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The Historic Court Memoirs of France, complete

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the wardrobe. The latter brought every morning into the Queen's
apartments baskets covered with taffety, containing all that she was to
wear during the day, and large cloths of green taffety covering the robes
and the full dresses. The valet of the wardrobe on duty presented every
morning a large book to the first femme de chambre, containing patterns
of the gowns, full dresses, undresses, etc. Every pattern was marked, to
show to which sort it belonged. The first femme de chambre presented
this book to the Queen on her awaking, with a pincushion; her Majesty
stuck pins in those articles which she chose for the day,--one for the
dress, one for the afternoon-undress, and one for the full evening dress
for card or supper parties in the private apartments. The book was then
taken back to the wardrobe, and all that was wanted for the day was soon
after brought in in large taffety wrappers. The wardrobe woman, who had
the care of the linen, in her turn brought in a covered basket containing
two or three chemises and handkerchiefs. The morning basket was called
pret du jour. In the evening she brought in one containing the nightgown
and nightcap, and the stockings for the next morning; this basket was
called pret de la nuit. They were in the department of the lady of
honour, the tirewoman having nothing to do with the linen. Nothing was
put in order or taken care of by the Queen's women. As soon as the
toilet was over, the valets and porter belonging to the wardrobe were
called in, and they carried all away in a heap, in the taffety wrappers,
to the tirewoman's wardrobe, where all were folded up again, hung up,
examined, and cleaned with so much regularity and care that even the
cast-off clothes scarcely looked as if they had been worn. The
tirewoman's wardrobe consisted of three large rooms surrounded with
closets, some furnished with drawers and others with shelves; there were
also large tables in each of these rooms, on which the gowns and dresses
were spread out and folded up.

For the winter the Queen had generally twelve full dresses, twelve
undresses called fancy dresses, and twelve rich hoop petticoats for the
card and supper parties in the smaller apartments.

She had as many for the summer; those for the spring served likewise for
the autumn. All these dresses were discarded at the end of each season,
unless, indeed, she retained some that she particularly liked. I am not
speaking of muslin or cambric gowns, or others of the same kind--they
were lately introduced; but such as these were not renewed at each
returning season, they were kept several years. The chief women were
charged with the care and examination of the diamonds; this important
duty was formerly confided to the tirewoman, but for many years had been
included in the business of the first femmes de chambre.

The public toilet took place at noon. The toilet-table was drawn forward
into the middle of the room. This piece of furniture was generally the
richest and most ornamented of all in the apartment of the Princesses.
The Queen used it in the same manner and place for undressing herself in
the evening. She went to bed in corsets trimmed with ribbon, and sleeves
trimmed with lace, and wore a large neck handkerchief. The Queen's
combing cloth was presented by her first woman if she was alone at the
commencement of the toilet; or, as well as the other articles, by the
ladies of honour if they were come. At noon the women who had been in
attendance four and twenty hours were relieved by two women in full
dress; the first woman went also to dress herself. The grandee entrees
were admitted during the toilet; sofas were placed in circles for the
superintendent, the ladies of honour, and tirewomen, and the governess of
the children of France when she came there; the duties of the ladies of
the bedchamber, having nothing to do with any kind of domestic or private
functions, did not begin until the hour of going out to mass; they waited
in the great closet, and entered when the toilet was over. The Princes
of the blood, captains of the Guards, and all great officers having the
entry paid their court at the hour of the toilet. The Queen saluted by
nodding her head or bending her body, or leaning upon her toilet-table as
if moving to rise; the last mode of salutation was for the Princes of the
blood. The King's brothers also came very generally to pay their
respects to her Majesty while her hair was being dressed. In the earlier
years of the reign the first part of the dressing was performed in the
bedchamber and according to the laws of etiquette; that is to say, the
lady of honour put on the chemise and poured out the water for the hands,
the tirewoman put on the skirt of the gown or full dress, adjusted the
handkerchief, and tied on the necklace. But when the young Queen became
more seriously devoted to fashion, and the head-dress attained so
extravagant a height that it became necessary to put on the chemise from
below,--when, in short, she determined to have her milliner, Mademoiselle
Benin, with her whilst she was dressing, whom the ladies would have
refused to admit to any share in the honour of attending on the Queen,
the dressing in the bedchamber was discontinued, and the Queen, leaving
her toilet, withdrew into her closet to dress.

On returning into her chamber, the Queen, standing about the middle of
it, surrounded by the superintendent, the ladies of honour and tirewomen,
her ladies of the palace, the chevalier d'honneur, the chief equerry, her
clergy ready to attend her to mass, and the Princesses of the royal
family who happened to come, accompanied by all their chief attendants
and ladies, passed in order into the gallery as in going to mass. The
Queen's signatures were generally given at the moment of entry into the
chamber. The secretary for orders presented the pen. Presentations of
colonels on taking leave were usually made at this time. Those of
ladies, and, such as had a right to the tabouret, or sitting in the royal
presence, were made on Sunday evenings before card-playing began, on
their coming in from paying their respects. Ambassadors were introduced
to the Queen on Tuesday mornings, accompanied by the introducer of
ambassadors on duty, and by M. de Sequeville, the secretary for the
ambassadors. The introducer in waiting usually came to the Queen at her
toilet to apprise her of the presentations of foreigners which would be
made. The usher of the chamber, stationed at the entrance, opened the
folding doors to none but the Princes and Princesses of the royal family,
and announced them aloud. Quitting his post, he came forward to name to
the lady of honour the persons who came to be presented, or who came to
take leave; that lady again named them to the Queen at the moment they
saluted her; if she and the tirewoman were absent, the first woman took
the place and did that duty. The ladies of the bedchamber, chosen solely
as companions for the Queen, had no domestic duties to fulfil, however
opinion might dignify such offices. The King's letter in appointing
them, among other instructions of etiquette, ran thus: "having chosen you
to bear the Queen company." There were hardly any emoluments accruing
from this place.

The Queen heard mass with the King in the tribune, facing the grand altar
and the choir, with the exception of the days of high ceremony, when
their chairs were placed below upon velvet carpets fringed with gold.
These days were marked by the name of grand chapel day.

The Queen named the collector beforehand, and informed her of it through
her lady of honour, who was besides desired to send the purse to her.
The collectors were almost always chosen from among those who had been
recently presented. After returning from mass the Queen dined every
Sunday with the King only, in public in the cabinet of the nobility, a
room leading to her chamber. Titled ladies having the honours sat during
the dinner upon folding-chairs placed on each side of the table. Ladies
without titles stood round the table; the captain of the Guards and the
first gentleman of the chamber were behind the King's chair; behind that
of the Queen were her first maitre d'hotel, her chevalier d'honneur, and
the chief equerry. The Queen's maitre d'hotel was furnished with a large
staff, six or seven feet in length, ornamented with golden fleurs-de-lis,
and surmounted by fleurs-de-lis in the form of a crown. He entered the
room with this badge of his office to announce that the Queen was served.
The comptroller put into his hands the card of the dinner; in the absence
of the maitre d'hotel he presented it to the Queen himself, otherwise he
only did him the honours of the service. The maitre d'hotel did not
leave his place, he merely gave the orders for serving up and removing;
the comptroller and gentlemen serving placed the various dishes upon the
table, receiving them from the inferior servants.

The Prince nearest to the crown presented water to wash the King's hands
at the moment he placed himself at table, and a princess did the same
service to the Queen.

The table service was formerly performed for the Queen by the lady of
honour and four women in full dress; this part of the women's service was
transferred to them on the suppression of the office of maids of honour.
The Queen put an end to this etiquette in the first year of her reign.
When the dinner was over the Queen returned without the King to her
apartment with her women, and took off her hoop and train.

This unfortunate Princess, against whom the opinions of the French people
were at length so much excited, possessed qualities which deserved to
obtain the greatest popularity. None could doubt this who, like myself,
had heard her with delight describe the patriarchal manners of the House
of Lorraine. She was accustomed to say that, by transplanting their
manners into Austria, the Princes of that house had laid the foundation
of the unassailable popularity enjoyed by the imperial family. She
frequently related to me the interesting manner in which the Ducs de
Lorraine levied the taxes. "The sovereign Prince," said she, "went to
church; after the sermon he rose, waved his hat in the air, to show that
he was about to speak, and then mentioned the sum whereof he stood in
need. Such was the zeal of the good Lorrainers that men have been known
to take away linen or household utensils without the knowledge of their
wives, and sell them to add the value to their contribution. It
sometimes happened, too, that the Prince received more money than he had
asked for, in which case he restored the surplus."

All who were acquainted with the Queen's private qualities knew that she
equally deserved attachment and esteem. Kind and patient to excess in
her relations with her household, she indulgently considered all around
her, and interested herself in their fortunes and in their pleasures.,
She had, among her women, young girls from the Maison de St. Cyr, all
well born; the Queen forbade them the play when the performances were not
suitable; sometimes, when old plays were to be represented, if she found
she could not with certainty trust to her memory, she would take the
trouble to read them in the morning, to enable her to decide whether the
girls should or should not go to see them,--rightly considering herself
bound to watch over their morals and conduct.


Carried the idea of the prerogative of rank to a high pitch
Common and blamable practice of indulgence
Dignified tone which alone secures the respect due to power
Etiquette still existed at Court, dignity alone was wanting
Happiness does not dwell in palaces
His seraglio in the Parc-aux-Cerfs
I love the conveniences of life too well
Leave me in peace; be assured that I can put no heir in danger
Most intriguing little Carmelite in the kingdom
Princes thus accustomed to be treated as divinities
Princess at 12 years was not mistress of the whole alphabet
Taken pains only to render himself beloved by his pupil
The Jesuits were suppressed
The King delighted to manage the most disgraceful points
To be formally mistress, a husband had to be found
Ventured to give such rash advice: inoculation
Was but one brilliant action that she could perform


Being the Historic Memoirs of Madam Campan,
First Lady in Waiting to the Queen



During the first few months of his reign Louis XVI. dwelt at La Muette,
Marly, and Compiegne. When settled at Versailles he occupied himself
with a general examination of his grandfather's papers. He had promised
the Queen to communicate to her all that he might discover relative to
the history of the man with the iron mask, who, he thought, had become so
inexhaustible a source of conjecture only in consequence of the interest
which the pen of a celebrated writer had excited respecting the detention
of a prisoner of State, who was merely a man of whimsical tastes and

I was with the Queen when the King, having finished his researches,
informed her that he had not found anything among the secret papers
elucidating the existence of this prisoner; that he had conversed on the
matter with M. de Maurepas, whose age made him contemporary with the
epoch during which the story must have been known to the ministers;
and that M. de Maurepas had assured him he was merely a prisoner of a
very dangerous character, in consequence of his disposition for intrigue.
He was a subject of the Duke of Mantua, and was enticed to the frontier,
arrested there, and kept prisoner, first at Pignerol, and afterwards in
the Bastille. This transfer took place in consequence of the appointment
of the governor of the former place to the government of the latter.
It was for fear the prisoner should profit by the inexperience of a new
governor that he was sent with the Governor of Pignerol to the Bastille.

Such was, in fact, the truth about the man on whom people have been
pleased to fix an iron mask. And thus was it related in writing, and
published by M. ----- twenty years ago. He had searched the archives of
the Foreign Office, and laid the real story before the public; but the
public, prepossessed in favour of a marvellous version, would not
acknowledge the authenticity of his account. Every man relied upon the
authority of Voltaire; and it was believed that a natural or a twin
brother of Louis XIV. lived many years in prison with a mask over his
face. The story of this mask, perhaps, had its origin in the old custom,
among both men and women in Italy, of wearing a velvet mask when they
exposed themselves to the sun. It is possible that the Italian captive
may have sometimes shown himself upon the terrace of his prison with his
face thus covered. As to the silver plate which this celebrated prisoner
is said to have thrown from his window, it is known that such a
circumstance did happen, but it happened at Valzin, in the time of
Cardinal Richelieu. This anecdote has been mixed up with the inventions
respecting the Piedmontese prisoner.

In this survey of the papers of Louis XV. by his grandson some very
curious particulars relative to his private treasury were found. Shares
in various financial companies afforded him a revenue, and had in course
of time produced him a capital of some amount, which he applied to his
secret expenses. The King collected his vouchers of title to these
shares, and made a present of them to M. Thierry de Ville d'Avray, his
chief valet de chambre.

