Necker obtained the king's
consent to a great reform in the expenditure of the court and in the civil
service; and to the abolition of a great number of costly sinecures. We
may be able to form some idea of the prodigality which had hitherto wasted
the revenues of the country, from the circumstance that a single edict
suppressed above four hundred offices; and Marie Antoinette was so sincere
in her desire to promote such measures, that she speaks warmly in their
praise to her mother, even though they greatly curtailed her power of
gratifying her own favorites.

"The king," she says, "has just issued an edict which is as yet only the
forerunner of a reform which he designs, to make both in his own household
and in mine. If it be carried out, it will be a great benefit, not only
for the economy which it will introduce, but still more for its agreement
with public opinion, and for the satisfaction it will give the nation." It
is impossible for any language to show more completely how, above all
things, she made the good of the country her first object. And she was the
more inclined to approve of all that was being done in this way from her
conviction that Necker was both honest and able; an opinion which she
shared with, if she had not learned it from, her mother and her brother,
and which was to some extent justified by the comparative order which he
had re-established in the finance of the country, and by the degree in
which he had revived public credit. She was not aware that the real
dangers of the situation had a source deeper than any financial
difficulty, a fact which Necker himself was unable to comprehend. And she
could not foresee, when it became necessary to grapple with those dangers,
how unequal to the struggle the great banker would be found.

It may, perhaps, be inferred that she did suspect Necker of some
deficiency in the higher qualities of statesmanship when, in the spring of
1780, she told her mother that "she would give every thing in the world to
have a Prince Kaunitz in the ministry;[16] but that such men were rare,
and were only to be found by those who, like the empress herself, had the
sagacity to discover and the judgment to appreciate such merit." She was,
however, shutting her eyes to the fact that her husband had had a minister
far superior to Kaunitz; and that she herself had lent her aid to drive
him from his service.


Anglomania in Paris.--The Winter at Versailles.--Hunting.--Private
Theatricals.--Death of Prince Charles of Lorraine.--Successes of the
English in America.--Education of the Duc d'Angouleme.--Libelous Attacks
on the Queen.--Death of the Empress.--Favor shown to some of the Swedish
Nobles.--The Count de Fersen.--Necker retires from Office.--His Character.

It is curious, while the resources of the kingdom were so severely taxed
to maintain the war against England, of which every succeeding dispatch
from the seat of war showed more and more the imprudence, to read in
Mercy's correspondence accounts of the Anglomania, which still subsisted
in Paris; surpassing that which the letters of the empress describe as
reigning in Vienna, though it did not show itself now in quite the same
manner as a year or two before, in the aping of English vices, gambling at
races, and hard drinking, but rather in a copying of the fashions of men's
dress; in the introduction of top-boots; and, very wholesomely, in the
adoption of a country life by many of the great nobles, in imitation of
the English gentry; so that, for the first time since the coronation of
Louis XIV., the great territorial lords began to spend a considerable part
of the year on their estates, and no longer to think the interests and
requirements of their tenants and dependents beneath their notice.

The winter of 1779 and the spring of 1780 passed very happily. If
Versailles, from the reasons mentioned above, was not as crowded as in
former years, it was very lively. The season was unusually mild; the
hunting was scarcely ever interrupted, and Marie Antoinette, who now made
it a rule to accompany her husband on every possible occasion, sometimes
did not return from the hunt till the night was far advanced, and found
her health much benefited by the habit of spending the greater part of
even a winter's day in the open air. Her garden, too, which daily occupied
more and more of her attention, as it increased in beauty, had the same
tendency; and her anxiety to profit by the experience of others on one
occasion inflicted a whimsical disappointment of the free-thinkers of the
court. The profligate and sentimental infidel Rousseau had died a couple
of years before, and had been buried at Ermenonville, in the park of the
Count de Girardin. In the course of the summer the queen drove over to
Ermenonville, and the admirers of the versatile writer flattered
themselves that her object was to pay a visit of homage to the shrine of
their idol; but they wore greatly mortified to find that, though his tomb
was pointed out to her, she took no further notice of it than such as
consisted of a passing remark that it was very neat, and very prettily
placed; and that what had attracted her curiosity was the English garden
which the count had recently laid out at a great expense, and from which
she had been led to expect that she might derive some hints for the
further improvement of her own Little Trianon.

She had not yet entirely given up her desire for novelty in her
amusements; and she began now to establish private theatricals at
Versailles, choosing light comedies interspersed with song, and with but
few characters, the male parts being filled by the Count d'Artois and some
of the most distinguished officers of the household, while she herself
took one of the female parts; the spectators being confined to the royal
family and those nobles whose posts entitled them to immediate attendance
on the king and queen. She was so anxious to perform her own part well,
though she did not take any of the principal characters, but preferred to
act the waiting-woman rather than the mistress, that she placed herself
under the tuition of Michu, a professional actor of reputation from one of
the Parisian theatres; but, though the audience was far too courtly to
greet her appearance on the stage without vociferous applause, the
preponderance of evidence must lead us to believe that her majesty was not
a good actress.[1] And perhaps we may think that as the parts which she
selected required rather an arch pertness than the grace and majesty which
were more natural to her, so, also, they were not altogether in keeping
with the stately dignity which queens should never wholly lay aside.

It was well, however, that she should have amusements to cheer her, for
the year was destined to bring her heavy troubles before its close: losses
in her own family, which would be felt with terrible heaviness by her
affectionate disposition, were impending over her; while the news from
America, where the English army at this time was achieving triumphs which
seemed likely to have a decisive influence on the result of the war,
caused her great anxiety. How great, a letter which she wrote to her
mother in July affords a striking proof. In June, when she heard of the
dangerous illness of her uncle, Prince Charles of Lorraine, now Governor
of the Low Countries, formerly the gallant antagonist of Frederick of
Prussia, she declared that "the intelligence overwhelmed her with an
agitation and grief such as she had never before experienced," and she
lamented with evidently deep and genuine distress the threatened
extinction of the male line of the house of Lorraine. But before she wrote
again, the news of Sir Henry Clinton's exploits in Carolina had arrived,
and, though almost the same post informed her of the prince's death, the
sorrow which that bereavement awakened in her mind was scarcely allowed,
even in its first freshness, an equal share of her lamentations with the
more absorbing importance of the events of the campaign beyond the

"MY DEAREST MOTHER,--I wrote to you the moment that I received the sad
intelligence of my uncle's death; though, as the Brussels courier had
already started, I fear my letter may have arrived rather late. I will not
venture to say more on the subject, lest I should be reopening a sorrow
for which you have so much cause to grieve.... The capture of
Charleston[2] is a most disastrous event, both for the facilities it will
afford the English and for the encouragement which it will give to their
pride. It is perhaps still more serious because of the miserable defense
made by the Americans. One can hope nothing from such bad troops."

It is curious to contrast the angry jealousy which she here betrays of our
disposition and policy as a nation, with the partiality which, as we have
seen, she showed for the agreeable qualities of individual Englishmen. But
her uneasiness on this subject led to practical results, by inducing her
to add her influence to that of a party which was discontented with the
ministry; and was especially laboring to persuade the king to make a
change in the War Department, and to dismiss the Prince de Montbarey,
whose sole recommendation for the office of secretary of state seemed to
be that he was a friend of the prime minister, and to give his place to
the Count de Segur. The change was made, as any change was sure to be made
in favor of which she personally exerted herself; even the partisans of M.
de Maurepas himself were forced to allow that the new minister was in
every respect far superior to his predecessor; and Mercy was desirous that
she should procure the dismissal of Maurepas also, thinking it of great
importance to her own comfort that the prime minister should be bound to
her interests.

But she was far more anxious on other subjects. Nearly two years had now
elapsed since the birth of the princess royal; and there was as yet no
prospect of a companion to her, so that the Count d'Artois began to make
arrangements for the education of his infant son, the Duc d'Angouleme,
with a premature solicitude, which was evidently designed to point the
child out to the nation as its future sovereign.[3] The queen was greatly
annoyed; and, to add to her vexation, one of the teething illnesses to
which children are subject at this time threw the little princess into
convulsions, which, to a mother's anxiety, seemed even dangerous to her
life; though in a day or two that apprehension passed away.

But these hopes of D'Artois and his flatterers again filled the court with
intrigues. In the course of the summer she was made highly indignant by
finding that news from the court, with malicious comments, were sent from
Paris across the frontier to be printed at Deux-Ponts or Duesseldorf, and
then circulated in Paris and in Vienna; and it was difficult to avoid
connecting these libels with those who in the palace itself were
manifestly building hopes on the diminution of her influence and the
disparagement of her character.

But this and all other vexations were presently thrown into the shade by a
great grief, the more difficult to bear because it was wholly unexpected
by her--the death of her mother. In reality, Maria Teresa had been unwell
for some time; but the suspicions of the serious character of her
complaint, which she secretly entertained, she had never revealed to Marie
Antoinette; and at last the end followed too quickly on the first
appearance of danger to allow time for any preparatory warnings to be
received at Versailles before the fatal intelligence arrived. On the 24th
of November she was taken ill in a manner which excited the alarm of her
physicians, but her family felt no apprehensions. Even on the 27th, the
emperor felt so sanguine that the cough which seemed her most distressing
symptom was but temporary, that it was with the greatest unwillingness
that he consented to her receiving the communion, as the physicians
recommended; but the next day even he was forced to acquiesce in the
hopeless view which they took of their patient; and on the 29th she died,
after having borne sufferings, which for the last three days had been of
the most painful character, with the same heroism with which, in her
earlier life, she had struggled against griefs of a different kind.

The dispatch announcing her death was brought to the king; and it is
characteristic of his timid disposition that he could not nerve himself to
communicate it to his wife, but suppressed all mention of it during the
evening; and in the morning summoned the Abbe de Vermond, and employed him
to break the news to her, reserving for himself the less painful task of
approaching her with words of affectionate consolation after the first
shock was over. For a time, however, she was almost overwhelmed with
sorrow. She attempted to write to her brother, but after a few lines she
closed the letter, declaring that her tears prevented her from seeing the
paper; and those about her found that for some time she could bear no
other topic of conversation than the courage, the wisdom, the greatness of
her mother, and, above all, her warm affection for herself and for all her
other children.[4]

With the death of the empress we lose the aid of Mercy's correspondence,
which has afforded such invaluable service in the light it has thrown on
the peculiarities of Marie Antoinette's position, and the gradual
development of her character during the earlier years of her residence in
France. We shall again obtain light from the same source of almost greater
importance, when the still more terrible dangers of the Revolution
rendered the queen more dependent than ever on his counsels. But for the
next few years we shall be compelled to content ourselves with scantier
materials than have been furnished by the empress's unceasing interest in
her daughter's welfare, and the embassador's faithful and candid reports.

The death of Maria Teresa naturally closed the court of her daughter
against all gayeties during the spring of 1781. Still, one of the taxes
which princes pay for their grandeur is the force which, at times, they
are compelled to put upon their inclinations, when they dispense with that
retirement which their own feelings would render acceptable; and, after a
few weeks of seclusion, a few guests began to be admitted to the royal
supper-table, among whom, as a very extraordinary favor, were some Swedish
nobles;[5] one of whom, the Count de Stedingk, had established a claim to
the royal favor by serving, with several of his countrymen, as a volunteer
in the Count d'Estaing's fleet in the West Indies. Such service was highly
esteemed by both king and queen, since Louis, though he had been
unwillingly dragged into the war by the ambition of the Count de Vergennes
and the popular enthusiasm, naturally, when once engaged in it, took as
vivid an interest in the prowess of his forces as if he had never been
troubled with any misgivings as to the policy which had set them in
motion; and Marie Antoinette was at all times excited to enthusiasm by any
deed of valor, and, as we have seen, took an especial interest in the
achievements of the navy.

The King of Sweden, the chivalrous Gustavus III., had already made the
acquaintance of Louis and Marie Antoinette in a short visit which he had
paid to France the year after their marriage; and the queen now wrote to
him in warm praise of M. de Stedingk, and all his countrymen who had come
under her notice, while the king rewarded the count's valor and the wounds
which had been incurred in its exhibition by an order of knighthood,[6]
and the more substantial gift of a pension. But the Swede who soon outran
all his compatriots in the race for the royal favor of both king and queen
was the Count Axel de Fersen, a descendant, it was believed, of one of the
Scotch officers of the great Macpherson clan, who, in the stormy times of
the Thirty Years' War, had sought fame and fortune under the banner of
Gustavus Adolphus. The beauty of his countess was celebrated throughout
both Sweden and France, and his own was but little inferior to it. If she
was known as "The Rose of the North," his name was rarely mentioned
without the addition of "The handsome." He was a perfect master of all
noble and knightly accomplishments, and was also distinguished for a
certain high-souled and romantic[7] enthusiasm, which lent a tinge to all
his conversation and demeanor; and this combination won for him the marked
favor of Marie Antoinette. The calumniators, whom the condition and
prospects of the royal family made more busy than ever at this time,
insinuated that he had touched her heart; but those who knew best the
manners of life and characters of both denounced it as the vilest of
libels. The count's was a loyal attachment, doing nothing but honor to him
who felt it, and to the queen who inspired it; and it was marked by a
permanence which distinguishes no devotion but that which is pure and
noble, as he showed ten years later by the well-planned and courageous,
though unsuccessful, efforts which he made for the deliverance of the
queen and all her family.

That Marie Antoinette, who from early youth had shown an intuitive
accuracy of judgment in her estimate of character, should, from the very
first, honorably distinguish a man capable of such devotion to her service
was not unnatural; but there was another circumstance in his favor, which
he shared with the other foreign nobles, English and German, who in these
years were well received by the queen. Their disinterestedness presented a
striking contrast to the rapacity of the French. Every French noble valued
the court only for what he could obtain from it. Even Madame de Polignac,
whom the queen specially honored with the title of her friend, exhibited
an all-grasping covetousness, of which, with all her efforts to shut her
eyes to it, Marie Antoinette could not be unconscious; and her perception
of the difference between her French and her foreign courtiers was marked
by herself in a few words, when the Comte de la Marck, who was himself of
foreign extraction, ventured once to recommend to her greater caution in
her display of liking for the foreign nobles, as what might excite the
jealousy of the French;[8] and she replied that "he might be right, but
the foreigners were the only people who asked her for nothing."

Meanwhile, the war went on in America; the colonists themselves were
making but little, if any, progress, and the French contingent were
certainly reaping no honor, M. de La Fayette, the only officer who came in
contact with a British force, showing no military skill or capacity, and
not even much courage. But in the course of the spring France sustained a
far heavier loss than even the defeat of an army could have inflicted on
her, in the retirement of Necker from the ministry. As a statesman, he was
certainly not entitled to any very high rank. He had neither extensive
knowledge, nor large views, nor firmness; the only project of
constitutional reform which he had brought forward had been but a
mutilated and imperfect copy of the system devised by the original and
statesman-like daring of Turgot. At a subsequent period he proved himself
incapable of discerning the true character of the circumstances which
surrounded him, and wholly ignorant of the feelings of the nation, and of
the principles and objects of those who aspired to take a lead in its
councils. But as yet his financial policy had undoubtedly been successful.
He had greatly relieved the general distress, he had maintained the public
credit, and he had inspired the nation with confidence in itself, and
other countries also with confidence in its resources; but he had made
many and powerful enemies by the retrenchments which had been a necessary
part of his system. As early as the spring of 1780, Mercy had reported to
the empress that both the king's brothers and the Duc d'Orleans complained
that some of his measures infringed upon their established rights; that
the Count d'Artois had had a very stormy discussion with Necker himself,
and, when he could neither convince nor overbear him, had tried, though
unsuccessfully, to enlist the queen against him. The count had since
employed the controller of his own household, M. Boutourlin, to write
pamphlets against him, and, in point of fact, many of the most elaborate
details of a financial statement which Necker had recently published were
very ill-calculated to endure a strict scrutiny; but M. Boutourlin did his
work so badly that Necker had no difficulty in repelling him, and for a
moment seemed the stronger for the attack that had been made upon him.

He had been so far right in his estimate of his position that he could
rely on the support of the queen, who was aware that both her mother and
her brother had a high opinion of his integrity; but though the king also
had from time to time given his cordial sanction to his different
measures, it was not in the nature of Louis to withstand repeated pressure
and solicitation. Necker, too, himself unintentionally played into the
hands of his enemies. He had nominally only a subordinate position in the
ministry. As he was a Protestant, Louis had feared to offend the clergy by
giving him a seat in the council, or the title of comptroller-general; but
had conferred that post on M. Taboureau des Reaux, making Necker director
of the treasury under him. The real management of the exchequer was,
however, placed wholly in his hands; and, as he was one of the vainest of
men, he had gradually assumed a tone of importance as if his were the
paramount influence in the Government; going so far as even to open
negotiations with foreign statesmen to which none of his colleagues were
privy.[9] It was not strange that he was not very well satisfied with a
position which seemed as if it had been contrived in order to keep him out
of sight, and to deprive him of the credit belonging to his financial
successes; but hitherto he had been satisfied to bide his time. Now,
however, his triumph over M. Boutourlin seemed to him so to have
established his supremacy as to entitle him to insist on a promotion which
should be a public recognition of his position as the real minister of
finance, and as entitled to a preponderating voice in all matters of
general policy. He accordingly demanded admission to the council, and, on
its being refused, at once resigned his office.

The consternation was universal; the general public had gradually learned
to place such confidence in him that they looked on his loss as
irreparable. Some even of the princes who had originally striven to
prepossess the king against him either changed their minds or feared to
show their disagreement with the common feeling. And Marie Antoinette, who
fully shared his views as to the primary importance of finance in all
questions of government, condescended to admit him to an interview;
requested him, as a personal favor to herself, to recall his resignation,
urging upon him that patience would surely in time procure him all that he
asked; and, in her honest earnestness for the welfare of the nation, wept
when he withdrew without having yielded to her solicitations. It was late
in the evening and dark when he took his leave, and afterward, when he was
told that he had drawn tears from her eyes by his refusal, he said that,
had he seen them, he should have submitted to a wish so enforced, even at
the sacrifice of his own comfort and reputation.


The Queen expects to be confined again.--Increasing Unpopularity of the
King's Brothers.--Birth of the Dauphin.--Festivities.--Deputations from
the Different Trades.--Songs of the Dames de la Halle.--Ball given by the
Body-guard.--Unwavering Fidelity of the Regiment.--The Queen offers up her
Thanksgiving at Notre Dame.--Banquet at the Hotel de Ville.--Rejoicing in

How irreparable his loss was, was shown by the rapid succession of finance
ministers who, in the course of the next seven years, successively held
the office of comptroller-general. All were equally incompetent, and under
their administration, sometimes merely incapable, sometimes combining
recklessness and corruption with incapacity, the treasury again became
exhausted, the resources of the nation dwindled away, and the distress of
all but the wealthiest classes became more and more insupportable. But for
a time the attention of Marie Antoinette was drawn off from political
embarrassments by the event which alone seemed wanting to complete her
personal happiness, and to place her position and popularity on an
impregnable foundation.

In the spring she discovered that she was again about to become a mother.
The whole nation expected the result with an intense anxiety. The king's
brothers were daily becoming more and more deservedly unpopular. The Count
d'Artois, who as the father of a son, occupied more of the general
attention than his elder brother, seemed to take pains to parade his
contempt for the commercial class, and still more for the lower orders,
and his disapproval of every proposal which had for its object to
conciliate the traders or to relieve the sufferings of the poor; while the
Count de Provence openly established a mistress, the Countess de Balbi, at
the Luxembourg Palace, his residence in the capital, where she presided
over the receptions which he took upon himself to hold, to the exclusion
of his lawful princess. The Countess de Provence was not well calculated
to excite admiration or sympathy, since she was plain and ungracious. But
Madame de Balbi, whose character had been disgracefully notorious even
before her connection with the count, was not more attractive in
appearance or manner than the Savoy princess; and the citizens of Paris,
who in this instance faithfully represented the feelings of the entire
nation, did not disguise their anxiety that the child about to be born
should be a prince, who might extinguish the hopes and projects of both
his uncles.

Their wishes were gratified. On the morning of the 22d of October the king
was starting from the palace on a hunting expedition with his brothers,
when it was announced to him that the queen was taken ill.[1] He at once
returned to her room, and, mindful of the danger which she had incurred on
the occasion of the birth of Madame Royale from the greatness and disorder
of the crowd, he broke through the ancient custom, and ordered that the
doors should be closed, and that no one should be admitted beyond a very
small number of the great officers, male and female, of the household. His
cares were rewarded by a comparatively easy birth; and his anxiety to
protect his wife from agitation was further shown by a second arrangement,
which was perhaps hardly so easy to carry out, but which was also
perfectly successful. As was most natural, the queen and himself fully
shared the ardent wishes of the nation that the expected child should
prove an heir to the throne; and he consequently feared that, should it
not be so, the disappointment might produce an injurious effect on the
mother's health; or, should their hopes be realized, that the excessive
joy might be equally dangerous. With a desire, therefore, to avoid
exposing her to either shock in the first moments of weakness, he forbade
any announcement of the sex of the child being made to any one but
himself. The instant that the child was born, he hastened to the bedside
to judge for himself whether she could bear the news. Presently she came
to herself; and it seemed to her that the general silence indicated that
she had become the mother of a second daughter. But she desired to be
assured of the fact. "See," said she to Louis, "how reasonable I am. I ask
no questions.[2]" And Louis, who from joy was scarcely able to contain
himself, seeing her freedom from agitation, thought he might safely reveal
to her the whole extent of their happiness. He called out, so as to be
heard by the Princess de Guimenee, who still held the post of governess to
the royal children, and who had already exhibited the child to the
witnesses in the antechamber, and was now awaiting his summons at the open
door, "My lord the dauphin begs to be admitted." The Princess de Guimenee
brought "my lord the dauphin" to his mother's arms, and for a few minutes
the small company in the room gazed in respectful silence while the father
and mother mingled tears of joy with broken words of thanksgiving.

Yet even in this moment of exultation Marie Antoinette could not forget
her first-born, nor the feelings which had made her rejoice at the birth
of a daughter, who still had, as it were, no rival in her eyes, because no
rival claim to her own could be set up with respect to a princess. She
kissed the long-wished-for infant over and over again; pressed him fondly
to her heart; and then, after she had perused each feature with anxious
scrutiny, and pointed out some resemblances, such as mothers see, to his
father, "Take him," said she, to Madame de Guimenee; "he belongs to the
State; but my daughter is still mine.[3]"

Presently the chamber was cleared; and in a few minutes the glad tidings
were carried to every corner of the palace and town of Versailles, and, as
speedily as expresses could gallop, to the anxious city of Paris. By a
somewhat whimsical coincidence, the Count de Stedingk, who, from having
been one of the intended hunting-party, had been admitted into the
antechamber, rushing down-stairs in his haste to spread the intelligence,
met the Countess de Provence on the staircase. "It is a dauphin, madame,"
he cried; "what a happy event!" The countess made him no reply. Nor did
she or her husband pretend to disguise their mortification. The Count
d'Artois was a little less open in the display of his discontent, which
was, however, sufficiently notorious. But, with these exceptions, all
France, or at least all France sufficiently near the court to feel any
personal interest in its concerns, was unanimous in its exultation.

As soon as the new-born child was dressed, his father took him in his
arms, and, carrying him to the window, showed him to the crowd[4] which,
on the first news of the queen's illness, had thronged the court-yard, and
was waiting in breathless expectation the result. A rumor had already
begun to penetrate the throng that the child was a son, and the moment
that the happy tidings were confirmed, and the infant--their future king,
as they undoubtingly hailed him--was presented to their view, their joy
broke forth in such vociferous acclamations that it became necessary to
silence them by an appeal to them to show consideration for the mother's

For the next three months all was joy and festivity. When the little Duc
d'Angouleme, now a sprightly boy of six years old, was taken into the
nursery to see, or, in the court language, to pay his homage to, the heir
to the throne, he said to his father, as he left the room, "Papa, how
little my cousin is!" "The day will come, my boy," replied the count,
"when you will find him quite great enough." And it seemed as if the whole
nation, and especially the city of Paris, thought no celebration of the
birth of its future king could be too sumptuous for his greatness. It was
a real heart-felt joy that was awakened in the people. On the day
following the birth, chroniclers of the time remarked that no other
subject was spoken of; that even strangers stopped one another in the
streets to exchange congratulations.[5]

The different trades and guilds led the way in the expression of these
loyal felicitations. When his royal highness was a week old, he held a
grand reception. Deputations from different bodies of artisans, each with
a band of music at its head, and each carrying some emblem of its
occupation, marched in a long procession to Versailles. The chimney-sweeps
bore aloft a chimney entwined with garlands, on the top of which was
perched one of the smallest of their boys; the chairmen carried a chair
superbly gilt, on which sat in state a representative of the royal nurse,
with a child in her arms in royal robes; the butchers drove a fat ox; the
pastry-cooks bore on a splendid tray a variety of pastry and sweetmeats
such as might tempt children of a larger growth than the little prince
they had come to honor; the blacksmiths beat an anvil in time to their
cheers; the shoe-makers brought a pair of miniature boots; the tailors had
devoted elaborate and minute pains to the embroidering of a uniform of the
dauphin's regiment, such as might even now fit its young colonel, if his
parents would permit him to be attired in it. The crowd was too great to
be received in even the largest saloon of the palace; but it filled the
court-yard beneath; and, as the weather was luckily favorable, the dauphin
was brought to the balcony and displayed to the people, while they greeted
him with cheers, which were renewed from time to time, even after he had
been withdrawn, till the shouting seemed as if it would have no end.

One deputation, consisting of members of the fairer sex, received even
higher honors. Fifty ladies of the fish-market vindicated the
long-acknowledged claims of their body by forming a separate procession.
Each dame was dressed in a gown of rich black silk, their established
court-dress, and nearly every one had diamond ornaments. To them, the
celebrated antechamber, from the oval window at the end known as the
Bull's Eye, was opened;[6] and three of their body were admitted even into
the queen's room, and to the side of the bed. The popular poet La Harpe,
whom the partiality of Voltaire had designated as the heir of his genius,
had composed an address, which the spokeswoman of the party had written
out on the back of her fan, and now read with a sweet voice, which had
procured her the honor of being so selected,[7] and with very appropriate
delivery. The queen made a brief but most gracious answer, and then, on
their retirement, the whole company, with a train of fish-women of the
lower class, was entertained at a grand banquet, which they enlivened with
songs composed for the occasion. One of them so hit the fancy of the king
and queen that they quoted it more than once in their letters to their
correspondents, and Marie Antoinette even sung it occasionally to her

  "Ne craignez pas,
  Cher papa,
  D' voir augmenter vot' famille,
  Le Bon Dieu z'y pourvoira:
  Fait's en tant qu' Versailles en fourmille
  Y eut-il cent Bourbons chez nous,
  Y a du pain, du laurier pour tous."

The body-guard celebrated the auspicious event by giving a grand ball in
the concert-room of the palace to the queen on her recovery; it was
attended by the whole court, and Marie Antoinette opened it herself,
dancing a minuet with one of the troop, whom his comrades had selected for
the honor, and whom the king promoted, as a memorial of the occasion and
as a testimony of his approval of the loyalty of that gallant regiment.

Amidst all the troubles of later years, the fidelity of those noble troops
never wavered. They had even in one hour of terrible danger the honor, in
the same palace, of saving the life of their queen. But it is a melancholy
proof of the fleeting character and instability of popular favor which is
supplied by the recollection that these very artisans who were now so
vociferous, and undoubtedly at this moment so sincere in their profession
of loyalty, were afterward her foul and ferocious enemies. And yet between
1781 and 1789 there had been no change in the character or conduct of the
king and queen, or rather, it may be said, the intervening years had been
a period during which a countless series of acts of beneficence had
displayed their unceasing affection for their subjects.

The festivities were crowned in the most appropriate manner by a public
thanksgiving, offered by the queen herself to Heaven for the gift of a
son, and for her own recovery. But that celebration was necessarily
postponed till her strength was entirely re-established; and it was not
till the 21st of January that the physicians would allow her to encounter
the excitement of so interesting but fatiguing a day. The court had quit
Versailles for La Muette the day before, to be nearer the city; and on the
appointed morning, which the watchers for omens delightedly remarked as
one of midsummer brilliancy,[8] the most superb procession that even Paris
had ever witnessed issued from the gates of the old hunting-lodge, whose
earlier occupants had been animated by a very different spirit.[9]

That the honors of the day might be wholly the queen's, Louis himself did
not accompany her, but followed her three hours later, to meet her at the
Hotel de Ville. Nineteen coaches, glittering with burnished gold, and
every panel of which was embellished with crowns, wreaths, or allegorical
pictures, marching on at a stately walk toward the city gate, conveyed the
queen, radiant with beauty and happiness, the sisters and aunts of the
king, the long train of her and their ladies, and all the great officers
of her household. Squadrons of the body-guard furnished the escort, riding
in front of the queen's carriage and behind it, but not on either side,
she herself having forbidden any arrangement which might intercept the
full sight of herself from a single citizen. Companies of other regiments
awaited the procession at different points, and closed up behind it as it
passed, swelling the vast train which thus grew at every step. An
additional escort, almost an army in itself, in double rank, lined the
whole road from the barrier of the Champs Elysees of the great cathedral;
and, as the royal coach passed through the city gate, a herald proclaimed
that "The king wishing to consecrate by fresh acts of kindness the happy
moment when God showered his mercies on him by the birth of a dauphin, and
at the same time to give to the inhabitants of his good city of Paris some
special mark of his beneficence, granted an exemption from the poll-tax to
all the burgesses, traders, and artisans who were not in such
circumstances as made the payment easy."

The proclamation was received with all the thankfulness of surprise; the
cheers, which had never censed from the moment that the procession first
came in sight, were redoubled, and it was amidst shouts of congratulation
both to themselves and to her that the queen proceeded onward to Notre
Dame. Having paid her vows and made her offerings in the cathedral of the
nation, she passed on to the Church of Ste. Genevieve, the especial
patroness of the city, and repeated her thanksgiving before the tomb of
Clovis, the founder of the monarchy. At the Hotel de Ville she was met by
the king, with the princess, his brothers, the great officers of his
household, and the ministers; and there (after having first come forward
on the balcony to afford the multitude, who completely filled the vast
square in front of the building, a sight of their sovereigns), the royal
pair, sitting side by side, presided at a banquet of unsurpassed
magnificence and luxury. In compliance with the strictest laws of the old
etiquette, none but ladies were admitted to the king's table, but other
tables were provided for the male guests. The most renowned musicians
performed the sweetest airs, but the melodies of Gluck and Gretry were
drowned in the cheers of the multitude outside, who thus relieved their
impatience for the re-appearance of their queen.

The banquet was succeeded by a grand reception, with its singular but
invariable accompaniment of a gaming-table,[10] and the whole was
concluded by a grand illumination and display of fireworks, in which the
pyrotechnists had exhausted their allegorical ingenuity. A Temple of Hymen
occupied the centre, and the God of Marriage--never, so far as present
appearances indicated, more auspiciously employed--presented to France the
precious infant who was the most recent fruit of his favor; while the
flame upon his altar, which never had burned with a brighter light, was
fed by the thank-offerings of the whole French people. As each new feature
of the display burst upon their eyes, the acclamations of the populace
redoubled, and their enthusiasm was kindled to the utmost pitch when Louis
and Marie Antoinette descended the stairs, and, arm-in-arm, walked out
among the crowd, ostensibly to see the illuminations from the different
points which presented the most imposing spectacle; but really, as the
citizens perceived, to show their sympathy with the joy of the people by
mingling with the multitude, and thus allowing all to approach and even to
accost them; while they, and especially the queen, replied to every loyal
cheer or homely word of congratulation by a cordial smile or expression of
approval or thanks, which long dwelt in the memory of those to whom they
were addressed.


Madame de Guimenee resigns the Office of Governess of the Royal Children.
--Madame de Polignac succeeds her.--Marie Antoinette's Views of
Education.--Character of Madame Royale.--The Grand Duke Paul and his Grand
Duchess visit the French Court.--Their Characters.--Entertainments given
in their Honor.--Insolence of the Cardinal de Rohan.--His Character and
previous Life.--Grand Festivities at Chantilly.--Events of the War.--
Rodney defeats de Grasse.--The Siege of Gilbralter fails.--M. de Suffrein
fights five Drawn Battles with Sir E. Hughes in the Indian Seas.--The
Queen receives him with great Honor on his Return.

The post of governess to the royal children was one which was conferred
for life, and did not even cease on the accession of a new sovereign, and
the birth of a new royal family. Madame de Guimenee, therefore, having
been appointed to that office on the birth of the first child of the late
dauphin, the father of Louis XVI., still retained it, and on the birth of
Madame Royale transferred her services to that princess. The arrangement
had been far from acceptable to Marie Antoinette, who had no great liking
for the lady, though, with her habitual kindness of disposition, she had
accepted her attentions, and had often condescended to appear as a guest
at her evening parties, taking only the precaution of ascertaining
beforehand whom she was likely to meet there.[1] But, in the spring of
1782, the Prince de Guimenee became involved in pecuniary difficulties
that compelled him to retire from the court, and his princess to resign
her appointment, which Marie Antoinette at once bestowed on Madame de
Polignac. Her attachment to that lady affords a striking exemplification
of one feature in her character, a steady adherence to friendships once
formed, which can never be otherwise than amiable, even when, as it may be
thought was the case in this and one or two other instances, she carried
it to excess; for she could hardly fail to be aware that Madame de
Polignac was most unpopular with all classes, and that her unpopularity
was not undeserved. She was covetous for herself, and she had a number of
relations, equally rapacious, who regarded her court favor solely as a
means of enriching the whole family. She had procured a valuable reversion
for her husband; and subsequently the rare favor of an hereditary dukedom;
and it was characteristic of her disposition that she might have attained
the rank of duchess for herself at an earlier date, but that she preferred
to it the chance of other favors of a more practically useful nature; nor
was it till she had received such sums of money that nothing more could
well be asked, that she turned her ambition to titles, and to the
much-coveted dignity of a stool to sit upon in the presence of royalty.[2]

But the more people spoke ill of her, the more the queen protected her;
and if she received the resignation of Madame de Guimenee with pleasure,
much of her joy seemed to be owing to the opportunity which it afforded
her of promoting the new duchess to the vacant place, while Madame de
Polignac had even the address to persuade her that she accepted the post
unwillingly, and, in undertaking it, was making a sacrifice to loyalty and
friendship. But if the queen was duped on that point, she was not deceived
on others. She knew that the duchess had no qualifications for the office;
that she was neither clever nor accomplished. But her absence of any
special qualifications was, in fact, her best recommendation in the eyes
of her patroness; for Marie Antoinette had high ideas of the duty which a
mother owes to her children. She thought herself bound to take upon
herself the real superintendence of their education, and, having this
view, she preferred a governess who would be content that her children's
minds should receive their color from herself. Her own idea of education,
as we shall see it hereafter described by herself,[3] was that example was
more powerful than precept, and that love was a better teacher than fear;
and, acting on this principle, from the moment that her little daughter
was old enough to comprehend her intentions and wishes, she began to make
her her companion; abandoning, or at least relaxing, her pursuit of other
pleasures for that which was now her chief delight, as well as in her eyes
her chief duty--the task of watching over the early promise, the opening
talents and virtues of those who were destined, as she hoped, to have a
predominant influence on the future welfare of the nation. Especially she
made a rule of taking the little princess with her on the different
errands of humanity and benevolence, which, wherever she might be, and
more particularly while she was at Versailles, formed an almost habitual
part of her occupations. She saw that much of the distress which now
seemed to be the normal condition of the humbler classes, and much of the
discontent, which was felt by all classes but the highest, were caused by
the pride of the princes and nobles, who, in France, drew a far more
rigorous and unbending line of demarkation between themselves and their
inferiors than prevailed in other countries; and she desired from their
earliest infancy to imbue her children with a different principle, and to
teach them by her own example that none could be so lowly as to be beneath
the notice even of a sovereign; and that, on the contrary, the greater the
depression of the poor, the greater claim did it give them on the
solicitude and protection of their princes and rulers.

Nor were these lessons, which even worldly policy might have dictated, the
only ones which she sought to inculcate on the little princess before the
more exciting pursuits of society should have rendered her less
susceptible to good impressions. Unfriendly as her husband's aunts had
always been to herself, and little as there was that was really amiable in
their characters, there was yet one, the Princess Louise, the Nun of St.
Denis, whose renunciation of the world seemed to point her out to her
family as a model of holiness and devotion; and as, above all things,
Marie Antoinette desired to inspire her little daughter with a deep sense
of religious obligation, she soon began to take her with her in all her
visits to the convent, and to encourage her to converse with the other
Sisters of the house. Nor did she abandon the practice even when it was
suggested to her that such an intercourse with those who were notoriously
always on the watch to attract recruits of rank or consideration, might
have the result of inclining the child to follow her great-aunt's example;
and perhaps, by renouncing the world, to counteract plans which her
parents might have preferred for her establishment in life. Marie
Antoinette declared that should the princess express such a desire, far
from being annoyed, "she should feel flattered by it;[4]" she would, it
may be presumed, have regarded it as a convincing testimony of the
soundness of her own system of education, and of the purity of the
instruction which she had given.

But such was not to be the destiny of her whose life at this moment seemed
to beam with prospects of happiness which it would have been cruel to
allow her to exchange for the gloom of a convent, though, even before she
arrived at womanhood, the most austere seclusion of such an abode would
have seemed a welcome asylum from dangers yet undreamed of. Her destiny
was indeed to be one of trials and afflictions even to the end; trials
very different in their kind from those which the gates of the Carmelite
sisterhood would have opened to her. But her mother's early lessons of
humility and piety, and still more her mother's virtuous and heroic
example, never ceased to bear their fruit in their influence on her
character, amidst all the vicissitudes of fortune. The unhappy
daughter,[5] as she was styled by the faithful and eloquent champion of
her race, lived to win the respect even of its enemies,[6] supplying, at
more than one critical moment, a courage and decision of which her male
relatives were destitute; and, in the second and final ruin of her house,
her fortitude and resignation still commanded the loyal adherence of a
large party among her countrymen, and the esteem of foreign statesmen, who
gladly recognized in her no small portion of the nobility of her female

In the spring of 1782 the attention of the Parisians was occupied for a
while by the arrival of two visitors from a nation which as yet had sent
forth but few of its sons to mingle in society with those of other
countries. The Grand Duke of Russia, who had indeed been its rightful
emperor ever since the murder of his father twenty years before, but who
had been compelled to postpone his claims to those of his ambitious and
unscrupulous mother, Catherine II., had conceived a desire so far to
imitate the example of his great ancestor, the founder of the Russian
empire, Peter the Great, as to make a personal investigation of the
manners of other people besides his own. To use the language in which the
empress communicated to Louis XVI. her son's wish to pay him a visit, he
sought, in the first instance, "to take lessons in courtesy and nobility
from the most elegant court in the world." And as Louis had responded with
a cordial invitation to Versailles, at the end of May he, with his grand
duchess, a princess of Wuertemberg, arrived at the palace.

Paul had not as yet given any indications of the brutal and ferocious
disposition which distinguished him in his later years, till it gradually
developed into a savage insanity which neither his nobles nor even his
sons could endure. He appeared rather a young man of frank and open
temper, somewhat more unguarded in his language, especially concerning his
own affairs and position, than was quite prudent or becoming; but kind in
intention, sometimes even courteous in manner, shrewd in discerning what
things and what persons were most worthy of his notice, and showing no
deficiency of judgment in the observations which he made upon them. The
grand duchess, however, was generally regarded as greatly superior to her
husband in every respect. He was almost repulsive in his ugliness. She was
extremely handsome in feature, though disfigured by a stoutness
extraordinary in one so young. She had also a high reputation for
accomplishments and general ability, though that too was disguised by a
coldness or ungraciousness of manner that gave strangers a disagreeable
impression of her; which, however, a more intimate acquaintance greatly

Their characters had preceded them, and Marie Antoinette, for perhaps the
first time in her life, felt very uneasy as to her own power of receiving
them with the dignity which became both her and them. As she afterward
explained her feelings to Madame de Campan, "she found the part of a
queen much move difficult to play in the presence of other sovereigns, or
of princes who were born to become sovereigns, than before ordinary
courtiers.[7]" She even fortified her courage before dinner with a glass
of water, and the medicine proved effectual. Even if it cost her an effort
to preserve her habitual gayety, her difficulty was unperceived, and
indeed, after the few first moments, ceased to be a difficulty. Paul
himself cared but little for female attractions or graces; but the
archduchess was charmed with her union of liveliness and dignity, which
surpassed all her previous experiences of courts; and one of her ladies,
Madame d'Oberkirch, who has left behind her some memoirs, to which all
succeeding writers have been indebted for many particulars of this visit,
could scarcely find words to describe the impression the queen's beauty
had made upon her and all her fellow-travelers. "The queen was marvelously
beautiful; she fascinated every eye. It was absolutely impossible for any
one to display a greater grace and nobility of demeanor.[8]" Madame
d'Oberkirch, like herself, was German by birth; and Marie Antoinette
begged her to speak German to her, that she might refresh her recollection
of her native language; but she found that she had almost forgotten it.
"Ah," said she, "German is a fine language; but French, in the mouths of
my children, seems to me the finest language in the world." And in the
same spirit of entire adoption of French feelings, and even of French
prejudices, she declared to the baroness that though the Rhine and the
Danube were both noble rivers, the Seine was so much more beautiful that
it had made her forget them both.

But her preference for every thing French did not make her neglect the
duties of hospitality to her foreign visitors; she wished rather that they
should carry with them as fixed an idea as she herself entertained of the
superiority of France to their own country, in this as in every other
particular. And she gave two magnificent entertainments in their honor at
the Little Trianon, displaying the beauties of her garden by day, and also
by night, by an illumination of extraordinary splendor. They were highly
delighted with the beauty and the novelty of a scene such as they had
never before witnessed; but her pleasure was in a great degree marred by
the indecent boldness of one whose sacred profession, as well as his
ancient lineage, ought to have restrained him from such misconduct, though
it was but too completely in harmony with his previous life. Prince Louis
de Rohan was a descendant of the great Duke de Sully, and a member of a
family which, during the last reign, had possessed an influence at court
which was surpassed by that of no other house among the French nobles.[9]
He himself had reaped the full advantage of its interest. As we have
already seen, he had been coadjutor of Strasburg when Marie Antoinette
passed through that city on her way to France in 1770. He had subsequently
been promoted to the rank of cardinal; and, though he was notoriously
devoid of capacity, yet through the influence of his relations, and that
of Madame du Barri, with whom they maintained an intimate connection, he
had obtained the post of embassador to the court of Vienna, where he had
made himself conspicuous for every species of disorder. His whole life in
the Austrian capital had been a round of shameless profligacy and
extravagance. The conduct of the inferior members of the embassy,
stimulated by his example, and protected by his official character, had
been equally scandalous, till at last Maria Teresa had felt herself bound,
in justice to her subjects, to insist on his recall. The moment that he
became aware that his position was in danger, he began to write abusive
letters against the Empress-queen, and to circulate libels at Vienna
against both her and Marie Antoinette, on whom he openly threatened to
avenge himself, if his pleasures or his prospects should in any way be
interfered with.[10]

Since his return to France he had had the address to conciliate Maurepas,
who, adding the authority of his ministerial office to the solicitations
of the cardinal's sister, Madame de Marsan, had succeeded in wringing from
the unwilling king his appointment to the honorable and lucrative
preferment of grand almoner. But even that post, though it made him one of
the great officers of the court, did not weaken his desire to annoy the
queen, for having, as he believed, used her influence to deprive him of
his embassy, and for having by her marked coldness since his return from
Vienna, showed her disapproval of his profligate character, and of his
insolence to her mother.

And, unhappily, there were not wanting persons base enough to co-operate
with him, generally discredited as he was, as instruments of their own
secret malice. The birth of the dauphin had been a fatal blow to the hopes
which had been founded on the possible succession of the king's brothers;
and from this time forth the whisperers of detraction and calumny were
more than ever busy, sometimes venturing to forge her handwriting, and
sometimes daring, with still fouler audacity, to invent stories designed
to tarnish her reputation by throwing doubts on her conjugal fidelity. At
such a moment the presence of such a man as the cardinal on the stage was
an evil omen. His audacity, it seemed, could hardly be purposeless, and
his purpose could not be innocent.

He had been most anxious to obtain admission to one of the entertainments
which the queen gave to the Russian princes; and, when he was
disappointed, he had the silly audacity to bribe the porter of the Trianon
to admit him into the garden, where, as the royal party passed down the
different walks, he thrust himself ostentatiously at different points into
their sight, professing to disguise himself by throwing a mantle over his
shoulders, but taking care that his scarlet stockings should prevent any
uncertainty from being felt as to his identity. That he should have
presumed to intrude into the queen's presence in her own palace without
permission was in itself an insult; but those behind the scenes believed
that he had a deeper design, and that he wished to diffuse a belief that
Marie Antoinette secretly regarded him with a favor which she was
unwilling to show openly, and that he had not obtained admission to her
garden without her connivance.

The princes of the blood, too, the Prince de Conde and the Duke de
Bourbon, invited Paul and his archduchess to an entertainment at
Chantilly, which far surpassed in splendor the display at Trianon. But the
queen was willing, on such an occasion, to be eclipsed by her subjects.
"The princes," she said, "might well give festivities of vast cost,
because they defrayed the charges out of their private revenues; but the
expenses of entertainments given by the king or by herself fell on the
national treasury, of which they were bound to be the guardians in the
interest of the poor tax-payers."

Not that, in all probability, Paul and his archduchess noticed the
inferiority. Court festivities at St. Petersburg were as yet neither
numerous nor magnificent, and they soon showed themselves so wearied with
the round of gayety which had been forced upon them, that some of the
diversions which had been projected at other royal palaces besides
Versailles were given up to avoid distressing them.[11] The sight which
pleased them most was the play, to which, at their own special request,
the queen accompanied them, and where they were greatly struck by the
magnificence of the theatre and every thing connected with the
performance, as well as with the reception which the audience gave the
queen. Much as they had admired what they had seen, it was her grace and
kind solicitude for their gratification which made the greatest impression
on them; and the archduchess kept up a correspondence with her during the
rest of their travels, especially dwelling on the scenes which pleased her
most in Germany, and on the persons she met who were known to and regarded
by the queen.

Political affairs were at this time causing Marie Antoinette great
anxiety. One of her most frequently expressed wishes had been that the
French fleet should have an opportunity of engaging that of England in a
pitched battle, when the judicious care which M. de Sartines had bestowed
on the marine would be seen to bear its fruit. But when the battle did
take place, the result was such as to confound instead of justifying her
patriotic expectations. In April, the English Admiral Rodney inflicted on
the Count de Grasse a crushing defeat off the coast of Jamaica. In
September, the combined forces of France and Spain were beaten off with
still heavier loss from the impregnable fortress of Gibraltar; and the
only region in which a French admiral escaped disaster was the Indian Sea,
where the Bailli de Suffrein, an officer of rare energy and ability,
encountered the British admiral, Sir Edward Hughes, in a series of severe
actions, and, except on one occasion in which he lost a few transports,
never permitted his antagonist to claim any advantage over him; the single
loss which he sustained in his first combat being more than
counterbalanced by his success on land, where, by the aid of Hyder Ali's
son, the celebrated Tippoo, be made himself master of Cuddalore; and then,
dropping down to the Cingalese coast, recaptured Trincomalee, the conquest
of which had been one of Hughes's most recent achievements.[12] The queen
felt the reverses keenly. She even curtailed some of her own expenses in
order to contribute to the building of new ships to replace those which
had been lost; and she received M. de Suffrein, on his return from India
at the conclusion of the war, with the most sincere and marked
congratulations. She invited him to the palace, and, when he arrived, she
caused Madame de Polignac to bring both her children into the room. "My
children," said she, "and especially you, my son, know that this M. de
Suffrein. We are all under the greatest obligations to him. Look well at
him, and ever remember his name. It is one of the first that all my
children must learn to pronounce, and one which they must never

She was acting up to her mother's example, than whom no sovereign had
better known how to give their due honor to bravery and loyalty. Such a
queen deserved to have faithful friends; and Suffrein was a man who, had
his life been spared, might, like the Marquis de Bouille, have shown that
even in France the feelings of chivalry and devotion to kings and ladies
were not yet extinguished. But he died before either his country or his
queen had again need of his services, or before he had any opportunity of
proving by fresh achievements his gratitude to a sovereign who knew so
well how to appreciate and to honor merit.


Peace is re-established.--Embarrassments of the Ministry.--Distress of the
Kingdom.--M. de Calonne becomes Finance Minister.--The Winter of 1783-'84
is very Severe.--The Queen devotes Large Sums to Charity.--Her Political
Influence increases--Correspondence between the Emperor and her on
European Politics.--The State of France.--The Baron de Breteuil.--Her
Description of the Character of the King.

The conclusion of peace between France and England was one of the earliest
events of the year 1783, but it brought no strength to the ministry; or,
rather, it placed its weakness in a more conspicuous light. Maurepas had
died at the end of 1781, and, since his death, the Count de Vergennes had
been the chief adviser of the king; but his attention was almost
exclusively directed to the conduct of the diplomacy of the kingdom, and
to its foreign affairs, and he made no pretensions to financial knowledge.
Unluckily the professed ministers of finance, Joly de Fleury and his
successor, D'Ormesson, were as ignorant of that great subject as himself,
and, within two years after Necker's retirement, their mismanagement had
brought the kingdom to the very verge of bankruptcy. D'Ormesson was
dismissed, and for many days it was anxiously deliberated in the palace by
whom he should be replaced. Some proposed that Necker should he recalled,
but the king had felt himself personally offended by some circumstances
which had attended the resignation of that minister two years before. The
queen inclined to favor the pretensions of Lomenie de Brienne, Archbishop
of Toulouse; not because he had any official experience, but because
fifteen years before he had recommended the Abbe de Vermond to Maria
Teresa; and the abbe, seeing in the present embarrassment an opportunity
of repaying the obligation, now spoke highly to her of the archbishop's
talents. But Madame de Polignac and her party persuaded her majesty to
acquiesce in the appointment of M. de Calonne, a man who, like Turgot, had
already distinguished himself as intendant of a province, though he had
not inspired those who watched his career with as high an opinion of his
uprightness as of his talents. He had also secured the support of the
Count d'Artois by promising to pay his debts; and Louis himself was won to
think well of him by the confidence which he expressed in his own capacity
to grapple with the existing, or even with still greater difficulties.

Nor, indeed, had he been possessed of steadiness, prudence, and principle,
was he very unfit for such a post at such a time. For he was very fertile
in resources, and well-endowed with both physical and moral courage; but
these faculties were combined with, were indeed the parents of, a
mischievous defect. He had such reliance on his own ingenuity and ability
to deal with each difficulty or danger as it should arise, that he was
indifferent to precautions which might prevent it from arising. The spirit
in which he took office was exemplified in one of his first speeches to
the queen. Knowing that he was not the minister whom she would have
preferred, he made it his especial business to win her confidence; and he
had not been long installed in office when she expressed to him her wish
that he would find means of accomplishing some object which she desired to
promote. "Madame," was his courtly reply, "if it is possible, it is done
already. If it is impossible, I will take care and manage it." But being
very unscrupulous himself, he overshot his mark when he sought to
propitiate her further by offering to represent as hers acts of charity
which she had not performed. The winter of 1783 was one of unusual
severity. The thermometer at Paris was, for some weeks, scarcely above
zero; scarcity, with its inevitable companion, clearness of price, reduced
the poor of the northern provinces, and especially of the capital and its
neighborhood, to the verge of starvation. The king, queen, and princesses
gave large sums from their privy purses for their relief; but as such
supplies were manifestly inadequate, Louis ordered the minister to draw
three millions of francs from the treasury, and to apply them for the
alleviation of the universal distress. Calonne cheerfully received and
executed the beneficent command. He was perhaps not sorry, at his first
entrance on his duties, to show how easy it was for him to meet even an
unforeseen demand of so heavy an amount; and he fancied he saw in it a
means of ingratiating himself with Marie Antoinette. He proposed to her
that he should pay one of the millions to her treasurer, that that officer
might distribute it, in her name, as a gift from her own allowance; but
Marie Antoinette disdained such unworthy artifice. She would have felt
ashamed to receive praise or gratitude to which she was not entitled. She
rejected the proposal, insisting that the king's gift should be attributed
to himself alone, and expressing her intention to add to it by curtailing
her personal expenditure, by abridging her entertainments so long as the
distress should last, and by dedicating the sums usually appropriated to
pleasure and festivity to the relief of those whose very existence seemed
to depend on the aid which it was her duty and that of the king to
furnish. For there was this especial characteristic in Marie Antoinette's
charity, that it did not proceed solely from kindness of heart and
tenderness of disposition, though these were never wanting, but also from
a settled principle of duty, which, in her opinion, imposed upon
sovereigns, as a primary obligation, the task of watching over the welfare
of their subjects as persons intrusted by Providence to their care; and
such a feeling was obviously more to be depended upon as a constant motive
for action than the most vivid emotion of the moment, which, if easily
excited, is not unfrequently as easily overpowered by some fresh object.

Meanwhile events were gradually compelling her to take a more active part
in politics. Maurepas had been jealous of her influence, and, while that
old minister lived, Louis, who from his childhood had been accustomed to
see him in office, committed almost every thing to his guidance. But, as
he always required some one of stronger mind than himself to lean upon, as
soon as Maurepas was gone he turned to the queen. It was to her that he
now chiefly confided his anxieties and perplexities; from her that he
sought counsel and strength; and the ministers naturally came to regard
her as the real ruler of the State. Accordingly, we find from her
correspondence of this period that even such matters as the appointment of
the embassadors to foreign states were often referred to her decision; and
how greatly the habit of considering affairs of importance expanded her
capacity we may learn from the opinion which her brother, the emperor, who
was never disposed to flatter, or even to spare her, had evidently come to
entertain of her judgment. In one long letter, written in September of the
year 1783, he discussed with her the attitude which France had assumed
toward Austria ever since the dismissal of Choiseul; the willingness of
her ministers to listen to Prussian calumnies; the encouragement which
they had given to the opposition in the empire; and their obsequiousness
to Prussia; while Austria had not retaliated, as she had had many
opportunities of doing, by any complaisance toward England, though the
English statesmen had made many advances toward her. It is a curious
instance of fears being realized in a sense very different from that which
troubled the writer at the moment, that among the acts of France of which,
had he been inclined to be captious, he might justly have complained, he
enumerates her recent acquisition of Corsica, as one which, "for a number
of reasons, might be very prejudicial to the possessions of the house of
Austria and its branches in Italy." It did indeed prove an acquisition
which largely influenced the future history, not only of Austria, but of
the whole world, when the little island, which hitherto had been but a
hot-bed of disorder, and a battle-field of faction burdensome to its
Genoese masters, gave a general to the armies of France whose most
brilliant exploits were a succession of triumphs over the Austrian
commanders in every part of the emperor's dominion. His letter concludes
with warnings drawn from the present condition and views of the different
states of Europe, and especially of France, whose "finances and resources,
to speak with moderation, have been greatly strained" in the recent war;
embracing in their scope even the designs of Russia on the independence of
Turkey; and with a request that his sister would inform him frankly what
he is to believe as to the opinions of the king; and in what light he is
to regard the recent letters of Vergennes, which, to his apprehension,
show an indifference to the maintenance of the alliance between the two

It is altogether a letter such as might pass between statesmen, and proves
clearly that Joseph regarded his sister now as one fully capable of taking
large views of the situation of both countries. And her answer shows that
she fully enters into all the different questions which he has raised,
though it also shows that she is guided by her heart as well as by her
judgment; still looks on the continuance of the friendship between her
native and her adopted country as essential not only to her comfort, but
even in some degree to her honor, and also that on that account she is
desirous at times of exerting a greater influence than is always allowed

"Versailles, September 29th, 1783.

"Shall I tell you, my dear brother, that your letter has delighted me by
its energy and nobleness of thought and why should I not tell you so? I am
sure that you will never confound your sister and your friend with the
tricks and manoeuvres of politicians.

"I have read your letter to the king. You may be sure that it, like all
your other letters, shall never go out of my hands. The king was struck
with many of your reflections, and has even corroborated them himself.

"He has said to me that he both desired and hoped always to maintain a
friendship and a good understanding with the empire; but yet that it was
impossible to answer for it that the difference of interests might not at
times lead to a difference in the way of looking at and judging of
affairs. This idea appeared to me to come from himself alone, and from the
distrust with which people have been inspiring him for a long time. For,
when I spoke to him, I believe it to be certain that he had not seen M. de
Vergennes since the arrival of your courier. M. de Mercy will have
reported to you the quietness and gentleness with which this minister has
spoken to him. I have had occasion to see that the heads of the other
ministers, which were a little heated, have since cooled again. I trust,
that this quiet spirit will last, and in that case the firmness of your
reply ought to lead to the rudeness of style which the people here adopted
being forgotten. You know the ground and the characters, so you can not be
surprised if the king sometimes allows answers to pass which he would not
have given of his own accord.

"My health, considering my present condition,[2] is perfect. I had a
slight accident after my last letter; but it produced no bad consequences:
it only made a little more care necessary. Accordingly I shall go from
Choisy to Fontainebleau by water. My children are quite well. My boy will
spend his time at La Muette while we are absent. It is just a piece of
stupidity of the doctors, who do not like him to take so long a journey at
his age, though he has two teeth and is very strong. I should be perfectly
happy if I were but assured of the general tranquillity, and, above all,
of the happiness of my much-loved brother, whom I love with all my

Another letter, written three months later, explains to the emperor the
object of some of the new arrangements which Calonne had introduced,
having for one object, among others, the facilitation of a commercial
intercourse, especially in tobacco, with the United States. She hopes that
another consequence of them will be the abolition of the whole system of
farmers-general of the revenue; and she explains to him both the
advantages of such a measure, and at the same time the difficulties of
carrying it out immediately after so costly a war, since it would involve
the instant repayment of large sums to the farmers, with all the clearness
of a practiced financier. She mentions also the appointment of the Baron
de Breteuil as the new minister of the king's household,[4] and her
estimate of his character is rendered important by his promotion, six
years later, to the post of prime minister. The emperor also had ample
means of judging of it himself, since the baron had succeeded the Cardinal
de Rohan as embassador at Vienna. "I think, with you, that he requires to
be kept within bounds; and he will be so more than other ministers by the
nature of his office, which is very limited, and entirely under the eyes
of the king and of his colleagues, who will be glad of any opportunities
of mortifying his vanity. However, his activity will be very useful in a
thousand details of a department which has been neglected and badly
managed for the last sixty years." And though it is a slight anticipation
of the order of our narrative, it will not be inconvenient to give here
some extracts from a third letter to the same brother, written in the
autumn of the following year, in which she describes the king's character,
and points out the difficulties which it often interposes to her desire of
influencing his views and measures.

It may perhaps be thought that she unconsciously underrates her influence
over her husband, though there can be no doubt that he was one of those
men whom it is hardest to manage; wholly without self-reliance, yet with a
scrupulous wish to do right that made him distrustful of others, even, of
those whose advice he sought, or whose judgment he most highly valued.

"September 22d, 1784.

"I will not contradict you, my dear brother, on what you say about the
short-sightedness of our ministry. I have long ago made some of the
reflections which you express in your letter. I have spoken on the subject
more than once to the king; but one must know him thoroughly to be able to
judge of the extent to which, his character and prejudices cripple my
resources and means of influencing him. He is by nature very taciturn; and
it often happens that he does not speak to me about matters of importance
even when he has not the least wish to conceal them from me. He answers me
when I speak to him about them, but he scarcely ever opens the subject;
and when I have learned a quarter of the business, I am then forced to use
some address to make the ministers tell me the rest, by letting them think
that the king has told me every thing. When I reproach him for not having
spoken to me of such and such matters, he is not annoyed, but only seems a
little embarrassed, and sometimes answers, in an off-hand way, that he had
never thought of it. This distrust, which is natural to him, was at first
strengthened by his govern--or before my marriage. M. de Vauguyon had
alarmed him about the authority which his wife would desire to assume over
him, and the duke's black disposition delighted in terrifying his pupil
with all the phantom stories invented against the house of Austria. M. de
Maurepas, though less obstinate and less malicious, still thought it
advantageous to his own credit to keep up the same notions in the king's
mind. M. de Vergennes follows the same plan, and perhaps avails himself of
his correspondence on foreign affairs to propagate falsehoods. I have
spoken plainly about this to the king more than once. He has sometimes
answered me rather peevishly, and, as he is never fond of discussion, I
have not been able to persuade him that his minister was deceived, or was
deceiving him. I do not blind myself as to the extent of my own influence.
I know that I have no great ascendency over the king's mind, especially in
politics; and would it be prudent in me to have scenes with his ministers
on such subjects, on which it is almost certain that the king would not
support me? Without ever boasting or saying a word that is not true, I,
however, let the public believe that I have more influence than I really
have, because, if they did not think so, I should have still less. The
avowals which I am making to you, my dear brother, are not very flattering
to my self-love; but I do not like to hide any thing from you, in order
that you may be able to judge of my conduct as correctly as is possible at
this terrible distance from you, at which my destiny has placed me.[5]"

A melancholy interest attunes to sentences such as these, from the
influence which the defects in her husband's character, when joined to
those of his minister, had on the future destinies of both, and of the
nation over which he ruled. It was natural that she should explain them to
a brother; and though, as a general rule, it is clearly undesirable for
queens consort to interfere in politics, it is clear that with such a
husband, and with the nation and court in such a condition as then existed
in France, it was indispensable that Marie Antoinette should covet, and,
so far as she was able, exert, influence over the king, if she were not
prepared to see him the victim or the tool of caballers and intriguers who
cared far more for their own interests than for those of either king or
kingdom. But as yet, though, as we see, these deficiencies of Louis
occasionally caused her annoyance, she had no foreboding of evil. Her
general feeling was one of entire happiness; her children were growing and
thriving, her own health was far stronger than it had been, and she
entered with as keen a relish as ever into the excitements and amusements
becoming her position, and what we may still call her youth, since she was
even now only eight-and-twenty.


"The Marriage of Figaro"--Previous History and Character of Beaumarchais.
--The Performance of the Play is forbidden.--It is said to be a little
altered.--It is licensed.--Displeasure of the Queen.--Visit of Gustavus
III. of Sweden.--Fete at the Trianon.--Balloon Ascent.

In the spring of 1784, the court and capital wore wrought up to a high
pitch of excitement by an incident which was in reality of so ordinary and
trivial a character, that it would be hard to find a more striking proof
how thoroughly unhealthy the whole condition and feeling of the nation
must have been, when such a matter could have been regarded as important.
It was simply a question whether a play, which had been recently accepted
by the manager of the principal theatre in Paris, should receive the
license from the theatrical censor which was necessary to its being

The play was entitled "The Marriage of Figaro." The history of the author,
M. Beaumarchais, is curious, as that of a rare specimen of the literary
adventurer of his time. He was born in the year 1732. His father was a
watch-maker named Caron, and he himself followed that trade till he was
three or four and twenty, and attained considerable skill in it. But he
was ambitious. He was conscious of a handsome face and figure, and knew
their value in such a court as that of Louis XV. He gave up his trade as a
watch-maker, and bought successively different places about the court, the
last of which was sold at a price sufficient to entitle him to claim
gentility; so that, in one of his subsequent railings against the nobles,
he declared that his nobility was more incontestable than that of most of
the body, since he could produce the stamped receipt for it. Following the
example of Moliere and Voltaire, he changed his name, and called himself
Beaumarchais. He married two rich widows. He formed a connection with the
celebrated financier, Paris Duverney, who initiated him in the mysteries
of stock-jobbing. Being a good musician, he obtained the protection of the
king's daughters, taught them the harp, and conducted the weekly concerts
which, during the life of Marie Leczinska, they gave to the king and the
royal family. He wrote two or three plays, none of which had any great
success, while one was a decided failure. He became involved in lawsuits,
one of which he conducted himself against the best ability of the Parisian
bar, and displayed such wit and readiness that he not only gained his
cause, but established a notoriety which throughout life was apparently
his dearest object. He crossed over to England, where he made the
acquaintance of Wilkes, and one or two agents of the American colonies,
then just commencing their insurrection; and, partly from political
sympathy with their views of freedom, partly, as he declared, to retaliate
on England for the injuries which France had suffered at her hands in the
Seven Years' War, he became a political agent himself, procuring arms and
ships to be sent across the Atlantic, and also a great quantity of stores
of a more peaceful character, out of which he had hoped to make a handsome
profit. But the Americans gave him credit for greater disinterestedness;
the President of Congress wrote him a letter thanking him for his zeal,
but refused to pay for his stores, for which he demanded nearly a hundred
and fifty thousand francs. He commenced an action for the money in the
American courts, but, as he could not conduct it himself, he did not
obtain an early decision; indeed, the matter imbittered all his closing
days, and was not settled when he died.

