Part 3 out of 5
morning the whole world of Paris seemed to be taking its way to
Versailles. Mr. Jefferson, having presented Calvert with the billet
reserved for Mr. Short (the secretary being absent at The Hague), and
Mr. Morris being provided for through the courtesy of the Duchesse
d'Orleans, the three gentlemen left the Legation at six in the morning
in Mr. Jefferson's coach. The grand route to Versailles was thronged
with carriages and vehicles of every description, and the dust, heat,
and confusion were indescribable. On their arrival, which was about
eight o'clock, being hungry and thirsty, the gentlemen repaired to a
cafe, where they had an indifferent breakfast at a table d'hote, about
which were seated several gloomy-looking members of the tiers. After the
hasty meal they made their way as quickly as possible to the hotel of
Madame de Tesse in the rue Dauphine, where they were awaited.
Madame de Tesse, Monsieur de Lafayette's aunt, was, as Mr. Morris
laughingly styled her, "a republican of the first feather," and it was
with the most enthusiastic pleasure that she welcomed the Ambassador
from the United States and his two friends on that day which she
believed held such happy auguries for the future of her country. A
numerous company had already assembled at her invitation and were
viewing the ever-increasing crowds in the streets from the great stone
balcony draped with silken banners and rich velvet hangings. The British
Ambassador and the Ambassadress, Lady Sutherland (whom Calvert had the
honor of meeting for the first time), were there, as was Madame de
Montmorin, Madame de Stael, and Madame de St. Andre, looking radiant in
the brilliant morning sunshine. As Mr. Calvert bent over her hand he
thought to himself that she might have sat for a portrait of Aurora's
self, so fresh and beautiful did she look. The sun struck her dark hair
(over which she wore no covering) to burnished brightness, the violet
eyes sparkled with animation, and her complexion had the freshness and
delicacy of some exquisite flower.
"I am glad you are here, Monsieur l'Americain, on this great day for
France, one of the most momentous, one of the happiest in all her
history. You see I have not forgotten your fondness for history!" and
she shot him an amused glance.
"I am glad, too, Madame," replied Calvert, seating himself beside her.
"'Tis one of the most momentous days in France's history, as you say,
but one of the happiest?--I don't know," and he looked dubiously at the
thronged streets, for he was of Mr. Morris's way of thinking, and, try
as he might, he could not bring himself to look upon the course of
affairs with the optimism Mr. Jefferson felt.
"Are you going to be gloomy on this beautiful day?" demanded Adrienne,
impatiently. "Aren't the very heavens giving us a sign that they approve
of this event? Mr. Jefferson is the only one of you who appreciates this
great occasion--even Mr. Morris, who is usually so agreeable, seems to
be out of spirits," and she glanced toward that gentleman where he sat
between Madame de Montmorin and Madame de Flahaut, who had just arrived
with Beaufort. Mr. Morris, hearing his name spoken, arose and went over
to Madame de St. Andre.
"Are you saying evil things about me to Mr. Calvert, my dear young
lady?" he asked, bowing with that charming show of deference which he
always paid a pretty woman and which in part atoned for the cynical
expression in his keen eyes.
"But yes," returned Adrienne, laughing. "I was saying that you wore a
displeased air almost as if you envied France her good fortune of
"You mistake me," said Mr. Morris, warmly. "I have France's interest and
happiness greatly at heart. The generous wish which a free people must
form to disseminate freedom, the grateful emotion which rejoices in the
happiness of a benefactor, and a strong personal interest as well in the
liberty as in the power of this country, all conspire to make us far
from indifferent spectators," and he glanced at Calvert as though
certain of having expressed the young man's sentiments as well as his
own. "The leaders here are our friends, many of them have imbibed their
principles in America, and all have been fired by our example. If I wear
an anxious air 'tis because I am not sure that that example can be
safely imitated in this country, that those principles can be safely
inculcated here, that this people, once having thrown off the yoke of
absolute dependence on and obedience to kingly power, will not confound
license with liberty. But enough of this," he said, smiling. "May I ask
why the Duchess is not of the company?"
"Because she is even more pessimistic about the results of to-day's work
than yourself, Mr. Morris, and has shut herself up in Paris, refusing to
be present at the opening of the States-General even as a spectator. She
portends all sorts of disasters to France, but for the life of me I
can't see what can happen without the King's authority, and surely so
good a king will let no harm happen to his country. As for myself, I
could bless the States-General for having furnished so gala an occasion!
Paris has been deadly stupid for months with all this talk of politics
and elections and constitutions going on. I am glad it is all over and
we have reached the beginning of the end. Is it not a magnificent
spectacle?" she asked.
"'Tis so, truly," assented Mr. Morris, with a curious smile, and leaning
over the balustrade to get a better view of the street.
Versailles was indeed resplendent on that beautiful morning of the 4th
of May, in honor of the procession and religious services to be held as
a sort of prelude to the formal opening of the States-General the
following day. From the Church of Our Lady to the Church of Saint Louis,
where M. de la Farre, Archeveque of Nancy, was to celebrate mass, the
streets through which the procession was to pass were one mass of silken
banners and the richest stuffs depending from every window, every
balcony. Crown tapestries lined the way in double row, and flowers in
profusion were strewn along the streets. Vast throngs surged backward
and forward, held in check by the soldiers of the splendid Maison du Roi
and the Swiss troops, while every balcony, every window, every roof-top,
every possible place of vantage was filled to overflowing with eager
spectators. As the morning sun struck upon the magnificent decorations,
on the ladies and cavaliers, as brilliantly arrayed as though for the
opera or ball, on the gorgeous uniforms of the Guards, the scene was one
of indescribable splendor and color.
A sudden silence fell upon the vast concourse of people as Mr. Morris
leaned over the balcony, and in an instant the head of the procession
came into view. In front were borne the banners of the Church of Our,
Lady and Saint Louis, followed by the parish clergy, and then in two
close ranks walked the five hundred deputies of the tiers etat in their
sombre black garments and three-cornered hats. The silence which had so
suddenly descended upon the great company was as suddenly broken at
sight of the tiers, and a deafening shout saluted them. This, in turn,
was quelled, and a curious quiet reigned again as the deputies from the
nobles made their appearance in their rich dress, with cloak gold-faced,
white silk stockings, and beplumed hat.
"You would have to walk with the tiers were you of the procession,
Monsieur Calvert," said Madame de St. Andre, mischievously, glancing
from the young man's sober habit to the brilliant dress of the nobles as
they filed past.
"Surely! I would be a very raven among those splendid birds of
paradise," said the young man, a trifle scornfully.
"They are very great gentlemen," returned Adrienne, tossing her head.
"See, there is Monsieur le Duc d'Orleans himself leading the noblesse,"
and she courtesied low, as did the rest of the company, when he looked
toward the balcony and bowed.
So that was Monsieur le Duc d'Orleans, the King's cousin, the King's
enemy, as many already knew, the wildest, the most dissolute of all the
wild, dissolute youth of Paris, the boon companion of the Duke of York,
the destroyer of the unfortunate Prince de Lamballes, the hero of a
thousand chroniques scandaleuses of the day! As for Calvert, he thought
that in spite of the splendid appearance of the royal personage he had
never seen a human countenance so repulsive and so depraved. The brutal,
languid eye looked out at him from a face whose unwholesome complexion,
heavy jaw, and sensual mouth sent a thrill of sickening disgust through
him. As he gazed at the retreating figure of the Duke, which, in ifs
heaviness and lethargy, bore the mark of excesses as unmistakably as did
the coarsened face, all the disgraceful stories, the rumors, the
anecdotes which he had ever heard concerning this dissipated young
prince--for his reputation was only too well known even in
America--flashed through his mind.
"And this is one of your great gentlemen?" asked Calvert, looking, not
without some sadness, at the haughty beauty beside him, still flushed
and smiling at the notice bestowed upon her by Monsieur d'Orleans.
"His Highness the Duc d'Orleans is one of the greatest personages in the
kingdom, sir! Tis said, perhaps, that he has been guilty of some
indiscretions"--she hesitated, biting her lip, and coloring slightly
beneath Calvert's calm gaze--"but surely something must be pardoned to
one of his exalted rank; to one who is incapable of any cowardice, of
"Since he is of such exalted rank, it seems strange, Madame, that he
should walk so far ahead of his order as almost to seem to mingle with
the tiers," replied Calvert, quietly. "But I am glad to have such a good
report of the Duke, as there are those who have been mistaken enough to
doubt his bravery at Ouessant, and, merely to look at him, I confess
that I saw many a humble deputy of the tiers who looked, even in his
plebeian dress, more the nobleman than he."
"Ah, Monsieur," returned Madame de St. Andre, contemptuously, "I see
that you are indeed a republican enrage and hate us for our fine
feathers and rank of birth as cordially as these people who applaud the
tiers and remain silent before the deputies of the nobles."
"Indeed, you misjudge me, Madame," says Calvert, who could scarce
restrain a smile at the lofty manner of the beautiful girl, "as you
misjudge the crowd, for 'tis applauding someone among the noblesse now,"
and he stood up and looked over the balcony rail to better see the cause
of the shout which had suddenly gone up. "'Tis for Monsieur de
Lafayette, I think. See, he is walking yonder, with d'Azay on one side
of him and Noailles on the other."
Adrienne leaned over the balustrade, and looked down at her brother and
Monsieur de Lafayette, who saw her at the same instant. Smiling and
bowing, she flung a handful of roses, which she had carried all morning,
at the gentlemen, who uncovered and waved her their thanks. As they did
so, a sudden blare of trumpets and strains of martial music burst forth,
and the black-robed deputies of the clergy appeared, separated into two
files by the band of royal musicians.
"'Tis like a play, n'est ce pas?" said Adrienne, gayly, to Mr. Morris,
who had again come up, having been dismissed by Madame de Flahaut on the
arrival of Monsieur de Curt.
"No, 'tis but the prologue," corrected Mr. Morris, "and the play itself
is like enough to be a tragedy, I think," he added, in a low voice, to
"And here are the King and Queen at last," cried Madame de St. Andre,
as a great cheering went up. Every eye in that vast throng was riveted
upon the King, who now appeared, preceded by the Archbishop of Paris
carrying the Holy Sacrament under a great canopy, the four corners of
which were held by the Dukes of Angouleme and Berry and the King's two
brothers, Monsieur and the Comte d'Artois. Near the Holy Sacrament
marched the cardinals, bishops, and archbishops elected to the
States-General, and in the throng Calvert quickly and easily detected by
his halting step his acquaintance, the Bishop of Autun. About His
Majesty walked the high officers of the crown, and the enthusiasm of
Madame de Stael, which had been on the increase every instant, reached a
climax when she recognized Monsieur Necker, conspicuous by his size and
bearing, among the entourage of Louis, and, when she courtesied, the
obeisance seemed intended more for her father than her King.
"You are wrong to rejoice so greatly," said Madame de Montmorin, laying
a timid hand on Madame de Stael's arm, which trembled with excitement.
She had scarce said a word the whole morning and had sat staring with
troubled face at the magnificent pageant as it passed. "I feel sure that
great disasters to France will follow this day's business."
Madame de Stael impatiently shook off the detaining hand. "'Tis the day
of days," she cried, enthusiastically, "the day for which my father has
labored so long, the day on which will be written the brightest page of
"I verily believe she thinks the States-General are come together to
the sole honor and glorification of Monsieur, Necker," whispered Mr.
Morris, in an amused undertone, to Calvert. "But look yonder, to the
right of the King! There go our friends of the Palais Royal, the young
Duc de Chartres and Monsieur de Beaujolais! Tis strange the Duc
d'Orleans is not near the King. He curries favor with the multitude by
abandoning his sovereign on this crucial day and putting himself forward
as an elected deputy of the States-General! And there to the left of His
Majesty is the Queen with the princesses. Is she not beautiful,
Ned?--though Beaufort tells me she has lost much of the brilliancy of
her beauty in the last year. Indeed, she has an almost melancholy
air,-but I think it is becoming, for otherwise she would be too
"She has reason to look melancholy, Monsieur," said Madame de Montmorin,
in a low tone, and with a glance of deep sympathy at the Queen, who sat
rigid, palely smiling in her golden coach. "Did you not know that the
Dauphin is very ill? 'Tis little talked about at court, for the Queen
will not have the subject mentioned, but he has been ailing for a year
As she spoke, the carriage of the Queen passed close under the balcony,
and at that instant a woman in the crowd, looking Her Majesty full in
the face, cried out, shrilly, "Long live d'Orleans!" The pallid Queen
sank back, as though struck, into the arms of the Princess de Lamballes,
who rode beside her. But in an instant she was herself again, and sat
haughtily erect, with a bitter smile curving her beautiful lips.