The Queen was desirous to secure the comfort of Mesdames, the daughters
of Louis XV., who were held in the highest respect. About this period
she contributed to furnish them with a revenue sufficient to provide them
an easy, pleasant existence: The King gave them the Chateau of Bellevue;
and added to the produce of it, which was given up to them, the expenses
of their table and equipage, and payment of all the charges of their
household, the number of which was even increased. During the lifetime
of Louis XV., who was a very selfish prince, his daughters, although they
had attained forty years of age, had no other place of residence than
their apartments in the Chateau of Versailles; no other walks than such
as they could take in the large park of that palace; and no other means
of gratifying their taste for the cultivation of plants but by having
boxes and vases, filled with them, in their balconies or their closets.
They had, therefore, reason to be much pleased with the conduct of Marie
Antoinette, who had the greatest influence in the King's kindness towards
his aunts.

Paris did not cease, during the first years of the reign, to give proofs
of pleasure whenever the Queen appeared at any of the plays of the
capital. At the representation of "Iphigenia in Aulis," the actor who
sang the words, "Let us sing, let us celebrate our Queen!" which were
repeated by the chorus, directed by a respectful movement the eyes of the
whole assembly upon her Majesty. Reiterated cries of 'Bis'! and clapping
of hands, were followed by such a burst of enthusiasm that many of the
audience added their voices to those of the actors in order to celebrate,
it might too truly be said, another Iphigenia. The Queen, deeply
affected, covered her eyes with her handkerchief; and this proof of
sensibility raised the public enthusiasm to a still higher pitch.

The King gave Marie Antoinette Petit Trianon.

[The Chateau of Petit Trianon, which was built for Louis XV., was
not remarkably handsome as a building. The luxuriance of the
hothouses rendered the place agreeable to that Prince. He spent a
few days there several times in the year. It was when he was
setting off from Versailles for Petit Trianon that he was struck in
the side by the knife of Damiens, and it was there that he was
attacked by the smallpox, of which he died on the 10th of May,

Henceforward she amused herself with improving the gardens, without
allowing any addition to the building, or any change in the furniture,
which was very shabby, and remained, in 1789, in the same state as during
the reign of Louis XV. Everything there, without exception, was
preserved; and the Queen slept in a faded bed, which had been used by the
Comtesse du Barry. The charge of extravagance, generally made against
the Queen, is the most unaccountable of all the popular errors respecting
her character. She had exactly the contrary failing; and I could prove
that she often carried her economy to a degree of parsimony actually
blamable, especially in a sovereign. She took a great liking for
Trianon, and used to go there alone, followed by a valet; but she found
attendants ready to receive her,--a concierge and his wife, who served
her as femme de chambre, women of the wardrobe, footmen, etc.

When she first took possession of Petit Trianon, it was reported that she
changed the name of the seat which the King had given her, and called it
Little Vienna, or Little Schoenbrunn. A person who belonged to the
Court, and was silly enough to give this report credit, wishing to visit
Petit Trianon with a party, wrote to M. Campan, requesting the Queen's
permission to do so. In his note he called Trianon Little Vienna.
Similar requests were usually laid before the Queen just as they were
made: she chose to give the permissions to see her gardens herself,
liking to grant these little favours. When she came to the words I have
quoted she was very, much offended, and exclaimed, angrily, that there
were too many, fools ready, to aid the malicious; that she had been told
of the report circulated, which pretended that she had thought of nothing
but her own country, and that she kept an Austrian heart, while the
interests of France alone ought to engage her. She refused the request
so awkwardly made, and desired M. Campan to reply, that Trianon was not
to be seen for some time, and that the Queen was astonished that any man
in good society should believe she would do so ill-judged a thing as to
change the French names of her palaces to foreign ones.

Before the Emperor Joseph II's first visit to France the Queen received a
visit from the Archduke Maximilian in 1775. A stupid act of the
ambassador, seconded on the part of the Queen by the Abbe de Vermond,
gave rise at that period to a discussion which offended the Princes of
the blood and the chief nobility of the kingdom. Travelling incognito,
the young Prince claimed that the first visit was not due from him to the
Princes of the blood; and the Queen supported his pretension.

From the time of the Regency, and on account of the residence of the
family of Orleans in the bosom of the capital, Paris had preserved a
remarkable degree of attachment and respect for that branch of the royal
house; and although the crown was becoming more and more remote from the
Princes of the House of Orleans, they had the advantage (a great one with
the Parisians) of being the descendants of Henri IV. An affront to that
popular family was a serious ground of dislike to the Queen. It was at
this period that the circles of the city, and even of the Court,
expressed themselves bitterly about her levity, and her partiality for
the House of Austria. The Prince for whom the Queen had embarked in an
important family quarrel--and a quarrel involving national prerogatives--
was, besides, little calculated to inspire interest. Still young,
uninformed, and deficient in natural talent, he was always making

He went to the Jardin du Roi; M. de Buffon, who received him there,
offered him a copy of his works; the Prince declined accepting the book,
saying to M. de Buffon, in the most polite manner possible, "I should be
very sorry to deprive you of it."

[Joseph II, on his visit to France, also went to see M. de Buffon,
and said to that celebrated man, "I am come to fetch the copy of
your works which my brother forgot."--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

It may be supposed that the Parisians were much entertained with this

The Queen was exceedingly mortified at the mistakes made by her brother;
but what hurt her most was being accused of preserving an Austrian heart.
Marie Antoinette had more than once to endure that imputation during the
long course of her misfortunes. Habit did not stop the tears such
injustice caused; but the first time she was suspected of not loving
France, she gave way to her indignation. All that she could say on the
subject was useless; by seconding the pretensions of the Archduke she had
put arms into her enemies' hands; they were labouring to deprive her of
the love of the people, and endeavoured, by all possible means, to spread
a belief that the Queen sighed for Germany, and preferred that country to

Marie Antoinette had none but herself to rely on for preserving the
fickle smiles of the Court and the public. The King, too indifferent to
serve her as a guide, as yet had conceived no love for her,
notwithstanding the intimacy that grew between them at Choisy. In his
closet Louis XVI. was immersed in deep study. At the Council he was
busied with the welfare of his people; hunting and mechanical occupations
engrossed his leisure moments, and he never thought on the subject of an

The coronation took place at Rheims, with all the accustomed pomp. At
this period the people's love for Louis XVI. burst forth in transports
not to be mistaken for party demonstrations or idle curiosity. He
replied to this enthusiasm by marks of confidence, worthy of a people
happy in being governed by a good King; he took a pleasure in repeatedly
walking without guards, in the midst of the crowd which pressed around
him, and called down blessings on his head. I remarked the impression
made at this time by an observation of Louis XVI. On the day of his
coronation he put his hand up to his head, at the moment of the crown
being placed upon it, and said, "It pinches me." Henri III. had
exclaimed, "It pricks me." Those who were near the King were struck with
the similarity between these two exclamations, though not of a class
likely to be blinded by the superstitious fears of ignorance.

While the Queen, neglected as she was, could not even hope for the
happiness of being a mother, she had the mortification of seeing the
Comtesse d'Artois give birth to the Duc d'Angouleme.

Custom required that the royal family and the whole Court should be
present at the accouchement of the Princesses; the Queen was therefore
obliged to stay a whole day in her sister-in-law's chamber. The moment
the Comtesse d'Artois was informed a prince was born, she put her hand to
her forehead and exclaimed with energy, "My God, how happy I am!" The
Queen felt very differently at this involuntary and natural exclamation.
Nevertheless, her behaviour was perfect. She bestowed all possible marks
of tenderness upon the young mother, and would not leave her until she
was again put into bed; she afterwards passed along the staircase, and
through the hall of the guards, with a calm demeanour, in the midst of an
immense crowd. The poissardes, who had assumed a right of speaking to
sovereigns in their own vulgar language, followed her to the very doors
of her apartments, calling out to her with gross expressions, that she
ought to produce heirs. The Queen reached her inner room, hurried and
agitated; he shut herself up to weep with me alone, not from jealousy of
her sister-in-law's happiness,--of that he was incapable,--but from
sorrow at her own situation.

Deprived of the happiness of giving an heir to the crown, the Queen
endeavoured to interest herself in the children of the people of her
household. She had long been desirous to bring up one of them herself,
and to make it the constant object of her care. A little village boy,
four or five years old, full of health, with a pleasing countenance,
remarkably large blue eyes, and fine light hair, got under the feet of
the Queen's horses, when she was taking an airing in a calash, through
the hamlet of St. Michel, near Louveciennes. The coachman and postilions
stopped the horses, and the child was rescued without the slightest
injury. Its grandmother rushed out of the door of her cottage to take
it; but the Queen, standing up in her calash and extending her arms,
called out that the child was hers, and that destiny had given it to her,
to console her, no doubt, until she should have the happiness of having
one herself. "Is his mother alive?" asked the Queen. "No, Madame; my
daughter died last winter, and left five small children upon my hands."
"I will take this one, and provide for all the rest; do you consent?"
"Ah, Madame, they are too fortunate," replied the cottager; "but Jacques
is a bad boy. I hope he will stay with you!" The Queen, taking little
Jacques upon her knee, said that she would make him used to her, and gave
orders to proceed. It was necessary, however, to shorten the drive, so
violently did Jacques scream, and kick the Queen and her ladies.

The arrival of her Majesty at her apartments at Versailles, holding the
little rustic by the hand, astonished the whole household; he cried out
with intolerable shrillness that he wanted his grandmother, his brother
Louis, and his sister Marianne; nothing could calm him. He was taken
away by the wife of a servant, who was appointed to attend him as nurse.
The other children were put to school. Little Jacques, whose family name
was Armand, came back to the Queen two days afterwards; a white frock
trimmed with lace, a rose-coloured sash with silver fringe, and a hat
decorated with feathers, were now substituted for the woollen cap, the
little red frock, and the wooden shoes. The child was really very
beautiful. The Queen was enchanted with him; he was brought to her every
morning at nine o'clock; he breakfasted and dined with her, and often
even with the King. She liked to call him my child,

[This little unfortunate was nearly twenty in 1792; the fury of the
people and the fear of being thought a favourite of the Queen's had
made him the most sanguinary terrorist of Versailles. He was killed
at the battle of Jemappes.]

and lavished caresses upon him, still maintaining a deep silence
respecting the regrets which constantly occupied her heart.

This child remained with the Queen until the time when Madame was old
enough to come home to her august mother, who had particularly taken upon
herself the care of her education.

The Queen talked incessantly of the qualities which she admired in Louis
XVI., and gladly attributed to herself the slightest favourable change in
his manner; perhaps she displayed too unreservedly the joy she felt, and
the share she appropriated in the improvement. One day Louis XVI.
saluted her ladies with more kindness than usual, and the Queen
laughingly said to them, "Now confess, ladies, that for one so badly
taught as a child, the King has saluted you with very good grace!"

The Queen hated M. de La Vauguyon; she accused him alone of those points
in the habits, and even the sentiments, of the King which hurt her.
A former first woman of the bedchamber to Queen Maria Leczinska had
continued in office near the young Queen. She was one of those people
who are fortunate enough to spend their lives in the service of kings
without knowing anything of what is passing at Court. She was a great
devotee; the Abbe Grisel, an ex-Jesuit, was her director. Being rich
from her savings and an income of 50,000 livres, she kept a very good
table; in her apartment, at the Grand Commun, the most distinguished
persons who still adhered to the Order of Jesuits often assembled. The
Duc de La Vauguyon was intimate with her; their chairs at the Eglise des
Reollets were placed near each other; at high mass and at vespers they
sang the "Gloria in Excelsis" and the "Magnificat" together; and the
pious virgin, seeing in him only one of God's elect, little imagined him
to be the declared enemy of a Princess whom she served and revered.
On the day of his death she ran in tears to relate to the Queen the
piety, humility, and repentance of the last moments of the Duc de La
Vauguyon. He had called his people together, she said, to ask their
pardon. "For what?" replied the Queen, sharply; "he has placed and
pensioned off all his servants; it was of the King and his brothers that
the holy man you bewail should have asked pardon, for having paid so
little attention to the education of princes on whom the fate and
happiness of twenty-five millions of men depend. Luckily," added she,
"the King and his brothers, still young, have incessantly laboured to
repair the errors of their preceptor."

The progress of time, and the confidence with which the King and the
Princes, his brothers, were inspired by the change in their situation
since the death of Louis XV., had developed their characters. I will
endeavour to depict them.