But while he was in the full flush of self-congratulation at the degree in
which, as he flattered himself, he had contributed to the downfall of
England, the exuberance of his spirits prompted him to try his hand at a
fourth play, a sort of sequel to one of his earlier performances--"The
Barber of Seville." He finished it about the end of the year 1781, and, as
the manager of the theatre was willing to act it, he at once applied for
the necessary license. But it had already been talked about: if one party
had pronounced it lively, witty, and the cleverest play that had been seen
since the death of Moliere, another set of readers declared it full of
immoral and dangerous satire on the institutions of the country. It is
almost inseparable from the very nature of comedy that it should be to
some extent satirical. The offense which those who complained of "The
Marriage of Figaro" on that account really found in it was, that it
satirized classes and institutions which could not bear such attacks, and
had not been used to them. Moliere had ridiculed the lower middle class;
the newly rich; the tradesman who, because he had made a fortune, thought
himself a gentleman; but, as one whose father was in the employ of
royalty, he laid no hand on any pillar of the throne. But Beaumarchais, in
"The Marriage of Figaro," singled out especially what were called the
privileged classes; he attacked the licentiousness of the nobles; the
pretentious imbecility of ministers and diplomatists; the cruel injustice
of wanton arrests and imprisonments of protracted severity against which
there was no appeal nor remedy; and the privileged classes in consequence
denounced his work, and their complaints of its character and tendency
made such an impression that the court resolved that the license should
not he granted.

The refusal, however, was not at first pronounced in a straightforward
way; but was deferred, as if those who had resolved on it feared to
pronounce it. For a long time the censor gave no reply at all, till
Beaumarchais complained of the delay as more injurious to him than a
direct denial. When at last his application was formally rejected, he
induced his friends to raise such a clamor in his favor, that Louis
determined to judge for himself, and caused Madame de Campan to read it to
himself and the queen. He fully agreed with the censor. Many passages he
pronounced to be in extremely bad taste. When the reader came to the
allusions to secret arrests, protracted imprisonments, and the tedious
formalities of the law and lawyers, he declared that it would be necessary
to pull down the Bastile before it could be acted with safety, as
Beaumarchais was ridiculing every thing which ought to be respected. "It
is not to be performed, then?" said the queen. "No," replied the king,
"you may depend upon that."

Similar refusals of a license had been common enough, so that there was no
reason in the world why this decision should have attracted any notice
whatever. But Beaumarchais was the fashion. He had influential patrons
even in the palace: the Count d'Artois and Madame de Polignac, with the
coterie which met in her apartments, being among them; and the mere idea
that the court or the Government was afraid to let the play be acted
caused thousands to desire to see it, who, without such a temptation,
would have been wholly indifferent to its fate. The censor could not
prevent its being read at private parties, and such readings became so
popular that, in 1782, one was got up for the amusement of the Russian
prince, who was greatly pleased by the liveliness of the dramatic
situations, and, probably, not sufficiently aware of the prevalence of
discontent in many circles of French society to sympathize with those who
saw danger in its satire.

The praises lavished on it gave the author greater boldness, which was
quite unnecessary. He even meditated an evasion of the law by getting it
acted in a place which was not a theatre, and tickets were actually issued
for the performance in a saloon which was often used for rehearsals, when
a royal warrant[1] peremptorily forbidding such a proceeding was sent down
from the palace. A clamor was at once raised by the friends of
Beaumarchais, as if "sealed letters" had never been issued before. They
talked in a loud voice of "oppression" and "tyranny;" and any one who knew
the king's disposition might have divined that such an act of vigor was
sure to be followed by one of weakness. Presently Beaumarchais changed his
tone. He gave out that he had retrenched the passages which had excited
the royal disapproval, and requested that the play might be re-examined. A
new censor of high literary reputation reported to the head of the
police[2] that if one or two passages were corrected, and one or two
expressions, which were liable to be misinterpreted, were suppressed, he
foresaw no danger in allowing the representation. Beaumarchais at once
promised to make the required corrections, and one of Madame de Polignac's
friends, the Count de Vaudreuil, the very nobleman with whom that lady's
name was by many discreditably connected, obtained the king's leave to
perform it at his country house, that thus an opportunity might be
afforded for judging whether or not the alterations which had been made
were sufficient to render its performance innocent.

The king was assured that the passages which he had regarded as
mischievous were suppressed or divested of their sting. Marie Antoinette
apparently had her suspicions; but Louis could never long withstand
repeated solicitations, and, as he had not, when Madame de Campan read it,
formed any very high opinion of its literary merits, he thought that, now
that it was deprived of its venom, it would be looked upon as heavy, and
would fail accordingly. Some good judges, such as the Marquis de
Montesquieu, were of the same opinion. The actors thought differently. "It
is my belief," said a man of fashion to the witty Mademoiselle Arnould,
using the technical language of the theatre, "that your play will be
'damned.'" "Yes," she replied, "it will, fifty nights running." But, even
if Louis had heard of her prophecy, he would have disregarded it. He gave
his permission for the performance to take place, and on the 27th April,
1784, "The Marriage of Figaro" was accordingly acted to an audience which
filled the house to the very ceiling; and which the long uncertainty as to
whether it would ever be seen or not had disposed to applaud every scene
and every repartee, and even to see wit where none existed. To an
impartial critic, removed both by time and country from the agitation
which had taken place, it will probably seem that the play thus obtained a
reception far beyond its merits. It was undoubtedly what managers would
call a good acting play. Its plot was complicated without being confused.
It contained many striking situations; the dialogue was lively, but there
was more humor in the surprises and discoveries than verbal wit in the
repartees. Some strokes of satire were leveled at the grasping disposition
of the existing race of courtiers, whose whole trade was represented as
consisting of getting all they could, and asking for more; and others at
the tricks of modern politicians, feigning to be ignorant of what they
knew; to know what they were ignorant of; to keep secrets which had no
existence; to lock the door to mend a pen; to appear deep when they were
shallow; to set spies in motion, and to intercept letters; to try to
ennoble the poverty of their means by the grandeur of their objects. The
censorship, of course, did not escape. The scene being laid in Spain,
Figaro affirmed that at Madrid the liberty of the press meant that, so
long as an author spoke neither of authority, nor of public worship, nor
of politics, nor of morality, nor of men in power, nor of the opera, nor
of any other exhibition, nor of any one who was concerned in any thing, he
might print what be pleased. The lawyers were reproached with a scrupulous
adherence to forms, and a connivance at needless delays, which put money
into their pockets; and the nobles, with thinking that, as long as they
gave themselves the trouble to be born, society had no right to expect
from them any further useful action. But such satire was too general, it
might have been thought, to cause uneasiness, much more to do specific
injury to any particular individual, or to any company or profession.
Figaro himself is represented as saying that none but little men feared
little writings.[3] And one of the advisers whom King Louis consulted as
to the possibility of any mischief arising from the performance of the
play, is said to have expressed his opinion in the form of an apothegm,
that "none but dead men were killed by jests." The author might even have
argued that his keenest satire had been poured upon those national
enemies, the English, when he declared what has been sometimes regarded as
the national oath to be the pith and marrow of the English language, the
open sesame to English society, the key to unlock the English heart, and
to obtain the judicious swearer all that he could desire.[4]

And an English writer, with English notions of the liberty of the press,
would hardly have thought it worth while to notice such an affair at all,
did he not feel bound to submit his judgment to that of the French
themselves. And if their view be correct, almost every institution in
France must have been a dead man past all hopes of recovery, since the
French historical writers, to whatever party they belong, are unanimous in
declaring that it was from this play that many of the oldest institutions
in the country received their death-blow, and that Beaumarchais was at
once the herald and the pioneer of the approaching Revolution.

Paris had scarcely cooled down after this excitement, when its attention
was more agreeably attracted by the arrival of a king, Gustavus III. of
Sweden. He had paid a visit to France in 1771, which had been cut short by
the sudden death of his father, necessitating his immediate return to his
own country to take possession of his throne; but the brief acquaintance
which Marie Antoinette had then made with him had inspired her with a
great admiration of his chivalrous character; and in the preceding year,
hearing that he was contemplating a tour in Southern Europe, she had
written to him to express a hope that he would repeat his visit to
Versailles, promising him "such a reception as was due to an ancient ally
of France;[5]" and adding that "she should personally have great pleasure
in testifying to him how greatly she valued his friendship."

Her mention of the ancient alliance between the two countries, which,
indeed, had subsisted ever since the days of Francis I., was very welcome
to Gustavus, since the object of his journey was purely political, and he
desired to negotiate a fresh treaty. But those matters he, of course,
arranged with the ministers. The queen was only concerned in the
entertainments due from royal hosts to so distinguished a guest. Most of
them were of the ordinary character, there being a sort of established
routine of festivity for such occasions. And it may be taken as a proof
that the court had abated somewhat of its alarm at Beaumarchais's play
that "The Marriage of Figaro" was allowed to be acted on one of the king's
visits to the theatre. She also gave him an entertainment of more than
usual splendor at the Trianon, at which all the ladies present, and the
invitations were very numerous, were required to be dressed in white,
while all the walks and shrubberies of the garden were illuminated, so
that the whole scene presented a spectacle which he described in one of
his letters as "a complete fairy-land; a sight worthy of the Elysian
Fields themselves.[6]" But, as usual, the queen herself was the chief
ornament of the whole, as she moved graciously among her guests, laying
aside the character of queen to assume that of the cordial hostess; and
not even taking her place at the banquet, but devoting herself wholly to
the pleasurable duty of doing honor to her guests.

One of the displays was of a novel character, from which its inventors and
patrons expected scientific results of importance, which, though nearly a
century has since elapsed, have not yet been realized. In the preceding
year, Montgolfier had for the first time sent up a balloon, and the new
invention was now exhibited in the Court of Versailles: the queen allowed
the balloon to be called by her name; and, to the great admiration of
Gustavus, who had a decided taste for matters which were in any way
connected with practical science, the "Marie Antoinette" made a successful
voyage to Chantilly. The date of another invention, if, indeed, it
deserves so respectable a title, is also fixed by this royal visit. Mesmer
had recently begun to astonish or bewilder the Parisians with his theory
of animal magnetism; and Gustavus spent some time in discussing the
question with him, and seems for a moment to have flattered himself that
he comprehended his principles. But the only durable result which arose
from his stay in France was the sincere regard and esteem which he and the
queen mutually conceived for each other. They established a
correspondence, in which Marie Antoinette repeatedly showed her eagerness
to gratify his wishes and to attend to his recommendations; and when, at a
later period, unexpected troubles fell on her and her husband, there was
no one whom their troubles inspired with greater eagerness to serve them
than Gustavus, whose last projects, before he fell by the hand of an
assassin, were directed to their deliverance from the dangers which,
though neither he nor they were as yet fully alive to their magnitude,
were on the point of overwhelming them.


St. Cloud is purchased for the Queen.--Libelous Attacks on her.--Birth of
the Duc de Normandie.--Joseph presses her to support his Views in the Low
Countries.---The Affair of the Necklace.--Share which the Cardinal de
Rohan had in it.--The Queen's Indignation at his Acquittal.--Subsequent
Career of the Cardinal.

Marie Antoinette had long since completed her gardens at the Trianon, but
the gradual change in the arrangements of the court had made a number of
alterations requisite at Versailles, with which the difficulty of finding
money rendered it desirable to proceed slowly. It was reckoned that it
would be necessary to give up the greater part of the palace to workmen
for ten years; and as the other palaces which the king possessed in the
neighborhood of Paris were hardly suited for the permanent residence of
the court, the queen proposed to her husband to obtain St. Cloud from the
Duc d'Orleans, giving him in exchange La Muette, the Castle of Choisy, and
a small adjacent forest. Such an arrangement would have produced a
considerable saving by the reduction of the establishments kept up at
those places, at which the court only spent a few days in each year. And
as the duke was disposed to think that he should be a gainer by the
exchange, it is not very easy to explain how it was that the original
project was given up, and that St. Cloud was eventually sold to the crown
for a sum of money, Choisy and La Muette being also retained.

St. Cloud was bought; and Marie Antoinette, still eager to prevent her own
acquisition from being too costly, proposed to the king that it should he
bought in her name, and called her property; since an establishment for
her would naturally lie framed on a more moderate scale than that of any
palace belonging to the king, which was held always to require the
appointment of a governor and deputy-governors, with a corresponding staff
of underlings, while she should only require a porter at the outer gate.
The advantage of such a plan was so obvious that it was at once adopted.
The porters and servants wore the queen's livery; and all notices of the
regulations to be observed were signed "In the queen's name.[1]" Yet so
busy were her enemies at this time, that even this simple arrangement,
devised solely for the benefit of the people who were intimately concerned
in every thing that tended to diminish the royal expenditure, gave rise to
numberless cavils. Some affirmed that the issue of such notices in the
name of the queen instead of in that of the king was an infringement on
his authority. One most able and influential counselor of the Parliament,
Duval d'Espremesnil, who in more than one discussion in subsequent years
showed that in general he fully appreciated the principles of
constitutional government, but who at this time seems to have been
animated by no other feeling than that of hatred for the existing
ministers, even went the length of affirming that there was "something not
only impolitic but immoral in the idea of any palace belonging to a queen
of France.[2]" But when the arrangements had once been made, Marie
Antoinette not unnaturally thought her honor concerned in not abandoning
it in deference to clamor so absurd, as well as so disrespectful to
herself; and St. Cloud, to which she had always been partial, continued
hers, and for the next five years divided her attention with the Trianon.

But though she herself disregarded all such attacks with the calm dignity
which belonged to her character, her friends were not free from serious
apprehensions as to the power of persistent detraction and calumny. It was
one of the penalties which the nation had to pay for the infamies which
had stained the crown during the last three centuries, that the people had
learned to think that nothing was too bad to say and to believe of their
kings; and Marie Antoinette seemed as yet a fairer mark than usual for
slanderous attack, because her position was weaker than that of a King.[3]
It depended on the life of her husband and of a single son, who was
already beginning to show signs of weakness of constitution. It was
therefore with exceeding satisfaction that in the autumn of 1784 her
friends learned that she was again about to become a mother. They prayed
with inexpressible anxiety that the expected child should prove a son; and
on the 27th of March, 1785, their prayers were granted. A son was born,
whom his delighted father at once took in his arms, calling him "his
little Norman," and, saying "that the name alone would bring him
happiness," created Duke of Normandy. No prophecy was ever so sadly
falsified; no king's son had ever so miserable a lot; but no forebodings
of evil as yet disturbed his parents. Their delight was fully shared by
the body of the people; for the cabals against the queen were as yet
confined to the immediate precincts of the court, and had not descended to
infect the middle classes. It was with difficulty when, after her
confinement, she paid her visit to Paris to return thanks at Notre Dame
and St. Genevieve, that the citizens could he prevented from unharnessing
her horses and dragging her coach in triumph through the streets.[4] And
their exultation was fully shared by the better-intentioned class of
courtiers, and by all Marie Antoinette's real friends, who felt assured
that the birth of this second son had given her the security which had
hitherto been wanting to her position.

Meanwhile, she was again led to interest herself greatly in foreign
politics, though in truth she hardly regarded any thing in which her
brother's empire was interested as foreign, so deep was her conviction
that the interests of France and Austria were identical and inseparable,
and so unwearied were her endeavors to make her husband's ministers see
all questions that concerned her brother's dominions with her eyes.
Throughout the latter part of 1784, and the earlier months of 1785,
Joseph, who was always restless in his ambition, was full of schemes of
aggrandizement which he desired to carry out through the favor and
co-operation of France. At one moment he projected obtaining Bavaria in
exchange for the Netherlands, at another he aimed at procuring the opening
of the Scheldt by threatening the Dutch with instant war if they resisted.
But, as all these schemes were eventually abandoned, they would hardly
require to be mentioned here, were it not for the proofs which his
correspondence with his sister affords of his increasing esteem for her
capacity, and his evident conviction of her growing influence in the
French Government, and for the light which some of her answers to his
letters throw on her relations with the ministers, which had perhaps some
share in increasing the annoyance that the affair of "the necklace," as
will be presently mentioned, caused her before the end of the year. Her
difficulties with Louis himself were the same as she had already described
to her brother on former occasions. "It was impossible to induce him to
take a strong line, so as to speak resolutely to M. de Vergennes in her
presence, and equally so to prevent his changing his mind afterward;[5]"
while she distrusted the good faith of the minister so much that, though
she resolved to speak to him strongly on the subject, she would not do so
till she could discuss the question with him "in the presence of the king,
that he might not be able to disfigure or to exaggerate what she said."
Yet she did not always find her precautions effectual. Louis's judgment
was always at the mercy of the last speaker. She assured her brother that
"he had abundant reason to be contented with the king's personal feelings
on the subject. When he received the emperor's letter, he spoke to her
about it in a way that delighted her. He regarded Joseph's demands as
just, and his motives as most reasonable. Yet--she blushed to own it even
to her brother--after he had seen his minister, his tone was no longer the
same; he was embarrassed; he shunned the subject with her, and often found
some new objection to weaken the effect of his previous admissions."

At one time she even feared a rupture between the two countries. Vergennes
was urging the king to send an army of observation to the frontier; and,
if it were sent, the proximity of such a force to the Austrian troops in
the Netherlands would, to her apprehension, be full of danger. There was
sound political acuteness in her remark that the dispatch of an army of
observation was not "in itself a declaration of war, but that when two
armies are so near to one another an order to advance is very soon
executed;" and, with a shrewd perception of the argument which was most
likely to influence the humane disposition of her husband, she pressed
upon him that "the delays and shuffling of his ministers might very
probably involve him in war, in spite of his own intentions." However,
eventually the clouds which had caused her anxiety were dissipated; the
mediation of France had even some share in leading to a conclusion of
these disputes in a manner in which Joseph himself acquiesced; and the
good understanding between the two crowns, on which, as Marie Antoinette
often declared, her happiness greatly depended, was preserved, or, as she
hoped, even strengthened, by the result of these negotiations.

But on one occasion of real moment to the personal comfort and credit of
the queen, Louis behaved with a clear good sense, and, what was equally
important, with a firmness which she gratefully acknowledged,[6] and
contrasted remarkably with the pusillanimous advice that had been given by
more than one of the ministers. That the affair in which he exhibited
these qualities should for a moment have been regarded as one of political
importance, is another testimony to the diseased state of the public mind
at the time; and that it should have been possible so to use it as to
attach the slightest degree of discredit to the queen, is a proof as
strange as melancholy how greatly the secret intrigues of the basest cabal
that ever disgraced a court had succeeded in undermining her reputation,
and poisoning the very hearts of the people against her.[7]

Boehmer, the court jeweler, had collected a large number of diamonds of
unusual size and brilliancy, which he had formed into a necklace, in the
hope of selling it to the queen, whose fancy for such jewels had some
years before been very great. She had at one time spent sums on diamond
ornaments, large enough to provoke warm remonstrances from her mother,
though certainly not excessive for her rank; and Louis, knowing her
partiality for them, had more than once made her costly gifts of the kind.
But her taste for them had cooled; her children now engrossed far more of
her attention than her dress, and she was keenly alive to the distress
which still prevailed in many parts of the kingdom, and to the
embarrassments of the revenue, which the ingenuity of Calonne did not
relieve half so rapidly as his rashness encumbered it. Accordingly, her
reply to Boehmer's application that she would purchase his necklace was
that her jewel-case was sufficiently full, and that she had almost given
up wearing diamonds; and that if such a sum as he asked, which was nearly
seventy thousand pounds, were available, she should greatly prefer its
being spent on a ship for the nation, to replace the _Ville de Paris_,
whose loss still rankled in her breast.

The king, who thought that she must secretly wish for a jewel of such
unequalled splendor, offered to make her a present of the necklace, but
she adhered to her refusal. Boehmer was greatly disappointed; he had
exhausted his resources and his credit in collecting the stones in the
hope of making a grand profit, and declared loudly to his patrons that he
should be ruined if the queen could not be induced to change her mind. His
complaints were so unrestrained that they reached the ears of those who
saw in his despair a possibility of enriching themselves at his expense.
There was in Paris at the time a Countess de la Mothe, who, as claiming
descent from a natural son of Henri II., had added Valois to her name, and
had her claim to royal birth so far allowed that, as she was in very
destitute circumstances, she had obtained a small pension from the crown.
Her pension and her pretensions had perhaps united to procure her the hand
of the Count de la Mothe, who had for some time been discreditably known
as one of the most worthless and dangerous adventurers who infested the
capital. But her marriage had been no restraint on a life of unconcealed
profligacy, and among her lovers she reckoned the Cardinal de Rohan, who,
as we have already seen, was as little scrupulous or decent as herself.

As, however, the cardinal's extravagance had left him with little means of
supplying her necessities, Madame La Mothe conceived the idea of swindling
Boehmer out of his necklace, and of making de Rohan an accomplice in the
fraud. The one thing which in the transaction is difficult to determine is
whether the cardinal was her willing and conscious assistant, or her dupe.
That his capacity was of the very lowest order was notorious, but he was a
man who had been bred in courts; he knew the manner in which princes
transacted their business, and in which queens signed their names. He had
long been acquainted with Marie Antoinette's figure and gestures and
voice; while, unhappily, there was nothing in his character which was
incompatible with his becoming an accomplice in any act of baseness.

What followed was a drama of surprises. It was with as much astonishment
as indignation that Marie Antoinette learned that Boehmer believed that
she had secretly bought the necklace, which openly and formally she had
refused, and that he was looking to her for the payment of its price. And
about a fortnight later it was like a thunder-clap that a summons came
upon the Cardinal de Rohan, who had just been performing mass before the
king and queen, to appear before them in Louis's private cabinet, and that
he found himself subjected to an examination by Louis himself, who
demanded of him with great indignation an explanation of the circumstances
that had led him to represent himself to Boehmer as authorized to buy a
necklace for the queen. Terrified and confused, he gave an explanation
which was half a confession; but which was too complicated to be
thoroughly intelligible. He was ordered to retire into the next room and
write out his statement. His written narrative proved more obscure than
his spoken words. In spite of his prayers that he might be spared the
degradation of being arrested while still clad in his pontifical habits,
he was at once sent to the Bastile. A day or two afterward Madame La Mothe
was apprehended in the provinces, and Louis directed that a prosecution
should be instantly commenced against all who had been concerned in the

For the queen's name had been forged. The cardinal did not deny that he
had represented himself to Boehmer as employed by her for the purchase of
the jewel which, as he said, she secretly coveted, and for the payment of
its price by installments. But, as his justification, he produced a letter
desiring him to undertake the business, and signed "Marie Antoinette de
France." He declared that he had never suspected the genuineness of this
letter, though it was notorious that such an addition to their Christian
names was used by none but the sons and daughters of the reigning
sovereign, and never by a queen. And eventually his whole story was found
to be that Madame La Mothe had induced him to believe that she was in the
queen's confidence, and also that the queen coveted the necklace and was
resolved to obtain it; but that she was unable at once to pay for it; and
that, being desirous to make amends to the cardinal for the neglect with
which she had hitherto treated him, she had resolved on employing him to
make arrangements with Boehmer for the instant delivery of the ornament,
and for her payment of the price by installments.

This was strange enough to have excited the suspicions of most men. What
followed was stranger still. Not content with forging the queen's
handwriting, Madame La Mothe had even, if one may say so, forged the queen
herself. She had assured the cardinal that Marie Antoinette had consented
to grant him a secret interview; and at midnight, in the gardens of
Versailles, had introduced him to a woman of notoriously bad character
named Oliva, who in height resembled the queen, and who, in a conference
of half a minute, gave him a letter and a rose with the words, "You know
what this means." She had hardly uttered the words when Madame La Mothe
interrupted the pair with the warning the Countesses of Provence and
Artois were approaching. The mock queen retired in haste. The cardinal
pressed the rose to his heart; acted on the letter; and protested that he
had never doubted that he had seen the queen, and had been acting on her
commands in obtaining the necklace from Boehmer and delivering it to
Madame La Mothe, though he now acknowledged that he had been imposed upon,
and offered to pay the jeweler for his property.

There were not wanting those who advised that this offer should be
accepted, and that the matter should be hushed up, rather than that a
prince of the Church should be publicly disgraced by a prosecution for
fraud. But Louis and Marie Antoinette both rightly judged that their duty
as sovereigns of the kingdom forbade them to compromise justice by
screening dishonesty. It was but two years before that a great noble, the
most eloquent of all French orators, had singled out Marie Antoinette's
love of justice as one of her most conspicuous, as it was one of her most
noble, qualities; and the words deserve especially to be remembered from
the melancholy contrast which his subsequent conduct presents to the
voluntary tribute which he now paid to her excellence. In 1783, the young
Count de Mirabeau, pleading for the restitution of his conjugal rights,
put the question to the judges at Aix before whom he was arguing, "Which
of you, if he desired to consecrate a living personification of justice,
and to embellish it with all the charms of beauty, would not set up the
august image of our queen?"

She and her husband might well have felt they were bound to act up to such
a eulogy. Some of their advisers also, and especially the Baron de
Breteuil and the Abbe de Yermond, fortified their decision with their
advice; being, in truth, greatly influenced by a reason which they forbore
to mention, namely, by their suspicion that the untiring malice of the
queen's enemies would not have failed to represent that the suppression of
the slightest particle of the truth could only have been dictated by a
guilty consciousness which felt that it could not bear the light; and that
the queen had forborne to bring the cardinal into court solely because she
knew that he was in a situation to prove facts which would deservedly
damage her reputation.

It is impossible to doubt that the resolution which was adopted was the
only one consistent with either propriety or common sense. However
plausible may be the arguments which in this or that case may be adduced
for concealment, the common instinct of mankind, which rarely errs in such
matters, always conceives a suspicion that it is dictated by secret and
discreditable motives; and that he who screens manifest guilt from
exposure and punishment makes himself an accomplice in the wrong-doing, if
he was not so before. But, though Louis judged rightly for his own and his
queen's character in bringing those who were guilty of forgery and robbery
to a public trial, the result inflicted an irremediable wound on one great
institution, furnishing an additional proof how incurably rotten the whole
system of the Government must have been, when corruption without shame or
disguise was allowed to sway the highest judicial tribunal in the country.

The Parliament of Paris, constantly endeavoring throughout its whole
history to encroach upon the royal prerogative, had always founded its
pretensions on its purity and disinterestedness. Since its
re-establishment at the beginning of the present reign, it had advanced
its claim to the possession of those virtues more loudly than ever; yet
now, in the very first case which came before it in which a noble of the
highest rank was concerned, it was made apparent not only that it was
wholly destitute of every quality which ought to belong to a judicial
bench, of a regard for truth and justice, and even of a knowledge of the
law; but that no one gave it credit for them, and that every one regarded
the decision to be given as one which would depend, not on the merits of
the case, but on the interest which the culprits might be able to make
with the judges.[8]

The trial took place in May of the following year. We need not enter into
its details; the denials, the admissions, the mutual recriminations of the
persons accused. In the fate of the La Mothes and Mademoiselle Oliva no
one professed to be concerned; but the friends of the cardinal were
numerous, rich, and powerful; and for months had been and still were
indefatigable in his cause. Some days before the trial, the attorney-
general had become aware that nearly the whole of the Parliament had been
gained by them; he even furnished the queen with a list of the names of
those judges who had promised their verdict beforehand, and of the means
by which they had been won over. And on the decisive morning the cardinal
and his friends made a theatrical display which was evidently intended to
overawe those members of the Parliament who were yet unconvinced, and to
enlist the sympathies of the public in general. He himself appeared at the
bar in a long violet cloak, the mourning robe of cardinals; and all the
passages leading to the hall of justice were lined by his partisans, also
in deep mourning; and they were not solely his own relations, the nobles
of the different branches of his family, the Soubises, the Rohans, the
Guimenees; but though, as princes of the blood, the Condes were nearly
allied to the king and queen, they also were not ashamed to swell the
company assembled, and to solicit the judges as they passed into the court
to disregard alike justice and their own oaths, and to acquit the
cardinal, whatever the evidence might be which had been, or was to be,
produced against him. They were only asking what they had already assured
themselves of obtaining. The queen's signature was indeed declared to be a
forgery, and the La Mothes, Mademoiselle Oliva, and a man named Retaux de
Villette, who had been the actual writer of the forged letters, were
convicted and sentenced to the punishment which the counsel for the crown
had demanded. But the cardinal was acquitted, as well as a notorious
juggler and impostor of the day, called Cagliostro, who had apparently
been so entirely unconnected with the transaction that it is not easy to
see how he became included in the prosecution; and permission was given to
the cardinal to make his acquittal public in any manner and to any extent
which he might desire.[9]

The subsequent history of the La Mothes was singular and characteristic.
The countess, who had been sentenced to be flogged, branded, and
imprisoned for life, after a time contrived, it is believed by the aid of
some of the Rohan family, to escape from prison. She fled to London, where
for some time she and her husband lived on the proceeds of the necklace,
which they had broken up and sold piecemeal to jewelers in London and
other cities; but they were soon reduced to great distress. After the
Revolution had broken out in Paris, they tried to make money by publishing
libels on the queen, in which they are believed to have obtained the aid
of some who in former times had been under great personal obligations to
Marie Antoinette. But the scheme failed: they were overwhelmed with debt;
writs were issued against them, and in trying to escape from the sheriff's
officers, the countess fell from a window at the top of a house, and
received injuries which proved fatal.

A most accomplished writer of the present day, who has devoted much care
and ability to the examination of the case, has pronounced an opinion that
the cardinal was innocent of dishonesty,[10] and limits his offense to
that of insulting the queen by the mere suspicion that she could place her
confidence in such an unworthy agent as Madame La Mothe, or that he
himself could be allowed to recover her favor by such means as he had
employed. But his absolute ignorance of the countess's schemes is not
entirely consistent with the admitted fact that, when he was arrested, his
first act was to send orders to his secretary to burn all the letters
which he had received from her on the subject; and unquestionably neither
Louis nor Marie Antoinette doubted his full complicity in the conspiracy.
Louis at once deprived him of his office of grand almoner, and banished
him from the court, declaring that "he knew too well the usages of the
court to have believed that Madame La Mothe had really been admitted to
the queen's presence and intrusted with such a commission.[11]" And Marie
Antoinette gave open expression to her indignation at the acquittal "of an
intriguer who had sought to ruin her, or to procure money for himself, by
abusing her name and forging her signature," adding, with undeniable
truth, that still more to be pitied than herself was a "nation which had
for its supreme tribunal a body of men who consulted nothing but their
passions; and of whom some were full of corruption, and others were
inspired with a boldness which always vented itself in opposition to those
who were clothed with lawful authority.[12]"

But her magnanimity and her sincere affection for the whole people were
never more manifest than now even in her first moments of indignation.
Even while writing to Madame de Polignac that she is "bathed in tears of
grief and despair," and that she can "hope for nothing good when
perverseness is so busy in seeking means to chill her very soul," she yet
adds that "she shall triumph over her enemies by doing more good than
ever, and that it will be easier for them to afflict her than to drive her
to avenging herself on them.[13]" And she uses the same language to her
sister Christine, even while expressing still more strongly her
indignation at being "sacrificed to a perjured priest and a shameless
intriguer." She demands her sister's "pity, as one who had never deserved
such injurious treatment;[14] but who had only recollected that she was
the daughter of Maria Teresa--to fulfill her mother's exhortations, always
to show herself French to the very bottom of her heart;" but she concludes
by repeating the declaration that "nothing shall tempt her to any conduct
unworthy of herself, and that the only revenge that she will take shall he
to redouble her acts of kindness."

It is pleasing to be able to close so odious a subject by the statement
that the disgrace which the cardinal had thus brought upon himself may be
supposed in some respects to have served as a lesson to him, and that his
conduct in the latter days of his life was such as to do no discredit to
the noble race from which he sprung.

A great part of his diocese as Bishop of Strasburg lay on the German side
of the Rhine; and thither,[15] when the French Revolution began to assume
the blood-thirsty character which has made it a warning to all future
ages, he was fortunate to escape in safety from the fury of the assassins
who ruled France. And though he was no longer rich, his less fortunate
countrymen, and especially his clerical brethren, found in him a liberal
protector and supporter.[16] He even levied a body of troops to re-enforce
the royalist army. But, when the First Consul wrung from the Pope a
concordat of which he disapproved, he resigned his bishopric, and shortly
afterward died at Ettenheim,[17] where, had he remained but a short time
longer, he, like the Duke d'Enghien, might have found that a residence in
a foreign land was no protection against the ever-suspicious enmity of


The King visits Cherbourg.--Rarity of Royal Journeys.--The Princess
Christine visits the Queen--Hostility of the Duc d'Orleans to the Queen.--
Libels on her.--She is called Madame Deficit.--She has a Second Daughter,
who dies.--Ill Health of the Dauphin.--Unskillfulness and Extravagance of
Calonne's System of Finance.--Distress of the Kingdom.--He assembles the
Notables.--They oppose his Plans.--Letters of Marie Antoinette on the
Subject.--Her Ideas of the English Parliament.--Dismissal of Calonne.--
Character of Archbishop Lomenie de Brienne.--Obstinacy of Necker.--The
Archbishop is appointed Minister.--The Distress increases.--The Notables
are dissolved.--Violent Opposition of the Parliament--Resemblance of the
French Revolution to the English Rebellion of 1642.--Arrest of
d'Espremesnil and Montsabert.

It was owing to Marie Antoinette's influence that Louis himself in the
following year began to enter on a line of conduct which, if circumstances
had not prevented him from persevering in it, might have tended, more
perhaps than any thing else that he could have done, to make him also
popular with the main body of the people. The emperor, while at
Versailles, had strongly pressed upon him that it was his duty, as king of
the nation, to make himself personally acquainted with every part of his
kingdom, to visit the agricultural districts, the manufacturing towns, the
fortresses, arsenals, and harbors of the country. Joseph himself had
practiced what he preached. No corner of his dominions was unknown to him;
and it is plain that there can be no nation which must not be benefited by
its sovereign thus obtaining a personal knowledge of all the various
interests and resources of his subjects. But such personal investigations
were not yet understood to be a part of a monarch's duties. Louis's
contemporary, our own sovereign, George III., than whom, if rectitude of
intention and benevolence of heart be the principal standards by which
princes should be judged, no one ever better deserved to be called the
father of his country, scarcely ever went a hundred miles from Windsor,
and never once visited even those Midland Counties which before the end of
his reign had begun to give undeniable tokens of the contribution which
their industry was to furnish to the growing greatness of his empire; and
the last two kings of France, though in the course of their long reigns
they had once or twice visited their armies while waging war on the
Flemish or German frontier, had never seen their western or southern

But now Marie Antoinette suggested to her husband that it was time that he
should extend his travels, which, except when he had gone to Rheims for
his coronation, had never yet carried him beyond Compiegne in one
direction and Fontainebleau in another; and, as of all the departments of
Government, that which was concerned with the marine of the nation
interested her most (we fear that she was secretly looking forward to a
renewal of war with England), she persuaded him to select for the object
of his first visit the fort of Cherbourg in Normandy, where those great
works had been recently begun which have since been constantly augmented
and improved, till they have made it a worthy rival to our own harbors on
the opposite side of the Channel. He was received in all the towns through
which he passed with real joy. The Normans had never seen their king since
Henry IV. had made their province his battle-field; and the queen, who
would gladly have accompanied him, had it not been that such a journey
undertaken by both would have resembled a state procession, and therefore
have been tedious and comparatively useless, exulted in the reception
which he had met with, and began to plan other expeditions of the same
kind for him, feeling assured that his presence would be equally welcomed
in other provinces--at Bourdeaux, at Lyons, or at Toulon. And a series of
such visits would undoubtedly have been calculated to strengthen the
attachment of the people everywhere to the royal authority; which,
already, to some far-seeing judges, seemed likely soon to need all the
re-enforcement which it could obtain in any quarter.

In the summer of 1786 she had a visit from her sister Christine, the
Princess of Teschen, who, with her husband, had been joint governor of
Hungary, and since the death of her uncle, Charles of Lorraine, had been
removed to the Netherlands. She had never seen her sister since her own
marriage, and the month which they spent together at Versailles may be
almost described as the last month of perfect enjoyment that Marie
Antoinette ever knew; for troubles were thickening fast around the
Government, and were being taken wicked advantage of by her enemies, at
the head of whom the Duc d'Orleans now began openly to range himself. He
was a man notorious, as has been already seen, for every kind of infamy;
and though he well knew the disapproval with which Marie Antoinette
regarded his way of life and his character, it is believed that he had had
the insolence to approach her with the language of gallantry; that he had
been rejected with merited indignation; and that he ever afterward
regarded her noble disdain as a provocation which it should be the chief
object of his life to revenge. In fact, on one occasion he did not scruple
to avow his resentment at the way in which, as he said, she had treated
him; though he did not mention the reason.[1]

Calumny was the only weapon which could be employed against her; but in
that he and his partisans had long been adept. Every old libel and pretext
for detraction was diligently revived. The old nickname of "The Austrian"
was repeated with pertinacity as spiteful as causeless; even the king's
aunts lending their aid to swell the clamor on that ground, and often
saying, with all the malice of their inveterate jealousy, that it was not
to be expected that she should have the same feelings as their father or
Louis XIV., since she was not of their blood, though it was plain that the
same remark would have applied to every Queen of France since Anne of
Brittany. Even the embarrassments of the revenue were imputed to her; and
she, who had curtailed her private expenses, even those which seemed
almost necessary to her position, that she might minister more largely to
the necessities of the poor--who had declined to buy jewels that the money
might be applied to the service of the State--was now held up to the
populace as being by her extravagance the prime cause of the national
distress. Pamphlets and caricatures gave her a new nickname of "Madame
Deficit;" and such an impression to her disfavor was thus made on the
minds of the lower classes, that a painter, who had just finished an
engaging portrait of her surrounded by her children, feared to send it to
the exhibition, lest it should be made a pretext for insult and violence.
Her unpopularity did not, indeed, last long at this time, but was
superseded, as we shall presently see, by fresh feelings of gratitude for
fresh labors of charity; nevertheless, the outcry now raised left its seed
behind it, to grow hereafter into a more enduring harvest of distrust and

She had troubles, too, of another kind which touched her more nearly. A
second daughter, Sophie[2], had been born to her in the summer of 1786;
but she was a sickly child, and died, before she was a year old, of one of
the illnesses to which children are subject, and for some months the
mother mourned bitterly over her "little angel," as she called her. Her
eldest boy, too, was getting rapidly and visibly weaker in health: his
spine seemed to diseased, Marie Antoinette's only hope of saving him
rested on the fact that his father had also been delicate at the same age.
Luckily his brother gave her no cause for uneasiness; as she wrote to the
emperor[3]--"he had all that his elder wanted; he was a thorough peasant's
child, tall, stout, and ruddy.[4]" She had also another comfort, which, as
her troubles thickened, became more and more precious to her, in the warm
affection that had sprung up between her and her sister-in-law, the
Princess Elizabeth. A letter[5] has been preserved in which the princess
describes the death of the little Sophie to one of her friends, which it
is impossible to read without being struck by the sincerity of the
sympathy with which she enters into the grief of the bereaved mother. In
these moments of anguish she showed herself indeed a true sister, and, the
two clinging to one another the more the greater their dangers and
distresses became, a true sister she continued to the end.

Meanwhile the embarrassments of the Government were daily assuming a more
formidable appearance. Calonne had for some time endeavored to meet the
deficiency of the revenue by raising fresh loans, till he had completely
exhausted the national credit; and at last had been forced to admit that
the scheme originally propounded by Turgot, and subsequently in a more
modified degree by Necker, of abolishing the exemptions from taxation
which were enjoyed by the nobles--the privileged classes, as they were
often called--was the only expedient to save the nation from the disgrace
and ruin of total bankruptcy. But, as it seemed probable that the nobles
would resist such a measure, and that their resistance would prove too
strong for him, as it had already been found to be for his predecessors,
he proposed to the king to revive an old assembly which had been known by
the title of the Notables; trusting that, if he succeeded in obtaining the
sanction of that body to his plans, the nobles would hardly venture to
insist on maintaining their privileges in defiance of the recorded
judgment of so respectable a council. His hopes were disappointed. He
might fairly have reckoned on obtaining their concurrence, since it was
the unquestioned prerogative of the king to nominate all the members; but,
even when he was most deliberate and resolute, his rashness and
carelessness were incurable. He took no pains whatever to select members
favorable to his views; and the consequence was that, in March, 1787, in
the very first month of the session of the Notables, the whole body
protested against one of the taxes which he desired to impose; and his
enemies at once urged the king to dismiss him, basing their recommendation
on the practice of England, where, as they affirmed, a minister who found
himself in a minority on an important question immediately retired from

Marie Antoinette, who, as we have seen, had been a diligent reader of
Hume, had also been led to compare the proceedings of the refractory
Notables with the conduct of our English parliamentary parties, and to an
English reader some of her comments can not fail to be as interesting as
they are curious. The Duchess de Polignac was drinking the waters at Bath,
which at that time was a favorite resort of French valetudinarians, and,
while she was still in that most beautiful of English cities, the queen
kept up an occasional correspondence with her. We have two letters which
Marie Antoinette wrote to her in April; one on the 9th, the very day on
which Calonne was dismissed; the second, two days latter; and even the
passages which do not relate to politics have their interest as specimens
of the writer's character, and of the sincere frankness with which she
laid aside her rank and believed in the possibility of a friendship of
complete equality.

"April 9th, 1787.

"I thank you, my dear heart, for your letter, which has done me good. I
was anxious about you. It is true, then, that you have not suffered much
from your journey. Take care of yourself, I insist on it, I beg of you;
and be sure and derive benefit from the waters, else I should repent of
the privation I have inflicted on myself without your health being
benefited. When you are near I feel how much I love you; and I feel it
much more when you are far away. I am greatly taken up with you and yours,
and you would be very ungrateful if you did not love me, for I can not
change toward you.

"Where you are you can at least enjoy the comfort of never hearing of
business. Although you are in the country of an Upper and a Lower House,
you can stop your ears and let people talk. But here it is a noise that
deafens one in spite of all I can do. The words 'opposition' and 'motions'
are established here as in the English Parliament, with this difference,
that in London, when people go into opposition, they begin by denuding
themselves of the favors of the king; instead of which, here numbers
oppose all the wise and beneficent views of the most virtuous of masters,
and still keep all he has given them. It may be a cleverer way of
managing, but it is not so gentleman-like. The time of illusion is past,
and we are tasting cruel experience. We are paying dearly to-day for our
zeal and enthusiasm for the American war. The voice of honest men is
stifled by members and cabals. Men disregard principles to bind themselves
to words, and to multiply attacks on individuals. The seditious will drag
the State to its ruin rather than renounce their intrigues."

And in her second letter she specifies some of the Opposition by name; one
of whom, as will be seen hereafter, contributed greatly to her subsequent
miseries.... "The repugnance which you know that I have always had to
interfering in business is today put cruelly to the proof; and you would
be as tired as I am of all that goes on. I have already spoken to you of
our Upper and Lower House,[6] and of all the absurdities which take place
there, and of the nonsense which is talked. To be loaded with benefits by
the king, like M. de Beauvau, to join the Opposition, and to surrender
none of them, is what is called having spirit and courage. It is, in
truth, the courage of infamy. I am wholly surrounded with folks who have
revolted from him. A duke,[7] a great maker of motions, a man who has
always a tear in his eye when he speaks, is one of the number. M. de La
Fayette always founds the opinions he expresses on what is done at
Philadelphia.... Even bishops and archbishops belong to the Opposition,
and a great many of the clergy are the very soul of the cabal. You may
judge, after this, of all the resources which they employ to overturn the
plans of the king and his ministers."

Calonne, however, as has already been intimated, had been dismissed from
office before this last letter was written. There had been a trial of
strength between him and his enemies; which he, believing that he had won
the confidence of Louis himself, reckoned on turning to his own advantage,
by inducing the king to dismiss those of his opponents who were in office.
To his astonishment, he found that Louis preferred dispensing with his own
services, and the general voice was probably correct when it, affirmed
that it was the queen who had induced him to come to that decision.

Lomenie de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, was again a candidate for the
vacant post, and De Vermond was as diligent as on the previous occasion[8]
in laboring to return the obligations under which that prelate had
formerly laid him, by extolling his abilities and virtues to the queen,
and recommending him as a worthy successor to Calonne, whom she had never
trusted or liked. In reality, the archbishop was wholly destitute of
either abilities or virtues. He was notorious both for open profligacy and
for avowed infidelity, so much so that Louis had refused to transfer him
to the diocese of Paris, on the ground that "at least the archbishop of
the metropolis ought to believe in God.[9]" But Marie Antoinette was
ignorant of his character, and believed De Vermond's assurance that the
appointment of so high an ecclesiastic would propitiate the clergy, whose
opposition, as many of her letters prove, she thought specially
formidable, and for whose support she knew her husband to be nervously
anxious. Some of Calonne's colleagues strongly urged the king to
re-appoint Necker, whose recall would have been highly popular with the
nation. But Necker had recently given Louis personal offense by publishing
a reply to some of Calonne's statements, in defiance of the king's express
prohibition, and had been banished from Paris for the act; and the queen,
recollecting how he had formerly refused to withdraw his resignation at
her entreaty, felt that she had no reason to expect any great
consideration for the opinions or wishes of either herself or the king
from one so conceited and self-willed, who would be likely to attribute
his re-appointment, not to the king's voluntary choice, but to his
necessities: she therefore strongly pressed that the archbishop should be
preferred. In an unhappy moment she prevailed;[10] and on the 1st of May,
1787, Lomenie de Brienne was installed in office with the title of Chief
of the Council of Finance.

A more unhappy choice could not possibly have been made. The new minister
was soon seen to be as devoid of information and ability as he was known
to be of honesty. He had a certain gravity of outward demeanor which
imposed upon many, and he had also the address to lead the conversation to
points which, his hearers understood still less than himself; dilating on
finance and the money market even to the ladies of the court, who had had
some share in persuading the queen of his fitness for office.[11] But his
disposition was in reality as rash as that of Calonne; and it was a
curious proof of his temerity, as well as of his ignorance of the feeling
of parties in Paris, that though he knew the Notables to be friendly to
him, as indeed they would have been to any one who might have superseded
Calonne, he dismissed them before the end of the month. And the language
held on their dissolution both by the ministers and by the President of
the Notables, and which was cheerfully accepted by the people, is
remarkable from the contrast which it affords to the feelings which swayed
the national council exactly two years afterward. Some measures of
retrenchment which the Notables had recommended had been adopted; some
reductions had been made in the royal households; some costly ceremonies
had been abolished; and one or two imposts, which had pressed with great
severity on the poorer classes, had been extinguished or modified. And not
only did M. Lamoignon, the Keeper of the Seals, in the speech in which he
dismissed them, venture to affirm that these reductions would be found to
have effected all that was needed to restore universal prosperity to the
kingdom; but the President of the Assembly, in his reply, thanked God "for
having caused him to be born in such an age, under such a government, and
for having made him the subject of a king whom he was constrained to
love," and the thanksgiving was re-echoed by the whole Assembly. But this
contentment did not last long. The embarrassments of the Treasury were too
serious to be dissipated by soft speeches. The Notables were hardly
dissolved before the archbishop proposed a new loan of an enormous amount;
and, as he might have foreseen, their dissolution revived the pretensions
of the Parliament. The queen's description of the rise of a French
opposition at once received a practical commentary. The debates in the
Parliament became warmer than they had ever been since the days of the
Fronde: the citizens, sharing in the excitement, thronged the palace of
the Parliament, expressing their approval or disapproval of the different
speakers by disorderly and unprecedented clamor; the great majority
hooting down the minister and his supporters, and cheering those who spoke
against him. The Duc d'Orleans, by open bribes, gained over many of the
councilors to oppose the court in every thing. The registration of several
of the edicts which the minister had sent down was refused; and one member
of the Orleanist party even demanded the convocation of the States-
general, formerly and constitutionally the great council of the nation,
but which had never been assembled since the time of Richelieu.

The archbishop was sometimes angry, and sometimes terrified, and as weak
in his anger as in his terror. He persuaded the king to hold a bed of
justice to compel the registration of the edicts. When the Parliament
protested, he banished it to Troyes. In less than a month he became
alarmed at his own vigor, and recalled it. Encouraged by his
pusillanimity, and more secure than ever of the support of the citizens
who had been thrown into consternation by his demand of a second loan,
nearly[12] six times as large as the first, it became more audacious and
defiant than ever, D'Orleans openly placing himself at the head of the
malcontents. Lomenie persuaded the king to banish the duke, and to arrest
one or two of his most vehement partisans; and again in a few weeks
repented of this act of decision also, released the prisoners, and
recalled the duke.

As a matter of course, the Parliament grew bolder still. Every measure
which the minister proposed was rejected; and under the guidance of one of
their members, Duval d'Espremesnil, the councilors at last proceeded so
far as to take the initiative in new legislation into their own hands. In
the first week in May, 1788, they passed a series of resolutions affirming
that to be the law which indeed ought to have been so, but which had
certainly never been regarded as such at any period of French history. One
declared that magistrates were irremovable, except in cases of misconduct;
another, that the individual liberty and property of every citizen were
inviolable; others insisted on the necessity of convoking the States-
general as the only assembly entitled to impose taxes; and the councilors
hoped to secure the royal acceptance of these resolutions by some previous
votes which asserted that, of those laws which were the very foundation of
the Constitution, the first was that which assured the "crown to the
reigning house and to its descendants in the male line, in the order of

But Louis, or rather his rash minister, was not to be so conciliated; and
a scene ensued which is the first of the striking parallels which this
period in France affords to the events which had taken place in England a
century and a half before. As in 1642 Charles I. had attempted to arrest
members of the English Parliament in the very House of Commons, so the
archbishop now persuaded Louis to send down the captain of the guard, the
Marquis d'Agoust, to the palace of the Parliament, to seize D'Espremesnil,
and another councilor named Montsabert, who had been one of his foremost
supporters in the recent discussions. They behaved with admirable dignity.
Marie Antoinette was not one to betray her husband's counsels, as
Henrietta Maria had betrayed those of Charles. D'Espremesnil and his
friend, wholly taken by surprise, had had no warning of what was designed,
no time to withdraw, nor in all probability would they have done so in any
case. When M. d'Agoust entered the council hall and demanded his
prisoners, there was a great uproar. The whole Assembly made common cause
with their two brethren who were thus threatened. "We are all
d'Espremesnils and Montsaberts," was their unanimous cry; while the tumult
at the doors, where a vast multitude was collected, many of whom had arms
in their hands and seemed prepared to use them, was more formidable still.
But D'Agoust, though courteous in the discharge of his duty, was intrepid
and firm; and the two members voluntarily surrendered themselves and
retired in custody, while the archbishop was so elated with his triumph
that a few days afterwards he induced the king to venture on another
imitation of the history of England, though now it was not Charles, but
the more tyrannical Cromwell, whose conduct was copied. Before the end of
the month the Governor of Paris entered the palace of the Parliament,
seized all the registers and documents of every kind, locked the doors,
and closed them with the king's seal; and a royal edict was issued
suspending all the parliaments both in the capital and the provinces.


Formidable Riots take place in some Provinces.--The Archbishop invites
Necker to join his Ministry.--Letter of Marie Antoinette describing her
Interview with the Archbishop, and her Views.--Necker refuses.--The Queen
sends Messages to Necker.--The Archbishop resigns, and Necker becomes
Minister.--The Queen's View of his Character.--General Rejoicing.--Defects
in Necker's Character.--He recalls the Parliament.--Riots in Paris.--
Severe Winter.--General Distress.--Charities of the King and Queen.--
Gratitude of the Citizens.--The Princes are concerned in the Libels
published against the Queen.--Preparations for the Meeting of the States-
general.--Long Disuse of that Assembly.--Need of Reform.--Vices Of the Old
Feudal System.--Necker's Blunders in the Arrangements for the Meeting of
the States.--An Edict of the King concedes the Chief Demands of the
Commons.--Views of the Queen.

The whole kingdom was thrown into great and dangerous excitement by these
transactions. Little as were the benefits which the people had ever
derived from the conduct of the Parliament, their opposition to the
archbishop, who had already had time to make himself generally hated and
despised, caused the councilors to be very generally regarded as champions
of liberty; and in the most distant provinces, in Bearn, in Isere, and in
Brittany, public meetings (a thing hitherto unknown in the history of the
nation) were held, remonstrances were drawn up, confederacies were formed,
and oaths were administered by which those who took them bound themselves
never to surrender what they affirmed to be the ancient privileges of the

The archbishop became alarmed; a little, perhaps, for the nation and the
king, but far more for his own place, which he had already contrived to
render profitable to himself by the preferments which it had enabled him
to engross. And, in the hope of saving it, he now entreated Necker to join
the Government, proposing to yield up the management of the finances to
him, and to retain only the post of prime minister.

A letter from the queen to Mercy shows that she acquiesced in the scheme.
Her disapproval of Necker's past conduct was outweighed by her sense of
the need which the State had of his financial talents; though, for reasons
which she explains, she was unwilling wholly to sacrifice the archbishop;
and the letter has a further interest as displaying some of the
difficulties which arose from the peculiar disposition of the king, while
every one was daily more and more learning to look upon her as the more
important person in the Government. On the 19th of August, 1783, she
writes to Mercy,[1] whom the archbishop had employed as his agent to
conciliate the stubborn Swiss Banker:

"The archbishop came to me this morning, immediately after he had seen
you, to report to me the conversation which he had had with you. I spoke
to him very frankly, and was touched by what he said. He is at this moment
with the king, to try and get him to decide; but I very much fear that M.
Necker will not accept while the archbishop remains. The animosity of the
public against him is pushed so far that M. Necker will be afraid of being
compromised, and, indeed, perhaps it might injure his credit; but, at the
same time, what is to be done? In truth and conscience we can not
sacrifice a man who has made for as all these sacrifices of his
reputation, of his position in the world, perhaps even of his life; for I
fear they would kill him. There is yet M. Foulon, if M. Necker refuses
absolutely.[2] But I suspect him of being a very dishonest man; and
confidence would not be established with him for comptroller. I fear, too,
that the public is pressing us to take a part much more humiliating for
the ministers, and much more vexatious for ourselves, inasmuch as we shall
have done nothing of our own will. I am very unhappy. I will close my
letter after I know the result of this evening's conference. I greatly
fear the archbishop will be forced to retire altogether, and then what man
are we to take to place at the head of the whole? For we must have one,
especially with M. Necker. He must have a bridle; and the person who is
above me[3] is not able to be such; and I, whatever people may say, and
whatever happens, am never any thing but second; and, in spite of the
confidence which the first has in me, he often makes me feel it.... The
archbishop has just gone. The king is very unwilling; and could only be
brought to make up his mind by a promise that the person[4] should only be
sounded; and that no positive engagement should be made."

Necker refused. The next day Mercy reported to the queen that, though the
excitement was great, it confined itself to denunciations of the
archbishop and of the keeper of the seals; and that "the name of the queen
had never once been mentioned;" and on the 22d, Marie Antoinette,[5] from
a conviction of the greatness of the emergency, determined to see Necker
herself; and employed the embassador and De Vermond to let him know that
her own wish for his restoration to the direction of the finances was
sincere and earnest, and to promise him that the archbishop should not
interfere in that department in any way whatever. Two days later,[6] she
wrote again to mention that the king had vanquished his repugnance to
Necker, and had come wholly over to her opinion. "Time pressed, and it was
more essential than ever that Necker should accept;" and on the 25th she
writes a final letter to report to Mercy that the archbishop has resigned,
and that she has just summoned Necker to come to her the next morning.
Though she felt that she had done what was both right and indispensable,
she was not without misgivings. "If," she writes, in a strain of anxious
despondency very foreign to her usual tone, and which shows how deeply she
felt the importance of the crisis, and of every step that might be taken--
"if he will but undertake the task, it is the best thing that can be done;
but I tremble (excuse my weakness) at the fact that it is I who have
brought him back. It is my fate to bring misfortune, and, if infernal
machinations should cause him once more to fail, or if he should lower the
authority of the king, they will hate me still more."

In one point of view she need not have trembled at being known to have
caused Necker's re-appointment, since it is plain that no other nomination
was possible. Vergennes had died a few months before, and the whole
kingdom did not supply a single statesman of reputation except Necker. Nor
could any choice have for the moment been more universally popular. The
citizens illuminated Paris; the mob burned the archbishop in effigy; and
the leading merchants and bankers showed their approval in a far more
practical way. The funds rose; loans to any amount were freely offered to
the Treasury; the national credit revived; as if the solvency or
insolvency of the nation depended on a single man, and him a foreigner.

Yet, if regarded in any point of view except that of a financier, he was
extremely unfit to be the minister at such a crisis; and the queen's
acuteness had, in the extract from her letter which has been, quoted
above, correctly pointed out the danger to be apprehended, namely, that he
might lower the authority of the king.[7] It was, in fact, to his uniform
and persistent degradation of the king's authority that the greater part,
if not the whole, of the evils which ensued may be clearly traced, and the
cause that led him to adopt this fatal system was thoroughly visible to
one gifted with such intuitive penetration into character as Marie
Antoinette. For he had two great defects or weaknesses; an overweening
vanity, which, as it is valued applause above every thing, led him to
regard the popularity which they might win for him as the natural motive
and the surest test of his actions; and an abstract belief in human
perfection and in the submission of all classes to strict reason, which
could only proceed from a total ignorance of mankind.[8] Yet, greatly as
financial skill was needed, if the kingdom was to be saved from the
bankruptcy which seemed to be imminent, it was plain that a faculty for
organization and legislation was no less indispensable if the vessel of
the State was to be steered safely along the course on which it was
entering; for the archbishop's last act had been to induce the king to
promise to convoke the States-general. The 1st of May of the ensuing year
was fixed for their meeting; and the arrangements for and the management
of an assembly, which, as not having met for nearly two hundred years,
could not fail to present many of the features of an entire novelty, were
a task which would have severely tested the most statesman-like capacity.

But, unhappily, Necker's very first acts showed him equally void of
resolution and of sagacity. He was not only unable to estimate the
probable conduct of the people in future, but he showed himself incapable
of profiting by the experience of the past; and, in spite of the
insubordinate spirit which the Parliament had at all times displayed, he
at once recalled them in deference to the clamor of the Parisian citizens,
and allowed them to enter Paris in a triumphal procession, as if his very
object had been to parade their victory over the king's authority. Their
return was the signal for a renewal of riots, which assumed a more
formidable character than ever. The police, and even the guardhouses, were
attacked in open day, and the Government had reason to suspect that the
money which was employed in fomenting the tumults was supplied by the Duc
d'Orleans. A fierce mob traversed the streets at night, terrifying the
peaceable inhabitants with shouts of triumph over the king as having been
compelled to recall the Parliament against his will; while those who were
supposed to be adverse to the pretensions of the councilors were insulted
in the streets, and branded as Royalists, the first time in the history of
the nation that ever that name had been used as a term of reproach.

Yet, presently the whole body of citizens, with their habitual impulsive
facility of temper, again, for a while, became Royalists. The winter was
one of unprecedented severity. By the beginning of December the Seine was
frozen over, and the whole adjacent country was buried in deep snow.
Wolves from the neighboring forests, desperate with hunger, were said to
have made their way into the suburbs, and to have attacked people in the
streets. Food of every kind became scarce, and of the poorer classes many
were believed to have died of actual starvation. Necker, as head of the
Government, made energetic and judicious efforts to relieve the universal
distress, forming magazines in different districts, facilitating the means
of transport, finding employment for vast numbers of laborers and
artisans, and purchasing large quantities of grain in foreign countries;
and, not only were Louis and Marie Antoinette conspicuous for the
unstinting liberality with which they devoted their own funds to the
supply of the necessities of the destitute, but the queen, in many cases
of unusual or pressing suffering that were reported to her in Versailles
and the neighboring villages, sent trustworthy persons to investigate
them, and in numerous instances went herself to the cottages, making
personal inquiries into the condition of the occupants, and showing not
only a feeling heart, but a considerate and active kindness, which doubled
the value of her benefactions by the gracious, thoughtful manner in which
they were bestowed.

She would willingly have done the good she did in secret, partly from her
constant feeling that charity was not charity if it were boasted of,
partly from a fear that those ready to misconstrue all her acts would find
pretexts for evil and calumny even in her bounty. One of her good deeds
struck Necker as of so remarkable a character that he pressed her to allow
him to make it known. "Be sure, on the contrary," she replied, "that you
never mention it. What good could it do? they would not believe you;[9]"
but in this she was mistaken. Her charities were too widely spread to
escape the knowledge even of those who did not profit by them; and they
had their reward, though it was but a short-lived one. Though the majority
of her acts of personal kindness were performed in Versailles rather than
in Paris, the Parisians were as vehement in their gratitude as the
Versaillese; and it found a somewhat fantastic vent in the erection of
pyramids and obelisks of snow in different quarters of the city, all
bearing inscriptions testifying the citizens' sense of her benevolence.
One, which far exceeded all its fellows in size--the chief beauty of works
of that sort--since it was fifteen feet high, and each of the four faces
was twelve feet wide at the base, was decorated with a medallion of the
royal pair, and bore a poetical inscription commemorating the cause of its

  "Reine, dont la beaute surpasse les appas
  Pres d'un roi bienfaisant occupe ici la place.
  Si ce monument frele est de neige et de glace,
    Nos coeurs pour toi ne le sont pas.
    De ce monument sans exemple,
  Couple auguste, l'aspect bien doux pur votre coeur
  Sans doute vous plaira plus qu'un palais, qu'un temple
   Que vous eleverait un peuple adulateur.[10]"

Neither the queen's feelings nor her conduct had been in any way altered;
but six months later the same populace who raised this monument and
applauded these verses were, with ferocious and obscene threats, clamoring
for her blood. And there is hardly any thing more strange or more grievous
in the history of the nation, hardly any greater proof of that incurable
levity which was one great cause of the long series of miseries which soon
fell upon it, than that the impressions of gratitude which were so vivid
at the moment, and so constantly revived by the queen's untiring
benevolence, could yet be so easily effaced by the acts of demagogues and
libelers, whom the people thoroughly despised even while suffering
themselves to be led by them. How great a part in these libels was borne
by those who were bound by every tie of blood to the king to be his
warmest supporters, we have a remarkable proof in an Edict of Council
which was issued during the ministry of the archbishop, and which deprived
the palaces of the Count de Provence, the Count d'Artois, and the Duc
d'Orleans of their usual exemption from the investigation of the syndics
of the library, as those officers were called whose duty it was to search
all suspected places for libelous or seditious pamphlets; the reason
publicly given for this edict being that the dwellings of these three
princes were a perfect arsenal for the issue of publications contrary to
the laws, to morality, and to religion.[11]

With the return of spring, the severity of the distress began to pass
away. But, even while it lasted, it scarcely diverted the attention of the
middle classes from the preparations for the approaching meeting of the
States-general, from which the whole people, with few exceptions, promised
themselves great advantages, though comparatively few had formed any
precise notion of the benefits which they expected, or of the mode in
which they were to be attained. The States-general had been originally
established in the same age which saw the organization of our own
Parliament, with very nearly the same powers, though the members had more
of the narrower character of delegates of their constituents than was the
case in England, where they were more wisely regarded as representatives
of the entire nation.[12] And it was an acknowledged principle of their
constitution that they could neither propose any measure nor ask for the
redress of any grievance which was not expressly mentioned in the
instructions with which their constituents furnished them at the time of
their election.

In England, the two Houses of Parliament, by a vigilant and systematic
perseverance, had gradually extorted from the sovereign a great and
progressive enlargement of their original powers, till they had almost
engrossed the entire legislative authority in the kingdom. But in France,
a variety of circumstances had prevented the States-general from arriving
at a similar development. And, consequently, as in human affairs very
little is stationary, their authority had steadily diminished, instead of
increasing, till they had become so powerless and utterly insignificant
that, since the year 1615, they had never once been convened. Not only had
they been wholly disused, but they seemed to have been wholly forgotten.
During the last two reigns no one had ever mentioned their name; much less
had any wish been expressed for their resuscitation, till the financial
difficulties of the Government, and the general and growing discontent of
the great majority of the nation, with which, since the death of Turgot,
every successive minister had been manifestly incompetent to deal, had, as
we have seen, led some ardent reformers to demand their restoration, as
the one expedient which had not been tried, and which, therefore, had this
in its favor, that it was not condemned by previous failure.

That great reforms were indispensable was admitted in every quarter. There
was no country in Europe where the feudal system had received so little
modification.[13] Every law seemed to have been made, and every custom to
have been established for the exclusive benefit of the nobles. They were
even exempted from many of the taxes, an exemption which was the more
intolerable from the vast number of persons who were included in the list.
Practically it may be said that there were two classes of nobles--the old
historic houses, as they were sometimes called, such as the Grammonts or
Montmorencies, which were not numerous, and many of which had greatly
decayed in wealth and influence; and an inferior class whose nobility was
derived from their possession of office under the crown in any part of the
kingdom. Even tax-gatherers and surveyors, if appointed by royal warrant,
could claim the rank; and new offices were continually being created and
sold which conferred the same title. Those so ennobled were not reckoned
the equals of the higher class. They could not even be received at court
until their patents were four hundred years old, but they had a right to
vote as nobles at elections to any representative body. Those whose
patents were twenty-four years old could be elected as representatives;
and from the moment of their creation they all enjoyed great exemptions;
so that, as the lowest estimate reckoned their numbers at a hundred
thousand, it is a matter for some wonder how the taxes to which they did
not contribute produced any thing worth collecting. It was, of course,
manifest that the exemptions enormously increased the burden to be borne
by the classes which did not enjoy such privileges.

But, heavy as the grievance of these exemptions was, it was as nothing
when compared with the feudal rights claimed by the greater nobles. The
peasants on their estates were forced to grind their corn at the lord's
mill, to press their grapes at his wine-press, paying for such act
whatever price he might think fit to exact, and often having their crops
wholly wasted or spoiled by the delays which such a system engendered. The
game-laws forbade them to weed their fields lest they should disturb the
young partridges or leverets; to manure the soil with any thing which
might injure their flavor; or even to mow or reap till the grass or corn
was no longer required as shelter for the young coveys. Some of the rights
of seigniory, as it was called, were such as can hardly be mentioned in
this more decorous age; some were so ridiculous that it is inconceivable
how their very absurdity had not led to their abolition. In the marshy
districts of Brittany, one right enjoyed by the great nobles was "the
silence of the frogs,[14]" which, whenever the lady was confined, bound
the peasants to spend their days and nights in beating the swamps with
long poles to save her from being disturbed by their inharmonious
croaking. And if this or any other feudal right was dispensed with, it was
only commuted for a money payment, which was little less burdensome.