"A cruel blow!" said Mr. Morris, under his breath, to Calvert. "Her
unhappiness was complete enough without that. Arrayed in those rich
stuffs, with the flowers in her hair and bosom and with that inscrutable
and melancholy expression on her beautiful face, she looks as might have
looked some Athenian maiden decked for sacrifice. Indeed, all the
noblesse have a curious air of fatality about them, or so it seems to
me, and somehow look as if they were going to their doom. Take a good
look at this splendid pageant, Ned! 'Tis the first time you have seen
royalty, the first time you have seen the nobility in all the
magnificence of ceremony. It may be the last."
Mr. Jefferson got up from his place beside Madame de Tesse and came over
to where Calvert and Mr. Morris were standing.
"What do you think of the King and Queen?" he asked, in a low voice,
laying his hand, in his customary affectionate manner, on Calvert's
shoulder. "The King has a benevolent, open countenance, do you not think
so?--but the Queen has a haughty, wayward look, and the imperious,
unyielding spirit of her Austrian mother."
"She will need all the spirit of her whole family," broke in Mr. Morris,
warmly, "if she is to bear up beneath such wanton insults as that just
"I fear that the hand of Heaven will weigh heavily on that selfish,
proud, capricious sovereign, and that she will have to suffer many
humiliations," replied Mr. Jefferson, coldly, for he disliked and
distrusted Marie Antoinette profoundly, and always believed that she was
largely responsible for the terrible disasters which overtook France,
and that had Louis been free of her influence and machinations, he had
been able to disentangle himself and his kingdom from the fatal coil
into which they were drawn.
"As for myself, I can think only that she is a woman and in distress,"
said Mr. Morris, looking after the Queen's coach, which rolled slowly
through the crowded street, making a glittering track of light where the
noonday sun (for 'twas past twelve o'clock by that time) struck the
golden panels. It was followed on one side by a long line of carriages
containing the princesses of the blood royal and the ladies-in-waiting
to Her Majesty, on the other by the procession of princes, dukes, and
gentlemen of the King's household. It was close on one o'clock when the
last gilded coach, the last splendid rider, followed by the rabble, who
closed in and pushed on behind to the Church of Saint Louis, had passed
beneath Madame de Tesse's balcony. Some of her guests, having billets
for the church reserved for them, entered their carriages and drove
thither; the others, being weary with the long wait and excitement of
the morning, accepted their hostess's invitation to breakfast, content
to hear later of the celebration of mass in the Church of Saint Louis.
Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Morris, and Calvert were of this party, and, after
having promised to be at Versailles early the next morning and to stay
for the night at Madame de Tesse's so as to accompany the ladies to the
King's reception, they set off for Paris toward four o'clock in the
afternoon. As they were about leaving, Beaufort, who had attended mass,
came in, tired and gloomy-looking, and told them that Monseigneur de la
Farre had preached a political sermon which the deputies had the bad
taste and hardihood to applaud in church and in the presence of His
"How dare they so insult the King?" said Madame de St. Andre, pale with
anger, to Calvert, who had come up to bid her adieu. "By the way, Mr.
Jefferson tells me he is to present you to their Majesties to-morrow
evening," she went on, recovering her composure and smiling somewhat. "I
should like to see how an American salutes a king."
"Madame," said Mr. Calvert, quietly, "you forget that I have made my bow
to General Washington."
It was not much past six o'clock the next morning when Mr. Calvert and
Mr. Jefferson called, in the latter's carriage, for Mr. Morris in the
rue de Richelieu, and once more set out for Versailles. As on the
preceding day, the road was thronged with coaches, all making their way
to the temporary capital. Madame de Flahaut (to whom Mr. Morris bowed
very low, though he looked a little piqued when he saw Monsieur de Curt
beside her) flashed by in her carriage as they neared Versailles, and a
little later Madame de St. Andre, accompanied by Madame de Chastellux
and Beaufort passed them, bowing and waving to the three gentlemen.
"If it were possible, I should say she looks more beautiful to-day than
yesterday, eh, Ned?" said Mr. Morris, looking after Madame de St. Andre,
and then giving Calvert a quizzical glance, under which the young man
"By the way, I overheard your parting conversation yesterday, and I
think you rather got the best of the haughty beauty," he went on,
laughing. "I am not sure but that the unruffled serenity of your manner
before the ladies advances you more in their estimation than does Mr.
Jefferson's evident devotion to them all or my impartial compliments and
gallantry. But beware! Madame de St. Andre is no woman if she does not
try to retaliate for that retort of yours."
After stopping in the rue Dauphine for the billets, which Madame de
Tesse had again been able to obtain for Mr. Morris through the interest
of the Duchesse d'Orleans, the three gentlemen drove straight to the
Salle des Menus Plaisirs, and, by nine o'clock, were seated in the great
gallery reserved for visitors. They were fortunate enough to find
themselves placed immediately behind Madame de Chastellux, Madame de St.
Andre, and Madame de Flahaut, who had entered together and who were kind
enough to point out for the benefit of Mr. Morris and Calvert many of
the celebrities in the glittering assemblage. For, early as the hour
was, the great balcony was already crowded, while the floor was slowly
filling with the deputies ushered in one after the other by Monsieur de
Breze with the greatest ceremony. No more brilliant throng had ever come
together in that spacious Salle des Menus Plaisirs, and assuredly on no
more momentous occasion. As Mr. Calvert looked about him at the
splendid scene, at the great semicircular hall, with its Ionic columns,
at the balcony crowded with thousands of magnificently dressed courtiers
and beautiful women, upon whose fair, painted faces and powdered hair
the morning sun shone discreetly, its bright rays sifted through a
silken awning covering the dome of the great room, at the throng of
deputies sharply differentiated by positron and costume, at the empty
throne set high above the tribune upon its dais of purple velvet strewn
with the golden lilies of the Bourbons; as Mr. Calvert looked at all
this--especially as he looked at the empty throne--a curious
presentiment of the awful import of the occasion struck in upon him
forcibly. Mr. Jefferson, who sat beside him, seemed to read his thought.
"I think this is like to live as one of the most famous scenes in
history," he said. "We three are fortunate to be here to see it. Tis the
birth-hour of a new nation, if I mistake not. For the first time in two
centuries the King meets the three orders of his subjects. Who can
foresee what will be the result?"
"I think it is safe to say that the King does not foresee the result, or
there would be no meeting," said Mr. Morris, dryly.
"As pessimistic as ever, my dear sir!" retorted Mr. Jefferson, somewhat
testily. "Ah, here comes Monsieur Necker."
As the Minister of Finance made his way in, preceded by Monsieur de
Breze, a loud cheer went up from every part of the hall. Even the
sombre mass of the tiers roused themselves to enthusiasm, which was
redoubled when Monsieur le Duc d'Orleans made his appearance with the
clerical deputy from Crepy-en-Valois, who, he insisted, should enter
"Tis like His Highness," whispered Mr. Morris to Calvert. "He is as
thirsty for popularity as Lafayette himself."
Though he spoke in a low tone and in English, Madame de St. Andre
overheard and understood him.
"You and Mr. Calvert seem to be in a conspiracy to malign His Royal
Highness," she said, turning around.
"No, no. If there is a conspirator in the case 'tis Monsieur d'Orleans
himself," replied Mr. Morris, meaningly. To this Madame de St. Andre
deigned no reply, and, shrugging her beautiful shoulders, turned her
back once more to the gentlemen and her attention to the assemblage. Mr.
Calvert, who sat directly behind her, could only see the pink ear and
outline of the fair, displeased face thus turned away, but he thought
she looked more imperiously lovely and more distant than the painted
goddesses of the Olympian hierarchy who disported themselves, after the
artist's fancy, upon the great dome of the hall.
"Madame," he said, leaning over the back of Madame de Chastellux's
chair, "can you tell me who is that deputy of the tiers just making his
way in? 'Tis the strangest and most terrible face I have ever seen," and
he looked hard at the seamed, scarred visage, at the gloomy eyes,
shining darkly in their great sockets, at the immense, burly figure of
the man who was forcing his way contemptuously past the gallant Monsieur
de Breze to a seat among the commoners. As he looked, he was reminded in
some fashion of the man Danton whom he had seen in the Cafe de l'Ecole
the afternoon he had gone thither with Beaufort.
"It is Monsieur de Mirabeau," said Madame de Chastellux. "There is
something terrible in his face, as you say, but there is genius, also, I
think," she added.
"He has many talents and every vice, Madame," said Mr. Jefferson,
coldly. "A genius if you will, but a man without honor, without probity,
erratic, unscrupulous, mercenary, passionate. _Cupidus alieni prodigus
sui_. Great as are his parts, he will never be able to serve his
country, for no dependence can be placed in him. He cannot even further
his own interests, for he is his own worst enemy. No association with
such a character can be either profitable or permanent. Listen! he is
being hissed!" It was true. A faint but perfectly audible murmur of
disapprobation went up as Mirabeau took his place among the deputies. As
the sound struck on his ear, he turned upon the throng like a lion at
bay and glanced about him with eyes which literally seemed to shoot fire
and before which all sounds of hatred trembled back into silence.
With conversation, with speculations as to whether the great question of
voting par ordre or par tete would be settled by Monsieur Necker in his
speech, what policy the King would follow, and with promenades in the
great semicircular corridor running around the balcony, did the vast
crowd while away the seemingly interminable wait before the court
appeared. It was one o'clock when the heralds-at-arms, amid a profound
silence, announced the approach of the King and Queen. As His Majesty
made his appearance at the door, the silence was broken by tumultuous
cries of "Long live the King!" Remembering that day and those prolonged
demonstrations of loyalty and affection to His Majesty, Mr. Calvert
always considered it the wonderfullest change his life ever saw when,
six months later, he was a witness to the sullen animosity and insolence
of the crowd toward its sovereign.
When the King had ascended the throne and seated himself (the princes of
the blood royal who followed His Majesty being ranged upon the steps of
the dais to his right and his ministers below and in front), there was
another call from the heralds-at-arms, and Marie Antoinette, beautiful,
pallid, and haughty-looking, appeared at the entrance, accompanied by
the Princess Royal and the members of her immediate household. Amid a
silence unbroken by a single acclamation the Queen took her seat on the
King's left and two steps below him.
"Is there no Frenchman here who will raise his voice in greeting to his
Queen?" said Mr. Morris, very audibly. But though many hear him, not a
sound is made, and at the cruel silence the Queen, her haughtiness
giving way for a moment, as it had the day before, wept.
"I could never bear to see beauty in distress. If I were a subject of
the Queen she should have one loyal servitor, at least, to wish her
well," said Mr. Morris, warmly, to Calvert.
The scene which, before the entrance of the royal party, had lacked its
crowning touch, was now brilliant beyond description. To the right of
the throne were ranged the princes of the Church, hardly less
resplendent in their robes than the secular nobles facing them, while
between, forming a perfect foil for this glowing mass of color and
jewels, a sombre spot in the brilliant assemblage, the tiers sat facing
their sovereign. It was ominous--or so it seemed to Mr. Calvert--that
the tiers should thus divide the two orders naturally most closely
allied, and should sit as if in opposition or menace over against their
King. And it was to them that the King seemed to speak or rather to read
his address, which had been carefully prepared for him and was
intentionally so vague that it aroused but little enthusiasm; to them
that Monsieur le Garde des Sceaux appealed without great effect; and it
was, above all, to the tiers that Monsieur Necker, rising, addressed
himself, receiving in turn their warmest plaudits.
So long and so frequently interrupted by applause was Necker's report
that it was after four o'clock when the King rose to dismiss the
Assembly. As he descended the steps the Queen came forward to his side,
and, for the first time, a faint "Vive la Reine!" was heard. At the
sound a quick blush of pleasure showed in her pallid cheeks and she
courtesied low to the throng with such divine grace that the
acclamations redoubled. To this the Queen courtesied yet lower, and,
amid a very thunder of applause, the royal party left the hall, followed
by the deputies and the struggling throng of visitors.