The features of Louis XVI. were noble enough, though somewhat melancholy
in expression; his walk was heavy and unmajestic; his person greatly
neglected; his hair, whatever might be the skill of his hairdresser,
was soon in disorder. His voice, without being harsh, was not agreeable;
if he grew animated in speaking he often got above his natural pitch,
and became shrill. The Abbe de Radonvilliers, his preceptor, one of the
Forty of the French Academy, a learned and amiable man, had given him and
Monsieur a taste for study. The King had continued to instruct himself;
he knew the English language perfectly; I have often heard him translate
some of the most difficult passages in Milton's poems. He was a skilful
geographer, and was fond of drawing and colouring maps; he was well
versed in history, but had not perhaps sufficiently studied the spirit of
it. He appreciated dramatic beauties, and judged them accurately. At
Choisy, one day, several ladies expressed their dissatisfaction because
the French actors were going to perform one of Moliere's pieces. The
King inquired why they disapproved of the choice. One of them answered
that everybody must admit that Moliere had very bad taste; the King
replied that many things might be found in Moliere contrary to fashion,
but that it appeared to him difficult to point out any in bad taste?

[The King, having purchased the Chateau of Rambouillet from the Duc
de Penthievre, amused himself with embellishing it. I have seen a
register entirely in his own handwriting, which proves that he
possessed a great variety of information on the minutiae of various
branches of knowledge. In his accounts he would not omit an outlay
of a franc. His figures and letters, when he wished to write
legibly, were small and very neat, but in general he wrote very ill.
He was so sparing of paper that he divided a sheet into eight, six,
or four pieces, according to the length of what he had to write.
Towards the close of the page he compressed the letters, and avoided
interlineations. The last words were close to the edge of the
paper; he seemed to regret being obliged to begin another page. He
was methodical and analytical; he divided what he wrote into
chapters and sections. He had extracted from the works of Nicole
and Fenelon, his favourite authors, three or four hundred concise
and sententious phrases; these he had classed according to subject,
and formed a work of them in the style of Montesquieu. To this
treatise he had given the following general title: "Of Moderate
Monarchy" (De la Monarchie temperee), with chapters entitled, "Of
the Person of the Prince;" "Of the Authority of Bodies in the
State;" "Of the Character of the Executive Functions of the
Monarchy." Had he been able to carry into effect all the grand
precepts he had observed in Fenelon, Louis XVI. would have been an
accomplished monarch, and France a powerful kingdom. The King used
to accept the speeches his ministers presented to him to deliver on
important occasions; but he corrected and modified them; struck out
some parts, and added others; and sometimes consulted the Queen on
the subject. The phrase of the minister erased by the King was
frequently unsuitable, and dictated by the minister's private
feelings; but the King's was always the natural expression. He
himself composed, three times or oftener, his famous answers to the
Parliament which he banished. But in his letters he was negligent,
and always incorrect. Simplicity was the characteristic of the
King's style; the figurative style of M. Necker did not please him;
the sarcasms of Maurepas were disagreeable to him. Unfortunate
Prince! he would predict, in his observations, that if such a
calamity should happen, the monarchy would be ruined; and the next
day he would consent in Council to the very measure which he had
condemned the day before, and which brought him nearer the brink of
the precipice.--SOULAVIE, "Historical and Political Memoirs of the
Reign of Louis XVI.," vol. ii.]

This Prince combined with his attainments the attributes of a good
husband, a tender father, and an indulgent master.

Unfortunately he showed too much predilection for the mechanical arts;
masonry and lock-making so delighted him that he admitted into his
private apartment a common locksmith, with whom he made keys and locks;
and his hands, blackened by that sort of work, were often, in my
presence, the subject of remonstrances and even sharp reproaches from
the Queen, who would have chosen other amusements for her husband.?

[Louis XVI. saw that the art of lock-making was capable of
application to a higher study, He was an excellent geographer. The
most valuable and complete instrument for the study of that science
was begun by his orders and under his direction. It was an immense
globe of copper, which was long preserved, though unfinished, in the
Mazarine library. Louis XVI. invented and had executed under his
own eyes the ingenious mechanism required for this globe.--NOTE BY

Austere and rigid with regard to himself alone, the King observed the
laws of the Church with scrupulous exactness. He fasted and abstained
throughout the whole of Lent. He thought it right that the queen should
not observe these customs with the same strictness. Though sincerely
pious, the spirit of the age had disposed his mind to toleration.
Turgot, Malesherbes, and Necker judged that this Prince, modest and
simple in his habits, would willingly sacrifice the royal prerogative to
the solid greatness of his people. His heart, in truth, disposed him
towards reforms; but his prejudices and fears, and the clamours of pious
and privileged persons, intimidated him, and made him abandon plans which
his love for the people had suggested.


[During his stay at Avignon, Monsieur, afterwards Louis XVIII,
lodged with the Duc de Crillon; he refused the town-guard which was
offered him, saying, "A son of France, under the roof of a Crillon,
needs no guard."--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

had more dignity of demeanour than the King; but his corpulence rendered
his gait inelegant. He was fond of pageantry and magnificence. He
cultivated the belles lettres, and under assumed names often contributed
verses to the Mercury and other papers.

His wonderful memory was the handmaid of his wit, furnishing him with the
happiest quotations. He knew by heart a varied repertoire, from the
finest passages of the Latin classics to the Latin of all the prayers,
from the works of Racine to the vaudeville of "Rose et Colas."

The Comte d'Artoisi had an agreeable countenance, was well made, skilful
in bodily exercises, lively, impetuous, fond of pleasure, and very
particular in his dress. Some happy observations made by him were
repeated with approval, and gave a favourable idea of his heart. The
Parisians liked the open and frank character of this Prince, which they
considered national, and showed real affection for him.

The dominion that the Queen gained over the King's mind, the charms of a
society in which Monsieur displayed his wit, and to which the Comte
d'Artois--[Afterwards Charles X.]-- gave life by the vivacity of youth,
gradually softened that ruggedness of manner in Louis XVI. which a
better-conducted education might have prevented. Still, this defect
often showed itself, and, in spite of his extreme simplicity, the King
inspired those who had occasion to speak to him with diffidence.
Courtiers, submissive in the presence of their sovereign, are only the
more ready to caricature him; with little good breeding, they called
those answers they so much dreaded, Les coups de boutoir du Roi.--[The
literal meaning of the phrase "coup de boutoir," is a thrust from the
snout of a boar.]

Methodical in all his habits, the King always went to bed at eleven
precisely. One evening the Queen was going with her usual circle to a
party, either at the Duc de Duras's or the Princesse de Glumenee's.
The hand of the clock was slily put forward to hasten the King's
departure by a few minutes; he thought bed-time was come, retired, and
found none of his attendants ready to wait on him. This joke became
known in all the drawing-rooms of Versailles, and was disapproved of
there. Kings have no privacy. Queens have no boudoirs. If those who
are in immediate attendance upon sovereigns be not themselves disposed to
transmit their private habits to posterity, the meanest valet will relate
what he has seen or heard; his gossip circulates rapidly, and forms
public opinion, which at length ascribes to the most august persons
characters which, however untrue they may be, are almost always

NOTE. The only passion ever shown by Louis XVI. was for hunting. He was
so much occupied by it that when I went up into his private closets at
Versailles, after the 10th of August, I saw upon the staircase six
frames, in which were seen statements of all his hunts, when Dauphin and
when King. In them was detailed the number, kind, and quality of
the game he had killed at each hunting party during every month, every
season, and every year of his reign.

The interior of his private apartments was thus arranged: a salon,
ornamented with gilded mouldings, displayed the engravings which had been
dedicated to him, drawings of the canals he had dug, with the model of
that of Burgundy, and the plan of the cones and works of Cherbourg. The
upper hall contained his collection of geographical charts, spheres,
globes, and also his geographical cabinet. There were to be seen
drawings of maps which he had begun, and some that he had finished. He
had a clever method of washing them in. His geographical memory was
prodigious. Over the hall was the turning and joining room, furnished
with ingenious instruments for working in wood. He inherited some from
Louis XV., and he often busied himself, with Duret's assistance, in
keeping them clean and bright. Above was the library of books published
during his reign. The prayer books and manuscript books of Anne of
Brittany, Francois I, the later Valois, Louis XIV., Louis XV., and the
Dauphin formed the great hereditary library of the Chateau. Louis XVI.
placed separately, in two apartments communicating with each other, the
works of his own time, including a complete collection of Didot's
editions, in vellum, every volume enclosed in a morocco case. There were
several English works, among the rest the debates of the British
Parliament, in a great number of volumes in folio (this is the Moniteur
of England, a complete collection of which is so valuable and so scarce).
By the side of this collection was to be seen a manuscript history of all
the schemes for a descent upon that island, particularly that of Comte de
Broglie. One of the presses of this cabinet was full of cardboard boxes,
containing papers relative to the House of Austria, inscribed in the
King's own hand: "Secret papers of my family respecting the House of
Austria; papers of my family respecting the Houses of Stuart and
Hanover." In an adjoining press were kept papers relative to Russia.
Satirical works against Catherine II. and against Paul I. were sold in
France under the name of histories; Louis XVIII. collected and sealed up
with his small seal the scandalous anecdotes against Catherine II., as
well as the works of Rhulieres, of which he had a copy, to be certain
that the secret life of that Princess, which attracted the curiosity of
her contemporaries, should not be made public by his means.

Above the King's private library were a forge, two anvils, and a vast
number of iron tools; various common locks, well made and perfect; some
secret locks, and locks ornamented with gilt copper. It was there that
the infamous Gamin, who afterwards accused the King of having tried to
poison him, and was rewarded for his calumny with a pension of twelve
thousand livres, taught him the art of lock-making. This Gamin, who
became our guide, by order of the department and municipality of
Versailles, did not, however, denounce the King on the 20th December,
1792. He had been made the confidant of that Prince in an immense number
of important commissions; the King had sent him the "Red Book," from
Paris, in a parcel; and the part which was concealed during the
Constituent Assembly still remained so in 1793. Gamin hid it in a part
of the Chateau inaccessible to everybody, and took it from under the
shelves of a secret press before our eyes. This is a convincing proof
that Louis XVI. hoped to return to his Chiteau. When teaching Louis XVI.
his trade Gamin took upon himself the tone and authority of a master.
"The King was good, forbearing, timid, inquisitive, and addicted to
sleep," said Gamin to me; "he was fond to excess of lock-making, and he
concealed himself from the Queen and the Court to file and forge with me.
In order to convey his anvil and my own backwards and forwards we were
obliged to use a thousand stratagems, the history of which would: never
end." Above the King's and Gamin's forges and anvils was an,
observatory, erected upon a platform covered with lead. There, seated on
an armchair, and assisted by a telescope, the King observed all that was
passing in the courtyards of Versailles, the avenue of Paris, and the
neighbouring gardens. He had taken a liking to Duret, one of the indoor
servants of the palace, who sharpened his tools, cleaned his anvils,
pasted his maps, and adjusted eyeglasses to the King's sight, who was
short-sighted. This good Duret, and indeed all the indoor servants,
spoke of their master with regret and affection, and with tears in their

The King was born weak and delicate; but from the age of twenty-four he
possessed a robust constitution, inherited from his mother, who was of
the House of Saxe, celebrated for generations for its robustness. There
were two men in Louis XVI., the man of knowledge and the man of will.
The King knew the history of his own family and of the first houses of
France perfectly. He composed the instructions for M. de la Peyrouse's
voyage round the world, which the minister thought were drawn up by
several members of the Academy of Sciences. His memory retained an
infinite number of names and situations. He remembered quantities and
numbers wonderfully. One day an account was presented to him in which
the minister had ranked among the expenses an item inserted in the
account of the preceding year. "There is a double charge," said the
King; "bring me last year's account, and I will show it yet there." When
the King was perfectly master of the details of any matter, and saw
injustice, he was obdurate even to harshness. Then he would be obeyed
instantly, in order to be sure that he was obeyed.

But in important affairs of state the man of will was not to be found.
Louis XVI. was upon the throne exactly what those weak temperaments whom
nature has rendered incapable of an opinion are in society. In his
pusillanimity, he gave his confidence to a minister; and although amidst
various counsels he often knew which was the best, he never had the
resolution to say, "I prefer the opinion of such a one." Herein
originated the misfortunes of the State.--SOULAVIE'S "Historical and
Political Memoirs Of the Reign Of LOUIS XVI.," VOL ii.