The powers exercised by the crown were more intolerable still. The
sovereign was absolute master of the liberties of his subjects. Without
alleging the commission of any crime, he could issue warrants--letters
under seal, as they were called--which consigned the person named in them
to imprisonment, which was often perpetual. The unhappy prisoner had no
power of appeal. No judge could inquire into his case, much less release
him. The arrests were often made with such secrecy and rapidity that his
nearest relations knew not what had become of him, but he was cut off from
the outer world, for the rest of his life, as completely as if he had at
once been handed over to the executioner.[15]

It was impossible but that such customs should produce general discontent,
and a resolute demand for a complete reformation of the system. And one of
the problems which the minister had to determine was, how to organize the
States-general so that they should be disposed to promote such measures as
reform as should be adequate without being excessive; as should give due
protection to the middle and lower classes without depriving the nobles of
that dignity and authority which were not only desirable for themselves,
but useful to their dependents; and, lastly, such as should carefully
preserve the rightful prerogatives of the crown, while putting an end to
those arbitrary powers, the existence of which was incompatible with the
very name of freedom.

In making the necessary arrangements, the long disuse of the Assembly was
a circumstance greatly in favor of the Government, if Necker had had skill
to avail himself of it, since it wholly freed him from the obligation of
being guided by former precedents. Those arrangements were long and warmly
debated in the king's council. Though the records of former sessions had
been so carelessly preserved that little was known of their proceedings,
it seemed to be established that the representatives of the Commons had
usually amounted to about four-tenths of the whole body, those of the
clergy and of the nobles being each about three-tenths; and that they had
almost invariably deliberated and voted in separate chambers; and the
princes and the chief nobles presented memorials to the king, in which
they almost unanimously recommended an adherence to these ancient forms;
while, with patriotic prudence, they sought to obviate all jealousy of
their own pretensions or views which might be entertained or feigned in
any quarter, by announcing their willingness to abandon all the exclusive
privileges and exemptions which they had hitherto possessed, and which
were notoriously one chief cause of the generally prevailing discontent.

But the party which had originated the clamor for the States-general, now,
encouraged by their success, put forward two fresh demands; the first,
that the number of the representatives of the Commons should equal that of
both the other orders put together, which they called "the duplication of
the Third Estate;" the second, that the three orders should meet and vote
as one united body in one chamber; the two proposition taken together
being manifestly calculated and designed to throw the whole power into the
hands of the Commons.

Necker had great doubts about the propriety and safety of the first
proposal, and no doubt at all of the danger of the second. His own
judgment was that the wisest plan would be to order the clergy and nobles
to unite in an Upper Chamber, so as in some degree to resemble the British
House of Lords; while the Third Estate, in a Lower Chamber, would be a
tolerably faithful copy of our House of Commons. But he could never bring
himself to risk his popularity by opposing what he regarded as the opinion
of the masses. He was alarmed by the political clubs which were springing
up in Paris; one, whose president was the Duc d'Orleans, assuming the
significant and menacing title of Les Enrages;[16] and by the vast number
of pamphlets which were circulated both in the capital and the chief towns
of the provinces by thousands,[17] every writer of which put himself
forward as a legislator,[18] and of which the vast majority advocated what
they called the rights of the Third Estate, in most violent language; and,
finally, he adopted the course which is a great favorite with vain and
weak men, and which he probably represented to himself as a compromise
between unqualified concession and unyielding resistance, though, every
one possessed of the slightest penetration could see that it practically
surrendered both points: he advised the king to issue his edict that the
number of representatives to be returned to the States-general should be
twelve hundred, half of whom were to be returned by the Commons, a quarter
by the clergy, and a quarter by the nobles;[19] and to postpone the
decision as to the number of the chambers till the Assembly should meet,
when he proposed to allow the States themselves to determine it; trusting,
against all probability, that, after having thus given the Commons the
power to enforce their own views, he should be able to persuade them to
abandon the same in deference to his judgment.

Louis, as a matter of course, adopted his advice; and, after several
different towns--Blois, Tours, Cambrai, and Compiegne among them--had been
proposed as the place of meeting, he himself decided in favor of
Versailles,[20] as that which would afford him the best hunting while the
session lasted. The queen in her heart disapproved of every one of these
resolutions. She saw that Necker had, as she had foreboded, sacrificed the
king's authority by his advice on the two first questions; and she
perceived more clearly than any one the danger of fixing the States-
general so near to Paris that the turbulent population of the city should
be able to overawe the members. She pressed these considerations earnestly
on the king,[21] but it was characteristic of the course which she
prescribed to herself from, the beginning, and from which she never
swerved, that when her advice was overruled she invariably defended the
course which had been taken. Her language, when any one spoke to her
either of her own opinions and wishes, or of the feelings with which the
different classes of the nation regarded her, was invariably the same.
"You are not to think of me for a moment. All that I desire of you is to
take care that the respect which is due to the king shall not be
weakened;[22]" and it was only her most intimate friends who knew how
unwise she thought the different decisions that had been adopted, or how
deep were her forebodings of evil.


The Reveillon Riot.--Opening of the States-general.--The Queen is insulted
by the Partisans of the Duc d'Orleans.--Discussions as to the Number of
Chambers.--Career and Character of Mirabeau.--Necker rejects his Support.
--He determines to revenge himself.--Death of the Dauphin.

The meeting of the States-general, as has been already seen, was fixed for
the 4th of May, 1789; and, as if it were fated that the bloody character
of the period now to be inaugurated should be displayed from the very
outset, the elections for the city of Paris, which were only held in the
preceding week, were stained with a riot so formidable as to be commonly
spoken of in the records of the time as an insurrection.[1]

One of the candidates for the representation of the Third Estate was a
paper-maker of the name of Reveillon, a man eminent for his charity and
general liberality, but one who was believed to regard the views of the
extreme reformers with disfavor. He was so popular with his own workmen,
who were very numerous, and with their friends, who knew his character
from them, that he was generally expected to succeed. The opposite party,
who had candidates of their own, and had the support of the purse of the
Duc d'Orleans, were determined that he should not; and no way seemed so
sure as to murder him. Bands of ferocious-looking ruffians were brought in
from the country districts, armed with heavy bludgeons, and, as was
afterward learned, well supplied with money; and on the morning of the
28th of April news was brought to the Baron de Besenval, the commander of
the Royal Guards, that a mob of several thousand men had collected in the
streets, who had read a mock sentence, professing to have been passed by
the Third Estate, which condemned Reveillon to be hanged, after which they
had burned him in effigy, and then attacked his house, which they were
sacking and destroying. They even ventured to attack the first company of
soldiers whom De Besenval sent to the rescue; and it was not till he
dispatched a battalion with a couple of field-pieces to the spot that the
plunderers were expelled from the house and the riot was quelled. Nearly
five hundred of the mob were killed, but when the Parliament proceeded to
set on foot a judicial inquiry into the cause of the tumult, Necker
prevailed on the secretary of state to suppress the investigation, as he
feared to exasperate D'Orleans further by giving publicity to his
machinations, which he did not yet suspect either the extent or the

A momentary tranquility was, however, restored at Paris; and all eyes were
turned from the capital to Versailles, where the first few days of May
were devoted to the receptions of the States-general by the king and
queen, ceremonies which might have had a good effect, since the bitterest
adversaries of the court were favorably impressed by the grace and
affability of the queen; but which many shrewd judges afterward believed
to have had a contrary influence, from the offense taken by the
representatives of the Commons at some of the details of the ancient
etiquette, which on so solemn an occasion was revived in all its stately
strictness. The dignitaries of the Church wore their most sumptuous robes.
The Nobles glittered with silk and gold lace; jeweled clasps fastened
plumes of feathers in their hats; orders glittered on their breasts; and
many a precious stone sparkled in the hilts of their swords. The
representatives of the Commons were allowed neither feathers, nor
embroidery, nor swords; but were forced to content themselves with plain
black cloaks, and an unadorned homeliness of attire, which seemed as if
intended to exclude all idea of their being the equals of those other
orders of which they had for a moment become the colleagues. And, in a
similar spirit it was arranged that, after the folding-doors of the saloon
in which the sovereigns were awaiting them were thrown wide open to admit
the representatives of the higher orders, the Commons were let in through
a side door. And though in the eyes of persons habituated to the
ceremonious niceties of court life these distinctions seemed matters of
course, and, as such, unworthy of notice, it can hardly be wondered at if
they were galling to men accustomed only to the simpler manners of a
provincial town; and who, proud of their new position and deeply impressed
with its importance, fancied they saw in them a settled intention to
degrade both them and their constituents by thus stamping them with a
badge of inferiority before all the spectators.

The opening of the States-general was fixed for the 5th of May, and on the
day before, which was Sunday, a solemn mass was performed at the principal
church in Versailles, that of Notre Dame; after which the congregation
proceeded to another church,  that of St. Louis, to hear a sermon from the
Bishop of Nancy. It was a stately procession that moved from one church to
the other, and it was afterward remembered as the very last in which the
royal pair appeared before their subjects with the undiminished
magnificence of ancient ceremony. First, after a splendid escort of
troops, came the members of the States in their several orders; then the
king marched by himself; the queen followed; and behind her came the
princes and princesses of the royal family of the blood, the officers of
state and of the household, and companies of the Body-guard brought up the
rear. The acclamations of the spectators were loud as the deputies of the
States, and especially as the representatives of the Commons, passed on;
loud, too, as the king; moved forward, bearing himself with unusual
dignity; but, when the queen advanced, though still the main body of the
people cheered with sincere respect, a gang of ruffians, among whom were
several women,[3] shouted out "Long live the Duke of Orleans!" in her ear,
with so menacing an accent that, she nearly fainted with terror. By a
strong mastery over herself she shook off the agitation, which was only
perceived by her immediate attendants; but the disloyal feeling thus shown
toward her at the outset was a sad omen of the spirit in which one party
at least was prepared to view the measures of the Government; and, so far
as she was concerned, of the degree in which her enemies had succeeded in
poisoning the minds of the people against her, as the person whose
resistance to their meditated encroachments on the royal authority was
likely to prove the most formidable.

It was a significant hint, too, of the projects already formed by the
worthless prince whose adherents these ruffians proclaimed themselves. The
Duc d'Orleans conceived himself to have lately received a fresh
provocation, and an additional motive for revenge. His eldest son, the Duc
de Chartres,[4] was now a boy of sixteen, and he had proposed to the king
to give him Madame Royale in marriage; an idea which the queen, who held
his character in deserved abhorrence, had rejected with very decided marks
of displeasure. He was also stimulated by views of personal ambition. The
history of England had been recently studied by many persons in France
besides the king and queen; and there were not wanting advisers to point
out to the duke that the revolution which had taken place in England
exactly a century before had owed its success to the dethronement of the
reigning sovereign and the substitution of another member of the royal
family in his place. As William of Orange was, after the king's own
children, the next heir to James II., so was the Duc d'Orleans now the
next heir, after the king's children and brothers, to Louis XVI.; and for
the next five months there can be no doubt that he and his partisans, who
numbered in their body some of the most influential members of the States-
general, kept constantly in view the hope of placing him on the throne
from which they were to depose his cousin.

The next day the States were formally opened by Louis in person. The place
of meeting was a spacious hall which, two years before, had been used for
the meeting of the Notables. It had been the scene of many a splendid
spectacle in times past, but had never before witnessed so imposing or
momentous a ceremony. The town itself had not risen into notice till the
memory of the preceding States-general had almost passed away. And now,
after all the deputies had ranged themselves to receive their sovereign,
the representatives of the clergy on the right of the throne, the Nobles
on the left, the Commons in denser masses at the bottom of the hall;[5] as
the king, accompanied by the queen, leading two of her children[6] by the
hand, and attended by all the princes of the royal family and of the
blood, by the dukes and peers of the kingdom, the ministers and great
officers of state, entered and took his seat on the throne, the most
unimpassioned spectator must have felt that he was beholding a scene at
once magnificent and solemn; and one, from long desuetude, as novel as if
it had been wholly unprecedented, such as might well inaugurate a new
policy or a new constitution.

Could those who beheld it as spectators, could those who bore a part in
the solemnity, have looked into futurity; could they have divined that no
other hall would ever again see that virtuous and beneficent king
surrounded with that pomp, or received with that reverential homage which
was now paid to him as as unquestioned right; nay, that the end, of which
this day was the beginning, scarcely one single person of all those now
present, whether men in the flower of their strength, women in the pride
of their beauty, or even children in their infantine innocence and grace,
would live to behold; but that sovereigns and subjects were destined,
almost without exception, to perish with circumstances of unutterable,
unimaginable horror and misery, as the direct consequence of this day's
pageant; we may well believe that the most sanguine of those who now
greeted it with eager hope and exultation would rather have averted his
eyes from the ill-omened spectacle, and would have preferred to bear the
worst evils of which he was anticipating the abolition, to bringing on his
country the calamities which were about to fall upon it.

A large state arm-chair, a little lower than the throne, had been set
beside it for the queen; the princes and princesses were ranged on each
side on a row of chairs without arms; and, when all had taken their
places, the king opened the session with a short speech, leaving the real
business to be unfolded at greater length by his ministers. In order to
feel assured of the proper emphasis and expression, he had rehearsed his
speech frequently to the queen; and, as he now delivered it with unusual
dignity and gracefulness, it was received with frequent acclamations,
though some of those who were watching all that passed with the greatest
anxiety fancied that one or two compliments to the queen which it
contained met with a colder response; while, at its close, the
representatives of the Third Estate gave an indication of their feeling
toward the other orders, and provoked a display on their part which
promised little cordiality to their deliberations. The king, who had
uncovered himself while speaking, on resuming his seat replaced his hat.
The Nobles, according to the ancient etiquette, replaced theirs; and many
of the Commons at once asserted their equality with them by also covering
themselves. Such an assumption was a breach of all established custom. The
Nobles were indignant, and with angry shouts demanded the removal of the
Commons' hats. They were met with louder clamor by the Commons, and in a
moment the whole hall was in an uproar, which was only allayed by the
presence of mind of Louis himself, who, as if oppressed by the heat, laid
aside his own hat, when, as a matter of course, the Nobles followed his
example. The deputies of the Commons did the same, and peace was restored.

The king's speech was followed by another short one from the keeper of the
seals, which received but little attention; and by one of prodigious
length from Necker, which was equally injudicious and unacceptable to his
hearers, both in what it said and in what it omitted. He never mentioned
the question of constitutional reform. He said nothing of what the
Commons, at least, thought still more important--the number of chambers in
which the members were to meet; and, though he dilated at the most profuse
length on the condition of the finances, and on his own success in
re-establishing public credit, they were by no means pleased to hear him
assert that success had removed any absolute necessity for their meeting
at all, and that they had only been called together in fulfillment of the
king's promise, that so the sovereign might establish a better harmony
between the different parts of the Constitution.

Before any business could be proceeded with, it was necessary for the
members to have the writs of their elections properly certified and
registered, for which they were to meet on the following day. We need not
here detail the artifices and assumptions by which the members of the
Third Estate put forward pretensions which were designed to make them
masters of the whole Assembly; nor is it necessary to unfold at length the
combination of audacity and craft, aided by the culpable weakness of
Necker, by which they ultimately carried the point they contended for,
providing that the three orders should deliberate and vote together as one
united body in one chamber. Emboldened by their success, they even
proceeded to a step which probably not one among them had originally
contemplated; and, as if one of their principal objects had been to disown
the authority of the king by which they had been called together, they
repudiated the title of States-general, and invented for themselves a new
name, that of "The National Assembly," which, as it had never been heard
of before, seemed to mark that they owed their existence to the nation,
and not to the sovereign.

But the discussions that took place before all these points were settled,
presented, besides the importance of the conclusion which was adopted,
another feature of powerful interest, since it was in them that the
members first heard the voice of the Count de Mirabeau, who, more than any
other deputy, was supposed during the ensuing year to be able to sway the
whole Assembly, and to hold the destinies of the nation in his hands.

Necker's daughter, the celebrated Baroness de Stael, wife of the Swedish
embassador, who was present at the opening of the States, which, as her
father's daughter, she regarded with exulting confidence as the body of
legislators who were to regenerate the nation, remarked, as the long
procession passed before her eyes, that of the six hundred deputies of the
Commons[7], the Count de Mirabeau alone bore a name which was previously
known; and he was manifestly out of his place as a representative of the
Commons. His history was a strange one. He was the eldest son of a
Provencal noble, of Italian origin, great wealth, and a ferocious
eccentricity of character, which made him one of the worst possible
instructors for a youth of brilliant talents, unbridled passions, and a
disposition equally impetuous in its pursuit of good and of evil. Even
before he arrived at manhood he had become notorious for every kind of
profligacy; while his father, in an almost equal degree, provoked the
censure of those who interested themselves in the career of a youth of
undeniable ability, by punishments of such severity as wore the appearance
of vengeance rather than of fatherly correction. In six or seven years he
obtained no fewer than fifteen warrants, or letters under seal, for the
imprisonment of his son in different jails or fortresses, while the young
man seemed to take a wanton pleasure in showing how completely all efforts
for his reformation were thrown away. Though unusually ugly (he himself
compared his face to that of a tiger who had had the small-pox), he was
irresistible among women. While one of the youngest subalterns in the
army, he made love, rarely without success, to the mistresses or wives of
his superior officers, and fought duel after duel with those who took
offense at his gallantries, From one castle in which he was imprisoned he
was aided to escape by the wife of an officer of the garrison, who
accompanied his flight. From another he was delivered by the love of a
lady of the highest rank, the Marchioness de Monnier, whom he had met at
the governor's table.

When, after some years of misery, the marchioness terminated them by
suicide, he seduced a nun of exquisite beauty to leave her convent for his
sake; and as France was no longer a safe residence for them, he fled to
Frederick of Prussia, who, equally glad to welcome him as a Frenchman, a
genius, and a profligate, received him for a while into high favor. But he
was penniless; and Frederick was never liberal of his money. Debt soon
drove him from Prussia, and he retired to England, where he made
acquaintance with Fox, Fitzpatrick, and other men of mark in the political
circles of the day. He was at all times and amidst all his excesses both
observant and studious; and while witnessing in person the strife of
parties in this country, he learned to appreciate the excellencies of our
Constitution, both in its theory and in its practical working. But
presently debt drove him from London as it had driven him from Berlin;
and, after taking refuge for a short time in Holland and Switzerland, he
was hesitating whither next to betake himself, when, hearing of the
elections for the States-general, he resolved to offer himself as a
candidate; and returned to Provence to seek the suffrages of the Nobles of
his own county.

Unluckily, his character was too well known in his native district; and
the Nobles, unwilling to countenance the ambition of one who had obtained
so evil a notoriety, rejected him. Full of indignation, he turned to the
Third Estate, offering himself as a representative of the Commons. In his
speeches to the citizens of Aix and Marseilles--for he canvassed both
towns--he inveighed against Necker and the Government with an eloquence
which electrified his audience, who had never before been addressed in the
language of independence. He was returned for both towns, and hastened to
Versailles, eager to avenge on the Nobles, the body which, as he felt, he
had a right to have represented, the affront which had driven him, against
his will, to seek the votes of a class with which he had scarcely a
feeling in common; for in the whole Assembly there was no man less of a
democrat in his heart, or prouder of his ancestry and aristocratic

He differed from most of his colleagues, inasmuch as he, from the first,
had distinct views of the policy desirable for the nation, which he
conceived to be the establishment of a limited constitutional monarchy,
such as he had seen in England.[8] But no man in the whole Assembly was
more inconsistent, as he was ever changing his views, or at least his
conduct and language, at the dictates of interest or wounded pride;
sometimes, as it might seem, in the mere wantonness of genius, as if he
wished to show that he could lead the Assembly with equal ease to take a
course, or to retrace its steps--that it rested with him alone alike to do
or to undo. The only object from which he never departed was that of
making all parties feel and bow to his influence. And it is this very
inconsistency which so especially connects his career for the rest of his
life with the fortunes of the queen, since, while he misunderstood her
character, and feared her power with the king and ministers as likely to
be exerted in opposition to his own views, he was the most ferocious and
most foul of her enemies: when he saw that she was willing to accept his
aid, and when he therefore began to conceive a hope of making her useful
to himself in the prosecution of his designs, no man was louder in her
praise, nor, it must be admitted, more energetic or more judicious in the
advice which he gave her.

His language on the first occasion on which he made his voice heard in the
Assembly was eminently characteristic of him, so manifestly was it
directed to the attainment of his own object--that of making himself
necessary to the court, and obtaining either office or some pension which
might enable him to live, since his own resources had long been exhausted
by his extravagance. D'Espresmenil had strongly advocated the doctrine
that the meeting of the three orders in separate chambers was a
fundamental principle of the monarchy; and Mirabeau, in opposition to him,
moved an address to the king, which represented the Third Estate as
desirous to ally itself with the throne, so as to enable it to resist the
pretensions of the clergy and the nobles; and, as this speech of his
produced no overture from the minister, in the middle of June he made a
direct offer to Necker to support the Government, if Necker had any plan
at all which was in the least reasonable;[9] and he gave proof of his
sincerity by vigorously opposing some proposals of the extreme reformers.
But, with incredible folly, Necker rejected his support, treating his
arguments to his face as insignificant, and affirming that their views
were irreconcilable, since Mirabeau wished to govern by policy, while he
himself preferred morality.

He at once resolved to revenge himself on the minister who had thus
slighted him,[10] and he was not long in finding an opportunity. On the
23d of June, after the States had assumed their new form, and Louis at a
royal sitting had announced the reforms he had resolved to grant, and
which were so complete that the most extreme reformers admitted that they
could have wished for nothing more, except that they should themselves
have taken them, and that the king should not have given them, Mirabeau
took the lead in throwing down a defiance to his sovereign; refusing to
consent to the adjournment of the Assembly, as was natural on the
withdrawal of the king, and declaring that they, the members of the
Commons, would not quit the hall unless they were expelled by bayonets.

But, violently as Versailles and Paris were agitated throughout May and
June, Marie Antoinette took no part in the discussion which these
questions excited. She had a still graver trouble at home. Her eldest son,
the dauphin, whose birth had been greeted so enthusiastically by all
classes, had, as we have seen, long been sickly. Since the beginning of
the year his health had been growing worse, and on the 4th of June he
died; and, though his bereaved mother bore up bravely under his loss, she
felt it deeply, and for a time was almost incapacitated from turning her
attention to any other subject.


Troops are brought up from the Frontier.--The Assembly petitions the King
to withdraw them.--He refuses.--He dismisses Necker.---The Baron de
Breteuil is appointed Prime Minister.--Terrible Riots in Paris.--The
Tri-color Flag is adopted.--Storming of the Bastile and Murder of the
Governor.--The Count d'Artois and other Princes fly from the Kingdom.--The
King recalls Necker.--Withdraws the Soldiers and visits Paris.--Formation
of the National Guard.-Insolence of La Fayette and Bailly.--Madame de
Tourzel becomes Governess of the Royal Children--Letters of Marie
Antoinette on their Character, and on her own Views of Education.

But even so solemn, a grief as that for a dead child she was not suffered
to indulge long. Even for such a purpose royalty is not always allowed the
respite which would be conceded to those in a more moderate station; and
affairs in Paris began to assume so menacing a character that she was
forced to rouse herself to support her husband. Demagogues in Paris
excited the lower classes of the citizens to formidable tumults. The
troops were tampered with; they mutinied; and when the Assembly so
violated its duty as to take the mutineers under its protection, and to
intercede with the king for their pardon, Louis, or, as we should probably
say, Necker, did not venture to refuse, though it was plain that the
condign punishment of such an offense was indispensable to the maintenance
of discipline for the future. And Louis felt the humiliation so deeply
that some of those about him, the Count d'Artois taking the lead in that
party, were able to induce him to bring up from the frontier some German
and Swiss regiments, which, as not having been exposed to the contagion of
the capital, were free from the prevailing taint of disloyalty. But Louis
was incapable of carrying out any plan resolutely. He selected the
commander with judgment, placing the troops under the orders of a veteran
of the Seven Years' War, the old Marshal de Broglie, who, though more than
seventy years of age, gladly brought once more his tried skill and valor
to the service of his sovereign. But the king, even while intrusting him
with this command, disarmed him at the same moment by a strict order to
avoid all bloodshed and violence; though nothing could be more obvious
than that such outbreaks as the marshal was likely to be called on to
suppress could not be quelled by gentle means.

The Orleanists and Mirabeau probably knew nothing of this humane or rather
pusillanimous order, though most of the secrets of the court were betrayed
to them; but Mirabeau saw in the arrival of the soldiers a fresh
opportunity of making the king feel the folly of the minister in rejecting
his advances; and in a speech of unusual power he thundered against those
who had advised the bringing-up of troops, as he declared, to overawe the
Assembly; though, in fact, nothing but their presence and active exertions
could prevent the Assembly from being overawed by the mob. But,
undoubtedly, at this time his own first object was to use the populace of
Paris to terrify the members into obedience to himself. In one of his ends
he succeeded; he drove Necker from office. He carried the address which he
proposed, to entreat the king to withdraw the troops; but Louis had for
the moment resolved on adopting bolder counsels than those of Necker. He
declined to comply with the petition, declaring that it was his duty to
keep in Paris a force sufficient to preserve the public tranquillity,
though, if the Assembly were disquieted by their neighborhood, he
expressed his unwillingness to remove their session to some more distant
town. And at the same time he dismissed Necker from office, banishing him
from France, but ordering him to keep his departure secret.

The queen had evidently had great influence in bringing him to this
decision; but how cordially she approved of all the concessions which the
king had already made, and how clearly she saw that more still remained to
be done before the necessary reformation could be pronounced complete, the
letter which on the evening of Necker's dismissal she wrote to Madame de
Polignac convincingly proves. She had high ideas of the authority which a
king was legitimately entitled to exercise; and to what she regarded as
undue restrictions on it, injurious to his dignity, she would never
consent. She probably regarded them as abstract questions which had but
little bearing on the substantial welfare of the people in general; but of
all measures to increase the happiness of all classes, even of the very
lowest, she was throughout the warmest advocate.

"July 11th, 1789.

"I can not sleep, my dear heart, without letting you know that M. Necker
is gone. MM. de Breteuil and de la Vauguyon will be summoned to the
council to-morrow. God grant that we may at last be able to do all the
good with which we are wholly occupied. The moment will be terrible; but I
have courage, and, provided that the honest folks support us without
exposing themselves needlessly, I think that I have vigor enough in myself
to impart some to others. But it is more than ever necessary to bear in
mind that all classes of men, so long as they are honest, are equally our
subjects, and to know how to distinguish those who are right-thinking in
every district and in every rank. My God! if people could only believe
that these are my real thoughts, perhaps they would love me a little. But
I must not think of myself. The glory of the king, that of his son, and
the happiness of this ungrateful nation, are all that I can, all that I
ought to, wish for; for as for your friendship, my dear heart, I reckon on
that always..."

Such language and sentiments were worthy of a sovereign. That the feelings
here expressed were genuine and sincere, the whole life of the writer is a
standing proof; and yet already fierce, wicked spirits, even of women (for
never was it more clearly seen than in France at this time how far, when
women are cruel, they exceed the worst of men in ferocity), were thirsting
for her blood. Already a woman in education and ability far above the
lowest class, one whose energy afterward raised her to be, if not the
avowed head, at least the moving spirit, of a numerous party (Madame
Roland), was urging the public prosecution, or, if the nation were not
ripe for such a formal outrage, the secret assassination, of both king and
queen.[1] But, however benevolent and patriotic were the queen's
intentions, it became instantly evident that those who had counseled the
dismissal of Necker had given their advice in entire ignorance of the hold
which he had established on the affections of the Parisians; while the new
prime minister, the Baron de Breteuil, whose previous office had connected
him with the police, was, on that account, very unpopular with a class
which is very numerous in all large cities. The populace of Paris broke
out at once in riots which amounted to insurrection. Thousands of
citizens, not all of the lowest class, decorated with green cockades, the
color of Necker's livery, and armed with every variety of weapon, paraded
the streets, bearing aloft busts of Necker and the Duc d'Orleans, without
stopping, in their madness, to consider how incongruous a combination they
were presenting. The most ridiculous stories were circulated about the
queen: it was affirmed that she had caused the Hall of the Assembly to be
undermined, that she might blow it up with gunpowder;[2] and, by way of
averting or avenging so atrocious an act, the mob began to set fire to
houses in different quarters of the city. Growing bolder at the sight of
their own violence, they broke open the prisons, and thus obtained a
re-enforcement of hundreds of desperadoes, ripe for any wickedness. The
troops were paralyzed by Louis's imbecile order to avoid bloodshed, and in
the same proportion the rioters were encouraged by their inaction and
evident helplessness. They attacked the great armory, and equipped
themselves with its contents, applying to the basest uses time-honored
weapons, monuments of ancient valor and patriotism. The spear with which
Dunois had cleared his country of the British invaders; the sword with
which the first Bourbon king had routed Egmont's cavalry at Ivry, were
torn down from the walls to arm the vilest of mankind for rapine and
slaughter. They stormed the Hotel de Ville, and got possession of the
municipal chest, containing three millions of francs; and now, more and
more intoxicated with their triumph, and with the evidence which all these
exploits afforded that the whole city was at their mercy, they proceeded
to give their riot a regular organization, by establishing a committee to
sit in the Guildhall and direct their future proceedings. Lawless and
ferocious as was the main body of the rioters, there were shrewd heads to
guide their fury; and the very first order issued by this committee was
marked by such acute foresight, and such a skillful adaptation to the
requirements of the moment and the humor of the people, that it remains in
force to this day. It was hardly strange that men in open insurrection
against the king's authority should turn their wrath against one of its
conspicuous emblems, consecrated though it was by usage of immemorial
antiquity and by many a heroic achievement--the snow-white banner bearing
the golden lilies. But that glorious ensign could not be laid aside till
another was substituted for it; and the colors of the city, red and blue,
and white, the color of the army, were now blended together to form the
tricolor flag which has since won for itself a wider renown than even the
deeds of Bayard or Turenne had shed upon the lilies, and with which, under
every form of government, the nation has permanently identified itself.

They demanded more men, and a committee with three millions of francs
could easily command recruits. They stormed the Hotel des Invalides, where
thousands of muskets were kept fit for instant use; one division of
regular troops, whose commander, the Baron de Besenval, was a resolute
man, determined to do his duty, mutinying against his orders, and refusing
to fire on the mob. They took possession of the city gates, and, thinking
themselves now strong enough for any exploit, on the third day of the
insurrection, the 14th of July, they marched in overpowering force to
attack the Bastile.

In former times the Bastile had been the great fortress of the city; and,
as such, it had been fortified with all the resources of the engineer's
art. Massive well-armed towers rose at numerous points above walls of
great height and solidity. A deep fosse surrounded it, and, when well
supplied and garrisoned, it had been regarded with pride by the citizens,
as a bulwark capable of defying the utmost efforts of a foreign enemy, and
not the less to be admired because they never expected it to be exposed to
such a test; but as a warlike fortress it had long been disused. In recent
times it had only been known as the State-prison, identified more than any
other with the worst acts of despotism and barbarity. As such it was now
as much detested as it had formerly been respected; and it had nothing but
the outward appearance of strength to resist an attack. Evidently the
military authorities had never anticipated the possibility that the mob
would rise to such a height of audacity. But the rioters were now
encouraged by two days of unbroken success, and those who spurred them on
were well-informed as well as fearless. They knew that the castle was in
such a state that its apparent strength was its real weakness; that its
entire garrison consisted of little more than a hundred soldiers, most of
whom were superannuated veterans, a force inadequate to man one-tenth of
the defenses; and that the governor, De Launay, though personally brave,
was a man devoid of presence of mind, and nervous under responsibility.

Led by a brewer, named Santerre, who for the next three years bore a
conspicuous part in all the worst deeds of ferocity and horror, they
assailed the gates in vast numbers. While the attention of the scanty
garrison was fully occupied by this assault, another party scaled the
walls at a point where there was not even a sentinel to give the alarm,
and let down one draw-bridge across the fosse, while another was loosened,
as is believed, by traitors in the garrison itself. Swarming across the
passage thus opened to them, thousands of the assailants rushed in;
murdered the governor, officers, and almost every one of the garrison; and
with a savage ferocity, as yet unexampled, though but a faint omen of
their future crimes, they cut off the head and hands of De Launay and
several of their chief victims, and, sticking them on pikes, bore them as
trophies of their victory through the streets of the city.

The news of what had been done came swiftly to Versailles, where it
excited feelings in the Assembly which, had the king or his advisers been
capable of availing themselves of it with skill and firmness, might have
led to a salutary change in the policy of that body; for the greater part
of the deputies were thoroughly alarmed at the violence of Santerre and
his companions, and would in all probability have supported the king in
taking strong measures for the restoration of order. But Louis could not
be roused, even by the murder of his own faithful servant, to employ force
to save those who might be similarly menaced. The only expedient which
occurred to his mind was to concede all that the rioters required; and at
midday on the 15th he repaired to the Assembly, and announced that he had
ordered the removal of the troops from Paris and from Versailles;
declaring that he trusted himself to the Assembly, and wished to identify
himself with the nation. The Assembly could hardly have avoided feeling
that it was a strange time to select for withdrawing the troops, when an
armed mob was in possession of the capital; but, as they had formerly
requested that measure, they thought themselves bound    now to applaud
it, and, being for the moment touched by the compliment paid to
themselves, when he quit the Hall they unanimously rose and followed him,
escorting him back to the palace with vehement cheers. A vast crowd filled
the outer courts, who caught the contagion, and shouted out a demand for a
sight of the whole royal family; and presently, when the queen brought out
on the balcony her only remaining boy, whom the death of his brother had
raised to the rank of dauphin, and saluted them, with a graceful bow, the
whole mass burst out in one vociferous acclamation.

Yet even in that moment of congratulation there were base and malignant
spirits in the crowd, full of bitterness against the royal family, and
especially against the queen, whom they had evidently been taught to
regard as the chief obstacle to the reforms which they desired. Her
faithful waiting-woman, Madame de Campan, had gone down into the
court-yard and mingled with the crowd, to be the better able to judge of
their real feelings. She could see that many were disguised; and one
woman, whose veil of black lace, with which she concealed her features,
showed that she did not belong to the lowest class, seized her violently
by the arm, calling her by her name, and bid her "go and tell her queen
not to interfere any more in the Government, but to leave her husband and
the good States-general to work out the happiness of the people." Others
she heard uttering threats of vengeance against Madame de Polignac. And
one, while pouring forth "a thousand invectives" against both king and
queen, declared that it should soon be impossible to find even a fragment
of the throne on which they were now seated.

Marie Antoinette was greatly alarmed, not for herself, but for her
husband; and, now that he had determined on withdrawing the soldiers from
the capital, she earnestly entreated him to accompany them, taking the not
unreasonable view that the violence of the Parisian mob would be to some
extent quelled, and the well-intentioned portion of the Assembly would
have greater boldness to support their opinions, if the king were thus
placed out of the reach of danger from any fresh outbreak; and it was
generally understood that an attack on Versailles itself was
anticipated.[3] She felt so certain of the wisdom of such a course, and so
sanguine of prevailing, that she packed up her diamonds, burned many of
her papers, and drew up a set of orders for the arrangement of the details
of the journey. But on the morning of the 16th she was compelled to inform
Madame Campan that the plan was given up. Large portions of the Parisian
mob, and among them one deputation of the fish-women, who in this, as well
as on more festive occasions, claimed equally to take the lead, had come
out to demand that the king should visit Paris; and the Ministerial
Council thought it safer for him to comply with that petition than to
throw himself into the arms of the soldiers, a step which might not
improbably lead to a civil war.

To the queen this seemed the most dangerous course of all. She knew that
both at Versailles and at Paris the agents of the Duke of Orleans had been
scattering money with a lavish hand; and she scarcely doubted that either
on his road, or in the city, her husband would be assassinated, or at the
least detained by the mob as a prisoner and a hostage.

Had she not feared to increase his danger, she would have accompanied him;
but at such a crisis it required more courage and fortitude to separate
herself from him; and the most courageous part was ever that which was
most natural to her. But, though she took no precautions for herself, she
was as thoughtful as ever for her friends; and, knowing how obnoxious the
Duchess de Polignac was to the multitude, she insisted on her departing
with her family. The duchess fled, not unwillingly; and at the same time
others also quit Versailles who had not the same plea of delicacy of sex
to excuse their terrors, and who were bound by every principle of duty to
remain by the king's side the more steadily the greater might be the
danger. The Prince de Conde, who certainly at one time had been a brave
man, and had won an honorable name, worthy of his intrepid ancestor, in
the Seven Years' War; his brother, the Prince de Conti; the Count
d'Artois, who, having always been the advocate of the most violent
measures, was doubly bound to stand forward in defense of his king and
brother, all fled, setting the first example of that base emigration which
eventually left the king defenseless in the midst of his enemies. The
Baron de Breteuil and some of the ministers made similar provision for
their own safety; though it may be said, as some extenuation of their
ignoble flight, that they had no longer any official duties to detain
them, since the king had already dismissed them, and on the evening of the
16th had written to Necker to beg him to return without delay and resume
his office, claiming his instant obedience as a proof of the attachment
and fidelity which he had promised when departing five days before.

On the morning of the 17th, Louis set out for Paris in a single carriage,
escorted by a very slender guard and accompanied by a party of the
deputies. He was fully alive to the danger he was incurring. He knew that
threats had been openly uttered that he should not reach Paris alive;[4]
and he had prepared for his journey as for death, burning his papers,
taking the sacrament, and making arrangements for a regency. Marie
Antoinette was almost hopeless of his safety. She sat with her children in
her private room, shedding no tears, lest the knowledge of her grief
should increase the alarm of her attendants; but her carriages were kept
harnessed, and she had prepared and learned by heart a short speech, with
which, if the worst news which she apprehended should arrive, she intended
to repair to the Assembly, and claim its protection for the wife and
children of their sovereign.[5] But often, as she rehearsed it, her voice,
in spite of all her efforts, was broken by sobs, and her reiterated
exclamation, "They will never let him return!" but too truly expressed the
deep forebodings of her heart.

They were not yet fated to be realized; the Insurrection Committee had
already organized a force which they had entitled the National Guard, and
of which they had conferred the command on the Marquis de La Fayette, And
at the gates of the city the king was met by him and the mayor, a man
named Bailly, who had achieved a considerable reputation as a
mathematician and an astronomer, but who was thoroughly imbued with the
leveling and irreligious doctrines of the school of the Encyclopedists. No
men in Paris were less likely to treat their sovereign with due respect.

Since his return from America, La Fayette had been living in retirement on
his estate, till at the recent election he had been returned to the
States-general as one of the representatives of the nobles for his native
province of Auvergne. He had taken no part in the debates, being entirely
destitute of political abilities;[6] and he had apparently no very
distinct political views, but wavered between a desire for a republic,
such, as that of which he had witnessed the establishment in America, and
a feeling in favor of a limited monarchy such as he understood to exist in
Great Britain, though he had no accurate comprehension of its most
essential principles. But his ruling passion was a desire for popularity;
and as he had always been vain of his unbending ill-manners as a proof of
his liberal sentiments,[7] and as his vanity made him regard kings and
queens with a general dislike, as being of a rank superior to his own, he
looked on the present occurrence as a favorable opportunity for gaining
the good-will of the mob, by showing marked disrespect to Louis. He would
not even pay him the ordinary compliment of appearing in uniform, but
headed his new troops in plain clothes; and even those were not such as
belonged to his rank, but were the ordinary dress of a plain citizen;
while Bailly's address, as Louis entered the gates, was marked with the
most studied and gratuitous insolence. "Sire," said he, "I present to your
majesty the keys of your good city of Paris. They are the same which were
presented to Henri IV. He had conquered his people: to-day the people have
conquered their king."

Louis proceeded onward to the Hotel de Ville, in a strange procession,
headed by a numerous band of fish-women, always prominent, and recruited
at every step by a crowd of rough peasant-looking men, armed with
bludgeons, scythes, and every variety of rustic weapons, evidently on the
watch for some opportunity to create a tumult, and seeking to provoke one
by raising from time to time vociferous shouts of "Vive la nation!" and
uttering ferocious threats against any one who might chance to exclaim,
"Vive le roi!" But they were disconcerted by the perfect calmness of the
king, on whom danger to himself seemed the only thing incapable of making
an impression. On Bailly's insolent speech he had made no comment,
remarking, in a whisper to his principal attendant, that he had better
appear not to have heard it. And now at the Hotel de Ville his demeanor
was as unruffled as if every thing that had happened had been in perfect
accordance with his wishes. He made a short speech, in which he confirmed
all the concessions and promises which he had previously made. He even
placed in his hat a tricolor cockade, which the mayor had the effrontery
to present to him, though it was the emblem of the revolt of his subjects
and of the defeat of his troops. And at last such an effect had his
fearless dignity on even the fiercest of his enemies, that when he
afterward came out on the balcony to show himself to the crowd beneath,
the whole mass raised the shout of "Vive le roi!" with as much enthusiasm
as had ever greeted the most feared or the most beloved of his

His return to the barrier resembled a triumphal procession. Yet, happy as
it seemed that outrage had thus been averted and unanimity restored, the
result of the day can not, perhaps, be deemed entirely fortunate, since it
probably contributed to fix more deeply in the king's mind the belief that
concession to clamor was the course most likely to be successful. Nor did
the queen, though for the moment her despondency was changed to thankful
exultation, at all conceal from herself that the perils which had been
escaped were certain to recur; and that vigilance and firmness would
surely again be called for to repel them--qualities which she could find
in herself, but which she might well doubt her ability to impart to

Her own attention was for a moment occupied by the necessary work of
selecting a new governess for her children in the place of Madame de
Polignac; and after some deliberation her choice fell on the Marchioness
de Tourzel, a lady of the most spotless character, who seems to have been
in every respect well fitted for so important an office. As Marie
Antoinette had scarcely any previous acquaintance with her, it was by her
character alone that she had been recommended to her; as was gracefully
expressed in the brief speech with which Marie Antoinette delivered her
little charges into her hands. "Madame," said she, "I formerly intrusted
my children to friendship; to-day I intrust them to virtue;[9]" and, a day
or two afterward, to make easier the task which the marchioness had not
undertaken without some unwillingness, she addressed her a letter in which
she describes the character of her son, and her own principles and method
of education, with an impartiality and soundness of judgment which could
not have been surpassed by one who had devoted her whole attention to the

"July 25th, 1789.

"My son is four years and four months old, all but two days. I say nothing
of his size nor of his general appearance; it is only necessary to see
him. His health has always been good, but even in his cradle we perceived
that his nerves were very delicate.... This delicacy of his nerves is such
that any noise to which he is not accustomed frightens him. For instance,
he is afraid of dogs because he once heard one bark close to him; and I
have never obliged him to see one, because I believe that, as his reason
grows stronger, his fears will pass away. Like all children who are strong
and healthy, he is very giddy, very volatile, and violent in his passions;
but he is a good child, tender, and even caressing, when his giddiness
does not run away with him. He has a great sense of what is due to
himself, which, if he be well managed, one may some day turn to his good.
Till he is entirely at his ease with any one, he can restrain himself,
and even stifle his impatience and his inclination to anger, in order to
appear gentle and amiable. He is admirably faithful when once he has
promised any thing, but he is very indiscreet; he is thoughtless in
repeating any thing that he has heard; and often, without in the least
intending to tell stories, he adds circumstances which his own imagination
has put into his head. This is his greatest fault, and it is one for which
he must be corrected. However, taken altogether, I say again, he is a good
child; and by treating him with allowance, and at the same time with
firmness, which must be kept clear of severity, we shall always be able to
do all that we can wish with him. But severity would revolt him, for he
has a great deal of resolution for his age. To give you an instance: from
his very earliest childhood the word _pardon_ has always offended him. He
will say and do all that you can wish when he is wrong, but as for the
word _pardon_, he never pronounces it without tears and infinite

"I have always accustomed my children to have great confidence in me, and,
when they have done wrong, to tell me themselves; and then, when I scold
them, this enables me to appear pained and afflicted at what they have
done rather than angry. I have accustomed them all to regard 'yes' or
'no,' once uttered by me, as irrevocable; but I always give them reasons
for my decision, suitable to their ages, to prevent their thinking that my
decision comes from ill-humor. My son can not read, and he is very slow at
learning; but he is too giddy to apply. He has no pride in his heart, and
I am very anxious that he should continue to feel so. Our children always
learn soon enough what they are. He is very fond of his sister, and has a
good heart. Whenever any thing gives him pleasure, whether it be the going
anywhere, or that any one gives him any thing, his first movement always
is to ask that his sister may have the same. He is light-hearted by
nature. It is necessary for his health that he should be a great deal in
the open air; and I think it is better to let him play and work in the
garden on the terrace, than to take him longer walks. The exercise which
children take in running about and playing in the open air is much more
healthy than forcing them to walk, which often makes their backs

Some of these last recommendations may seem to show that the governess
was, to some extent, regarded as a nurse as well as a teacher; and when we
find Marie Antoinette complaining of want of discretion in a child of four
years old, it may perhaps be thought that she is expecting rather more of
such tender years than is often found in them; that she is inclined to be
overexacting rather than overindulgent; an error the more venial, since it
is probable that the educators of princes are more likely to go astray in
the opposite direction. But it is impossible to avoid being struck with
the candor with which she judges her boy's character, and with the
judiciousness of her system of education; and equally impossible to resist
the conviction that a boy of good disposition, trained by such a mother,
had every chance of becoming a blessing to his subjects, if fate had only
allowed him to succeed to the throne which she had still a right to look
forward to for him as his assured inheritance.


Necker resumes Office.--Outrages in the Provinces.--Pusillanimity of the
Body of the Nation.--Parties in the Assembly.--Views of the
Constitutionalists or "Plain."--Barnave makes Overtures to the Court.--The
Queen rejects them.--The Assembly abolishes all Privileges, August 4th.--
Debates on the Veto.--An Attack on Versailles is threatened.--Great
Scarcity in Paris.--The King sends his Plate to be melted down.--The
Regiment of Flanders is brought up to Versailles.--A Military Banquet is
held in the Opera-house.--October 5th, a Mob from Paris marches on
Versailles.--Blunders of La Fayette--Ferocity of the Mob on the 5th.--
Attack on the Palace on the 6th.--Danger and Heroism of the Queen.--The
Royal Family remove to Paris.--Their Reception at the Barrier and at the
Hotel de Ville.--Shabbiness of the Tuileries.--The King fixes his
Residence there.

Necker had obeyed the king's summons the moment that he received it, and
before the end of the month he returned to Versailles and resumed his
office. But, even before the king's dispatch reached him, Paris had
witnessed terrible proofs that the tranquillity which the king's visit to
the capital was supposed to have re-established was but temporary. The
populace had broken out into fresh tumults, murdering some of Breteuil's
colleagues with circumstances of frightful barbarity; while intelligence
of similar disturbances in the provinces was constantly arriving. In
Normandy, in Alsace, and in Provence, in the towns, and in the rural
districts, the towns-people and the peasants rose against their wealthier
neighbors or their landlords, burning their houses, and commonly murdering
the owners with the most revolting barbarity. Some were torn into pieces;
some were roasted alive; some had actually portions of their flesh cut off
and eaten by their murderers in their own sight, before the blow was given
which terminated their agonies. Their sex did not save ladies from being
victims of the same cruelties, nor did it prevent women from being actors
in them.

Yet the horror of these scenes was scarcely stranger than the
pusillanimity of those who endured them unresistingly; for there were not
wanting instances of magistrates honest enough to detest, and courageous
enough to chastise, such outrages; and wherever the effort was made it
succeeded so completely as to fix no slight criminality on those who
submitted to them. In Dauphiny, the States of the province raised a small
guard, which quelled the first attempts to cause riots there, and hanged
the ringleaders. In Macon, a similar force, though not three hundred
strong, encountered a band of brigands, six thousand in number, and
brought back two hundred prisoners, the chiefs of whom were instantly
executed, and by their prompt punishment tranquillity was restored.
Similar firmness would have saved other districts, which now allowed
themselves to be the victims of ravage and murder; as afterward it would
have preserved the whole country, even when the madness and wickedness of
subsequent years were at their height; for in no part of the kingdom did
those who perpetrated or sympathized with the crimes which have made the
Revolution a by-word, approach the number of those who loathed them, but
who had not the courage or foresight to withstand them. It seemed as if a
long course of misgovernment, and the example of the profligacy and
impiety set by the higher classes for many generations, had demoralized
the entire people, some in their excesses discarding the ordinary
instincts of human beings; while the bulk of the nation had lost even that
courage which had once been among its most shining qualities, and had no
longer the manliness to resist outrages which they abhorred, even when
their own safety was staked upon their repression.

And similar weakness was exhibited in the Assembly itself; for,
unquestionably, the party which at last prevailed was not that which was
originally the strongest. Like most assemblies of the kind, it was divided
into three parties--the extreme Royalists, or "the Right;" the extreme
Reformers (who were subdivided into several sections), or "the Left;" and
between them the moderate Constitutionalists, or "the Plain," as they were
called, from occupying seats in the middle of the hall, between the raised
benches on either side. And to the last party belonged all the men most
distinguished either for statesman-like perceptions or for eloquence,
Mirabeau himself agreeing with them in all their leading principles,
though he never formally enrolled himself in the ranks of any party.

The majority of the Constitutionalists were as loyal to the king's person
and dignity as the extreme Royalists; their most eloquent speaker, a young
lawyer named Barnave, at the first opening of the States had even sought
to open a direct communication with the court, begging Madame de
Lamballe[1] to assure the queen of the wish of himself and all his friends
to maintain the king in the full enjoyment and exercise of what he called
a Constitutional authority, borrowing the idea and expression from the
English Government. But though Marie Antoinette had no objection to the
king of his own accord renouncing portions of the power which had been
claimed and exerted by his predecessors, she would not hear of the States
taking upon themselves to impose such sacrifices on him, or to curtail his
authority by any exercise of their own; and she rejected with something
like disdain the support of those whose alliance was only to be purchased
on such conditions. Barnave, like Mirabeau, felt insulted; determined to
revenge himself, and for a while united himself to the fiercest of the
Republicans; while the Right, with incredible folly, often played into his
hand, joining the Left, of which many members avowedly aimed at the
abolition of royalty, and with none of whom they had one opinion or
sentiment in common to defeat the Constitutionalists, with whom they
practically had but very slight differences. And thus, as with a base
pusillanimity, many, both of the Right and of the Plain, fled from the
country after the tumults of October, the mastery of the Assembly
gradually fell into the hands of that party which contained by far fewer
men of ability or honesty than either of the others, but which surpassed
them both in distinctness of object, and in unscrupulous resolution to
carry out its views.

But the events of July, the mutiny of the troops, the successful
insurrection of the mob, the destruction of the Bastile, and the visit of
Louis to Paris, had been a series of damaging blows to the Government; and
as each successive exploit gave encouragement to the movement party,
events proceeded with extreme rapidity. Necker, who returned to Versailles
on the 27th of July, showed more clearly than ever his unfitness for the
chief post in the administration at such a crisis, by devoting himself
solely to financial arrangements, and omitting to take, on the part of the
crown, the initiative in any one of the reforms which the king had
promised. Those he permitted to be intrusted to a committee of the
Assembly; and the committee had scarcely met when the Assembly took the
matter into its own hands; and in a strange panic, and at a single
sitting, swept away the privileges of both Nobles and clergy, those who
seemed personally most concerned in their maintenance being the foremost
in urging their suppression. A member of the oldest nobility proposed the
abolition of the privileges of the Nobles. A bishop moved the extinction
of tithes; Bretons, Burgundians, Provencals, renounced for their fellow-
citizens the old distinctions and immunities to which each province had
hitherto clung with an unyielding if somewhat unreasoning attachment; and
the whole was crowned by the Archbishop of Paris proposing a celebration
of the _Te Deum_, as an expression of gratitude to God for having inspired
a series of actions calculated to confer so much happiness on the nation.

Though he could not avoid seeing the mischievous character of many of the
resolutions thus tumultuously passed, and though his royal assent to them
was asked in language unceremonious and almost peremptory in its curtness,
Louis could not bring himself, or perhaps did not venture, to refuse his
sanction to them. He had laid down a rule for himself to refuse no
concession except such as on religious grounds his conscience might revolt
from; and on the 18th he signified his formal acceptance of the
resolutions, and of the title of "Restorer of French Liberty." It was an
act of great weakness, and was rewarded, as such acts generally are, by
further encroachments on his authority. The progress of the Left was not
even arrested by a quarrel between some of its members (who, being
clergymen, were not inclined to be reduced to beggary by the extinction of
their incomes), and Mirabeau, who, not unnaturally, bore the priests
especial ill-will. Before the end of the month, the Assembly even deprived
the king of the power of withholding his assent from measures which it
might pass, enacting that he should no longer possess an absolute "veto,"
as it was called, and Necker, exhibiting on this question an incapacity
more glaring than even his former conduct had displayed, induced the king
to yield this point also; and to express his own preference for what its
contrivers called a suspensive veto--a power, that is, of withholding his
assent to any measure till it had been passed by two successive
Assemblies. The discussions on this most momentous point had been very
vehement in the Assembly itself; and, besides the greatness of the
principle involved in the decision, they have a peculiar importance as
showing that Mirabeau had not the absolute power over the minds of the
members which he believed himself to possess; since he contended with all
the energy of his temper, and with irresistible force of argument, against
a vote which, as he declared, could only take the power from the king to
vest it in the Assembly, and yet was wholly unable to carry more than a
small minority with him in his opposition.

And this defeat may have had some share in prompting him to countenance
and aid, if indeed he was not the original contriver of, a plot which was
undoubtedly intended to produce a change in the whole frame-work of the
Government. The harvest had been bad, and at the beginning of September
Paris was suffering under a scarcity almost as severe as had ever been
felt in the depth of winter. The emergency was so great that the king sent
all his plate to the Mint to be melted down, to procure money to purchase
food for the starving citizens; and many patriotic individuals, Necker
himself being among the most munificent, gave their plate and jewels for
the same benevolent object. But relief procured from such sources was
unavoidably of too limited a character to last long. Though Necker
proposed and the Assembly voted taxes of prodigious amount, they could not
at once be made available, and some of the lower classes were said to have
died of actual famine. In their distress the citizens looked to the king,
and attributed their misery in a great degree to his ignorance of their
situation, which was caused by his living at Versailles. They nicknamed
him the "Baker," as if he could supply them with bread, and began to
clamor for him at least to take up an occasional residence among them in
in his capital. From raising a cry, the step was easy to organize a riot
to compel him to do so. And to this object the partisans of the Duke of
Orleans, assisted, if not prompted, by Mirabeau, now began to apply
themselves, hoping that the result would be the deposition of Louis and
the enthronement of the duke, who might be glad to take the great orator
for his prime minister.

So certain did the conspirators feel of success, that they took no pains
to keep their machinations secret. As early as the middle of September
intelligence was received at Versailles that the Parisians would march
upon that town in force, on the 5th of October; and the Assembly was
greatly alarmed, believing, not without reason, that the object of the
intended attack was to overawe and overbear them. The magistrates of the
town were even more terrified, and besought the king to bring up at least
one regiment for their protection. And, prudent and reasonable as the
request was, the compliance with it furnished the agents of sedition with
pretexts for further violence.

A regiment, known as that of Flanders, was sent for from the frontiers,
and speedily arrived at Versailles, when, according to their old and
hospitable fashion, the Body-guard,[2] who regarded Versailles as their
home, invited the officers, and with them the officers of the Swiss Guard,
and those of the town militia also, to a banquet on the 1st of October.
The opera-house, as had often been done in similar instances, was lent for
the occasion; and the boxes were filled with the chief ladies of the court
and of the town, and also with many members of the Assembly, as
spectators. So enthusiastic were the acclamations that greeted the toast
of the king's health, that, though Marie Antoinette had previously desired
that the royal family should not appear to have any connection with the
entertainment, the captain of the guard, the Count de Luxembourg, had no
difficulty in persuading her that it would but be a graceful recognition
of such spontaneous and sincere loyalty at such a time if she were to
honor the banquet with her presence, though but by the briefest visit.
Louis, too, accepted the proposal with greater warmth than usual, and when
the royal pair with their children--the queen, as was her custom, leading
one in each hand--descended from their apartments and walked through the
banquet-hall, the enthusiasm was redoubled. The spectators, among whom
were many members of the Assembly, caught the contagion. Loyal cheers
resounded from every part of the theatre, and the feelings excited became
so fervid that some officers of the National Guard, who were among the
guests, reversed their new tricolor cockade, and, displaying the white
side outermost, seemed to have resumed the time-honored badge under which
the army had reaped all its old glories. The band struck up a favorite air
from one of the new operas, "Peut-on affliger ce qu'on aime?" which those
who saw the anxiety which recent events had already stamped upon the
queen's majestic brow could hardly avoid applying to their royal mistress;
and when it followed it up by Blondel's lamentation for Richard, "O
Richard, O mon roi, l'univers t'abandonne," the first notes of the
well-known song touched a chord in every heart, and the whole company,
courtiers, ladies, soldiers, and deputies, were all carried away in a
perfect delirium of loyal rapture. The whole company escorted the royal
family back to their apartments; though it was remarked afterward that
some of the soldiers, who on this occasion were the most vociferous in
their exultation, were, before the end of the same week, among the most
furious threateners and assailants of the palace.

But a demonstration such as this, in which the whole number of the
soldiers concerned did not exceed fifteen hundred men, could not deter the
organizers of the impending riot from carrying out their plan: if it did
not even aid them by the opportunities which it afforded for spreading
abroad exaggerated accounts of what had taken place, as an additional
proof of the settled hatred and contempt which the court entertained for
the people. Mirabeau had suggested that the best chance of success for an
insurrection in Paris lay in placing women at its head; and, in compliance
with his hint, at day-break on the appointed morning a woman of notorious
infamy of character moved toward the chief market-place of Paris, beating
a drum, and calling on all who heard her to follow her.[3] She soon
gathered round her a troop of followers worthy of such a leader, market-
women, fish-women, and men in women's clothes, whose deep voices, and the
power with which they brandished their weapons, betrayed their sex through
their disguise.

One man, Maillard, who had been conspicuous as one of the fiercest of the
stormers of the Bastile, disdained any concealment or dress but his own;
they chose him for their leader, mingling with their cries for bread
horrid threats against the queen and the aristocrats. Their numbers
increased till they felt themselves strong enough to attack the Hotel de
Ville. A detachment of the National Guard who were on duty offered them no
resistance, pleading that they had received no orders from La Fayette; and
the rioters, now amounting to many thousands, having armed themselves from
the store of muskets and swords which they found in the armory, passed on
to the barrier and took the road to Versailles.

The riot had lasted four hours, and the very last of the rioters had
already passed through the gates before La Fayette reached the Hotel de
Ville, though his office of Commander of the National Guard made the
preservation of tranquillity one of his most especial duties. He had
evidently feared to risk his popularity by resisting the mob, and even now
he refused to act at all till be had received a written order from the
Municipal Council; and, when he had obtained that, he did not obey it; but
preferred complying with the demands of his own soldiers, who insisted on
following the rioters to Versailles, where they would exterminate the
regiment of Flanders; bring the king back to Paris; and perhaps depose him
and appoint a Regent. Yet even this open avowal of their treasonable views
did not deter their unworthy general from submitting to their dictates. He
had indeed no desire for the success of their designs; for he had no
connection with the Duc d'Orleans, and no inclination to co-operate with
Mirabeau, who he knew was in the habit of speaking of him with contempt;
but he had not firmness to resist their demand. His vanity, too, always
his most predominant feeling, was flattered by the desire they expressed
to retain him as their commander, and at last he procured from the
magistrates a fresh order, authorizing him to comply with the soldiers'
clamor, and to lead them to Versailles.

When before the magistrates he had professed an expectation that he should
be able to induce the king to comply with the wishes of the Assembly, and
a determination to restrain the excesses of the mob; but the whole day had
been so wasted by his irresolution that when he at last put his regiment
in motion it was seven o'clock in the evening--full four hours after
Maillard and his fish-women had reached Versailles. The news of their
approach and of their designs had been brought to the palace by Monsieur
de Chinon, the eldest son of the Duc de Richelieu, who, at great personal
risk, had disguised himself as an artisan, and had marched some way with
the crowd to learn their object. He reported that even the women and
children were armed, that the great majority were drunk; that they were
beguiling the way with the most ferocious threats, and that they had been
joined by a gang of men who gave themselves the name of "Coupe-tetes," and
boasted that they should have ample opportunity of proving their title to

In addition to the warnings previously received, a rumor had reached the
palace on the preceding evening that the Duc d'Orleans had come down to
Versailles in disguise,[4] a movement which could hardly have an innocent
object; but so little heed had been given to the intelligence, or, it may
perhaps be said, so little was it supposed that, if such an attack was
really meditated, any warning would have been given, that Monsieur de
Chinon found the palace empty. Louis had gone to hunt in the Bois de
Meudon; Marie Antoinette was at the Little Trianon. But messengers easily
found them. The queen came in with speed from her garden, which she was
destined never to behold again; the king hastened hack from his coverts;
and by the time that they returned, the Count de St. Priest, the Minister
of the Household, had their carriages ready for them to retire to
Rambouillet, and he earnestly pressed the adoption of such a course.
Louis, as usual, could not make up his mind. He sat in his chair,
repeating that it was a moment to think seriously. "Rather," said Marie
Antoinette, "say that it is a time to act promptly." He would gladly have
had her depart with her children, but she refused to leave him, declaring
that her place was by his side; that, as the daughter of Maria Teresa, she
did not fear death; and after a time he changed his mind and ceased to
wish even her to retire, clinging to his old conviction that conciliation
was always possible. He believed that he had won over even the worst of
the mob, and that all danger was past.

Versailles witnessed a strange scene that morning. The moment that the mob
reached the town, they forced their way into the Assembly Hall, where
Maillard, as their spokesman, after terrifying the members with ferocious
threats against the whole body of the Nobles, demanded that the Assembly
should send a deputation to the king to represent to him the distress of
the people, and that a party of the women should accompany it. Louis
consented to receive them, and when they reached the palace, the women,
disorderly and ferocious as they were, were so awed by the magnificence
and pomp which they beheld, and by the actual presence of the king and
queen, that they could only summon up a few modest and humble words of
petition, and one, a young and pretty girl of seventeen, fainted with the
excitement. One of the princesses brought her a glass of water: she
recovered, and, as she knelt to kiss the king's hand, Louis kissed her
himself, and, transported by his affability, she and her companions quit
the apartment, uttering loud cheers for the king and queen. But this had
not been the impression which their leaders had intended them to receive;
and, when they reached the streets, their new-born loyalty so exasperated
their comrades that the soldiers had some difficulty in saving them from
their fury.

Meanwhile, the mob increased every hour. They occupied the court-yard of
the palace, roaring out ferocious threats, the most sanguinary of which
were directed against the queen. The President of the Assembly moved that
the members should adjourn and repair to the palace for the protection of
the royal family, but Mirabeau resisted the proposal, and procured its
rejection; and when a large party of the members went, as individuals, to
place their services at the king's disposal, he mingled with the rioters,
tampering with the soldiers, and urging them to espouse what he called the
cause of the people. As it grew dark, the crowd grew more and more
tumultuous and violent. The Body-guard, who were all gentlemen, were
faithful and fearless; but it began to be seen that none of the other
troops, not even the regiment of Flanders, could be trusted. Some of them
even fired on the Body-guard, and mortally wounded its commander, the
Marquis de Savonieres; while Louis, adhering to his unhappy policy of
conciliation even at such a moment, sent down orders to the officer who
succeeded to the command that the men were not to use their weapons, and
that all bloodshed was to be avoided. "Tell the king," replied M.
d'Huillier, "that his orders shall be obeyed; but that we shall all be

The mob grew fiercer when it became known that La Fayette and his regiment
were approaching. No one knew what course he might take, but the
ringleaders of the rioters resolved on a strenuous effort to render his
arrival useless by their previous success. Guns were fired, heavy blows
were dealt on the railings of the inner court-yard and on the gates; and
the danger seemed so imminent that the mob might force its way into the
palace, that the deputies themselves besought the king to delay no longer,
but to retire to Rambouillet. He was still irresolute, and still trusting
to his plan of conciliating by non-resistance. The queen, though more
earnest than ever that he should depart, still nobly adhered to her own
view of duty, and refused to leave him; but, hoping that he might change
his mind, she gave a written order to keep the carriages harnessed, and to
prepare to force a passage for them if the life of the king should appear
to be in danger; but, she added, they were not to be used if she alone
were threatened.

At last, when it was nearly midnight, La Fayette arrived. With a singular
perverseness of folly, at a time when every moment was of consequence, he
had halted his men a mile out of the town to make them a speech in praise
of himself and his own loyalty, and to administer to them an oath to be
faithful to the nation, to the law, and to the king; an oath needless if
they were inclined to keep it; useless, if they were not; and in the state
of feeling then common, mischievous in the order in which he ranged the
powers to which he required them to profess allegiance. At last he reached
the palace. Leaving his men below, he ascended to the king's apartments,
and, laying his hand on his heart, assured the king that he had no more
loyal servant than himself. Louis was not given to sarcasm: yet some of
the bystanders fancied that there was a tone of irony in his voice when in
reply he expressed his conviction of the marquis's sincerity; and perhaps
La Fayette thought so too, for he proceeded to harangue his majesty on his
favorite subject of his own courage; describing the dangers which, as he
affirmed, he had incurred in the course of the day. After which he
descended into the court-yard to assure the soldiers that the king had
promised to accede to their wishes; and then returned to the royal
apartments to inform the king that contentment was restored, and that he
himself would be responsible for the tranquillity of the night.

