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The Memoirs of Louis XV./XVI, v5 by Madame du Hausset, and of an unknown English Girl and the

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This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]

MEMOIRS OF LOUIS XV. AND XVI.

Being Secret Memoirs of Madame du Hausset, Lady's Maid to Madame
de Pompadour, and of an unknown English Girl and the Princess Lamballe

BOOK 5.

SECTION I.

[From the time that the Princesse de Lamballe saw the ties between
the Queen and her favourite De Polignac drawing closer she became
less assiduous in her attendance at Court, being reluctant to
importune the friends by her presence at an intimacy which she did
not approve. She could not, however, withhold her accustomed
attentions, as the period of Her Majesty's accouchement approached;
and she has thus noted the circumstance of the birth of the Duchesse
d'Angouleme, on the 19th of December, 1778.]

"The moment for the accomplishment of the Queen's darling hope was now at
hand: she was about to become a mother.

"It had been agreed between Her Majesty and myself, that I was to place
myself so near the accoucheur, Vermond,

[Brother to the Abbe, whose pride was so great at this honour
conferred on his relative, that he never spoke of him without
denominating him Monsieur mon frere, d'accoucher de sa Majeste,
Vermond.]

as to be the first to distinguish the sex of the new-born infant, and if
she should be delivered of a Dauphin to say, in Italian, 'Il figlio e
nato.'

"Her Majesty was, however, foiled even in this the most blissful of her
desires. She was delivered of a daughter instead of a Dauphin.

"From the immense crowd that burst into the apartment the instant Vermond
said, The Queen is happily delivered, Her Majesty was nearly suffocated.
I had hold of her hand, and as I said 'La regina e andato', mistaking
'andato' for 'nato', between the joy of giving birth to a son and the
pressure of the crowd, Her Majesty fainted. Overcome by the dangerous
situation in which I saw my royal mistress, I myself was carried out of
the room in a lifeless state. The situation of Her Majesty was for some
time very doubtful, till the people were dragged with violence from about
her, that she might have air. On her recovering, the King was the first
person who told her that she was the mother of a very fine Princess.

"'Well, then,' said the Queen, 'I am like my mother, for at my birth she
also wished for a son instead of a daughter; and you have lost your
wager:' for the King had betted with Maria Theresa that it would be a
son.

"The King answered her by repeating the lines Metastasio had written on
that occasion.

"'Io perdei: l'augusta figlia
A pagar, m'a condemnato;
Ma s'e ver the a voi somiglia
Tutto il moudo ha guadagnato.'"

[The Princesse de Lamballe again ceased to be constantly about the
Queen. Her danger was over, she was a mother, and the attentions of
disinterested friendship were no longer indispensable. She herself
about this time met with a deep affliction. She lost both of her
own parents; and to her sorrows may, in a great degree, be ascribed
her silence upon the events which intervened between the birth of
Madame and that of the Dauphin. She was as assiduous as ever in her
attentions to Her Majesty on her second lying-in. The circumstances
of the death of Maria Theresa, the Queen's mother, in the interval
which divided the two accouchements, and Her Majesty's anguish, and
refusal to see any but De Lamballe and De Polignac, are too well
known to detain us longer from the notes of the Princess. It is
enough for the reader to know that the friendship of Her Majesty for
her superintendent seemed to be gradually reviving in all its early
enthusiasm, by her unremitting kindness during the confinements of
the Queen, till, at length, they became more attached than ever.
But, not to anticipate, let me return to the narrative.]

"The public feeling had undergone a great change with respect to Her
Majesty from the time of her first accouchement. Still, she was not the
mother of a future King. The people looked upon her as belonging to them
more than she had done before, and faction was silenced by the general
delight. But she had not yet attained the climax of her felicity. A
second pregnancy gave a new excitement to the nation; and, at length, on
the 22nd October, 1781, dawned the day of hope.

"In consequence of what happened on the first accouchement, measures were
taken to prevent similar disasters on the second. The number admitted
into the apartment was circumscribed. The silence observed left the
Queen in uncertainty of the sex to which she had given birth, till, with
tears of joy, the King said to her: 'Madame, the hopes of the nation, and
mine, are fulfilled. You are the mother of a Dauphin.'

"The Princesse Elizabeth and myself were so overjoyed that we embraced
every one in the room.

"At this time Their Majesties were adored. Marie Antoinette, with all
her beauty and amiableness, was a mere cipher in the eyes of France
previous to her becoming the mother of an heir to the Crown; but her
popularity now arose to a pitch of unequalled enthusiasm.