The winter following the confinement of the Comtesse d'Artois was very
severe; the recollections of the pleasure which sleighing-parties had
given the Queen in her childhood made her wish to introduce similar ones
in France. This amusement had already been known in that Court, as was
proved by sleighs being found in the stables which had been used by the
Dauphin, the father of Louis XVI. Some were constructed for the Queen in
a more modern style. The Princes also ordered several; and in a few days
there was a tolerable number of these vehicles. They were driven by the
princes and noblemen of the Court. The noise of the bells and balls with
which the harness of the horses was furnished, the elegance and whiteness
of their plumes, the varied forms of the carriages, the gold with which
they were all ornamented, rendered these parties delightful to the eye.
The winter was very favourable to them, the snow remaining on the ground
nearly six weeks; the drives in the park afforded a pleasure shared by
the spectators.

[Louis XVI., touched with the wretched condition of the poor of
Versailles during the winter of 1776, had several cart-loads of wood
distributed among them. Seeing one day a file of those vehicles
passing by, while several noblemen were preparing to be drawn
swiftly over the ice, he uttered these memorable words: "Gentlemen,
here are my sleighs!"--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

No one imagined that any blame could attach to so innocent an amusement.
But the party were tempted to extend their drives as far as the Champs
Elysees; a few sleighs even crossed the boulevards; the ladies being
masked, the Queen's enemies took the opportunity of saying that she had
traversed the streets of Paris in a sleigh.

This became a matter of moment. The public discovered in it a
predilection for the habits of Vienna; but all that Marie Antoinette did
was criticised.

Sleigh-driving, savouring of the Northern Courts, had no favour among the
Parisians. The Queen was informed of this; and although all the sleighs
were preserved, and several subsequent winters lent themselves to the
amusement, she would not resume it.

It was at the time of the sleighing-parties that the Queen became
intimately acquainted with the Princesse de Lamballe, who made her
appearance in them wrapped in fur, with all the brilliancy and freshness
of the age of twenty,--the emblem of spring, peeping from under sable and
ermine. Her situation, moreover, rendered her peculiarly interesting;
married, when she was scarcely past childhood, to a young prince, who
ruined himself by the contagious example of the Duc d'Orleans, she had
had nothing to do from the time of her arrival in France but to weep.
A widow at eighteen, and childless, she lived with the Duc de Penthievre
as an adopted daughter. She had the tenderest respect and attachment for
that venerable Prince; but the Queen, though doing justice to his
virtues, saw that the Duc de Penthievre's way of life, whether at Paris
or at his country-seat, could neither afford his young daughter-in-law
the amusements suited to her time of life, nor ensure her in the future
an establishment such as she was deprived of by her widowhood. She
determined, therefore, to establish her at Versailles; and for her sake
revived the office of superintendent, which had been discontinued at
Court since the death of Mademoiselle de Clermont. It is said that Maria
Leczinska had decided that this place should continue vacant, the
superintendent having so extensive a power in the houses of queens as to
be frequently a restraint upon their inclinations. Differences which
soon took place between Marie Antoinette and the Princesse de Lamballe
respecting the official prerogatives of the latter, proved that the wife
of Louis XV. had acted judiciously in abolishing the office; but a kind
of treaty made between the Queen and the Princess smoothed all
difficulties. The blame for too strong an assertion of claims fell upon
a secretary of the superintendent, who had been her adviser; and
everything was so arranged that a firm friendship existed between these
two Princesses down to the disastrous period which terminated their

Notwithstanding the enthusiasm which the splendour, grace, and kindness
of the Queen generally inspired, secret intrigues continued in operation
against her. A short time after the ascension of Louis XVI. to the
throne, the minister of the King's household was informed that a most
offensive libel against the Queen was about to appear. The lieutenant of
police deputed a man named Goupil, a police inspector, to trace this
libel; he came soon after to say that he had found out the place where
the work was being printed, and that it was at a country house near
Yverdun. He had already got possession of two sheets, which contained
the most atrocious calumnies, conveyed with a degree of art which might
make them very dangerous to the Queen's reputation. Goupil said that he
could obtain the rest, but that he should want a considerable sum for
that purpose. Three thousand Louis were given him, and very soon
afterwards he brought the whole manuscript and all that had been printed
to the lieutenant of police. He received a thousand louis more as a
reward for his address and zeal; and a much more important office was
about to be given him, when another spy, envious of Goupil's good
fortune, gave information that Goupil himself was the author of the
libel; that, ten years before, he had been put into the Bicetre for
swindling; and that Madame Goupil had been only three years out of the
Salpetriere, where she had been placed under another name. This Madame
Goupil was very pretty and very intriguing; she had found means to form
an intimacy with Cardinal de Rohan, whom she led, it is said, to hope for
a reconciliation with the Queen. All this affair was hushed up; but it
shows that it was the Queen's fate to be incessantly attacked by the
meanest and most odious machinations.

Another woman, named Cahouette de Millers, whose husband held an office
in the Treasury, being very irregular in conduct, and of a scheming turn
of mind, had a mania for appearing in the eyes of her friends at Paris as
a person in favour at Court, to which she was not entitled by either
birth or office. During the latter years of the life of Louis XV. she
had made many dupes, and picked up considerable sums by passing herself
off as the King's mistress. The fear of irritating Madame du Barry was,
according to her, the only thing which prevented her enjoying that title
openly. She came regularly to Versailles, kept herself concealed in a
furnished lodging, and her dupes imagined she was secretly summoned to

This woman formed the scheme of getting admission, if possible, to the
presence of the Queen, or at least causing it to be believed that she had
done so. She adopted as her lover Gabriel de Saint Charles, intendant of
her Majesty's finances,--an office, the privileges of which were confined
to the right of entering the Queen's apartment on Sunday. Madame de
Villers came every Saturday to Versailles with M. de Saint Charles, and
lodged in his apartment. M. Campan was there several times. She painted
tolerably well, and she requested him to do her the favour to present to
the Queen a portrait of her Majesty which she had just copied. M. Campan
knew the woman's character, and refused her. A few days after, he saw on
her Majesty's couch the portrait which he had declined to present to her;
the Queen thought it badly painted, and gave orders that it should be
carried back to the Princesse de Lamballe, who had sent it to her. The
ill success of the portrait did not deter the manoeuvrer from following
up her designs; she easily procured through M. de Saint Charles patents
and orders signed by the Queen; she then set about imitating her writing,
and composed a great number of notes and letters, as if written by her
Majesty, in the tenderest and most familiar style. For many months she
showed them as great secrets to several of her particular friends.
Afterwards, she made the Queen appear to write to her, to procure various
fancy articles. Under the pretext of wishing to execute her Majesty's
commissions accurately, she gave these letters to the tradesmen to read,
and succeeded in having it said, in many houses, that the Queen had a
particular regard for her. She then enlarged her scheme, and represented
the Queen as desiring to borrow 200,000 francs which she had need of, but
which she did not wish to ask of the King from his private funds. This
letter, being shown to M. Beranger, 'fermier general' of the finances,
took effect; he thought himself fortunate in being able to render this
assistance to his sovereign, and lost no time in sending the 200,000
francs to Madame de Villers. This first step was followed by some
doubts, which he communicated to people better informed than himself of
what was passing at Court; they added to his uneasiness; he then went to
M. de Sartine, who unravelled the whole plot. The woman was sent to St.
Pelagie; and the unfortunate husband was ruined, by replacing the sum
borrowed, and by paying for the jewels fraudulently purchased in the
Queen's name. The forged letters were sent to her Majesty; I compared
them in her presence with her own handwriting, and the only
distinguishable difference was a little more regularity in the letters.

This trick, discovered and punished with prudence and without passion,
produced no more sensation out of doors than that of the Inspector

A year after the nomination of Madame de Lamballe to the post of
superintendent of the Queen's household, balls and quadrilles gave rise
to the intimacy of her Majesty with the Comtesse Jules de Polignac. This
lady really interested Marie Antoinette. She was not rich, and generally
lived upon her estate at Claye. The Queen was astonished at not having
seen her at Court earlier. The confession that her want of fortune had
even prevented her appearance at the celebration of the marriages of the
Princes added to the interest which she had inspired.

The Queen was full of consideration, and took delight in counteracting
the injustice of fortune. The Countess was induced to come to Court by
her husband's sister, Madame Diane de Polignac, who had been appointed
lady of honour to the Comtesse d'Artois. The Comtesse Jules was really
fond of a tranquil life; the impression she made at Court affected her
but little; she felt only the attachment manifested for her by the Queen.
I had occasion to see her from the commencement of her favour at Court;
she often passed whole hours with me, while waiting for the Queen. She
conversed with me freely and ingenuously about the honour, and at the
same time the danger, she saw in the kindness of which she was the
object. The Queen sought for the sweets of friendship; but can this
gratification, so rare in any rank, exist between a Queen and a subject,
when they are surrounded, moreover, by snares laid by the artifice of
courtiers? This pardonable error was fatal to the happiness of Marie

The retiring character of the Comtesse Jules, afterwards Duchesse de
Polignac, cannot be spoken of too favourably; but if her heart was
incapable of forming ambitious projects, her family and friends in her
fortune beheld their own, and endeavoured to secure the favour of the

[The Comtesse, afterwards Duchesse de Polignac, nee Polastron,
Married the Comte (in 1780 the Duc) Jules de Polignac, the father of
the Prince de Polignac of Napoleon's and of Charles X.'s time. She
emigrated in 1789, and died in Vienna in 1793.]

The Comtesse de Diane, sister of M. de Polignac, and the Baron de
Besenval and M. de Vaudreuil, particular friends of the Polignac family,
made use of means, the success of which was infallible. One of my
friends (Comte de Moustier), who was in their secret, came to tell me
that Madame de Polignac was about to quit Versailles suddenly; that she
would take leave of the Queen only in writing; that the Comtesse Diane
and M. de Vaudreuil had dictated her letter, and the whole affair was
arranged for the purpose of stimulating the attachment of Marie
Antoinette. The next day, when I went up to the palace, I found the
Queen with a letter in her hand, which she was reading with much emotion;
it was the letter from the Comtesse Jules; the Queen showed it to me.
The Countess expressed in it her grief at leaving a princess who had
loaded her with kindness. The narrowness of her fortune compelled her to
do so; but she was much more strongly impelled by the fear that the
Queen's friendship, after having raised up dangerous enemies against her,
might abandon her to their hatred, and to the regret of having lost the
august favour of which she was the object.

This step produced the full effect that had been expected from it. A
young and sensitive queen cannot long bear the idea of contradiction.
She busied herself in settling the Comtesse Jules near her, by making
such a provision for her as should place her beyond anxiety. Her
character suited the Queen; she had merely natural talents, no pedantry,
no affectation of knowledge. She was of middle size; her complexion very
fair, her eyebrows and hair dark brown, her teeth superb, her smile
enchanting, and her whole person graceful. She was seen almost always in
a demi-toilet, remarkable only for neatness and good taste. I do not
think I ever once saw diamonds about her, even at the climax of her
fortune, when she had the rank of Duchess at Court.

I have always believed that her sincere attachment for the Queen, as much
as her love of simplicity, induced her to avoid everything that might
cause her to be thought a wealthy favourite. She had not one of the
failings which usually accompany that position. She loved the persons
who shared the Queen's affections, and was entirely free from jealousy.
Marie Antoinette flattered herself that the Comtesse Jules and the
Princesse de Lamballe would be her especial friends, and that she should
possess a society formed according to her own taste. "I will receive
them in my closet, or at Trianon," said she; "I will enjoy the comforts
of private life, which exist not for us, unless we have the good sense to
secure them for ourselves." The happiness the Queen thought to secure
was destined to turn to vexation. All those courtiers who were not
admitted to this intimacy became so many jealous and vindictive enemies.