The royal family, exhausted with the fatigues of so terrible a day,
retired to rest, the queen expressly enjoining her ladies to follow her
example. Fortunately they were too anxious for her safety to obey her,
and, with their own attendants, kept watch in the room outside her
bed-chamber. But La Fayette, in spite of the responsibility which he had
taken upon himself, felt no such anxiety. He declared himself tired and
sleepy; and, leaving the palace, went to a friend's house to ask for a
bed.[5] Yet he well knew that the crowd was still assembled around the
palace, and was increasing in violence. Though the night was stormy and
wet, the rioters sought no shelter except such as was afforded by a
hurried resort to the wine-shops in the neighborhood, where they inflamed
their intoxication, and from which they soon returned to renew their
savage clamor and threats, increasing the disorder by keeping up a
frequent fire of their muskets. Throughout the night the Duc d'Orleans was
briskly going to and fro, his emissaries scattering money among the
rioters, who seemed to have no definite purpose or plan, till, as day
began to break, one of the gates leading into the Princes' Court was seen
to be open. It had been intrusted to some of La Fayette's soldiers, and
could not have been opened without treachery. The crowd poured in,
uttering fiercer threats than ever, from the belief that their prey was
within their reach. There was, in truth, nothing between them and the
staircase which led to the royal apartments except two gallant gentlemen,
M. des Huttes and M. Moreau, the sentries of the detachment of the Body-
guard on duty, whose quarters were at the head of the staircase in a
saloon opposite to the queen's chamber. But these brave men were worthy of
the best days of the French army. The more formidable the mob, and the
greater the danger, the more imperative to their loyal hearts was the duty
to defend those whose safety was intrusted to their vigilance; and with so
dauntless a front did they stand to their posts that for a moment the
ruffians recoiled and shrunk from attacking them, till D'Orleans himself
came forward, waving to them with his hand a signal to force the way in,
and pointing out to them which way to take.

What, then, could two men effect against such a multitude? Des Huttes
perished, pierced by a hundred pikes, and torn into pieces by his blood-
thirsty assailants. Moreau, with equal valor, but with better fortune,
backed up the stairs, fighting so desperately as he retreated that he gave
his comrades time to barricade the doors leading to the queen's
apartments, and to come to his assistance. As they drew him back, terribly
wounded, into the guardroom, De Varicourt and Durepaire took his place. De
Varicourt was soon slain, but Durepaire, a man of prodigious strength and
prowess, held the assassins at bay for some time, till he too fell,
reduced to helplessness by a score of deep wounds; when he, in his turn,
was replaced by Miomandre. His devotion and intrepidity equaled that of
his comrades; he was eminently skillful also in the use of his weapons,
and with his own hand he struck down many of his assailants, till he was
gradually forced back by numbers, when he placed his musket as a barrier
across the door-way, and thus still kept his enemies at bay, while he
shouted to the queen's ladies, now separated from him by but a single
partition, to save the queen, for "the tigers with whom he was struggling
were aiming at her life."

In the annals of the ancient chivalry of the nation it had been recorded
as the most brilliant feat of Bayard, that, on a bridge of the Garigliano,
he had for a while, with his single arm, stemmed the onset of two hundred
Spaniards; and that glorious exploit of the model hero of the nation had
never been more faithfully copied and more nobly rivaled than it was on
this morning of shame and danger by Miomandre and his intrepid comrades,
as they successively stepped into the breach to fight against those whom
he truly called, not men, but tigers. It was but a brief moment before he
too was struck down; but he had gained for the ladies a respite sufficient
to enable them to secure the safety of their royal mistress. They roused
her from her bed, for her fatigue had been so great that she had hitherto
slept soundly through the uproar, and hurried her off to the apartments of
the king, who, having in been just similarly awakened, was coming to seek
her; and in a few minutes the whole family was collected in his
antechamber; while the Body-guard occupied the queen's bedroom, and the
rioters, balked of their intended victim, were pillaging the different
rooms into which they had been able to make their way. Luckily, La Fayette
was still absent: he was having his hair dressed with great composure,
while the mob, for whose contentment and orderly behavior he had vouched,
was plundering the royal palace and seeking its owners to murder them; and
in his absence the Marquis de Vaudreuil and a body of nobles took upon
themselves the office of defenders of the crown, and, going down to the
court-yard, reproached the National Guard with their inaction at such a
moment of danger, and with their manifest sympathy with the rioters. At
first, out of mere shame, the National Guard attempted to justify
themselves: "they had been told," they said, "that the Body-guard were the
aggressors; that they had attacked the people." "Do you pretend to
believe," said the gallant marquis, "that two hundred men have been mad
enough to attack thirty thousand?" The argument was irresistible; they
declared that if the Body-guard would assume the tricolor, they would
stand by them as brothers. And, by a reaction not uncommon at such times
of excitement, the two regiments became reconciled in a moment. As no
tricolor cockades could be procured, they exchanged shakos, and, in many
cases, arms. And presently, when the Coup-tetes, after mutilating the
bodies of two of the Body-guard who had been killed on the previous
evening, were preparing to murder two or three more who had fallen into
their hands, the National Guard dashed to their rescue, shouting out, with
a curious identification of their force with the old French army, that
"they would save the Body-guard who saved them at Fontenoy," and brought
them off unhurt.

Balked of their expected prey, the rioters grew more furious than ever; in
useless wrath they kept firing against the walls of the palace, and
shouting out a demand for the queen to show herself. She, with her
children, was still in the king's apartment, where the princesses, the
ministers, and a few courtiers were also assembled. Necker, in an agony of
terror and distress, sat with his face buried in his hands, unable to
offer any advice; La Fayette, who had just arrived, dwelt upon the dangers
which he had run, though no one else knew what they were, and assured the
king of the power which he still possessed to allay the tumult, if the
reasonable demands of the people (as he called them) were granted. Marie
Antoinette alone was undaunted and calm; or, at least, if in the depths of
her woman's heart she felt terror at the sanguinary and obscene threats of
her ruffianly enemies, she scorned to show it. When the firing began, M.
de Luzerne, one of the ministers, had quietly placed himself between her
and the window; but, while she thanked him for his devotion, she begged
him to retire, saying, with her habitually gracious courtesy, that it was
her place to be there,[6] not his, since the king could not afford to have
so faithful a servant endangered. And now, holding her little son and
daughter, one in each hand, she stepped out on the balcony, to confront
those who were shouting for her blood. "No children!" was their cry. She
led the dauphin and his sister back into the room, and, returning to the
balcony, stood before them alone, with her hands crossed and her eyes
looking up to heaven, as one who expected instant death, with a firmness
as far removed from defiance as from supplication. Even those ruthless
miscreants were awed by her magnanimous fearlessness; not a shot was
fired; for a moment it seemed as if her enemies had become her partisans.
Loud shouts of "Bravo!" and "Long live the queen!" were heard on all
sides; and one ruffian, who raised his gun to take aim at her, had his
weapon beaten down by those who stood near him, and ran some risk of being
himself sacrificed to their indignation. But this impulse of respect, like
other impulses of such a people, was short-lived, and presently the
multitude began to raise a shout, which expressed the original purpose
which had led the majority to march upon Versailles. "To Paris!" was the
cry, and again La Fayette volunteered his advice, urging the king to
comply with the request. By this time Louis had learned the value of the
marquis's loyalty. But he had no alternative. It was evident that the
rioters had the power of compelling compliance with their demand. And
accordingly he authorized the marquis to promise that he would remove his
family to Paris, and a few minutes afterward he himself went out on the
balcony with the queen, and himself announced his intention, with the view
of giving his act a greater appearance of being voluntarily resolved upon.

Soon after midday he set out, accompanied by the queen, his brother the
Count de Provence, his sister the Princess Elizabeth, and his children. It
was a strange and shameful retinue that escorted the King of France to his
capital. One party of the rioters, with Maillard and another ruffian named
Jourdan, the chief of the Coupe-tetes, at their head, had started two
hours before, bearing aloft in triumph the heads of the mangled
Body-guards, and combining such hideous mockery with their barbarity that
they halted at Sevres to compel a barber to dress the hair on the lifeless
skulls. And now the royal carriage was surrounded by a vast and confused
medley; market-women and the rest of the female rabble, with drunken gangs
of the ruffians who had stormed the palace in the morning, still
brandishing their weapons, or bearing loaves of bread on their pike-heads,
and singing out that they should all have enough of bread now, since they
were bringing the baker, the bakeress, and the baker's boy to Paris.[7]
The only part of the procession that bore even a decent appearance was a
small escort of 'different regiments--the Guards, the National Guards, and
the Body-guards; many of the latter still bleeding from the wounds which
they had received in the conflict and tumult of the morning. A train of
carriages containing a deputation of the members of the Assembly also
followed; Mirabeau himself having just earned a motion that the Assembly
was inseparable from the king, and that wherever he was there must be the
place of meeting for the great council of the nation. Yet, in spite of the
confidence which their presence might have been expected to diffuse among
the mob, and in spite of the hopes of coming plenty which the rioters
themselves announced, the royal party was not even yet safe from further
attacks. Some ruffians stabbed at the royal carriage as it passed with
their pikes, and several shots were fired at it, though fortunately they
missed their aim and no one was injured.[8]

To the queen the journey was more painful than to any one else. A few
weeks before she had congratulated Mademoiselle de Lamballe on not being a
mother--perhaps the bitterest exclamation that grief and anxiety ever
wrung from her lips; and now the keenest anxieties of a mother were indeed
added to those of a queen. The procession moved with painful slowness. No
provisions had been taken in the carriage, and the little dauphin was
suffering from hunger and begging for some food. Tears, which her own
danger could not bring to her eyes, flowed plentifully as she witnessed
the suffering of her child. She could only beg him to bear his privations
with patience; and she had the reward of the pains she had always taken to
inspire him with confident in her, in the fortitude with which, for the
rest of the day, he bore what to children of his age is probably the
severest hardship to which they can be exposed.[9]

So vast and disorderly was the procession that it was nine o'clock at
night before it reached Paris. Bailly again met the royal carriage at the
barrier, and, re-assuming the tone of coarse insult which he had adopted
on the king's previous visit, had the effrontery to describe the day so
full of horror to every one, and of humiliation and agony to those whom he
was addressing, as a glorious day. It was at such moments as these that
Louis's impassibility assumed the character of dignity. He disdained to
notice the mayor's insolence, and briefly answered that it was always with
pleasure and with confidence that he found himself among the inhabitants
of his good city of Paris. He proceeded to the Hotel de Ville, where the
council of civic magistrates was sitting; and where the president
addressed him in language which afforded a marked contrast to that of the
mayor, calling him "an adored father who had come to visit the place where
he could meet with the greatest number of his children." And it seemed as
if Bailly himself had become in some degree ashamed of his insolence; for
now, when Louis desired him, in reply to the president's address, to
repeat the answer which he had made to him at the barrier, he merely said
that the king had come with pleasure among the Parisians. "The king, sir,"
interrupted the queen, "added, 'and with confidence.'" "Gentlemen," said
Bailly, "you hear her majesty's words. You are happier in doing so than if
I myself had uttered them." The whole company burst into one rapturous
cheer, and at their request the king and queen showed themselves for a few
minutes at the windows, beneath which, late as the hour was, a vast
multitude was still collected, which received them with vociferous cheers.
And then the royal family, quitting the Hotel, drove to the Tuileries,
where their attendants had been hastily making such preparations as a few
hours allowed for their reception.

Since the completion of the Palace at Versailles the Tuileries had been
almost deserted.[10] The paint and gilding were tarnished, the curtains
were faded, many most necessary articles of furniture were altogether
wanting; and the whole was so shabby that it attracted the notice of even
the little dauphin. "How bad, mamma," said he, "every thing looks here."
"My boy," she replied, "Louis XIV. lived here comfortably enough." But
they had not yet decided on making it their permanent residence. La
Fayette, who had tried to induce the king to promise to do so, had been
distinctly refused; and for some days Louis did not make up his mind. But,
after a time, the fear, if he should propose to return, to Versailles, of
being met by an opposition on the part of the Assembly or the civic
magistrates, which he might be unable to surmount, or, if he should again
settle there, of his absence from the city furnishing a pretext for fresh
tumults, caused him to announce his intention of making Paris his
principal abode for the future. He gave orders for the removal of some
furniture and of the queen's library to the Tuileries; and, with something
of the apathy of despair, began to reconcile himself to his new abode and
his changed position.


Feelings of Marie Antoinette on coming to the Tuileries.--Her Tact in
winning the Hearts of the Common People.--Mirabeau changes his Views.--
Quarrel between La Fayette and the Duc d'Orleans.--Mirabeau desires to
offer his Services to the Queen.--Riots in Paris.--Murder of Francois.--
The Assembly pass a Vote prohibiting any Member from taking Office.--The
Emigration.--Death of the Emperor Joseph II.--Investigation into the Riots
of October.--The Queen refuses to give Evidence.--Violent Proceedings in
the Assembly.--Execution of the Marquis de Favras.

The comment made by Marie Antoinette on quitting Versailles was that "they
were undone; they were being dragged off, perhaps to death, which was
never far removed from captive sovereigns;[1]" and such henceforward was
her prevailing feeling. She may occasionally, prompted by her own innate
courage and sanguineness of disposition, have cherished a short-lived
hope, founded on a consciousness of the king's and her own purity of
intention, or on a belief, which she never wholly discarded, in the
natural goodness of heart of the French people when not led astray by
demagogues; and of their impulsive levity of disposition, which seemed to
make no change of temper on their part impossible; but her general feeling
was one of humiliation for the past and despair for the future. Not only
did the example of Charles I., whose fate was ever before her eyes, fill
her with dread for her husband's life (to her own danger she never gave a
thought), but she felt also that the cause and principle of royalty had
been degraded by the shameful scenes through which she had lately passed;
and we shall fail to do justice to the patience, fortitude, and energy of
her conduct during the remainder of her life, if we allow ourselves to
forget that these high qualities were maintained and exerted in spite of
the most depressing circumstances and the most discouraging convictions;
that she was struggling because it was her duty to struggle for her
husband's honor and her child's inheritance; but that she was never long
sustained by that incentive which, with so many, is absolutely
indispensable to steady and useful exertion--the anticipation of eventual

A letter which the very next morning she wrote to Mercy, who fortunately
still retained his old post as embassador, shows the courage with which
she still caught at every circumstance which seemed in the least hopeful;
and with what unfaltering tact she sought every opportunity of acting on
the impulsiveness which she regarded as one chief characteristic of the
French people.

"October 7th, 1789.

"I am quite well. You may be easy about me. If we could only forget where
we are and how we came here, we ought to be satisfied with the feelings of
the people, especially this morning. I hope, if bread does not fall short,
that many things will return to their proper order. I speak to the people,
militia, fish-women, and all: all offer me their hands; I give them mine.
In the Hotel de Ville I was personally well received. The people this
morning begged us to remain here. I answered them, speaking for the king,
who was by my side, that it depended on themselves whether we remained;
that we desired nothing better; that all animosities must be laid aside;
that the slightest renewal of bloodshed would make us flee, with horror.
Those who were nearest to me swore that all that was over. I told the
fish-women to go and tell others all that we had just said to one

And a day or two later, on the 10th, even while giving fuller expression
to her feelings of unhappiness, and of disgust at the events of the past
week, as to which she assures Mercy that "no description could be
exaggerated; on the contrary, that any account must fall far short of what
the king and she had seen and experienced," she yet repeats that "she
hopes to bring back to a right feeling the honest and sound portion of the
citizens and people. Unhappily, however," as she adds, "they are not the
most numerous body. Still, with gentleness and unwearied patience, she may
hope that at least she shall succeed in doing away with the horrible
distrust which occupies every mind, and which has dragged the king and
herself into the gulf in which they are at present." So keen at this time
was her feeling that one principal cause of their miseries was the unjust
distrust which the citizens in general conceived of the views and designs
of the court, that she desires Mercy not to try to see her; and, while she
describes the scantiness of the accommodation which her attendants had as
yet been able to provide for her, so that Madame Royale had a bed in her
dressing-room, and the little dauphin was in her own room, she finds
advantage in these arrangements, inconvenient as they were, since they
prevented any suspicion from arising that she was giving audiences which
she desired to keep secret.

She did not overrate the impression which she had made on the people; and
her faithful attendant, Madame Campan, has preserved more minute details
of the events of the 7th than she herself reported to the embassador. She
was hardly dressed when a huge crowd collected on the terrace under her
window, shouting for her to show herself; and, when she came forward, they
began to accost her in a mingled tone of expostulation and menace. "She
must drive away the courtiers who were the ruin of kings. She must love
the inhabitants of her good city." She replied "that she had always felt
so toward them; she had loved them while at Versailles; she should
continue to love them at Paris." "Ah," interrupted a virago, hardier than
her companions, "but on the 14th of July you would have besieged and
bombarded the city; and on the 6th of October you wanted to flee to the
frontier." She answered, in the gentlest tone, that "these were idle
stories, which they were wrong to believe; tales like these were what
caused at once the misery of the people and that of the best of kings."
Another woman addressed her in German. Marie Antoinette declared that "she
did not understand what she said; that she had become so completely French
that she had forgotten her native language;" and the compliment to their
country fairly vanquished them. They received it with shouts of "Bravo,"
and with loud clapping of their hands. They begged the ribbons and flowers
of her bonnet. She took them off with her own hand and distributed them
among them; and they divided the spoils with thankful exultation, smiling,
waving their hands, and crying out, "Long live Marie Antoinette! Long live
our good queen![3]"

For a time it seemed as if the fortunes of the king and country were being
weighed in an uncertain balance. One day some circumstances seemed to hold
out a prospect of the re-establishment of tranquillity, and of the return
of the masses to a better feeling. The next day these favorable
appearances were more than counterbalanced by fresh evidences of the
increasing power of the factious and unscrupulous demagogues. It was
greatly in favor of the crown that the triumph of the mob on the 6th of
October had led to violent quarrels between the Duc d'Orleans, La Fayette,
and Mirabeau. La Fayette had charged the duke with having entered into a
plot to assassinate him, and threatened to impeach him formally if he did
not at once quit the kingdom.[4] The duke trembled and consented, easily
procuring from the ministers, who were glad to get rid of him, a
diplomatic mission to England as a pretext for his departure; and
Mirabeau, who despised both the duke and the marquis, full of contempt for
the pusillanimity which the former had shown in the quarrel, abandoned all
idea of placing him on his cousin's throne. "Make him my king!" he
exclaimed; "I would not have him for my valet."

Emboldened by his success with the duke, La Fayette, who had great
confidence in his own address, next tried to win over or to get rid of
Mirabeau himself. He proposed to obtain an embassy for him also. The
suggestion of what was clearly an honorable exile in disguise was at once
declined.[5] He then offered him a large sum of money, for at that moment
he had the entire disposal of the civil list; but he found that the
great orator was disinclined to connect himself with him in any way, much
more to lay himself under any obligation to him. In fact, Mirabeau was at
this moment hoping to obtain a post in the home administration, where, if
he could once succeed in procuring a footing, he had no doubt of soon
obtaining the entire mastery; and the royal family was hardly settled at
the Tuileries before he applied to his friend, the Count de la Marck, whom
he rightly believed to enjoy the queen's good opinion, begging him to
express to her his ardent wish to serve her. He even drew up a long
memorial on the existing state of affairs, indicating the line of conduct
which, in his opinion, the king ought to pursue; the leading feature of
which was an early departure from Paris to some city at no great distance,
that he might be safe and free; while in the capital it was evident that
he was neither. And the step which he thus recommended at the outset
deserves attention as being also that on which a year later he still
insisted as the indispensable preliminary to whatever line of conduct
might be decided on.

But at this moment his advice never reached those for whom it was
intended. La Marck, with all his good-will both to his friend and to the
court, could not venture to bring before the queen's notice the name of
one who, only a few days before, had denounced her in the foulest manner
in the Assembly for having appeared at the soldiers' banquet, and whom she
with her own eyes had beheld uniting with the assailants of the palace. He
thought it more politic, even for the eventual attainment of his friend's
objects, to content himself for the time with giving the memorial and
stating the views of the writer to the Count de Provence; and that prince
declared that it would be useless to bring it to the knowledge of either
king or queen: "that the queen had not sufficient influence over her
husband to induce him to adopt such a plan;" and he even hinted that at
times Louis was disposed to be jealous of her appearing to influence him.

But if these circumstances--the quarrel between the enemies of the court,
and the conversion of one more able and formidable than either--were in
the king's favor, other events which took place in the same few weeks were
full of mischief and danger. Before the end of the month fresh riots broke
out in Paris. Bread, the supply of which Marie Antoinette, as we have
seen, rightly regarded as a matter of the first importance to the
tranquillity of the city, continued scarce and dear; and the mob broke
open the bakers' shops, and murdered one baker, a man named Francois, with
a ferocity more terrible than they had even shown toward De Launay, or the
guards at Versailles. They tore his body to pieces, and, having cut off
his head, compelled his wife to kiss the scarcely cold lips, and then left
her fainting on the pavement still covered with his blood. Even La Fayette
was horror-stricken at such brutality. It was the only occasion on which
he did his duty during the whole progress of the Revolution. He came down
with a company of the National Guard, dispersed the rioters, seized the
ruffian who was bearing aloft, the head of the murdered man on a pole, and
caused him to be hanged the next day. And during the next few weeks he
more than once brought his soldiers to the support of the civil power, and
inflicted summary punishment on gangs of miscreants, whose idea of reform
was a state of things which should afford impunity to crime.

But in the next month the Assembly dealt a heavier blow on the king's
authority than could be inflicted by the worst excesses of an informal
mob--they passed a resolution prohibiting any of its members from
accepting any office in the administration: it was an imitation of the
self-denying ordinance into which Cromwell had tricked the English
Parliament; and, though bearing an appearance of disinterestedness in
closing the access to official emoluments and honors against themselves,
was in reality an injury to the king, as depriving him of his right to
select his ministers from the entire body of the nation; and to the nation
itself, as preventing it from obtaining the services of those who might be
presumed to be its ablest citizens, as having been already selected as its

But a far more irreparable injury than any that could be inflicted on the
court by either populace or Assembly came from its friends. We have seen
that the Count d'Artois, with some nobles who had especial reason to fear
the enmity of the Parisians, had fled from the country in July; and now
their example was followed by a vast number of the higher classes, several
of them having hitherto been prominent as the leaders of the Moderate or
Constitutional section of the Assembly--men who had no grounds for
complaining that, except in one or two instances, at moments of
extraordinary excitement, their influence had been overborne, but who now
yielded to an infectious panic. Before the end of the year more than three
hundred deputies had resigned their seats and quit the country; salving
over to themselves the dereliction of the duties which a few months before
they had voluntarily sought, and their performance of which was now a more
imperative duty than ever, by denunciations of the crimes which had been
committed, and which they had found themselves unable to prevent. They did
not see that their pusillanimous flight must lead to a continuance of such
atrocities, leaving, as it did, the undisputed sway in the Assembly to
those very men who had been the authors of the outrages of which they
complained. They were, in fact, insuring the ruin of all that they most
wished to preserve; for, in the progress of the debates in the Assembly
during the winter, many questions of the most vital importance were
decided by very small majorities, which their presence would have turned
into minorities. The greater the danger was, the more irresistible they
ought to have felt the obligation to stand to the last by the cause of
which they were the legitimate champions; and the final triumph of the
Jacobin party owed hardly more to the energy of its leaders than to the
cowardly and inglorious flight of the princes and nobles who left the
field open without resistance to their wickedness and audacity.

It was a melancholy winter that the queen now passed. So far as she was
able, she diverted her mind from political anxieties by devoting much of
her time to the education of her children. A little plot of ground was
railed off in the garden of the Tuileries for the dauphin's[6] amusement;
and one of her favorite relaxations was to watch him working at the
flower-beds himself with his little hoe and rake; though, as if to mark
that they were in fact prisoners, both she and he were followed wherever
they went by grenadiers of the city-guard, and were not allowed to
dispense with their attendance for a single moment. Marie Antoinette had
reason to complain that she was watched as a criminal[7]. Sad as she was
at heart, she was not allowed the comfort of privacy and retirement. She
was forced to hold receptions for the nobles and chief citizens, and as
the court was now formally established at the Tuileries, she dined every
week in public with the king; but she steadily resisted the entreaties of
some of the ministers and courtiers to visit the theatres, thinking, with
great justice, that an attendance at public spectacles of that character
would have had an appearance of gayety, as unbecoming at such a period of
anxiety, as it was inconsistent with her feelings; and before the end of
the winter she sustained a fresh affliction in the loss of her brother the
emperor[8]; whose death bore with it the additional aggravation of
depriving her of a counselor whose advice she valued, and of an ally on
whose active aid she believed that she could rely far more than she could
on that of their brother Leopold, who now succeeded to the imperial

Not that Leopold can be charged with indifference to his sister's welfare.
In the very week of his accession to the throne he wrote to her with great
affection, assuring her of his devotion to her interests, and expressing
his desire to correspond with her in the most unreserved confidence. But
the same letter shows that  as yet he knew but very little of her;[9] and
that he regarded the difficulties in which some of Joseph's recent
measures had involved the Imperial Government as sufficiently serious to
engross his attention. A few extracts from her reply are worth preserving,
as proving how steadily in her conduct and language to every one she
adhered to her rule of concealing her husband's defects, and putting him
forward as the first person on whose wishes and directions her own conduct
most depend. It also shows what advances she was herself making in the
perception of the true character of the crisis, so far as the objects of
the few honest members who still remained in the Assembly were concerned,
and the extent to which she was trying to reconcile herself to some
curtailment of her husband's former authority.

Thanking him for the assurance of his friendship, she says: "Believe me,
my dear brother, we shall always be worthy of it. I say we, because I do
not separate the king from myself. He was touched by your letter, as I was
myself, and bids me assure you of this. His heart is loyalty and honesty
itself; and if ever again we become, I do not say what we have been, but
at least what we ought to be, you may then depend on the entire fidelity
of a good ally.

"I do not say any thing to you of our actual position: it is too heart-
rending. It ought to afflict every sovereign in the universe, and still
more an affectionate relation like you. It is only time and patience that
can bring back men's minds to a healthy state. It is a war of opinions,
and one which is still far from being terminated. It is only the justice
of our cause and the feeling of a good conscience that can support us ...
My most sincere wish is that you may never meet with ingratitude. My own
melancholy experience proves to me that, of all evils, that is the most

Yet no indignation at the thanklessness of the Parisians could chill her
constant benevolence toward them; and amidst all the anxieties which
filled her mind for herself, her husband, and her child, she founded an
asylum for the education of a number of orphan daughters of old soldiers,
and found time to give her careful attention to a code of regulations for
its management.[10]

Meanwhile circumstances were gradually paving the way for her accepting
the help of him who, during the earliest discussions of the Assembly, had
been, not so much through his own malice as through Necker's folly, her
worst enemy. We have seen how, immediately after the attack on Versailles,
Mirabeau had once more endeavored to find an opening through which to
place himself at her service. He alone, perhaps, of all men in the
kingdom, perceived the reality and greatness of the danger which
threatened even the lives of the sovereigns;[11] and, as amidst all the
errors into which his regard for his own interests, his vindictiveness, or
his caprice impelled him, he always preserved the perceptions and
instincts of a genuine statesman, many of the transactions of the winter
increased his conviction of the peril in which every interest in the whole
kingdom was placed, if the headlong folly of the Assembly could not be
restrained, and if even, proverbially difficult as such a course is, some
of its acts could not be rescinded; while one transaction, which, more
than any other that had yet taken place, showed the greatness of the
queen's heart, much sharpened his eagerness to prove himself a worthy
servant of so noble-minded a mistress.

Some of the magistrates who still desired to discharge their duty had
instituted an investigation into the conspiracy which had originated the
attack on Versailles, and all its multiplied horrors. They had examined a
great body of witnesses, whose evidence left no doubt of the active part
taken in it by the Duc d'Orleans and his partisans, and by Mirabeau,
whether he were to be included among that prince's adherents or not; but
they conceived it specially important to procure the testimony of the
queen herself. However, it was in vain that they applied to her for the
slightest information. Appeals to her indignation, to her pride, and to
her danger, were equally disregarded by her. No denunciation of those who,
whatever had been their crimes, were still the subjects of her husband,
could, in her eyes, be becoming to her as queen; and when those who hoped
to make a tool of her to crush their political rivals urged that no
evidence would be accepted as equally conclusive with hers, since no one
had seen so much of what had taken place, or had in so great a degree
preserved that coolness which was indispensable to a clear account of it,
and to the identification of the guilty, her reply was a dignified and
magnanimous pardon of the outrages beneath which she had so nearly
perished. "I have seen every thing; I have known every thing; I have
forgotten every thing;" and Mirabeau, not unthankful for the protection
which her magnanimity thus throw around him, was eager to make atonement
for his past insults and injuries.

And many of the recent events had convinced him that there was no time to
lose. The vote of November, debarring him, in common with all other
members of the Assembly, from office, was a severe blow to the most
important of his projects, so far as his own interests were concerned.
Within a month it had been followed by another, proposed by the Abbe
Sieyes, a busy priest who boasted that he had made himself master of the
whole science of politics, but who was in fact a mere slave of abstract
theories, the safety or even the practicability of which he was utterly
unable to estimate. On his motion, the Assembly, in a single evening,
abolished all the ancient territorial divisions of the kingdom, and the
very names of the provinces; dividing the country anew into eighty-three
departments, and coupling with this new arrangement a number of details
which were evidently calculated to wrest the whole executive authority of
the kingdom from the crown and to vest it in the populace. At another
sitting, the whole property of the Church was confiscated. On another
night, the Parliaments were abolished; and on a fourth, the party which
had carried these measures made a still more direct and audacious attack
on the royal prerogative, by passing a resolution which deprived the crown
of all power of revising the sentences of the judicial tribunals, and of
pardoning or mitigating the punishment of those who might have been
condemned. And, if to bring home to the tender-hearted monarch the full
effect of this last inroad upon his legitimate power, they at the same
time created a new crime to which they gave the name of treason against
the nation,[12] without either defining it, or specifying the kind of
evidence which should he required to prove it; and they proceeded at once
to put it in force to procure the condemnation of a nobleman of decayed
fortune, but of the highest character, the Marquis de Favras, in a manner
which showed that their real object was to strike terror into the whole
Royalist party. The charges on which he was brought to trial were not
merely unfounded, but ridiculous. He was charged with designing to raise
an army of thirty thousand men, with the object of carrying off the king
from Paris, of dissolving the Assembly by force, and putting La Fayette
and Bailly to death. The evidence with which it was pretended to support
these charges broke down on every point, and its failure of itself
established the prisoner's innocence, even without the aid of his own
defense, which was lucid and eloquent. But the marquis was known to be a
Royalist in feeling, and, though very poor, to stand high in the
confidence of the princes. The demagogues collected mobs round the
courthouse to intimidate the judges, and the judges proved as base as the
accusers themselves. They professed, indeed, to fear not so much for their
own lives as for the public tranquillity, but they pronounced him guilty.
One of them had even the effrontery to acknowledge his innocence to Favras
himself, and to affirm that his life was a necessary sacrifice to the
public peace.

No event since the attack on Versailles had caused Marie Antoinette equal
anguish. It showed that attachment to the king and herself was in itself
regarded as an inexpiable crime, and her distress was greatly augmented
when, on the Sunday following the execution of the marquis, some of his
friends brought to the table where, as usual, she was dining in public
with the king, the widowed marchioness and her orphaned son in deep
mourning, and presented them to their majesties. Their introducers
evidently expected that the king, or at least the queen, by the
distinguished reception which she would accord to them, would mark their
sense of the merits of their late husband and father, and of the indignity
of the sentence under which he had suffered.

Marie Antoinette was sadly embarrassed and distressed: she was taken
wholly by surprise; and it happened by a cruel perverseness of fortune
that Santerre, the brewer, whose ruffianly and ferocious enmity to the
whole royal family, and especially to herself, had been conspicuous
throughout the worst outrages of the past summer and autumn, was on the
same day on duty at the palace as commander of one of the battalions of
the Parisian Guard, and was standing behind her chair when the marchioness
and her son were introduced. Her embarrassment and all her feelings on the
occasion were described by herself in the course of the afternoon to
Madame Campan.

After the dinner was over, she went up to her attendant's room, saying
that it was a relief to find herself where she could weep at her ease; for
weep she must at the folly of the ultra-Royalists. "We can not but be
destroyed," she continued, "when we are attacked by people who unite every
kind of talent to every kind of wickedness; and when we are defended by
folks who are indeed very estimable, but who have no just notion of our
position. They have now compromised me with both parties, in their
presenting to me the widow and son of Favras. If I had been free to do as
I would, I should have taken the child of a man who had just been
sacrificed for us, and have placed him at table between the king and
myself; but surrounded as I was by the very murderers who had caused his
father's death, I could not venture even to bestow a glance upon him. Yet
the Royalists will blame me for not having seemed to be interested in the
poor child; while the Revolutionists will be furious, thinking that those
who presented him to me knew that it would please me." And all that she
could venture to do she did. She knew that the marchioness was very poor,
and she sent her by a trusty agent a few hundred louis, and with it a kind
message, assuring the unhappy widow that she would always watch over her
and her son's interests.


The King accepts the Constitution so far as it has been settled.--The
Queen makes a Speech to the Deputies.--She is well received at the
Theatre.--Negotiations with Mirabeau.--The Queen's Views of the Position
of Affairs.--The Jacobin Club denounces Mirabeau.--Deputation of
Anacharsis Clootz.--Demolition of the Statue of Louis XIV.--Abolition of
Titles of Honor.--The Queen admits Mirabeau to an Audience.--His
Admiration of her Courage and Talents.--Anniversary of the Capture of the
Bastile.--Fete of the Champ de Mars.--Presence of Mind of the Queen.

What was probably as painful to Marie Antoinette as these occurrences
themselves was the apathy with which the king regarded them. The English
traveler to whose journal we have more than once referred, and who, in the
first week of the year, saw the royal pair waiting in the gardens of the
Tuileries, remarked that though the queen did not appear in good health,
but showed melancholy and anxiety in her face, the king, on the other
hand, "was as plump as ease could render him.[1]" And in the course of
February, in spite of all her remonstrances, Necker succeeded in
persuading him to go down to the Assembly, and to address the members in a
long speech, in which, though some of his expressions were clearly
intended as a reproof of the Assembly itself for the precipitation and
violence of some of its measures, he nevertheless declared his cordial
assent to the new Constitution, so far as they had yet settled it, and
promised to co-operate in a spirit of affection and confidence in the
labors which still remained to be achieved.

The greater part of the speech is believed to have been his own
composition; and it is characteristic of the fidelity with which, on every
occasion, Marie Antoinette adhered to her rule of strengthening her
husband's position by her own cordial and conspicuous support, that,
strongly as she had objected to the step before it was taken, now that it
was decided on, she professed a decided approval of it; and when a
deputation of the Assembly, which had been appointed to escort the king
with honor back to the palace, solicited an audience of herself to pay
their respects, she assured the deputies that "she partook of all the
sentiments of the king; that she united with all her heart and mind in the
measure which his love for his people had just dictated to him." And then,
bringing the dauphin forward, she added: "Behold my son. I shall
unceasingly speak to him of the virtues of his most excellent father. I
shall teach him from the earliest age to cherish public liberty, and I
hope that he will be its firmest bulwark."

For a moment the step seemed to have succeeded, though the proofs of its
success were still more strongly proofs of the utter want of sense that
marked all the proceedings of the Assembly. As Louis had expressed his
assent to the Constitution so far as it was settled, it was proposed, as a
fitting compliment to him, that the Assembly and the whole body of the
citizens of Paris should take an oath of fidelity to the Constitution
without any such reservation. But in the course of the next few weeks the
Assembly showed how little his reproof of its former precipitation and
violence had been heeded, since, among the first measures with which it
proceeded to the completion of the Constitution, one deprived him of the
right of deciding on peace and war, a power which all wise statesmen
regard as inseparable from the executive government; another extinguished
the right of primogeniture; and a third confiscated all the property of
the monastic establishments.

However, those who took the lead in the management of affairs (for Necker
and the ministers had long ceased to exert the slightest authority) were
blinded by their own fury to the absurdity and inconsistency of their
conduct. Their exultation was unbounded, and, adhering to the line of
conduct which she had marked out for herself, Marie Antoinette now yielded
to their entreaties that she would show herself to the citizens at the
theatre. Even in the days of her earliest popularity she had never met a
more enthusiastic reception. The greater part of the house rose at her
entrance, clapping their hands and cheering, and the disloyalty of a few
malcontents only made her triumph more conspicuous, so roughly were they
treated by the rest of the audience. Marie Antoinette was herself touched
at the cordiality with which she was greeted, and saw in it another proof
that "the people and citizens were good at heart if left to themselves;
but," she added to the Princess de Lamballe, to whom she described the
scene, "all this enthusiasm is but a gleam of light, a cry of conscience
which weakness will soon stifle.[2]"

It is probably doing no injustice to Mirabeau to believe that the crimes
which had made the greatest impression on the queen were not the events
which affected him the most strongly. But he was not only a statesman in
intellect, but an aristocrat in every feeling of his heart. No man was
fonder of referring to his illustrious ancestors; or of claiming kindred
with men of old renown, such as the Admiral de Coligny, of whom he more
than once boasted in the Assembly as his cousin; and each blow dealt at
the consideration of the Nobles was an additional incentive to him to seek
to arrest the progress of a revolution which had already gone far beyond
his wishes or his expectations. And as he was always energetic in the
pursuit of his plans, he had, by some means or other, in spite of the
discouragement derived from the language and conduct of the Count de
Provence, contrived to get information of his willingness to enlist in the
Royalist party conveyed to the queen. The Count de la Marck, who was still
his chief confidant, was at Brussels at the beginning of the spring, when
he received a letter from Mercy, begging him to return without delay to
Paris. He lost no time in obeying the summons, when he learned, to his
great delight, though his pleasure was alloyed by some misgiving, that the
king and queen had resolved to avail themselves of Mirabeau's services,
and that he himself was selected as the intermediate agent in the
negotiation. La Marck's misgiving,[3] as he frankly told the embassador at
the outset, was caused by the fear that Mirabeau had done more harm than
he could repair; but he gladly undertook the commission, though its
difficulty was increased by a stipulation which showed at once the
weakness of the king, and the extraordinary difficulties which it placed
in the way of his friends. The count was especially warned to keep all
that was passing a secret from Necker. He was startled, as he well might
be, at such an injunction. But he did not think it became his position to
start a difficulty; and, as he was fully impressed with the importance of
not losing time, the negotiation proceeded rapidly. He introduced Mirabeau
to Mercy, and he himself was admitted to an interview with the queen, when
he learned that her greatest objections to accepting Mirabeau's services
were of a personal nature, founded partly on the general badness of his
character, partly on the share he had borne in the events of the 5th and
6th of October. By the count's own account, he went rather beyond the
truth in his endeavors to exculpate his friend on this point; and he
probably deceived himself when he believed that he had convinced the queen
of his innocence. But both she and Louis, who was present at a part of the
interview, had evidently made up their minds to forget the past, if they
could trust his promises for the future. And the interview ended in the
further conduct of the necessary arrangements being left by Louis to the

In a subsequent conversation with the count, she explained her own views
of the existing situation of affairs, describing them, indeed, according
to her custom, as the ideas of the king, in a manner which shows how much
she was willing that the king should abate of his old prerogatives,
provided only that the concessions were made voluntarily by himself, and
not imposed by violent and illegal resolutions of the Assembly. Mirabeau
had drawn up an elaborate memorial for the consideration of the king, in
which he pointed out in general terms his sense of the state of "utter
anarchy" into which France had fallen, his shame and indignation at
feeling "that he himself had contributed to bring affairs into such a bad
state." and his "profound conviction of the necessity, in the interests of
the whole nation, of re-establishing the legitimate authority of the
king.[4]" And Marie Antoinette, commenting on this expression, assured La
Marck that "the king had no desire to recover the full extent of the
authority which he had formerly possessed; and that he was far from
thinking it necessary for his own personal happiness any more than for the
welfare of his people.[5]" And it seemed to the count that she placed
unlimited confidence in Mirabeau's ability to re-establish her husband's
power on a sufficient and satisfactory basis; so full was her
conversation, during the latter part of the interview, of the good which
she expected to be again able to do, and of the warm affection with which
she regarded the people.

The benefits of this new alliance were not to be all on one side. Mirabeau
was overwhelmed with debt; and though his father had died in the preceding
summer, he had not yet entered into his inheritance, but was in a state
little short of absolute destitution. From this condition he was to be
relieved, and the arrangements for the discharge of his debts, and the
securing to him the enjoyment of a sufficient though by no means excessive
income, were intrusted to Marie Antoinette by the king, and by her to her
almoner, M. de Fontanges, who, when Lomenie de Brienne was promoted to the
archbishopric of Sens, had succeeded him at Toulouse. The archbishop, who
was sincerely devoted to his royal mistress, carried out the necessary
arrangements with great skill, but they could not be managed with such
secrecy as entirely to escape notice. Among the clubs which had been set
on foot at the beginning of the previous year the most violent had been
that known as the Breton Club, from being founded by some of the deputies
from the great province of Brittany; but, when the court removed to Paris,
and the Assembly was established in a large building close to the garden
of the Tuileries, the Bretons obtained the use of an apartment in an old
convent of Dominican or Jacobin friars (as they were called), the same
which two centuries before had been the council-room of the League, and
they changed their own designation also, and called themselves the
Jacobins; and, canceling the rule which limited the right of membership to
deputies, they now admitted every one who, by application for election,
avowed his adherence to their principles. Their leaders at this time were
Barnave; a young noble named Alexander Lameth, whose mother, having been
left in necessitous circumstances, owed to the bounty of the king and
queen the means of educating her children, a benefit which they repaid
with the most unremitting hostility to the whole royal family; and a
lawyer named Duport. Mirabeau was in the habit of ridiculing them as the
triumvirate; but they were crafty and unscrupulous men, skillful in
procuring information; and, having obtained intelligence of his
negotiations with the court, they retaliated on him by hiring pamphleteers
and journalists to attack him, and narratives of the treason of the Count
de Mirabeau were hawked about the streets.

To apply such language to the adherence of a French noble to the crown was
the most open avowal of disloyalty on which the revolutionary party had
yet ventured; and in the next four weeks it received a practical
development in a series of measures, some of which were so ridiculous as
only to deserve notice from the additional evidence which they furnished
of the extreme folly of those who now had the lead in the Assembly, and of
the strange excitement in which the whole nation, or at least the whole
population of Paris, must have been wrought up before they could mistake
their acts for those of sagacity or patriotism; but others of which,
though not less unwise, were of greater importance as being irrevocable
steps in the downward course of destruction along which the whole country
was being dragged.

The leaders of the revolutionary party had already selected two days in
the past year as especially memorable for the triumphs won over the crown:
one was the 20th of June, on which, in the Tennis Court at Versailles, the
members of the Assembly had bound themselves to effect the regeneration of
the kingdom; the other the 14th of July, on which, as they boasted, they
had forever established freedom by the destruction of the Bastile; and
they determined this year to celebrate both these anniversaries in a
becoming manner. Accordingly, on the 20th of June, a crack-brained member
of the Jacobin Club, a Prussian of noble birth, named Clootz, who, to show
his affinity with the philosophers of old, had assumed the name of
Anacharsis, hired a band of vagrants and idlers, and, dressing them up in
a variety of costumes to represent Arabs, red Indians, Turks, Chinese,
Laplanders, and other tribes, savage and civilized, led them into the
Assembly as a deputation from all the nations of the earth to announce the
resurrection of the whole world from slavery; and demanded permission for
them to attend the festival of the ensuing month, that each, on behalf of
his country, might give in his adhesion to the principles of liberty as
expounded by the Assembly. The president of the day replied with an
oration thanking M. Clootz for the honor done to France by such an
embassy; and Alexander Lameth followed up the president's harangue by
fresh praises of the deputation as holy pilgrims who had thrown off the
shackles of superstition. Nor was he content with a barren panegyric. He
had devised an appropriate sacrifice with which to commemorate such
exalted virtue. In the finest square of the city, the Place des Victoires,
the Duke de la Feuillade had erected a statue of Louis XIV. to celebrate
his royal master's triumphs, the pedestal of which was decorated with
allegorical representations of the nations which had been conquered by the
French marshals. It was generally regarded as the finest work of art in
the city, and as such it had long been an object of admiration and pride
to the citizens. But M. Lameth, in his new-born enthusiasm, regarded it
with other eyes, and closed his speech by proposing that, as monuments of
despotism and flattery could not fail to be shocking to so enlightened a
body, the Assembly should order its instant demolition. His proposal was
received with enthusiastic cheers, and the noble monument was instantly
overthrown in a fit of blind fury more resembling the orgies of drunken
Bacchanals, or the thirst for desolation which had animated the Goths and
Huns, than the conduct of the chosen legislators of a polite and
accomplished people.

But even this was not all. The insult to the memory of a king who, little
as he deserved it, had a century before been the object of the unanimous
admiration of his subjects, was but a prelude to other resolutions of far
greater moment, as giving an indelible character to the future of the
nation. A deputy, M. Lambel, whose very name was previously unknown to the
majority of his colleagues, rose and made a speech of three lines, as if
the proposal which it contained only required to be mentioned to command
instant and universal assent "This day," said he, "is the tomb of vanity.
I demand the suppression of the titles of duke, count, marquis, viscount,
baron, and knight." La Fayette and Alexander Lameth's brother, Charles,
supported the demand with almost equal brevity; a representative of one of
the most ancient families in the kingdom, the Viscount Matthieu de
Montmorency moved a prohibition of the use of armorial bearings; another
noble, M. de St. Targeau, proposed that the use of names derived from the
estates of the owners should be abolished. Every proposal was carried by
acclamation. Louder and louder cheers followed each suggestion of a new
abolition; a member who ventured to propose an amendment to one proposal
was hooted down; and in little more than an hour the whole series of
resolutions, which struck at once at the recollections and glories of the
past and at the dignity of the future, was made the law of the land.

Every one of these attacks on the nobles was a fresh provocation to
Mirabeau, and increased his eagerness to complete his reconciliation with
the crown. He pronounced the abolition of titles a torch to kindle civil
war, and pressed more earnestly than ever for an interview with the queen,
in which he might both learn her views and explain his own. Marie
Antoinette had foreseen that she should be forced to admit him to her
presence, but there was nothing to which she felt a stronger repugnance.
His profligate character excited a feeling of perfect disgust in her mind;
but for the public good she overcame it, and, having in the course of June
removed to St. Cloud for change of air, on the 3d of July she, accompanied
by the king, received him in the garden of that palace. The account which
she sent her brother of the interview shows with what a mixture of
feelings she had been agitated. She speaks of herself as "shivering with
horror" as the moment drew near, and can not bring herself to describe him
except as a "monster," though, she admits that his language speedily
removed her agitation, which, when he was first presented to her, had
nearly made her ill. "He seemed to be actuated by entire good faith, and
to be altogether devoted to the king; and Louis was highly pleased with
him, so that they now thought every thing was safe.[6]"

She, on her part, had made an equally favorable impression on him. She had
adroitly flattered his high opinion of himself by saying that "if she had
been speaking to persons of a different class and character she should
have felt the necessity of being guarded in her language, but that in
dealing with a Mirabeau there could be no need of such caution;" and he
told his confidant, La Marck, that till he knew "the soul and thoughts of
the daughter of Maria Teresa, and learned how fully he could reckon on
that august ally, he had seen nothing of the court but its weakness; but
now confidence had raised his courage, and gratitude had made the
prosecution of his principles a duty;[7]" and in some subsequent letters
he speaks of every thing as depending on the queen, and describes in brief
but forcible language his appreciation of the dangers which surrounded
her, and of the magnanimous courage with which he sees that she is
prepared to confront them. "The king," he says, "has but one man about
him, and that is his wife. There is no safety for her but in the
reestablishment of the royal authority. I love to believe that she would
not desire to preserve life without the crown. What I am quite certain of
is, that she will not preserve her life unless she preserves her crown."

In his interview with her, as she reported it to the emperor, he had
recommended, as the first step to be adopted by the king and herself, a
departure from Paris; and, in reference to that plan, which he at all
times regarded as the foundation of every other, he tells La Marck: "The
moment will soon come when it will be necessary to try what can be done by
a woman and a child on horseback. For her it is but the adoption of an
hereditary mode of action.[8] But she must be prepared for it, and must
not suppose that one can extricate one's self from an extraordinary crisis
by mere chance or by the combinations of an ordinary man."

The hopes with which the acquisition of such an ally inspired the queen at
this time nerved her to bear her part in the festival with which the
Assembly had decided on celebrating the demolition of the Bastile. The
arrangements for it were of a gigantic character. Round the sides of the
Champ de Mars a vast embankment was raised, so as to give the plain the
appearance of an amphitheatre, and to afford accommodation to three
hundred thousand spectators. At the entrance a magnificent arch of triumph
was erected. The centre was occupied by a grand altar; and on one side a
gorgeous pavilion was appropriated to the king, his family, and retinue,
the members of the Assembly, and the municipal magistrates. They were all
to be performers in the grand ceremony which was to be the distinguishing
feature of the day. The Constitution was scarcely more complete than it
had been when Louis signified his acceptance of it five months before; but
now, not only were he, the deputies, and municipal authorities of Paris to
swear to its maintenance, but the same oath was to be taken by the
National Guard, and by a deputation from every regiment in the army; and
it was to bind the soldiers throughout the kingdom to the new order of
things that the ceremony was originally designed.[9]

As a spectacle few have been more successful, and perhaps none has ever
been so imposing. Before midnight on the 13th of July, the whole of the
vast amphitheatre was filled with a dense crowd, in its gayest holiday
attire--a marvelous and magnificent sight from its mere numbers; and early
the next morning the heads of the procession began to defile under the
arch at the entrance of the plain--La Fayette, at the head of the National
Guard, leading the way. It was a curious proof of the king's weakness, and
of the tenacity with which he clung to his policy of conciliation, that,
in spite of his knowledge of the general's bitter animosity to his
authority and to himself, and of his recent vote for the suppression of
all titles of honor, Louis had offered him the sword of the Constable of
France, a dignity which had been disused for many years; and it was an
equally striking evidence of La Fayette's inveterate disloyalty that,
gratifying as the succession to Duguesclin and Montmorency would have been
to his vanity, he nevertheless refused the honor, and contented himself
with the dignity which the enrollment of the detachments from the
different departments under his banner conferred on him, by giving him the
appearance of being the commander-in-chief of the National Guard
throughout the kingdom. The National Guard was followed by regiment after
regiment, and deputation after deputation, of the regular army; and, to
show the subordination to the law which they were expected to acknowledge
for the future, their swords were all sheathed, while the deputies, the
municipal magistrates, and other peaceful citizens who bore a part in the
procession had their swords drawn. Sailors from the fleet, magistrates and
deputations from every department, and from every city or town of
importance in the kingdom, followed; and after them came two hundred
priests, with Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun, in his episcopal vestments at
their head, their white robes somewhat uncanonically decorated with
tricolor ribbons, who passed on into the centre of the plain and ranged
themselves on the steps of the altar. So vast was the procession that it
was half-past three in the afternoon before the detachment of Royal Guards
which closed it took up their position.

When at last all were in their places, Louis, accompanied by the queen and
other members of his family, entered the royal pavilion. He was known by
sight to the deputations from the most distant provinces, for he had
reviewed them in a body the day before, when several of them had been
separately presented to him, toward whom he had for once laid aside his
habitual reserve, assuring them of his fatherly regard for all his
subjects with warmth and manifest sincerity. The queen, too, as she always
did, had made a most favorable impression on those members whom she had
seen by her judicious and cordial affability. Louis wore no robes, but
only the ordinary dress of a French noble. Marie Antoinette was in full
evening costume, and her hair was dressed with a plume of tricolor
feathers. Yet even on this day, which was intended to be one of universal
joy and friendliness, evil signs were not wanting to show how powerful
were the enemies of both king and queen; for no seat whatever had been
provided for her, while by the aide of that constructed for the king
another on very nearly the same level had been placed for the President of
the Assembly.

But these refinements of discourtesy were lost on the spectators. They
cheered the royal pair joyously the moment that they appeared. Before the
shouts had died away, Bishop Talleyrand began the service of the mass;
and, on its termination, administered the oath "of fidelity to the nation,
the law, the king, and the Constitution as decreed by the Assembly and
accepted by the king." La Fayette took the oath first in the name of the
army. Talleyrand followed on behalf of the clergy. Bailly came next, as
the representative of the citizens of Paris. It was a stormy day; and when
the moment arrived for the king to set the seal to the universal
acceptance of the constitution by swearing to exert all his own power for
its maintenance, the rain came down so heavily as to render it impossible
for him to leave the shelter of his own pavilion. As it happened, the
momentary disappointment gave a greater effect to his act. With more than
usual presence of mind, he advanced to the front of the pavilion, so as to
be seen by the whole of the assembled multitude, and took the oath with a
loud voice and perfect dignity of manner. As he resumed his seat, the rain
cleared away, the sun burst through the clouds; and the queen, as if by a
sudden inspiration, brought forward the little dauphin, and, lifting him
up in her arms, showed him to the people. Those whom the king's voice
could not reach saw the graceful action; and from every side of the plain
one universal acclamation burst forth, which seemed to bear out Marie
Antoinette's favorite assertion that the people were good at heart, and
that it was not without great perseverance in artifice and malignity that
they could be excited to disloyalty and treason.


Great Tumults in the Provinces.--Mutiny in the Marquis de Bouille's Army.
--Disorder of the Assembly.--Difficulty of managing Mirabeau.--Mercy is
removed to The Hague.--Marie Antoinette sees constant Changes in the
Aspect of Affairs.--Marat denounces Her.--Attempts are made to assassinate
Her.--Resignation of Mirabeau.--Misconduct of the Emigrant Princes.

But men less blinded by the feverish excitement of revolutionary
enthusiasm would have seen but little in the state of France at this time
to regard as matter for exultation. Many of the recent measures of the
Assembly, and especially the extinction of the old provinces, had created
great discontent in the rural districts. Formidable riots had broken out
in many quarters, especially in the great southern cities, in some of
which the mob had rivaled the worst excesses of its Parisian brethren;
massacring the magistrates, tearing their bodies into pieces, and
terrifying the peaceable inhabitants by processions, in which the mangled
remains of their victims formed the most conspicuous feature. At Brest and
at Toulon the sailors showed that they fully shared the general
dissatisfaction; while in the army a formidable mutiny broke out among the
troops which were under the command of the Marquis de Bouille, in
Lorraine. That, indeed, had a different object, since it had been excited
by Jacobin emissaries, who were aware that the marquis, the soldier who,
of the whole French army at that time, enjoyed the highest reputation, was
firmly attached to the king; though he was not one of the nobles who had
opposed all reform, nor had he hesitated to follow his royal master's
example and to declare his acceptance of the new Constitution. Fortunately
he had subalterns worthy of him, and faithful to their oaths; and as he
was a man of great promptitude and decision, he, with their aid, quelled
the mutiny, though not without a sanguinary conflict, in which he himself
lost above four hundred men, while the loss which he inflicted on the
mutineers was far heavier. But he had set a noble example, and had given
an undeniable proof of the possibility of quelling the most formidable
tumults; and it may be said that his quarters were the only spot in all
France which was not wholly given up to anarchy and disorder.

For even the Assembly itself was a prey to tumult and violence. From the
time of its assuming that title admission had been given to every one who
could force his way into the chamber, whether he was a member or not; nor
was any order preserved among those who thus obtained admission; but they
were allowed to express their opinion of every speaker and of every speech
by friendly or unfriendly clamor: a practice which, as may well be
supposed, materially influenced many votes. And presently attendance for
that purpose became a trade; some of the most violent deputies hiring a
regularly appointed troop to take their station in the galleries, and
paying them daily wages to applaud or hiss in accordance with the signs
which they themselves made from the body of the hall.[1] And if the
populace was thus the master of the Assembly while at Versailles, this was
far more the case after its removal to Paris, where the number of the idle
portion of the population furnished the Jacobins with far greater means of
intimidating their adversaries.

It was remarkable that La Marck himself, as has been already intimated,
did not fully share the hopes which the king and queen founded on the
adhesion of Mirabeau. It was not only that on one point he had sounder
views than Mirabeau himself--doubting, as he did, whether the mischief
which his vehement friend had formerly done could now be undone by the
same person, merely because he had changed his mind--but he also felt
doubts of Mirabeau's steadiness in his new path, and feared lest eagerness
for popularity, or an innate levity of disposition, might still lead him
astray. As he described him in a letter to Mercy, "he was sometimes very
great and sometimes very little; he could be very useful, and he could be
very mischievous: in a word, he was often above, and sometimes greatly
below, any other man." At another time he speaks of him as "by turns
imprudent through excess of confidence, and lukewarm from distrust;" and
this estimate of the great demagogue, which was not very incorrect, shows,
too, how high an opinion La Marck had formed of the queen's ability and
force of character, for he looks to her "to put a curb on his
inconstancy,[2]" trusting for that result not so much to her power of
fascination as to her clearness of view and resolution.

And she herself was never so misled by her high estimate of Mirabeau's
abilities and influence as to think his judgment unerring. On the
contrary, her comment to Mercy on one of the earliest letters which he
addressed to the king was that it was "full of madness from one end to the
other," and she asked "how he, or any one else, could expect that at such
a moment the king and she could be induced to provoke a civil war?"
alluding, apparently, to his urgent advice that the royal family should
leave Paris, a step of the necessity for which she was not yet convinced.
Her hope evidently was that he would bring forward some motions in the
Assembly which might at least arrest the progress of mischief, and perhaps
even pave the way for the repair of some of the evil already done.

On one point she partly agreed with him, but not wholly. He insisted on
the necessity of dismissing the ministers; but she, though thinking them,
both as a body and individually, unequal to the crisis, saw great
difficulty in replacing them, since the vote of the preceding winter
forbade the king to select their successors from the members of the
Assembly;[3] and she feared also lest, if he should dismiss them, the
Assembly would carry out a plan which, as it seemed to her, it already
showed great inclination to adopt, of managing every thing by means of
committees, and preventing the appointment of any new administration. Her
view of the situation, and of the king's and her position, varied from
time to time, as indeed their circumstances and the views of the Assembly
appeared to alter. In August she is in great distress, caused by a
decision of the emperor to remove Mercy to the Hague. "I am," she writes
to the embassador, "in despair at your departure, especially at a moment
when affairs are becoming every day more embarrassing and more painful,
and when I have therefore the greater need of an attachment as sincere and
enlightened as yours. But I feel that all the powers, under different
pretexts, will withdraw their ministers one after another. It is
impossible to leave them incessantly exposed to this disorder and license;
but such is my destiny, and I am forced to endure the horror of it to the
very end.[4]" But a fortnight later she tells Madame de Polignac that "for
some days things have been wearing a better complexion. She can not feel
very sanguine, the mischievous folks having such an interest in perverting
every thing, and in hindering every thing which, is reasonable, and such
means of doing so; but at the moment the number of ill-intentioned people
is diminished, or at least the right-thinking of all classes and of all
ranks are more united ... You may depend upon it," she adds, "that
misfortunes have not diminished my resolution or my courage: I shall not
lose any of that; they will only give me more prudence.[5]" Indeed, her
own strength of mind, fortitude, and benevolence were the only things in
France which were not constantly changing at this time; and she derived
one lesson from the continued vicissitudes to which she was exposed,
which, if partly grievous, was also in part full of comfort and
encouragement to so warm a heart. "It is in moments such as these that one
learns to know men, and to see who are truly attached to one, and who are
not. I gain every day fresh experiences in this point; sometimes cruel,
sometimes pleasant; for I am continually finding that some people are
truly and sincerely attached to us, to whom I never gave a thought."

Another of her old vexations was revived in the renewed jealousy of
Austrian influence with which the Jacobin leaders at this time inspired
the mob, and which was so great that, when in the autumn Leopold sent the
young Prince de Lichtenstein as his envoy to notify his accession, Marie
Antoinette could only venture to give him a single audience; and, greatly
as she enjoyed the opportunity of gathering from him news of Vienna and of
the old friends of the childhood of whom she still cherished an
affectionate recollection, she was yet forced to dismiss him after a few
minutes' conversation, and to beg him to accelerate his departure from
Paris, lest even that short interview should be made a pretext for fresh
calumnies. "The kindest thing that any Austrian of mark could do for her,"
she told her brother, "was to keep away from Paris at present.[6]" She
would gladly have seen the Assembly interest itself a little in the
politics of the empire, where Leopold's own situation was full of
difficulties; but the French had not yet come to consider themselves as
justified in interfering in the internal government of other countries. As
she describes their feelings to the emperor, "They feel their own
individual troubles, but those of their neighbors do not yet affect them;
and the names of Liberty and Despotism are so deeply engraved in their
heads, even though they do not clearly define them, that they are
everlastingly passing from the love of the former to the dread of the
latter;" and then she adds a sketch of her own ideas and expectations, and
of the objects which she conceives it her duty to keep in view, in which
it is affecting to see that her utter despair of any future happiness for
the king and herself in no degree weakens her desire to promote the
happiness of the very people who have caused her suffering. "Our task is
to watch skillfully for the moment when men's heads have returned to
proper ideas sufficiently to make them enjoy a reasonable and honest
freedom, such as the king has himself always desired for the happiness of
his people; but far from that license and anarchy which have precipitated
the fairest of kingdoms into all possible miseries. Our health continues
good, but it would be better if we could only perceive the least gleam of
happiness around us; as for ourselves, that is at an end forever, happen
what will. I know that it is the duty of a king to suffer for others; and
it is one which we are discharging thoroughly."

She had indeed at this time sufferings to which it is characteristic of
her undaunted courage that she never makes the slightest allusion in her
letters. Of all the Jacobin party, one of the most blood-thirsty was a
wretch named Marat.[7] At the very outset of the Revolution he had
established a newspaper to which he gave the name of _The People's
Friend_, and the staple topic of which was the desirableness of bloodshed
and massacre. He had been exasperated at the receptions given to the royal
family at the festival of July; and for some weeks afterward his efforts
were directed to inflame the populace to a new riot, in which the king and
queen should be dragged into Paris from St. Cloud, as in 1789 they had
been dragged in from Versailles, and which should end in the murder of the
queen, the ministers, and several hundreds of other innocent persons; and
his denunciations very nearly bore a part of their intended fruit. The
royal family had hardly returned to St. Cloud, when a man named Rotondo
was apprehended in the inner garden, who confessed that he had made his
way into it with the express design of assassinating Marie Antoinette, a
design which was only balked by the fortunate accident of a heavy shower
which prevented her from leaving the house; and a week or two afterward a
second plot was discovered, the contrivers of which designed to poison
her. Her attendants were greatly alarmed; and her physician furnished
Madame Campan with an antidote for such poisons as seemed most likely to
be employed. But Marie Antoinette herself cared little for such
precautions. Assassination was not the end which she anticipated. On one
occasion, when she found Madame Campan changing some powdered sugar which,
it was suspected, might have been tampered with, she thanked her, and
praised M. Vicq-d'Azyr, the physician by whose instructions Madame Campan
was acting, but told her that she was giving herself needless trouble.
"Depend upon it," she added, "they will not employ a grain of poison
against me. The Brinvilliers[8] do not belong to this age; people now use
calumny, which is much more effectual for killing people; and it is by
calumny that they will work my destruction.[9] But even thus, if my death
only secures the throne to my son, I shall willingly die."

One of the measures which Mirabeau strongly urged, and as to which Marie
Antoinette hesitated, balancing the difficulties to which it was not
unlikely to give rise against the advantages which were more obvious, was
arranged without her intervention. Necker had but one panacea for all the
ills of a defective constitution or an ill-regulated government--the
re-establishment of the finances of the country; and, as public confidence
is indispensable to national credit, the troubles of the last year had
largely increased the embarrassments of the Treasury. He was also but
scantily endowed with personal courage. In the denunciations of Marat he
had not been spared, and by the beginning of September fear had so
predominated over every other feeling in his mind that he resolved to quit
a country which, as he was not one of her sons, seemed to him to have no
such claim on his allegiance that he should imperil his life for her sake.
But in carrying out his determination, he exhibited a strange
forgetfulness, not only of the respect due to his royal master as king,
but also of all the ordinary rules of propriety; for he did not resign his
office into the hands of the sovereign from whom he had received it, but
he announced his retirement to the Assembly, sending the president of the
week a letter in which he attributed his reasons for the step partly to
his health, which he described as weak, and partly to the "mortal
anxieties of his wife, as virtuous as she was dear to his heart." It was
hardly to be wondered at that the members present were moved rather to
laughter than to sympathy by this sentimental effusion. They took no
notice of the letter, and passed to the order of the day; and certainly,
if it afforded evidence of his amiable disposition, it supplied proof at
least equally strong of the weakness of his character, and of his
consequent unfitness for any post of responsibility at such a time.