"I have heard of but one expression to Her Majesty upon this occasion in
any way savouring of discontent. This came from the royal aunts. On
Marie Antoinette's expressing to them her joy in having brought a Dauphin
to the nation, they replied, 'We will only repeat our father's
observation on a similar subject. When one of our sisters complained to
his late Majesty that, as her Italian husband had copied the Dauphin's
whim, she could not, though long a bride, boast of being a wife, or hope
to become a mother--"a prudent Princess," replied Louis XV., "never wants
heirs!"' But the feeling of the royal aunts was an exception to the
general sentiment, which really seemed like madness.

"I remember a proof of this which happened at the time. Chancing to
cross the King's path as he was going to Marly and I coming from
Rambouillet, my two postillions jumped from their horses, threw
themselves on the high road upon their knees, though it was very dirty,
and remained there, offering up their benedictions, till he was out of
sight.

"The felicity of the Queen was too great not to be soon overcast. The
unbounded influence of the De Polignacs was now at its zenith. It could
not fail of being attacked. Every engine of malice, envy, and detraction
was let loose; and, in the vilest calumnies against the character of the
Duchess, her royal mistress was included.

"It was, in truth, a most singular fatality, in the life of Marie
Antoinette that she could do nothing, however beneficial or
disinterested, for which she was not either criticised or censured.
She had a tenacity, of character which made her cling more closely to
attachments from which she saw others desirous of estranging her; and
this firmness, however excellent in principle, was, in her case, fatal in
its effects. The Abbe Vermond, Her Majesty's confessor and tutor, and,
unfortunately, in many respects, her ambitious guide, was really alarmed
at the rising favour of the Duchess; and, though he knew the very
obstacles thrown in her way only strengthened her resolution as to any
favourite object, yet he ventured to head an intrigue to destroy the
great influence of the De Polignacs, which, as he might have foreseen,
only served to hasten their aggrandisement.

"At this crisis the dissipation of the Duc de Guemenee caused him to
become a bankrupt. I know not whether it can be said in principle, but
certainly it may in property, 'It is an ill wind that blows no one any
good.' The Princess, his wife, having been obliged to leave her
residence at Versailles, in consequence of the Duke's dismissal from the
King's service on account of the disordered state of his pecuniary
circumstances, the situation of governess to the royal children became
necessarily vacant, and was immediately transferred to the Duchesse de
Polignac. The Queen, to enable her friend to support her station with
all the eclat suitable to its dignity, took care to supply ample means
from her own private purse. A most magnificent suite of apartments was
ordered to be arranged, under the immediate inspection of the Queen's
maitre d'hotel, at Her Majesty's expense.

"Is there anything on earth more natural than the lively interest which
inspires a mother towards those who have the care of her offspring?
What, then, must have been the feelings of a Queen of France who had been
deprived of that blessing for which connubial attachments are formed, and
which, vice versa, constitutes the only real happiness of every young
female, what must have been, I say, the ecstasy of Marie Antoinette when
she not only found herself a mother, but the dear pledges of all her
future bliss in the hands of one whose friendship allowed her the
unrestrained exercise of maternal affection,--a climax of felicity
combining not only the pleasures of an ordinary mother, but the
greatness, the dignity, and the flattering popularity of a Queen of
France.

"Though the pension of the Duchesse de Polignac was no more than that
usually allotted to all former governesses of the royal children of
France, yet circumstances tempted her to a display not a little injurious
to her popularity as well as to that of her royal mistress. She gave too
many pretexts to imputations of extravagance. Yet she had neither
patronage, nor sinecures, nor immunities beyond the few inseparable from
the office she held, and which had been the same for centuries under the
Monarchy of France. But it must be remembered, as an excuse for the
splendour of her establishment, that she entered her office upon a
footing very different from that of any of her predecessors. Her mansion
was not the quiet, retired, simple household of the governess of the
royal children, as formerly: it had become the magnificent resort of the
first Queen in Europe; the daily haunt of Her Majesty. The Queen
certainly visited the former governess, as she had done the Duchesse de
Duras and many other frequenters of her Court parties; but she made the
Duchesse de Polignac's her Court; and all the courtiers of that Court,
and, I may say, the great personages of all France, as well as the
Ministers and all foreigners of distinction, held there their usual
rendezvous; consequently, there was nothing wanting but the guards in
attendance in the Queen's apartments to have made it a royal residence
suitable for the reception of the illustrious personages that were in the
constant habit of visiting these levees, assemblies, balls, routs,
picnics, dinner, supper, and card parties.