It was necessary to make a suitable provision for the Countess. The
place of first equerry, in reversion after the Comte de Tesse, given to
Comte Jules unknown to the titular holder, displeased the family of
Noailles. This family had just sustained another mortification, the
appointment of the Princesse de Lamballe having in some degree rendered
necessary the resignation of the Comtesse de Noailles, whose husband was
thereupon made a marshal of France. The Princesse de Lamballe, although
she did not quarrel with the Queen, was alarmed at the establishment of
the Comtesse Jules at Court, and did not form, as her Majesty had hoped,
a part of that intimate society, which was in turn composed of Mesdames
Jules and Diane de Polignac, d'Andlau and de Chalon, and Messieurs de
Guignes, de Coigny, d'Adhemar, de Besenval, lieutenant-colonel of the
Swiss, de Polignac, de Vaudreuil, and de Guiche; the Prince de Ligne and
the Duke of Dorset, the English ambassador, were also admitted.

It was a long time before the Comtesse Jules maintained any great state
at Court. The Queen contented herself with giving her very fine
apartments at the top of the marble staircase. The salary of first
equerry, the trifling emoluments derived from M. de Polignac's regiment,
added to their slender patrimony, and perhaps some small pension, at that
time formed the whole fortune of the favourite. I never saw the Queen
make her a present of value; I was even astonished one day at hearing her
Majesty mention, with pleasure, that the Countess had gained ten thousand
francs in the lottery. "She was in great want of it," added the Queen.

Thus the Polignacs were not settled at Court in any degree of splendour
which could justify complaints from others, and the substantial favours
bestowed upon that family were less envied than the intimacy between them
and their proteges and the Queen. Those who had no hope of entering the
circle of the Comtesse Jules were made jealous by the opportunities of
advancement it afforded.

However, at the time I speak of, the society around the Comtesse Jules
was fully engaged in gratifying the young Queen. Of this the Marquis de
Vaudreuil was a conspicuous member; he was a brilliant man, the friend
and protector of men of letters and celebrated artists.

The Baron de Besenval added to the bluntness of the Swiss all the
adroitness of a French courtier. His fifty years and gray hairs made him
enjoy among women the confidence inspired by mature age, although he had
not given up the thought of love affairs. He talked of his native
mountains with enthusiasm. He would at any time sing the "Ranz des
Vaches" with tears in his eyes, and was the best story-teller in the
Comtesse Jules's circle. The last new song or 'bon mot' and the gossip
of the day were the sole topics of conversation in the Queen's parties.
Wit was banished from them. The Comtesse Diane, more inclined to
literary pursuits than her sister-in-law, one day, recommended her to
read the "Iliad" and "Odyssey." The latter replied, laughing, that she
was perfectly acquainted with the Greek poet, and said to prove it:

"Homere etait aveugle et jouait du hautbois."

(Homer was blind and played on the hautboy.)

[This lively repartee of the Duchesse de Polignac is a droll
imitation of a line in the "Mercure Galant." In the quarrel scene
one of the lawyers says to his brother quill: 'Ton pere etait
aveugle et jouait du hautbois.']

The Queen found this sort of humour very much to her taste, and said that
no pedant should ever be her friend.

Before the Queen fixed her assemblies at Madame de Polignac's, she
occasionally passed the evening at the house of the Duc and Duchesse de
Duras, where a brilliant party of young persons met together. They
introduced a taste for trifling games, such as question and answer,
'guerre panpan', blind man's buff, and especially a game called
'descampativos'. The people of Paris, always criticising, but always
imitating the customs of the Court, were infected with the mania for
these childish sports. Madame de Genlis, sketching the follies of the
day in one of her plays, speaks of these famous 'descampativos'; and also
of the rage for making a friend, called the 'inseparable', until a whim
or the slightest difference might occasion a total rupture.


The Duc de Choiseul had reappeared at Court on the ceremony of the King's
coronation for the first time after his disgrace under Louis XV. in 1770.
The state of public feeling on the subject gave his friends hope of
seeing him again in administration, or in the Council of State; but the
opposite party was too firmly seated at Versailles, and the young Queen's
influence was outweighed, in the mind of the King, by long-standing
prejudices; she therefore gave up for ever her attempt to reinstate the
Duke. Thus this Princess, who has been described as so ambitious, and so
strenuously supporting the interest of the House of Austria, failed twice
in the only scheme which could forward the views constantly attributed to
her; and spent the whole of her reign surrounded by enemies of herself
and her house.

Marie Antoinette took little pains to promote literature and the fine
arts. She had been annoyed in consequence of having ordered a
performance of the "Connstable de Bourbon," on the celebration of the
marriage of Madame Clotilde with the Prince of Piedmont. The Court and
the people of Paris censured as indecorous the naming characters in the
piece after the reigning family, and that with which the new alliance was
formed. The reading of this piece by the Comte de Guibert in the Queen's
closet had produced in her Majesty's circle that sort of enthusiasm which
obscures the judgment. She promised herself she would have no more
readings. Yet, at the request of M. de Cubieres, the King's equerry,
the Queen agreed to hear the reading of a comedy written by his brother.
She collected her intimate circle, Messieurs de Coigny, de Vaudreuil, de
Besenval, Mesdames de Polignac, de Chalon, etc., and to increase the
number of judges, she admitted the two Parnys, the Chevalier de Bertin,
my father-in-law, and myself.

Mold read for the author. I never could satisfy myself by what magic the
skilful reader gained our unanimous approbation of a ridiculous work.
Surely the delightful voice of Mold, by awakening our recollection of the
dramatic beauties of the French stage, prevented the wretched lines of
Dorat Cubieres from striking on our ears. I can assert that the
exclamation Charming! charming! repeatedly interrupted the reader. The
piece was admitted for performance at Fontainebleau; and for the first
time the King had the curtain dropped before the end of the play. It was
called the "Dramomane" or "Dramaturge." All the characters died of
eating poison in a pie. The Queen, highly disconcerted at having
recommended this absurd production, announced that she would never hear
another reading; and this time she kept her word.

The tragedy of "Mustapha and Mangir," by M. de Chamfort, was highly
successful at the Court theatre at Fontainebleau. The Queen procured the
author a pension of 1,200 francs, but his play failed on being performed
at Paris.

The spirit of opposition which prevailed in that city delighted in
reversing the verdicts of the Court. The Queen determined never again to
give any marked countenance to new dramatic works. She reserved her
patronage for musical composers, and in a few years their art arrived at
a perfection it had never before attained in France.

It was solely to gratify the Queen that the manager of the Opera brought
the first company of comic actors to Paris. Gluck, Piccini, and Sacchini
were attracted there in succession. These eminent composers were treated
with great distinction at Court. Immediately on his arrival in France,
Gluck was admitted to the Queen's toilet, and she talked to him all the
time he remained with her. She asked him one day whether he had nearly
brought his grand opera of "Armide" to a conclusion, and whether it
pleased him. Gluck replied very coolly, in his German accent, "Madame,
it will soon be finished, and really it will be superb." There was a
great outcry against the confidence with which the composer had spoken of
one of his own productions. The Queen defended him warmly; she insisted
that he could not be ignorant of the merit of his works; that he well
knew they were generally admired, and that no doubt he was afraid lest a
modesty, merely dictated by politeness, should look like affectation in

[Gluck often had to deal with self-sufficiency equal to his own.
He was very reluctant to introduce long ballets into "Iphigenia."
Vestris deeply regretted that the opera was not terminated by a
piece they called a chaconne, in which he displayed all his power.
He complained to Gluck about it. Gluck, who treated his art with
all the dignity it merits, replied that in so interesting a subject
dancing would be misplaced. Being pressed another time by Vestris
on the same subject, "A chaconne! A chaconne!" roared out the
enraged musician; "we must describe the Greeks; and had the Greeks
chaconnes?" "They had not?" returned the astonished dancer; "why,
then, so much the worse for them!"--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

The Queen did not confine her admiration to the lofty style of the French
and Italian operas; she greatly valued Gretry's music, so well adapted to
the spirit and feeling of the words. A great deal of the poetry set to
music by Gretry is by Marmontel. The day after the first performance of
"Zemira and Azor," Marmontel and Gretry were presented to the Queen as
she was passing through the gallery of Fontainebleau to go to mass. The
Queen congratulated Gretry on the success of the new opera, and told him
that she had dreamed of the enchanting effect of the trio by Zemira's
father and sisters behind the magic mirror. Gretry, in a transport of
joy, took Marmontel in his arms, "Ah! my friend," cried he, "excellent
music may be made of this."--"And execrable words," coolly observed
Marmontel, to whom her Majesty had not addressed a single compliment.

The most indifferent artists were permitted to have the honour of
painting the Queen. A full-length portrait, representing her in all the
pomp of royalty, was exhibited in the gallery of Versailles. This
picture, which was intended for the Court of Vienna, was executed by a
man who does not deserve even to be named, and disgusted all people of
taste. It seemed as if this art had, in France, retrograded several

The Queen had not that enlightened judgment, or even that mere taste,
which enables princes to foster and protect great talents. She confessed
frankly that she saw no merit in any portrait beyond the likeness. When
she went to the Louvre, she would run hastily over all the little "genre"
pictures, and come out, as she acknowledged, without having once raised
her eyes to the grand compositions.

There is no good portrait of the Queen, save that by Werthmuller, chief
painter to the King of Sweden, which was sent to Stockholm, and that by
Madame Lebrun, which was saved from the revolutionary fury by the
commissioners for the care of the furniture at Versailles.

[A sketch of very great interest made when the Queen was in the
Temple and discovered many years afterwards there, recently
reproduced in the memoirs of the Marquise de Tourzel (Paris, Plon),
is the last authentic portrait of the unhappy Queen. See also the
catalogue of portraits made by Lord Ronald Gower.]

The composition of the latter picture resembles that of Henriette of
France, the wife of the unfortunate Charles I., painted by Vandyke. Like
Marie Antoinette, she is seated, surrounded by her children, and that
resemblance adds to the melancholy interest raised by this beautiful

While admitting that the Queen gave no direct encouragement to any art
but that of music, I should be wrong to pass over in silence the
patronage conferred by her and the Princes, brothers of the King, on the
art of printing.

[In 1790 the King gave a proof of his particular good-will to the
bookselling trade. A company consisting of the first Parisian
booksellers, being on the eve of stopping payment, succeeded in
laying before the King a statement of their distressed situation.
The monarch was affected by it; he took from the civil list the sum
of which the society stood in immediate need, and became security
for the repayment of the remainder of the 1,200,000 livres, which
they wanted to borrow, and for the repayment of which he fixed no
particular time.]

To Marie Antoinette we are indebted for a splendid quarto edition of the
works of Metastasio; to Monsieur, the King's brother, for a quarto Tasso,
embellished with engravings after Cochin; and to the Comte d'Artois for a
small collection of select works, which is considered one of the chef
d'oeuvres of the press of the celebrated Didot.

In 1775, on the death of the Marechal du Muy, the ascendency obtained by
the sect of innovators occasioned M. de Saint-Germain to be recalled to
Court and made Minister of War. His first care was the destruction of
the King's military household establishment, an imposing and effectual
rampart round the sovereign power.

When Chancellor Maupeou obtained from Louis XV. the destruction of the
Parliament and the exile of all the ancient magistrates, the
Mousquetaires were charged with the execution of the commission for this
purpose; and at the stroke of midnight, the presidents and members were
all arrested, each by two Mousquetaires. In the spring of 1775 a popular
insurrection had taken place in consequence of the high price of bread.
M. Turgot's new regulation, which permitted unlimited trade in corn, was
either its cause or the pretext for it; and the King's household troops
again rendered the greatest services to public tranquillity.

I have never be enable to discover the true cause of the support given to
M. de Saint-Germain's policy by the Queen, unless in the marked favour
shown to the captains and officers of the Body Guards, who by this
reduction became the only soldiers of their rank entrusted with the
safety of the sovereign; or else in the Queen's strong prejudice against
the Duc d'Aiguillon, then commander of the light-horse. M. de Saint-
Germain, however, retained fifty gens d'armes and fifty light-horse to
form a royal escort on state occasions; but in 1787 the King reduced both
these military bodies. The Queen then said with satisfaction that at
last she should see no more red coats in the gallery of Versailles.

From 1775 to 1781 were the gayest years of the Queen's life. In the
little journeys to Choisy, performances frequently took place at the
theatre twice in one day: grand opera and French or Italian comedy at the
usual hour; and at eleven at night they returned to the theatre for
parodies in which the best actors of the Opera presented themselves in
whimsical parts and costumes. The celebrated dancer Guimard always took
the leading characters in the latter performance; she danced better than
she acted; her extreme leanness, and her weak, hoarse voice added to the
burlesque in the parodied characters of Ernelinde and Iphigenie.