It was more to his credit that he at the same time placed in the treasury
a sum of two millions of francs to cover any incorrectness which might be
discovered or suspected in his accounts, and any loss which might be
sustained from the depreciation of the paper money lately issued under his
administration, though not with his approbation. All the rest of his
colleagues retired at the same time, except the foreign secretary, M.
Montmorin. They had recently been attacked with great violence in the
Assembly by a combination of the most extreme democrats and the most
extreme Royalists, the latter of whom accused them of having betrayed the
royal authority by unworthy accessions. But, though, in the division which
had taken place they had been supported by a considerable majority, they
feared a repetition of the attack, and resigned their offices; in some
degree undoubtedly weakening their royal master by their retirement, since
those by whom he found himself compelled to replace them had still less of
his confidence. Two--Duport de Tertre, Keeper of the Seals, and Duportail,
Minister of War--were creatures of La Fayette, and the first mentioned was
notoriously unfriendly to the queen. Two others--Lambert, the successor of
Necker, and Fleurieu, the Minister of Marine--were under the influence of
Barnave and the Jacobins. The only member of the new ministry who was in
the least degree acceptable to Louis was M. de Lessart, the Minister of
the Interior; but he, though loyal in purpose, was of too moderate talents
for his appointment to add any real strength to the royal cause.

Marie Antoinette, however, paid but little attention to these ministerial
changes; she disregarded them--and her view was not unsound--as but the
displacement of one set of weak men by another set equally weak; and she
saw, too, that the Assembly had established so complete a mastery over the
Government, that even men of far greater ability and force of character
would have been impotent for good. Her whole dependence was on Mirabeau;
and his course at this time was so capricious and erratic that it often
caused her more perplexity and alarm than pleasure or confidence. He
regarded himself as having a very difficult part to play. He could not
conceal from himself that he was no longer able to lead the Assembly as he
had done at first, except when he was urging it along a road which it
desired to take. In spite of one of his most brilliant efforts of
eloquence, he had recently been defeated in an endeavor to preserve to the
king the right of peace and war; and, to regain his ascendency, he more
than once in the course of the autumn supported measures to which the king
and queen had the greatest repugnance, and made speeches so inflammatory
that even his own friend, La Marck, was indignant at his language, and
expostulated with him with great earnestness. He justified himself by
explaining his view[10] that no man in the country could at present bring
the people back to reasonable notions; that they could only at this moment
be governed by flattering their prejudices; that the king must trust to
time alone; and that his own sole prospect of being of use to the crown
lay in his preservation of his popularity till the favorable moment should
arrive, even if, to preserve that popularity, it were necessary for him at
times still to appear a supporter of revolutionary principles. It is not
impossible that the motives which he thus described did really influence
him; but it was not strange that Marie Antoinette should fail to
appreciate such refined subtlety. She had looked forward to his taking a
bold, straightforward course in defense of Royalist principles; and she
could hardly believe in the honesty of a man who for any object whatever
could seem to disregard or to despise them. Her feelings may be shown by
some extracts from one of her letters to the emperor written just after
one of Mirabeau's most violent outbursts, apparently his speech in support
of a motion that the fleet should be ordered to hoist the tricolor flag.

"October 22d, 1790.

"We are again fallen back into chaos and all our old distrust. Mirabeau
had sent the king some notes, a little violent in language, but well
argued, on the necessity of preventing the usurpations of the Assembly ...
when, on a question concerning the fleet, he delivered a speech suited
only to a violent demagogue, enough to frighten all honest men. Here,
again, all our hopes from that quarter are overthrown. The king is
indignant, and I am in despair. He has written to one of his friends, in
whom I have great confidence, a man of courage and devoted to us, an
explanatory letter, which seems to me neither an explanation nor an
excuse. The man is a volcano which would set an empire on fire; and we are
to trust to him to put out the conflagration which is devouring us. He
will have a great deal to do before we can feel confidence in him again.
La Marck defends Mirabeau, and maintains that if at times he breaks away,
he is still in reality faithful to the monarchy ... The king will not
believe this. He was greatly irritated yesterday. La Marck says that he
has no doubt that Mirabeau thought that he was acting well in speaking as
he did, to throw dust in the eyes of the Assembly, and so to obtain
greater credit when circumstances still more grave should arise. O my God!
if we have committed faults, we have sadly expiated them.[11]"

And before the end of the year, the royal cause had fresh difficulties
thrown in its way by the perverse and selfish wrongheadedness of the
emigrant princes, who were already evincing an inclination to pursue
objects of their own, and to disown all obedience to the king, on the plea
that he was no longer master of his policy or of his actions. They showed
such open disregard of his remonstrances that, in December, as Marie
Antoinette told the emperor, Louis had written both to the Count d'Artois
and to the King of Sardinia (in whose dominions the count was at the
time), that, if his brothers persisted in their designs, "he should be
compelled to disavow them peremptorily, and summon all his subjects who
were still faithful to him to return to their obedience. She hoped," she
said, "that that would make them pause. It seemed certain to her that no
one but those on the spot, no one but themselves, could judge what moments
and what circumstances were favorable for action, so as to put an end to
their own miseries and to those of France. And it will be then," she
concludes, "my dear brother, that I shall reckon on your friendship, and
that I shall address myself to you with the confidence with which I am
inspired by the feelings of your heart, which are well known to me, and by
the good-will which you have shown us on all occasions.[12]"


Louis and Marie Antoinette contemplate Foreign Intervention.--The Assembly
passes Laws to subordinate the Church to the Civil Power.--Insolence of La
Fayette.--Marie Antoinette refuses to quit France by Herself.--The
Jacobins and La Fayette try to revive the Story of the Necklace.--Marie
Antoinette with her Family.--Flight from Paris is decided on.--The Queen's
Preparations and Views.--An Oath to observe the new Ecclesiastical
Constitution is imposed on the Clergy.--The King's Aunts leave France.

The last sentence of the letter just quoted points to a new hope which the
king and she had begun to entertain of obtaining aid from foreign princes.
As it can hardly have been suggested to them by any other advisers, we may
probably attribute the origination of the idea to the queen, who was
naturally inclined to rate the influence of the empire highly, and to rely
on her brother's zeal to assist her confidently. And Louis caught at it,
as the only means of extricating him from a religious difficulty which was
causing him great distress, and which appeared to him insurmountable by
any means which he could command in his own country. As has been already
seen, he had had no hesitation in yielding up his own prerogatives, and in
making any concessions or surrenders which the Assembly required, so long
as they touched nothing but his own authority. He had even (which was a
far greater sacrifice in his eyes) sanctioned the votes which had deprived
the Church of its property; but, in the course of the autumn the Assembly
passed other measures also, which appeared to him absolutely inconsistent
with religion. They framed a new ecclesiastical constitution which not
only reduced the number of bishops (which, indeed, in France, as in all
other Roman Catholic countries, had been unreasonably excessive), but
which also vested the whole patronage of the Church in the municipal
authorities, and generally subordinated the Church to the civil law. And
having completed these arrangements, which to a conscientious Roman
Catholic bore the character of sacrilege, they required the whole body of
the clergy to accept them, and to take an oath to observe them faithfully.

Louis was in a great strait. Many of the chief prelates appealed to him
for protection, which he thought his duty as a Christian man bound him to
afford them. But the protection which they implored could only be given by
refusal of the royal assent to the bill. And he could not disguise from
himself that such an exercise of his veto would furnish a pretext to his
enemies for more violent denunciations of himself and the queen than had
yet been heard. He had also, though his personal safety was at all times
very slightly regarded by him, begun to feel himself a prisoner, at the
mercy of his enemies. La Fayette, as Commander-in-chief of the National
Guard of Paris, had the protection of the royal palace intrusted to him;
and he availed himself of this charge, not as the guardian of the royal
family, but rather as their jailer,[1] placing his sentries so as to be
spies and a restraint upon all their movements, and seeking every
opportunity to gain an ignoble popularity by an ostentatious disregard of
all their wishes, and of all courtesy, not to say decency, in his behavior
to them.[2] And these considerations led the king, not only to authorize
the Baron de Breteuil, who, as we have seen, had fled from the country in
the previous year, to treat with any foreign princes who might he willing
to exert themselves in his cause, but even to write, with his own hand, to
the principal sovereigns, informing them that "in spite of his acceptance
of the Constitution, the factious portion of his subjects openly
manifested their intention of destroying the monarchy," and suggesting the
idea of "an armed congress of the principal powers of Europe, supported by
an armed force, as the best measure to arrest the progress of factions, to
re-establish order in France, and to prevent the evils which were
devouring his country from seizing on the other states of Europe.[3]"

The historians of the democratic party have denounced with great severity
the conduct of Louis in thus appealing to foreign aid, as a proof that, in
spite of his acceptance of the Constitution, he was meditating a counter-
revolution. The whole tenor of his and the queen's correspondence proves
that this charge is groundless; but it is equally certain that it was an
impolitic step, one wholly opposed to every idea of Constitutional
principles, of which the very foundation must always be perfect freedom
from foreign influence, and from foreign connection in the internal
government of the country.

Fortunately, his secret was well kept, so that no knowledge of this step
reached the leaders of the popular party; and, however great may have been
the queen's secret anxieties and fears, she kept them bravely to herself,
displaying outwardly a serenity and a patience which won the admiration of
all those who, in foreign countries, were watching the course of events in
France with interest.[4] When she wept, she wept by herself. Her one
comfort was that her children were always with her; and though the dauphin
could only witness without understanding her grief, "remarking on one
occasion, when in one of his childish books he met the expression 'as
happy as a queen,' that all queens are not happy, for his mamma wept from
morning till night." Her daughter was old enough to enter into her
sorrows; and, as she writes to Madame de Polignac, mingles her own tears
with hers. She had also the society of her sister-in-law Elizabeth, whom
she had learned to love with an affection which could not be exceeded even
by that which she bore her own sister, and which was cordially returned.
She tells Madame de Polignac that Elizabeth's calmness is one great relief
and support to them all; and Elizabeth can not find adequate words to
express to one of her correspondents her admiration for the queen's "piety
and resignation, which alone enable her to bear up against troubles such
as no one before has ever known."

But amidst all her grief she cherishes hope--hope that the people (the
"good people," as she invariably terms them) will return to their senses;
and her other habitual feeling of benevolence, though she can now only
exert it in forming projects for conferring further benefits on them when
tranquillity should be restored. The feeling shows itself even in letters
which have no reference to her own position. There had been discontent and
signs of insurrection in the Netherlands which Mercy's recent letters led
her to believe were passing away; and her congratulations to her brother
on this peaceful result dwell on the happiness "which it is to be able to
pardon one's subjects without shedding one drop of blood, of which
sovereigns are bound to be always careful.[5]"

Her brother, and many of her friends in France, were at this time pressing
her to quit the country, professing to believe that if her enemies knew
that she was out of their reach, they would be less vehement in their
hostility to the king; but she felt that such a course would be both
unworthy of her, as timid and selfish, and in every way injurious rather
than beneficial to her husband. It could not save his authority, which was
what the Jacobins made it their first object to destroy; and it would
deprive him of the support of her affection and advice, which he
constantly needed.

"Pardon me, I beg of you," she replied to Leopold, "if I continue to
reject your advice to leave Paris. Consider that I do not belong to
myself. My duty is to remain where Providence has placed me, and to oppose
my body, if the necessity should arise, to the knives of the assassins who
would fain reach the king. I should be unworthy of the name of our mother,
which is as dear to you as to me, if danger could make me desert the king
and my children.[6]"

We have seen that Marie Antoinette dreaded calumny more than the knife or
poison of the assassin; and there could hardly have been a greater proof
how well founded her apprehensions were, and how unscrupulous her enemies,
than is afforded by the fact that, in the latter part of this year, they
actually brought back Madame La Mothe to Paris with the purpose of making
a demand for a re-investigation of the whole story of the fraud on the
jeweler--a pretense for reviving the libelous stories to the disparagement
of the queen, the utter falsehood and absurdity of which had been
demonstrated to the satisfaction of the whole world four years before. Nor
was it wholly a Jacobin plot. La Fayette himself was, to a certain extent,
an accomplice in it. As commander of the National Guard of the city, it
was his duty to apprehend one who was an escaped convict; but instead of
doing so he preferred identifying himself with her, and on one occasion
had what Mirabeau rightly called the inconceivable insolence to threaten
the queen with a divorce on the ground of unfaithfulness to her husband.
She treated his insinuations with the dignity which became herself, and
the scorn which they and their utterers deserved; and he found that his
conduct had created such general disgust among all people who made the
slightest pretense to decency, that he feared to lose his popularity if he
did not disconnect himself from the plotters. Accordingly, he separated
himself from the lady, though he still forbore to arrest her, and for some
time confined himself to his old course of heaping on the royal family
these petty annoyances and insults, which he could inflict with impunity
because they were unobserved except by his victims. It is remarkable,
however, that Mirabeau, who held him in a contempt which, however
deserved, had in it some touch of rivalry and envy, believed that the
queen was not really so much the object of his animosity as the king. In
his eyes "all the manoeuvres of La Fayette were so many attacks on the
queen; and his attacks on the queen were so many steps to bring him within
reach of the king. It was the king whom he really wanted to strike; and he
saw that the individual safety of one of the royal pair was as inseparable
from that of the other as the king was from his crown.[7]" And this
opinion of Mirabeau is strongly corroborated by the Count de la Marck,
who, a few weeks later, had occasion to go to Alsace, and who took great
pains to ascertain the general state of public feeling in the districts
through which he passed. During his absence he was in constant
correspondence with those whom he had left behind, and he reports with
great satisfaction that in no part of the country had he found the very
slightest ill-feeling toward the queen. It was in Paris alone that the
different libels against her were forged, and there alone that they found
acceptance; and, manifestly referring to the projected departure from
Paris, he expresses his firm conviction that the moment that she is at
liberty, and able to show herself in the provinces, she will win the
confidence of all classes.[8]

However greatly Mirabeau would, on other grounds, have preferred personal
intercourse with the court, he thought that his power of usefulness
depended so entirely on his connection with it being unsuspected, that he
did not think it prudent to solicit interviews with the queen. But he kept
up a constant communication with the court, sometimes by notes and
elaborate memorials, addressed indeed to Louis, but intended for Marie
Antoinette's perusal and consideration; and sometimes by conversations
with La Marck, which the count was expected to repeat to her. But, in all
the counsels thus given, the thing most to be remarked is the high opinion
which they invariably display of the queen's resolution and ability. Every
thing depends on her; it is from her alone that he wishes to receive
instructions; it is her resolution that must supply the deficiencies of
all around her. When he urges that a line of conduct should be adopted
calculated to render their majesties more popular; that they should show
themselves more in public; that they should walk in the most frequented
places; that they should visit the hospitals, the artisans' workshops, and
make themselves friends by acts of charity and generosity, it is to her
that he looks to carry out his suggestions, and to her affability and
presence of mind that he trusts for the success which is to result from
them;[9] and La Marck is equally convinced that "her ability and
resolution are equal to the conduct of affairs of the first importance."

Meantime her health continued good. It showed her strength of mind that
she never intermitted the recreations which contributed to her strength,
about which she was especially anxious, that she might at all times be
ready to act on any emergency; but rode with Elizabeth with great
regularity in the Bois de Boulogne, even in the depth of the winter; and,
while watching with her habitual vigilance of affection over the education
of her children, she found a pleasant relaxation for herself in providing
them with amusement also; often arranging parties, to which other children
of the same age were invited, and finding amusement herself from watching
their gambols in the long corridor of the Tuileries, their blindman's-buff
and hide-and-seek.[10]

The new year opened with grave plans for their extrication from their
troubles--plans requiring the utmost forethought, ingenuity, and secrecy
to bring them to a successful issue; and also with fresh injuries and
insults from the Assembly and the municipal authorities, which every week
made the necessity of promptitude in carrying such plans out more
manifest. Mirabeau, as we have seen, had from the very first recommended
that the king and his family should withdraw from Paris. In his eyes such
a step was the indispensable preliminary to all other measures; and some
of the earliest of the queen's letters in 1791 show that the resolution to
leave the turbulent city had at last been taken. But though what he
recommended was to be done, it was not to be done as he recommended; yet
there was a manliness about the course of action which he proposed which
would of itself have won the queen's preference, if she had not been
forced to consider not what was best and fittest, but what it was most
easy to induce him on whom the final choice must impend, the king, to
adopt. Mirabeau advised that the king should depart publicly, in open day,
"like a king," as he expressed himself,[11] and he affirmed his conviction
that it would in all probability be quite unnecessary to remove farther
than Compiegne; but that the moment that it should be known that the king
was out of Paris, petitions demanding the re-establishment of order would
flock in from every quarter of the kingdom, and public opinion, which was
for the most part royalist, would compel the Assembly to modify the
Constitution which it had framed, or, if it should prove refractory, would
support the king in dissolving it and convoking another.

But this was too bold a step for Louis to decide on. He anticipated that
the Assembly or the mob might endeavor to prevent such a movement by
force, which could only be repelled by force; and force he was resolved
never to employ. The only alternative was to flee secretly; and in the
course of January, Mercy learns that that plan has been adopted, and that
Compiegne is not considered sufficiently distant from Paris, but that some
fortified place will be selected; Valenciennes being the most likely, as
he himself imagined, since, if farther flight should become necessary, it
would be easy from thence to cross the frontier into the Belgian dominions
of the queen's brother. But if Valenciennes had ever been thought of, it
was rejected on that very account; for Louis had learned from English
history that the withdrawal of James II. from his kingdom had been alleged
as one reason for declaring the throne vacant; and he was resolved not to
give his enemies any plea for passing a similar resolution with respect to
himself. Valenciennes was so celebrated as a frontier town, that the mere
fact of his fixing himself there might easily be represented as an
evidence of his intention to quit the kingdom. But there was a small town
of considerable strength named Montmedy, in the district under the command
of the Marquis de Bouille, which afforded all the advantages of
Valenciennes, and did not appear equally liable to the same objections.
Montmedy, therefore, was fixed upon; and, in the very first week of
February, Marie Antoinette announced the decision to Mercy; and began her
own preparations by sending him a jewel-case full of those diamonds which
were her private property. She explained to him at considerable length the
reasons which had dictated the choice. The very smallness of Montmedy was
in itself a recommendation, since it would prevent any one from thinking
it likely to be selected as a refuge. It was also so near Luxembourg that,
in the present temper of the nation, which regarded the Austrian power
with "a panic fear," any addition which M. de Bouille might make to either
the garrison or to his supplies would seem only a wise precaution against
the much-dreaded foreigner. Moreover, the troops in that district were
among the most loyal and well-disposed in the whole army; and if the king
should find it unsafe to remain long at Montmedy, he would have a
trustworthy escort to retreat to Alsace.

She also explained the reasons which had led them to decide on quitting
Paris secretly by night. If they started in the daytime, it would be
necessary to have detachments of troops planted at different spots on
their road to protect them. But M. de Bouille could not rely on all his
own regiments for such a service, and still less on the National Guards in
the different towns; while to bring up fresh forces from distant quarters
would attract attention, and awaken suspicions beforehand which might be
fatal to the enterprise. Montmedy, therefore, had been decided on, and the
plans were already so far settled that she could tell Mercy that they
should take Madame de Tourzel with them, and travel in one single
carriage, which they had never been seen to use before.

Their preparations had even gone beyond these details, minute as they
were. The king was already collecting materials for a manifesto which he
designed to publish the moment that he found himself safely out of Paris.
It would explain the reasons for his flight; it would declare an amnesty
to the people in general, to whom it would impute no worse fault than that
of being misled (none being excepted but the chief leaders of the disloyal
factions; the city of Paris, unless it should at once return to its
ancient tranquillity; and any persons or bodies who might persist in
remaining in arms). To the nation in general the manifesto would breathe
nothing but affection. The Parliaments would be re-established, but only
as judicial tribunals, which should have no pretense to meddle with the
affairs of administration or finance. In short, the king and she had
determined to take his declaration of the 23d of June[12] as the basis of
the Constitution, with such modifications as subsequent circumstances
might have suggested. Religion would be one of the matters placed in the

So sanguine were they, or rather was she, of success, that she had even
taken into consideration the principles on which future ministries should
be constituted; and here for the first time she speaks of herself as
chiefly concerned in planning the future arrangements. "In private we
occupy ourselves with discussing the very difficult choice which we shall
have to make of the persons whom we shall desire to call around us when we
are at liberty. I think that it will be best to place a single man at the
head of affairs, as M. Maurepas was formerly; and if it be settled in this
way, the king would thus escape having to transact business with each
individual minister separately, and affairs would proceed more uniformly
and more steadily. Tell me what you think of this idea. The fit man is not
easy to find, and the more I look for him, the greater inconveniences do I
see in all that occur to me."

She proceeds to discuss foreign affairs, the probable views and future
conduct of almost every power in Europe--of Holland, Prussia, Spain,
Sweden, England; still showing the lingering jealousy which she
entertained of the British Government, which she suspected of wishing to
detach the chivalrous Gustavus from the alliance of France by the offer of
a subsidy. But she is sanguine that, "though some may he glad to see the
influence of France diminished, no wise statesman in any country can
desire her ruin or dismemberment. What is going on in France would be an
example too dangerous to other countries, if it were left unpunished.
Their cause is the cause of all kings, and not a simple political

The whole letter is a most remarkable one, and fully bears out the
eulogies which all who had an opportunity of judging pronounced on her
ability. But the most striking reflection which it suggests is with what
admirable sagacity the whole of the arrangements for the flight of the
royal family had been concerted, and with what judgment the agents had
been chosen, since, though the enterprise was not attempted till more than
four months after this letter was written, the secret was kept through the
whole of that time without the slightest hint of it having been given, or
the slightest suspicion of it having been conceived, by the most watchful
or the most malignant of the king's enemies.

Yet during the winter and early spring the conduct of the Jacobin party in
the Assembly, and of the Parisian mob whom they were keeping in a constant
state of excitement, increased in violence; while one occurrence which
took place was, in Mirabeau's opinion, especially calculated to prompt a
suspicion of the king's intentions. Louis had at, last, and with extreme
reluctance, sanctioned, the bill which required the clergy to take an oath
to comply with the new ecclesiastical arrangements, in the vain hope that
the framers of it would be content with their triumph, and would forbear
to enforce it by fixing any precise date for administering the oath. But,
at the end of January, Barnave obtained from the Assembly a decree that it
should be taken within twenty-four hours, under the penalty of deprivation
of all their preferments to all who should refuse it; the clerical members
of the Assembly were even threatened by the mob in the galleries with
instant death if they declined or even delayed to swear. And as very few
of any rank complied, the main body of the clergy was instantly stripped
of all their appointments and reduced to beggary, and a large proportion
of them fled at once from the kingdom. Those who took the oath, and who in
consequence were appointed to the offices thus vacated, were immediately
condemned and denounced by the pope; and the consequence was that a great
number of their flocks fled with their old priests, not being able to
reconcile to their consciences to stay and receive the sacrament and rites
of the Church from ministers under the ban of its head.

Among those who thus fled were the king's two aunts, the Princesses
Adelaide and Victoire. Bigotry was their only virtue; and they determined
to seek shelter in Rome. Louis highly disapproved of the step, which, as
Mirabeau,[14] in a very elaborate and forcible memorial which he drew up
and submitted to him, pointed out, might be very dangerous for the king
and queen as well as for themselves, since it could be easily represented
by the evil-minded as a certain proof that they also were designing to
flee. And he even recommended that Louis should formally notify to the
Assembly that he disapproved of his aunts' journey, and should make it a
pretext for demanding a law which should give him the power of regulating
the movements of the members of his family.

The flight of the princesses, however, did not, as it turned out, cause
any inconvenience to the king or queen, though it did endanger themselves;
for, though they were furnished with passports, the municipal authorities
tried to stop them at Moret; and at Arnay-le-Duc the mob unharnessed their
horses and detained them by force They appealed to the Assembly by letter;
Alexander Lameth, on this occasion uniting with the most violent Jacobins,
was not ashamed to move that orders should be dispatched to send them back
to Paris: but the body of the Assembly had not yet descended to the
baseness of warring with women; and Mirabeau, who treated the proposal as
ridiculous, and overwhelmed the mover with his wit, had no difficulty in
procuring an order that the fugitives, "two princesses of advanced age and
timorous consciences," as he called them, should be allowed to proceed on
their journey.


The Mob attacks the Castle at Vincennes.--La Fayette saves it.--He insults
the Nobles who come to protect the King.--Perverseness of the Count
d'Artois and the Emigrants.--Mirabeau dies.--General Sorrow for his
death.--He would probably not have been able to arrest the Revolution.--
The Mob prevent the King from visiting St. Cloud.--The Assembly passes a
Vote to forbid him to go more than twenty Leagues from Paris.

The mob, however, was more completely under Jacobin influence; and, at the
end of February, Santerre collected his ruffians for a fresh tumult; the
object now being the destruction of the old castle of Vincennes, which for
some time had been almost unoccupied. La Fayette, whose object at this
time was apparently regulated by a desire to make all parties acknowledge
his influence, in a momentary fit of resolution marched a body of his
National Guard down to save the old fortress, in which he succeeded,
though not without much difficulty, and even some danger. He found he had
greatly miscalculated his influence, not only over the populace, but over
his own soldiers. The rioters fired on him, wounding some of his staff;
and at first many of the soldiers refused to act against the people. His
officers, however, full of indignation, easily quelled the spirit of
mutiny; and, when subordination was restored, proposed to the general to
follow up his success by marching at once back into the city and seizing
the Jacobin demagogues who had caused the riot. There was little doubt
that the great majority of the citizens, in their fear of Santerre and his
gang, would joyfully have supported him in such a measure; but La
Fayette's resolution was never very consistent nor very durable. He became
terrified, not, indeed, so much at the risk to his life which he had
incurred, as at the symptom that to resist the mob might cost him his
popularity; and to appease those whom he might have offended, he proceeded
to insult the king. A report had got abroad, which was not improbably well
founded, that Louis's life had been in danger, and that an assassin had
been detected while endeavoring to make his way into the Tuileries; and
the report had reached a number of nobles, among whom D'Espremesnil, once
so vehement a leader of the Opposition in Parliament, was conspicuous, who
at once hastened to the palace to defend their sovereign. It was not
strange that he and Marie Antoinette should receive them graciously; they
had not of late been used to such warm-hearted and prompt displays of
attachment. But the National Guards who were on duty were jealous of the
cordial and honorable reception which those Nobles met with; they declared
that to them alone belonged the task of defending the king; though they
took so little care to perform it that they had allowed a gang of drunken
desperadoes to get possession of the outer court of the palace, where they
were menacing all aristocrats with death. Louis became alarmed for the
safety of his friends, and begged them to lay aside their arms; and they
had hardly done so when La Fayette arrived. He knew that the mob was
exasperated with him for his repression of their outrages in the morning,
and that some of his soldiers had not been well pleased at being compelled
to act against the rioters. So now, to recover their good-will, he handed
over the weapons of the Nobles, which were only pistols, rapiers, and
daggers, to the National Guard; and after reproaching D'Espremesnil and
his companions for interfering with the duties of his troops, he drove
them down the stairs, unarmed and defenseless as they were, among the
drunken and infuriated mob. They were hooted and ill-treated; but not only
did he make no attempt to protect them, but the next day he offered them a
gratuitous insult by the publication of a general order, addressed to his
own National Guard, in which he stigmatized their conduct as indecent,
their professed zeal as suspicious, and enjoined all the officials of the
palace to take care that such persons were not admitted in future. "The
king of the Constitution," he said, "ought to be surrounded by no
defenders but the soldiers of liberty."

Marie Antoinette had good reason to speak as she did the next week to
Mercy; though we can hardly fail to remark, as a singular proof of the
strength of her political prejudices, and of the degree in which she
allowed them to blind her to the objects and the worth of the few honest
or able men whom the Assembly contained, that she still regards the
Constitutionalists as only one degree less unfavorable to the king's
legitimate authority than the Jacobins. And we shall hereafter see that to
this mistaken estimate she adhered almost to the end. "Mischief," she
says, "is making progress so rapid that there is reason to fear a speedy
explosion, which can not fail to be dangerous to us, if we ourselves do
not guide it There is no middle way; either we must remain under the sword
of the factions, and consequently be reduced to nothing, if they get the
upper hand, or we must submit to be fettered under the despotism of men
who profess to be well-intentioned, but who always have done, and always
will do us harm. This is what is before us, and perhaps the moment is
nearer than we think, if we can not ourselves take a decided line, or lead
men's opinions by our own vigor and energetic action. What I here say is
not dictated by any exaggerated notions, nor by any disgust at our
position, nor by any restless desire to be doing something. I perfectly
feel all the dangers and risks to which we are exposed at this moment. But
I see that all around us affairs are so full of terror that it is better
to perish in trying to save ourselves than to allow ourselves to be
utterly crushed in a state of absolute inaction.[1]"

And she held the same language to her brother, the emperor, assuring him
that "the king and herself were both convinced of the necessity of acting
with prudence, but there were cases in which dilatoriness might ruin every
thing; and that the factious and disloyal were prosecuting their objects
with such celerity, aiming at nothing less than the utter subversion of
the kingly power, that it would be extremely dangerous not to offer a
resistance to their plans.[2]" And referring to her project of foreign
aid, she reported to him that she had promises of assistance from both
Spain and Switzerland, if they could depend on the co-operation of the

And still the emigrant princes were adding to her perplexity by their
perverseness. She wrote herself to the Count d'Artois to expostulate with
him, and to entreat him "not to abandon himself to projects of which the
success, to say the least, was doubtful, and which would expose himself to
danger without the possibility of serving the king.[3]" No description of
the relative influence of the king and queen at this time can be so
forcible as the fact that it was she who conducted all the correspondence
of the court, even with the king's brothers. But her remonstrances had no
influence. We may not impute to the king's brothers any intention to
injure him; but unhappily they had both not only a mean idea of his
capacity, but a very high one, much worse founded, of their own; and full
of self-confidence and self-conceit, they took their own line, perfectly
regardless of the suspicions to which their perverse and untractable
conduct exposed the king, carrying their obstinacy so far that it was not
without difficulty, that the emperor himself, though they were in his
dominions, was able to restrain their machinations.

Meanwhile, the queen was steadily carrying on the necessary arrangements
for flight. Money had to be provided, for which trustworthy agents were
negotiating in Switzerland and Holland, while some the emperor might be
expected to furnish. Mirabeau marked out for himself what he regarded as a
most important share in the enterprise, undertaking to defend and justify
their departure to the Assembly, and nothing doubting that he should be
able to bring over the majority of the members to his view of that
subject, as he had before prevailed upon them to sanction the journey of
the princesses. But in the first days of April all the hopes of success
which had been founded on his cooperation and support were suddenly
extinguished by his death. Though he had hardly entered upon middle age, a
constant course of excess had made him an old man before his time. In the
latter part of March he was attacked by an illness which his physicians
soon pronounced mortal, and on the 2d of April he died. He had borne the
approach of death with firmness, professing to regret it more for the sake
of his country than for his own. He was leaving behind him no one, as he
affirmed, who would he able to arrest the Revolution as he could have
done; and there can be no doubt that the great bulk of the nation did
place confidence in his power to offer effectual resistance to the designs
of the Jacobins. The various parties in the State showed this feeling
equally by the different manner in which they received the intelligence.
The court and the Royalists openly lamented him. The Jacobins, the
followers of Lameth, and the partisans of the Duke of Orleans, exhibited
the most indecent exultation.[4] But the citizens of Paris mourned for
him, apparently, without reference to party views. They took no heed of
the opposition with which he had of late often defeated the plots of the
leaders whom they had followed to riot and treason. They cast aside all
recollection of the denunciations of him as a friend to the court with
which the streets had lately rung. In their eyes he was the
personification of the Revolution as a whole; to him, as they viewed his
career for the last two years, they owed the independence of the Assembly,
the destruction of the Bastile, and of all other abuses; and through him
they doubted not still to obtain every thing that was necessary for the
completion of their freedom.

His remains were treated with honors never before paid to a subject. He
lay in state; he had a public funeral. His body was laid in the great
Church of St. Genevieve, which, the very day before, had been renamed the
Pantheon, and appropriated as a cemetery for such of her illustrious sons
as France might hereafter think worthy of the national gratitude. Yet,
though his great confidant and panegyrist, M. Dumont,[5] has devoted an
elaborate argument to prove that he had not overestimated his power to
influence the future; and though the Russian embassador, M. Simolin, a
diplomatist of extreme acuteness, seems to imply the same opinion by his
pithy saying that "he ought to have lived two years longer, or died two
years earlier," we can hardly agree with them. La Marck, as has been seen,
even when first opening the negotiation for his connection with the court,
doubted whether he would be able to undo the mischief which he had
acquiesced in, measures not of reform nor of reconstruction, but of total
abolition and destruction, are in their very nature irrevocable and
irremediable. The nobility was gone; he had not resisted its suppression.
The Church was gone; he had himself been among the foremost of its
assailants. How, even if he had wished it, could he have undone these
acts? and if he could not, how, without those indispensable pillars and
supports, could any monarchy endure? That he was now fully alive to the
magnitude of the dangers which encompassed both throne and people, and
that he would have labored vigorously to avert them, we may do him the
justice to believe. But it seems not so probable that he would have
succeeded, as that he would have added one more to the list of these
politicians who, having allowed their own selfish aims to carry them
beyond the limits of prudence and justice, have afterward found it
impossible to retrace their steps, but have learned to their shame and
sorrow that their rashness has but led to the disappointment of their
hopes, the permanent downfall of their own reputations, and the ruin of
what they would gladly have defended and preserved. And, on the whole, it
is well that from time to time such lessons should be impressed upon the
world. It is well that men of lofty genius and pure patriotism should
learn, equally with the most shallow empiric or the most self-seeking
demagogue, that false steps in politics can rarely be retraced; that
concessions once made can seldom, if ever, be recalled, but are usually
the stepping-stones to others still more extensive; that what it would
have been easy to preserve, it is commonly impossible to repair or to

He had been laid in the grave only a fortnight, when, as if on purpose to
show how utterly defenseless the king now was, the Jacobins excited the
mob and the assembly to inflict greater insults on him than had been
offered even by the attack on Versailles, or by any previous vote. As
Easter, which was unusually late this year, approached, Louis became
anxious to spend a short time in tranquillity and holy meditation; and,
since the tumultuousness of the city was not very favorable for such a
purpose, he resolved to pass a fortnight at St. Cloud. But when he was
preparing to set out, a furious mob seized the horses and unharnessed
them; the National Guards united with the rioters, refusing to obey La
Fayette's orders to clear the way for the royal carriage, and the king and
queen were compelled to dismount and to return to their apartments; while,
a day or two afterward, the Assembly came to a vote which seemed as if
designed for an express sanction of this outrage, and which ordained that
the king should not be permitted ever to move more than twenty leagues
from Paris.

Of all the decrees which it had yet enacted, this, in some sense, may be
regarded as the most monstrous. It was not only passing a penal sentence
on the royal family such as in no country or age any but convicted
criminals had even been subjected to, but it was an insult and an injury
to every part of the kingdom except the capital, which, by an intolerable
assumption, it treated as if it were the whole of France. Joseph, as has
been seen, had wisely pointed out to his brother-in-law that it was one,
and no unimportant part, of a sovereign's duty to visit the different
provinces and chief cities of his kingdom, and Louis had in one instance
acted on his advice. We have seen how gladly he was received by the
citizens of Cherbourg, and what advantages they promised themselves from
his having thus made himself personally acquainted with their situation
and wants and prospects; and we can not doubt that other towns and cities
shared this feeling, nor that it was well founded, and that the
acquisition by a king of a personal knowledge of the resources and
capabilities and interests of the great cities, of agriculture,
manufactures, and commerce, is a benefit to the whole community; but of
this every province and every city but Paris was now to be deprived. It
was to be an offense to visit Rouen, or Lyons, or Bordeaux; to examine
Riquet's canal or Vauban's fortifications. The king was the only person in
the kingdom to whom liberty of movement was to be denied; and the peasants
of every province, and the citizens of every other town, were to be
refused for a single day the presence of their sovereign, whom the
Parisians thus claimed a right to keep as a prisoner in their own

It is hardly strange that such open attacks on their liberty made a deeper
impression on the queen, and even on the phlegmatic disposition of the
king, than any previous act of violence, or that it increased their
eagerness to escape with as little delay as possible. Indeed, the queen
regarded the public welfare as equally concerned with their own in their
safe establishment in some town to which they should also be able to
remove the Assembly, so that that body as well as themselves should be
protected from the fatal influence of the clubs of Paris, and of the
populace which was under the dominion of the clubs.[6] Accordingly, on the
20th of April, she writes to the emperor[7] that "the occurrence which has
just taken place has confirmed them more than ever in their plans. The
very guards who surrounded them are the persons who threaten them most.
Their very lives are not safe; but they must appear to submit to every
thing till the moment comes when they can act; and in the mean time their
captivity proves that none of their actions are done by their own accord."
And she urges her brother at once to move a strong body of troops toward
some of his fortresses on the Belgian frontier--Arlon, Vitron, or Mons--in
order to give M. de Bouille a pretext for collecting troops and munitions
of war at Montmedy. "Send me an immediate answer on this point; let me
know, too, about the money; our position is frightful, and we must
absolutely put an end to it next month. The king desires it even more than
I do."

As May proceeds she presses on her preparations, and urges the emperor to
accelerate his, especially the movements of his troops; but the Count
d'Artois and his followers are a terrible addition to her anxieties.
Leopold had told her that the ancient minister, Calonne, always restless
and always unscrupulous, was now with the count, and was busily stirring
him up to undertake some enterprise or other;[8] and her reply shows how
justly she dreads the results of such an alliance. "The prince, the Count
d'Artois, and all those whom they have about them, seem determined to be
doing something. They have no proper means of action, and they will ruin
us, without our having the slightest connection with their plans. Their
indiscretion, and the men who are guiding them, will prevent our
communicating our secret to them till the very last moment."

To Mercy she is even more explicit in her description of the imminence of
the danger to which the king and she are now exposed than she had been to
her brother. As the time for attempting to escape grew nearer, the
embassador became the more painfully impressed with the danger of the
attempt. Failure, as it seems to him, will be absolutely fatal. He asks
her anxiously whether the necessity is such that it has become
indispensable to risk such a result;[9] and she, in an answer of
considerable length and admirable clearness of expression and argument,
explains her reasons for deciding that it is absolutely unavoidable: "The
only alternative for us, especially since the 18th of April,[10] is either
blindly to submit to all that the factions require, or to perish by the
sword which is forever suspended over our heads. Believe me, I am not
exaggerating the danger; you know that my notion used to be, as long as I
could cherish it, to trust to gentleness, to time, and to public opinion.
But now all is changed, and we must either perish or take the only line
which remains to us. We are far from shutting our eyes to the fact that
this line also has its perils; but, if we must die, it will be at least
with glory, and in having done all that we could for our duty, for honor,
and for religion.... I believe that the provinces are less corrupted than
the capital; but it is always Paris which gives the tone to the whole
kingdom. We should greatly deceive ourselves if we fancied that the events
of the 18th of April, horrible as they were, produced any excitement in
the provinces. The clubs and the affiliations lead France where they
please; the right-thinking people, and those who are dissatisfied with
what is taking place, either flee from the country or hide themselves,
because they are not the stronger party, and because they have no
rallying-point. But when the king can show himself freely in a fortified
place, people will be astonished to see the number of dissatisfied people
who will then come forward, who, till that time, are groaning in silence;
but the longer we delay, the less support we shall have....

"Let us resume. You ask two questions: 1st. Is it possible or useful to
wait? No; by the explanation of our position which I gave at the beginning
of this letter, I have sufficiently proved the impossibility.... As to the
usefulness, it could only be useful on the supposition that we could count
on a new legislative body.... 2d. Admitting the necessity of acting
promptly, are we sure of means to escape; of a place to retreat to, and of
having a party strong enough to maintain itself for two months by its own
resources? I have answered this question several times. It is more than
probable that the king, once escaped from here, and in a place of safety,
will have, and will very soon find, a very strong party. The means of
escape depend on a flight the most immediate and the most secret. There
are only four persons who are acquainted with our secret; and those whom
we mean to take with us will not know it till the very moment. None of our
own people will attend us; and at a distance of only thirty or thirty-five
leagues we shall find some troops to protect our march, but not enough to
cause us to be recognized till we reach the place of our destination.

"....I can easily conceive the repugnance which, on political grounds, the
emperor would feel to allowing his troops to enter France.... But if their
movement is solicited by his brother-in-law, his ally, whose life,
existence, and honor are in danger, I conceive the case is very different;
and as to Brabant, that province will never be quiet till this country is
brought back to a different state. It is, then, for himself also that my
brother will be working in giving us this assistance, which is so much the
more valuable to us, that his troops will serve as an example to ours, and
will even be able to restrain them.

"And it is with this view that the person[11] of whom I spoke to you in my
letter in cipher demands their employment for a time ... We can not delay
longer than the end of this month. By that time I hope we shall have a
decisive answer from Spain. But till the very instant of our departure we
must do everything that is required of us, and even appear to go to meet
them. It is one way, perhaps the only one, to lull the mob to sleep and to
save our lives."


Plans for the Escape of the Royal Family.--Dangers of Discovery.--
Resolution of the Queen.--The Royal Family leave the Palace.--They are
recognized at Ste. Menehould.--Are arrested at Varennes.--Tumult in the
City, and in the Assembly.--The King and Queen are brought back to Paris.

Marie Antoinette, as we have seen, had been anxious that their departure
from Paris should not be delayed beyond the end of May, and De Bouille had
agreed with her; but enterprises of so complicated a character can rarely
be executed with the rapidity or punctuality that is desired, and it was
not till the 20th of June that this movement, on which so much depended,
was able to be put in execution. Often during the preceding weeks the
queen's heart sunk within her when she reflected on the danger of
discovery, whether from the acuteness of her enemies or the treachery of
pretended friends; and even more when she pondered on the character of the
king himself, so singularly unfitted for an undertaking in which it was
not the passive courage with which he was amply endowed, but daring
resolution, promptitude, and presence of mind, which were requisite. She
was cheered, however, by repeated letters from the emperor, showing the
warm and affectionate interest which he took in the result of the
enterprise, and promising with evident sincerity "his own most cordial
co-operation in all that could tend to her and her husband's success,
when the time should come for him to show himself."

But her main reliance was on herself; and all who were privy to the
enterprise knew well that it was on her forethought and courage that its
success wholly depended. Those who were privy to it were very few; and it
is a singular proof how few Frenchmen, even of the highest rank, could be
trusted at this time, that of these few two were foreigners--a Swede, the
Count de Fersen, whose name has been mentioned in earlier chapters of this
narrative, and (an English writer may be proud to add) an Englishman, Mr.
Craufurd. In such undertakings the simplest arrangements are the safest;
and those devised by the queen and her advisers, the chief of whom were De
Fersen and De Bouille, were as simple as possible. The royal fugitives
were to pass for a traveling party of foreigners. A passport signed by M.
Montmorin, who still held the seals of the Foreign Department, was
provided for Madame de Tourzel, who, assuming the name of Madame de Korff,
a Russian baroness, professed to be returning to her own country with her
family and her ordinary equipage. The dauphin and his sister were
described as her children, the queen as their governess; while the king
himself, under the name of Durand, was to pass as their servant. Three of
the old disbanded Body-guard, MM. De Valory, De Malden, and De Moustier,
were to attend the party in the disguise of couriers; and, under the
pretense of providing for the safe conveyance of a large sum of money
which was required for the payment of the troops, De Bouille undertook to
post a detachment of soldiers at each town between Chalons and Montmedy,
through which the travelers were to pass.

Some of the other arrangements were more difficult, as more likely to lead
to a betrayal of the design. It was, of course, impossible to use any
royal carriage, and no ordinary vehicle was large enough to hold such a
party. But in the preceding year De Fersen had had a carriage of unusual
dimensions built for some friends in the South of Europe, so that he had
no difficulty now in procuring another of similar pattern from the same
maker; and Mr. Craufurd agreed to receive it into his stables, and at the
proper hour to convey it outside the barrier.

Yet in spite of the care displayed in these arrangements, and of the
absolute fidelity observed by all to whom the secret was intrusted, some
of the inferior attendants about the court suspected what was in
agitation. The queen herself, with some degree of imprudence, sent away a
large package to Brussels; one of her waiting-women discovered that she
and Madame Campan had spent an evening in packing up jewels, and sent
warning to Gouvion, an aid-de-camp of La Fayette, and to Bailly, the
mayor, that the queen at last was preparing to flee. Luckily Bailly had
received so many similar notices that he paid but little attention to
this; or perhaps he was already beginning to feel the repentance, which he
afterward exhibited, at his former insolence to his sovereign, and was not
unwilling to contribute to their safety by his inaction; while Gouvion was
not anxious to reveal the source from which he had obtained his
intelligence. Still, though nothing precise was known, the attention of
more than one person was awakened to the movements of the royal family,
and especially that of La Fayette, who, alarmed lest his prisoners should
escape him, redoubled his vigilance, driving down to the palace every
night, and often visiting them in their apartments to make himself certain
of their presence. Six hundred of the National Guard were on duty at the
Tuileries, and sentinels were placed at the end of every passage and at
the foot of every staircase; but fortunately a small room, with a secret
door which led into the queen's chamber, as it had been for some time
unoccupied, had escaped the observation of the officers on guard, and that
passage therefore offered a prospect of their being able to reach the
courtyard without being perceived.[1]

On the morning of the day appointed for the great enterprise, all in the
secret were vividly excited except the queen. She alone preserved her
coolness. No one could have guessed from her demeanor that she was on the
point of embarking in an undertaking on which, in her belief, her own life
and the lives of all those dearest to her depended. The children, who knew
nothing of what was going on, went to their usual occupations--the dauphin
to his garden on the terrace, Madame Royale to her lessons; and Marie
Antoinette herself, after giving some orders which were to be executed in
the course of the next day or two, went out riding with her sister-in-law
in the Bois de Boulogne. Her conversation throughout the day was light and
cheerful. She jested with the officer on guard about the reports which she
understood to be in circulation about some intended flight of the king,
and was relieved to find that he totally disbelieved them. She even
ventured on the same jest with La Fayette himself, who replied, in his
usual surly fashion, that such a project was constantly talked of; but
even his rudeness could not discompose her.

As the hour drew near she began to prepare her children. The princess was
old enough to be talked to reasonably, and she contented herself,
therefore, with warning her to show no surprise at any thing that she
might see or hear. The dauphin was to be disguised as a girl, and it was
with great glee that he let the attendants dress him, saying that he saw
that they were going to act a play. The royal supper usually took place
soon after nine; at half-past ten the family separated for the night, and
by eleven their attendants were all dismissed; and Marie Antoinette had
fixed that hour for departing, because, even if the sentinels should get a
glimpse of them, they would be apt to confound them with the crowd which
usually quit the palace at that time.

Accordingly, at eleven o'clock the Count de Fersen, dressed as a coachman,
drove an ordinary job-carriage into the court-yard; and Marie Antoinette,
who trusted nothing to others which she could do herself, conducted Madame
de Tourzel and the children down-stairs, and seated them safely in the
carriage. But even her nerves nearly gave way when La Fayette's coach,
brilliantly lighted, drove by, passing close to her as he proceeded to the
inner court to ascertain from the guard that every thing was in its usual
condition. In an agony of fright she sheltered herself behind some
pillars, and in a few minutes the marquis drove back, and she rejoined the
king, who was awaiting her summons in his own apartment, while one of the
disguised Body-guards went for the Princess Elizabeth. Even the children
were inspired with their mother's courage. As the princess got into the
carriage she trod on the dauphin, who was lying in concealment at the
bottom, and the brave boy spoke not a word; while Louis himself gave a
remarkable proof how, in spite of the want of moral and political
resolution which had brought such miseries on himself and his country, he
could yet preserve in the most critical moments his presence of mind and
kind consideration for others. He was half way down-stairs when he
returned to his room. M. Valory, who was escorting him, was dismayed when
he saw him turn back, and ventured to remind him how precious was every
instant. "I know that," replied the kind-hearted monarch; "but they will
murder my servant to-morrow for having aided my escape;" and, sitting down
at his table, he wrote a few lines declaring that the man had acted under
his peremptory orders, and gave the note to him as a certificate to
protect him from accusation. When all the rest were seated, the queen took
her place. De Fersen drove them to the Porte St. Martin, where the great
traveling-carriage was waiting, and, having transferred them to it, and
taken a respectful leave of them, he fled at once to Brussels, which, more
fortunate than those for whom he had risked his life, he reached in

For a hundred miles the royal fugitives proceeded rapidly and without
interruption. One of the supposed couriers was on the box, another rode by
the side of the carriage, and the third went on in advance to see that the
relays were in readiness. Before midday they reached Chalons, the place
where they were to be met by the first detachment of De Bouille's troops;
and, when the well-known uniforms met her eye, Marie Antoinette for the
first time gave full expression to her feelings. "Thank God, we are
saved!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands; the fervor of her exclamation
bearing undesigned testimony to the greatness of the fears which, out of
consideration for others, she had hitherto kept to herself; but in truth
out of this employment of the troops arose all their subsequent disasters.

De Bouille had been unwilling to send his detachments so far forward,
pointing out that the notice which their arrival in the different towns
was sure to attract would do more harm than their presence as a protection
could do good. But his argument had been overruled by the king himself,
who apprehended the greatest danger from the chance of being overtaken,
and expected it, therefore, to increase with every hour of the journey. De
Bouille's fears, however, were found to be the best justified by the
event. In more than one town, even in the few hours that had elapsed since
the arrival of the soldiers, there had been quarrels between them and the
towns-people; in others, which was still worse, the populace had made
friends with them and seduced them from their loyalty, so that the
officers in command had found it necessary to withdraw them altogether;
and anxiety at their unexpected absence caused Louis more than once to
show himself at the carriage window. More than once he was recognized by
people who knew him and kept his counsel; but Drouet, the postmaster at
Ste. Menehould, a town about one hundred and seventy miles from Paris, was
of a less loyal disposition. He had lately been in the capital, where he
had become infected with the Jacobin doctrines. He too saw the king's
face, and on comparing his somewhat striking features with the stamp on
some public documents which he chanced to have in his pocket, became
convinced of his identity. He at once reported to the magistrates what he
had seen, and with their sanction rode forward to the next town, Clermont,
hoping to be able to collect a force sufficient to stop the royal carriage
on its arrival there. But the king traveled so fast that he had quit
Clermont before Drouet reached it, and he even arrived at Varennes before
his pursuer. Had he quit that place also he would have been in safety, for
just beyond it De Bouille had posted a strong division which would have
been able to defy all resistance. But Varennes, a town on the Oise, was so
small as to have no post-house, and by some mismanagement the royal party
had not been informed at which end of the town they were to find the
relay. The carriage halted while M. Valory was making the necessary
inquiries; and, while it was standing still, Drouet rode up and forbade
the postilions to proceed. He himself hastened on through the town,
collected a few of the towns-people, and with their aid upset a cart or
two on the bridge to block up the way; and, having thus made the road
impassable, he roused the municipal authorities, for it was nearly
midnight, and then, returning to the royal carriage, he compelled the
royal family to dismount and follow him to the house of the mayor, a petty
grocer, whose name was Strausse. The magistrates sounded the tocsin: the
National Guard beat to arms: the king and queen were prisoners.

How they were allowed to remain so is still, after all the explanations
that have been given, incomprehensible. Two officers with sixty hussars,
all well disposed and loyal, were in a side street of the town waiting for
their arrival, of which they were not aware. Six of the troopers actually
passed the travelers in the street as they were proceeding to the mayor's
house, but no one, not even the queen, appealed to them for succor; or
they could have released them without an effort, for Drouet's whole party
consisted of no more than eight unarmed men. And when, an hour afterward,
the officers in command learned that the king was in the town in the hands
of his enemies, instead of at once delivering him, they were seized with a
panic: they would not take on themselves the responsibility of acting
without express orders, but galloped back to De Bouille to report the
state of affairs. In less than an hour three more detachments, amounting
in all to above one hundred men, also reached the town; and their
commanders did make their way to the king, and asked his orders. He could
only reply that he was a prisoner, and had no orders to give; and not one
of the officers had the sense to perceive that the fact of his announcing
himself a prisoner was in itself an order to deliver him.

One word of command from Louis to clear the way for him at the sword's
point would yet have been sufficient; but he had still the same invincible
repugnance as ever to allow blood to be shed in his quarrel. He preferred
peaceful means, which could not but fail. With a dignity arising from his
entire personal fearlessness, he announced his name and rank, his reasons
for quitting Paris and proceeding to Montmedy; declaring that he had no
thought of quitting the kingdom, and demanded to be allowed to proceed on
his journey. While the queen, her fears for her children overpowering all
other feelings, addressed herself with the most earnest entreaties to the
mayor's wife, declaring that their very lives would be in danger if they
should be taken back to Paris, and imploring her to use her influence with
her husband to allow them to proceed. Neither Strausse nor his wife was
ill-disposed toward the king, but had not the courage to comply with the
request of the royal couple whom, after a little time, the mayor and his
wife could not have allowed to proceed, however much they might have
wished it; for the tocsin had brought up numbers of the National Guard,
who were all disloyal; while some of the soldiers began to show a
disinclination to act against them. And so matters stood for some hours; a
crowd of towns-people, peasants, National Guards, and dragoons thronging
the room; the king at times speaking quietly to his captors; the queen
weeping, for the fatigue of the journey, and the fearful disappointment at
being thus baffled at the last moment, after she had thought that all
danger was passed, had broken down even her nerves. At first she had tried
to persuade Louis to act with resolution; but when, as usual, she failed,
she gave way to despair, and sat silent, with touching, helpless sorrow,
gazing on her children, who had fallen asleep.

At seven o'clock on the morning of the 22d a single horseman rode into the
town. He was an aid-de-camp of La Fayette. On the morning of the 21st the
excitement had been great in Paris when it became known that the king had
fled. The mob rose in furious tumult. They forced their way into the
Tuileries, plundering the palace and destroying the furniture. A
fruit-woman took possession of the queen's bed, as a stall to range her
cherries on, saying that to-day it was the turn of the nation; and a
picture of the king was torn down from the walls, and, after being stuck
up in derision outside the gates for some time, was offered for sale to
the highest bidder.[2] In the Assembly the most violent language was used.
An officer whose name has been preserved through the eminence which after
his death was attained by his widow and his children, General Beauharnais,
was the president; and as such, he announced that M. Bailly had reported
to him that the enemies of the nation had carried off the king. The whole
Assembly was roused to fury at the idea of his having escaped from their
power. A decree was at once drawn up in form, commanding that Louis should
be seized wherever he could be found, and brought back to Paris. No one
could pretend that the Assembly had the slightest right to issue such an
order; but La Fayette, with the alacrity which he always displayed when
any insult was to be offered to the king or queen, at once sent it off by
his own aid-de-camp, M. Romeuf, with instructions to see that it was
carried out The order was now delivered to Strausse; the king, with
scarcely an attempt at resistance, declared his willingness to obey it;
and before eight o'clock he and his family, with their faithful
Body-guard, now in undisguised captivity, were traveling back to Paris.

When was there ever a journey so miserable as that which now brought its
sovereigns back to that disloyal and hostile city! The National Guard of
Varennes, and of other towns through which they passed, claimed a right to
accompany them; and as they were all infantry, the speed of the carriage
was limited to their walking pace. So slowly did the procession advance,
that it was not till the fourth day that it reached the barrier; and, in
many places on the road, a mob had collected in expectation of their
arrival, and aggravated the misery of their situation by ferocious threats
addressed to the queen, and even to the little dauphin. But at Chalons
they were received with respect by the municipal authorities; the Hotel de
Ville had been prepared for their reception: a supper had been provided.
The queen was even entreated to allow some of the principal ladies of the
city to be presented to her; and, as the next day was the great Roman
Catholic festival of the Fete Dieu, they were escorted with all honor to
hear mass in the cathedral, before they resumed their journey. Even the
National Guard were not all hostile or insolent. At Epernay, though a
menacing crowd surrounded the carriage as they dismounted, the commanding
officer took up the dauphin in his arms to carry him in safety to the door
of the hotel; comforting the queen at the same time with a loyal whisper
well suited to her feelings, "Despise this clamor, madame; there is a God
above all."

But, miserable as their journey was, soon after leaving Chalons it became
more wretched still. They were no longer to be allowed the privilege of
suffering and grieving by themselves. The Assembly had sent three of its
members to take charge of them, selecting, as might have been expected,
two who were known as among their bitterest enemies--Barnave, and a man
named Petion; the third, M. Latour Maubourg, was a plain soldier, who
might be depended on for carrying out his orders with resolution. In one
respect those who made the choice were disappointed. Barnave, whose
hostility to the king and queen had been chiefly dictated by personal
feelings, was entirely converted by the dignified resignation of the
queen, and from this day renounced his republicanism; and, though he
adhered to what were known as Constitutionalist views, was ever afterward
a zealous advocate of both the monarch and the monarchy. But Petion took
every opportunity of insulting Louis, haranguing him on the future
abolition of royalty, and reproaching him for many of his actions, and for
what he believed to be his feelings and views for the future.

It was the afternoon of the 25th when they came in sight of Paris. So
great had been Marie Antoinette's mental sufferings that in those few days
her hair had turned white; and fresh and studied humiliations were yet in
store for her. The carriage was not allowed to take the shortest road, but
was conducted some miles round, that it might be led in triumph down the
Champs Elysees, where a vast mob was waiting to feast their eyes on the
spectacle, whose display of sullen ill-will had been bespoken by a notice
prohibiting any one from taking off his hat to the king, or uttering a
cheer. The National Guard were forbidden to present arms to him; and it
seemed as if they interpreted this order as a prohibition also against
using them in his defense; for, as the carriage approached the palace, a
gang of desperate ruffians, some of whom were recognized as among the most
ferocious of the former assailants of Versailles, forced their way through
their ranks, pressed up against the carriage, and even mounted on the
steps. Barnave and Latour Maubourg, fearing that they intended to break
open the doors, placed themselves against them; but they contented
themselves with looking in at the window, and uttering sanguinary threats.
Marie Antoinette became alarmed--not for herself, but for her children.
They had so closed up every avenue of air that those within were nearly
stifled, and the youngest, of course, suffered most. She let down a glass,
and appealed to those who were crowding round: "For the love of God," she
exclaimed, "retire; my children are choking!" "We will soon choke you,"
was the only reply they vouchsafed to her. At last, however, La Fayette
came up with an armed escort, and they were driven off; but they still
followed the carriage up to the very gate of the palace with yells of
insult. And it had a stranger follower still: behind the royal carriage
came an open cabriolet, in which sat Drouet, with a laurel crown on his
head,[3] as if the chief object of the procession wore to celebrate his
triumph over his king.

The mob was even hoping to add to its impressiveness by the slaughter of
some immediate victims--not of the king and queen, for they believed them
to be destined to public execution; but they were eager to massacre the
faithful Body-guards, who had been brought back, bound, on the box of the
carriage; and they would undoubtedly have carried out their bloody purpose
had not the queen remembered them, and, as she was dismounting, entreated
Barnave and La Fayette to protect them. Though during the last three days
many things had had their names altered,[4] the Tuileries had been spared.
It was still in name a royal palace, but those who now entered it knew it
for their prison. The sun was setting, the emblem of the extinction of
their royalty, as they ascended the stairs to find such rest as they
might, and to ponder in privacy for this one night over their fatal
disappointment, and their still more fatal future.

Yet, though their return was full of ignominy and wretchedness, though
their home had become a prison, the only exit from which was to be the
scaffold, still, if posthumous renown can compensate for miseries endured
in this life; if it be worth while to purchase, even by the most terrible
and protracted sufferings, an undying, unfading memory of the most
admirable virtues--of fidelity, of truth, of patience, of resignation, of
disinterestedness, of fortitude, of all the qualities which most ennoble
and sanctify the heart--it may be said, now that her agonies have long
been terminated, and that she has been long at rest, that it was well for
Marie Antoinette that she had failed to reach Montmedy, and that she had
thus fallen again, without having to reproach herself in any single
particular, into the hands of her enemies. As a prisoner to the basest of
mankind, as victim to the most ferocious monsters that have ever disgraced
humanity, she has ever commanded, and she will never cease to command, the
sympathy and admiration of every generous mind. But the case would have
been widely different had Louis and she found the refuge which they sought
with the loyal and brave De Bouille. Their arrival in his camp could not
have failed to be a signal for civil war; and civil war, under such
circumstances as those of France at that time, could have had but one
termination--their defeat, dethronement, and expulsion from the country.
In a foreign land they might, indeed, have found security, but they would
have enjoyed but little happiness. Wherever he may be, the life of a
deposed and exiled sovereign must be one of ceaseless mortification. The
greatest of the Italian poets has well said that the recollection of
former happiness is the bitterest aggravation of present misery; and not
only to the fugitive monarch himself, but to those who still preserve
their fidelity to him, and to the foreign people to whom he is indebted
for his asylum, the recollection of his former greatness will ever be at
hand to add still further bitterness to his present humiliation. The most
friendly feeling his misfortunes can ever excite is a contemptuous pity,
such as noble and proud minds must find it harder to endure than the
utmost virulence of hatred and enmity.

From such a fate, at least, Marie Antoinette was saved. During the
remainder of her life her failure did indeed condemn her to a protraction
of trial and agony such as no other woman has ever endured; but she always
prized honor far above life, and it also opened to her an immortality of
glory such as no other woman has ever achieved.


Marie Antoinette's Feelings on her Return.--She sees Hopes of
Improvement.--The 17th of July.--The Assembly inquire into the King's
Conduct on leaving Paris.--They resolve that there is no Reason for taking
Proceedings.--Excitement in Foreign Countries.--The Assembly proceeds to
complete the Constitution.--It declares all the Members Incapable of
Election to the New Assembly.--Letters of Marie Antoinette to the Emperor
and to Mercy.--The Declaration of Pilnitz.--The King accepts the
Constitution.--Insults offered to him at the Festival of the Champ de
Mars.--And to the Queen at the Theatre.--The First or Constituent Assembly
is dissolved.

It was eminently characteristic of Marie Antoinette that her very first
act, the morning after her return, was to write to De Fersen, to inform
him that she was safe and well in health; but though she had roused
herself for that effort of gratitude and courteous kindness, for some days
she seemed stupefied by grief and disappointment, and unable to speak or
think for a single moment of any thing but the narrow chance which had
crushed her hopes, and changed success, when it had seemed to be secured,
into ruin; and, if ever she could for a moment drive the feeling from her
mind, her enemies took care to force it back upon her every hour. Before
they reached the Tuileries, La Fayette had obtained from the Assembly
authority to place guards wherever he might think fit; and no jailer ever
took more rigorous precautions for the safe-keeping of the most desperate
criminals than this man of noble birth, but most ignoble heart[1], now
practiced toward his king and queen. Sentinels were placed along every
passage of the palace, and, that they might have their prisoners
constantly in sight, the door of every room was kept open day and night.
The queen was not allowed even to close her bed-chamber, and a soldier was
placed so as at all times to command a sight of the whole room; the only
moment that the door was permitted to be shut being a short period each
morning while she was dressing.

But after a time she rallied, and even began again to think the future not
wholly desperate. She always looked at the most promising side of affairs,
and the first shock of the anguish felt at Varennes had scarcely passed
away, when, with irrepressible sanguineness, she began to look around her
and search for some foundation on which to build fresh hopes. She even
thought that she had found it in the divisions which were becoming daily
more conspicuous in the Assembly itself. She had yet to learn that at such
times violence always overpowers moderation, and that the worse men are,
the more certain are they to obtain the upper hand.

The divisions among her enemies were indeed so furious as to justify at
one time the expectation that one party would destroy the other. The
Jacobins summoned a vast meeting, whose members they fixed beforehand at a
hundred thousand citizens, to meet on Sunday, the 17th of July, to
petition the Assembly to dethrone the king. On the appointed day, long
before the hour fixed for the meeting, a fierce riot took place, the
causes and even the circumstances of which have never been clearly
ascertained, but which soon became marked with scenes of extraordinary
violence. La Fayette, who tried to crush it in the bud, was pelted and
fired at. Bailly hung out the red flag, the token of martial law being
proclaimed, at the Hotel de Ville, The mob pelted the National Guard. The
National Guard, too much exasperated and alarmed to obey La Fayette's
order to fire over the people's heads, at one volley shot down a hundred
of the rioters. The Jacobin leaders fled in alarm. Robespierre, who had
been one of the chief organizers of the tumult, being also one of the
basest of cowards, was the most terrified of all, and fled for shelter to
his admirer, of congenial spirit, Madame Roland, whose protection he
afterward repaid by sending her to the scaffold. The riot was quelled, and
the officers of the National Guard urged La Fayette to take advantage of
the opportunity, and lead them on to close by force the club of the
Jacobins, and another of equal ferocity, known as the Cordeliers[2],
lately founded by the fiercest of the Jacobins, Danton, and a butcher
named Legendre, who boasted of his ferocity as his only title to interfere
in the Government. If he had been honest in his professions of a desire to
save the monarchy, La Fayette would have adopted their advice, for it had
already become plain to every one that the existence of these clubs was
incompatible with the preservation of the kingly authority; but his
imbecile love of popularity made him fear to offend even such a body of
miscreants as the followers of Danton and Robespierre, and he professed to
believe that he had given them a sufficient lesson, and had so convinced
them of his power to crush them that they would be grateful to him for
sparing them, and learn to act with more moderation in future.