Fatigued by the long seance, the excitement, and the tediousness of
Monsieur Necker's report, Mr. Jefferson hurried Mr. Calvert--Mr. Morris
had been carried off by Madame de Flahaut, to the great discomfiture of
Monsieur de Curt--into his coach and drove directly to Madame de
Tesse's, where they found apartments ready for them for the night and
where they could get some repose before dressing for dinner and the
King's levee, at which Mr. Jefferson intended to present both Mr. Morris
and Mr. Calvert to their Majesties.
MR. CALVERT ATTENDS THE KING'S LEVEE
It had been the intention of the court to give but one levee--that to
the deputies on the Saturday preceding the opening of the
States-General, but so widespread and so profound had been the
dissatisfaction among the tiers at the treatment they had received on
that occasion at the hands of Monsieur de Breze, that the King had
hastily decided to hold another levee on the evening of the 5th of May,
to which all the deputies were again invited and at which much of the
formal and displeasing ceremony of the first reception was to be
banished. At the first levee His Majesty had remained in state in the
Salle d'Hercule, to which the deputies were admitted according to their
rank, the noblesse and higher clergy passing in through the great state
apartments, the tiers being introduced one after the other by a side
entrance. The King now rightly determined to receive all in the great
Salle des Glaces with as little formality as possible. But with that
unhappy fatality which seemed to attend his every action, this
resolution, which would have been productive of such good results at
first, now seemed but a tardy and inefficient apology for courtly
So fatigued was Madame de Tesse and her guests by the day's
proceedings, that it was late when they set off from the rue Dauphine
for the palace. Mr. Morris had the honor of driving alone with Madame de
Tesse (Lafayette and d'Azay declining to attend this levee, having paid
their respects to the King on Saturday), while Mr. Jefferson, whose
coach had remained at Versailles, begged the pleasure of Madame de St.
Andre's company for himself and Mr. Calvert. She came down the marble
steps in her laces and gaze d'or, her dark hair unpowdered and unadorned
save for a white rose, half-opened, held in the coil by a diamond
buckle, and she looked so lovely and so much the grand princess that Mr.
Jefferson could not forbear complimenting her as he handed her into the
coach. As for Mr. Calvert, he stood by in silence, quite dazzled by her
beauty. She took Mr. Jefferson's compliments and Calvert's silent
admiration complacently and as though they were no more than her just
due, and talked gayly and graciously enough with the minister, though
she had scarce a word for the younger man, whom she treated in a fashion
even more than usually imperious, and to which he submitted with his
unvarying composure and good-nature.
In the Place d'Armes the crush of coaches was so great that the American
Minister's carriage could move but slowly from that point into the Cour
Royale, and 'twas with much difficulty that Mr. Jefferson and Calvert,
finally alighting, forced a passage through the crowd for Madame de St.
Andre. At the foot of the great Escalier des Ambassadeurs they found
Madame de Tesse and Mr. Morris, who had just arrived. Mounting
together, they passed through the state apartments of the King, upon the
ceilings and panellings of which Mr. Calvert noted the ever recurring
sun-disk, emblem of the Roi Soleil whose sun had set so ingloriously
long before; through the Salle de la Guerre, from whose dome that same
Sun-King, vanquished so easily by Death, hurled thunder-bolts of wrath
before which Spain and Holland cowered in fear; until they at length
came into the Galerie des Glaces, where their Majesties were to receive.
Not even the splendor of the Salle des Menus could rival for an instant
the beauty of the vast hall, brilliantly lighted by great golden lustres
set in double row up and down its length, in which Mr. Calvert now found
himself. These lights burned themselves out in endless reflections in
the seventeen great mirrors set between columns on one side of the hall.
Opposite each of these mirrors was a window of equal proportions giving
upon the magnificent gardens and terraces. The vaulted ceiling of this
great gallery was dedicated, in a series of paintings by Lebrun, to the
glorification of Louis XIV, from the moment when, on the death of
Mazarin, in 1661, he took up the reins of government ('twas the theme of
the great central fresco, _Le Roi gouverne par lui-meme_, wherein,
according to the fashion of the day, the very Olympian deities were
subject to the princes of France, and Mercury announced this kingly
resolve to the other powers of Europe) to the peace of Nymwegen, which
closed that unjust and inglorious war with Holland. Lebrun, being a
courtier as well as an artist, had made these military operations under
Turenne and Conde resemble prodigious success, and from The Passage of
the Rhine to The Capture of Ghent, Louis was always the conqueror over
the young Stadtholder, William of Orange.
These and many other details Mr. Calvert had time to note as he made a
tour of the princely apartment in the train of Madame de St. Andre and
Madame de Tesse. Their progress was necessarily slow, as the gallery was
thronged with the deputies of the noblesse, the higher clergy, and the
invited guests. But the members of the tiers, whose presence had been
especially desired by His Majesty, were conspicuous by their absence.
Here and there one saw a commoner in black coat and simple white tie,
but he seemed to be separated from the rest of the splendid company by
some invisible barrier, constrained, uneasy. Indeed, there was over the
whole scene that same feeling of constraint, a sense of danger, and an
air of apathy, too, that killed all gayety.
"If this is a fair sample, court balls must be but dreary affairs," said
Mr. Morris to Calvert, in a low tone, as they moved slowly about. And
yet, in spite of this indefinite but sensible pall over everything, the
company was both numerous and brilliant. The ladies of the Queen's
household and many others of the highest nobility were present, dazzling
in jewels, powder, feathers, and richest court dresses. As for the
gentlemen, they were as resplendent as the women in their satins and
glittering orders and silver dress swords. Mr. Morris alone of all the
company was without the dress sword, this concession having been granted
him on account of his lameness and through the application of Mr.
"It is a grim jest to give a man an extra arm when he needs a leg, Mr.
Jefferson. Can't you see to it that I am spared being made a monstrosity
of?" Mr. Morris had said, whimsically. "I can hear Segur or Beaufort now
making some damned joke about the unequal distribution of my members,"
and Mr. Jefferson had made a formal request to the master of ceremonies
to allow Mr. Morris to be presented to His Majesty without a sword. With
that exception, however, he was in full court costume and stumped his
way about the Galerie des Glaces with his accustomed savoir faire,
attracting almost as much attention and interest as Mr. Jefferson. That
gentleman, in his gray cloth, with some fine Mechlin lace at throat and
wrists, and wearing only his order of the Cincinnati, overtopped all the
other ambassadors in stately bearing, and looked more noble than did
most of the marquises and counts and dukes in their brocades and
powdered perukes and glittering decorations--or, at least, so thought
Calvert, who was himself very good to look at in his white broadcloth
and flowered satin waistcoat.
The slow progress of the party around the room was not entirely to Mr.
Calvert's liking, for at each step Madame de St. Andre was forced to
stop and speak to some eager courtier who presented himself, and, by
the time they were half-way through the tour and opposite the Oeil de
Beef, such a retinue was following the beauty that he found himself
quite in the rear and completely separated from her.
"I feel like the remnant of a beleaguered army cut off from the base of
supplies," said Mr. Morris, smiling at the young man. He and Mr.
Jefferson had dropped behind, having given way to younger and more
pressing claimants for Madame de St. Andre's favor. "Shall we make a
masterly retreat while there is time?"
While he was yet speaking a sudden silence fell upon the company, and
Monsieur de Breze, throwing open the doors leading into the Gallery of
Mirrors from Louis's council chamber, announced the King and Queen.
Their Majesties entered immediately, attended at a respectful distance
by a small retinue of gentlemen, among whom Calvert recognized the Duc
de Broglie, Monsieur de la Luzerne, and Monsieur de Montmorin. At this
near sight of the King--for he found himself directly opposite the door
by which their Majesties entered--Mr. Calvert felt a shock of surprise.
Surrounded by all the pomp and circumstance of a most imposing
ceremonial and seen across the vast Salle des Menus, Louis XVI. had
appeared to the young American kingly enough. But this large, awkward,
good-natured-looking man who now made his way quietly and with a
shambling gait into the brilliant room, crowded with the most splendid
courtiers of Europe, had no trace of majesty about him, unless it was a
certain look of benignity and kindliness that shone in the light-blue
eyes. His dress of unexpected simplicity and the unaffected style of his
whole deportment were unlocked for by Calvert. Indeed, but for the
splendid decorations he wore and the humility of his courtiers, the
young gentleman would have found it hard to believe himself in such
exalted company, and thought privately that General Washington or Mr.
Jefferson or many another great American whom he had known had a more
commanding presence and a more noble countenance than this descendant of
But if Louis XVI was awkward and unprepossessing he had the kindest
manners in the world, and when Mr. Jefferson presented Mr. Calvert to
His Majesty as "son jeune et bien-aime secretaire, qui avait servi dans
la guerre de l'independence sous le drapeau de la France, commande par
Monsieur de Lafayette, pour qu'il avait un respect le plus profond et
une amitie la plus vive," the young man was quite overcome by the
graciousness of his reception and retained for the rest of his life a
very lively impression of the King's kind treatment of him. He never had
speech with that unhappy, but well-intentioned, ruler but once
afterward, and very possibly 'twas as much the memory of the courtesy
shown him as the wish to see justice done and royalty in distress
succored that made him, on the occasion of his second interview, offer
himself so ardently in the dangerous service of the King.
Perhaps it was the presence at his side of his beautiful consort that
accentuated all of Louis's awkwardness. As Mr. Calvert bowed low before
the Queen, Marie Antoinette, he thought to himself that surely there was
no other princess in all Europe to compare with her, and but one beauty.
Certain it was that she bore herself with a pride of race, a majesty, a
divine grace that were peerless. It must have been some such queen as
this who first inspired the artists with the idea of representing the
princes of this earth as Olympic deities, for assuredly no goddess was
ever more beautiful. Though care and grief and humiliation had already
touched her, though there were fine lines around the proudly curving
lips and an anxious shadow in the large eyes, her complexion was still
transcendently brilliant, her figure still youthful and marvellously
graceful, and there was that in her carriage and glance that attracted
all eyes. She was dressed in a silver gauze embroidered in laurier roses
so cunningly wrought that they looked as if fresh plucked and scattered
over the lacy fabric. Her hair, which was worn simply--she had set the
fashion for less extravagance in the style of head-dress--was piled up
in lightly powdered coils, ornamented only with a feather and a star of
"Ainsi, Monsieur, vous connaissez notre cher de Lafayette" (she hated
and feared him) "et tout jeune que vous etes vous avez deja vu la
guerre--la mort, la victorie, et la deroute!" She spoke with a certain
sadness, and Calvert, bowing low again, and speaking only indifferent
French in his agitation, told her that under Lafayette it had been "la
mort et la victoire," but never defeat.
She glanced around the assemblage. "Monsieur de Lafayette is not come
to-night," she said, coldly, to the young man, and then, with a sudden
accession of interest, she went on: "We heard much of that America of
yours from him when he returned from your war" ('twas she herself who
had obtained his forgiveness from the King and a command for him in the
Roi Dragons). "I think he loves it and your General Washington better
than he does his own King and country," she said, smiling a little
bitterly. "Is it, then, so beautiful a country?"
"Tis a very beautiful and a very grateful country, Your Majesty,"
replied Calvert. "America desires nothing so much as to do some service
for Your Majesty in return for all the benefits and assistance France
has rendered her."
"We are glad to know that she is grateful. Ingratitude is the last of
vices," said the Queen, quietly, looking at the young man with a sombre
light in her beautiful eyes. "But, indeed, we fear France hath given her
something she can never repay," and she passed on with the King.
Together they walked the length of the salon between the ranks of
courtiers, after which they mingled freely and without formality with
their guests. Though it was easy to see that the Queen was suffering, so
charming and easy were her manners, so brilliant her very presence, that
a new animation and gayety was diffused throughout the entire
assemblage. Mr. Morris, whom she had also treated with the utmost
graciousness, was enchanted with her.