[I have seen ladies at the Princesse de Lamballe's come from these
card parties with their laps so blackened by the quantities of gold
received in them, that they have been obliged to change their
dresses to go to supper. Many a chevalier d'industree and young
military spendthrift has made his harvest here. Thousands were won
and lost, and the ladies were generally the dupes of all those who
were the constant speculative attendants. The Princease de Lamballe
did not like play, but when it was necessary she did play, and won
or lost to a limited extent; but the prescribed sum once exhausted
or gained she left off. In set parties, such as those of whist, she
never played except when one was wanted, often excusing herself on
the score of its requiring more attention than it was in her power
to give to it and her reluctance to sacrifice her partner; though I
have heard Beau Dillon, the Duke of Dorset, Lord Edward Dillon, and
many others say that she understood and played the game much better
than many who had a higher opinion of their skill in it. Lord
Edward Fitzgerald was admitted to the parties at the Duchesse de
Polignac's on his first coming to Paris; but when his connection
with the Duc d'Orleans and Madame de Genlis became known he was
informed that his society would be dispensed with. The famous, or
rather the infamous, Beckford was also excluded.]

"Much as some of the higher classes of the nobility felt aggrieved at the
preference given by the Queen to the Duchesse de Polignac, that which
raised against Her Majesty the most implacable resentment was her
frequenting the parties of her favourite more than those of any other of
the 'haut ton'. These assemblies, from the situation held by the
Duchess, could not always be the most select. Many of the guests who
chanced to get access to them from a mere glimpse of the Queen--whose
general good-humour, vivacity, and constant wish to please all around her
would often make her commit herself unconsciously and unintentionally--
would fabricate anecdotes of things they had neither seen nor heard; and
which never had existence, except in their own wicked imaginations. The
scene of the inventions, circulated against Her Majesty through France,
was, in consequence, generally placed at the Duchess's; but they were
usually so distinctly and obviously false that no notice was taken of
them, nor was any attempt made to check their promulgation.

"Exemplary as was the friendship between this enthusiastic pair,
how much more fortunate for both would it have been had it never
happened! I foresaw the results long, long before they took place;
but the Queen was not to be thwarted. Fearful she might attribute my
anxiety for her general safety to unworthy personal views, I was often
silent, even when duty bade me speak. I was, perhaps, too scrupulous
about seeming officious or jealous of the predilection shown to the
Duchess. Experience had taught me the inutility of representing
consequences, and I had no wish to quarrel with the Queen. Indeed,
there was a degree of coldness towards me on the part of Her Majesty for
having gone so far as I had done. It was not until after the birth of
the Duc de Normandie, her third child, in March, 1785, that her
friendship resumed its primitive warmth.

"As the children grew, Her Majesty's attachment for their governess grew
with them. All that has been said of Tasso's Armida was nothing to this
luxurious temple of maternal affection. Never was female friendship more
strongly cemented, or less disturbed by the nauseous poison of envy,
malice, or mean jealousy. The Queen was in the plenitude of every
earthly enjoyment, from being able to see and contribute to the education
of the children she tenderly loved, unrestrained by the gothic etiquette
with which all former royal mothers had been fettered, but which the kind
indulgence of the Duchesse de Polignac broke through, as unnatural and
unworthy of the enlightened and affectionate. The Duchess was herself an
attentive, careful mother. She felt for the Queen, and encouraged her
maternal sympathies, so doubly endeared by the long, long disappointment
which had preceded their gratification. The sacrifice of all the cold
forms of state policy by the new governess, and the free access she gave
the royal mother to her children, so unprecedented in the Court of
France, rendered Marie Antoinette so grateful that it may justly be said
she divided her heart between the governess and the governed. Habit soon
made it necessary for her existence that she should dedicate the whole of
her time, not taken up in public ceremonies or parties, to the
cultivation of the minds of her children. Conscious of her own
deficiency in this respect, she determined to redeem this error in her
offspring. The love of the frivolous amusements of society, for which
the want of higher cultivation left room in her mind, was humoured by the
gaieties of the Duchesse de Polignac's assemblies; while her nobler
dispositions were encouraged by the privileges of the favourite's
station. Thus, all her inclinations harmonising with the habits and
position of her friend, Marie Antoinette literally passed the greatest
part of some years in company with the Duchesse de Polignac,--either
amidst the glare and bustle of public recreation, or in the private
apartment of the governess and her children, increasing as much as
possible the kindness of the one for the benefit and comfort of the
others. The attachment of the Duchess to the royal children was returned
by the Queen's affection for the offspring of the Duchess. So much was
Her Majesty interested in favour of the daughter of the Duchess, that,
before that young lady was fifteen years of age, she herself contrived
and accomplished her marriage with the Duc de Guiche, then 'maitre de
ceremonie' to Her Majesty, and whose interests were essentially, promoted
by this alliance.