The decision of the Assembly also on the question, of the king's conduct
in leaving Paris was not without its encouragement to one of the queen's
disposition. She herself had been interrogated by commissioners appointed
by the Assembly to inquire into the circumstances connected with the
transaction, and her statement has been preserved. With her habitual
anxiety to conceal from others the king's incapacity and want of
resolution, she represented herself as acting wholly under his orders. "I
declare," said she, "that as the king desired to quit Paris with his
children, it would have been unnatural for me to allow any thing to
prevent me from accompanying him. During the last two years, I have
sufficiently proved, on several occasions, that I should never leave him;
and what in this instance determined me most was the assurance which I
felt that he would never wish to quit the kingdom. If he had had such a
desire, all my influence would have been exerted to dissuade him from such
a purpose[3]." And she proceeded further to exculpate all their
attendants. She declared that Madame de Tourzel, who had been ill for some
weeks, had never received her orders till the very day of the departure.
She knew not whither she was going, and had taken no luggage, so that the
queen herself had been forced to lend her some clothes. The three
Body-guards were equally ignorant, and the waiting-women. Though it was
true, she said, that the Count and Countess de Provence had gone to
Flanders, they had only taken that course to avoid interfering with the
relays which were required by the king, and had intended to rejoin him at
Montmedy. The king's own statement tallied with hers in every respect,
though it was naturally more explicit as to his motives and intentions;
and his innocence of purpose was so irresistibly demonstrated, that,
though Robespierre, in the most sanguinary speech which, he had ever yet
uttered, demanded that he should be brought to trial, not concealing his
desire that it should end in his condemnation; and though Petion, and a
wretch named Buzot, a warm admirer and intimate friend of Madame Roland,
demanded his deposition and the proclamation of a republic, Barnave had no
difficulty in carrying the Assembly with him in opposition to their
violence; and it was finally resolved that nothing which had happened
furnished grounds for taking proceedings against any member of the royal
family. It was ordered at the same time that De Bouille should be arrested
and impeached; but when he found that nothing could be effected for the
deliverance of the king, he had fled across the frontiers, and was safe
from their malice.

Meanwhile, the unconstitutional and unprecedented violence which had been
offered to the king naturally created the greatest excitement and
indignation in all foreign countries. A month before the late expedition,
the emperor had addressed a formal note to M. Montmorin, as Secretary of
State, declaring that he would regard any ill-treatment of his sister as
an injury done to himself;[4] and now[5] the chivalrous Gustavus of Sweden
proposed to address to the Assembly a joint letter of warning from all the
sovereigns of Europe, to declare that they would all make common cause
with the King of France if any attempt were made to offer him further
violence. But even the Austrian ministers regarded such a declaration as
more likely to aggravate than to diminish the dangers of those whom it was
designed to serve; and the queen herself preferred waiting for a time, to
see the result of the strife between the rival parties in the Assembly.

The Assembly was at this time fully occupied with the completion of the
Constitution, a work for which it had but little time left, since its own
duration had been fixed at two years, which would expire in September; and
also with the consideration of a question concerning the composition of
the next Assembly which had been lately brought forward, and on which the
queen was unfortunately misled into using her influence to procure a
decision which was undoubtedly, in its eventual consequences, as
disastrous to the king's fortunes as it was irreconcilable with common
sense. Robespierre brought forward a resolution that no members of the
existing Assembly should be eligible for a seat in that by which it was to
be replaced. It was in reality a resolution to exclude from the new
Assembly not only every one who had any parliamentary or legislative
experience, but also all the adherents or friends of the throne, and to
place the coming elections wholly in the power of the Jacobins.
Robespierre was willing to be excluded himself from a conviction, that,
with such an Assembly as would surely be returned, the Jacobin Club would
practically exercise all the power of the State. But the Constitutional
party, who saw that it was aimed at them, opposed it with great vigor; and
would probably have been able to defeat it if the Royalist members who
still retained their seats would have consented to join them. Unhappily
the queen took the opposite view. With far more acuteness, penetration,
and fertility of imagination than are usually given to women, or to men
either, she had still in some degree the defect common to her sex, of
being prone to confine her views to one side of a question; and to
overrule her reason by her feelings and prejudices. Though she
acknowledged the service which Barnave had rendered by defeating those who
had wished to bring the king and herself to trial, she, nevertheless,
still regarded the Constitutionalists in general with deep distrust as the
party which desired to lower, and had lowered, the authority and dignity
of the throne; and, viewing the whole Assembly with not unnatural
antipathy, she fancied that one composed wholly of new members could not
possibly be, more unfriendly to the king's person and government, and
might probably be far better disposed toward them. She easily brought the
king to adopt her views, and exerted the whole of her influence to secure
the passing of the decree, sending agents to canvass those deputies who
were opposed to it. With the Royalist members, the Extreme Right, her
voice was law, and, by the unnatural union of them and the Jacobins, the
resolution was carried.

It is the more singular that she should have been willing thus, as it
were, to proscribe the members of the present Assembly, because, in a very
remarkable letter which she wrote to her brother the emperor at the end of
July, she founds the hopes for the future, which she expresses with a
degree of sanguineness which can hardly fail to be thought strange when
the events of June are remembered, on the conduct of the Assembly itself.
The letter is too long to quote at full length, but a few extracts from it
will help us in our task of forming a proper estimate of her character,
from the unreserved exposition which it contains of her feelings, both
past and present, with her views and hopes for the future, even while she
keenly appreciates the difficulties of the king's position; and from the
unabated eagerness for the welfare of France which it displays in every
reflection and suggestion. That she still considers the imperial alliance
of great importance to the welfare of both nations will surprise no one.
The suspension of the royal authority which the Assembly had decreed on
the 26th of June had been removed on the decision that the king was not to
be proceeded against. Yet her first sentence shows that she was still
subjected to cruel and lawless tyranny, which even hindered her
correspondence with her own relations. A queen might have expected to be
able to write in security to another sovereign; a sister to a brother; but
La Fayette and those in authority regarded the rights of neither royalty
nor kindred.

"A friend, my dear brother, has undertaken to convey this letter to you,
for I myself have no means of giving you news of my health. I will not
enter into details of what preceded our departure. You have already known
all the reasons for it. During the events which befell us on our journey,
and in the situation in which we were immediately after our return to
Paris, I was profoundly distressed. After I recovered from the first shock
of the agitation which they produced, I set myself to work to reflect on
what I had seen; and I have endeavored to form a clear idea of what, in
the actual state of affairs, the king's interests are, and what the
conduct is which they prescribe to me. My ideas have been formed by a
combination of motives which I will proceed to explain to you.

"...The situation of affairs here has greatly changed since our journey.
The National Assembly was divided into a multitude of parties. Far from
order being re-established, every day seemed to diminish the power of the
law. The king, deprived of all authority, did not even see any possibility
of recovering it on the completion of the Constitution through the
influence of the Assembly, since that body itself was every day losing
more the respect of the people. In short, it was impossible to see any end
to disorder.

"To-day, circumstances present much more hope. The men who have the
greatest influence in affairs are united together, and have openly
declared for the preservation of the monarchy and the king, and for the
re-establishment of order. Since their union, the efforts of the seditious
have been defeated by a great superiority of strength. The Assembly has
acquired a consistency and an authority in every part of the kingdom,
which it seems disposed to use to establish the observance of the laws and
to put an end to the Revolution. At this moment the most moderate men, who
have never ceased to be opposed to revolutionary acts, are uniting,
because they see in union the only prospect of enjoying in safety what the
Revolution has left them, and of putting an end to the troubles of which
they dread the continuance. In short, every thing seems at this moment to
contribute to put an end to the agitations and commotions to which France
has been given over for the last two years. This termination of them,
however, natural and possible as it is, will not give the Government the
degree of force and authority which I regard as necessary; but it will
preserve us from greater misfortunes; it will place us in a situation of
greater tranquillity, and, when men's minds have recovered from their
present intoxication, perhaps they will see the usefulness of giving the
royal authority a greater range.

"This, in the course which matters are now taking, is what one can foresee
for the future, and I compare this result with what we could promise
ourselves from a line of conduct opposed to the wishes which the nation
displays. In that ease I see an absolute impossibility of obtaining any
thing except by the employment of a superior force; and on this last
supposition I will say nothing of the personal dangers which the king, my
son, and I myself may have to encounter. But what could be the
consequences but some enterprise, the issue of which is uncertain, and the
ultimate result of which, whatever it might be, presents disasters such as
one can not endure to contemplate? The army is in a bad state from want of
leaders and of subordination; but the kingdom is full of armed men, and
their imagination is so inflamed that it is impossible to foresee what
they might do, and the number of victims who might be sacrificed.... It is
impossible, when one sees what is going on here, to calculate what might
be the effects of their despair. I only see, in the events which might
arise out of such an attempt, but very doubtful prospects of success, and
the certainty of great miseries for every one....

"If the Revolution should be terminated in the manner of which I have
spoken, then it will be important that the king shall acquire, in a solid
manner, the confidence and consideration which alone can give a real
strength to the royal authority. No means are so well calculated to
procure them for him as the influence which we might have over one of your
resolutions[6] which would contribute to insure peace to France, and to
dispel disquietude, which are so much the more grievous for the whole
world, that they are among the principal obstacles to the re-establishment
of public tranquillity. The share which in that way we should have in the
termination of these troubles would win over to us all men of moderate
temper, while the others, especially the chiefs of the Revolution, would
attach themselves to us because of the sincere and efficacious inclination
which we should have shown to conduct matters to the end, which they all
wish for. Your own interests seem to me also to have a place in this
system of conduct. The National Assembly, before separating, will desire,
in concert with the king, to determine the alliances to which France is to
continue attached; and the power of Europe which shall be the first to
recognize the Constitution, after it has been accepted by the king, will
undoubtedly be the one with which the Assembly will be inclined to form
the closest alliance; and to these general views I might add the means
which I myself have to dispose men's minds to maintain this alliance--
means which will be extremely strengthened, if you share my view of the
present circumstances.

"I can not doubt that the chiefs of the Revolution, who have supported the
king in the last crisis, will be desirous to assure to him the
consideration and respect necessary to the exercise of his authority, and
that they will see in a close alliance of France with that power with
which he is connected by ties of blood, a means of combining his dignity
with the interests of the nation, and in that way of consolidating and
strengthening a Constitution of which they all agree that the majesty of
the king is one essential foundation.

"I do not know if, independently of all other reasons, the king will not
find in that feeling and in the inclinations of the nation, when it has
recovered its calmness, more deference, and a temper more favorable to
him, than he could expect from the majority of those Frenchmen who are at
present out of the kingdom.[7]"

And a letter which she wrote to Mercy a fortnight later is perhaps even
more worthy of attention, as supplying abundant proof, if proof were
needed, of the good-will and good faith which were the leading principles
of herself and the king in all their dealings with the Assembly. Since her
letter to her brother, matters had been proceeding rapidly. She had found
some means of treating more directly than on any previous occasion, not
only with Barnave, but with the far more unscrupulous A. Lameth; and the
Assembly had made such progress in completing the Constitution that it was
on the point of submitting it to the king for his acceptance. We have seen
in Marie Antoinette's letter to the emperor that she was convinced of the
necessity of Louis signifying that acceptance, and she adhered to that
view of the policy to be pursued, though the last touches given to the
Constitution had rendered many of its articles far more unreasonable than
she had anticipated, and though the great English statesman, Burke, whose
"Reflections" of the preceding year had naturally caused him to be
regarded as one of the ablest advisers on whom she could rely, forwarded
to her an earnest exhortation to induce her husband to reject it. He
implored her "to have nothing to do with traitors." Using the argument
which, to one so sensitive for her honor as Marie Antoinette, was well
calculated to exert an almost irresistible influence over her mind, he
declared that "her resolution at this most critical moment was to decide
whether her glory was to be maintained, and her distresses to cease, or
whether" (and he begged pardon for ever mentioning such an alternative)
"shame and affliction were to be her portion for the rest of her life;"
and he declared that "if the king should accept the Constitution, both
king and queen were ruined forever."

The great writer was, as in more than one other instance of his career,
too earnest in his conviction that principles were at stake in the course
which he recommended, to consider whether that course were safe for those
on whom he urged it, or even practicable. But Marie Antoinette, as one on
whose decision the very lives of her husband and her child might depend,
felt bound to consider, in the first place, how far her adoption of the
advice thus tendered might endanger both; and, accordingly, while
expressing to Mercy the full extent of her repugnance to the system of
government, if indeed it deserved the name of a system, which the new
Constitution had framed, she shows that her disapproval of it has in no
degree led her to change her mind on the practical question of the course
which the king should pursue. She justifies her decision to Mercy in a
most elaborate letter, in which the whole position is surveyed with
admirable good sense.[8]

"Our position is this: We are now on the point of having the Constitution
brought to us for acceptance. It is in itself so monstrous that it is
impossible that it should be long maintained. But, in the position in
which we are, can we risk refusing it? No; and I will prove it to you. I
am not speaking of the personal dangers which we should run. We have fully
shown by the journey which we undertook two months ago that we do not take
our own safety into account when the public welfare is at stake. But this
Constitution is so intrinsically bad that it can only acquire consistence
from any resistance which we might oppose to it. Our business, therefore,
is to take a middle course, which may save our honor, and may put us in
such a position that the people may come back to us when once their eyes
are opened, and they have become weary of the existing state of affairs. I
think also that it is necessary that, when they have presented the act to
the king, he should keep it by him a few days; for he is not supposed to
know what it is till it has been presented to him in all legal form; and
that then he should summon the Commissioners before him, not to make any
comments, not to demand any alterations, which perhaps might not be
admitted, and which would be interpreted as an admission that he approved
of the basis, but to declare that his opinions are not changed; that, in
his declaration of the 20th of June,[9] he proved the absolute
impossibility of governing under the new system, and that he is still of
the same mind; but that, for the sake of the tranquillity of his country,
he sacrifices himself; and that, as his people and the nation stake their
happiness on his accepting it, he does not hesitate to signify that
acceptance; and that the sight of their happiness will speedily make him
forget the cruel and bitter griefs which they have inflicted on him and on
his family.

"But if we take this line we must adhere to it; and, above all things, we
must avoid any step which can create distrust, and we must move on, so to
say, always with the law in our hand. I promise you that this is the best
way to give them an early disgust at the Constitution. The mischief is,
that for this we shall want an able and a trustworthy ministry.... Several
people urge us to reject the act, and the king's brothers press upon him
every day that it is indispensable to do so, and affirm that we shall be
supported. By whom?" And she proceeds to examine the situation and policy
of Spain, of the empire of England, and of Prussia, to prove that from
none of them is there any hope of active aid, while to trust to the
emigrants would be the worst expedient of all, because "we should then
fall into a new slavery worse than the first, since, while we should
appear to be in some degree indebted to them, we should not be able to
extricate ourselves from their toils. They already prove this when they
refuse to listen to the persons who are in our confidence, on the pretext
that they do not trust them, while they seek to force us to give ourselves
up to M. de Calonne, who, I fear, in all that he does is guided by nothing
but his own ambition, his private enmities, and his habitual levity,
thinking every thing he wishes not only possible, but already done.

"... One circumstance worthy of remark is that in all these discussions on
the Constitution the people take no interest, and concern themselves
solely about their own affairs, limiting their wishes to having a
Constitution and getting rid of the aristocrats... As to our acceptance of
the Constitution, it is impossible for any thinking being to avoid seeing
that we are not free. But it is essential that we should not awaken a
suspicion of our feelings in the monsters who surround us. Let me know
where the emperor's forces are and what is their present position. In
every case the foreign powers can alone save us. The army is lost. There
is no money. There is no bond, no curb which can restrain the populace,
which is everywhere armed. Even the chiefs of the Revolution, when they
wish to speak of order, are not listened to. This is the deplorable
condition in which we are placed. Add that we have not a single friend--
that every one betrays us, some out of hatred, others out of weakness or
ambition. In short, I actually am reduced to dread the day when they will
have the appearance of giving us a kind of freedom. At least, in the state
of nullity in which we are at present, no one can reproach us.... You know
the character of the person with whom I have to do.[10] At the last
moment, when one seems to have convinced him, an argument, a word, will
make him change his mind before any one suspects it. This is the reason
why many expedients can not be even attempted."

On the 21st she hears that the Charter will be presented at the end of the
week, and she repeats her fears that the conduct of the emigrants may
involve them in fresh troubles. "It is essential that the French, and most
especially the brothers of the king, should keep in the background, and
allow the foreign princes to act by themselves. But no entreaty, no
argument from us will induce them to do so. The emperor must insist upon
it. It is the only way in which he can serve us. You know yourself the
mischievous wrong-headedness and evil designs of the emigrants. The
cowards! after having abandoned us, they seek to make us expose ourselves
alone to danger, and serve nothing but their interests. I do not accuse
the king's brothers; I believe their hearts and their intentions to be
pure, but they are surrounded and guided by ambitious men who will ruin
them after having first ruined us." ... On the 26th she hears that it will
still be a week before the Constitution is brought to the king. "It is
impossible, considering our position, that the king should refuse to
accept it. You may depend upon this being true, since I say it. You know
my character sufficiently to be sure that it would incline me rather to a
noble and bold course. We have no resource but in the foreign powers. They
must come to our assistance; but it is the emperor who must put himself at
the head of every thing, and manage every thing.... I declare to you that
matters are now come to such a state that it would be better to be king of
a single province than of a kingdom so abandoned and disordered as this. I
shall endeavor, if I can, to send the emperor information on all these
matters. But, in the mean time, do you tell him all that you consider
necessary to prove to him that we have no longer any resource except in
him, and that our happiness, our existence, and that of my child depend on
him alone, and on his prudence and promptitude in action.[11]"

And, however she from time to time caught at momentary hopes arising from
other sources, the only one on which she placed any permanent reliance
were the affection and power of her brother; and that hope, in the course
of the winter, was cut from under her by his death.[12] Yet so correct was
her judgment and appreciation of sound political principles, or, perhaps
we might say, so keen was her sense of what was due to the independence
and dignity of France, in spite of its present disloyalty, that a report
that the emperor and Prussia had, by implication, claimed a right to
dictate to France in matters of her internal government drew from her a
warm remonstrance. As sovereign and brother she conceived that Leopold had
a right to interfere to insure the safety of his own sister and of a
brother sovereign; but she never desired him to interpose for any other
object. From her childhood, as we have seen more than once, she had
learned to regard the Prussian character and Prussian designs with
abhorrence. And in a letter to Mercy of the 12th of September, after
expressing an earnest hope that the emperor will not allow himself to be
guided by "the cunning of Calonne, and the detestable policy of Prussia,"
she adds, "It is said here that in the agreement signed at Pilnitz,[13]
the two powers engage never to permit the new French Constitution to be
established. There certainly are things which foreign powers have a right
to oppose, but, as to what concerns the internal laws of a country, every
nation has a right to adopt those which suit it. They would be wrong,
therefore, to intervene in such a matter; and all the world would see in
such an act a proof of the intrigues of the emigrants.[14]"

She proceeds to tell him that all is settled. The king had adopted the
line which she had marked out for him in her former letter. The
Constitution had been presented to him on the 3d of September. He had
taken a few days to consider it, not with the idea of proposing the
slightest alteration, but in order to avoid the appearance of acting under
compulsion; and, on the same day on which she wrote to Mercy, he was
drawing up a letter to the Assembly, to announce his intention of visiting
the Assembly to give it his royal assent in due form. But, though she
would not have had him act otherwise, she can not announce this apparent
termination of the contest without some natural expressions of grief and

"At last the die is cast. All that we have now to do is to regulate the
future progress and conduct of affairs as circumstances may permit. I only
wish that others would regulate their conduct by mine. But even in our own
inner circle we have great difficulties and great conflicts. Pity me: I
assure you that it requires more courage to support the condition in which
I am placed than to encounter a pitched battle. And the more so that I do
not deceive myself, and that I see nothing but misery in the want of
energy shown by some, and the evil designs of others. My God! is it
possible that, endowed as I am with force of character, and feeling as I
do so thoroughly the blood which runs in my veins, I should yet be
destined to pass my days in such an age and with such men! But, for all
this, never believe that my courage is deserting me. Not for my own sake,
but for the sake of my child, I will support myself, and I will fulfill to
the end my long and painful career, I can no longer see what I am writing.

Tears, we may suppose, were blinding her eyes, in spite of all her
fortitude. There was no exaggeration in her declaration to the Empress
Catherine of Russia, with whom at this time she was in frequent
communication, that the "distrust which was shown by all around them was a
moral and continual death, a thousand times worse than that physical death
which was a release from all miseries.[16]" And in the same letter she
explains that to remove this distrust was one principal object which the
king and she had in view in all their measures. Yet, in spite of all his
concessions, the week was not to pass without fresh insults being offered
to the king, which shocked even his phlegmatic apathy. The letter which he
sent to the Assembly to announce his compliance with its wishes was indeed
received with acclamations which, if not sincere, were at least loud, and
apparently unanimous; and, as if in reply to it, La Fayette proposed and
carried a motion that the Assembly should pass an act of amnesty for all
political offenses; and a magnificent festival was appointed to be held in
the Champ de Mars on the following Sunday, in celebration of the joyful
event. But, after the first brief excitement had passed away, the Jacobin
faction recovered its ascendency, and contrived to make that very
festival, which was designed to express the gratitude of the nation, an
occasion of further humiliation to the unhappy Louis. Every arrangement
for the day was discussed in a spirit of the bitterest disloyalty. When
the question was raised, which in any other Assembly that ever met in the
world would have been thought needless, what attitude the members were to
preserve while the king was taking the prescribed oath to observe the
Constitution, a hundred voices shouted out that they should all keep their
seats, and that the king should swear, standing and bare-headed; and when
one deputy of high reputation, M. Malouet, remonstrated against such a
vote, arguing that so to treat the chief of the State would be a greater
insult to the nation than even to himself, a deputy from Brittany cried
out that M. Malouet and those who thought with him might receive Louis on
their knees, if they liked, but that the rest of the Assembly should be

And, in accordance with the feeling thus shown, every mark of respect was
studiously withheld from the unhappy monarch, and every care was taken to
show him that every deputy considered himself his equal. Two chairs
exactly similar were provided for him and for the president; and when,
after taking the oath and affixing his signature to the act, the king
resumed his seat, the president, who, having to reply to him in a short
address, had at first risen for that purpose, on seeing that Louis
retained his seat, sat down beside him, and finished his speech in that
position. Louis felt the affront. He contained himself while in the hall,
and while the members were conducting him back to the palace, which they
presently did amidst the music of military bands and the salutes of
artillery. But when his escort had left him, and he reached his own
apartments, his pride gave way. The queen with the dauphin had been
present in a box hastily fitted up for her, and had followed him back. He
felt for her more than for himself. Bursting into tears, he said, "It is
all over. You have seen my humiliation. Why did I ever bring you into
France for such degradation?" And the queen, while endeavoring to console
him, turned to Madame de Campan, who has recorded the scene, and dismissed
her from her attendance.[17] "Leave us," she said, "leave us to
ourselves." She could not bear that even that faithful servant should
remain to be a witness to the despair and prostration of her sovereign.

The very rejoicings were turned by the agents of the Jacobins into
occasions for further outrages. The whole city was illuminated, and the
sovereigns yielded to the entreaties of the popular leaders, to drive
through the streets and the Champs Elysees to see the illumination. The
populace, who believed the Revolution at an end and their freedom secured,
cheered them heartily as they passed; but at every cry of "Vive le roi," a
stentorian voice, close to the royal carriage, shouted out, "Not so: Vive
la nation!" and the queen, though it was plain that the ruffian had been
hired thus to outrage them, almost fainted with terror at his ferocity. A
few days afterward, the insults were renewed even more pointedly. The
royal family went in state to the opera, where, before their arrival, the
Jacobins had packed the pit with a gang of their own hirelings, whose
unpowdered hair made them conspicuous objects.[18] The opera was one of
Gretry's, "Les Evenements Imprevus," in which one of the duets contains
the line "Ah, comme j'aime ma maitresse." Madame Dugazon, a popular singer
of the day, as she uttered the words, bowed toward the royal box, and
instantly the whole pit was in a fury. "No mistress for us! no master!
Liberty!" The whole house was in an uproar. The king's partisans and
adherents replied with loyal cheers, "Vive le roi! Vive la reine!" The pit
roared out, "No master! no queen!" and the Jacobins even proceeded to acts
of violence toward all who refused to join in their cry. Blows were
struck, and it became necessary to send for a company of the Guard to
restore order.

Yet when, on the last day of the month, the king visited the Assembly[19]
to declare its dissolution, the president addressed him in terms of the
most loyal gratitude, affirming that by his acceptance of the
Constitution, he had earned the blessings of all future generations; and
when he quitted the hall, the populace escorted the royal carriage back to
the palace with vociferous cheers. Though, in the eyes of impartial
observers, this display of returning good-will was more than
counterbalanced when, as the members of the Assembly came out, some of the
Royalists and Constitutionalists were hooted, and some of the fiercest
Jacobins were greeted with still more enthusiastic acclamations.


Composition of the New Assembly.--Rise of the Girondins,--Their Corruption
and Eventual Fate.--Vergniaud's Motions against the King.--Favorable
Reception of the King at the Assembly, and at the Opera.--Changes in the
Ministry.--The King's and Queen's Language to M. Bertrand de Moleville.--
The Count de Narbonne.--Petion is elected Mayor of Paris.--Scarcity of
Money, and Great Hardships of the Royal Family.--Presents arrive from
Tippoo Sahib.--The Dauphin.--The Assembly passes Decrees against the
Priests and the Emigrants.--Misconduct of the Emigrants.--Louis refuses
his Assent to the Decrees.--He issues a Circular condemning Emigration.

The new Assembly met on the 1st of October, and its composition afforded
the Royalists, or even the Constitutionalists, the party that desired to
stand by the Constitution which had just been ratified, very little
prospect of a re-establishment of tranquillity. The mischievous effect of
the vote which excluded members of the last Assembly from election was
seen in the very lists of those who had been returned. In the whole number
there were scarcely a dozen members of noble or gentle birth; the number
of ecclesiastics was equally small; while property was as little
represented as the nobility or the Church. It was reckoned that of the
whole body scarcely fifty possessed two thousand francs a year. The
general youth of the members was as conspicuous as their poverty; half of
them had hardly attained middle age; a great many were little more than
boys. The Jacobins themselves, who, before the elections, had reckoned on
swaying their decisions by terror, could hardly have anticipated a result
which would place the entire body so wholly at their mercy.

But what was still move ominous of evil was the rise of a new party, known
as that of the Girondins, from the circumstance of some of its most
influential members coming from the Gironde, one of the departments which
the late Assembly had carved out of the old province of Gascony. It was
not absolutely a new party, since the foundations of it had been laid,
during the last two months of the old Assembly, by Petion and a low-born
pamphleteer named Brissot, who, as editor of a newspaper to which he gave
the name of _Le Patriote Francais_, rivaled the most blood-thirsty of the
Jacobins in exciting the worst passions of the populace. But Petion and
Brissot had only sown the seeds. The opening of the new Assembly at once
gave it growth and vigor, when the deputies from the Gironde plunged into
the arena of debate, and showed an undeniable superiority in eloquence to
every other party. The chiefs, Vergniaud, Gensonne, and Gaudet, were
lawyers who had never obtained any practice. Isnard, the first man to make
an open profession of atheism in the Assembly, was the son of a perfumer
in Provence. They were adventurers as utterly without principle as without
resources. And their first thought appears to have been to make money of
the king's difficulties, and to sell themselves to him. They applied to
the Minister of the Interior, M. de Lessart, proposing to place the whole
of their influence at the service of the Government, on condition of his
securing each of them a pension of six thousand francs a month.[1] M. de
Lessart would not have objected to buy them, but he thought the price
which they set upon themselves too high; and as they adhered to their
demand, the negotiation went off, and they resolved to revenge themselves
on his royal master with all the malice of disappointed rapacity.

As none of them had any force of character, they fell under the influence
of the wife of one of their number, a small manufacturer, named Roland,
the same who, as we have already seen, was the first to raise the cry of
blood in France, and to recommend the assassination of the king and queen
while they were still in fancied security at Versailles. Under the
direction of this fierce woman, whose ferocity was rendered more
formidable by her undoubted talents, the Girondins began an internecine
war with the king, who had refused them the wages which they had asked.
They planned and carried out the sanguinary attacks on the palace in the
summer of the next year. They brought Louis to the scaffold by the
unanimity of their votes. Yet it would have been more fortunate for
themselves as well as for him had they been less exorbitant in their
demands, and had they connected themselves with the Government as they
desired. For though they succeeded in their treason, though Madame Roland
saw the accomplishment of her wish in the murder of the king and queen,
their success was equally fatal to themselves. Almost all of them perished
on the same scaffold to which they had consigned their virtuous
sovereigns, meeting a fate in one respect worse even than theirs, from the
infamy of the names which they have left behind them.

Yet for a few days it seemed as if their malignity would miss its aim.
They did not wait a single day before displaying it; but, at the
preliminary meeting of the Assembly, before it was opened for the dispatch
of business, Vergniaud proposed to declare it illegal to speak of the king
as his majesty, or to address him as "sire;" while another deputy, named
Couthon, who at first belonged to the same party, though he afterward
joined the Jacobins, carried a motion that, when Louis came to open the
Assembly, the president should occupy the place of honor, and the second
seat should be allotted to the sovereign.

Still, for a moment it seemed as if they had overshot their mark, and as
if the more loyal party would be able to withstand and defeat them. The
Assembly itself was compelled to repeal its recent votes, since Louis,
whom indignation for once inspired with greater firmness than he usually
displayed, refused to open the new Assembly in person unless he were to be
received with the honors to which his rank entitled him. The offensive
resolutions were canceled; and, when he had therefore opened the session
in a dignified and conciliatory speech which was chiefly of his own
composition, the president, M. Pastoret, a member of the Constitutional
party, replied in a language which was not only respectful, but
affectionate. The Constitution, he said, had given the king friends in
those who were formerly only styled his subjects. The Assembly and the
nation felt the need of his love. As the Constitution had rendered him the
greatest monarch in the world, so his attachment to it would place him
among the kings most beloved by their people.

And it seemed as if the Parisians in general shared to the full the loyal
sentiments uttered by M. Pastoret. Writing the same week to her brother,
Marie Antoinette, with a confidence which could only spring from a sincere
attachment to the whole nation, reiterated her old opinion that "the good
citizens and good people had always in their hearts been friendly to the
king and herself;[2]" and expressed her belief that since the acceptance
of the Constitution the people "had again learned to trust them." She was
"far from giving herself up to a blind confidence. She knew that the
disaffected had not abandoned their treasonable purposes; but, as the king
and she herself were resolved to unite themselves in sincere good faith to
the people, it was impossible but that, when their real feelings were
known, the bulk of the people should return to them. The mischief was that
the well-meaning knew not how to act in concert."

It did seem as if she were correct in her estimate of the feelings of the
citizens, when, in the evening of the day on which Louis had opened the
Assembly, the whole royal family, including the two children, went to the
opera; and, as if with express design to ratify the loyal language of the
president of the Assembly, the whole audience greeted them with a most
enthusiastic reception. More than once they interrupted the performance
with loud cheers for both king and queen; and as the pleasure of children
is always an attractive sight, they sympathized especially with the
delight of the little dauphin, their future king, as they all then thought
him, who, being new to such a spectacle, only took his eyes off the stage
to imitate the gestures of the actors to his mother, and draw her
attention to them.

In more than one of her letters the queen had vehemently deplored the want
of a stronger ministry than of late had been in the king's service. It was
a natural complaint, though in fact the ability or want of ability
displayed by the ministers was a matter of but slight practical
importance, so completely had the Assembly engrossed the whole power of
the State; but in the course of the autumn some changes were made, one of
which for a time certainly added to the comfort of the sovereigns. M.
Montmorin retired; M. de Lessart was transferred to his office; and M.
Bertrand de Moleville, who was entirely new to official life, became the
minister of marine. The whole kingdom did not contain a man more attached
to the king and queen. But he combined statesman-like prudence with his
loyalty; and his conduct before he took office elicited a very remarkable
proof of the singleness of mind and purpose with which the king and queen
had accepted the Constitution. M. Bertrand had previously refused office,
and was very unwilling to take it now; and he frankly told Louis that he
could not hope to be of any real service to him unless he knew the plans
which the king might have formed with respect to the Constitution, and the
line of conduct which he desired his ministers to observe on the subject;
and Louis told him distinctly that though "he was far from regarding the
Constitution as a masterpiece, and though he thought it easy to reform it
advantageously in many particulars, yet he had sworn to observe it as it
was, and that he was bound to be, and resolved to be, strictly faithful to
his oath; the more so because it seemed to him that the most exact
observance of the Constitution was the surest method to lead the nation to
understand it in all its bearings; when the people themselves would
perceive the character of the changes in it which it was desirable to

M. Bertrand expressed his warm approval of the wisdom of such a policy,
but thought it so important to know how far the queen coincided in her
husband's sentiments that he ventured to put the question to his majesty.
The king assured him that he had been speaking her sentiments as well as
his own, and that he should hear them from her own lips; and accordingly
the queen immediately granted the new minister an audience, in which,
after expressing, with her habitual grace and kindness, her feeling that,
by accepting office at such a time, he was laying both the king and
herself under a personal obligation, she added, "The king has explained to
you his intentions with respect to the Constitution; do not you think that
the only plan for him to follow is to be faithful to his oath?"
"Undoubtedly, madame." "Well, you may depend upon it that nothing will
make us change. Have courage, M. Bertrand; I hope that, with patience,
firmness, and consistency, all is not yet lost.[3]"

Nor was M. Bertrand the only one of the ministers who received proofs of
the resolution of the queen to adhere steadily to the Constitution. There
was also a new minister of war, the Count de Narbonne, as firmly attached
to the persons of the sovereigns as M. Bertrand himself, though in
political principle more inclined to the views of the Constitutionalists
than to those of the extreme Royalists. He was likewise a man of
considerable capacity, eloquent and fertile in resources; but he was
ambitious and somewhat vain; and he was so elated at the approval
expressed by the Assembly of a report on the military resources of the
kingdom which he laid before it soon after his appointment, that he
obtained an audience of the queen, the object of which was to convince her
that the only means of saving the State was to confer on a man of talent,
energy, sagacity, and activity, who enjoyed the confidence of the Assembly
and of the nation, the post of prime minister; and he admitted that he
intended to designate himself by this description. Marie Antoinette,
though fully aware of the desirableness of having a single man of ability
and firmness at the head of the administration, was for a moment surprised
out of her habitual courtesy. She could not forbear a smile, and in plain
terms asked him "if he were crazy.[4]" But she proceeded with her usual
kindness to explain to him the impracticability of the scheme which he had
suggested, and the foundation of her argument was an explanation that such
an appointment would be a violation of the Constitution, which forbade the
king to create any new ministerial office. And the count deserves to have
it mentioned to his honor that the rebuff which he had received in no
degree cooled his attachment to the king and queen, or the zeal with which
he labored for their service.

We have no information how far the new minister coincided in a step which
the queen took in the course of November, and which is commonly ascribed
to her judgment alone. Before its dissolution, the late Assembly had
broken up the National Guard of Paris into separate legions, and had
suppressed the appointment of commander-in-chief of the forces; and La
Fayette, whom this measure had left without employment, feeling keenly the
diminution of his importance, and instigated by the restlessness common to
men of moderate capacity, conceived the hope of succeeding Bailly in the
mayoralty of Paris, which that magistrate was on the point of resigning.

It had become a post of great consequence, since the extent to which the
authority of the crown had been pared away tended to make the mayor the
absolute dictator of the capital; and consequently the Jacobins were
anxious to secure the office for one of the extreme Revolutionary party,
and set up Petion as a rival candidate. The election belonged to the
citizens, and, as in the city the two parties possessed almost equal
strength, it was soon seen that the court, which had by no means lost its
influence among the tradesmen and shop-keepers, had the power of deciding
the contest in favor of the candidate for whom it should pronounce, Marie
Antoinette declared for Petion. She knew him to be a Jacobin,[5] but he
was so devoid of any reputation for ability that she did not fear him.
Nor, except that he had behaved with boorish disrespect and ill-manners
during their melancholy return from Varennes, had she any reason for
suspecting him of any special enmity to the king.

But La Fayette, though always loud in his professions of loyalty, had
never lost an opportunity of offering personal insults to both the king
and herself. It was to his shameful neglect (to put his conduct in the
most favorable light) that she justly attributed the danger to which she
had been exposed at Versailles, and the compulsion which had been put upon
the king to take up his residence in Paris; and, not to mention a constant
series of petty insults which he had heaped on both Louis and herself, and
on the Royalists as a body, he had given unmistakable proofs of his
personal animosity toward the king by his conduct on the 21st of June, and
by the indecent rigor with which he treated them both after their return
from Varennes. Even when he was loudest in the profession of his desire
and power to influence the Assembly in the king's favor, one of his own
friends had told him to his face that he was insincere,[6] and that Louis
could not and ought not to trust his promises; and every part of his
conduct toward the royal pair was stamped with duplicity as well as with
ill-will. It was not strange, therefore, indeed it was fully consistent
with the honest openness of Marie Antoinette's own character, that she
should prefer an open enemy to a pretended friend. She even believed what,
from the very commencement of the Revolution, many had suspected, that La
Fayette cherished views of personal ambition, and aimed at reviving the
old authority of a Maire du Palais over a Roi Faineant[7]. She therefore
directed her friends to throw their weight into the scale in favor of
Petion, who was accordingly elected by a great majority, while the
marquis, greatly chagrined, retired for a time to his estate in Auvergne.

The victory, however, was an unfortunate one for the court. It contributed
to increase the confidence of its enemies; and, as their instinct showed
them that it was from the resolution of the queen that they had the most
formidable opposition to dread, it was against her that, from their first
entrance into the Assembly, Vergniaud and his friends specially exerted
themselves; Vergniaud openly contending that the inviolability of the
sovereign, which was an article of the new Constitution, applied only to
the king himself, and in no degree to his consort; while in the Jacobin
and Cordelier Clubs the coarsest libels were poured forth against her with
unremitting perseverance to stimulate and justify the most obscene and
ferocious threats. The coarsest ruffians in a street quarrel never used
fouler language of one another than these men of education applied to the
pure-minded and magnanimous lady whose sole offense was that she was the
wife of their kind-hearted king.

And, in addition to this daily increase of their danger which such
denunciations could not fail to augment, the royal family were now
suffering inconveniences which even those whose measures had caused them
had never designed. They were in the most painful want of money. The
agitation of the last two years had rendered the treasury bankrupt. The
paper money, which now composed almost the whole circulation of the
country, was valueless. While, as it was in this paper money (assignats,
as the notes were called, as being professedly secured by assignments on
the royal domains and on the ecclesiastical property which had been
confiscated), that the king's civil list was paid, at the latter end of
each month it was not uncommon for him and the queen to be absolutely
destitute. It was with great reluctance that they accepted loans from
their loyal adherents, because they saw no prospect of being able to repay
them; but had they not availed themselves of this resource, they would at
times have wanted absolute necessaries.[8]

The royal couple still kept their health, the king's apathy being in this
respect as beneficial as the queen's courage: they still rode a great deal
when the weather was favorable; and on one occasion, at the beginning of
1792, the queen, with her sister-in-law and her daughter, went again to
the theatre. The opera was the same which had been performed at the visit
in October; but this time the Jacobins had not been forewarned so as to
pack the house, and Madame du Gazon's duet was received with enthusiasm.
Again, as she sung "Ah, que j'aime ma maitresse!" she bowed to the royal
box, and the audience cheered. As if in reply to one verse, "Il faut les
rendre heureux," "Oui, oui!" with lively unanimity, came from all parts of
the house, and the singers were compelled to repeat the duet four times.
"It is a queer nation this of ours," says the Princess Elizabeth, in
relating the scene to one of her correspondents, "but we must allow that
it has very charming moments.[9]"

A somewhat curious episode to divert their minds from these domestic
anxieties was presented by an embassy from the brave and intriguing Sultan
of Mysore, the celebrated Tippoo Sahib, who sought to engage Louis to lend
him six thousand French troops, with whose aid he trusted to break down
the ascendency which England was rapidly establishing in India. Tippoo
backed his request, in the Oriental fashion, by presents, though not such
as, in the opinion of M. Bertrand, were quite worthy of the giver or of
the receiver. To the king he sent some diamonds, but they were yellow,
ill-cut, and ill-set; and the rest of the offering was composed of a few
pieces of embroidered silk, striped cloth, and cambric: while the queen's
present consisted of nothing more valuable than a few bottles of perfume
of no very exquisite quality, and a few boxes of powdered scents, pastils,
and matches. The king and queen gave nearly the whole present to M.
Bertrand for his grandchildren, the queen only reserving a bottle of attar
of rose and a couple of pieces of cambric; and that chiefly to afford a
pretext for seeing M. Bertrand once or twice, without his reception being
imputed to a desire to promote some Austrian intrigue; for the Jacobins
had lately revived the clamor against Austrian influence with greater
vehemence than ever.

As M. Bertrand had grandchildren, he could well appreciate the pleasure of
the queen at an incident which closed one of his audiences. While he was
thus receiving her commands, the little dauphin, "beautiful as an angel,"
as the minister describes him, was capering about the room in high
delight, brandishing a wooden sword, a new toy which had just been given
him. An attendant called him to go to supper; and he bounded toward the
door. "How is this, my boy?" said Marie Antoinette, calling him back; "are
you going off without making M. Bertrand a bow?" "Oh, mamma," said the
little prince, still skipping about, and smiling, "that is because I know
well that M. Bertrand is one of our friends.... Good-evening, M.
Bertrand." "Is not he a nice child?[10]" said the queen, after he had left
the room. "He is very happy to be so young. He does not feel what we
suffer, and his gayety does us good." Alas! that which was now perhaps her
only pleasure--the contemplation of her child's opening grace and
amiability--before long became even an addition to her affliction, as the
probabilities increased that the madness of the people and the wickedness
of their leaders would deprive him of the inheritance, to preserve which
to him was the principal object of all her cares and exertions.

But these moments of gratification were becoming fewer as time went on.
Each month, each week brought fresh and increasing anxieties to engross
all her thoughts. As the Girondin leaders began to feel their strength,
the votes of the Assembly became more violent. One day it passed a fresh
decree against the priests, depriving all who refused to take the oath to
the new ecclesiastical constitution of the stipends for which their former
preferments had been commuted, placing them under strict supervision, and
declaring them liable to instant banishment if they should venture to
exercise their functions in private. Another day it vented its wrath upon
the emigrants, summoning the Count de Provence by name to return at once
to France; and, with respect to the rest of the body, now very numerous,
declaring their conduct in being assembled on the frontier of the kingdom
in a state of readiness for war in itself an act of treason; and
condemning to death and confiscation of their estates all who should fail
to return to their native land before a stated day.

But in these decrees the advocates of violence had for the moment gone too
far--they had outrun the feelings of the nation. The emigrants, indeed,
neither deserved nor found sympathy in any quarter. The main body of them
was at this time settled at Coblentz, where their conduct was such that it
is hard to say whether it were more offensive to their country, more
injurious to their king, or more discreditable to themselves. They could
not even act in harmony. The king's two brothers established rival courts,
with a mistress at the head of each. Madame de Balbi still ruled the Count
de Provence; Madame de Polastron was the presiding genius of the coterie
of the Count d'Artois. The two ladies, regarding each other with bitter
jealousy, agitated the whole town with their rivalries and wranglings, and
agreed in nothing but in their endeavors to excite some foreign sovereign
or other to make war upon their native land. It was in vain that Louis
himself first entreated them, and, when he found his entreaties were
disregarded, commanded his brothers to return. They positively refused
obedience to his order, telling him, in language which can only be
characterized as that of studied insult, that he was writing under
coercion; that his letter did not express his real views, and that "their
honor, their duty, even their affection for him, alike forbade them to
obey him.[11]" The queen could not command, but she wrote to them more
than one letter of most earnest entreaty, and, as the princes founded part
of their hopes on the co-operation of the Northern sovereigns, she wrote
also to the empress and to Gustavus, pressing both, and especially the
King of Sweden,[12] to restrain them; but they were too headstrong and
full of their own projects to listen to her entreaties any more than to
the king's commands, and did not even take the trouble to conceal their
negotiations with foreign powers, nor their object, which could be nothing
but war.

It was impossible that such conduct steadily pursued by the king's own
brothers could be any thing but most pernicious to his cause. It could not
fail to excite suspicions of his own good faith. It supplied the Jacobins
with pretexts for putting fresh restraints on his authority; and it
frightened even the Constitutionalists, since it was plain that civil war
must ensue, with, very probably, the addition of foreign war also, if
these machinations of the emigrants were not suppressed.

Still, these sweeping proscriptions of entire classes were not yet to the
taste of the nation. Petitions from the country, and even one from the
department of the Seine, were presented to Louis, begging him to refuse
his assent to the decree against the priests; and the feeling which they
represented was so strong, and the reputation of some of the petitioners
stood so high for ability and influence, that the ministers believed that
he could safely refuse his sanction to both the votes. Even without their
advice he would have rejected the decree against the priests, as one
absolutely incompatible with his reverence for religion and its ministers;
and his conduct on this subject supplies one more striking parallel to the
history of the great English rebellion; since there can hardly be a more
precise resemblance between events occurring in different ages and
different countries than is afforded by the resistance made by Charles to
the last vote of the London Parliament against the bishops, and this
resistance of Louis to the will of the Assembly on behalf of the priests,
and by the fatal effect which, in each case, their conscientious and
courageous determination had upon the fortunes of the two sovereigns.

Louis therefore put his veto on both the decrees, with the exception of
that clause in the act against the emigrants which summoned his brothers
to return to the kingdom. But, that no one might pretend to fancy that he
either approved of the conduct of the emigrants or sympathized with their
principles or designs, he issued a circular letter to the governors of the
different sea-ports, in which he remonstrated most earnestly with the
sailors, numbers of whom, as it was reported in Paris, were preparing to
follow their example. He pointed out in it that those who thus deserted
their country mistook their duty to that country, to him as their king,
and to themselves; that the present aspect of the nation, desirous to
return to order and to submission to the law, removed every pretext for
such conduct. He set before them his own example, and bid them remain at
their posts, as he was remaining at his; and, in language more impressive
than that of command, he exhorted them not to turn a deaf ear to his
prayers; and at the same time he addressed letters to the electors of
Treves and Mayence, and to the other petty German princes whose
territories, bordering on the Rhine, were the principal resort of the
emigrants, requiring them to cease to give them shelter, and announcing
that if they should refuse to remove them from their dominions he should
consider their refusal a sufficient ground for war; while, to show that he
did not intend this menace to be a dead letter, he soon afterward
announced to the Assembly that he had ordered a powerful army of a hundred
and fifty thousand men to be moved toward the frontier, under the command
of Marshal Luckner, Marshal Rochambeau, and General La Fayette, and he
invited the members to vote a levy of fifty thousand more men to raise the
force of the nation to its full complement.


Death of Leopold.--Murder of Gustavus of Sweden.--Violence of Vergniaud.
--The Ministers resign.--A Girondin Ministry is appointed.--Character of
Dumouriez.--Origin of the Name Sans-culottes.--Union of Different Parties
against the Queen.--War is declared against the Empire.--Operations in the
Netherlands.--Unskillfulness of La Fayette.--The King falls into a State
of Torpor.--Fresh Libels on the Queen.--Barnave's Advice.--Dumouriez has
an Audience of the Queen.--Dissolution of the Constitutional Guard.--
formation of a Camp near Paris.--Louis adheres to his Refusal to assent to
the Decree against the Priests.--Dumouriez resigns his Office, and takes
command of the Army.

War of some kind--foreign war, civil war, or both combined--had
apparently become inevitable; and Marie Antoinette deceived herself if she
thought that the armed congress of sovereigns, for which she was above all
things anxious, could lead to any other result. In any ease, a congress
must have produced one consequence which she deprecated as much as any
other, a waste of time, while, as she truly said, her enemies never wasted
a moment. Nor, with the very different views of the policy to be pursued,
which the emperor and the King of Prussia entertained (Frederick being an
advocate of an armed intervention in the affairs of France, which Leopold
opposed as impracticable, and, if practicable, impolitic), was it easy to
see how a congress could have brought those monarchs to agree on any
united system of action. But all projects of that kind necessarily fell to
the ground in consequence of the death of the emperor, which took place,
after a very short illness, on the 1st of March, 1792; and before the end
of the same month the royal family lost another warm friend in Gustavus of
Sweden, who was assassinated in the very midst of preparations which he
confidently hoped might contribute to deliver his brother sovereign from
his troubles.

Marie Antoinette spoke truly when she said that the enemies of the crown
never lost time. The very prospect of war increased the divisions of the
Assembly, since the Jacobins were undisguisedly averse to it. Not one of
their body had any reputation for skill in arms, so that in the event of
war it was evident that the chief commands, both in army and navy, must be
conferred on persons unconnected with them; while the Girondins, though,
as far as was yet known, equally destitute of members possessed of any
military ability, looked on war as favorable to their designs, whatever
might be the issue of a campaign. They were above all things eager for the
destruction of the monarchy, and they reckoned that if the French army
were victorious, its success would disable those who were most willing and
might be most able to support the throne; while, if the enemy should
prevail, it would be easy to represent their triumph as the fruit of the
mismanagement, if not of the treachery, of the king's generals and
ministers; and the opposition of these two parties was at this time so
notorious that the queen thought it favorable to the king, since each
would be eager to preserve him as a possible ally against its adversaries.
It is for her husband's and her child's safety that she expresses anxiety,
never for her own. With respect to herself her uniform language is that of
fearlessness. She does not for a moment conceal from her correspondents
her sense of the dangers which surround her. She has not only open
hostility to fear, but treachery, which is far worse; and she declares
that "a perpetual imprisonment in a solitary tower on the sea-shore would
be a less cruel fate than that which she daily endures from the wickedness
of her enemies and the weakness of her friends. Every thing menaces an
inevitable catastrophe; but she is prepared for every thing. She has
learned from her mother not to fear death. That may as well come to-day as
to-morrow. She only fears for her dear children, and for those she loves;
and high among those whom she loves she places her sister-in-law
Elizabeth, who is always an angel aiding her to support her sorrows, and
who, with her poor, dear children, never quits her.[1]"

A long continuance of sorrows and fears, such as had now for nearly three
years pressed upon the writer of this letter, would so wear away and break
down ordinary souls that, when a crisis came, they would be found wholly
unequal to grapple with it; and we may therefore the better form some idea
of the strength of mind and almost superhuman fortitude of this admirable
queen, if, from time to time, we fix our attention on these not
exaggerated complaints, for indeed the misfortunes that elicited them
admit of no exaggeration; and then remember that, after so long a period
of such uninterrupted suffering, her spirit was so far from being broken,
that, as increasing dangers and horrors thickened around her, her courage
seemed to increase also. Her faithful attendant, Madame de Campan, has
remarked that her troubles had not even affected her temper; that no one
ever saw her out of humor. In every respect, to the very last, she showed
herself superior to the utmost malice of her enemies.

The news of the death of Leopold, whose son and successor, Francis, was
but three-and-twenty years of age, gave fresh encouragement to his
sister's enemies. The intelligence had hardly reached Paris when Vergniaud
began to prepare the way for a fresh assault on the crown by a
denunciation of the ministers, while the Jacobins and Cordeliers made an
open attack upon another club which the Constitutionalists had lately
formed under the name of Les Feuillants, holding its meetings in a convent
of the Monks of St. Bernard,[2] and closed it by main force. Though
several soldiers, and La Fayette among them, were members of the
Feuillants, they made no resistance; they only applied to Petion, as mayor
of the city, for protection; and that worthy magistrate refused them aid,
telling them that though the law forbade them to be attacked, the voice of
the people was against them, and to that voice he was bound to listen.

The ministers fell before Vergniaud, and the unhappy king had no resource
but to choose their successors from the party which had triumphed over
them. The absurd law by which the last Assembly had excluded its members
from office was still in force, so that the orator himself and his
colleagues could obtain no personal promotion; but they were able to
nominate the new ministers, who, with but one exception, were all men
equally devoid of ability and reputation, and therefore were the better
fitted to be the tools of those to whom they owed their preferment. The
names of three were Lacoste, Degraves, and Duranton, of whom nothing
beyond their names is known. A fourth was Roland, who was indeed known,
though not for any abilities of his own, but as the husband of the woman
who, as has been already mentioned, was the first person in the whole
nation to raise the cry for the murder of the king and queen, and whose
fierce thirst for blood so predominated over every other feeling that a
few weeks afterward she even began to urge the assassination of the only
one among her husband's colleagues who was possessed of the slightest
ability because his views did not altogether coincide with her own.

General Dumouriez, whom she thus honored by singling him out for her
especial hatred, was an exception to his colleagues in several points. He
was a man of middle age, who enjoyed a good reputation, not only for
military skill, but also for diplomatic sagacity and address, earned as
far back as the latter years of the preceding reign; and he was so far
from being originally imbued with revolutionary principles that, when, in
the summer of 1789, a mutinous spirit first appeared among the troops in
Paris, he volunteered to place his services at the king's disposal,
recommending measures of vigor and resolution, which, if they had been
adopted, might have quelled the spirit of rebellion, and have changed the
whole subsequent history of the nation. But as Necker had rejected
Mirabeau a few weeks before, so he also rejected Dumouriez; and discontent
at the treatment which he received from the minister, and which seemed to
prove that active employment, of which he was desirous, could only be
obtained through some other influence, drove the general into the ranks of
the Revolutionary party. He now accepted the post of foreign secretary in
the new ministry; but the connection with the enemies of the monarchy was
uncongenial to his taste; and, after a short time, the frequent
intercourse with Louis, which was the necessary consequence of his
appointment, and the conviction of the king's perfect honesty and
patriotism which this intercourse forced upon him, revived his old
feelings of loyalty, and, so long as he remained in office, he honestly
endeavored to avert the evils which he foresaw, and to give the advice and
to support the policy by which, in his honest belief, it was alone
possible for Louis to preserve his authority.

Dumouriez was a gentleman in birth and manners; but his colleagues had so
little of either the habits or appearance of decent society that the
attendants on the royal family gave them the name of the Sans-culottes;
and this name, meant originally to describe the absence of the ordinary
court dress, without which no previous ministers had ever ventured to
appear in the presence of royalty, was presently adopted as a distinctive
title by the whole body of the extreme revolutionists, who knew the value
of a name under which to bind their followers together.[3]

The attacks on the ministry were accompanied with more direct attacks on
the king and queen themselves than had ever been ventured on in the former
Assembly. By this time the system of espial and treachery by which they
were surrounded had become so systematic that they could not even send a
messenger to their nephew, the emperor, except under a feigned name;[4]
and the Baron de Breteuil, who announced his mission to Francis, reported
to him at the same time that the chiefs of the Assembly were proposing to
pass votes suspending the "king from his functions, and to separate the
queen from him on the ground that an impeachment was to be presented
against both, as having solicited the late emperor to form a confederacy
among the great powers of Europe in favor of the royal prerogative." The
queen was, in fact, now, as always, more the object of their hatred than
her husband, and toward the end of March a reconciliation of all her
enemies took place, that the attack upon her might be combined with a
strength that should insure its success. The Marquis de Condorcet, a man
of some eminence in philosophy, as the word had been understood since the
reign of the Encyclopedists, and closely connected with the Girondins,
though not formally enrolled in their party, gave a supper, at which the
Duc d'Orleans formally reconciled himself to La Fayette; and both, in
company with Brissot and the Abbe Sieyes, who of late had scarcely been
heard of, drew up an indictment against the queen.[5] Their malignity even
went the length of resolving to separate the dauphin from his mother, on
the plea of providing for his education; but the means which the Girondins
took to secure their triumph for the moment defeated them. La Fayette did
not keep the secret. One of his friends gave information to the king of
the plot that was in contemplation, and the next day the
Constitutionalists mustered in the Assembly in such strength that neither
Girondins nor Jacobins dared bring forward the infamous proposal.

But Louis and Marie Antoinette reasonably regarded the attack on them as
only postponed, not as defeated or abandoned. They began to prepare for
the worst. They burned most of their papers, and removed into the custody
of friends whom they could trust those which they regarded as too valuable
to destroy; and at the same time they sent notice to their partisans to
cease writing to them. They could neither venture to send nor to receive
letters. They believed that at this time the plan of their enemies was to
terrify them into repeating their attempt to escape; an attempt of which
the espial and treachery with which they were surrounded would have
insured the failure, but which would have given the Jacobins a pretext for
their trial and condemnation. But this scheme they could themselves defeat
by remaining at their posts. Patience and courage was their only possible
defense, and with those qualities they were richly endowed.

A vital difference of principle distinguished the old from the new
ministry: the former had wished to preserve, the majority of the latter
were resolved to destroy, the throne; and the means by which each sought
to attain its end were as diametrically opposite as the ends themselves.
Bertrand and De Lessart, the ministers who, in the late administration,
had enjoyed most of the king and queen's confidence, had been studious to
preserve peace, believing that policy to be absolutely essential for the
safety of Louis himself. Because they entertained the same opinion, the
new ministers were eager for war; and, unhappily Dumouriez, in spite of
his desire to uphold the throne, was animated by the same feeling. His own
talents and tastes were warlike, and his office enabled him to gratify
them in this instance. For the conciliatory tone which De Lessart had
employed toward the Imperial Government, he now substituted a language not
only imperious, but menacing. Prince Kaunitz, who still presided over the
administration at Vienna, attached though he was to the system of policy
which he had inaugurated under Maria Teresa, could not avoid replying in a
similar strain, until at last, on the 20th of April, Louis, sorely against
his will, was compelled to announce to the Assembly that all his efforts
for the preservation of peace had failed, and to propose an instant
declaration of war.

The declaration was voted with enthusiasm; but for some time it brought
nothing but disaster. The campaign was opened in the Netherlands, where
the Austrians, taken by surprise, were so weak in numbers that it seemed
certain that they would be driven from the country without difficulty or
delay. Marshal Beaulieu, their commander-in-chief, had scarcely twenty
thousand men, while the Count de Narbonne had left the French army in so
good a condition that Degraves, his successor, was able to send a hundred
and thirty thousand men against him; and Dumouriez furnished him with a
plan for an invasion of the Netherlands, which, if properly carried out,
would have made the French masters of the whole country in a few days. But
the largest division of the army, to which the execution of the most
important portions of the intended operations was intrusted, had been
placed under the command of La Fayette, who proved equally devoid of
resolution and of skill. Some of his regiments showed a disorderly and
insubordinate temper. One battalion first mutinied and murdered some of
its officers, and then disgraced itself by cowardice in the field. Another
displayed an almost equal want of courage; and La Fayette, disheartened
and perplexed, though the number of his troops still more than doubled
those opposed to him, retreated into France, and remained there in a state
of complete inactivity.

But, as has been said before, disaster was almost as favorable to the
political views of the Girondins as success, while it added to the dangers
of the sovereigns by encouraging the Jacobins, who were elated at the
failure of a general so hateful to them as La Fayette. They now adopted a
party emblem, a red cap; and the Duc d'Orleans and his son, the Duc de
Chartres,[6] assumed it, and with studied insult paraded in it up and down
the gardens of the palace, under the queen's windows; and if the two
factions did not formally coalesce, they both proceeded with greater
boldness than ever toward their desired object, not greatly differing as
to the means by which it was to be attained.

The palace was now indeed a scene of misery. The king's apathy was
degenerating into despair. At one time he was so utterly prostrated that
he remained for ten days absolutely silent, never uttering a word except
to name his throws when playing at backgammon with Elizabeth. At last the
queen roused him from his torpor, throwing herself at his feet, and
mingling caresses with her expostulations; entreating him to remember what
he owed to his family, and reminding him that, if they must perish, it was
better at least to perish with honor, and be king to the last, than to
wait passively till assassins should come and murder them in their own
rooms. She herself was in a condition in which nothing but her indomitable
courage prevented her from utterly breaking down. Sleep had deserted her.
By day she rarely ventured out-of-doors. Riding she had given up, and she
feared to walk in the garden of the Tuileries, even in the little portion
marked off for the dauphin's playground, lest she should expose herself to
the coarse insults which, the basest of hirelings were ever on the watch
to offer her.[7] She could not even venture to go openly to mass at
Easter, but was forced to arrange for one of her chaplains to perform the
service for her before daylight. Balked of their wish to offer her
personal insults, her enemies redoubled their diligence in inventing and
spreading libels. The demagogues of the Palais Royal revived the stories
of her subservience to the interests of Austria, and even sent letters
forged in her name to different members of the Assembly, inviting them to
private conferences with her in the apartments of Madame de Lamballe. But
she treated all such attacks with lofty disdain, and was even greatly
annoyed when she learned that the chief of the police, with the king's
sanction, had bought up a life of Madame La Mothe, in which that infamous
woman pretended to give a true account of the affair of her necklace, and
had had it burned in the manufactory of Sevres. She thought, with some
reason, that to take a step which seemed to show a dread of such attacks
was the surest way to encourage more of them, and that apparent
indifference to them was the only line of action consistent with her
innocence or with her dignity.

The increasing dangers of her position moved the pity of some who had once
been her enemies, and sharpened their desire to serve her. Barnave, who
probably overrated his present influence[8] in many letters pressed his
advice upon her; of which the substance was that she should lay aside her
distrust of the Constitutionalist party, and, with the king, throw herself
wholly on the Constitution, to which the nation was profoundly attached.
He even admitted that it was not without defects; but held out a hope
that, with the aid of the Royalists, he and his friends might be able to
amend them, and in time to re-invest the throne with all necessary
splendor. And the queen was so touched by his evident earnestness that she
granted him an audience, and assured him of her esteem and confidence.
Barnave was partly correct in his judgment, but he overlooked one
all-essential circumstance. There is no doubt that he spoke truly when he
declared that the nation in general was attached to the Constitution; but
he failed to give sufficient weight to the consideration that the Jacobins
and Girondins were agreed in seeking to overthrow it, and that for that
object they were acting with a concert and an energy to which he and his
party were strangers.

Dumouriez too was equally earnest in his desire to serve the king and her,
with far greater power to be useful than Barnave. He too was admitted to
an audience, of which he has left us an account which, while it shows both
his notions of the state of the country and of the rival parties, and also
his own sincerity, is no less characteristic of the queen herself.
Admitted to her presence, he found her, as he describes the interview,
looking very red, walking up and down the room with impetuous strides, in
an agitation which presaged a stormy discussion. The different events
which had taken place since the king in the preceding autumn had ratified
the Constitution, the furious language held in, and the violent measures
carried by, the Assembly, had evidently changed her belief in the
possibility of attempting, even for a short time, to carry on the
Government under the conditions imposed by that act. She came toward him
with an air which was at once majestic and yet showed irritation, and

"You, sir, are all-powerful at this moment; but it is only by the favor of
the people, which soon breaks its idols to pieces. Your existence depends
on your conduct. You are said to have great talents. You must see that
neither the king nor I can endure all these novelties nor the
Constitution. I tell you this frankly. Now choose your side."

To this fervid apostrophe Dumouriez replied in a tone which he intended to
combine a sorrowful tenderness with loyal respect:

"Madame," said he, "I am overwhelmed with the painful confidence which
your majesty has reposed in me. I will not betray it; but I am placed
between the king and the nation, and I belong to my country. Permit me to
represent to you that the safety of the king, of yourself, and of your
august children is bound up with the Constitution, as well as is the
re-establishment of the king's legitimate authority. You are both
surrounded with enemies who are sacrificing you to their own interests."
The unfortunate queen, shocked as well as surprised at this opposition to
her views, replied, raising her voice,  "That will not last; take care of
yourself."  "Madame," replied he, in his turn, "I am more than fifty years
old. My life has been passed in countless dangers, and when I took office
I reflected deeply that its responsibility was not the greatest of its
perils." "This was alone wanting," cried out the queen, with an accent of
indignant grief, and as if astonished herself at her own vehemence.

"This alone was wanting to calumniate me! You seem to suppose that I am
capable of causing you to be assassinated!" and she burst into tears.
Dumouriez was as agitated as she was. "God forbid," he replied, "that I
should do you such an injustice!" And he added some flattering expressions
of attachment, such as he thought calculated to soothe a mind so proud,
yet so crushed. And presently she calmed herself, and came up to him,
putting her hand on his arm; and he resumed: "Believe me, madame, I have
no object in deceiving you; I abhor anarchy and crime as much as you do.
Believe me, I have experience; I am better placed than your majesty for
judging of events. This is not a short-lived popular movement, as you seem
to think. It is the almost unanimous insurrection of a great nation
against inveterate abuses. There are great factions which fan this flame.
In all factions there are many scoundrels and many madmen. In the
Revolution I see nothing but the king and the entire nation. Every thing
which tends to separate them tends to their mutual ruin: I am laboring as
much as I can to reunite them. It is for you to help me. If I am an
obstacle to your designs, and if you persist in thinking so, tell me so.
and I will at once send in my resignation to the king, and will retire
into a corner to grieve over the fate of my country and of you."  And he
concludes his narrative by expressing his belief that he had regained the
queen's confidence by his frank explanation of his views, while he himself
in his turn was evidently fascinated by the affability with which, after a
brief further conversation, she dismissed him.[9] Though, if we may trust
Madame de Campan, Marie Antoinette was not as satisfied as she had seemed
to be, but declared that it was not possible for her to place confidence
in his protestations when she recollected his former language and acts,
and the party with which he was even now acting.