"I think Venus herself was not more beautiful," he said,
enthusiastically, to Calvert when Her Majesty had passed on. "'Tis no
wonder the wits have dubbed the King Vulcan. And this is the paragon of
beauty and grace whom her ungallant subjects chose to insult this
morning! Have they no hearts, no senses to be charmed with her
loveliness, her majesty, her sorrows? I think you and I, Ned, ought to
be loyal servants of both the King and Queen, for surely royalty could
not have been more courteous in its treatment of two untitled and
"Certainly their Majesties were most amiable," said Mr. Jefferson,
dryly, "and your reception was as unlike the ungracious notice which
King George took of Mr. Adams and myself in '86 at Buckingham Palace as
possible. But, come, I want to show you a view of the gardens," he went
on, pushing back the heavy drapery and drawing the two gentlemen into
the embrasure of one of the great windows, from which a perfect view of
the extensive park, the bosquets, the artificial lakes and tapis vert,
the fountains and statues, was to be had. A thousand lanterns lighted up
the scene, though they shone with but a yellow, ineffectual radiance in
the moonlight, which rested in splendor on the grass and water, turning
to milky whiteness the foam in the basins of the fountains and throwing
long shadows on the close-clipped lawns and marble walks.
The three gentlemen gazed for some minutes in silence at the enchanting
scene before them.
"'Tis a fitting-setting for the palace of a king," said Mr. Morris, at
"Yes--" returned Mr. Jefferson, slowly, "if 'tis ever fitting that a
king should arrogate to his sole use the wealth, the toil, the bounty of
an empire. I confess I never look at this stately palace, at these
magnificent gardens, but I shudder to think of the hundred millions of
francs this impoverished nation has been goaded into giving; of the
thousands of lives lost in the building of these aqueducts; of the
countless years and countless energy spent in devising and carrying out
these schemes for royal aggrandizement and pleasure. We come here and
gape and wonder at it all, and little think at what stupendous cost our
senses are so gratified.
"'The man of wealth and pride
Takes up a space that many poor supplied--
Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds;
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth
Has robb'd the neighboring fields of half their growth;
His seat, where solitary sports are seen,
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green;
Around the world each needful product flies,
For all the luxuries the world supplies:
While thus the land adorn'd for pleasure--all
In barren splendor feebly waits the fall.'"
As Mr. Jefferson finished quoting the lines, the sound of voices and
exclamations of astonishment came to the gentlemen from the other side
of the curtain. Looking into the salon they saw Monsieur de St. Aulaire
surrounded by a little group of ladies and gentlemen. He was speaking
quite audibly, so that his words reached the astonished group in the
embrasure of the window.
"'Tis the latest from the Club des Enrages--the King abdicates
to-morrow!" He passed on amid a chorus of dismayed ejaculations.
"What is this?" said Mr. Jefferson, in alarm. "'Tis impossible that it
should be true. Yonder I see Montmorin. I will ask him the meaning of
this," and he passed hurriedly into the salon, leaving Mr. Morris and
"'Tis some infernal deviltry of St. Aulaire's, I'll be bound," said Mr.
Morris. "I think I will go, too, Ned," he said, after a minute's
silence, "and see if I can't find Madame de Flahaut. She will know what
this wild report amounts to. Oh, you need not stand there smiling at me
with those serious eyes of yours, my young Sir Galahad! She's a very
pretty and a very interesting woman, if a good deal of the intrigante,
and as for me, I know excellently well how to take care of myself. I
wonder if you do!" and with that he passed out, laughing and drawing the
velvet curtains of the window together behind him.
Mr. Calvert, thus left alone, and being shut off from the great gallery
by the drapery of the window, folded his arms, and, leaning against the
open casement, gazed out at the beautiful scene before him. And as he
looked up in the heavens at the moon shining with such effulgence on
this scene of splendor, the thought came to him that she was shining on
other and far different scenes, too--on the tides of the ocean and on
the cold snows of the mountain-peaks; on squalor and wretchedness and
agitation in the great city so near; and especially did he think of one
tranquil and beloved spot across the sea, on which he had seen this
self-same moon shining with as serene a radiance many, many times. The
sounds of laughter and animated talk, the click of silver swords, the
strains of music from the musicians in the gallery above the OEil de
Beef came faintly to him. Suddenly he was aware that the curtains had
been lifted, and turning around, he saw Madame de St. Andre standing in
the light, one hand pulling back the velvet hangings, and, behind her,
Monsieur de Beaufort and St. Aulaire.
"I am come to congratulate you, Monsieur," she said, smiling, and coming
into the embrasure of the window, followed by the two gentlemen--it was
so deep that the four could stand at ease in it, even when the curtains
had been dropped. "I am come to congratulate you! Your courtesy to the
King was perfection itself. I was over against the OEil de Beef and
could see very well what passed. I am sure had His Majesty been General
Washington himself you could not have excelled it. You must know,
gentlemen," she said, laughing maliciously and turning to St. Aulaire
and Beaufort, "you must know that when I expressed my great desire to
see how an American would salute a king, Monsieur told me that I need
have no fear, as he had paid his respects to General Washington!"
"Monsieur does not mean to compare General Washington with His Majesty
Louis XVI, does he?" drawled St. Aulaire, insolently.
"No, Monsieur--no," says Calvert, turning to the nobleman, who was
leaning negligently against the ledge of the window. "There can be no
comparison. Who, indeed, can be compared with him?" he breaks out
suddenly. "There is none like him. None so wise or courageous or truly
royal. How can the kings of this world, born in the purple, who, through
no act, nor powers, nor fitness of their own, reign over their people;
how can they be compared to one who, by the greatness of his talents,
the soundness of his judgment, the firmness of his will, the tenderness
of his heart, the overtopping majesty of his whole nature, hath raised
himself so gloriously above his fellows? To one, the kingly estate is
but a gift blindly bestowed; to the other, 'tis the divine right of
excelling merit. The one is ruler by sufferance; the other, by
acclamation. And do you think, Madame," he goes on, turning to Adrienne,
"that that ruler who has been elevated to his greatness by the choice of
a people would betray that confidence, abandon that trust, as Monsieur
de St. Aulaire has just announced that the King of France is about to
do? Surely General Washington would not. Ah, Madame! Could you but see
him; but see the noble calm of his countenance, the commanding eye, the
consummate majesty of his presence, you would say with me, 'there is no
king like him!'"
As Calvert finished his impassioned eulogy of his great commander, there
was a slight stir near him and, looking around, he beheld the King draw
back the heavy curtains and, standing in the flood of light, look
quietly into the embrasure of the window. Behind him was Mr. Jefferson,
pale and concerned-looking, but with a glow of ill-concealed pride on
his countenance at the patriotic words he had just heard uttered. On
either side of His Majesty stood Monsieur le Due de Broglie and Monsieur
de Montmorin, white with anger and consternation. As the King stepped
forward, Madame de St. Andre sank almost to the ground in a deep
courtesy, while Beaufort and St. Aulaire dropped on their knees before
him. Calvert alone retained his composure and stood before the King,
pale, with folded arms.
For an instant there was a profound silence, and then Louis, drawing
himself up to his full height and looking around upon the stricken
company, turned to Calvert with so much benignity in his gaze and mien
that the young American was startled and awed. He never forgot that
unexpected graciousness nor ceased to feel grateful for it.
"Monsieur," said the King, and there was a thrill of deep feeling in his
voice, "believe me, whatever failings crowned monarchs may have, they at
least know how to value such deep devotion as you give your uncrowned
ruler. Tis as you say--this kingly estate is thrust upon us; it is not
of our seeking, perhaps it would not be of our choosing; how much more
grateful to us, then, is the loyalty and the love of those over whom we
find ourselves involuntarily placed and who must of their own free wills
give us their faith and service or else withhold them entirely!
Gentlemen, proud as I am of my kingdom and my subjects, I still find it
in my heart to envy General Washington! And yet, have I not as loyal
subjects?" He turned and looked at the company about him. At his glance
a hundred cries of "Vive le roi!" were heard, and there was a sharp ring
of silver swords as they leaped from their sheaths and were held aloft.
The King stood smiling and triumphant. Seeing him thus, with his
courtiers about him, who could dream that the 6th of October was but a
few months off!
"Ah, gentlemen, I am no 'king by trade,' as our cousin of Austria hath
called himself. At this moment I feel that I am indeed your King." The
tumult of applause which followed these words was suddenly stilled as
the King lifted his hand and pointed to St. Aulaire.
"But, Monsieur," says Louis, a sombre expression clouding the triumph in
his face as he looked hard at St. Aulaire, "what is the meaning of this
speech of yours to which Monsieur Calvert makes reference?"
"Nom de diable!" whispered St. Aulaire to Calvert, deathly pale and
almost ready to faint from consternation. "You have ruined me!" He
managed to make a step forward and sank down before the King, who
glowered at him.
"'Twas but a plaisanterie, Your Majesty!" and if such a jest, with a
king for the butt, seems incredible, let one remember that already Louis
had been refused his cour pleniere and the Queen lampooned and hissed at
"Monsieur le Baron de St. Aulaire, we have heard before of your
plaisanteries," said Louis, his light-blue eyes flashing more wrathfully
than one could have believed possible, the red heels of his shoes
clicking together, and his heavy figure bent forward menacingly, "but
this audacity passes belief. The court of Louis the Sixteenth needs no
jester. For a season you can be spared attendance upon us. Your estates
in Brittany doubtless need your presence. This unpardonable levity,
Monsieur," he went on, severely, "contrasts strangely with the attitude
and language of this American subject," and he bowed slightly to Calvert
as he turned away.
St. Aulaire, pallid with consternation, stretched out an imploring hand
to the King. "Your Majesty," he said, "'twas but a thoughtless jest, too
idle to be believed or repeated. Will Your Majesty not deign to remember
that St. Aulaire's life and sword have been ever at Your Majesty's
As the prostrate nobleman began to speak, the King hesitated, turned
back, and looked perplexedly at him. As he gazed, a look of indecision,
of distaste and weariness, crept into his countenance. All the passion,
dignity, and just anger which had lit it up faded away. The brief
revelation of majesty was quenched, and the customary commonplace,
vacant, good-natured expression held sway once more.
"Rise, Monsieur de St. Aulaire," he said, wearily. "We forgive you this
unfortunate plaisanterie, since its execrable taste carries with it its
own worst punishment. But be careful, sir, how you offend again!" With
a last glance of warning, which, however, had lost its severity, the
King turned away, followed by the Due de Broglie, and, seeking the
Queen, their Majesties retired very shortly.
With the Queen's withdrawal, all the zest and animation of the function
disappeared, too, and Mr. Calvert, wearying of the brilliant company,
determined to leave the scene and stroll through the gardens. He
descended by the Grand Escalier des Ambassadeurs, up which he had come,
and, passing out through the Marble Court, quickly found himself on the
broad terrace beneath the windows of the Gallery of Mirrors. From this,
marble steps led down to a beautiful parterre, below which the Fountain
of Latona played in the white moonlight. Standing on the terrace,
Calvert could see the marble nymph through the mist of spray flung upon
her from the hideous gaping mouths of the gilded frogs lying along the
edge of the basin. 'Twas the story of Jupiter's wrath against the
Lyceans which the sculptor had told, and Calvert remembered it out of
his Ovid. Beyond this lovely fountain the green level of the tapis vert
fell away to the great Bassin d'Appollon, where the sun-god disported
himself among his Tritons, the foamy tops of the great jets of water
blown from their shell-trumpets rising high in the air and scattered
into spray by the night wind.
It was a scene not to be forgotten, and Mr. Calvert stood gazing at it a
long while--at the softly playing fountains and the sombre bosquets and
the sculptured groups on every hand, showing faintly in the moonlight.
Fauns and satyrs peeped from the dense foliage. Here there showed a
Venus sculptured in some Ionian isle before ever Caesar and his cohorts
had pressed the soil of Gallia beneath their Roman sandals; there, a
Ganymede or a Ceres or a Minerva gleamed wan and beautiful; beneath an
ilex-tree a Bacchus leaned lightly on his marble thyrsus. It seemed as
if all the hierarchy of Olympus had descended to dwell in this royal
pleasure-ground at the bidding of the Roi Soleil.