The most magnificent fete ever given to the Queen was one prepared for
her by Monsieur, the King's brother, at Brunoy. That Prince did me the
honour to admit me, and I followed her Majesty into the gardens, where
she found in the first copse knights in full armour asleep at the foot of
trees, on which hung their spears and shields. The absence of the
beauties who had incited the nephews of Charlemagne and the gallants of
that period to lofty deeds was supposed to occasion this lethargic
slumber. But when the Queen appeared at the entrance of the copse they
were on foot in an instant, and melodious voices announced their
eagerness to display their valour. They then hastened into a vast arena,
magnificently decorated in the exact style of the ancient tournaments.
Fifty dancers dressed as pages presented to the knights twenty-five
superb black horses, and twenty-five of a dazzling whiteness, all most
richly caparisoned. The party led by Augustus Vestris wore the Queen's
colours. Picq, balletmaster at the Russian Court, commanded the opposing
band. There was running at the negro's head, tilting, and, lastly,
combats 'a outrance', perfectly well imitated. Although the spectators
were aware that the Queen's colours could not but be victorious, they did
not the less enjoy the apparent uncertainty.

Nearly all the agreeable women of Paris were ranged upon the steps which
surrounded the area of the tourney. The Queen, surrounded by the royal
family and the whole Court, was placed beneath an elevated canopy. A
play, followed by a ballet-pantomime and a ball, terminated the fete.
Fireworks and illuminations were not spared. Finally, from a
prodigiously high scaffold, placed on a rising ground, the words 'Vive
Louis! Vive Marie Antoinette!' were shown in the air in the midst of a
very dark but calm night.

Pleasure was the sole pursuit of every one of this young family, with the
exception of the King. Their love of it was perpetually encouraged by a
crowd of those officious people who, by anticipating the desires and even
the passions of princes, find means of showing their zeal, and hope to
gain or maintain favour for themselves.

Who would have dared to check the amusements of a queen, young, lively,
and handsome? A mother or a husband alone would have had the right to do
it; and the King threw no impediment in the way of Marie Antoinette's
inclinations. His long indifference had been followed by admiration and
love. He was a slave to all the wishes of the Queen, who, delighted with
the happy change in the heart and habits of the King, did not
sufficiently conceal the ascendency she was gaining over him.

The King went to bed every night at eleven precisely; he was very
methodical, and nothing was allowed to interfere with his rules. The
noise which the Queen unavoidably made when she returned very late from
the evenings which she spent with the Princesse de Gugmenee or the Duc de
Duras, at last annoyed the King, and it was amicably agreed that the
Queen should apprise him when she intended to sit up late. He then began
to sleep in his own apartment, which had never before happened from the
time of their marriage.

During the winter the Queen attended the Opera balls with a single lady
of the palace, and always found there Monsieur and the Comte d'Artois.
Her people concealed their liveries under gray cloth greatcoats. She
never thought she was recognized, while all the time she was known to the
whole assembly, from the first moment she entered the theatre; they
pretended, however, not to recognise her, and some masquerade manoeuvre
was always adopted to give her the pleasure of fancying herself

Louis XVI. determined once to accompany the Queen to a masked ball;
it was agreed that the King should hold not only the grand but the petit
coucher, as if actually going to bed. The Queen went to his apartment
through the inner corridors of the palace, followed by one of her women
with a black domino; she assisted him to put it on, and they went alone
to the chapel court, where a carriage waited for them, with the captain
of the Guard of the quarter, and a lady of the palace. The King was but
little amused, spoke only to two or three persons, who knew him
immediately, and found nothing to admire at the masquerade but Punches
and Harlequins, which served as a joke against him for the royal family,
who often amused themselves with laughing at him about it.

An event, simple in itself, brought dire suspicion upon the Queen. She
was going out one evening with the Duchesse de Lupnes, lady of the
palace, when her carriage broke down at the entrance into Paris; she was
obliged to alight; the Duchess led her into a shop, while a footman
called a 'fiacre'. As they were masked, if they had but known how to
keep silence, the event would never have been known; but to ride in a
fiacre is so unusual an adventure for a queen that she had hardly entered
the Opera-house when she could not help saying to some persons whom she
met there: "That I should be in a fiacre! Is it not droll?"

From that moment all Paris was informed of the adventure of the fiacre.
It was said that everything connected with it was mysterious; that the
Queen had kept an assignation in a private house with the Duc de Coigny.
He was indeed very well received at Court, but equally so by the King and
Queen. These accusations of gallantry once set afloat, there were no
longer any bounds to the calumnies circulated at Paris. If, during the
chase or at cards, the Queen spoke to Lord Edward Dillon, De Lambertye,
or others, they were so many favoured lovers. The people of Paris did
not know that none of those young persons were admitted into the Queen's
private circle of friends; the Queen went about Paris in disguise, and
had made use of a fiacre; and a single instance of levity gives room for
the suspicion of others.

Conscious of innocence, and well knowing that all about her must do
justice to her private life, the Queen spoke of these reports with
contempt, contenting herself with the supposition that some folly in the
young men mentioned had given rise to them. She therefore left off
speaking to them or even looking at them. Their vanity took alarm at
this, and revenge induced them either to say, or to leave others to
think, that they were unfortunate enough to please no longer. Other
young coxcombs, placing themselves near the private box which the Queen
occupied incognito when she attended the public theatre at Versailles,
had the presumption to imagine that they were noticed by her; and I have
known such notions entertained merely on account of the Queen's
requesting one of those gentlemen to inquire behind the scenes whether it
would be long before the commencement of the second piece.

The list of persons received into the Queen's closet which I gave in the
preceding chapter was placed in the hands of the ushers of the chamber by
the Princesse de Lamballe; and the persons there enumerated could present
themselves to enjoy the distinction only on those days when the Queen
chose to be with her intimates in a private manner; and this was only
when she was slightly indisposed. People of the first rank at Court
sometimes requested special audiences of her; the Queen then received
them in a room within that called the closet of the women on duty, and
these women announced them in her Majesty's apartment.

The Duc de Lauzun had a good deal of wit, and chivalrous manners. The
Queen was accustomed to see him at the King's suppers, and at the house
of the Princesse de Guemenee, and always showed him attention. One day
he made his appearance at Madame de Guemenee's in uniform, and with the
most magnificent plume of white heron's feathers that it was possible to
behold. The Queen admired the plume, and he offered it to her through
the Princesse de Guemenee. As he had worn it the Queen had not imagined
that he could think of giving it to her; much embarrassed with the
present which she had, as it were, drawn upon herself, she did not like
to refuse it, nor did she know whether she ought to make one in return;
afraid, if she did give anything, of giving either too much or too
little, she contented herself with once letting M. de Lauzun see her
adorned with the plume. In his secret "Memoirs" the Duke attaches an
importance to his present, which proves him utterly unworthy of an honour
accorded only to his name and rank

A short time afterwards he solicited an audience; the Queen granted it,
as she would have done to any other courtier of equal rank. I was in the
room adjoining that in which he was received; a few minutes after his
arrival the Queen reopened the door, and said aloud, and in an angry tone
of voice, "Go, monsieur." M. de Lauzun bowed low, and withdrew. The
Queen was much agitated. She said to me: "That man shall never again
come within my doors." A few years before the Revolution of 1789 the
Marechal de Biron died. The Duc de Lauzun, heir to his name, aspired to
the important post of colonel of the regiment of French guards. The
Queen, however, procured it for the Duc du Chaatelet. The Duc de Biron
espoused the cause of the Duc d'Orleans, and became one of the most
violent enemies of Marie Antoinette.

It is with reluctance that I enter minutely on a defence of the Queen
against two infamous accusations with which libellers have dared to swell
their envenomed volumes. I mean the unworthy suspicions of too strong an
attachment for the Comte d'Artois, and of the motives for the tender
friendship which subsisted between the Queen, the Princesse de Lamballe,
and the Duchesse de Polignac. I do not believe that the Comte d'Artois
was, during his own youth and that of the Queen, so much smitten as has
been said with the loveliness of his sister-in-law; I can affirm that I
always saw that Prince maintain the most respectful demeanour towards the
Queen; that she always spoke of his good-nature and cheerfulness with
that freedom which attends only the purest sentiments; and that none of
those about the Queen ever saw in the affection she manifested towards
the Comte d'Artois more than that of a kind and tender sister for her
youngest brother. As to the intimate connection between Marie Antoinette
and the ladies I have named, it never had, nor could have, any other
motive than the very innocent wish to secure herself two friends in the
midst of a numerous Court; and notwithstanding this intimacy, that tone
of respect observed by persons of the most exalted rank towards majesty
never ceased to be maintained.

The Queen, much occupied with the society of Madame de Polignac, and an
unbroken series of amusements, found less time for the Abbe de Vermond;
he therefore resolved to retire from Court. The world did him the honour
to believe that he had hazarded remonstrances upon his august pupil's
frivolous employment of her time, and that he considered himself, both as
an ecclesiastic and as instructor, now out of place at Court. But the
world was deceived his dissatisfaction arose purely from the favour shown
to the Comtesse Jules. After a fortnight's absence we saw him at
Versailles again, resuming his usual functions.

The Queen could express herself with winning graciousness to persons who
merited her praise. When M. Loustonneau was appointed to the reversion
of the post of first surgeon to the King, he came to make his
acknowledgments. He was much beloved by the poor, to whom he had chiefly
devoted his talents, spending nearly thirty thousand francs a year on
indigent sufferers. The Queen replied to his thanks by saying: "You are
satisfied, Monsieur; but I am far from being so with the inhabitants of
Versailles. On the news of your appointment the town should have been
illuminated."--"How so, Madame?" asked the astonished surgeon, who was
very modest. "Why," replied the Queen, "if the poor whom you have
succoured for the past twenty years had each placed a single candle in
their windows it would have been the most beautiful illumination ever

The Queen did not limit her kindness to friendly words. There was
frequently seen in the apartments of Versailles a veteran captain of the
grenadiers of France, called the Chevalier d'Orville, who for four years
had been soliciting from the Minister of War the post of major, or of
King's lieutenant. He was known to be very poor; but he supported his
lot without complaining of this vexatious delay in rewarding his
honourable services. He regularly attended the Marechal de Segur,
at the hour appointed for receiving the numerous solicitations in his
department. One day the Marshal said to him: "You are still at
Versailles, M. d'Orville?"--"Monsieur," he replied, "you may observe that
by this board of the flooring where I regularly place myself; it is
already worn down several lines by the weight of my body." The Queen
frequently stood at the window of her bedchamber to observe with her
glass the people walking in the park. Sometimes she inquired the names
of those who were unknown to her. One day she saw the Chevalier
d'Orville passing, and asked me the name of that knight of Saint Louis,
whom she had seen everywhere for a long time past. I knew who he was,
and related his history. "That must be put an end to," said the Queen,
with some vivacity. "Such an example of indifference is calculated to
discourage our soldiers." Next day, in crossing the gallery to go to
mass, the Queen perceived the Chevalier d'Orville; she went directly
towards him. The poor man fell back in the recess of a window, looking
to the right and left to discover the person whom the Queen was seeking,
when she thus addressed him: "M. d'Orville, you have been several years
at Versailles, soliciting a majority or a King's lieutenancy. You must
have very powerless patrons."--"I have none, Madame," replied the
Chevalier, in great confusion. "Well! I will take you under my
protection. To-morrow at the same hour be here with a petition, and a
memorial of your services." A fortnight after, M. d'Orville was
appointed King's lieutenant, either at La Rochelle or at Rochefort.

[Louis XVI. vied with his Queen in benevolent actions of this kind.
An old officer had in vain solicited a pension during the
administration of the Duc de Choiseul. He returned to the charge in
the times of the Marquis de Montesnard and the Duc d'Aiguillon. He
urged his claims, to Comte du Muy, who made a note of them. Tired
of so many fruitless efforts, he at last appeared at the King's
supper, and, having placed himself so as to be seen and heard, cried
out at a moment when silence prevailed, "Sire." The people near him
said, "What are you about? This is not the way to speak to the
King."--"I fear nothing," said he, and raising his voice, repeated,
"Sire." The King, much surprised, looked at him and said, "What do
you want, monsieur."--"Sire," answered he, "I am seventy years of
age; I have served your Majesty more than fifty years, and I am
dying for want."--"Have you a memorial?" replied the King. "Yes,
Sire, I have."--"Give it to me;" and his Majesty took it without
saying anything more. Next morning he was sent for by the, King,
who said, "Monsieur, I grant you an annuity of 1,500 livres out of
my privy purse, and you may go and receive the first year's payment,
which is now due." ("Secret Correspondence of the Court: Reign of
Louis XVI.") The King preferred to spend money in charity rather
than in luxury or magnificence. Once during his absence, M.
d'Augivillers caused an unused room in the King's apartment to be
repaired at a cost of 30,000 francs. On his return the King made
Versailles resound with complaints against M. d'Augivillers: "With
that sum I could have made thirty families happy," he said.]