Madame de Campan probably gives a more correct report of the queen's
feelings than the general himself, whom the consciousness of his own
integrity of purpose very probably misled into believing that he had
convinced her of it. But, though, if Marie Antoinette did listen to his
professions and advice with some degree of mistrust, she undoubtedly did
him less than justice: she can hardly be blamed for indulging such a
feeling, when it is remembered in what an atmosphere of treachery she had
lived for the last three years. Undoubtedly Dumouriez, though not a
thorough-going Royalist like M. Bertrand, was not only in intention an
honest and friendly counselor, but was by far the ablest adviser who had
had access to her since the death of Mirabeau, and in one respect was a
more judicious and trustworthy adviser than even that brilliant and
fertile statesman; since he did not fall into the error of miscalculating
what was practical, or of overrating his own influence with the Assembly
or the nation.

Yet, had the king and queen adopted his views ever so unreservedly, it may
well be doubted whether they would have averted or even deferred the fate
which awaited them. The leaders of the two parties, before whose union
they fell, had as little attachment to the new Constitution as the queen.
The moment that they obtained the undisputed ascendency, they trampled it
underfoot in every one of its provisions. Constitution or no Constitution,
they were determined to overthrow the throne and to destroy those to whom
it belonged; and to men animated with such a resolution it signified
little what pretext might be afforded them by any actions of their
destined victims. The wolf never yet wanted a plea for devouring the lamb.

One of the first fruits of the union between the Jacobins and the
Girondins was the preparation of an insurrection. The Assembly did not
move fast enough for them. It might be still useful as an auxiliary, but
the lead in the movement the clubs assumed to themselves. Their first care
was to deprive the king of all means of resistance, and with this view to
get rid of the Constitutional Guard, the commander of which was still the
gallant Duke de Brissac, a noble-minded and faithful adherent of Louis
amidst all his distresses. But it was not easy to find any ground for
disbanding a force which was too small to be formidable to any but
traitors; and the pretext which was put forward was so preposterous that
it could excite no feeling but that of amusement, if the object aimed at
were not too serious and shocking for laughter. At Easter the dauphin had
presented the mess of the regiment with a cake, one of the ornaments of
which was a small white flag taken from among his own toys. Petion now
issued orders to search the officers' quarters for this child's flag, and,
when it was found, one of the Jacobin members was not ashamed to produce
it to the Assembly as a proof that the court was meditating a counter-
revolution and a massacre of the patriots, and to propose the instant
dissolution of the Guard. The motion was carried, though some of the
Constitutionalist party had the honesty to oppose it, as one which could
have only regicide for its object; and Louis did not dare refuse it his

He was now wholly disarmed. To render his defeat in the impending struggle
more certain, one of the ministers, Servan, himself proposed a levy of
twenty thousand fresh soldiers, to be stationed permanently at Paris, and
this motion also was passed. Again Louis could not venture to withhold his
sanction from the bill, though he comforted himself by dismissing the
mover, with two of his colleagues, Roland and Claviere. Roland's dismissal
had indeed become indispensable, since, on the preceding day, he had had
the audacity to write him an insolent letter, composed by his ferocious
wife, which in express terms threatened him with death "if he did not give
satisfaction to the Revolution.[10]" Nor was Madame Roland inclined to be
satisfied with the murder of the king and queen. As has been already
mentioned, she at the same time urged upon her submissive husband the
assassination of Dumouriez, who, having intelligence of her enmity, began
in self-defense to connect himself with the Jacobins. On the dismissal of
Roland and the others, he had exchanged the foreign port-folio for that of
war, and was practically the prime minister, being in fact the only one
whom Louis admitted to any degree of confidence; but this arrangement
lasted less than a single week. Louis had yielded to and adopted his
advice on every point but one. He had sanctioned the dismissal of the
Constitutional Guard, and the formation of the new body of troops, which,
no one doubted, was intended to be used against himself; but he was as
firmly convinced as ever that his religious duty bound him to refuse his
assent to the decree against the priests, and he refused to do a violence
to his conscience, and to commit what he regarded as a sin. But this very
decree was the one which Dumouriez regarded as the most dangerous one for
him to reject, as being that which the Assembly was most firmly resolved
to make law; and, as his most vigorous remonstrances failed to shake the
king's resolution on this point, he resigned his post as a minister, and
repaired to the Flemish frontier to take the command of the army, which
greatly needed an able leader.


The Insurrection of June 20th.

Both Jacobins and Girondins felt that the departure of Dumouriez from
Paris had removed a formidable obstacle from their path, and they at once
began to hurry forward the preparations for their meditated insurrection.
The general gave in his resignation on the 15th of June, and the 20th was
fixed for an attack on the palace, by which its contrivers designed to
effect the overthrow of the throne, if not the destruction of the entire
royal family. It was organized with unusual deliberation. The meetings of
conspirators were attended not only by the Girondin leaders, to whom
Madame Roland had recently added a new recruit, a young barrister from the
South, named Barbaroux, remarkable for his personal beauty, and, as was
soon seen, for a pitiless hardness of heart, and energetic delight in
deeds of cruelty that, even in that blood-thirsty company, was equaled by
few; with them met all those as yet most notorious for ferocity--Danton
and Legendre, the founders of the Cordeliers; Marat, daily, in his obscene
and blasphemous newspaper, clamoring for wholesale bloodshed; Santerre,
odious as the sanguinary leader of the very first outbreaks of the
Revolution; Rotondo, already, as we have seen, detected in attempting to
assassinate the queen; and Petion, who thus repaid her preference of him
to La Fayette, which had placed him in the mayoralty, whose duties he was
now betraying. Some, too, bore a part in the foul conspiracy as partisans
of the Duc d'Orleans, who were generally understood to have instructions
to be lavish of their master's gold, the vile prince hoping that the
result of the outbreak would be the assassination of his cousin, and his
own elevation to the vacant throne. In their speeches they gave Louis the
name of Monsieur Veto, in allusion to the still legal exercise of his
prerogative, by which he had sought to protect the priests; while the
queen was called Madame Veto, though in fact she had finally joined
Dumouriez in urging her husband to give his royal assent to the decree
against them, not, as thinking it on any pretense justifiable, but as
believing, with the general, in the impossibility of maintaining its
rejection. Yet nothing could more completely prove the absolute innocence
and unimpeachable good faith of both king and queen than the act of his
enemies in giving them this nickname; so clear an evidence was it that
they could allege nothing more odious against them than the possession by
Louis, in a most modified degree, of a prerogative which, without any
modification at all, has in every country been at all times regarded as
indispensable to, and inseparable from, royalty; and the exercise of it
for the defense of a body of men of whom none could deny the entire

On the night of the 19th the appointed leaders of the different bands into
which the insurgents were to be divided separated; the watch-word,
"Destruction to the palace," was given out; and all Paris waited in
anxious terror for the events of the morrow. Louis was as well aware as
any of the citizens of the intended attack, and prepared for it as for
death. On the afternoon of the 19th he wrote to his confessor to desire
him to come to him at once. "He had never," he said, "had such need of his
consolations. He had done with this world, and his thoughts were now fixed
on Heaven alone. Great calamities were announced for the morrow; but he
felt that he had courage to meet them." And after the holy man had left
him, as he gazed on the setting sun he once more gave utterance to his
forebodings. "Who can tell," said he, "whether it be not the last that I
shall ever see?" The Royalists felt his danger almost as keenly as
himself, but were powerless to prevent it by any means of their own. The
Duke de Liancourt, who had some title to be listened to by the
Revolutionary party, since no one had been more zealous in promoting the
most violent measures of the first Assembly, pressed earnestly on Petion
that his duty as mayor bound him to call out the National Guards, and so
prevent the intended outbreak, but was answered by sarcasms and insults;
while Vergniaud, from the tribune of the Assembly itself, dared to deride
all who apprehended danger.

On the morning of the 20th, daylight had scarcely dawned when twenty
thousand men, the greater part of whom were armed with some weapon or
other--muskets, pikes, hatchets, crowbars, and even spits from the
cook-shops forming part of their equipment--assembled on the place where
the Bastile had stood. Santerre was already there on horseback as their
appointed leader; and, when all were collected and marshaled in three
divisions, they began their march. One division had for its chief the
Marquis de St. Huruge, an intimate friend and adherent of the Duc
d'Orleans; at the head of another, a woman of notorious infamy, known as
La Belle Liegeoise, clad in male attire, rode astride upon a cannon;
while, as it advanced, the crowd was every moment swelled by vast bodies
of recruits, among whom were numbers of women, whose imprecations in
ferocity and foulness surpassed even the foulest threats of the men.

The ostensible object of the procession was to present petitions to the
king and the Assembly on the dismissal of Roland and his colleagues from
the administration, and on the refusal of the royal assent to the decree
against the priests. The real design of those who had organized it was
more truthfully shown by the banners and emblems borne aloft in the ranks.
"Beware the Lamp,[1]" was the inscription on one. "Death to Veto and his
wife," was read upon another. A gang of butchers carried a calf's heart on
the point of a pike, with "The Heart of an Aristocrat" for a motto. A band
of crossing-sweepers, or of men who professed to be such, though the
fineness of their linen was inconsistent with the rags which were their
outward garments, had for their standard a pair of ragged breeches, with
the inscription, "Tremble, tyrants; here are the Sans-culottes." One gang
of ruffians carried a model of a guillotine. Another bore aloft a
miniature gallows with an effigy of the queen herself hanging from it. So
great was the crowd that it was nearly three in the afternoon before the
head of it reached the Assembly, where its approach had raised a debate on
the propriety of receiving any petition at all which was to be presented
in so menacing a guise; M. Roederer, the procurator-syndic, or chief legal
officer of the department of Paris, recommending its rejection, on the
ground that such a procession was illegal, not only because of its avowed
object of forcing its way to the king, but also because it was likely to
lead into acts of violence even if it had not premeditated them.

His arguments were earnestly supported by the constitutionalists, and
opposed and ridiculed by Vergniaud. But before the discussion was over,
the rioters, who had now reached the hall, took the decision into their
own hands, forced open the door, and put forward a spokesman to read what
they called a petition, but which was in truth a sanguinary denunciation
of those whom it proclaimed the enemies of the nation, and of whom it
demanded that "the land should be purged." Insolent and ferocious as it
was, it, however, coincided with the feelings of the Girondins, who were
now the masters of the Assembly. One orator carried a motion that the
petitioners should receive what were called the honors of the Assembly;
or, in other words, should be allowed to enter the hall with their arms
and defile before them. They poured in with exulting uproar. Songs, half
blood-thirsty and half obscene, gestures indicative some of murder, some
of debauchery, cries of "Vive la nation!" interspersed with inarticulate
yells, were the sounds, the guillotine and the queen upon the gallows were
the sights, which were thought in character with the legislature of a
people which still claimed to be regarded as the pattern of civilization
by all Europe. Evening approached before the last of the rabble had passed
through the hall; and by that time the leading ranks were in front of the

There were but scanty means of resisting them. A few companies of the
National Guard formed the whole protection of the palace; and with them
the agents of Orleans and the Girondins had been briskly tampering all the
morning. Many had been seduced. A few remained firm in their loyalty; but
those on whom the royal family had the best reason to rely were a band of
gentlemen, with the veteran Marshal de Noailles at their head, who had
repaired to the Tuileries in the morning to furnish to their sovereign
such defense as could be found in their loyal and devoted gallantry. Some
of them besides the old marshal, the Count d'Hervilly, who had commanded
the cavalry of the Constitutional Guard, and M. d'Acloque, an officer of
the National Guard, brought military experience to aid their valor, and
made such arrangements as the time and character of the building rendered
practicable to keep the rioters at bay. But the utmost bravery of such a
handful of men, for they were no more, and even the more solid resistance
of iron gates and barriers, were unavailing against the thousands that
assailed them. Exasperated at finding the gates closed against them, the
rioters began to beat upon them with sledge-hammers. Presently they were
joined by Sergent and Panis, two of the municipal magistrates, who ordered
the sentinels to open the gates to the sovereign people. The sentinels
fled; the gates were opened or broken down; the mob seized one of the
cannons which stood in the Place du Carrousel, carried it up the stairs of
the palace, and planted it against the door of the royal apartments; and,
while they shouted out a demand that the king should show himself, they
began to batter the door as before they had battered the gates, and
threatened, if it should not yield to their hatchets, to blow it down with

Fear of personal danger was not one of the king's weaknesses. The hatchets
beat down the outer door, and, as it fell, he came forth from the room
behind, and with unruffled countenance accosted the ruffians who were
pouring through it. His sister, the Princess Elizabeth, was at his side.
He had charged those around him to keep the queen back; and she, knowing
how special an object of the popular hatred and fury she was, with a
fortitude beyond that which defies death, remained out of sight lest she
should add to his danger. For a moment the mob, respecting, in spite of
themselves, the calm heroism with which they were confronted, paused in
their onset; but those in front were pushed on by those behind, and pikes
were leveled and blows were aimed at both the king and the princess, whom
they mistook for the queen. At first there were but one or two attendants
at the king's side, but they were faithful and brave men. One struck down
a ruffian who was lifting his weapon to aim a blow at Louis himself. A
pike was even leveled at his sister, when her equerry, M. Bousquet, too
far off to bring her the aid of his right hand, called out, "Spare the
princess." Delicate as were her frame and features, Elizabeth was worthy
of her blood, and as dauntless as the rest. She turned to her preserver
almost reproachfully: "Why did you undeceive him? it might have saved the
queen." But after a few seconds, Acloque with some grenadiers of the
National Guard on whom he could still rely, hastened up by a back
staircase to defend his sovereign; and, with the aid of some of the
gentlemen who had come with the Marshal de Noailles, drew the king back
into a recess formed by a window; and raised a rampart of benches in front
of him, and one still more trustworthy of their own bodies. They would
gladly have attacked the rioters and driven them back, but were restrained
by Louis himself. "Put up your swords," said he; "this crowd is excited
rather than wicked." And he addressed those who had forced their way into
the room with words of condescending conciliation. They replied with
threats and imprecations; and sought to force their way onward, pressing
back by their mere numbers and weight the small group of loyal champions
who by this time had gathered in front of him.

So great was the uproar that presently a report reached the main body of
the insurgents, who were still in the garden beneath, that Louis had been
killed; and they mingled shouts of triumph with cheers for Orleans as
their new king, and demanded that the heads of the king and queen should
be thrown down to them from the windows; but no actual injury was
inflicted on Louis, though he owed his safety more to his own calmness
than even to the devotion of his guards. One ruffian threatened him with
instant death if he did not at once grant every prayer contained in their
petition. He replied, as composedly as if he had been on his throne at
Versailles, that the present was not the time for making such a demand,
nor was this the way in which to make it. The dignity of the answer seemed
to imply a contempt for the threateners, and the mob grew more uproarious.
"Fear not, sire," said one of Acloque's grenadiers, "we are around you."
The king took the man's hand and placed it on his heart, which was beating
more calmly than that of the soldier himself. "Judge yourself," said he,
"if I fear." Legendre, the butcher, raised his pike as if to strike him,
while he reproached him as a traitor and the enemy of his country. "I am
not, and never have been aught but the sincerest friend of my people," was
the gentle but fearless answer. "If it be so, put on this red cap," and
the butcher thrust one into his hand on the end of his pike, prepared, as
Louis believed, to plunge the weapon itself into his breast if he refused.
The king put it on, and so little regarded it that he forgot to remove it
again, as he afterward repented that he had not done, thinking that his
conduct in allowing it to remain on his head bore too strong a resemblance
to fear or to an unworthy compromise of his dignity.

But still the uproar increased, and above it rose loud cries for the
queen, till at last she also came forward. As yet, from the motives that
have already been mentioned, she had consented to remain out of sight; but
each explosion of the mob increased her unwillingness to keep back. It
was, she felt, her duty to be always at the king's side; if need be, to
die with him; to stand aloof was infamy; and at last, as the demands for
her appearance increased, even those around her confessed that it might be
safer for her to show herself. The door was thrown open, and, leading
forth her children, from whom she refused to part, and accompanied by
Madame de Tourzel, Madame de Lamballe, and others of her ladies, the most
timid of whom seemed as if inspired by her example, Marie Antoinette
advanced and took her place by the side of her husband, and, with head
erect and color heightened by the sight of her enemies, faced them
disdainfully. As lions in their utmost rage have recoiled before a man who
has looked them steadily in the face, so did even those miscreants quail
before their pure and high-minded queen. At first it seemed as if her
bitterest enemies were to be found among her own sex. The men were for a
moment silenced; but a young girl, whose appearance was not that of the
lowest class, came forward and abused her in coarse and furious language,
especially reviling her as "the Austrian." The queen, astonished at
finding such animosity in one apparently tender and gentle, condescended
to expostulate with her. "Why do you hate me? I have never injured you."
"You have not injured me, but it is you who cause the misery of the
nation." "Poor child," replied Marie Antoinette, "they have deceived you.
I am the wife of your king, the mother of your dauphin, who will be your
king. I am a Frenchwoman in every feeling of my heart. I shall never again
see Austria. I can only be happy or unhappy in France, and I was happy
when you loved me." The girl was melted by her patience and gentleness.
She burst into tears of shame, and begged pardon for her previous conduct.
"I did not know you," she said; "I see now that you are good.[2]" Another
asked her, "How old is your girl?" "She is old enough," replied the queen,
"to feel acutely such scenes as these." But, while these brief
conversations were going on, the crowd kept pressing forward. One officer
had drawn a table in front of the queen as she advanced, so as to screen
her from actual contact with any of the rioters, but more than one of them
stretched across it as if to reach her. One fellow demanded that she
should put a red cap, which he threw to her, on the head of the dauphin,
and, as she saw the king wearing one, she consented; but it was too large
and fell down the child's face, almost stifling him with its thickness.
Santerre himself reached across and removed it, and, leaning with his
hands on the table, which shook beneath his vehemence, addressed her with
what he meant for courtesy. "Princess," said he, "do not fear. The French
people do not wish to slay you. I promise this in their name." Marie
Antoinette had long ago declared that her heart had become French; it was
too much so for her to allow such a man's claim to be the spokesman of the
nation. "It is not by such as you," she replied, with lofty scorn; "it is
not by such as you that I judge of the French people, but by brave men
like these;" and she pointed to the gentlemen who were standing round her
as her champions, and to the faithful grenadiers. The well-timed and
well-deserved compliment roused them to still greater enthusiasm, but
already the danger was passing away.

The Assembly had seen with indifference the departure of the mob to attack
the Tuileries, and had proceeded with its ordinary business as if nothing
were likely to happen which could call for its interference. But when the
uproar within the palace became audible in the hall, the Count de Dumas,
one of the very few men of noble birth who had been returned to this
second Assembly, with a few other deputies of the better class, hastened
to see what was taking place, and, quickly returning, reported the king's
imminent danger to their colleagues. Dumas gave such offense by the
boldness of his language that some of the Jacobins threatened him with
violence, but he refused to be silenced; and his firmness prevailed, as
firmness nearly always did prevail in an Assembly where, though there were
many fierce and vehement blusterers, there were very few men of real
courage. In compliance with his vehement demand for instant action, a
deputation of members was sent to take measures for the king's safety; and
then, at last, Petion, who had carefully kept aloof while there seemed to
be a chance of the king being murdered, now that he could no longer hope
for such a consummation, repaired to the palace and presented himself
before him. To him he had the effrontery to declare that he had only just
become apprised of his situation. From the Assembly, at a later hour in
the evening, he claimed the credit of having organized the riot. But Louis
would not condescend to pretend to believe him. "It was extraordinary," he
replied, "that Petion should not have earlier known what had lasted so
long." Even he could not but be for a moment abashed at the king's
unwonted expression of indignation. But he soon recovered himself, and
with unequaled impudence turned and thanked the crowd for the moderation
and dignity with which they had exercised the right of petition, and bid
them "finish the day in similar conformity with the law, and retire to
their homes." They obeyed. The interference of the deputies had convinced
their leaders that they could not succeed in their purpose now. Santerre,
whose softer mood, such as it had been, had soon passed away, muttered
with a deep oath that they had missed their blow, but must try it again
hereafter. For the present he led off his brigands; the palace and gardens
were restored to quiet, though the traces of the assault to which they had
been exposed could not easily be effaced; and Louis and his family were
left in tranquillity to thank God for their escape, but to forebode also
that similar trials were in store for them, all of which, it was not
likely, would have so innocent a termination.[3]


Feelings of Marie Antoinette.--Different Plans are formed for her Escape.
--She hopes for Aid from Austria and Prussia.--La Fayette comes to Paris.
--His Mismanagement.--An Attempt is made to assassinate the Queen.--The
Motion of Bishop Lamourette.--The Feast of the Federation.--La Fayette
proposes a Plan for the King's Escape.--Bertrand proposes Another.--Both
are rejected by the Queen.

We can do little more than guess at the feelings of Marie Antoinette after
such a day of horrors. She could scarcely venture to write a letter, lest
it should fall into hands for which it was not intended, and be
misinterpreted so as to be mischievous to herself and to her
correspondents. And two brief notes--one on the 4th of July to Mercy, and
one written a day or two later to the Landgravine of Hesse-Darmstadt--are
all that, so far as we know, proceeded from her pen in the sad period
between the two attacks on the palace. Brief as they are, they are
characteristic as showing her unshaken resolution to perform her duty to
her family, and proving at the same time how absolutely free she was from
any delusion as to the certain event of the struggle in which she was
engaged. No courage was ever more entirely founded on high and virtuous
principle, for no one was ever less sustained by hope. To Mercy she says:

"July 4th, 1792.

"You know the occurrences of the 20th of June. Our position becomes every
day more critical. There is nothing but violence and rage on one side,
weakness and inactivity on the other. We can reckon neither on the
National Guard nor on the army. We do not know whether to remain in Paris,
or to throw ourselves into some other place. It is more than time for the
powers to speak out boldly. The 14th of July and the days which will
follow it may become days of general mourning for France, and of regret to
the powers who will have been too slow in explaining themselves. All is
lost if the factions are not arrested in their wickedness by fear of
impending chastisement. They are resolved on a republic at all risks. To
arrive at that, they have determined to assassinate the king. It would be
necessary that any manifesto[1] should make the National Assembly and
Paris responsible for his life and the lives of his family.

"In spite of all these dangers, we will not change our resolution. You may
depend on this as much as I depend on your attachment. It is a pleasure to
me to believe that you allow me a share of the attachment which bound you
to my mother. And this is a moment to give me a great proof of it, in
saving me and mine, if there be still time.[2]"

The letter to the landgravine was one of reply to a proposal which that
princess, who had long been one of her most attached friends, had lately
made to her, that she should allow her brother, Prince George of
Darmstadt, to carry out a plan by which, as he conceived, he could convey
the queen and her children safely out of Paris; the enterprise being, as
both he and his sister flattered themselves, greatly facilitated by the
circumstance that the prince's person was wholly unknown in the French

"July, 1792.[3]

"Your friendship and your anxiety for me have touched my very inmost soul.
The person[4] who is about to return to you will explain the reasons which
have detained him so long. He will also tell you that at present I do not
dare to receive him in my own apartment. Yet it would have been very
pleasant to talk to him about you, to whom I am so tenderly attached. No,
my princess, while I feel all the kindness of your offers, I can not
accept them. I am vowed for life to my duties, and to those beloved
persons whose misfortunes I share, and who, whatever people may say of
them, deserve to be regarded with interest by all the world for the
courage with which they support their position. The bearer of this letter
will be able to give you a detailed account of what is going on at
present, and of the spirit of this place where we are living. I hear that
he has seen much, and has formed very correct ideas. May all that we are
now doing and suffering one day make our children happy! This is the only
wish that I allow myself. Farewell, my princess; they have taken from me
every thing except my heart, which will always remain constant in its love
for you. Be sure of this; the loss of your love would be an evil which I
could not endure. I embrace you tenderly. A thousand compliments to all
yours. I am prouder than ever of having been born a German."

In her mention of the 14th of July as likely to bring fresh dangers, she
is alluding to the announcement of an intention of the Jacobins to hold a
fresh festival to commemorate the destruction of the Bastile on the
anniversary of that exploit; a celebration which she had ample reason to
expect would furnish occasion for some fresh tumult and outrage. And we
may remark that in one of these letters she rests her whole hope on
foreign assistance; while in the other, she rejects foreign aid to escape
from her almost hopeless position. But the key to her feeling in both
cases is one and the same. Above all things she was a devoted, faithful
wife and mother. To herself and her own safety she never gave a thought.
Her first duty, she rightly judged, was to the king, and she looked to
such a manifesto as she desired Austria and Prussia to issue, backed by
the movements of a powerful army, as the measure which afforded the best
prospect of saving her husband, who could hardly be trusted to save
himself; while, for the very same reason, she refused to fly without him,
even though flight might have saved her children, her son and heir, as
well as herself, because it would have increased her husband's danger. In
each case her decision was that of a brave and devoted wife, not perhaps
in both instances judicious; for when Prussia did mingle in the contest,
as it did in the first week in July, it evidently increased the perils of
Louis, if indeed they were capable of aggravation, by giving the Jacobins
a plea for raising the cry "that the country was in danger." But in the
second case, in her refusal to flee, and to leave her husband by himself
to confront the existing and impending dangers, she judged rightly and
worthily of herself; and the only circumstance that has prevented her from
receiving the credit due for her refusal to avail herself of Prince
George's offer is that throughout the whole period of the Revolution her
acts of disinterestedness and heroism are so incessant that single deeds
of the kind are lost in the contemplation of her entire career during this
long period of trial.

It was the peculiar ill-fortune of Louis that more than once the very
efforts made by people who desired to assist him increased his perils. The
events of the 20th of June had shocked and alarmed even La Fayette. From
the beginning of the Revolution he had vacillated between a desire for a
republic and for a limited monarchy on something like the English pattern,
without being able to decide which to prefer. He had shown himself willing
to court a base popularity with the mob by heaping uncalled-for insults on
the king and queen. But though he had coquetted with the ultra-
revolutionists, and allowed them to make a tool of him, he had not nerve
for the villainies which it was now clear that they meditated. He had no
taste for bloodshed; and, though gifted with but little acuteness, he saw
that the success of the Jacobins and Girondins would lead neither to a
republic nor to a limited monarchy, but to anarchy; and he had discernment
enough to dread that. He therefore now sincerely desired to save the
king's life, and even what remained of his authority, especially if he
could so order matters that their preservation should be seen to be his
own work. He was conscious also that he could reckon on many allies in any
effort which he might make for the prevention of further outrages. The
more respectable portion of the Parisians viewed the recent outrages with
disgust, sharpened by personal alarm. The dominion of Santerre and his
gangs of destitute desperadoes was manifestly fraught with destruction to
themselves as well as to the king. The greater part of the army under his
command shared these feelings, and would gladly have followed him to Paris
to crush the revolutionary clubs, and to inflict condign punishment on the
authors and chief agents in the late insurrection. If he had but had the
skill to avail himself of this favorable state of feeling, there can be
little doubt that it was in his power at this moment to have established
the king in the full exercise of all the authority vested in him by the
Constitution, or even to have induced the Assembly to enlarge that
authority. He so mismanaged matters that he only increased the king's
danger, and brought general contempt and imminent danger on himself
likewise. His enemies had more than once accused him of wishing to copy
Cromwell. His friends had boasted that he would emulate Monk. But if he
was too scrupulous for the audacious wickedness of the one, he proved
himself equally devoid of the well-calculating shrewdness of the other.
If, subsequently, he had any reason to congratulate himself on the result
of his conduct, it was that, like the stork in the fable, after be had
thrust his head into the mouth of the wolf, he was allowed to draw it out
again in safety.

Louis's enemies had abundantly shown that they did not lack boldness. If
they were to be defeated, it could only be by action as bold as their own.
Unhappily, La Fayette's courage had usually found vent rather in
blustering words than in stout deeds; and those were the only weapons he
could bring himself to employ now. He resolved to remonstrate with the
Assembly; but instead of bringing up his army, or even a detachment, to
back his remonstrance, he came to Paris with a single aid-de-camp, and, on
the 28th of June, presented himself at the bar of the Assembly and
demanded an audience. A fortnight before he had written a letter to the
president, in which he had denounced alike the Jacobin leaders of the
clubs and the Girondin ministers, and had called on the Assembly to
suppress the clubs; a letter which had produced no effect except to unite
the two parties against whom it was aimed more closely together, and also
to give them a warning of his hostility to them, which, till he was in a
position to show it by deeds, it would have been wiser to have avoided.

He now repeated by word of mouth the statements and arguments which he had
previously advanced in writing, with the addition of a denunciation of the
recent insurrection and its authors, whom, he insisted, the Assembly was
bound instantly to prosecute. His speech was not ill received; for the
Constitutionalists, who knew what he designed to say, had mustered in full
force, and had packed the galleries beforehand with hired clappers; and
many even of the Deputies who did not belong to that party cheered him, so
obvious to all but the most desperate was the danger to the whole State,
if Santerre and his brigands should be allowed to become its masters. But
they cared little for a barren indignation which had no more effectual
weapon than reproaches. He had said enough to exasperate, but had not done
enough to intimidate; while those whom he denounced had greater boldness
and presence of mind than he, and had the forces on which they relied for
support at hand and available. They instantly turned the latter on
himself, and in their turn denounced him for having left his army without
leave. He was frightened, or at least perplexed, by such a charge. He made
no reply, but seemed like one stupefied; and it was only through the
eloquence of one of his friends, M. Ramond, that he was saved from the
impeachment with which Guadet and Vergniaud openly threatened him for
quitting the army without leave.

Ramond's oratory succeeded in carrying through the Assembly a motion in
his favor, and several companies of the National Guard and a vast
multitude of the citizens showed their sympathy with his views by
escorting him with acclamations to his hotel. But neither their evident
inclination to support him, nor even the danger with which he himself had
been threatened, could give him resolution and firmness in action. For a
moment he made a demonstration as if he were prepared to secure the
success of his designs by force. He proposed that the king should the next
morning review Acloque's companies of the National Guard, after which he
himself would harangue them on their duty to the king and Constitution.
But the Girondins persuaded Petion to exert his authority, as mayor, to
prohibit the review. La Fayette was weak enough to submit to the
prohibition; and, quickened, it is said, by intelligence that Petion was
preparing to arrest him, the next day retired in haste from Paris and
rejoined the army.

He had done the king nothing but harm. He had shown to all the world that
though the Royalists and Constitutionalists might still be numerically the
stronger party, for all purposes of action they were by far the weaker. He
had encouraged those whom he had intended to daunt, and strengthened those
whom he had hoped to crush; and they, in consequence, proceeded in their
treasons with greater boldness and openness than ever. Marie Antoinette,
as we have seen, had expressed her belief that they designed to
assassinate Louis, and she now employed herself, as she had done once
before, in quilting him a waistcoat of thickness sufficient to resist a
dagger or a bullet; though so incessant was the watch which was set on all
their movements that it was with the greatest difficulty that she could
find an opportunity of trying it on him. But it was not the king, but she
herself, who was the victim whom the traitors proposed to take off in such
a manner; and in the second week of July a man was detected at the foot of
the staircase leading to her apartments, disguised as a grenadier, and
sufficiently equipped with murderous weapons. He was seized by the guard,
who had previous warning of his design; but was instantly rescued by a
gang of ruffians like himself, who were on the watch to take advantage of
the confusion which might be expected to arise from the accomplishment of
his crime.

Meanwhile the Assembly wavered, hesitated, and did nothing; the Girondins
and Jacobins were fertile in devising plots, and active in carrying them
out. One day, as if seized with a panic at some report of the strength of
the Austrian and Prussian armies, the Assembly again passed a vote
declaring the country in danger; on another, roused by a letter which a
Madame Gouges, a daughter of a fashionable dress-maker, a lady of more
notoriety than reputation, but who cultivated a character for philosophy,
took upon herself to write to them, and still more by a curiously
sentimental speech of the Bishop of Lyons, with the appropriate name of
Lamourette,[5] the members bound themselves to have for the future but one
heart and one sentiment; and for some minutes Jacobins, Girondins,
Constitutionalists, and Royalists were rushing to and fro across the floor
of the hall in a frenzy of mutual benevolence, embracing and kissing one
another, and swearing an eternal friendship. They even sent a message to
Louis to beg him to come and witness this new harmony. He came at once.
With his disposition, it was not strange that he yielded to the illusion
of the strange spectacle which he beheld. He shed tears of joy, declared
the complete agreement of his sentiments with theirs, and predicted that
their union would save France. They escorted him back to the Tuileries
with cheers, and the very same evening, after a stormy debate, which was a
remarkable commentary on the affection which they had just vowed to one
another, they set him at defiance, insulting him by annulling some decrees
to which he had given his assent, and passing a vote of confidence in
Petion as mayor.

The Feast of the Federation, as it was called, passed off quietly. The
king again recognized the Constitution before the altar erected in the
Champ de Mars, and, as he drove back to the palace, the populace
accompanied him the whole way, never ceasing their acclamations of "Vivent
le roi et la reine![6]" till they had dismounted and returned to their
apartments. Such a close of the day had been expected by no one. La
Fayette, who seems at last to have become really anxious to save the lives
of the king and queen, and to have been seriously convinced that they were
in danger, had now formally opened a communication with the court. He
concerted his plans with Marshal Luckner, and had learned so much wisdom
from his recent failure that he now placed no reliance on any thing but a
display of superior force. He accordingly proposed to Louis to bring up a
battalion of picked men from his and the marshal's armies to escort him to
the Champ de Mars; and, judging that, even if the feast should pass off
without any fresh danger, the king could never be considered permanently
safe while he remained in Paris, he recommended that on the next day,
Louis, still under the protection of the same troops, should announce to
the Assembly his departure for Compiegne, and should at once quit the
capital for that town, to which trusty officers would in the mean time
have brought up other divisions of the army in sufficient strength to set
all disaffected and seditious spirits at defiance.

The plan was at all events well conceived, but it was declined. Louis did
not apparently distrust the marquis's good faith, but he doubted his
ability to carry out an enterprise requiring an energy and decision of
which no part of La Fayette's career had given any indication; while the
queen distrusted his loyalty even more than his capacity. One of those
with whom she took counsel expressed his opinion of the marquis's real
object by saying that he might save the monarch, but not the monarchy; and
she replied that his head was still full of republican notions which he
had brought from America, and refused to place the slightest confidence in
him. We may suspect that she did not do him entire justice, and may rather
believe, with Louis, that he was now acting in good faith; but, with a
recollection of all that she had suffered at his hands, we can not wonder
at her continued distrust of him.[A7]

But his was not the only plan proposed for the escape of the royal family.
Bertrand de Moleville, though no longer Louis's minister, retained his
undiminished confidence, and he had found a place which he regarded as
admirably suited for a temporary retreat--the Castle of Gaillon, near the
left bank of the Seine, in Normandy, the people of which province were
almost universally loyal. It was within the twenty leagues from Paris
which the Assembly had fixed for the limit of the royal journeys; while
yet, in case of the worst, it was likewise within easy distance of the
coast. An able engineer officer had pronounced it to be thoroughly
defensible; and the Count d'Hervilly, with other officers of proved
courage and presence of mind, undertook the arrangement of all the
military measures necessary for the safe escort of the entire royal
family, which they themselves were willing to conduct, with the aid of
some detachments of the Swiss Guards; while the necessary funds were
provided by the loyal devotion of the Duke de Liancourt, who placed a
million of francs at his sovereign's disposal, and of one or two other
nobles who came forward with almost equally lavish offerings. Louis
certainly at first regarded the plan with favor, and, in the opinion of M.
Bertrand, it would not have been difficult to induce him to adopt it, if
the queen could have been brought over to a similar view.

Unhappily several motives combined to disincline her to it. The
insurrection which the Girondins[8] were preparing had originally been
fixed for the 29th of July; but, a few days before, M. Bertrand learned
that it had been postponed till the 10th of August. This gave him time to
mature his arrangements, all of which, as he reckoned, could be completed
in time for the king to leave Paris on the evening of the 8th. But before
that day arrived news had reached the court that the Duke of Brunswick,
the Prussian commander-in-chief, had put his army in motion, and that he
was not likely to meet any obstacle sufficient to prevent him from
marching at once on Paris; a measure which, to quote the language of M.
Bertrand, "the queen was too anxious to see accomplished to hesitate at
believing in its execution.[9]" And at the same time some of the Jacobin
leaders--Danton, Petion, and Santerre--had opened communications with the
Government, and had undertaken for a large bribe to prevent the threatened
outbreak. The money had been paid to them, and Marie Antoinette more than
once boasted to her attendants that they were now safe, as having gained
over Danton; placing the firmer reliance on this mode of extrication
because it coincided with her belief that the mutual jealousy of the two
parties would dispose one of them at least eventually to embrace the cause
of the king, as their beat ally against the other. The result seems to
show that the Jacobins only took the bribe the more effectually to lull
their destined victims into a false security.

A third consideration, and that apparently not the weakest, was Marie
Antoinette's rooted dislike of the Constitutionalist party. In their rants
the Duc de Liancourt had taken his seat in the first Assembly; though, as
he assured M. Bertrand, the king himself was aware that his object in so
doing had been to serve his majesty in the most effectual manner; and he
was also the statesman whose advice had mainly contributed to induce the
king to visit Paris after the destruction of the Bastile, a step which she
had always regarded as the forerunner and cause of some of the most
irremediable encroachments of the Revolutionists. Even the duke's present
devotion to the king's cause could not entirely efface from her mind the
impression that he was not in his heart friendly to the royal authority.
She urged these arguments on the king. The last probably weighed with him
but little: the two former he felt as strongly as the queen herself; and
he delayed his decision, sending word to M. Bertrand that he had resolved
to defer his departure "till the last extremity.[10]" His faithful servant
was in amazement. "When," he exclaimed, "was the last extremity to be
looked for, if it had not already come?" But his astonishment was turned
to absolute despair when the next day M. Montmorin informed him that the
project had been entirely given up, the queen herself remarking "that M.
Bertrand overlooked the circumstance that he was throwing them altogether
into the hands of the Constitutionalists."

She has been commonly blamed for this decision, as that which was the
chief cause of all the subsequent calamities which overwhelmed her and the
whole family. Yet it is not difficult to understand the motives which
influenced her, and it is impossible to refrain from regarding them with
sympathy. She was now at the decisive moment of a crisis which might well
perplex the clearest head. There could be no doubt that the coming
insurrection would be the turning-point of the long conflict which had now
lasted three years; and it was a conflict in which her husband's throne
was certainly at stake, perhaps even his and her own life. They had indeed
been so for three years; and throughout the whole contest her view had
constantly been that honor was still dearer than life; and honor she
identified with the preservation of her husband's crown, her children's
inheritance. Mirabeau had said that she would not care to save her life if
she could not save the crown also; and, though she can not have decided
without a terrible conflict of feeling, her decision was now in conformity
with Mirabeau's judgment of her. In the preceding year the journey to
Varennes had been treated by the Republicans as a plea for pronouncing the
deposition of the king; and, though they were defeated then, they were
undoubtedly stronger in the new Assembly. On the other hand, she suspected
that they themselves had some misgivings as to the chance of a second
attack on the palace being more successful than the former one had proved;
and that the openness with which the preparations for it were announced
was intended to terrify Louis and herself into a second flight; and she
might not unreasonably infer that what their enemies desired was not the
wisest course for them to adopt. To fly would evidently be to leave the
whole field in both the Assembly and the city open to their enemies. It
might save their lives, but it would almost to a certainty forfeit the
crown. To stay and face the coming danger might indeed lose both, but it
might also save both; and she determined rather to risk all, both crown
and life, in the endeavor to save all, rather than to save the one by the
deliberate sacrifice of the other. It was a gallant and unselfish
determination: if in one point of view it was unwise, it was at least
becoming her lofty lineage, and consistent with her heroic character.


Preparation for a New Insurrection.--Barbaroux brings up a Gang from
Marseilles.--The King's last Levee.--The Assembly rejects a Motion for the
Impeachment of La Fayette.--It removes some Regiments from Paris.--
Preparations of the Court for Defense.--The 10th of August.--The City is
in Insurrection.--Murder of Mandat.--Louis reviews the Guards.--He takes
Refuge with the Assembly.--Massacre of the Swiss Guards.--Sack of the
Tuileries.--Discussions in the Assembly.--The Royal Authority is

The die was cast. Nothing was left but to wait, with such patience as
might be, for the coming explosion, which was sure not to be long
deferred. Madame de Stael has said that there never can be a conspiracy,
in the proper sense of the word, in Paris; and that if there could be one,
it would be superfluous, since every one at all times follows the
majority, and no one ever keeps a secret. But on this occasion the chief
movers of sedition studiously discarded all appearance of concealment.
Vergniaud, Guadet, and Gensonne wrote the king a letter couched in terms
of the most insolent defiance, and signed with all their names, in which
they openly announced to him that an insurrection was organized which
should be abandoned if he replaced Roland and his colleagues in the
ministry, but which should surely break on the palace and overwhelm it if
he refused. And Barbaroux, who had promised Madame Roland to bring up from
Marseilles and other towns in the south a band of men capable of any
atrocity, had collected a gang of five hundred miscreants, the refuse of
the galleys and the jails, and paraded them in triumph through the
streets, which their arrival was destined and intended to deluge with

And yet Louis, or, to speak more correctly, Marie Antoinette, for it was
with her that every decision rested, preferred to face the impending
struggle in Paris. She still believed that the king had many friends in
whose devotion and gallantry he could confide to the very death. On
Sunday, the 5th of August, the very last Sunday which he was ever to
behold as the acknowledged sovereign of the land, his levee was attended
by a more than usually numerous and brilliant company; though the gayety
appropriate to such a scene was on this occasion clouded over by the
anxiety for their royal master and mistress which sobered every one's
demeanor, and spread a gloom over every countenance. And three days later
both the Assembly and the National Guard displayed feelings which, to so
sanguine a temper as hers, seemed to show a disposition to make a stout
resistance to the further progress of disorder. The Assembly, by a
majority of more than two to one, rejected a motion made by Vergniaud for
the impeachment of La Fayette for his conduct in June; and when the mob
fell upon those who had voted against it, as they came out of the hall,
the National Guard came promptly to their rescue, and inflicted severe
chastisement on the foremost of the rioters.

The vote of the Assembly may be said to have been the last it ever gave
for any object but the promotion of anarchy. It more than neutralized its
effect the very next day, when it passed a decree for the immediate
removal of three regiments of the line which were quartered in Paris. It
even at first included in its resolution the Swiss Guards also; but was
subsequently compelled to withdraw that clause, since an old treaty with
Switzerland expressly secured to the republic the right of always
furnishing a regiment for the honorable service of guarding the palace.
And at the same time, as if to punish the National Guard for its conduct
on the previous day, another vote broke up the staff of that force;
cashiered its finest companies, the grenadiers and the mounted troopers,
on the plea that such distinctions were inconsistent with equality; and
filled up the vacancies with men who were the very dregs of the city, many
of whom were, in fact, secret agents of the Jacobins, by whose aid they
hoped to spread disaffection through the entire force.

The afternoon of the 9th was passed in anxious preparation by both the
conspirators and those whom they were about to attack. The king and queen
were not destitute of faithful adherents, whom their very danger only
rendered the more zealous to place all their strength, their valor, and,
as they truly foreboded, their lives, at the disposal of their honored and
threatened sovereigns. The veteran Marshal de Mailly, one of those gallant
nobles whose devoted loyalty had been so scandalously insulted by La
Fayette[1] in the spring of the preceding year, though now eighty years of
age, hastened to the defense of his royal master and mistress, and brought
with him a chivalrous phalanx of above a hundred gentlemen, all animated
with the same self-sacrificing heroism, as his own, to fight, or, if need
should be, to die for their king and queen, though they had no arms but
their swords. It seemed fortunate, too, that the command of the National
Guard for the day fell by rotation to an officer named Mandat, a man of
high professional skill, intrepid courage, and unshaken in his zeal for
the royal cause, though in former days the constitutionalists had reckoned
him among their adherents. His brigade numbered about two thousand four
hundred men, on most of whom he could thoroughly rely. And it was no
slight proof of his force of character and energy, as well as of his
address, that, as the National Guard could not be employed out of the
routine of their regular duty without a special authorisation from the
civil power, he contrived to extort from Petion, as mayor of the city, a
formal authority to augment his brigade for the special occasion, and, if
force should be used against him, to repel it by force.

The Swiss Guard of about a thousand men were all trustworthy; and there
was also a small body of heavy cavalry of the gendarmery who had proved
true enough to resist all the seductions of the conspirators. There were
likewise a few cannon. In all, nearly four thousand men could be mustered
for the defense of the palace; a force, if well equipped and well led, not
inadequate to the task of holding it out for some time against any number
of undisciplined assailants. But they were not well armed. They were
nearly destitute of ammunition, and Mandat's most vehement entreaties and
remonstrances could not wring out from Petion an order for a supply of
cartridges, though, as he told him, several companies had not four rounds
left, some had only one; and though it was notorious that the police had
served out ammunition to the Marseillese, who had no claim to a single
bullet. Still less were they well led; for at such a crisis every thing
depended on the king's example, and Louis was utterly wanting to himself.

As night approached, the agitation in the palace, and still more in the
city, grew more and more intense. It was a brilliant and a warm night. By
ten o'clock the mob began to cluster in the streets, many only curious and
anxious from uncertain fear; those in the secret hastening toward the
point of rendezvous. The rioters also had cannon, and by eleven their
artillery-men had taken charge of their guns. The conspirators had got
possession of all the churches; and as the hour of midnight struck, a
single cannon-shot gave the signal, and from every steeple and tower in
the city the fatal tocsin began to peal. The insurrection was begun.

Petion, who, from some motive which is not very intelligible, wished to
save appearances, and who, though in fact he had been eager in promoting
the insurrection, pretended innocence of all complicity in it even to the
Assembly, whom he was aware that he was not deceiving, on the first sound
of the bells repaired to the Hotel de Ville. He found, as indeed he was
aware that he should find, a strange addition to the Municipal Council.
The majority of the sections of the city had declared themselves in
insurrection; had passed resolutions that they would no longer obey the
existing magistrates; and had appointed a body of commissioners to
overbear them, trusting in the cowardice of the majority, and in the
willing acquiescence and co-operation of Danton and the other members of
the party of violence. The commissioners seized on a room in the Hotel by
the side of the regular council-room, and their first measures were marked
with a cunning and unscrupulousness which largely contributed to the
success of their more active comrades in the streets. Even Petion himself
was not wicked enough or resolute enough for them. The authority which
Mandat had wrung from him on the previous morning was, in their eyes, a
proof of unpardonable weakness. He might be terrified into issuing some
other order which might disconcert or at least impede their plans; and
accordingly they put him under a kind of honorable arrest, and sent him to
his own house under the guard of an armed force, which was instructed to
allow no one access to him; and at the same time they sent an order in his
name to Mandat to repair to the Hotel de Ville, to concert with them the
measures necessary for the safety of the city.

Had he acted on his own judgment, Mandat would have disregarded the
summons; but M. Roederer urged upon him that he was bound to comply with
an order brought in the name of the mayor. Accordingly he repaired to the
Hotel de Ville, and gave to the Municipal Council so distinct an account
of his measures, and of his reason for taking them, that, though Danton
and some of his more factious colleagues reproached him for exhibiting
what they called a needless distrust of the people, the majority of the
Council approved of his conduct, and dismissed him to return to his
duties. But as he quit their chamber, he was dragged before the other
body, the Commissioners of the Sections,[2] and subjected to another
examination, which, as a matter of course, they conducted with every kind
of insult and violence. The Municipal Council sent down a deputation to
remonstrate with them; they rose on the Council and expelled them from
their own council-chamber by main force, and then sent off Mandat to
prison, whither, a few minutes later, they dispatched a gang of assassins
to murder him.

The news of his death soon reached the Tuileries, where it struck a chill
even into the firm heart of the queen,[3] who had deservedly placed great
reliance on his fidelity and resolution. She had now to trust to the valor
and loyalty of the troops themselves, though thus deprived of their
commander; and, as a last hope, she persuaded the king to go down and
review them, hoping that his presence might animate the faithful, and
perhaps fix the waverers. Louis consented, as he would have consented to
any course that was recommended to him; but on such occasions more depends
on the grace and spirit with which a thing is done than on the act itself,
and grace and spirit were now less than ever to be looked for in the
unhappy Louis. He visited first the courts of the palace, and the
Carrousel, and then the gardens, at whose different entrances strong
detachments of troops were stationed. When he first appeared he was
greeted by one general cheer of "Vive le roi!" But as he passed along the
ranks the unanimity and loyalty began to disappear. Even of those
regiments which were still true to him the cheers were faint, as if half
suppressed by alarm; while many companies mingled shouts for "the nation"
with those for himself, and individual soldiers murmured audibly, "Down
with the Veto!" or, "Long live the Sans-culottes!" secure that their
officers would not venture to reprove, much less to chastise them. The
Swiss Guard alone showed enthusiasm in their loyalty and resolution in
their demeanor.

But when he reached the artillery, on whom perhaps most depended, many of
the gunners made no secret of their disaffection. Some even quit their
ranks to offer him personal insults, doubling their fists in his face, and
shouting out the coarsest threats which the Revolution had yet taught
them. Both cheers and insults the hapless king received with almost equal
apathy. The despair which was in his heart was shown in his dress, which
had no military character or decoration, but was a suit of plain violet
such as was never worn by kings of France but on occasions of mourning. It
was to no purpose that the queen put a sword into his hand, and exhorted
him to take the command of the troops himself, and to show himself ready
to fight in person for his crown. It was only once or twice that he could
even be brought to utter a few words of acknowledgment to those who
treated him with respect, of expostulation to those who insulted and
threatened him; and presently, pale, and, as it seemed, exhausted with
that slight effort, he returned to his apartments.

The queen was almost in despair. She told Madame de Campan that all was
lost; that the king had shown no energy; that such a review as that had
done harm rather than good. All that could now be done was for her to show
herself not wanting to the occasion, nor to him. Her courage rose with the
imminence of the danger. Those who beheld her, as with dilating eyes and
heightened color she listened to the unceasing tumult, and, repressing
every appearance of alarm, strove with unabated energy to rouse her
husband, and to fortify the good disposition of the loyal friends around
her, have described in terms of enthusiastic admiration the majestic
dignity of her demeanor at this trying moment. She had need of all her
presence of mind; for even among those who were most faithful to her
dissensions were springing up. At the first alarm Marshal de Mailly and
his company of gallant nobles and gentlemen had hastened to her side; but
the National Guards were jealous of them. It seemed as if they expected to
be allowed to remain nearest to the royal person; and the soldiers
disdained to yield the post of honor to men who were not in uniform, and
whom, as they were mostly in court dress, they even disliked as
aristocrats. They besought the queen to dismiss them. "Never!" she
replied; and, trusting rather that the example of their self-sacrificing
devotion might stimulate those who thus complained, and full of that royal
magnanimity which feels that it confers honor on those whom it trusts, and
that it has a right to look for the loyalty of its servants even to the
death, she added, "They will serve with you, and share your dangers. They
will fight with you in the van, in the rear, where you will. They will
show you how men can die for their king."

But meanwhile the insurgents were rapidly approaching the palace, and
already the tramp of the leading column might be heard. The tocsin had
continued its ominous sound throughout the night, and at six in the
morning the main body of the insurgents, twenty thousand strong, and well
armed--for the new council had opened to them the stores of the arsenal--
began their march under the command of Santerre. As they advanced they
were joined by the Marseillese, who had been quartered in a barrack near
the Hall of the Cordeliers, and their numbers were further swelled by
thousands of the populace. Soon after eight they reached the Carrousel,
forced the gates, and pressed on to the royal court, the National Guard
and Swiss falling back before them to the entrance to the royal
apartments, where the more confined space seemed to afford a better
prospect of making an effectual resistance.

But already the palace was deserted by those who were the intended objects
of the attack. Roederer, and one or two of the municipal magistrates, in
whom the indignity with which the new commissioners of the sections had
treated them had excited a feeling of personal indignation, had been
actively endeavoring to rouse the National Guards to an energetic
resistance; but they had wholly failed. Those who listened to them most
favorably would only promise to defend themselves if attacked, while some
of the artillery-men drew the charges from their guns and extinguished
their matches. Roederer, whom the strange vicissitudes of the crisis had
for the moment rendered the king's chief adviser, though there seems no
reason to doubt his good faith, was not a man of that fiery courage which
hopes against hope, and can stimulate waverers by its example. He saw that
if the rioters should succeed in storming the palace, and should find the
king and his family there, the moment that made them masters of their
persons would be the last of their lives and of the monarchy. He returned
into the palace to represent to Louis the utter hopelessness of making any
defense, and to recommend him, as his sole resource, to claim the
protection of the Assembly. The queen, who, to use her own words, would
have preferred being nailed to the walls of the palace to seeking a refuge
which she deemed degrading, pointed to the soldiers, and showed by her
gestures that they were the only protectors whom it became them to look
to. Roederer assured her that they could not he relied on. She seemed
unconvinced. He almost forgot his respect in his earnestness. "If you
refuse, madame, you will be guilty of the blood of the king, of your two
children; you will destroy yourself, and every soul within the palace."
While she was still hesitating between her feeling of shame and her
anxiety for those dearest to her, the king gave the word. "Let us go,"
said he. "Let us give this last proof of our devotion to the
Constitution." The princess spoke. "Could Roederer answer for the king's
life?" He affirmed that he would answer for it with his own. The queen
repeated the question. "Madame," he replied, "we will answer for dying at
your side--that is all that we can promise." "Let us go," said Louis, and
moved toward the door. Even at the last moment, one officer, M. Boscari,
commander of a battalion of the National Guard, known as that of Les
Filles St. Thomas, whose loyalty no disaster had ever been able to shake,
implored him to change his mind. His men, united to the Swiss, would be
able, he said, to cut a way for the royal family to the Rouen road; the
insurgents were all on the other side of the city, and nothing could
resist him. But again, as on all previous occasions, Louis rejected the
brave advice. He pleaded the risk to which he should expose those dearest
to him, and led them to almost certain death in committing them to the
Assembly. Some of De Mailly's gentlemen gathered round him to accompany
him; but such an escort seemed to Roederer likely to provoke additional
animosity, and at his entreaty Louis trusted himself to a company of his
faithful Swiss and to a detachment of the National Guard, who formed
themselves into an escort to conduct him to the Assembly, whose hall
looked into one side of the palace garden.

The minister for foreign affairs walked at his side. The queen leaned on
the arm of M. Dubouchage, the minister of marine, and with the other hand
led the dauphin. The Princess Elizabeth and the princess royal followed
with another minister. And thus, with the Princess de Lamballe, Madame de
Tourzel, and one or two other ministers and attendants, the royal family
left the palace of their ancestors, which only one of them was ever to
behold again. As they quit the saloon, moved down the stairs, and crossed
the garden, their every step was one toward a downfall and a destruction
which could never be retraced. Marie Antoinette felt it to be so, and, as
she reached the foot of the staircase, cast restless and anxious glances
around, looking perhaps even then for any prospect of succor or of
effectual resistance which might present itself. One of the Swiss
misunderstood her, and with rude fidelity endeavored to encourage her.
"Fear nothing, madame," said he, "your majesty is surrounded by honest
citizens." She laid her hand on her heart. "I do fear nothing," and passed
on without another word.

As they crossed the garden the king broke the silence. "How unusually
early," he remarked, "the leaves fall this year!" To those who heard him,
the bareness which he remarked seemed an omen of the fate which awaited
himself, about to be stripped of his royal dignity; perhaps even, like
some superfluous crowder of the grove, to fall beneath the axe. The
Assembly had already been deliberating whether it should invite him to
take refuge with them when they heard that he was approaching. It was
instantly voted that a deputation should be sent to meet him, which, after
a few words of respectful salutation, fell in behind. A vast crowd was
collected outside the doors of the hall. They hooted the king, and, still
more bitterly, the queen, as they advanced. "Down with Veto!" was the
chief cry; but mingled with it were still more unmanly insults, invoking
more especially death on all the women. But the Guards kept the mob at a
distance, though when they reached the hall the Jacobins made an effort to
deprive them of that protection. They declared that it was illegal for
soldiers to enter the hall, as indeed it was; yet without them the princes
must at the last moment have been exposed to all the fury of the mob. At
this critical moment Roederer showed both fidelity and presence of mind.
He implored the deputies to suspend the law which forbade the entrance of
the troops, and, while the Jacobins were reviling him and his proposal, he
pretended to suppose that it had been agreed to, and led forward a
detachment of soldiers who cleared the way. One grenadier look up the
dauphin in his arms and carried him in; and, although the pressure of the
crowd was extreme, at last the whole family were placed within the hall in
such safety as the Assembly was able or disposed to afford them.

Louis bore himself not without dignity. His words were few but calm. "I am
come here to prevent a great crime. I think I can not be better placed,
nor more safely, gentlemen, than among you." The president, who happened
to be Vergniaud, while appearing to desire to give him confidence, yet
avoided uttering a single word, except the simple address of "sire," which
should be a recognition of the royal dignity, if indeed his speech was not
a studied disavowal of it. Louis might reckon, he said, on the firmness of
the National Assembly: its members had sworn to die in support of the
rights of the people and of the constituted authorities: and then, on the
plea that the Assembly must continue its deliberations, and that the law
forbade them to be conducted in the presence of the sovereign, he assigned
him and his family a little box behind the president's chair, which was
usually set apart for the reporters of the debates. A Jacobin deputy
proposed their removal into one of the committee-rooms, with the idea, as
he afterward boasted, that it would be easy there to admit a band of
assassins to murder them all; but Vergniaud and his party divined his
object and overruled him. It might seem that the Girondins, though they
had been the original promoters and chief organizers of the insurrection,
were as yet disposed to be content with the overthrow of the throne, and
had not arrived at the hardihood which can not be sated without murder;
and it is a remarkable instance of the rapidity with which unprincipled
men sink deeper and deeper into iniquity, that they who now exerted
themselves successfully to save the life of Louis, five months afterward
were as unanimous as the most ferocious Jacobins in destroying him.

One object of Louis in abandoning his palace had been to save the lives of
the National Guards and of the Swiss, by withdrawing them from what he
regarded as an unequal combat with the infuriated multitude; and of the
National Guard the greater part did escape, drawing off silently in small
detachments, when the sovereign whom it had been their duty to defend,
seemed no longer to require their service. But the Swiss remained bravely
at their posts around the royal staircase, though, as they abstained from
provoking the rioters by any active opposition, which now seemed to have
no object, they hoped that they might escape attack. But the mob and
Santerre were bent on their destruction. Some of the insurgents tried to
provoke them by threats. Some endeavored to tamper with them to desert
their allegiance. But an accidental interruption suddenly terminated their
brief period of inaction. In the confusion a pistol went off, and the
Swiss fancied it was meant as a signal for an assault upon them. Thinking
that the time was come to defend their own lives, they leveled their
muskets and fired: they charged down the steps, driving the insurgents
before them like sheep; they cleared the inner or royal court, forced
their way into the Carrousel, recovered the cannon which were posted in
the large square, and were so completely victorious that, had there been
any superior officer at hand to direct their movements, they might even
now have checked the insurrection.

There might even have been some hope had not Louis himself actually
interfered to check their exertions. Hearing what they had accomplished,
the gallant D'Hervilly made his way to them, and called on them to follow
him to the rescue of the king. They hesitated, unwilling to leave their
wounded comrades to the mercy of their enemies; but their hesitation was
brief, for it was put an end to by the wounded men themselves, who bid
them hasten forward; their duty, they told them, was to save the king; for
themselves, they could but die where they lay.[4] There were still plenty
of gallant spirits to do their duty to the king, if he could but have been
persuaded to take a right view of his duty to himself and to them.

The Swiss gladly obeyed D'Hervilly's summons. Forming in close order, and
as steady as on parade, they marched through the garden, one battalion
moving toward the end opposite to the palace, where there was a
draw-bridge which it was essential to secure; the other following
D'Hervilly to the Assembly hall. Nothing could resist their advance: they
forced their way up the stairs; and in a few moments a young officer, M.
de Salis, at the head of a small detachment, sword in hand, entered the
chamber. Some of the deputies shrieked and fled, while others, more calm,
reminded him that armed men were forbidden to enter the hall, and ordered
him to retire. He refused, and sent his subaltern to the king for orders.
But Louis still held to his strange policy of non-resistance. Even the
terrible scenes of the morning, and the deliberate attack of an armed mob
upon his palace, had failed to eradicate his unwillingness to authorize
his own Guards to fight in his behalf, or to convince him that when his
throne (perhaps even his life and the lives of all his family) was at
stake, it was nobler to struggle for victory, and, if defeated, to die
with arms in his hands, than tamely to sit still and be stripped of his
kingly dignity by brigands and traitors. Could he but have summoned energy
to put himself at the head of his faithful Guards, as we may be sure that
his brave wife urged him to do; could he have even sent them one
encouraging order, one cheering word, there still might have been hope;
for they had already proved that no number of Santerre's ruffians could
stand before them.[5] But Louis could not even now bring himself to act;
he could only suffer. His command to the officer, the last he ever issued,
was for the whole battalion to lay down their arms, to evacuate the
palace, and to retire to their barracks. He would not, he said, that such
brave men should die. They knew that in fact he was consigning them to
death without honor; but they were loyal to the last. They obeyed, though
their obedience to the first part of the order rendered the last part
impracticable. They laid down their arms, and were at once made prisoners;
and the fate of prisoners in such hands as those of their captors was
certain. A small handful, consisting, it is said, of fourteen men, escaped
through the courage of one or two friends, who presently brought them
plain clothes to exchange for their uniforms, but before night all the
rest were massacred.

Not more fortunate were their comrades of the other battalion, except in
falling by a more soldier-like death. Though no longer supported by the
detachment under D'Hervilly, they succeeded in forcing their way to the
draw-bridge. It was held by a strong detachment of the National Guard, who
ought to have received them as comrades, but who had now caught the
contagion of successful treason, and fired on them as they advanced. But
the gallant Swiss, in spite of their diminished numbers still invincible,
charged through them, forced their way across the bridge into the Place
Louis XV., and there formed themselves into square, resolved to sell their
lives dearly. It was all that was left to them to do. The mounted
gendarmery, too, came up and turned against them. Hemmed in on all sides,
they fell one after another; Louis, who had refused to let them die for
him, having only given their death the additional pang that it had been of
no service to him.

The retreat of the king had left the Tuileries at the mercy of the
rioters. Furious to find that he had escaped them, they wreaked their rage
on the lifeless furniture, breaking, hewing, and destroying in every way
that wantonness or malice could devise. Different articles which had
belonged to the queen were the especial objects of their wrath. Crowds of
the vilest women arrayed themselves in her dresses, or defiled her bed.
Her looking-glasses were broken, with imprecations, because they had
reflected her features. Her footmen were pursued and slaughtered because
they had been wont to obey her. Nor were the monsters who slew them
contented with murder. They tore the dead bodies into pieces; devoured the
still bleeding fragments, or deliberately lighted fire and cooked them;
or, hoisting the severed limbs on pikes, carried them in fiendish triumph
through the streets.

And while these horrors were going on in the palace, the tumult in the
Assembly was scarcely less furious. The majority of the members--all,
indeed, except the Girondins and Jacobins, who were secure in their
alliance with the ringleaders--were panic-stricken. Many fled, but the
rest sat still, and in terrified helplessness voted whatever resolutions
the fiercest of the king's enemies chose to propose. It was an ominous
preliminary to their deliberations that they admitted a deputation from
the commissioners of the sections into the hall, where Guadet, to whom
Vergniaud had surrendered the president's chair, thanked them for their
zeal, and assured them that the Assembly regarded them as virtuous
citizens only anxious for the restoration of peace and order. They were
even formally recognized as the Municipal Council; and then, on the motion
of Vergniaud, the Assembly passed a series of resolutions, ordering the
suspension of Louis from all authority; his confinement in the Luxembourg
Palace; the dismissal and impeachment of his ministers; the re-appointment
of Roland and those of his colleagues whom he had dismissed, and the
immediate election of a National Convention. A large pecuniary reward was
even voted for the Marseillese, and for similar gangs from one or two
other departments which had been brought up to Paris to take a part in the

Yet so deeply seated were hope and confidence in the queen's heart, so
sanguine was her trust that out of the mutual enmity of the populace and
the Assembly safety would still be wrought for the king and the monarchy,
that even while the din of battle was raging outside the hall, and inside
deputy after deputy was rising to heap insults on the king and on herself,
or to second Vergniaud's resolutions for his formal degradation, she could
still believe that the tide was about to turn in her favor. While the
uproar was at its height she turned to D'Hervilly, who still kept his
post, faithful and fearless, at his master's side. "Well, M. d'Hervilly,"
said she, with an air, as M. Bertrand, who tells the story, describes it,
of the most perfect security, "did we not do well not to leave Paris?" "I
pray God," said the brave noble, "that your majesty may be able to ask me
the same question in six months' time.[6]" His foreboding was truer than
her hopes. In less than six months she was a desolate, imprisoned widow,
helplessly awaiting her own fate from her husband's murderers.

All these resolutions of Vergniaud, all the ribald abuse with which
different members supported them, the unhappy sovereigns were condemned to
hear in the narrow box to which they had been removed. They bore the
insults, the queen with her habitual dignity, the king with his inveterate
apathy; Louis even speaking occasionally with apparent cheerfulness to
some of the deputies. The constant interruptions protracted the
discussions through the entire day. It was half-past three in the morning
before the Assembly adjourned, when the king and his family were removed
to the adjacent Convent of the Feuillants, where four wretched cells had
been hastily furnished with camp-beds, and a few other necessaries of the
coarsest description. So little was any attempt made to disguise the fact
that they were prisoners, that their own domestic servants were not
allowed the next day to attend them till they had received a formal ticket
of admittance from the president. Yet even in this extremity of distress
Marie Antoinette thought of others rather than of herself; and when at
last her faithful attendant, Madame de Campan, obtained access to her, her
first words expressed how greatly her own sorrows were aggravated by the
thought that she had involved in them those loyal friends whose attachment
merited a very different recompense.[7]


Indignities to which the Royal Family are subjected.--They are removed to
the Temple.--Divisions in the Assembly.--Flight of La Fayette.--Advance of
the Prussians.--Lady Sutherland supplies the Dauphin with Clothes.--Mode
of Life in the Temple.--The Massacres of September.--The Death of the
Princess de Lamballe.--Insults are heaped on the King and Queen.--The
Trial of the King.--His Last Interview with his Family.--His Death.