Filled with the unrivalled beauty of the scene, Calvert at length turned
away and, passing down the great flight of marble steps leading to the
Orangery, slowly made his way into the park. The shadows were so dense
here that the statues looked ghostly in the dim light. Now and then he
could hear a low laugh and catch the flutter of a silken gown along the
shadowy walks, or the glint of a stray moonbeam on a silver sword. He
strolled about, scarcely knowing whither, guided by the sound of
splashing water, and coming upon many a beautiful spot in his solitary
ramble, among them that famous Bosquet de la Reine where the
scoundrelly, frightened Rohan had sworn the Queen had stooped to him. He
passed by the place, all unconscious of its unhappy history, and so on
down a broad pathway toward the tapis vert.
As he walked slowly along, charmed with the beauty of the scene around
him, and smiling now and again to think that fortune should have placed
him in the midst of such unaccustomed splendors, he suddenly heard the
sounds of a lute near him, fingered in tentative accord, and an instant
later he recognized St. Aulaire's voice.
"'Twas written for you, Madame, and 'tis called 'Le Pays du Tendre,'" he
said, still fingering the strings. "I would wander in the land with
you, Madame." Suddenly he begins to sing softly, and, in the silence and
perfume of the summer night, his hushed voice sounded like a caress:
Land of the madrigal and ode,
Of rainbow air and cloudless weather,
Tell me what ferny, elfin road
Will lead my eager footsteps thither.
Tricked out with gems shall I go hither?
Or in a carriage a la mode,
Land of the madrigal and ode,
Of rainbow air and cloudless weather?
Or in the garb by Love bestow'd?
With roses crown'd and sprigs of heather,
With mandolin and dart enbow'd
Shall Cupid and I go together--
Land of the madrigal and ode,
Of rainbow air and cloudless weather?
As the last tinkling notes of the lute died away, Calvert was about to
go, but he was suddenly startled by hearing a faint scream. Turning
quickly and noiselessly in the direction from which the sound seemed to
have come, he found himself in an instant in a thick and beautiful
bosquet. A double row of ilex-trees, inside of which ran a colonnade of
white marble, completely encircled and shut in a cleared space, in the
centre of which bubbled a fountain. Into this secluded spot the moon,
high in the heavens, shone with unclouded radiance, so that he saw, as
clearly as though 'twere noonday, Madame de St. Andre standing at the
edge of the basin, her lips white and parted in fear, one hand pressed
against her throat, the other held roughly in the grasp of Monsieur de
St. Aulaire, who knelt before her, his lute fallen at his side. The rose
which she had worn in her hair had escaped from its diamond loop and lay
upon the ground; the delicate gaze d'or of her dress was torn and
For an instant Calvert stood in the shadow of one of the Grecian columns
and looked at the scene before him in sick amazement. So it was to
Adrienne that St. Aulaire was singing love-songs in this isolated spot
at midnight! As he hesitated, Monsieur de St. Aulaire rose from his
"You did not always treat me with such contempt, Madame," he said, with
a mocking laugh, "and by God, I have no mind to stand it now," and,
putting one arm around her quivering shoulders and crushing in his the
hand with which she would have pushed him from her, he leaned lightly
over to kiss her.
As he did so, Calvert stepped quietly forward ('twas wonderful how,
though he always seemed to move slowly, he was ever in the right place
at the right time) and, seizing St. Aulaire by the collar, hurled him
backward with such force that he fell heavily against one of the
gleaming marble columns and lay, for an instant, stunned and motionless.
Feeling herself thus violently released from St. Aulaire's embrace,
Adrienne sprang back, uttering a low cry and gazing in surprise at
Calvert. The ease with which he had flung off the larger and heavier man
aroused her wonder as well as her admiration, for she never imagined
Calvert's slender, boyish figure to be possessed of so much brute
strength, and, since the days of Hercules and Omphale, brute strength in
man has ever appealed to woman. Before either of them could speak, St.
Aulaire struggled to his feet and, wrenching his dress sword from its
sheath, staggered toward Calvert, thrusting wildly and ineffectually at
"Put up your sword, my lord," says Calvert, contemptuously, knocking up
the silver blade with his own, which he had drawn. "We cannot fight
with these toys. Should you wish to pursue this affair with swords or
pistols, if you prefer the English mode, you know where to find me. And
now, begone, sir!"
The quiet sternness with which the young man spoke filled Adrienne with
fresh wonder and something like fear. She glanced from Calvert's face,
with its look of calm authority, to St. Aulaire's convulsed countenance.
The nobleman's face, usually so debonair, was now white and seamed with
anger. All the hidden evil traits of his soul came out and stamped
themselves visibly on his countenance, in that heat of passion, like
characters written in a secret ink and brought near a flame.
"Monsieur l'Americain," he said, lowering his point and coming up quite
close to Calvert, "Monsieur, you have a trick of being damnably mal
apropos. I have had a lesson from you in skating and one in singing, but
I need none in love-making. My patience--never very great, I fear--is at
an end, sir! This intrusion, Monsieur l'Americain, is unpardonable,"
he went on, recovering his composure with a great effort,
"unpardonable--unless, indeed, Monsieur hoped to gain what I have just
lost," he added, smiling his brilliant, insolent smile, though he had to
half-kneel for support upon the marble edge of the fountain.
"Silence!" said Calvert, his white face filled with such sudden horror
and disgust that Monsieur de St. Aulaire burst out laughing.
"A poor compliment to you, Madame," he said to Adrienne.
At the words and the mocking laughter, Calvert's wrath blazed up
uncontrollably. He went over to St. Aulaire, where he knelt on the
basin, and, catching him again by the collar, shook him to and fro
"Another word, sir, and I will toss you into this fountain with the hope
that you break your head against the bottom! And now, go!"
The water in the marble basin was not very deep, but St. Aulaire did not
covet a ducking--'twould be too good a theme for jests at his expense;
and though he could still laugh and talk insolently, he felt weak and in
no condition to prevent Calvert from carrying out his threat. Retreat
seemed to be all left to him. With a sour smile he got upon his feet,
and, making an elaborate courtesy to Madame de St. Andre, passed
through the colonnade from the bosquet.
When he had quite disappeared, Calvert turned to the young girl. She
still stood by the bubbling fountain, pale between anger and fright, one
hand yet pressed against her throat, the other clenched and hanging by
her side. At her feet the white rose lay crushed and unheeded. As
Calvert looked at the wilful, beautiful girl before him, he comprehended
for the first time that he loved her--loved and mistrusted her. The
shock of surprise that this cruel conviction brought with it held him
rooted to the spot for an instant. Love had ever been a vague dream to
him, but certainly no woman could be further from his ideal than this
brilliant, volatile, worldly creature.
A smile rippled over her face, to which the color was gradually
"Well done, sir! I am only sorry you did not drop him into the fountain,
as you threatened. 'Twould have been a light enough punishment, and, for
once, we should have had the pleasure of seeing Monsieur de St. Aulaire
in something besides his customary immaculate attire!" and she laughed
As for Calvert, he could not reply to her light banter, but stood
looking at her in silence.
"Well, sir, why do you look at me so?" demanded Adrienne, petulantly,
after an instant. "Have you nothing to say? But, indeed, I know you
have! I can see you are dying to rebuke me for this indiscretion--this
stroll with Monsieur de St. Aulaire!" and she gave him a mutinous side
glance and tapped the gravel with her satin slipper. "One who dares
express himself so frankly before the King will not hesitate to say his
mind to a woman!"
"Ah, Madame, I fear, indeed, that you can never forgive me for having
betrayed my republican sentiments so freely in the presence of your
monarch--unconscious though I was of doing so."
"Oh, no, Monsieur, you mistake," said Adrienne, maliciously. "I can
forgive you for having betrayed your republican sentiments, but I can
never forgive the King for not having properly rebuked them!"
At these words Calvert let his gaze rest on the haughty face before him
for a moment, and then, making a profound obeisance, he said, quietly:
"When you are quite ready, Madame, permit me to escort you back to the
palace." He spoke with such formality and dignity that Adrienne blushed
scarlet and bit her lips.
"Before I accept Monsieur Calvert's escort, I wish to explain--" but
Calvert interrupted her.
"No explanation is necessary, Madame, surely," he said, a little
She blushed yet more deeply and raised her head imperiously. "You are
right, Monsieur. 'Tis not necessary, as you say, but I will accept no
favor--not even a safe-conduct back to the palace--from one whose
manner"--she hesitated, as if at a loss for words--"whose manner is an
accusation. But though I am hurt, I should not be surprised by it, sir!"
she went on, advancing a step and drawing herself up proudly. "It has
ever been your attitude toward me. From that first night we met I have
felt myself under the ban of your disapproval. Poor Monsieur de St.
Aulaire and I!" and she laughed mockingly.
"I pray you, Madame, do not name yourself in the same breath with that
scoundrel!" said Calvert, in a low voice.
"And why not, Monsieur? We are both of the same world, we have both been
brought up after the same fashion, we are probably much alike. Ah,
Monsieur," she went on, defiantly, "is it the Quaker in you--Monsieur
Jefferson has told me that your mother was a Quakeress--that makes you
hate the world, the flesh, and the devil so? Is Paris, then, so much
more wicked than your Virginia? Are we so different from the women of
your world?" She went up to him and put her beautiful face close to his
disturbed one. "Are _you_ so different from the men of our world,
Monsieur, or is it only those grand yeux of yours, with their serious
expression, that make you seem different--and better?" and her eyes
smiled mockingly into his. "Pshaw, sir, you make me feel like a naughty
school-girl when you reprove me so. Upon my word, I don't know why I
submit to it! Though I am younger than you, sir, I feel a hundred years
older in experience--and yet--and yet--there is something about you--"
She broke off and again tapped the gravel impatiently with her foot.
"I have said nothing, Madame." Calvert was quiet and unsmiling.
"No, Monsieur, 'tis that I most object to--you keep silence, but your
eyes reprove me. Oh, I have seen you looking at me with that reproving
glance many times when you did not know I saw it! Am I to blame, sir,
for being of the great world of which you do not approve? Am I to be
rebuked--even silently--for coming here with Monsieur de St. Aulaire, by
_you_, Monsieur?" Suddenly she dropped her defiant tone and, leaning
against the edge of the marble basin, looked intently and silently at
the splashing water gleaming white in the moonlight.
"Can you not see?--Do you not understand, Monsieur?" she said at length,
hurriedly, and in a low voice. "Do not misjudge me. I have been brought
up in this court life, which is the life of intrigue and dissimulation
and wickedness--yes, wickedness! We know nothing else. There is no one
in our world so pure as to be above suspicion. The walls of this great
palace, thick and massive as they are, cannot keep out the whispers of
calumny against the Queen herself. Is it so different in your country?
Sometimes I abhor this life and would hear of another. Sometimes I hate
all this," she went on, speaking as if more to herself than to Calvert.
"As for Monsieur de St. Aulaire, I loathe him! I thank you, Monsieur,
for ridding me of his presence. If I seemed ungrateful, believe me, I
was not! 'Tis but my pride which stands no rebuke. But it is late! Will
you do me the favor, Monsieur, of taking me back to the Galerie des
Glaces?" She turned her eyes away from the fountain, at which she had
gazed steadily while speaking, and looked at Calvert. He saw that they
were full of tears. The mask was down again. There was an humbled,
shamed expression on that lovely face usually so imperious. The look of
appeal and distress went to his heart like a knife. She made him think
of some brilliant bird cruelly wounded.
For an instant she looked at him so, and then resuming her imperious air
with a palpable effort and forcing a smile to her lips, she gathered up
her trailing gown and passed slowly beneath the colonnade, Calvert
following at her side. As she turned away, he stooped quickly and picked
up the white rose she had worn where it had fallen on the path.
THE FOURTH AND THE FOURTEENTH OF JULY
For the next few weeks Mr. Calvert had little time--and, indeed, little
inclination--to see Adrienne. The discovery that he loved her had
brought pain, not happiness with it. He felt the gulf too wide between
them, both in circumstance and character, to be bridged. How could he,
an untitled American, an unknown young gentleman of small fortune,
pretend to the hand of one of the most beautiful, most aristocratic, and
most capricious women in Paris? He smiled to himself as he mentally
compared Adrienne with the simple young beauties of Virginia he had
known--with Miss Molly Crenshawe and Miss Peggy Gary--and he wondered a
little bitterly why he could not have fallen happily in love with some
one of his own countrywomen, whose heart he could have won and kept,
instead of falling a victim to the charms of a dazzling creature quite
beyond his reach. With that clear good sense which was ever one of his
most distinguishing traits, he fully comprehended the difficulties, the
impossibility of a happy ending of his passion, and, having no desire to
play the role of the disconsolate lover, he again determined to see as
little of Adrienne as possible.