[The Duc de Guiche, since Duc de Grammont, has proved how much he
merited the distinction he received, in consequence of the
attachment between the Queen and his mother-in-law, by the
devotedness with which he followed the fallen fortunes of the
Bourbons till their restoration, since which he has not been
forgotten. The Duchess, his wife, who at her marriage was beaming
with all the beauties of her age, and adorned by art and nature with
every accomplishment, though she came into notice at a time when the
Court had scarcely recovered itself from the debauched morals by
which it had been so long degraded by a De Pompadour and a Du Barry,
has yet preserved her character, by the strictness of her conduct,
free from the censorious criticisms of an epoch in which some of the
purest could not escape unassailed. I saw her at Pyrmont in 1803;
and even then, though the mother of many children, she looked as
young and beautiful as ever. She was remarkably well educated and
accomplished, a profound musician on the harp and pianoforte,
graceful in her conversation, and a most charming dancer. She
seemed to bear the vicissitudes of fortune with a philosophical
courage and resignation not often to be met with in light-headed
French women. She was amiable in her manners, easy of access,
always lively and cheerful, and enthusiastically attached to the
country whence she was then excluded. She constantly accompanied
the wife of the late Louis XVIII. during her travels in Germany, as
her husband the Duke did His Majesty during his residence at Mittau,
in Courland, etc. I have had the honour of seeing the Duke twice
since the Revolution; once, on my coming from Russia, at General
Binkingdroff's, Governor of Mittau, and since, in Portland Place, at
the French Ambassador's, on his coming to England in the name of his
Sovereign, to congratulate the King of England on his accession to
the throne.]

"The great cabals, which agitated the Court in consequence of the favour
shown to the De Polignacs, were not slow in declaring themselves. The
Comtesse de Noailles was one of the foremost among the discontented. Her
resignation, upon the appointment of a superintendent, was a sufficient
evidence of her real feeling; but when she now saw a place filled, to
which she conceived her family had a claim, her displeasure could not be
silent, and her dislike to the Queen began to express itself without
reserve.

"Another source of dissatisfaction against the Queen was her extreme
partiality for the English. After the peace of Versailles, in 1783, the
English flocked into France, and I believe if a poodle dog had come from
England it would have met with a good reception from Her Majesty. This
was natural enough. The American war had been carried on entirely
against her wish; though, from the influence she was supposed to exercise
in the Cabinet, it was presumed to have been managed entirely by herself.
This odious opinion she wished personally to destroy; and it could only
be done by the distinction with which, after the peace, she treated the
whole English nation.'

[The daughter of the Duchesse de Polignac (of my meeting with whom I
have already spoken in a note), entering with me upon the subject of
France and of old times, observed that had the Queen limited her
attachment to the person of her mother, she would not have given all
the annoyance which she did to the nobility. It was to these
partialities to the English, the Duchesse de Guiche Grammont
alluded. I do not know the lady's name distinctly, but I am certain
I have heard the beautiful Lady Sarah Bunbury mentioned by the
Princesse de Lamballe as having received particular attention from
the Queen; for the Princess had heard much about this lady and "a
certain great personage" in England; but, on discovering her
acquaintance with the Duc de Lauzun, Her Majesty withdrew from the
intimacy, though not soon enough to prevent its having given food
for scandal. "You must remember," added the Duchesse de Guiche
Grammont, "how much the Queen was censured for her enthusiasm about
Lady Spencer." I replied that I did remember the much-ado about
nothing there was regarding some English lady, to whom the Queen
took a liking, whose name I could not exactly recall; but I knew
well she studied to please the English in general. Of this Lady
Spencer it is that the Princess speaks in one of the following pages
of this chapter.]

"Several of the English nobility were on a familiar footing at the
parties of the Duchesse de Polignac. This was quite enough for the
slanderers. They were all ranked, and that publicly, as lovers of Her
Majesty. I recollect when there were no less than five different private
commissioners out, to suppress the libels that were in circulation over
all France, against the Queen and Lord Edward Dillon, the Duke of Dorset,
Lord George Conway, Arthur Dillon, as well as Count Fersen, the Duc de
Lauzun, and the Comte d'Artois, who were all not only constant
frequenters of Polignac's but visitors of Marie Antoinette.