From the 11th of August the life of Marie Antoinette is almost a blank to
us. We may be even thankful that it is so, and that we are spared the
details, in all their accumulated miseries, of a series of events which
are a disgrace to human nature. For month after month the gentle,
benevolent king, whom no sovereign ever exceeded in love for his people,
or in the exercise of every private virtue; the equally pure-minded,
charitable, and patriotic queen, who, to the somewhat passive excellences
of her husband added fascinating graces and lofty energies of which he was
unhappily destitute, were subjected to the most disgusting indignities, to
the tyranny of the vilest monsters who ever usurped authority over a
nation, and to the daily insults of the meanest of their former subjects,
who thought to make a merit with their new masters of their brutality to
those whose birthright had been the submission and reverence of all around

Vergniaud's motion had only extended to the suspension of the king from
his functions till the meeting of the Convention; but no one could doubt
that that suspension would never be taken off, and that Louis was in fact
dethroned. Marie Antoinette never deceived herself on the point, and,
retaining the opinion as to the fate of deposed monarchs which she had
expressed three years before, pronounced that all was over with them. "My
poor children," said she, apostrophizing the little dauphin and his
sister, "it is cruel to give up the hope of transmitting to you so noble
an inheritance, and to have to say that all is at an end with ourselves;"
and, lest any one else should have any doubt on the subject, the Assembly
no longer headed its decrees with any royal title, but published them in
the name of the nation. In one point the resolutions of the 10th were
slightly departed from. The municipal authorities reported that the
Luxembourg had so many outlets and subterranean passages, that it would be
difficult to prevent the escape of a prisoner from that palace; and
accordingly the destination of the royal family was changed to the Temple.
Thither, after having been compelled to spend two more days in the
Assembly, listening to the denunciations and threats of their enemies,
whom even the knowledge that they were wholly in their power failed to
pacify, they were conveyed on the 13th; and they never quit it till they
were dragged forth to die.

The Temple had been, as its name imported, the fortress and palace of the
Knights Templars, and, having been erected by them in the palmy days of
their wealth and magnificence, contained spacious apartments, and
extensive gardens protected from intrusion by a lofty wall, which
surrounded the whole. It was not, unfit for, nor unaccustomed to, the
reception of princes; for the Count d'Artois had fitted up a portion of it
for himself whenever he visited the capital. And to his apartments those
who had the custody of the king and queen at first conducted them. But the
new Municipal Council, whom the recent events had made the real masters of
Paris, considered those rooms too comfortable or too honorable a lodging
for any prisoners, however royal; and the same night, before they could
retire to rest, and while Louis was still occupying himself in
distributing the different apartments among the members of his family and
the few attendants who were allowed to share his captivity, an order was
sent down to remove them all into a small dilapidated tower which had been
used as a lodging for some of the count's footmen, but whose bad walls and
broken windows rendered it unfit for even the servants of a prince.
Besides their meanness and ruinous condition, the number of the rooms it
contained was so scanty, that for the first few days the only room that
could be found for the Princess Elizabeth was an old, disused kitchen; and
even after that was remedied, she was forced to share her new chamber,
though it was both small and dark, with her niece, Madame Royale; while
the dauphin's bed was placed by the side of the queen's, in one which was
but little large.[1] And the dungeon-like appearance of the entire place
impressed the whole family with the idea that it was not intended that
they should remain there long, but that an early death was preparing for

Even this distress was speedily aggravated by a fresh severity. Four days
afterward an order was sent down which commanded the removal of all their
attendants, with the exception of one or two menial servants. Madame de
Tourzel, the governess of the royal children, was driven away with the
coarsest insults. The Princess de Lamballe, that most faithful and
affectionate friend of the queen, was rudely torn from her embrace by the
municipal officers; and, though no offense was even imputed to her, was
dragged off to a prison, where she was soon to pay the forfeit of her
loyalty with her blood.

From this time forth the king and queen were completely cut off from the
outer world. They were treated with a rigor which in happier countries is
not even experienced by convicted criminals. They were forbidden to
receive letters or newspapers; and presently they were deprived of pens,
ink, and paper; though they would neither have desired to write nor
receive letters which would have been read by their jailers, and could
only have exposed their correspondents to danger. After a few days they
were even deprived of the attendance of all their servants but two[2]--a
faithful valet named Clery (fidelity such as his may well immortalize his
name), to whom we are indebted for the greater part of the scanty
knowledge which we possess of the fate of the captive princes as long as
Louis himself was permitted to live; and Turgy, a cook, who, by an act of
faithful boldness, had obtained a surreptitious entrance into the Temple,
and whose services seemed to have escaped notice, though at a later period
they proved of no trivial importance.

Had they but known what was passing in the Assembly, Marie Antoinette
would in all probability have still found matter for some comfort and hope
in the fierce mutual strife of the Jacobins and Girondins, which for some
weeks kept the Assembly in a constant state of agitation; and she would
have found even greater encouragement in the dissatisfaction which in many
departments the people expressed at the late events; and in the conduct of
La Fayette's army, which at first cordially approved of and supported the
town-council and magistrates of Sedan, who arrested and threw into prison
the commissioners whom the Assembly had sent to announce the suspension of
the royal authority. But the intelligence of that demonstration in their
favor never reached them, nor that of its suppression a few days later;
when La Fayette, who, as on a former occasion, had committed himself to
measures beyond his strength to carry out, was forced to fly from the
country, and by a strange violation of military law was thrown into an
Austrian prison. Nor again, when for a moment the Duke of Brunswick
appeared likely to realize the hopes on which Marie Antoinette had built
so confidently, and by the capture of Longwy seemed to have opened to
himself the road to Paris, did any tidings of his achievement come to the
ears of those who had felt such deep interest in his operations. After a
time the ingenuity of Clery found a mode of obtaining for them some little
knowledge of what was passing outside, by contriving that some of his
friends should send criers to cry an abstract of the news contained in the
daily journals under his windows, which he in his turn faithfully reported
to them while employed in such menial offices about their persons as took
off the attention of their guards, who day and night maintained an
unceasing espial on all their actions and even words.

From the very first they had to endure strange privations for princes.
They had not a sufficient supply of clothes; the little dauphin, in
particular, would have been wholly unprovided, had not the English
embassadress, Lady Sutherland, whose son was of a similar age and size,
sent in a stock of such as she thought might be wanted. But as the
garments thus received wore out, and as all means of replacing them were
refused, the queen and princess were reduced to ply their own needles
diligently to mend the clothes of the whole family, that they might not
appear to their jailers, or to the occupants of the surrounding houses,
who from their windows could command a view of the garden in which they
took their daily walks, absolutely ragged.

Such enforced occupation must indeed in some degree have been welcome as a
relief from thought, which their unbroken solitude left them but too much
leisure to indulge. Clery has given us an account of the manner in which
their day was parceled out.[3] The king rose at six, and Clery, after
dressing his hair, descended to the queen's chamber, which was on the
story below, to perform the same service for her and for the rest of the
family. And the hour so spent brought with it some slight comfort, as he
could avail himself of that opportunity to mention any thing that he might
have learned of what was passing out-of-doors, or to receive any
instructions which they might desire to give him. At nine they breakfasted
in the king's room. At ten they came down-stairs again to the queen's
apartments, where Louis occupied himself in giving the dauphin lessons in
geography, while Marie Antoinette busied herself in a corresponding manner
with Madame Royale. But, in whatever room they were, their guards were
always present; and when, at one o'clock, they went down-stairs to walk in
the garden, they were still accompanied by soldiers: the only member of
the family who was not exposed to their ceaseless vigilance being the
little dauphin, who was allowed to run up and down and play at ball with
Clery, without a soldier thinking it necessary to watch all his movements
or listen to all his childish exclamations. At two dinner was served, and
regularly at that hour the odious Santerre, with two other ruffians of the
same stamp, whom he called his aids-de-camp, visited them to make sure of
their presence and to inspect their rooms; and Clery remarked that the
queen never broke her disdainful silence to him, though Louis often spoke
to him, generally to receive some answer of brutal insult. After dinner,
Louis and Marie Antoinette would play piquet or backgammon; as, while they
were thus engaged, the vigilance of their keepers relaxed, and the noise
of shuffling the cards or rattling the dice afforded them opportunities of
saying a few words in whispers to one another, which at other times would
have been overheard. In the evening the queen and the Princess Elizabeth
read aloud, the books chosen being chiefly works of history, or the
masterpieces of Corneille and Racine, as being most suitable to form the
minds and tastes of the children; and sometimes Louis himself would seek
to divert them from their sorrows by asking the children riddles, and
finding some amusement in their attempts to solve them. At bed-time the
queen herself made the dauphin say his prayers, teaching him especially
the duty of praying for others, for the Princess de Lamballe, and for
Madame de Tourzel, his governess; though even those petitions the poor boy
was compelled to utter in whispers, lest, if they were repeated to the
Municipal Council, he should bring ruin on those whom he regarded as
friends. At ten the family separated for the night, a sentinel making his
bed across the door of each of their chambers, to prevent the possibility
of any escape.

In this way they passed a fortnight, when the monotony of their lives was
fearfully disturbed. The Jacobins had established their ascendency. They
had created a Revolutionary Tribunal, which at once began its course of
wholesale condemnation, sending almost every one who was brought before it
to the scaffold with merely a form of trial; the guillotine being erected,
as it was said, _en permanence_, that the deaths of the victims might
never be delayed for want of means to execute them; while, that a
succession of victims might never be wanting, Danton, in his new character
of Minister of Justice, instituted a search of every house for arms or
papers, or any thing which might afford evidence or even suggest a
suspicion that the owners disliked or feared the new authorities.

But it was not enough to strike terror into all the peaceful citizens. The
Girondins had always been objects of jealous rivalry to the Jacobins.
Fanatical and relentless as they were in their cruelty, they had recently
given proofs that they disapproved of the furious blood-thirstiness that
was beginning to decimate the city, and they had carried the Assembly with
them in a vote for the dissolution of the new Municipal Council. At the
same time, intelligence of the Prussian successes readied the capital,
intelligence which, it seemed possible, might animate the Royalists to
some fresh effort; and, lest they should find means of reconciling
themselves to Vergniaud and his party, the Jacobins and Cordeliers
resolved to give both a lesson by a deed of blood which should strike
terror into them. We may spare ourselves the pain of relating the horrors
of the September massacre, when, for more than four days, gangs of men
worse than devils, and of women unsexed by profligacy and cruelty till
they had become worse even than the men, gave themselves up to the work of
indiscriminate slaughter, deluging the streets with blood, and where they
could spare time, aggravating the pangs of death by superfluous tortures.
It will be sufficient for our purpose to record the fate of one of the
most innocent of all the victims, who owed her death to the fact that she
had long been the queen's most chosen friend, and whose murder was gloated
over with special ferocity by the monsters who perpetrated it, as enabling
them to inflict an additional pang on her wretched friend and mistress.

Madame de Lamballe, as we have seen, had accompanied the queen to the
Temple on the first day of her captivity, and had subsequently been
removed to one of the city prisons known as La Force. It was on the
prisoners in the different places of confinement that the work of death
was to be done: and she had been specially marked out for slaughter, not
solely because she was beloved by Marie Antoinette, but also, it was
understood, because, as she was very rich, and sister-in-law to the Duc
d'Orleans, that detestable prince desired to add her inheritance to his
OWD already vast riches. She was dragged before Hebert, one of the foulest
of the Jacobin crew, who had taken his seat at the gate of the prison to
preside over the trials, as they were called, of the prisoners in La
Force. "Swear," said he, "devotion to liberty and to the nation, and
hatred to the king and queen, and you shall live." "I will take the first
oath," she replied, "but the second never; it is not in my heart. The king
and queen I have ever loved and honored." Almost before she had finished
speaking she was pushed into the gate-way. One ruffian struck her from
behind with his sabre. She fell. They tore her into pieces. A letter of
the queen's fell from her hair, in which she had hidden it. The sight of
it redoubled the assassins' fury. They stuck her head on a pike, and
carried it in triumph to the Palais Royal to display it to D'Orleans, who
was feasting with some of the companions of his daily orgies, and then
proceeded to the Temple to brandish it before the eyes of the queen.

It was about three o'clock.[4] Dinner had just been removed, and the king
and queen were sitting down to play backgammon, when horrid shouts were
heard in the street. One of the soldiers on guard in the room, who had not
yet laid aside every feeling of humanity, closed the window and even drew
the curtain. Another of different temper insisted that Louis should come
to the window and show himself. As the uproar increased, the queen rose
from her seat, and the king asked what was the matter. "Well," said the
man, "since you wish to know, they want to show you the head of Madame de
Lamballe." No event that had yet occurred had struck the queen with such
anguish. The uproar increased. Those who bore the head had wished even to
force the doors, and bring their trophy, still bleeding, into the very
room where the royal family were, and were only prevented by a compromise
which permitted them to parade it round their tower in triumph. As the
shouts died away, Petion's secretary arrived with a small sum of money
which had been issued for the king's use. He noticed that the queen stood
all the time that he was in the room, and fancied she assumed that
attitude out of respect to the mayor. She had never stirred since she had
heard of the princess's death, but had stood rooted, as it were, to the
ground, stupefied and speechless with horror and anguish. It was long
before she could be restored; and all through the night the rest of the
princesses, if at least they could have slept, was broken by her sobs,
which never ceased.

As time passed on, the prospects of the unhappy prisoners became still
more gloomy. On the 21st of September the Convention met, and its first
act was to abolish royalty and declare the government a republic, and an
officer was instantly sent to make proclamation of the event under the
Temple walls; and, as if the establishment of a republic authorized an
increase of insolence on the part of the guards of the prisoners, the
insults to which they were subjected grew more frequent and more gross.
Sentences both menacing and indecent were written on the walls where they
must catch their eye: the soldiers puffed their tobacco-smoke in the
queen's face as she passed, or placed their seats in the passages so much
in her way that she could hardly avoid stumbling over their legs as she
went down to the garden. Sometimes they even assailed her with direct
abuse, calling her the assassin of the people, who in their turn would
assassinate her. More than once the whole family had to submit to a
personal search, and to empty their pockets, when the officers who made
the search carried off whatever they chose to term suspicious, especially
their knives and scissors, so that, when at work, the queen and princess
were forced to bite off the threads with their teeth. And amidst all this
misery no one ever heard Marie Antoinette utter a word to lament her own
fate, or to ask pity for herself. She mourned over her husband's fall; she
pitied Elizabeth, to whom malice itself could not impute a share in the
wrongs of which Danton and Vergniaud had taught the people to complain.
Most of all did she bewail the ruined prospects of her son; and more than
once she brought tears into Clery's eyes by the earnest tenderness with
which she implored him to provide for the safety of the noble child after
his parents should have been destroyed.

The insults increased, each being an additional omen of the future. The
most painful injuries were reserved for the queen. Toward the end of
October the dauphin was removed from her apartment to that of the king,
that she might thus be deprived of the comfort of ministering to his daily
wants. But Louis himself was not spared. One day an order came down to
deprive him of his sword; on another he was stripped of his different
decorations and orders of knighthood. The system of espial, too, was
carried out with increased severity. Their linen, when it came hack from
the washer-woman, and even their washing-bills, were held to the fire to
see if any invisible ink had been employed to communicate with them. Their
loaves and biscuits were cut asunder lest they should contain notes. The
end was approaching. A week or two later the king was removed to another
tower, and was only permitted to see his family during a certain portion
of the day. At last it was determined to bring him to trial. On the 11th
of December he was suddenly informed that he was to be brought before the
Convention; and from that day forth he was cut off from all intercourse
with his family, even his wife being forbidden to see or hear from him.
The barbarous restriction afforded him one more opportunity of showing his
amiable unselfishness and fortitude. The regulation had been made by the
Municipal Council, not by the Assembly; and its inhuman and unprecedented
severity, coupled with a jealousy of the Council, as seeking to usurp the
whole authority of the State, induced the Assembly to rescind it, and to
grant permission, for Louis to have the dauphin and his sister with him.
Yet, lest these innocent children should prove messengers of conspiracy
between him and the queen and Elizabeth, it was ordered at the same time
that, so long as they were allowed to visit him, they should be separated
from their mother and their aunt; and Louis, though never in greater need
of comfort, thought it so much better for the children themselves that
they should be with the queen, that for their sakes he renounced their
society, and allowed the decree of the Council to be carried out in all
its pitiless cruelty.

And, again, we may spare ourselves from dwelling on the details of what,
in hideous mockery, was called the king's trial, though it was in fact a
mere ceremonious prelude to his murder, which had been determined on
before it began. Deep as is the disgrace with which it has forever covered
the nation which tolerated such an abomination, it was relieved by some
incidents which did honor to the country and to human nature. The
murderers of Louis, in their ignoble pedantry, wearied the ear with
appeals to the examples of the ancient Romans, of Decius[5] and of Brutus.
But no Roman ever gave a nobler proof of contempt of danger, and devotion
to duty, than was afforded by the intrepid lawyers, Malesherbes, De Seze,
and Tronchet, who voluntarily undertook the king's defense, though Louis
himself warned them that their utmost efforts would be fruitless, and
would only bring destruction on themselves without saving him. One member,
too, of the Convention, Lanjuinais, though originally he had been a member
of the Breton Club, and had latterly been generally regarded as connected
with the Girondins, made more than one eloquent effort in the king's
behalf, provoking the Jacobins and Girondins to their very wildest fury by
his contemptuous defiance of their menaces. And even when the verdict was
being given; when Jacobins, Girondins, and Cordeliers, Robespierre,
Vergniaud, Danton, and the infamous Duc d'Orleans were vying with one
another in the eagerness with which they pushed forward to record their
votes of condemnation; and when a mob of hired ruffians, who thronged the
hall, were cheering every vote for death, and holding daggers to the
throat of every one from whom they apprehended a contrary judgment; one
noble of frail body, but of a spirit worthy of his birth and rank, the
Marquis de Villette, laughed in the faces of his threateners, looked the
assassins in the face, and told them that he would not obey their orders,
and that they dared not kill him; and with a loud voice pronounced a vote
of acquittal.

But no courage or devotion of a few honest men could save Louis. One vote
by an immense majority pronounced him guilty; a second refused all appeal
to the people; a third, by a majority of fifty voices, condemned him to
death. And on the morning of the 20th of January, 1793, Louis was roused
from his bed to hear his sentence, and to learn that it was to be carried
out the next day.

While the trial lasted, the queen and those with her had been kept in
almost absolute ignorance of what was taking place. They never, however,
doubted what the result would be,[6] so that it was scarcely a shock to
them when they heard the news-men crying the sentence under their windows
--the only mercy that was shown to either the prisoner who was to die, or
to those who were to survive him, being that they were allowed once more
to meet on earth. At eight in the evening the queen, his children, and his
sister were to be allowed to visit him. He prepared for the interview with
astonishing calmness, making the arrangements so deliberately that, when
he noticed that Clery had placed a bottle of iced water on the table, he
bid him change it, lest, if the queen should require any, the chill should
prove injurious to her health. Even that last interview was not allowed to
pass wholly without witnesses, since the Municipal Council refused, even
on such an occasion, to relax their regulation that their guards were
never to lose sight-of the king; and all that was permitted was that he
might retire with his family into an inner room which had a glass door, so
that, though what passed must be seen, their last words might not be
overheard. His daughter, Madame Royale, now a girl of fourteen, and old
enough, as her mother had said a few months before, to realize the misery
of the scenes which she daily saw around her, has left us an account of
the interview, necessarily a brief one, for the queen and princess were
too wretched to say much. Louis wept when he announced to them how short
was the time which he had to live, but his tears were those of pity for
the desolation of those he loved, and not of fear for himself. He was
even, in some sense, a willing victim, for, as he told them, it had been
proposed to save him by appealing to the primary Assemblies of the nation;
but he had refused his consent to a step which must throw the whole
country into confusion, and might be the cause of civil war. He would
rather die than risk the bringing of such calamities on his people. He
even sought to comfort the queen by making some excuses for the monsters
who had condemned him; and his last words to his family were an entreaty
to forgive them; to his son, an injunction never to seek to revenge his
death, even, if some change of fortune should enable him to do so.

The queen said nothing, but sat clinging to him in speechless agony. At
last he begged them to retire, that he might seek rest to prepare himself
for the morrow; and then she spoke, to beg that at least they might meet
again the next morning. "Yes," said he, "at eight o'clock." "Why not at
seven?" asked she. "Well, then, at seven." But, after she had left him he
determined to avoid this second meeting, not so much because he feared its
unnerving himself, but because he felt that the second parting must be too
terrible for her.

When she returned to her own chamber she had scarcely strength left to
place the dauphin in his bed. She threw herself, dressed as she was, on
her own bed, where her sister-in-law and daughter heard her, as the little
princess describes her state, "shivering with cold and grief the whole
night long.[7]"

Even if she could have slept, her rest would soon have been disturbed by
the movement of troops, the beating of the drums, and the heavy roll of
the cannon passing through the street. For the miscreants who bore sway in
the city knew well that the crime which they were about to commit was
viewed with horror by the great majority of the nation, and even of the
Parisians, and to the last moment were afraid of a rescue. But no one
could interpose between Louis and his doom; and the next intelligence of
him that reached his wife, who was waiting the whole morning in painful
anxiety for the summons to see him once more, was that he had perished
beneath the fatal guillotine, and that she was a widow.


The Queen is refused Leave to see Clery.--Madame Royale is taken Ill.--
Plans are formed for the Queen's Escape by MM. Jarjayes, Toulan, and by
the Baron de Batz.--Marie Antoinette refuses to leave her Son.--Illness of
the young King.--Overthrow of the Girondins.--Insanity of the Woman
Tison.--Kindness of the Queen to her.--Her Son is taken from her, and
intrusted to Simon.--His Ill-treatment.--The Queen is removed to the
Conciergerie.--She is tried before the Revolutionary Tribunal.--She is
condemned.--Her last Letter to the Princess Elizabeth.--Her Death and

Shouts in the streets announced to her and those around her that all was
over. All the morning she had alarmed the princesses by the speechless,
tearless stupor into which she seemed plunged; but at last she roused
herself, and begged to see Clery, who had been with Louis till he left the
Temple, and who, therefore, she hoped, might have some last message for
her, some last words of affection, some parting gift. And so indeed he
had;[1] for the last act of Louis had been to give that faithful servant
his seal for the dauphin, and his ring for the queen, with a little packet
containing portions of her hair and those of his children which he had
been in the habit of wearing. And he had bid him tell them all--"the
queen, his dear children, and his sister--that he had promised to see them
that morning, but that he had desired to save them the pain of so cruel a
separation. How much," he continued, "does it cost me to go without
receiving their last embraces! You must bear to them my last farewell."

But even the poor consolation of receiving these sad tokens of unchanged
affection was refused to her. The Council refused Clery admittance to her,
and seized the little trinkets and the packet of hair. The king's last
words never reached her. But a few days afterward, Toulan, one of the
commissioners of the Council, who sympathized with her bereavement, found
means to send her the ring and seal.[2] Her sister and her daughter were
the more anxious that she should see Clery, from the hope that
conversation with him might bring on a flood of tears, which would have
given her some relief. But her own fortitude was her best support.
Miserable as she was, hopeless as she was, it was characteristic of her
magnanimous courage that she did not long give way to womanly
lamentations. She recollected that she had still duties to perform to the
living, to her daughter and sister, and, above all, to her son, now her
king, whom, if some happier change of fortune, when the nation should have
recovered from its present madness, should replace him on his father's
throne, it must be her care to render worthy of such a restoration. She
began to apply herself diligently to the work of giving him lessons such
as his father had given him, mingling them with the constant references to
that father's example, which she never ceased to hold up to him, dwelling
with the emphatic exaggeration of lasting affection on his gentleness, his
benevolence, his love for his subjects; qualities which, in truth, he had
possessed in sufficient abundance, had he but been gifted with the courage
and firmness indispensable to secure to his people the benefits he wished
them to enjoy.

She had too, for a time, another occupation. The princess royal was, as
she had said not long before, of an age to feel keenly the miseries of her
parents, and the agitation into which she had been thrown had its natural
effect upon her health. Her own language on the subject affords a striking
proof how well Marie Antoinette had succeeded in imbuing her with her own
forgetfulness of self. As she has recorded the occurrence in her journal,
"Fortunately her affliction increased her illness to so serious a degree
as to cause a favorable diversion to her mother's despair.[3]"

Youth, however, and a strong constitution prevailed, and the little
princess recovered; while other matters also for a time claimed a large
share of her mother's attention. For herself, Marie Antoinette felt, as
she well might feel, that, come what would, happiness and she were forever
parted; and the death to which she never doubted that her enemies destined
her could hardly have been anticipated by her as any thing but a relief,
if she had thought only of her own feelings. But, again, she had others to
think of besides herself--of her children. And she presently learned that
others were thinking of her, and were willing (it should rather be said
were eager and proud) to encounter any danger, if they might only have the
happiness and honor of securing and saving her whom they still regarded as
their queen. Two had long been attached to the royal household: the wife
of M. de Jarjayes, a gentleman of ancient family in Dauphine, had been one
of Marie Antoinette's waiting-women, and he himself, since the fatal
expedition to Varennes, had been employed by Louis on several secret
missions. From the moment that his royal master was brought before the
Convention he had despaired of his life, and had, therefore, bent all his
thoughts on the preservation of the queen. M. Turgy, the second, was in a
humbler rank of life. He was, as we have seen, one of the officers of the
kitchen; but in the household of a king of France even the cooks had
pretensions to gentle blood. A third was a man named Toulan, who had
originally been a music-seller in Paris, but had subsequently obtained
employment under the Municipal Council, and was now a commissioner, with
duties which brought him into constant contact with the imprisoned queen.
Either he had never in his heart been her enemy, or he had been converted
by the dignified fortitude with which she bore her miseries, and by the
irresistible fascination which even in prison she still exercised over all
whose hearts had not been hardened by fanatical wickedness against every
manly or honest feeling; he won the queen's confidence by the most welcome
service, which has been already mentioned, of conveying to her her
husband's seal and ring. She gave him a letter to recommend him to the
confidence of Jarjayes; and their combined ingenuity devised a plan for
the escape of the whole family. It was in their favor that a man, who came
daily to look to the lamps, usually brought with him his two sons, who
nearly matched the size of the royal children. And Jarjayes and Toulan,
aided by another of the municipal commissioners, named Lepitre, who had
also learned to abhor the indignities practiced on fallen royalty, had
prepared full suits of male attire for the queen and princess, with red
scarfs and sashes as were worn by the different commissioners, of whom
there were too many for all of them to be known to the sentinels; and also
clothes for the two children, ill-fitting and shabby, to resemble the
dress of the lamp-lighter's boys. Passports, too, by the aid of Lepitre,
whose duties lay in the department which issued them, were provided for
the whole family; and after careful discussion of the arrangements to be
adopted when once the prisoners were clear of the Temple, it was settled
that they should take the road to Normandy in three cabriolets, which
would be less likely to attract notice than any larger and less ordinary

The end of February or the beginning of March was fixed for the attempt;
but before that time the Government and the people had become greatly
disquieted by the operations of the German armies, which were about to
receive the powerful assistance of England. Prussia had gained decided
advantages on the Rhine. An Austrian army, under the Archduke Charles, was
making formidable progress in the Netherlands. Rumors, also, which soon
proved to be well founded, of an approaching insurrection in the western
departments of France, reached the capital. The vigilance with which the
royal prisoners were watched was increased. Information, too, though of no
precise character, that they had obtained means of communicating with
their partisans who were at liberty, was conveyed to the magistrates. And
at last Jarjayes and Toulan were forced to abandon the idea of effecting
the escape of the whole family, though they were still confident that they
could accomplish that of the queen, which they regarded as the most
important, since it was plain that it was she who was in the most
immediate danger. Elizabeth, as disinterested as herself, besought her to
embrace their offers, and to let her and the children, as being less
obnoxious to the Jacobins, take their chance of some subsequent means of
escape, or perhaps even mercy.

But such a flight was forbidden alike by Marie Antoinette's sense of duty
and by her sense of honor, if indeed the two were ever separated in her
mind. Honor forbade her to desert her companions in misery, whose danger
might even be increased by the rage of her jailers, exasperated at her
escape. Duty to her boy forbade it still more emphatically. As his
guardian, she ought not to leave him; as his mother, she could not. And
her renunciation of the whole design was conveyed to M. Jarjayes in a
letter which did honor alike to both by the noble gratitude which it
expressed, and which was long cherished by his heirs as one of their most
precious possessions, till it was destroyed, with many another valuable
record, when Paris a second time fell under the rule of wretches scarcely
less detestable than the Jacobins whom they imitated.[4] It was written by
stealth, with a pencil; but no difficulties or hurry, as no acuteness of
disappointment or depth of distress, could rob Marie Antoinette of her
desire to confer pleasure on others, or of her inimitable gracefulness of
expression. Thus she wrote:

"We have had a pleasant dream, that is all. I have gained much by still
finding, on this occasion, a new proof of your entire devotion to me. My
confidence in you is boundless. And on all occasions you will always find
strength of mind and courage in me. But the interest of my son is my sole
guide; and, whatever happiness I might find in being out of this place, I
can not consent to separate myself from him. In what remains, I thoroughly
recognize your attachment to me in all that you said to me yesterday. Rely
upon it that I feel the kindness and the force of your arguments as far as
my own interest is concerned, and that I feel that the opportunity can not
recur. But I could enjoy nothing if I were to leave my children; and this
idea prevents me from even regretting my decision.[5]"

And to Toulan she said that "her sole desire was to be reunited to her
husband whenever Heaven should decide that her life was no longer
necessary to her children." He was greatly afflicted, but he could no
longer be of use to her. Her last commission to him was to convey to her
eldest brother-in-law, the Count de Provence, her husband's ring and seal,
that they might be in safer custody than her own, and that she or her son
might reclaim them, if either should ever be at liberty. She gave Toulan
also, as a memorial of her gratitude, a small gold box, one of the few
trinkets which she still possessed, and which, unhappily, proved a fatal
present. In the summer of the next year it was found in his possession,
its history was ascertained, and he was sent to the scaffold for the sole
offense of having and valuing a relic of his murdered sovereign.

Nor was this the only plan formed for the queen's rescue. The Baron de
Batz was a noble of the purest blood in France, seneschal of the Duchy of
Albret, and bound by ancient ties of hereditary friendship to the king, as
the heir of Henry IV., whose most intimate confidence had been enjoyed by
his ancestor. He was still animated by all the antique feelings of
chivalrous loyalty, and from the first breaking-out of the troubles of the
Revolution he had brought to the service of his sovereign the most
absolute devotion, which was rendered doubly useful by an inexhaustible
fertility of resource, and a presence of mind that nothing could daunt or
perplex. On the fatal 21st of January, he had even formed a project of
rescuing Louis on his way to the scaffold, which failed, partly from the
timidity of some on whose co-operation he had reckoned, and partly, it is
said, from the reluctance of Louis himself to countenance an enterprise
which, whatever might be its result, must tend to fierce conflict and
bloodshed. Since his sovereign's death he had bent all the energies of his
mind to contrive the escape of the queen, and he had so far succeeded that
he had enlisted in her cause two men whose posts enabled them to give must
effectual resistance: Michonis, who, like Toulan, was one of the
commissioners of the Council; and Cortey, a captain of the National Guard,
whose company was one of those most frequently on duty at the Temple. It
seemed as if all that was necessary to be done was to select a night for
the escape when the chief outlets of the Temple should be guarded by
Cortey's men; and De Batz, who was at home in every thing that required
manoeuvre or contrivance, had provided dresses to disguise the persons of
the whole family while in the Temple, and passports and conveyances to
secure their escape the moment they were outside the gates. Every thing
seemed to promise success, when at the last moment secret intelligence
that some plan or other was in agitation was conveyed to the Council. It
was not sufficient to enable them to know whom they were to guard against
or to arrest, but it was enough to lead them to send down to the Temple
another commissioner whose turn of duty did not require his presence
there, but whose ferocious surliness of temper pointed him out as one not
easily to be either tricked or overborne. He was a cobbler, named Simon,
the very same to whose cruel superintendence the little king was presently

He came down the very evening that every thing was arranged for the escape
of the hapless family. De Batz saw that all was over if he staid, and
hesitated for a moment whether he should blow out his brains, and try to
accomplish the queen's deliverance by force; but a little reflection
showed him that the noise of fire-arms would bring up a crowd of enemies
beyond his ability to overpower, and it soon appeared that it would tax
all his resources to secure his own escape. He achieved that, hoping still
to find some other opportunity of being useful to his royal mistress; but
none offered. The Assembly did him the honor to set a price on his head;
and at last he thought himself fortunate in being able to save himself.
Those who had co-operated with him had worse fortune. Those in authority
had no proofs on which to condemn them; but in those days suspicion was a
sufficient death-warrant. Michonis and Cortey were suspected, and in the
course of the next year a belief that they had at least sympathized with
the queen's sorrows sent them both to the scaffold.

With the failure of De Batz every project of escape was abandoned; and a
few weeks later the queen congratulated herself that she had refused to
flee without her boy, since in the course of May he was seized with
illness which for some days threatened to assume a dangerous character.
With a brutality which, even in such monsters as the Jacobin rulers of the
city, seems almost inconceivable, they refused to allow him the attendance
of M. Brunier, the physician who had had the charge of his infancy. It
would be a breach of the principles of equality, they said, if any
prisoner were permitted to consult any but the prison doctor. But the
prison doctor was a man of sense and humanity, as well as of professional
skill. He of his own accord sought the advice of Brunier; and the poor
child recovered, to be reserved for a fate which, even in the next few
weeks, was so foreshadowed, that his own mother must almost have begun to
doubt whether his restoration to health had been a blessing to her or to

The spring was marked by important events. Had one so high-minded been
capable of exulting in the misfortunes of even her worst enemies, Marie
Antoinette might have triumphed in the knowledge that the murderers of her
husband were already beginning that work of mutual destruction which in
little more than a year sent almost every one of them to the same scaffold
on which he had perished. The jealousies which from the first had set the
Jacobins and Girondins at variance had reached a height at which they
could only be extinguished by the annihilation of one party or the other.
They had been partners in crime, and so far were equal in infamy; but the
Jacobins were the fiercer and the readier ruffians; and, after nearly two
months of vehement debates in the Convention, in which Robespierre
denounced the whole body of the Girondin leaders as plotters of treason
against the State, and Vergniaud in reply reviled Robespierre as a coward,
the Jacobins worked up the mob to rise in their support. The Convention,
which hitherto had been divided in something like equality between the two
factions, yielded to the terror of a new insurrection, and on the 2d of
June ordered the arrest of the Girondin leaders. A very few escaped the
search made for them by the officers--Roland, to commit suicide;
Barbaroux, to attempt it; Petion and Buzot reached the forests to be
devoured by congenial wolves. Lanjuinais,[6] whom the decree of the
Convention had identified with them, but who, even in the moments of the
greatest excitement, had kept himself clear of their wickedness and
crimes, was the only one of the whole body who completely eluded the rage
of his enemies. The rest, with Madame Roland, the first prompter of deeds
of blood, languished in their well-deserved prisons till the close of
autumn, when they all perished on the same scaffold to which they had sent
their innocent sovereign.[7]

But it may be that Marie Antoinette never learned their fall; though that
if she had, pity would at least have mingled with, if it had not
predominated over, her natural exultation, she gave a striking proof in
her conduct toward one from whom she had suffered great and constant
indignities. From the time that her own attendants were dismissed, the
only person appointed to assist Clery in his duties were a man and woman
named Tison, chosen for that task on account of their surly and brutal
tempers, in which the wife exceeded her husband. Both, and especially the
woman, had taken a fiendish pleasure in heaping gratuitous insults on the
whole family; but at last the dignity and resignation of the queen
awakened remorse in the woman's heart, which presently worked upon her to
such a degree that she became mad. In the first days of her frenzy she
raved up and down the courtyard declaring herself guilty of the queen's
murder. She threw herself at Marie Antoinette's feet, imploring her
pardon; and Marie Antoinette not only raised her up with her own hand, and
spoke gentle words of forgiveness and consolation to her, but, after she
had been removed to a hospital, showed a kind interest in her condition,
and amidst all her own troubles found time to write a note to express her
anxiety that the invalid should have proper attention.[8]

But very soon a fresh blow was struck at the hapless queen which made her
indifferent to all else that could happen, and even to her own fate, of
which it may be regarded as the precursor. At ten o'clock on the 3d of
July, when the little king was sleeping calmly, his mother having hung a
shawl in front of his bed to screen his eyes from the light of the candle
by which she and Elizabeth were mending their clothes, the door of their
chamber was violently thrown open, and six commissioners entered to
announce to the queen that the Convention had ordered the removal of her
boy, that he might he committed to the care of a tutor--the tutor named
being the cobbler, Simon, whose savageness of disposition was sufficiently
attested by the fact of his having been chosen on the recommendation of
Marat. At this unexpected blow, Marie Antoinette's fortitude and
resignation at last gave way. She wept, she remonstrated, she humbled
herself to entreat mercy. She threw her arms around her child, and
declared that force itself should not tear him from her. The commissioners
were not men likely to feel or show pity. They abused her; they threatened
her. She begged them rather to kill her than take her son. They would not
kill her, but they swore that they would murder both him and her daughter
before her eyes if he were not at once surrendered. There was no more
resistance. His aunt and sister took him from the bed and dressed him. His
mother, with a voice choked by her sobs, addressed him the last words he
was ever to hear from her. "My child, they are taking you from me; never
forget the mother who loves you tenderly, and never forget God! Be good,
gentle, and honest, and your father will look down on you from heaven and
bless you!" "Have you done with this preaching?" said the chief
commissioner. "You have abused our patience finely," another added; "the
nation is generous, and will take care of his education." But she had
fainted, and heard not these words of mocking cruelty. Nothing could touch
her further.

If it be not also a mockery to speak of happiness in connection with this
most afflicted queen, she was happy in at least not knowing the details of
the education which was in store for the noble boy whose birth had
apparently secured for him the most splendid of positions, and whose
opening virtues seemed to give every promise that he would be worthy of
his rank and of his mother. A few days afterward Simon received his
instructions from a committee of the Convention, of which Drouet, the
postmaster of Ste. Menehould, was the chief. "How was he to treat the wolf
cub?" he asked (it was one of the mildest names he ever gave him). "Was he
to kill him?" "No." "To poison him?" "No." "What then?" "He was to get rid
of him,[9]" and Simon carried out this instruction by the most unremitting
ill-treatment of his pupil. He imposed upon him the most menial offices;
he made him clean his shoes; he reviled him; he beat him; he compelled him
to wear the red cap and jacket which had been adopted as the Revolutionary
dress; and one day, when his mother obtained a glimpse of him as he was
walking on the leads of the tower to which he had been transferred, it
caused her an additional pang to see that he had been stripped of the suit
of mourning for his father, and had been clothed in the garments which, in
her eyes, were the symbol, of all that was most impious and most

All these outrages were but the prelude of the final blow which was to
fall on herself; and it shows how great was the fear with which her lofty
resolution had always had inspired the Jacobins--fear with such natures
being always the greatest exasperation of hatred and the keenest incentive
to cruelty--that, when they had resolved to consummate her injuries by her
murder, they did not leave her in the Temple as they had left her husband,
but removed her to the Conciergerie, which in those days, fitly
denominated the Reign of Terror, rarely led but to the scaffold. On the
night of the 1st of August (the darkest hours were appropriately chosen
for deeds of such darkness) another body of commissioners entered her
room, and woke her up to announce that they had come to conduct her to the
common prison. Her sister and her daughter begged in vain to be allowed to
accompany her. She herself scarcely spoke a word, but dressed herself in
silence, made up a small bundle of clothes, and, after a few words of
farewell and comfort to those dear ones who had hitherto been her
companions, followed her jailers unresistingly, knowing, and for her own
sake certainly not grieving, that she was going to meet her doom. As she
passed through the outer door it was so low that she struck her head. One
of the commissioners had so much decency left as to ask if she was hurt.
"No," she replied, "nothing now can hurt me.[10]" Six weeks later, an
English gentleman saw her in her dungeon. She was freely exhibited to any
one who desired to behold her, on the sole condition--a condition worthy
of the monsters who exacted it, and of them alone--that he should show no
sign of sympathy or sorrow.[11] "She was sitting on an old worn-out chair
made of straw which scarcely supported her weight. Dressed in a gown which
had once been white, her attitude bespoke the immensity of her grief,
which appeared to have created a kind of stupor, that fortunately rendered
her less sensible to the injuries and reproaches which a number of inhuman
wretches were continually vomiting forth against her."

Even after all the atrocities and horrors of the last twelve months, the
news of the resolution to bring her to a trial, which, it was impossible
to doubt, it was intended to follow up by her execution, was received as a
shook by the great bulk of the nation, as indeed by all Europe. And
Necker's daughter, Madame de Stael, who, as we have seen, had been
formerly desirous to aid in her escape, now addressed an energetic and
eloquent appeal to the entire people, calling on all persons of all
parties, "Republicans, Constitutionalists, and Aristocrats alike, to unite
for her preservation." She left unemployed no fervor of entreaty, no depth
of argument. She reminded them of the universal admiration which the
queen's beauty and grace had formerly excited, when "all France thought
itself laid under an obligation by her charms;[12]" of the affection that
she had won by her ceaseless acts of beneficence and generosity. She
showed the absurdity of denouncing her as "the Austrian"--her who had left
Vienna while still little more than a child, and had ever since fixed her
heart as well as her home in France. She argued truly that the vagueness,
the ridiculousness, the notorious falsehood of the accusations brought
against her were in themselves her all-sufficient defense. She showed how
useless to every party and in every point of view must be her
condemnation. What danger could any one apprehend from restoring to
liberty a princess whose every thought was tenderness and pity? She
reproached those who now held sway in France with the barbarity of their
proscriptions, with governing by terror and by death, with having
overthrown a throne only to erect a scaffold in its place; and she
declared that the execution of the queen would exceed in foulness all the
other crimes that they had yet committed. She was a foreigner, she was a
woman; to put her to death would be a violation of all the laws of
hospitality as well as of all the laws of nature. The whole universe was
interesting itself in the queen's fate. Woe to the nation which knew
neither justice nor generosity! Freedom would never be the destiny of such
a people.[13]

It had not been from any feeling of compunction or hesitation that those
who had her fate in their hands left her so long in her dungeon, but from
the absolute impossibility of inventing an accusation against her that
should not be utterly absurd and palpably groundless. So difficult did
they find their task, that the jailer, a man named Richard, who, when
alone, ventured to show sympathy for her miseries, sought to encourage her
by the assurance that she would be replaced in the Temple. But Marie
Antoinette indulged in no such illusion. She never doubted that her death
was resolved on. "No," she replied to his well-meant words of hope, "they
have murdered the king; they will kill me in the same way. Never again
shall I see my unfortunate children, my tender and virtuous sister." And
the tears which her own sufferings could not wring from her flowed freely
when she thought of what they were still enduring.

But at last the eagerness for her destruction overcame all difficulties or
scruples. The principal articles of the indictment charged her with
helping to overthrow the republic and to effect the reestablishment of the
throne; with having exerted her influence over her husband to mislead his
judgment, to render him unjust to his people, and to induce him to put his
veto on laws of which they desired the enactment; with having caused
scarcity and famine; with having favored aristocrats; and with having kept
up a constant correspondence with her brother, the emperor; and the
preamble and the peroration compared her to Messalina, Agrippina,
Brunehaut, and Catherine de' Medici--to all the wickedest women of whom
ancient or modern history had preserved a record. Had she been guided by
her own feelings alone, she would have probably disdained to defend
herself against charges whose very absurdity proved that they were only
put forward as a pretense for a judgment that had been previously decided
on. But still, as ever, she thought of her child, her fair and good son,
her "gentle infant," her king. While life lasted she could never wholly
relinquish the hope that she might see him once again, perhaps even that
some unlooked-for chance (none could be so unexpected as almost every
occurrence of the last four years) might restore him and her to freedom,
and him to his throne; and for his sake she resolved to exert herself to
refute the charges, and at least to establish her right to acquittal and

Louis had been tried before the Convention. Marie Antoinette was to be
condemned by the, if possible, still more infamous court that had been
established in the spring under the name of the Revolutionary Tribunal;
and on the 13th of October she was at last conducted before a small
sub-committee, and subjected to a private examination. To every question
she gave firm and clear answers.[14] She declared that the French people
had indeed been deceived, but not by her or by her husband. She affirmed
"that the happiness of France always had been, and still was, the first
wish of her heart;" and that "she should not even regret the loss of her
son's throne, if it led to the real happiness of the country." She was
taken back to her cell. The next day the four judges of the tribunal took
their seats in the court. Fouquier-Tinville, the public prosecutor, a man
whose greed of blood stamped him with an especial hideousness, even in
those days of universal barbarity, took his seat before them; and eleven
men, the greater part of whom had been carefully picked from the very
dregs of the people--journeymen carpenters, tailors, blacksmiths, and
discharged policemen--were constituted the jury.

Before this tribunal--we will not dignify it with the name of a court of
justice--Marie Antoinette, the widow Capet, as she was called in the
indictment, was now brought. Clad in deep mourning for her murdered
husband, and aged beyond her years by her long series of sorrows, she
still preserved the fearless dignity which became her race and rank and
character. As she took her place at the bar and cast her eyes around the
hall, even the women who thronged the court, debased as they were, were
struck by her lofty demeanor. "How proud she is!" was the exclamation, the
only sign of nervousness that she gave being that, as those who watched
her closely remarked, she moved her fingers up and down on the arm of her
chair, as if she had been playing on the harpsichord. The prosecutor
brought up witness after witness; some whom it was believed that some
ancient hatred, others whom it was expected that some hope of pardon for
themselves, might induce to give evidence such as was required. The Count
d'Estaing had always been connected with her enemies. Bailly, once Mayor
of Paris, as has been seen, had sought a base popularity by the wantonness
of the unprovoked insults which he had offered to the king. Michonis knew
that his head was imperiled by suspicions of his recent desire to assist
her. But one and all testified to her entire innocence of the different
charges which they had been brought forward to support, and to the
falsehood of the statements contained in the indictment. Her own replies,
when any question was addressed to herself, were equally in her favor.
When accused of having been the prompter of the political mesures of the
king's government, her answer could not be denied to be in accordance with
the law: "That she was the wife and subject of the king, and could not be
made responsible for his resolutions and actions." When charged with
general indifference or hostility to the happiness of the people, she
affirmed with equal calmness, as she had previously declared at her
private examination, that the welfare of the nation had been, and always
was, the first of her wishes.

Once only did a question provoke an answer in any other tone than that of
a lofty imperturbable equanimity. She had not known till that moment the
depth of her enemies' wickedness, or the cruelty with which her son's mind
had been dealt with, worse ten thousand times than the foulest tortures
that could be applied to the body. Both her children had been subjected to
an examination, in the hope that something might be found to incriminate
her in the words of those who might hardly be able to estimate the exact
value of their expressions. The princess had been old enough to baffle the
utmost malice of her questioners; and the boy had given short and plain
replies from which nothing to suit their purpose could be extracted, till
they forced him to drink brandy, and, when he was stupefied with drink,
compelled him to sign depositions in which he accused both the queen and
Elizabeth of having trained him in lessons of vice. At first, horror at so
monstrous a charge had sealed the queen's lips; but when she gave no
denial, a juryman questioned her on the subject, and insisted on an
answer. Then at last Marie Antoinette spoke in sublime indignation. "If I
have not answered, it was because nature itself rejects such an accusation
made against a mother. I appeal from it to every mother who hears me."

Marie Antoinette had been allowed two counsel, who, perilous as was the
duty imposed upon them, cheerfully accepted it as an honor; but it was not
intended that their assistance should be more than nominal. She had only
known their names on the evening preceding the trial; but when she
addressed a letter to the President of the Convention, demanding a
postponement of the trial for three days, as indispensable to enable them
to master the case, since as yet they had not had time even to read the
whole of the indictment, adding that "her duty to her children bound her
to leave nothing undone which was requisite for the entire justification
of their mother," the request was rudely refused; and all that the lawyers
could do was to address eloquent appeals to the judges and jurymen, being
utterly unable, on so short notice, to analyze as they deserved the
arguments of the prosecutor or the testimony by which he had professed to
support them. But before such a tribunal it signified little what was
proved or disproved, or what was the strength or weakness of the arguments
employed on either side. It was long after midnight of the second day that
the trial concluded. The jury at once pronounced the prisoner guilty. The
judges as instantly passed sentence of death, and ordered it to be
executed the next morning.

It was nearly five in the morning of the 16th of October when the favorite
daughter of the great Empress-queen, herself Queen of France, was led from
the court, not even to the wretched room which she had occupied for the
last ten weeks, but to the condemned cell, never tenanted before by any
but the vilest felons. Though greatly exhausted by the length of the
proceedings, she had heard the sentence without betraying the slightest
emotion by any change of countenance or gesture. On reaching her cell she
at once asked for writing materials. They had been withheld from her for
more than a year, but they were now brought to her; and with them she
wrote her last letter to that princess whom she had long learned to love
as a sister of her own, who had shared her sorrows hitherto, and who, at
no distant period, was to share the fate which was now awaiting herself.

"16th October, 4.30 A.M.

"It is to you, my sister, that I write for the last time. I have just been
condemned, not to a shameful death, for such is only for criminals, but to
go and rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the same
firmness in my last moments. I am calm, as one is when one's conscience
reproaches one with nothing. I feel profound sorrow in leaving my poor
children: you know that I only lived for them and for you, my good and
tender sister. You who out of love have sacrificed everything to be with
us, in what a position do I leave you! I have learned from the proceedings
at my trial that my daughter was separated from you. Alas! poor child; I
do not venture to write to her; she would not receive my letter. I do not
even know whether this will reach you. Do you receive my blessing for both
of them. I hope that one day when they are older they may be able to
rejoin you, and to enjoy to the full your tender care. Let them both think
of the lesson which I have never ceased to impress upon them, that the
principles and the exact performance of their duties are the chief
foundation of life; and then mutual affection and confidence in one
another will constitute its happiness. Let my daughter feel that at her
age she ought always to aid her brother by the advice which her greater
experience and her affection may inspire her to give him. And let my son
in his turn render to his sister all the care and all the services which
affection can inspire. Let them, in short, both feel that, in whatever
positions they may be placed, they will never be truly happy but through
their union. Let them follow our example. In our own misfortunes how much
comfort has our affection for one another afforded us! And, in times of
happiness, we have enjoyed that doubly from being able to share it with a
friend; and where can one find friends more tender and more united than in
one's own family? Let my son never forget the last words of his father,
which I repeat emphatically; let him never seek to avenge our deaths. I
have to speak to you of one thing which is very painful to my heart, I
know how much pain the child must have caused you. Forgive him, my dear
sister; think of his age, and how easy it is to make a child say whatever
one wishes, especially when he does not understand it.[15] It will come to
pass one day, I hope, that he will better feel the value of your kindness
and of your tender affection for both of them. It remains to confide to
you my last thoughts. I should have wished to write them at the beginning
of my trial; but, besides that they did not leave me any means of writing,
events have passed so rapidly that I really have not had time.

"I die in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, that of my fathers,
that in which I was brought up, and which I have always professed. Having
no spiritual consolation to look for, not even knowing whether there are
still in this place any priests of that religion[16] (and indeed the place
where I am would expose them to too much danger if they were to enter it
but once), I sincerely implore pardon of God for all the faults which I
may have committed during my life. I trust that, in his goodness, he will
mercifully accept my last prayers, as well as those which I have for a
long time addressed to him, to receive my soul into his mercy. I beg
pardon of all whom I know, and especially of you, my sister, for all the
vexations which, without intending it, I may have caused you. I pardon all
my enemies the evils that they have done me. I bid farewell to my aunts
and to all my brothers and sisters. I had friends. The idea of being
forever separated from them and from all their troubles is one of the
greatest sorrows that I suffer in dying. Let them at least know that to
my latest moment I thought of them.

"Farewell, my good and tender sister. May this letter reach you. Think
always of me; I embrace you with all my heart, as I do my poor dear
children. My God, how heart-rending it is to leave them forever! Farewell!
farewell! I must now occupy myself with my spiritual duties, as I am not
free in my actions. Perhaps they will bring me a priest; but I here
protest that I will not say a word to him, but that I will treat him as a
person absolutely unknown."

Her forebodings were realized; her letter never reached Elizabeth, but was
carried to Fouquier, who placed it among his special records. Yet, if in
those who had thus wrought the writer's destruction there had been one
human feeling, it might have been awakened by the simple dignity and
unaffected pathos of this sad farewell. No line that she ever wrote was
more thoroughly characteristic of her. The innocence, purity, and
benevolence of her soul shine through every sentence. Even in that awful
moment she never lost her calm, resigned fortitude, nor her consideration
for others. She speaks of and feels for her children, for her friends, but
never for herself. And it is equally characteristic of her that, even in
her own hopeless situation, she still can cherish hope for others, and can
look forward to the prospect of those whom she loves being hereafter
united in freedom and happiness. She thought, it may be, that her own
death would be the last sacrifice that her enemies would require. And for
even her enemies and murderers she had a word of pardon, and could address
a message of mercy for them to her son, who, she trusted, might yet some
day have power to show that mercy she enjoined, or to execute the
vengeance which with her last breath she deprecated.

She threw herself on her bed and fell asleep. At seven she was roused by
the executioner. The streets were already thronged with a fierce and
sanguinary mob, whose shouts of triumph were so vociferous that she asked
one of her jailers whether they would tear her to pieces. She was assured
that, as he expressed it, they would do her no harm. And indeed the
Jacobins themselves would have protected her from the populace, so anxious
were they to heap on her every indignity that would render death more
terrible. Louis had been allowed to quit the Temple in his carriage. Marie
Antoinette was to be drawn from the prison to the scaffold in a common
cart, seated on a bare plank; the executioner by her side, holding the
cords with which her hands were already bound. With a refinement of
barbarity, those who conducted the procession made it halt more than once,
that the people might gaze upon her, pointing her out to the mob with
words and gestures of the vilest insult. She heard them not; her thoughts
were with God: her lips were uttering nothing but prayers. Once for a
moment, as she passed in sight of the Tuileries, she was observed to cast
an agonized look toward its towers, remembering, perhaps, how reluctantly
she had quit it fourteen months before. It was midday before the cart
reached the scaffold. As she descended, she trod on the executioner's
foot. It might seem to have been ordained that her very last words might
be words of courtesy. "Excuse me, sir," she said, "I did not do it on
purpose;" and she added, "make haste." In a few moments all was over.

Her body was thrown into a pit in the common cemetery, and covered with
quicklime to insure its entire destruction. When, more than twenty years
afterward, her brother-in-law was restored to the throne, and with pious
affection desired to remove her remains and those of her husband to the
time-honored resting-place of their royal ancestors at St. Denis, no
remains of her who had once been the admiration of all beholders could be
found beyond some fragments of clothing, and one or two bones, among which
the faithful memory of Chateaubriand believed that he recognized the mouth
whose sweet smile had been impressed on his memory since the day on which
it acknowledged his loyalty on his first presentation, while still a boy,
at Versailles.

Thus miserably perished, by a death fit only for the vilest of criminals,
Marie Antoinette, the daughter of one sovereign, the wife of another, who
had never wronged or injured one human being. No one was ever more richly
endowed with all the charms which render woman attractive, or with all the
virtues that make her admirable. Even in her earliest years, her careless
and occasionally undignified levity was but the joyous outpouring of a
pure innocence of heart that, as it meant no evil, suspected none; while
it was ever blended with a kindness and courtesy which sprung from a
genuine benevolence. As queen, though still hardly beyond girlhood when
she ascended the throne, she set herself resolutely to work by her
admonitions, and still more effectually by her example, to purify a court
of which for centuries the most shameless profligacy had been the rule and
boast; discountenancing vice and impiety by her marked reprobation, and
reserving all her favor and protection for genius and patriotism, and
honor and virtue. Surrounded at a later period by unexampled dangers and
calamities, she showed herself equal to every vicissitude of fortune, and
superior to its worst frowns. If her judgment occasionally erred, it was
in cases where alternatives of evil were alone offered to her choice, and
in which it is even now scarcely possible to decide what course would have
been wiser or safer than that which she adopted. And when at last the long
conflict was terminated by the complete victory of her combined enemies--
when she, with her husband and her children, was bereft not only of power,
but even of freedom, and was a prisoner in the hands of those whose
unalterable object was her destruction--she bore her accumulated miseries
with a serene resignation, an intrepid fortitude, a true heroism of soul,
of which the history of the world does not afford a brighter example.



[1] One entitled "Marie-Antoinette, correspondance secrete entre Marie-
Therese et le Comte Mercy d'Argenteau, avec des lettres de Marie-Therese
et de Marie-Antoinette." (The edition referred to in this work is the
greatly enlarged second edition in three volumes, published at Paris,
1875.) The second is entitled "Marie-Antoinette, Joseph II., and Leopold
II," published at Leipsic, 1866.

[2] Entitled "Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, et Madame Elizabeth," in six
volumes, published at intervals from 1864 to 1873.

[3] In his "Nouveau Lundi," March 5th, 1866, M. Sainte-Beuve challenged M.
Feuillet de Conches to a more explicit defense of the authenticity of his
collection than he had yet vouchsafed; complaining, with some reason, that
his delay in answering the charges brought against it "was the more
vexatious because his collection was only attacked in part, and in many
points remained solid and valuable." And this challenge elicited from M.F.
de Conches a very elaborate explanation of the sources from which he
procured his documents, which he published in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_,
July 15th, 1866, and afterward in the Preface to his fourth volume. That
in a collection of nearly a thousand documents he may have occasionally
been too credulous in accepting cleverly executed forgeries as genuine
letters is possible, and even probable; in fact, the present writer
regards it as certain. But the vast majority, including all those of the
greatest value, can not be questioned without imputing to him a guilty
knowledge that they were forgeries--a deliberate bad faith, of which no
one, it is believed, has ever accused him.

It may be added that it is only from the letters of this later period that
any quotations are made in the following work; and the greater part of the
letters so cited exists in the archives at Vienna, while the others, such
as those, addressed by the Queen, to Madame de Polignac, etc., are just
such as were sure to be preserved as relics by the families of those to
whom they were addressed, and can therefore hardly be considered as liable
to the slightest suspicion.


[1] Sainte-Beuve, "Nouveaux Lundis," August 8th, 1864.


[1] "Histoire de Marie Antoinette," par E. and J. de Goncourt, p. 11.

[2] How popular masked halls were in London at this time may be learned
from Walpole's "Letters," and especially from a passage in which he gives
an account of one given by "sixteen or eighteen young Lords" just two
months before this ball at Vienna.--_Walpole to Mann_, dated February
27th, 1770. Some one a few years later described the French nation as half
tiger and half monkey; and it is a singular coincidence that Walpole's
comment on this masquerading fashion should be, "It is very lucky, seeing
how much of the tiger enters into the human composition, that there should
be a good dose of the monkey too."

[3] "Memoires concernant Marie Antoinette," par Joseph Weber (her foster-
brother), i., p. 6.

[4] "Goethe's Biography," p. 287.

[5] "Memoires de Bachaumont," January 30th, 1770.

[6] La maison du roi.

[7] Chevalier d'honneur. We have no corresponding office at the English

[8] The king said, "Vous etiez deja de la famille, car votre mere a l'ame
de Louis le Grand."--SAINTE-BEUVE, _Nouveaux Lundis_, viii., p. 322.

[9] In the language of the French heralds, the title princes of the royal
family was confined to the children or grandchildren of the reigning
sovereign. His nephews and cousins were only princes of the blood.


[1] The word is Maria Teresa's own; "anti-francais" occurring in more than
one of her letters.

[2] Quoted by Mme. du Deffand in a letter to Walpole, dated May 19th, 1770
("Correspondance complete de Mme. du Deffand," ii., p.59).

[3] Mercy to Marie-Therese, August 4th, 1770; "Correspondance secrete
entre Marie-Therese et la Comte de Mercy Argenteau, avec des Lettres de
Marie-Therese et Marie Antoinette," par M. le Chevalier Alfred d'Arneth,
i., p. 29. For the sake of brevity, this Collection will be hereafter
referred to as "Arneth."

[4] "The King of France is both hated and despised, which seldom happens
to the same man."--LORD CHESTERFIELD, _Letter to Mr. Dayrolles_, dated May
19th, 1752.

[5] Maria Teresa died in December, 1780.

[6] Mme. du Deffand, letter of May 19th, 1770.

[7] Chambier, i., p. 60.

[8] Mme. de Campan, i., p. 3.

[9] He told Mercy she was "'vive et un peu enfant, mais," ajouta-t-il,
"cela est bien de son age.'"--ARNETH, i., p. 11.

[10] Arneth, i., p.9-16


[1] Dates 9th and 12th., Arneth, i., pp. 16, 18.

[2] Marly was a palace belonging to the king, but little inferior in
splendor to Versailles itself, and a favorite residence of Louis XV.,
because a less strict etiquette had been established there. Choisy and
Bellevue, which will often be mentioned in the course of this narrative,
were two others of the royal palaces on a somewhat smaller scale. They
have both been destroyed. Marly, Choisy, and Bellevue were all between
Versailles and Paris.

[3] Mem. de Goncourt, quoting a MS. diary of Hardy, p. 35.

[4] De Vermond, who had accompanied her from Vienna as her reader.

[5] See St. Simon's account of Dangeau, i., p. 392.

[6] The Duc de Noailles, brother-in-law of the countess, "l'homme de
France qui a peut-etre le plus d'esprit et qui connait le mieux son
souverain et la cour," told Mercy in August that "jugeant d'apres son
experience et d'apres les qualites qu'il voyait dans cette princesse, il
etait persuade qu'elle gouvernerait un jour l'esprit du roi."--ARNETH, i.,
p. 34.

[7] La petite rousse.

[8] "De monter a cheval gate le teint, et votre taille a la longue s'en
ressentira."--_Marie-Therese a Marie-Antoinette_, Arneth, i., p. 104.

[9] "On fit chercher partout des anes fort doux et tranquilles. Le 21 on
repeta la promenade sur les anes. Mesdames voulurent etre de la partie
ainsi que le Comte de Provence et le Comte d'Artois."--_Mercy a Marie-
Therese_, September 19, 1770, Arneth, i., p. 49.

[10] "Madame la Dauphine, a laquelle le tresor royal doit remettre 6000
frs. par mois, n'a reellement pas un ecu dont elle peut disposer elle-meme
et sans le concours de personne" (Octobre 20).--ARNETH, i. p. 69.

[11] "Ses garcons de chambre recoivent cent louis [a louis was twenty-four
francs, so that the hundred made 2100 francs out of her 6000] par mois
pour la depense du jeu de S.A.R.; et soit qu'elle perde ou qu'elle gagne,
on ne revoit rien de cette somme."--ARNETH, i.

[12] "Mme. Adelaide ajouta, 'On voit bien que vous n'etes pas de notre
sang.'"--ARNETH, i., p. 94.

[13] Arneth, i., p. 95.

[14] "Finalement, Mme. la Dauphine se fait adorer de ses entours et du
public; il n'est pas encore survenu un seul inconvenient grave dans sa
conduite."--_Mercy a Marie-Therese_, Novembre 16, Arneth, i., p. 98.

[15] Prince de Ligne, "Mem." ii., p. 79.

[16] Mercy to Maria Teresa, dated November 17th, 1770, Arneth, i., p. 94.

[17] Mercy to Maria Teresa, dated February 25th, 1771, Arneth, i, p. 134.


[1] See the "Citizen of the World," Letter 55. Reference has often been
made to Lord Chesterfield's prediction of the French Revolution. But I am
not aware that any one has remarked on the equally acute foresight of

[2] Letter of April 16th, 1771, Arneth, i., p. 148.

[3] Arneth, i., p. 186.

[4] Maria Teresa to Marie Antoinette, July 9th, and August 17th, Arneth,
i., p. 196.

[5] "Ne soyez pas honteuse d'etre allemande jusqu'aux gaucheries.... Le
Francais vous estimera plus et fera plus de compte sur vous s'il vous
trouve la solidite et la franchise allemande."--_Maria Teresa to Marie
Antoinette._ May 8th, 1771, Arneth, i., p. 159.

[6] Walpole's letter to Sir H. Mann, June 8th, 1771, v., p. 301.

[7] Mercy to Maria Teresa, January 23d, 1772, Arneth, i., p. 265.

[8] The Duc de la Vauguyon, who, after the dauphin's marriage, still
retained his post with his younger brother.


[1] Mercy's letter to the empress, August 14th, 1772, Arneth, i., p. 335.

[2] Mercy to Maria Teresa, November 14th, 1772, Arneth, i., p. 307.

[3] Marie Antoinette to Maria Teresa, December 15th, 1772, Arneth, i., p.

[4] Her sister Caroline, Queen of Naples.

[5] Her brother Leopold, at present Grand Duke of Tuscany, afterward
emperor. His wife, Marie Louise, was a daughter of Charles III. of Spain.

[6] They, with several of the princes of the blood and some