From the time of Louis XVI.'s accession to the throne, the Queen had been
expecting a visit from her brother, the Emperor Joseph II. That Prince
was the constant theme of her discourse. She boasted of his
intelligence, his love of occupation, his military knowledge, and the
perfect simplicity of his manners. Those about her Majesty ardently
wished to see at Versailles a prince so worthy of his rank. At length
the coming of Joseph II., under the title of Count Falkenstein, was
announced, and the very day on which he would be at Versailles was
mentioned. The first embraces between the Queen and her august brother
took place in the presence of all the Queen's household. The sight of
their emotion was extremely affecting.

The Emperor was at first generally admired in France; learned men, well-
informed officers, and celebrated artists appreciated the extent of his
information. He made less impression at Court, and very little in the
private circle of the King and Queen. His eccentric manners, his
frankness, often degenerating into rudeness, and his evidently affected
simplicity,--all these characteristics caused him to be looked upon as a
prince rather singular than admirable. The Queen spoke to him about the
apartment she had prepared for him in the Chateau; the Emperor answered
that he would not accept it, and that while travelling he always lodged
at a cabaret (that was his very expression); the Queen insisted, and
assured him that he should be at perfect liberty, and placed out of the
reach of noise. He replied that he knew the Chateau of Versailles was
very large, and that so many scoundrels lived there that he could well
find a place; but that his valet de chambre had made up his camp-bed in a
lodging-house, and there he would stay.

He dined with the King and Queen, and supped with the whole family. He
appeared to take an interest in the young Princesse Elisabeth, then just
past childhood, and blooming in all the freshness of that age. An
intended marriage between him and this young sister of the King was
reported at the time, but I believe it had no foundation in truth.

The table was still served by women only, when the Queen dined in private
with the King, the royal family, or crowned heads.

[The custom was, even supposing dinner to have commenced, if a
princess of the blood arrived, and she was asked to sit down at the
Queen's table, the comptrollers and gentlemen-in-waiting came
immediately to attend, and the Queen's women withdrew. These had
succeeded the maids of honour in several parts of their service, and
had preserved some of their privileges. One day the Duchesse
d'Orleans arrived at Fontainebleau, at the Queen's dinner-hour. The
Queen invited her to the table, and herself motioned to her women to
leave the room, and let the men take their places. Her Majesty said
she was resolved to continue a privilege which kept places of that
description most honourable, and render them suitable for ladies of
nobility without fortune. Madame de Misery, Baronne de Biache, the
Queen's first lady of the chamber, to whom I was made reversioner,
was a daughter of M. le Comte de Chemant, and her grandmother was a
Montmorency. M. le Prince de Tingry, in the presence of the Queen,
used to call her cousin. The ancient household of the Kings of
France had prerogatives acknowledged in the state. Many of the
offices were tenable only by those of noble blood, and were sold at
from 40,000 to 300,000 franca. A collection of edicts of the Kings
in favour of the prerogatives and right of precedence of the persons
holding office in the royal household is still in existence.]

I was present at the Queen's dinner almost every day. The Emperor would
talk much and fluently; he expressed himself in French with facility, and
the singularity, of his expressions added a zest to his conversation. I
have often heard him say that he liked spectacculous objects, when he
meant to express such things as formed a show, or a scene worthy of
interest. He disguised none of his prejudices against the etiquette and
customs of the Court of France; and even in the presence of the King made
them the subject of his sarcasms. The King smiled, but never made any
answer; the Queen appeared pained. The Emperor frequently terminated his
observations upon the objects in Paris which he had admired by
reproaching the King for suffering himself to remain in ignorance of
them. He could not conceive how such a wealth of pictures should remain
shut up in the dust of immense stores; and told him one day that but for
the practice of placing some of them in the apartments of Versailles he
would not know even the principal chef d'oeuvres that he possessed.

[The Emperor loudly censured the existing practice of allowing
shopkeepers to erect shops near the outward walls of all the
palaces, and even to establish something like a fair in the
galleries of Versailles and Fontainebleau, and even upon the
landings of the staircases.]

He also reproached him for not having visited the Hotel des Invalides nor
the Ecole Militaire; and even went so far as to tell him before us that
he ought not only to know what Paris contained, but to travel in France,
and reside a few days in each of his large towns.

At last the Queen was really hurt at the Emperor's remarks, and gave him
a few lectures upon the freedom with which he allowed himself to lecture
others. One day she was busied in signing warrants and orders for
payment for her household, and was conversing with M. Augeard, her
secretary for such matters, who presented the papers one after another to
be signed, and replaced them in his portfolio. While this was going
forward, the Emperor walked about the room; all at once he stood still,
to reproach the Queen rather severely for signing all those papers
without reading them, or, at least, without running her eye over them;
and he spoke most judiciously to her upon the danger of signing her name
inconsiderately. The Queen answered that very wise principles might be
very ill applied; that her secretary, who deserved her implicit
confidence, was at that moment laying before her nothing but orders for
payment of the quarter's expenses of her household, registered in the
Chamber of Accounts; and that she ran no risk of incautiously giving her

The Queen's toilet was likewise a never-failing subject for animadversion
with the Emperor. He blamed her for having introduced too many new
fashions; and teased her about her use of rouge. One day, while she was
laying on more of it than usual, before going to the play, he pointed out
a lady who was in the room, and who was, in truth, highly painted. "A
little more under the eyes," said the Emperor to the Queen; "lay on the
rouge like a fury, as that lady does." The Queen entreated her brother
to refrain from his jokes, or at all events to address them, when they
were so outspoken, to her alone.

The Queen had made an appointment to meet her brother at the Italian
theatre; she changed her mind, and went to the French theatre, sending a
page to the Italian theatre to request the Emperor to come to her there.
He left his box, lighted by the comedian Clairval, and attended by M. de
la Ferte, comptroller of the Queen's privy purse, who was much hurt at
hearing his Imperial Majesty, after kindly expressing his regret at not
being present during the Italian performance, say to Clairval, "Your
young Queen is very giddy; but, luckily, you Frenchmen have no great
objection to that."

I was with my father-in-law in one of the Queen's apartments when the
Emperor came to wait for her there, and, knowing that M. Campan was
librarian, he conversed with him about such books as would of course be
found in the Queen's library. After talking of our most celebrated
authors, he casually said, "There are doubtless no works on finance or
on administration here?"

These words were followed by his opinion on all that had been written on
those topics, and the different systems of our two famous ministers,
Sully and Colbert; on errors which were daily committed in France, in
points essential to the prosperity of the Empire; and on the reform he
himself would make at Vienna. Holding M. Campan by the button, he spent
more than an hour, talking vehemently, and without the slightest reserve,
about the French Government. My father-in-law and myself maintained
profound silence, as much from astonishment as from respect; and when we
were alone we agreed not to speak of this interview.

The Emperor was fond of describing the Italian Courts that he had
visited. The jealous quarrels between the King and Queen of Naples
amused him highly; he described to the life the manner and speech of that
sovereign, and the simplicity with which he used to go and solicit the
first chamberlain to obtain permission to return to the nuptial bed, when
the angry Queen had banished him from it. The time which he was made to
wait for this reconciliation was calculated between the Queen and her
chamberlain, and always proportioned to the gravity of the offence. He
also related several very amusing stories relative to the Court of Parma,
of which he spoke with no little contempt. If what this Prince said of
those Courts, and even of Vienna, had been written down, the whole would
have formed an interesting collection. The Emperor told the King that
the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the King of Naples being together, the
former said a great deal about the changes he had effected in his State.
The Grand Duke had issued a mass of new edicts, in order to carry the
precepts of the economists into execution, and trusted that in so doing
he was labouring for the welfare of his people. The King of Naples
suffered him to go on speaking for a long time, and then casually asked
how many Neapolitan families there were in Tuscany. The Duke soon
reckoned them up, as they were but few. "Well, brother," replied the
King of Naples, "I do not understand the indifference of your people
towards your great reforms; for I have four times the number of Tuscan
families settled in my States that you have of Neapolitan families in

The Queen being at the Opera with the Emperor, the latter did not wish to
show himself; but she took him by the hand, and gently drew him to the
front of the box. This kind of presentation to the public was most
warmly received. The performance was "Iphigenia in Aulis," and for the
second time. the chorus, "Chantons, celebrons notre Reine!" was called
for with universal plaudits.

A fete of a novel description was given at Petit Trianon. The art with
which the English garden was not illuminated, but lighted, produced a
charming effect. Earthen lamps, concealed by boards painted green, threw
light upon the beds of shrubs and flowers, and brought out their varied
tints. Several hundred burning fagots in the moat behind the Temple of
Love made a blaze of light, which rendered that spot the most brilliant
in the garden. After all, this evening's entertainment had nothing
remarkable about it but the good taste of the artists, yet it was much
talked of. The situation did not allow the admission of a great part of
the Court; those who were uninvited were dissatisfied; and the people,
who never forgive any fetes but those they share in, so exaggerated the
cost of this little fete as to make it appear that the fagots burnt in
the moat had required the destruction of a whole forest. The Queen being
informed of these reports, was determined to know exactly how much wood
had been consumed; and she found that fifteen hundred fagots had sufficed
to keep up the fire until four o'clock in the morning.

After staying a few months the Emperor left France, promising his sister
to come and see her again. All the officers of the Queen's chamber had
many opportunities of serving him during his stay, and expected that he
would make them presents before his departure. Their oath of office
positively forbade them to receive a gift from any foreign prince; they
had therefore agreed to refuse the Emperor's presents at first, but to
ask the time necessary for obtaining permission to accept them. The
Emperor, probably informed of this custom, relieved the good people from
their difficulty by setting off without making a single present.

About the latter end of 1777 the Queen, being alone in her closet, sent
for my father-in-law and myself, and, giving us her hand to kiss; told us
that, looking upon us both as persons deeply interested in her happiness,
she wished to receive our congratulations,--that at length she was the
Queen of France, and that she hoped soon to have children; that till now
she had concealed her grief, but that she had shed many tears in secret.

Dating from this happy but long-delayed moment, the King's attachment to
the Queen assumed every characteristic of love. The good Lassone, first
physician to the King and Queen, frequently spoke to me of the uneasiness
that the King's indifference, the cause of which he had been so long in
overcoming, had given him, and appeared to me at that time to entertain
no anxiety except of a very different description.

In the winter of 1778 the King's permission for the return of Voltaire;
after an absence of twenty-seven years, was obtained. A few strict
persons considered this concession on the part of the Court very
injudicious. The Emperor, on leaving France, passed by the Chateau of
Ferney without stopping there. He had advised the Queen not to suffer
Voltaire to be presented to her. A lady belonging to the Court learned
the Emperor's opinion on that point, and reproached him with his want of
enthusiasm towards the greatest genius of the age. He replied that for
the good of the people he should always endeavour to profit by the
knowledge of the philosophers; but that his own business of sovereign
would always prevent his ranking himself amongst that sect. The clergy
also took steps to hinder Voltaire's appearance at Court. Paris,
however, carried to the highest pitch the honours and enthusiasm shown to
the great poet.

It was very unwise to let Paris pronounce with such transport an opinion
so opposite to that of the Court. This was pointed out to the Queen,
and she was told that, without conferring on Voltaire the honour of a
presentation, she might see him in the State apartments. She was not
averse to following this advice, and appeared embarrassed solely about
what she should say to him. She was recommended to talk about nothing
but the "Henriade," "Merope," and "Zaira." The Queen replied that she
would still consult a few other persons in whom she had great confidence.
The next day she announced that it was irrevocably decided Voltaire
should not see any member of the royal family,--his writings being too
antagonistic to religion and morals. "It is, however, strange," said the
Queen, "that while we refuse to admit Voltaire into our presence as the
leader of philosophical writers, the Marechale de Mouchy should have
presented to me some years ago Madame Geoffrin, who owed her celebrity to
the title of foster-mother of the philosophers."