"By the false policy of Her Majesty's advisers, these enemies and
libellers, instead of being brought to the condign punishment their
infamy deserved, were privately hushed into silence, out of delicacy to
the Queen's feelings, by large sums of money and pensions, which
encouraged numbers to commit the same enormity in the hope of obtaining
the same recompense.

"But these were mercenary wretches, from whom no better could have been
expected. A legitimate mode of robbery had been pressed upon their
notice by the Government itself, and they thought it only a matter of
fair speculation to make the best of it. There were some libellers,
however, of a higher order, in comparison with whose motives for slander,
those of the mere scandal-jobbers were white as the driven snow. Of
these, one of the worst was the Duc de Lauzun.

"The first motive of the Queen's strong dislike to the Duc de Lauzun
sprang from Her Majesty's attachment to the Duchesse d'Orleans, whom she
really loved. She was greatly displeased at the injury inflicted upon
her valued friend by De Lauzun, in estranging the affection of the Duc
d'Orleans from his wife by introducing him to depraved society. Among
the associates to which this connection led the Duc d'Orleans were a
certain Madame Duthee and Madame Buffon.

"When De Lauzun, after having been expelled from the drawing-room of the
Queen for his insolent presumption,--[The allusion here is to the affair
of the heron plume.]--meeting with coolness at the King's levee, sought
to cover his disgrace by appearing at the assemblies of the Duchesse de
Polignac, Her Grace was too sincerely the friend of her Sovereign and
benefactress not to perceive the drift of his conduct. She consequently
signified to the self-sufficient coxcomb that her assemblies were not
open to the public. Being thus shut out from Their Majesties, and, as a
natural result, excluded from the most brilliant societies of Paris, De
Lauzun, from a most diabolical spirit of revenge, joined the nefarious
party which had succeeded in poisoning the mind of the Duc d'Orleans,
and from the hordes of which, like the burning lava from Etna, issued
calumnies which swept the most virtuous and innocent victims that ever
breathed to their destruction!

"Among the Queen's favourites, and those most in request at the De
Polignac parties, was the good Lady Spencer, with whom I became most
intimately acquainted when I first went to England; and from whom, as
well as from her two charming daughters, the Duchess of Devonshire and
Lady Duncannon, since Lady Besborough, I received the greatest marks of
cordial hospitality. In consequence, when her ladyship came to France,
I hastened to present her to the Queen. Her Majesty, taking a great
liking to the amiable Englishwoman, and wishing to profit by her private
conversations and society, gave orders that Lady Spencer should pass to
her private closet whenever she came to Versailles, without the formal
ceremony of waiting in the antechamber to be announced.

"One day, Her Majesty, Lady Spencer, and myself were observing the
difficulty there was in acquiring a correct pronunciation of the English
language, when Lady Spencer remarked that it only required a little
attention.

"'I beg your pardon,' said the Queen, 'that's not all, because there are
many things you do not call by their proper names, as they are in the
dictionary.'

"'Pray what are they, please Your Majesty?'

"'Well, I will give you an instance. For example, 'les culottes'--what
do you call them?'

"'Small clothes,' replied her ladyship.

"'Ma foi! how can they be called small clothes for one large man? Now I
do look in the dictionary, and I find, for the word culottes--breeches.'

"'Oh, please Your Majesty, we never call them by that name in England.'

"'Voila done, j'ai raison!'

"'We say "inexpressibles"!'

"'Ah, c'est mieux! Dat do please me ver much better. Il y a du bon sens
la dedans. C'est une autre chose!'

"In the midst of this curious dialogue, in came the Duke of Dorset, Lord
Edward Dillon, Count Fersen, and several English gentlemen, who, as they
were going to the King's hunt, were all dressed in new buckskin breeches.

"'I do not like,' exclaimed the Queen to them, dem yellow irresistibles!'

"Lady Spencer nearly fainted. 'Vat make you so frightful, my dear lady?'
said the Queen to her ladyship, who was covering her face with her hands.
'I am terrified at Your Majesty's mistake'--'Comment? did you no tell me
just now, dat in England de lady call les culottes "irresistibles"?'--
'Oh, mercy! I never could have made such a mistake, as to have applied
to that part of the male dress such a word. I said, please Your Majesty,
inexpressibles.'

"On this the gentlemen all laughed most heartily.

"'Vell, vell,' replied the Queen, 'do, my dear lady, discompose yourself.
I vill no more call de breeches irresistibles, but say small clothes, if
even elles sont upon a giant!'