For a while circumstances favored this decision. The French government,
being entirely absorbed in domestic affairs, Mr. Jefferson found himself
with more leisure than he had known for some time, and, being enormously
interested in the organization of the States-General, and realizing that
their proceedings were of the first order of importance, he drove almost
daily from Paris to Versailles to assist at their stormy deliberations.
Mr. Calvert attended him thither at his express wish, for he had the
young man's diplomatic education greatly at heart, and desired him to
profit by the debates in the Salle des Menus. In this way the young
gentleman found his days completely filled, while the evenings were
frequently as busily occupied in the preparation of letters for the
American packet, dictated by Mr. Jefferson and narrating the day's
events. Of things to be written there was no lack. Day after day,
through the hot months of May and June, events succeeded one another
rapidly. Tempestuous debates among the noblesse, the clergy, and the
tiers etat, upon the question of the verification of their powers,
separately and together, were followed by proposition and
counter-proposition, by commissions of conciliation which did not
conciliate, by royal letters commanding a fusion of the three orders, by
secessions from the nobility and clergy to the grimly determined and
united tiers, by courtly intrigues at Marly for the King's favor in
behalf of the nobles, by royal seances and ruses which, instead of
postponing, only hastened the evil hour, by the famous oath of the
Tennis Court, and by the triumph of the third estate. And in this
distracting clash of opposing political forces, amid this first crash
and downfall of the ancient order of things, there passed, almost
unnoticed, save by the weeping Queen and harassed King, who hung over
his pillow, the last sigh, the last childish words of the Dauphin. The
tired little royal head, which had been greeted eight years before with
such acclamations of enthusiastic delight, dropped wearily and all
unnoticed for the last time, happily ignorant of the martyr's crown it
had escaped. Calvert had the news from Madame de Montmorin when he went
to pay his respects to her on the evening of the 3d of June, and in
imagination he saw, over and over again, the lovely face of the Queen
distorted with unavailing grief.
All these public occurrences which filled the hurrying days were
reported in Mr. Jefferson's long letters to General Washington, to the
Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jay, to Mr. Madison, Mr. Carmichael,
and other friends in America, whom he knew to be deeply interested in
the trend of French affairs. Indeed, he knew fully whereof he wrote,
for, although in that summer of '89 the position of the United States in
relation to Europe was anything but enviable, though we were deeply in
debt and our credit almost gone, though England and Spain turned us the
cold shoulder, though our enemies were diligently circulating damaging
stories of the disunion, the bankruptcy, the agitation in American
affairs, yet so friendly was the French government to us, so deep the
personal respect and admiration for Mr. Jefferson as the representative
of the infant republic, that he was consulted by the leaders of all
parties and received the confidences of the most influential men of the
day. So close, indeed, was his connection with the ministers in power
that, during the early days of June and in pursuance of an idea which
had occurred to him during a conversation with Lafayette, Mr. Short, and
Monsieur de St. Etienne, he drew up a paper for the consideration of the
King, which, if it had received the royal sanction, might have produced
the best results. It was a charter of those rights which the King was
willing, nay, glad, to grant, but it was Mr. Jefferson's earnest
conviction that Louis should come forward with this charter of his own
free will and offer it to his people, to be signed by himself and every
member of the National Assembly. But the King's timidity and the
machinations of Monsieur and the Comte d'Artois prevented this plan from
coming to anything. Mr. Jefferson, thinking, perhaps, that his zeal had
over-stepped his discretion, refused again to take an active part in the
politics of the day, and declined the invitation of the Archbishop of
Bordeaux to attend the deliberations of the committee for the "first
drafting" of a constitution.
"My mission is to the King as Chief Magistrate of France," said Mr.
Jefferson to His Grace of Bordeaux, "and deeply as I am interested in
the affairs of your country, my duties concern my own. But I have
requested from Congress a leave of absence for a few months, that I may
return to America and settle some important private business, and as
General Washington and other friends will be only too anxious to hear a
detailed and recent account of the progress of events here, I shall
esteem it both my duty and pleasure to acquaint myself with them as
fully as may be, without transcending the limits of my office."
This leave of absence which Mr. Jefferson had solicited for some time
was anxiously awaited, but packet after packet arrived without it. It
had been his hope to receive the authority of Congress for his departure
during the early spring, that he might return to Virginia, leaving
affairs in the hands of Calvert and Mr. Short, and return before cold
weather set in again, but the end of June was at hand and still no word
As it was evident that Mr. Jefferson was not to get away from Paris for
some time, he determined to celebrate the Fourth of July at the Legation
with proper ceremony, and invited quite a little company to dinner for
that day. Among the guests were Madame la Duchesse d'Azay, Adrienne,
Monsieur and Madame de Montmorin, Monsieur and Madame de Lafayette,
Madame de Tesse, Mr. Morris, Beaufort, Calvert, and Mr. Short.
The Duchess of Azay had accepted her invitation with characteristic
"I don't approve of your Fourth of July, Monsieur Jefferson," she said,
"but I always approve of a good dinner, and your wines are so excellent
that I dare say I shall drink your toasts, too." "I promise you there
shall be none to offend the most ardent royalist," returned Mr.
Jefferson, laughing at the old woman's sturdy independence. And so she
had come, and Madame de St. Andre with her, though Adrienne, too, was a
stanch royalist, and had not been carried away by the popular enthusiasm
for liberty and Monsieur de Lafayette which was spreading like wildfire
through all ranks of Parisian society.
"I am here, not because I am so greatly in love with your fine American
principles," she said to Calvert, who was seated beside her at the
table, "but because I like your Mr. Jefferson. For myself, I vastly
prefer a king and a court, and I like titles and rank and power--all of
which is heresy in your American ears, is it not?" she asked, with a
perverse look. "However, Henri's enthusiasm is enough for us both," she
said, smiling a little scornfully at her brother, who, indeed, was quite
wild with enthusiasm, and was on his feet drinking Lafayette's toast of
"Long life and prosperity to the United States!"
"Get up, Ned!" he says to Calvert. "We are drinking to your country! We
ought to have a toast to Yorktown--see, Mr. Morris is going to give it
to us now--'The French at Yorktown!'"
But there was another toast still more vociferously greeted, for the
long-delayed American packet having arrived three days before at Havre,
Mr. Jefferson was that morning in receipt of letters from Mr. Jay and
others containing news of the first importance. It was nothing less than
the announcement of the election of General Washington to the first
Presidency of the United States, and of his inauguration on the 13th of
April in New York City.
"'The oath was administered by Chancellor Livingston,'" says Mr.
Jefferson, reading from Mr. Jay's letter, "'in the presence of a vast
concourse of people assembled to witness the inauguration. The
President, appearing upon the balcony, bowed again and again to the
cheering multitude, but could scarcely speak for emotion.' 'Tis a
strange and happy coincidence that we should have this news on this day.
I give you 'President Washington!'" says Mr. Jefferson, solemnly.
There were tears of joy in Lafayette's eyes as he drank the toast.
"It makes me think of that last night at Monticello, Ned," he said,
turning to Calvert, "when we toasted General Washington and bade
farewell to Mr. Jefferson."
"'Tis a far cry from Paris to Monticello, Marquis," said Calvert,
smiling, "and 'tis a little strange that we should all be gathered here
as we were there, discussing our dear General."
"And so your demi-god, your General Washington, is elected to the
Presidency," said Adrienne, speaking to Calvert. "'Tis unnecessary to
ask whether the choice meets with your approval."
"There could be none other, Madame," returned Calvert.
"You are a loyal admirer of General Washington's, Monsieur. I see you
know how to approve as well as to rebuke. 'Tis much pleasanter to be
approved of than to be rebuked, as I know by personal experience," said
Adrienne, with a slight blush and a half glance at Calvert. She was so
lovely as she spoke, there was such sunny laughter in her blue eyes,
that Calvert gazed at her, lost in guilty wonder as to how he could ever
have doubted this beautiful creature, how he could ever have condemned
her by a thought. The inscrutable look in his serious eyes embarrassed
"Of what are you thinking, Monsieur?" she asked, after an instant's
"I was wondering who could have the audacity to rebuke Madame de St.
"'Twas a very rash young gentleman from General Washington's country,"
returned Adrienne, smiling suddenly, "who, by his courage, saved Madame
de St. Andre from the consequences of a foolish action, and who had the
still greater courage to silently, but unmistakably, show his
disapprobation of her."
"'Tis impossible that he should be a fellow-countryman of mine, Madame,"
said Calvert, smiling, too. "It would indeed be a rash and
ill-considered person who could find fault with Madame de St. Andre."
"Another compliment, Monsieur Calvert! That is the second one you have
given me. If you are not more careful I shall begin to doubt your
sincerity! I am not jesting, sir," she says, suddenly serious. "I know
not quite why I trust you so implicitly, but so it is, and, as sincerity
is a rare virtue in our world, I should hate to lose my belief in
yours. It takes no very keen vision to see my faults, sir. I recognize
and deplore them," and she looked at the young man in so winning and
frank a fashion as she rose from the table, that Calvert thought to
himself for the hundredth time that he had never seen anyone so
incomparably beautiful and charming.
Although Paris was unbearably hot and dusty in that month of July, all
the world stayed in town or drove no farther than Versailles to attend
the meetings of the National Assembly. Political excitement and interest
were intense, and were stimulated every day by the events taking place.
But through it all the higher classes feasted and made merry, as though
bent on literally obeying the biblical injunction. Mr. Morris, whose
success in society continued prodigious, could scarce find the time for
his numerous engagements, and was seen everywhere, often in company with
Mr. Calvert, of whom he was extremely fond. Indeed, he urged upon
Calvert the acceptance of many invitations which the latter would have
declined, having an affectionate regard for the young man and a pride in
the popularity which Mr. Calvert had won absolutely without effort and
in spite of the lack of all brilliant social qualities. Wherever they
went Madame de St. Andre was of the party. Perhaps 'twas this fact,
rather than a wish to comply with Mr. Morris's requests, that induced
Calvert to accept the many invitations extended to him, and, in the
constant delight and charm of Adrienne's presence, his caution deserted
him and he gradually found himself forgetting the wide gulf between
them, of which he had thought so much at first, and eagerly watching for
her wherever he went. He was engaged for innumerable pleasure-parties,
dinners a la matelote, evenings with Madame de Chastellux, when the Abbe
Delille read his verses, the theatre and opera with Gardell and Vestris,
about whom all Paris was wild, and water-picnics on the Seine. In early
June, at the express wish of the Duchesse d'Orleans, Mr. Calvert and Mr.
Morris, with Madame d'Azay and Adrienne, made a visit to Her Highness at
Raincy. The gardens and park of this old castle were so beautiful that
Calvert would have liked nothing better than to linger in them with
Adrienne for all the long summer day, but the Duchess, being very
devout, demanded the presence of her guests in the chapel of the chateau
to hear mass. Mr. Calvert read another sign of the times in the conduct
of Monsieur de Segur and Monsieur de Cubieres during mass, who furnished
immoderate amusement to Her Highness's guests by putting lighted candles
in the pockets of the Abbe Delille while he was on his knees.
"Truly an edifying example to the domestics opposite and the villagers
worshipping below," thought Calvert to himself. "If they but knew what
triflers these beings are whom they look up to as their superiors, their
respect would be transformed to contempt." And this thought occurred to
him again when, at dinner, which was served under a large marquise on
the terrace of the chateau, a crowd of the common people gathered at a
respectful distance and looked enviously at the exalted company as it
It was at one of these numerous pleasure-parties with which Paris sought
to banish care and anxiety that Mr. Calvert and Mr. Morris first heard
the astounding news of Necker's dismissal, which woke the city from its
false trance of security. They were at the hotel of the Marechal de
Castries, whither they had driven for breakfast, when his frightened
secretary, calling him from the table, told him the news which he had
just heard. Monsieur de Castries, containing himself with difficulty
during the rest of the meal, at which was gathered a large and mixed
company, drew the American gentlemen aside as soon as possible and
confided to them the disastrous intelligence he had just received.