On the occasion of the duel of the Comte d'Artois with the Prince de
Bourbon the Queen determined privately to see the Baron de Besenval,
who was to be one of the witnesses, in order to communicate the King's
intentions. I have read with infinite pain the manner in which that
simple fact is perverted in the first volume of M. de Besenval's
"Memoirs." He is right in saying that M. Campan led him through the
upper corridors of the Chateau, and introduced him into an apartment
unknown to him; but the air of romance given to the interview is equally
culpable and ridiculous. M. de Besenval says that he found himself,
without knowing how he came there, in an apartment unadorned, but very
conveniently furnished, of the existence of which he was till then
utterly ignorant. He was astonished, he adds, not that the Queen should
have so many facilities, but that she should have ventured to procure
them. Ten printed sheets of the woman Lamotte's libels contain nothing
so injurious to the character of Marie Antoinette as these lines, written
by a man whom she honoured by undeserved kindness. He could not have had
any opportunity of knowing the existence of the apartments, which
consisted of a very small antechamber, a bedchamber, and a closet. Ever
since the Queen had occupied her own apartment, these had been
appropriated to her Majesty's lady of honour in cases of illness, and
were actually so used when the Queen was confined. It was so important
that it should not be known the Queen had spoken to the Baron before the
duel that she had determined to go through her inner room into this
little apartment, to which M. Campan was to conduct him. When men write
of recent times they should be scrupulously exact, and not indulge in
exaggerations or inventions.

The Baron de Besenval appears mightily surprised at the Queen's sudden
coolness, and refers it to the fickleness of her disposition. I can
explain the reason for the change by repeating what her Majesty said to
me at the time; and I will not alter one of her expressions. Speaking of
the strange presumption of men, and the reserve with which women ought
always to treat them, the Queen added that age did not deprive them of
the hope of pleasing, if they retained any agreeable qualities; that she
had treated the Baron de Besenval as a brave Swiss, agreeable, polished,
and witty, whose gray hairs had induced her to look upon him as a man
whom she might see without harm; but that she had been much deceived.
Her Majesty, after having enjoined me to the strictest secrecy, told me
that, finding herself alone with the Baron, he began to address her with
so much gallantry that she was thrown into the utmost astonishment, and
that he was mad enough to fall upon his knees, and make her a declaration
in form. The Queen added that she said to him: "Rise, monsieur; the King
shall be ignorant of an offence which would disgrace you for ever;" that
the Baron grew pale and stammered apologies; that she left her closet
without saying another word, and that since that time she hardly ever
spoke to him. "It is delightful to have friends," said the Queen; "but
in a situation like mine it is sometimes difficult for the friends of our
friends to suit us."

In the beginning of the year 1778 Mademoiselle d'Eon obtained permission
to return to France, on condition that she should appear there in female
dress. The Comte de Vergennes entreated my father, M. Genet, chief clerk
of Foreign Affairs, who had long known the Chevalier d'Eon, to receive
that strange personage at his house, to guide and restrain, if possible,
her ardent disposition. The Queen, on learning her arrival at
Versailles, sent a footman to desire my father to bring her into her
presence; my father thought it his duty first to inform the Minister of
her Majesty's wish. The Comte de Vergennes expressed himself pleased
with my father's prudence, and desired that he would accompany him to the
Queen. The Minister had a few minutes' audience; her Majesty came out of
her closet with him, and condescended to express to my father the regret
she felt at having troubled him to no purpose; and added, smiling, that a
few words from M. de Vergennes had for ever cured her of her curiosity.
The discovery in London of the true sex of this pretended woman makes it
probable that the few words uttered by the Minister contained a solution
of the enigma.

The Chevalier d'Eon had been useful in Russia as a spy of Louis XV.
while very young he had found means to introduce himself at the Court of
the Empress Elizabeth, and served that sovereign in the capacity of
reader. Resuming afterwards his military dress, he served with honour
and was wounded. Appointed chief secretary of legation, and afterwards
minister plenipotentiary at London, he unpardonably insulted Comte de
Guerchy, the ambassador. The official order for the Chevalier's return
to France was actually delivered to the King's Council; but Louis XV.
delayed the departure of the courier who was to be its bearer, and sent
off another courier privately, who gave the Chevalier d'Eon a letter in
his own writing, in which he said, "I know that you have served me as
effectually in the dress of a woman as in that which you now wear.
Resume it instantly; withdraw into the city; I warn you that the King
yesterday signed an order for your return to France; you are not safe in
your hotel, and you would here find too powerful enemies." I heard the
Chevalier d'Eon repeat the contents of this letter, in which Louis XV.
thus separated himself from the King of France, several times at my
father's. The Chevalier, or rather the Chevalaere d'Eon had preserved
all the King's letters. Messieurs de Maurepas and de Vergennes wished to
get them out of his hands, as they were afraid he would print them. This
eccentric being had long solicited permission to return to France; but it
was necessary to find a way of sparing the family he had offended the
insult they would see in his return; he was therefore made to resume the
costume of that sex to which in France everything is pardoned. The
desire to see his native land once more determined him to submit to the
condition, but he revenged himself by combining the long train of his
gown and the three deep ruffles on his sleeves with the attitude and
conversation of a grenadier, which made him very disagreeable company.

[The account given by Madame Campan of the Chevalier d'Eon is now
known to be incorrect in many particulars. Enough details for most
readers will be found in the Duc de Broglie's "Secret of the King,"
vol. ii., chaps. vi. and g., and at p. 89, vol. ii. of that
work, where the Duke refers to the letter of most dubious
authenticity spoken of by Madame Campan. The following details will
be sufficient for these memoirs: The Chevalier Charles d'Eon de
Beaumont (who was born in 1728) was an ex-captain of dragoons,
employed in both the open and secret diplomacy of Louis XV. When at
the embassy in London he quarrelled with the ambassador, his
superior, the Comte de Guerchy (Marquis do Nangis), and used his
possession of papers concerning the secret diplomacy to shield
himself. It was when hiding in London, in 1765, on account of this
business, that he seems first to have assumed woman's dress, which
he retained apparently chiefly from love of notoriety. In 1775 a
formal agreement with the French Court, made by the instrumentality
of Beaumarchais, of all people in the world, permitted him to return
to France, retaining the dress of a woman. He went back to France,
but again came to England, and died there, at his residence in
Millman Street, near the Foundling Hospital, May 22, 1710. He had
been a brave and distinguished officer, but his form and a certain
coldness of temperament always remarked in him assisted him in his
assumption of another sex. There appears to be no truth in the
story of his proceedings at the Russian Court, and his appearing in
female attire was a surprise to those who must have known of any
earlier affair of the sort.]

At last, the event so long desired by the Queen, and by all those who
wished her well, took place; her Majesty became enceinte. The King was
in ecstasies. Never was there a more united or happier couple. The
disposition of Louis XVI. entirely altered, and became prepossessing and
conciliatory; and the Queen was amply compensated for the uneasiness
which the King's indifference during the early part of their union had
caused her.

The summer of 1778 was extremely hot. July and August passed, but the
air was not cooled by a single storm. The Queen spent whole days in
close rooms, and could not sleep until she had breathed the fresh night
air, walking with the Princesses and her brothers upon the terrace under
her apartments. These promenades at first gave rise to no remark; but it
occurred to some of the party to enjoy the music of wind instruments
during these fine summer nights. The musicians belonging to the chapel
were ordered to perform pieces suited to instruments of that description,
upon steps constructed in the middle of the garden. The Queen, seated on
one of the terrace benches, enjoyed the effect of this music, surrounded
by all the royal family with the exception of the King, who joined them
but, twice, disliking to change his hour of going to bed.

Nothing could be more innocent than these parties; yet Paris, France,
nay, all Europe, were soon canvassing them in a manner most
disadvantageous to the reputation of Marie Antoinette. It is true that
all the inhabitants of Versailles enjoyed these serenades, and that there
was a crowd near the spot from eleven at night until two or three in the
morning. The windows of the ground floor occupied by Monsieur and Madame
--[The wife of Monsieur, the Comte de Provence.]-- were kept open, and
the terrace was perfectly well lighted by the numerous wax candles
burning in the two apartments. Lamps were likewise placed in the garden,
and the lights of the orchestra illuminated the rest of the place.

I do not know whether a few incautious women might not have ventured
farther, and wandered to the bottom of the park; it may have been so; but
the Queen, Madame, and the Comtesse d'Artois were always arm-in-arm, and
never left the terrace. The Princesses were not remarkable when seated
on the benches, being dressed in cambric muslin gowns, with large straw
hats and muslin veils, a costume universally adopted by women at that
time; but when standing up their different figures always distinguished
them; and the persons present stood on one side to let them pass. It is
true that when they seated themselves upon the benches private
individuals would sometimes, to their great amusement, sit down by
their side.

A young clerk in the War Department, either not knowing or pretending not
to know the Queen, spoke to her of the beauty of the night, and the
delightful effect of the music. The Queen, fancying she was not
recognised, amused herself by keeping up the incognito, and they talked
of several private families of Versailles, consisting of persons
belonging to the King's household or her own. After a few minutes the
Queen and Princesses rose to walk, and on leaving the bench curtsied to
the clerk. The young man knowing, or having subsequently discovered,
that he had been conversing with the Queen, boasted of it in his office.
He was merely, desired to hold his tongue; and so little attention did he
excite that the Revolution found him still only a clerk.

Another evening one of Monsieur's body-guard seated himself near the
Princesses, and, knowing them, left the place where he was sitting, and
placed himself before the Queen, to tell her that he was very fortunate
in being able to seize an opportunity of imploring the kindness of his
sovereign; that he was "soliciting at Court"--at the word soliciting the
Queen and Princesses rose hastily and withdrew into Madame's apartment.--
[Soulavie has most criminally perverted these two facts.-MADAME CAMPAN.]-
I was at the Queen's residence that day. She talked of this little
occurrence all the time of her 'coucher'; though she only complained that
one of Monsieur's guards should have had the effrontery to speak to her.
Her Majesty added that he ought to have respected her incognito; and that
that was not the place where he should have ventured to make a request.
Madame had recognised him, and talked of making a complaint to his
captain; the Queen opposed it, attributing his error to his ignorance and
provincial origin.

The most scandalous libels were based on these two insignificant
occurrences, which I have related with scrupulous exactness. Nothing
could be more false than those calumnies. It must be confessed, however,
that such meetings were liable to ill consequences. I ventured to say as
much to the Queen, and informed her that one evening, when her Majesty
beckoned to me to go and speak to her, I thought I recognised on the
bench on which she was sitting two women deeply veiled, and keeping
profound silence; that those women were the Comtesse du Barry and her
sister-in-law; and that my suspicions were confirmed, when, at a few
paces from the seat, and nearer to her Majesty, I met a tall footman
belonging to Madame du Barry, whom I had seen in her service all the time
she resided at Court.

My advice was disregarded. Misled by the pleasure she found in these
promenades, and secure in the consciousness of blameless conduct, the
Queen would not see the lamentable results which must necessarily follow.
This was very unfortunate; for besides the mortifications they brought
upon her, it is highly probable that they prompted the vile plot which
gave rise to the Cardinal de Rohan's fatal error.

Having enjoyed these evening promenades about a month, the Queen ordered
a private concert within the colonnade which contained the group of Pluto
and Proserpine. Sentinels were placed at all the entrances, and ordered
to admit within the colonnade only such persons as should produce tickets
signed by my father-in-law. A fine concert was performed there by the
musicians of the chapel and the female musicians belonging to the.
Queen's chamber. The Queen went with Mesdames de Polignac, de Chalon,
and d'Andlau, and Messieurs de Polignac, de Coigny, de Besenval, and de
Vaudreuil; there were also a few equerries present. Her Majesty gave me
permission to attend the concert with some of my female relations. There
was no music upon the terrace. The crowd of inquisitive people, whom the
sentinels kept at a distance from the enclosure of the colonnade, went
away highly discontented; the small number of persons admitted no doubt
occasioned jealousy, and gave rise to offensive comments which were
caught up by the public with avidity. I do not pretend to apologise for
the kind of amusements with which the Queen indulged herself during this
and the following summer; the consequences were so lamentable that the
error was no doubt very great; but what I have said respecting the

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