"At the repetition of the naughty word breeches, poor Lady Spencer's
English delicacy quite overcame her. Forgetting where she was, and also
the company she was in, she ran from the room with her cross stick in her
hand, ready to lay it on the shoulders of any one who should attempt to
obstruct her passage, flew into her carriage, and drove off full speed,
as if fearful of being contaminated,--all to the no small amusement of
the male guests.

"Her Majesty and I laughed till the very tears ran down our cheeks. The
Duke of Dorset, to keep up the joke, said there really were some counties
in England where they called 'culottes irresistibles.

"Now that I am upon the subject of England, and the peace of 1783, which
brought such throngs of English over to France, there occurs to me a
circumstance, relating to the treaty of commerce signed at that time,
which exhibits the Comte de Vergennes to some advantage; and with that
let me dismiss the topic.

"The Comte de Vergennes, was one of the most distinguished Ministers of
France. I was intimately acquainted with him. His general character for
uprightness prompted his Sovereign to govern in a manner congenial to his
own goodness of heart, which was certainly most for the advantage of his
subjects. Vergennes cautioned Louis against the hypocritical adulations
of his privileged courtiers. The Count had been schooled in State policy
by the great Venetian senator, Francis Foscari, the subtlest politician
of his age, whom he consulted during his life on every important matter;
and he was not very easily to be deceived.

"When the treaty of commerce took place, at the period I mention, the
experienced Vergennes foresaw--what afterwards really happened--that
France would be inundated with British manufactures; but Calonne
obstinately maintained the contrary, till he was severely reminded of the
consequence of his misguided policy, in the insults inflicted on him by
enraged mobs of thousands of French artificers, whenever he appeared in
public. But though the mania for British goods had literally caused an
entire stagnation of business in the French manufacturing towns, and
thrown throngs upon the 'pave' for want of employment, yet M. de Calonne
either did not see, or pretended not to see, the errors he had committed.
Being informed that the Comte de Vergennes had attributed the public
disorders to his fallacious policy, M. de Calonne sent a friend to the
Count demanding satisfaction for the charge of having caused the riots.
The Count calmly replied that he was too much of a man of honour to take
so great an advantage, as to avail himself of the opportunity offered, by
killing a man who had only one life to dispose of, when there were so
many with a prior claim, who were anxious to destroy him 'en societe'.
I Bid M. de Calonne,' continued the Count, 'first get out of that scrape,
as the English boxers do when their eyes are closed up after a pitched
battle. He has been playing at blind man's buff, but the poverty to
which he has reduced so many of our tradespeople has torn the English
bandage from his eyes!' For three or four days the Comte de Vergennes
visited publicly, and showed himself everywhere in and about Paris; but
M. de Calonne was so well convinced of the truth of the old fox's satire
that he pocketed his annoyance, and no more was said about fighting.
Indeed, the Comte de Vergennes gave hints of being able to show that M.
de Calonne had been bribed into the treaty."

[The Princesse de Lamballe has alluded in a former page to the
happiness which the Queen enjoyed during the visits of the foreign
Princes to the Court of France. Her papers contain a few passages
upon the opinions Her Majesty entertained of the royal travellers;
which, although in the order of time they should have been mentioned
before the peace with England, yet, not to disturb the chain of the
narrative, respecting the connection with the Princesse de Lamballe,
of the prevailing libels, and the partiality shown towards the
English, I have reserved them for the conclusion of the present
chapter. The timidity of the Queen in the presence of the
illustrious strangers, and her agitation when about to receive them,
have, I think, been already spoken of. Upon the subject of the
royal travellers themselves, and other personages, the Princess
expresses herself thus:]

"The Queen had never been an admirer of Catharine II. Notwithstanding
her studied policy for the advancement of civilization in her internal
empire, the means which, aided by the Princess Dashkoff, she made use of
to seat herself on the imperial throne of her weak husband, Peter the
Third, had made her more understood than esteemed. Yet when her son, the
Grand Duke of the North,--[Afterwards the unhappy Emperor Paul.]--
and the Grand Duchess, his wife, came to France, their description of
Catharine's real character so shocked the maternal sensibility of Marie
Antoinette that she could scarcely hear the name of the Empress without
shuddering. The Grand Duke spoke of Catharine without the least
disguise. He said he travelled merely for the security of his life from
his mother, who had surrounded him with creatures that were his sworn
enemies, her own spies and infamous favourites, to whose caprices they
were utterly subordinate. He was aware that the dangerous credulity of
the Empress might be every hour excited by these wretches to the
destruction of himself and his Duchess, and, therefore, he had in absence
sought the only refuge. He had no wish, he said, ever to return to his
native country, till Heaven should check his mother's doubts respecting
his dutiful filial affection towards her, or till God should be pleased
to take her into His sacred keeping.