"The King sent Monsieur de la Luzerne with the message," he said. "He
found Necker at dinner, and, exacting a promise of absolute secrecy,
delivered to him the King's decree. Without a word Monsieur Necker
proposed to his wife a visit to some friends, but went instead to his
place at St. Ouen, and at midnight set out for Brussels."
"What madness!" exclaimed Mr. Morris. "Does the King, then, not realize
that he is no longer the power in the state? The National Assembly will
not tolerate Necker's dismissal. Will you not go instantly to Versailles
and try to undo this fatal blunder of the King?" he asked. Monsieur de
Castries shook his head despondingly.
"'Tis too late."
"Come, Ned, we will go to Mr. Jefferson's and see whether he has heard
this terrible news," said Mr. Morris, who was deeply affected by the
Together they entered Mr. Morris's carriage and drove toward the
Legation. As they made their way along the boulevards, they were
astonished to see pedestrians and carriages suddenly turn about and come
toward them. In a few moments a troop of German cavalry, with drawn
sabres, approached at a hand gallop, and, on reaching the Place Louis
Quinze, Mr. Morris and Mr. Calvert found themselves confronted by an
angry mob of several hundred persons, who had intrenched themselves
among the great blocks of stone piled there for the new bridge building.
At the same instant, on looking back, they perceived that the cavalry
had faced about and were returning, so that they found themselves hemmed
in between the troops and the menacing mob. Many other carriages were
caught in the same cul-de-sac, and Calvert, looking out, saw the pale
face of Madame de St. Andre at the window of her carriage beside him.
Her coachman was trying in vain to get his horses through the crowd and
was looking confoundedly frightened. In an instant Calvert was out of
his carriage and at her coach-door.
"You must get in Mr. Morris's carriage, Madame," he says, briefly,
holding the door open and extending a hand to Adrienne. At his tone of
command, without a word, she stepped quickly from her coach into that of
"Heavens, Madame! are you alone in this mob?" asks Mr. Morris, in much
"Yes--I have just left my aunt in the rue St. Honore," says Adrienne,
sinking down on the cushions. Mr. Morris put his head out of the window.
"Drive on, Martin!" he calls out. "To Mr. Jefferson's." But it is
impossible for the plunging horses to move, so dense is the mob and so
threatening its attitude.
"They are arming themselves with stones," he says, looking out again.
"We are in a pretty pass between this insane mob and the cavalry, which
is advancing!" Suddenly he bursts the door open and, standing on the
coach-step, so that he is well seen, he calls out, "Drive on there,
Martin! Who stops an American's carriage in Paris?"
As he made his appearance at the coach-door a shout went up, and a man
standing near and pointing to Mr. Morris's wooden stump, cries out,
"Make way for the American patriot crippled in the Revolution!" At his
words a great cheer goes up, and Mr. Morris, scrambling back into the
coach, bursts out into such a hearty laugh that Calvert, and Adrienne,
too, in spite of her fright, cannot refrain from joining in it. The
people fall back and a lane is formed, through which Martin urges his
horses at a gallop.
"'Twill be a good story to tell Mr. Jefferson," says Mr. Morris, when he
can speak. "I think this wooden stump has never done such yeoman service
"If I am not mistaken, that was my friend Bertrand," says Calvert,
looking back at the man who had started the cheer for Mr. Morris.
They had scarce got through the mob when the cavalry, advancing, were
met by a shower of stones.
"The captain is hit," says Calvert, still looking out of the
coach-window. Pale with fear, Adrienne laid her hand on his arm and
Calvert covered it with one of his. In a few minutes they were out of
sight of the fray and, driving as rapidly as possible up the Champs
Elysees, were soon at the door of the Legation.
Mr. Jefferson was not at home, but in a few moments he came in with the
account of having been stopped also at the Place Louis Quinze as he
returned from a visit to Monsieur de Lafayette and a confirmation of the
news regarding Necker's dismissal.
"It is sufficiently clear with what indignation the people regard the
presence of troops in the city," he said, "and by to-morrow they will
make known, I have no doubt, their equally bitter indignation at the
removal of Necker. Affairs are coming rapidly to a crisis; the Palais
Royal is this evening in a state of the wildest agitation, so d'Azay has
just told me, and, indeed, the city is not safe, even on the boulevards.
I shall take you back, Madame," he went on, turning to Adrienne. "I
believe the carriage of the American Minister will be treated with
respect even by this insane mob."
"A thousand thanks, Monsieur," said Madame de St. Andre, rising, "and,
as it is late, perhaps we had better go at once, although I hate to
take you away from Monsieur Morris and Monsieur Calvert."
"Oh, as for me, I am off to the Club to hear further details of the riot
and afterward to a supper with Madame de Flahaut. And as for Ned, I am
sure he would rather a thousand times escort you back to the rue St.
Honore than to sit here chatting with an old fellow like myself," said
Mr. Morris, and he went off limping and laughing, leaving the others to
follow quickly. For, in truth, it was late, and the disturbance seemed
to be increasing instead of decreasing as the night wore on. Mr.
Jefferson and Calvert turned into the Palais Royal on their way back,
after leaving Adrienne safe in the rue St. Honore, and found it a
seething mass of revolutionary humanity, as d'Azay had reported. The
agitation increased all during the following day of the 13th, and on the
14th was struck the first great blow which resounded throughout France.
Mr. Jefferson and Calvert, who, unconscious of the disturbance in the
distant quarter of the Bastille, were calling at the hotel of Monsieur
de Corny, had the particulars from that gentleman himself. He came in
hurriedly, pale with emotion and fear and haggard with anxiety.
"Tis all over," he says to Mr. Jefferson when he could speak. "How it
has happened God only knows. A fearful crime has been committed. The
deputation, of which I was one, advanced, under a flag of truce, to have
speech with de Launay, Governor of the Bastile, when a discharge killed
several men standing near us. We retired, and instantly the great
throng of people--there were, God knows, how many thousand wretches
waiting there--rushed forward, and are even now in possession of that
impregnable fortification. 'Tis incredible how 'twas done."
"And de Launay?" inquired Calvert.
"He has been beheaded and dragged to the Place de Greve," says de Corny,
gloomily. "Come, if you wish to see the work of destruction," and he
Together the gentlemen entered Mr. Jefferson's carriage, which was
waiting, and were driven along the boulevards toward the Bastille. But
the streets near the prison were so crowded with spectators and armed
ruffians that they were finally forced to alight from the carriage,
which was left in the Place Royale, and proceed on foot. As they passed
Monsieur Beaumarchais's garden, they came upon Mr. Morris and Madame de
Flahaut, who had also driven thither and were leaning against the fence
looking on at the work of demolition.
"You should have been here some moments ago," said Mr. Morris.
"Lafayette has just ridden by with the key of the Bastille, which has
been given to him and which, he tells me, he proposes sending to General
Washington. A strange gift!"
"Why strange?" inquired Mr. Jefferson. "'Tis an emblem of hard-earned
"An emblem of madness," said Mr. Morris, with a shrug. "However, I have
witnessed some thrilling scenes in this madness. But an hour ago a
fellow climbed upon the great iron gate and, failing to bring it down,
implored his comrades to pull him by the legs, thus sustaining the rack.
He had the courage and strength to hold on until his limbs were torn
from the sockets. 'Twould make a great painting, and I shall suggest the
idea to d'Angiviliers."
"Do they know of this at Versailles?" asked Calvert.
"The Duc de Liancourt passed in his carriage half an hour ago," said Mr.
Morris, "on his way to Versailles to inform the King. Yesterday it was
the fashion at Versailles not to believe that there were any
disturbances at Paris. I presume that this day's transactions will
induce a conviction that all is not perfectly quiet! But, even with this
awful evidence, the King is capable of not being convinced, I venture to
say." He was quite right in his surmise, and 'twas not until two o'clock
in the morning that Monsieur de Liancourt was able to force his way into
the King's bed-chamber and compel His Majesty to listen to a narrative
of the awful events of the day in Paris.
In the meantime crowds of the greatest ladies and gentlemen flocked to
the Place de la Bastille to witness the strange and horrid scenes there
enacting, rubbing elbows with the armed and drunken scum of the city,
and only retiring when night hid the sight of it all from them. It was
amid a very carnival of mad liberty, of flaring lights and hideous
noises, of fantastic and terrible figures thrusting their infuriated
countenances in at the coach-windows, with a hundred orders to halt and
to move on, a hundred demands to know if there were arms in the
carriage, that Mr. Jefferson and Calvert finally regained the Champs
Elysees and the American Legation. With the next day the foreign troops
were dismissed by order of the frightened King, and Paris had an armed
Milice Bourgeoise of forty thousand men, at the head of which, to Mr.
Jefferson's satisfaction and Mr. Morris's dismay, Lafayette was placed
as commander-in-chief. From the 16th to the 18th of that fatal July
twenty noble cowards, among them Monsieur de Broglie, Monsieur de St.
Aulaire, six princes of the blood royal, including the Comte d'Artois
and the Princes of Conde and Conti, fled affrighted before the first
gust of the storm gathering over France.
MONSIEUR DE LAFAYETTE BRINGS FRIENDS TO A DINNER AT THE LEGATION
It was in the midst of the alarms, the horror, and feverish agitation
following hard upon the taking of the Bastille and the assassination and
flight of so many important personages, that Mr. Jefferson, one evening,
received from Monsieur de Lafayette a hurried note, requesting a dinner
for himself and several friends. Mr. Morris and Calvert, who were dining
with Mr. Jefferson, would have retired, that the company might be alone,
but Monsieur de Lafayette, coming in almost instantly, urged upon the
gentlemen to remain.
"Tis to be a political deliberation, at which we shall be most happy and
grateful to have you assist," he said, graciously, for, though he
disliked Mr. Morris, he appreciated his abilities, and as for Calvert,
he both liked and admired the young man, having the greatest confidence
in his good sense and keen judgment.
Mr. Jefferson, though deeply embarrassed by that thoughtlessness which
made the American Legation the rendezvous for the leaders of opposing
factions in French politics, made his unexpected guests as welcome as
possible, but, though he was urged again and again to express himself
by Lafayette and his friends--he had brought with him some of the most
brilliant and most influential of the revolutionary leaders, d'Azay,
Barnave, Lameth, Mounier, and Duport--he yet remained an almost silent
spectator of the prolonged debate which took place when the cloth had
been removed and wine placed on the table, according to the American
custom. The discussion was opened by Lafayette, who submitted to the
consideration of the assembled company his "Rights of Man," to which he
was inordinately attached and which he designed as a prelude to the new
constitution. With pride and emphasis he read aloud the most important
of his _dicta_, and which, he owned with a profound bow to Mr.
Jefferson, had been largely inspired by the great Declaration of
"The Rights of Man" were received with acclaim and approved almost
without a dissenting voice, and then was introduced the main theme of
the discussion--the new constitution projected by the Assembly. So
incredibly frank were the deliberations that the three American
gentlemen could not but marvel that they were allowed to be present.
'Twas a curious exhibition of weakness, thought Calvert, that they
should be allowed, nay, urged, to participate in such a session. So
intimate, indeed, were the details presented to the company by its
different members, so momentous the questions raised and settled, that
even Mr. Morris, usually so impetuous, hesitated to express an opinion.
Only when it had been decided that the King should have a suspensive
veto; that the Legislature should be composed of but one chamber,
elected by the people; only when it was evident that the noblesse were
to be rendered powerless and that Lafayette had abandoned his King, did
Mr. Morris burst forth.
"This is madness, Marquis," he says, scarce able to contain himself.
"Take from the King his power and this realm will fall into anarchy, a
bloody disunion, the like of which the world has never seen! This
country is used to being governed, it must continue to be governed.
Strengthen the King's hands--for God's sake, do not weaken them! Attach
yourself to the King's party--'tis this unhappy country's only hope of
salvation. Range yourself on the side of His Majesty's authority, not on
that of this insane, uncontrollable people. What have I seen to-day? As
I walked under the arcade of the Palais Royal, what was the horrible,
the incredibly horrible sight that met my eyes? The head of one of your
chief men--of Foulon, Counsellor of State, borne aloft on a pike, the
body dragged naked on the earth, as though 'twere some dishonored slave
of Roman days. Gracious God! what a people! Have we gone backward
centuries to pagan atrocities? And you talk of making this people the
supreme authority in France! Your party is mad!"