"The King was petrified at the Duke's description of his situation, and
the Queen could not refrain from tears when the Duchess, his wife,
confirmed all her husband had uttered on the subject. The Duchess said
she had been warned by the untimely fate of the Princess d'Armstadt, her
predecessor, the first wife of the Grand Duke, to elude similar jealousy
and suspicion on the part of her mother-in-law, by seclusion from the
Court, in a country residence with her husband; indeed, that she had made
it a point never to visit Petersburg, except on the express invitation of
the Empress, as if she had been a foreigner.

"In this system the Grand Duchess persevered, even after her return from
her travels. When she became pregnant, and drew near her accouchement,
the Empress-mother permitted her to come to Petersburg for that purpose;
but, as soon as the ceremony required by the etiquette of the Imperial
Court on those occasions ended, the Duchess immediately returned to her
hermitage.

"This Princess was remarkably well-educated; she possessed a great deal
of good, sound sense, and had profited by the instructions of some of the
best German tutors during her very early years. It was the policy of her
father, the Duke of Wirtemberg, who had a large family, to educate his
children as 'quietists' in matters of religion. He foresaw that the
natural charms and acquired abilities of his daughters would one day call
them to be the ornaments of the most distinguished Courts in Europe, and
he thought it prudent not to instil early prejudices in favour of
peculiar forms of religion which might afterwards present an obstacle to
their aggrandisement.

[The first daughter of the Duke of Wirtemberg was the first wife of
the present Emperor of Austria. She embraced the Catholic faith and
died very young, two days before the Emperor Joseph the Second, at
Vienna. The present Empress Dowager, late wife to Paul, became a
proselyte to the Greek religion on her arrival at Petersburg. The
son of the Duke of Wirtemburg, who succeeded him in the Dukedom, was
a Protestant, it being his interest to profess that religion for the
security of his inheritance. Prince Ferdinand, who was in the
Austrian service, and a long time Governor of Vienna, was a
Catholic, as he could not otherwise have enjoyed that office. He
was of a very superior character to the Duke, his brother. Prince
Louis, who held a commission under the Prussian Monarch, followed
the religion of the country where he served, and the other Princes,
who were in the employment of Sweden and other countries, found no
difficulty in conforming themselves to the religion of the
Sovereigns under whom they served. None of them having any
established forms of worship, they naturally embraced that which
conduced most to their aggrandisement, emolument, or dignity.]

"The notorious vices of the King of Denmark, and his total neglect both
of his young Queen, Carolina Matilda, and of the interest of his distant
dominions, while in Paris, created a feeling in the Queen's mind towards
that house which was not a little heightened by her disgust at the King
of Sweden, when he visited the Court of Versailles. This King, though
much more crafty than his brother-in-law, the King of Denmark, who
revelled openly in his depravities, was not less vicious. The deception
he made use of in usurping part of the rights of his people, combined
with the worthlessness and duplicity, of his private conduct, excited a
strong indignation in the mind of Marie Antoinette, of which she was
scarcely capable of withholding the expression in his presence.

"It was during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of the North, that the
Cardinal de Rohan again appeared upon the scene. For eight or ten years
he had never been allowed to show himself at Court, and had been totally
shut out of every society where the Queen visited. On the arrival of the
illustrious, travellers at Versailles, the Queen, at her own expense,
gave them a grand fete at her private palace, in the gardens of Trianon,
similar to the one given by the Comte de Provence--[Afterwards Louis
XVIII.]--to Her Majesty, in the gardens of Brunoi.

"On the eve of the fete, the Cardinal waited upon, me to know if he would
be permitted to appear there in the character he had the honour to hold
at Court, I replied that I had made it a rule never to interfere in the
private or public amusements of the Court, and that His Eminence must be
the best judge how far he, could obtrude himself upon the Queen's private
parties, to which only a select number had been invited, in consequence
of the confined spot where the fete was to be given.