"If 'tis madness," says Monsieur de Lafayette, coldly, "I am none the
less determined to die with them."
"'Twould be more sensible to bring them to their senses and live with
them," returned Mr. Morris, dryly.
"We cannot hope to gain the liberty, so long and so hardly withheld from
us, without bloodshed. Mr. Jefferson himself hath said that the tree of
liberty must be watered with blood."
"'Tis a different creed from the one you believed in but a short time
ago," rejoined Mr. Morris. "'Twas not very long since I heard you
prophesying a bloodless revolution. And this horde of undisciplined
troops, for which you are responsible--do you not tremble for your
authority when you deny the King's?"
"They will obey me, they love me," cried Lafayette, rising in some
confusion, not unmixed with anger. "At any rate, 'tis too late to draw
back. Our dispositions are taken, gentlemen," he adds, turning to the
company, which had risen at his signal, "and we will now withdraw,
sensible of the courtesy and hospitality we have received," and with a
bow to Mr. Morris and Calvert, he passed from the room, accompanied by
Mr. Jefferson and followed by the rest of the gentlemen.
"What madness!" exclaimed Mr. Morris, as the door closed upon the
company. "This is a country where everything is talked about and nothing
understood, my boy." He sank into a chair opposite Calvert's and poured
himself a glass of wine.
"There goes a man who, in his vanity, thinks himself capable of
controlling these terrific forces he has helped to awaken, but, if I
mistake not, he is not equal to the business in hand. He has the best
intentions, but is lacking in judgment and strength. He has le besoin de
briller, unfortunately, and does from vanity what he should do from
conviction. I am almost glad that affairs call me to England for a while
and that I shall not be a witness to the Marquis's mistakes and the
horrors toward which I see France fast drifting."
"You are leaving for England?" asked Calvert, in surprise.
"Yes," returned Mr. Morris. "I have thought for some time that it would
be necessary for me to go to London on business connected with my
brother's estate in America, and letters which I received lately have
decided me to go at once. Moreover," and here he hesitated slightly and
laughed his dry, humorous laugh, "I have ever thought discretion the
better part of valor, my boy. To speak plainly, Madame de Flahaut
becomes too exigeante. I have told her that I am perfectly my own master
with respect to her, and that, having no idea of inspiring her with a
tender passion, I have no idea either of subjecting myself to one, but I
hardly think she understands my attitude toward her. Besides," he went
on, with so sudden a change of tone and sentiment that Calvert could not
forbear smiling, "I find her too agreeable to bear with equanimity her
treatment of me. The other day, at Madame de Chastellux's, her reception
of me was such that I think I would not again have troubled her with a
visit had she not sent for me to-day."
"And did you go?" asked Calvert, smiling.
"Yes," said Mr. Morris, bursting out laughing. "Of course I went,
Ned--that is the way with all of us--the women treat us with contempt
and we go away in a huff, vowing never to see them again, and they
beckon to us and back we go, glad to have a word or glance again. She
treated me very civilly indeed, and received me at her toilet--'twas a
very decent performance, I assure you, Ned. She undressed, even to the
shift, with the utmost modesty, and I would have found it a pleasant
enough experience, if a trifle astounding to my American mind, had it
not been for the presence of the Bishop of Autun, who came in and who is
confoundedly at his ease in Madame de Flahaut's society. High ho! we two
are not the only favored ones. She is a thorough-paced flirt and plays
off Curt against Wycombe--he is Lansdowne's son and her latest
admirer--or the Bishop against myself, as it suits her whim. I would
warn you to beware of women as the authors of all mischief and
suffering, did I not think it too late," he said, looking keenly at the
young man, who blushed deeply. "Come to London with me, Ned," he went
on, impulsively, after an instant's silence. "I think you and I will not
be bad travelling companions and will enjoy the journey together
"I thank you, Mr. Morris," said Calvert, shaking his head, "but--but
'tis impossible for me to leave France."
"Ah, 'tis as I thought," said Mr. Morris, slowly, "and Madame de St.
Andre is a most charming and beautiful woman. Forgive me for having
guessed your secret, boy. 'Tis my interest in you which makes me seem
impertinent. Have you told her that you love her?"
"'Tis a poor game to tell all one knows," says Calvert, again shaking
his head and smiling a little bitterly. "Besides, it would be but folly
in this case."
"Folly!" exclaimed Mr. Morris. "Don't be above committing follies, Ned!
Old age will be but a dreary thing if we have not the follies of youth
to look back upon. Happiness and folly go hand in hand sometimes. Don't
miss one in avoiding the other, boy! Besides, why do you call your love
for her folly? By the Lord Harry," he burst out, "why shouldn't she love
you in return? 'Tis true you are not one of the dukes or marquises who
follow her about, but I think that no disability, and, were she not a
capricious, worldly woman, she would have the wit vastly to prefer a
clean, honest American gentleman to these dissolute popinjays, whose
titles, riches, and very life are being menaced. Were I a woman, Ned,"
and he gave the young man a kindly look, "I think I could find it in my
heart to admire and respect you above most men."
"'Tis far more than I can hope for in Madame de St. Andre, and it has
been madness for me to think of her for a moment," said Calvert,
"Then come away," urged Mr. Morris. "Come with me to London." But
Calvert was not to be persuaded.
"You counselled me a while ago not to be afraid of committing follies,"
he said, looking at the older man. "I think I am capable of all folly--I
don't dare hope, but I cannot leave her."
"Ah, you are not as wise as I, my boy," returned Mr. Morris, smiling
cynically. "You stay because you care too much and I go for the same
reason. Believe me, mine is the better plan. But if you stay, speak!
Perhaps, after all, she may have the sense to appreciate you. Though she
is worldly and ambitious, there is a leaven of sincerity and purity in
her nature, I think. And then, who can guess what is in a woman's heart?
'Tis the greatest of puzzles. Who knows what you may find in Adrienne de
St. Andre's, Ned? She is a high-spirited creature, trained in her world
to conceal her feelings, should she be unfashionable enough to have any,
and perhaps the indifference with which she treats you is but a mask.
There are women like that, boy, who are as great actresses as Raucourt
or Contat, and who would die before they betrayed themselves, just as
there are women to whom candor is as natural as breathing and who can no
more help showing the depth and tenderness of their hearts than the sun
can help shining. And now," he said, rising as Mr. Jefferson entered the
room, "I must be going or I shall be imprudent enough to make some
observations on the extraordinary proceedings of this evening."
"Extraordinary indeed," said Mr. Jefferson, with a troubled air, as he
seated himself. "I shall wait upon Montmorin in the morning and explain
how it has happened that the American Legation has been the rendezvous
for the political leaders of France. But though this affair has deeply
embarrassed me, I would not, for a great deal, have missed hearing the
coolness and candor of argument, the logical reasoning and chaste
eloquence of the discussion this evening. Would that it had all been
employed in a better cause! It seems almost pitiful that these men
should be battling for a King who, though meaning well toward the
nation, is swayed absolutely by a Queen, proud, disdainful of all
restraint, concerned only in the present pleasure, a gambler and
intrigante. Dr. Franklin and I have seen her in company with d'Artois
and Coigny and the Duchesse de Polignac, than whom there is no more
infamous woman in France, gambling and looking on at the wild dances and
buffoonery of a guinguette, and, though her _incognita_ was respected,
think you the people did not know the Queen? 'Tis to preserve the throne
of a woman such as that that Lafayette and d'Azay and Barnave bend all
their powerful young energies and talents and may, perhaps, give their
"There are those who think differently about Louis and Marie Antoinette,
and who consider the Queen the better man of the two," replied Mr.
Morris, dryly. "But 'tis past my patience, the whole thing, and I can
scarce trust myself to think of it. By the way, Ned," he said, suddenly
turning to Calvert, "'twas that villain Bertrand, that protege of yours,
who was carrying the head of that poor devil, Foulon, on his pike this
afternoon. I recognized the fellow instantly, and I think he knew me,
too, though he was near crazed with blood and excitement. He handed the
bike to a companion and slunk into the crowd when he saw me. Have a care
of him, boy. 'Twas the most awful sight my eyes ever rested on! And now,
good-night." At the door he looked back and saw Mr. Jefferson filling
his long pipe with fragrant Virginia tobacco and Calvert still sitting
beside the table with the troubled look on his thoughtful young face.
A week later, after having bidden good-by to his friends in Versailles
and Paris and having obtained a passport from Lafayette at the Hotel de
Ville, he set out for London, from which capital he did not return until
the middle of September.
MR. CALVERT RIDES DOWN INTO TOURAINE
August was a dreary month in Paris. With the last days of July the heat
became intense, and that, with the constant alarms and ever recurring
outbreaks, caused such an exodus from the city as soon made Paris a
deserted place. Mr. Morris's departure was followed shortly by that of
the old Duchesse d'Azay and Madame de St. Andre, who went down to
Azay-le-Roi, so that in Calvert's estimation the gayest capital in the
world was but a lonely, uninteresting city. Toward the close of August
Mr. Jefferson received from Congress that permission to return home
which he had solicited for so long, and, without loss of time, he
prepared to leave France for, as he supposed, an absence of a few
months, at most. Among the multitude of public and private affairs to be
arranged before his departure, his friends were not forgotten, and he
made many farewell visits to Versailles, Marly-le-Roi, and St. Germain.
He had not thought it possible, however, to see his friends at
Azay-le-Roi, but the middle of September found his affairs so nearly
settled, and, his passage not being taken until the 26th of the month,
he one day proposed to Calvert that they should make the journey into
"Tis the most beautiful part of France," he said to the young man, "and
I have a fancy to show you the country for the first time and to say
farewell to our friends, Madame d'Azay and Madame de St. Andre."
To this proposition the young man assented, suddenly determining that he
would see Adrienne and put his fortune to the touch. 'Twas intolerable
to remain longer in such a state of uncertainty and feverish
unhappiness, he decided. Any fate--the cruellest--would be preferable to
the doubt which he suffered. And surely he was right, and uncertainty
the greatest suffering the heart can know.
"At the worst she can hurt me no more cruelly than she has already," he
said to himself. "She shall know that I love her, even though that means
I shall never see her again."
His determination once taken, he was as eager as possible to be off,
and, by the 16th, all was in readiness for their departure. Passports
were obtained from Lafayette and places reserved in the public
diligence. They took only one servant with them--the man Bertrand, whom
Galvert had been at pains to ferret out and take into his employ,
thinking to prevent him from mingling again with the ruffians and
cutthroats of the Palais Royal and faubourgs. Such was the fellow's
devotion to Calvert that he abandoned his revolutionary and bloody
comrades and took service joyfully with the young man, delighted to be
near and of use to him.
The journey into Touraine was a very short and a very pleasant one to
Mr. Jefferson and Calvert. The diligence left Paris by the Ivry gate,
stopping for the night at Orleans. The next morning at dawn they were
again upon their way and bowling swiftly along the great highway that
led down into the valley of the Loire, past Amboise and Blois and
Vouvray to the old town of Tours, lying snugly between the Loire and the
Cher. They came into the rue Royale just as the sun was flinging a
splendor over everything--on the gray cathedral spires and the square
tower of Charlemagne and the gloomy Tour de Guise, and as they crossed
the great stone bridge to the old quarter of St. Symphorien, the Loire
flowed away beneath them like some fabled stream of molten gold.
The diligence put them down at La Boule d'Or, a clean and well-kept inn,
overlooking the river and from the windows of which could be seen the
white facade of the Hotel de Ville and the numberless towers rising here
and there above the old town. After a night of refreshing sleep to Mr.
Jefferson, but one full of misgivings and broken dreams to Calvert, the
two gentlemen set forth in the morning on horseback, followed shortly
after by Bertrand with light baggage, for Mr. Jefferson's affairs would
not permit him to remain more than twenty-four hours at Azay-le-Roi.
They rode slowly, at first, through the early sweetness of that
September morning, scarcely disturbing the fine, white dust upon the
broad road. The level land stretched away before them like some
tranquil, inland sea, and against the horizon tall, stately poplars
showed like the slender masts of ships against the blue of sky and