"The Cardinal left me, not much satisfied at his reception. Determined
to follow, as usual, his own misguided passion, he immediately went too
Trianon, disguised with a large cloak. He saw the porter, and bribed
him. He only wished, he said, to be placed in a situation whence he
might see the Duke and Duchess of the North without being seen; but no
sooner did he perceive the porter engaged at some distance than he left
his cloak at the lodge, and went forward in his Cardinal's dress, as if
he had been one of the invited guests, placing himself purposely in the
Queen's path to attract her attention as she rode by in the carriage with
the Duke and Duchess.

"The Queen was shocked and thunderstruck at seeing him. But, great as
was her annoyance, knowing the Cardinal had not been invited and ought
not to have been there, she only discharged the porter who had been
seduced to let him in; and, though the King, on being made acquainted
with his treachery, would have banished His Eminence a hundred leagues
from the capital, yet the Queen, the royal aunts, the Princesse
Elizabeth, and myself, not to make the affair public, and thereby
disgrace the high order of his ecclesiastical dignity, prevented the King
from exercising his authority by commanding instant exile.

"Indeed, the Queen could never get the better of her fears of being some
day, or in some way or other, betrayed by the Cardinal, for having made
him the confidant of the mortification she would have suffered if the
projected marriage of Louis XV. and her sister had been solemnized. On
this account she uniformly opposed whatever harshness the King at any
time intended against the Cardinal.

"Thus was this wicked prelate left at leisure to premeditate the horrid
plot of the famous necklace, the ever memorable fraud, which so fatally
verified the presentiments of the Queen."

SECTION II.

[The production of 'Le Mariage de Figaro', by Beaumarchais, upon the
stage at Paris, so replete with indecorous and slanderous allusions
to the Royal Family, had spread the prejudices against the Queen
through the whole kingdom and every rank of France, just in time to
prepare all minds for the deadly blow which Her Majesty received
from the infamous plot of the diamond necklace. From this year,
crimes and misfortunes trod closely on each others' heels in the
history of the ill-starred Queen; and one calamity only disappeared
to make way for a greater.

The destruction of the papers which would have thoroughly explained
the transaction has still left all its essential particulars in some
degree of mystery; and the interest of the clergy, who supported one
of their own body, coupled with the arts and bribes of the high
houses connected with the plotting prelate, must, of course, have
discoloured greatly even what was well known.

It will be recollected that before the accession of Louis XVI. the
Cardinal de Rohan was disgraced in consequence of his intrigues;
that all his ingenuity was afterwards unremittingly exerted to
obtain renewed favour; that he once obtruded himself upon the notice
of the Queen in the gardens of Trianon, and that his conduct in so
doing excited the indignation it deserved, but was left unpunished
owing to the entreaties of the best friends of the Queen, and her
own secret horror of a man who had already caused her so much
anguish.

With the histories of the fraud every one is acquainted. That of
Madame Campan, as far as it goes, is sufficiently detailed and
correct to spare me the necessity of expatiating upon this theme of
villany. Yet, to assist the reader's memory, before returning to
the Journal of the Princesse de Lamballe, I shall recapitulate the
leading particulars.

The Cardinal had become connected with a young, but artful and
necessitous, woman, of the name of Lamotte. It was known that the
darling ambition of the Cardinal was to regain the favour of the
Queen.

The necklace, which has been already spoken of, and which was
originally destined by Louis XV. for Marie Antoinette--had her hand,
by divorce, been transferred to him--but which, though afterwards
intended by Louis XV. for his mistress, Du Barry, never came to her
in consequence of his death--this fatal necklace was still in
existence, and in the possession of the crown jewellers, Boehmer and
Bassange. It was valued at eighteen hundred thousand livres. The
jewellers had often pressed it upon the Queen, and even the King
himself had enforced its acceptance. But the Queen dreaded the
expense, especially at an epoch of pecuniary difficulty in the
State, much more than she coveted the jewels, and uniformly and
resolutely declined them, although they had been proposed to her on
very easy terms of payment, as she really did not like ornaments.

It was made to appear at the parliamentary investigation that the
artful Lamotte had impelled the Cardinal to believe that she herself
was in communication with the Queen; that she had interested Her
Majesty in favour of the long slighted Cardinal; that she had
fabricated a correspondence, in which professions of penitence on
the part of De Rohan were answered by assurances of forgiveness from
the Queen. The result of this correspondence was represented to be
the engagement of the Cardinal to negotiate the purchase of the
necklace secretly, by a contract for periodical payments. To the
forgery of papers was added, it was declared, the substitution of
the Queen's person, by dressing up a girl of the Palais Royal to
represent Her Majesty, whom she in some degree resembled, in a
secret and rapid interview with Rohan in a dark grove of the gardens
of Versailles, where she was to give the Cardinal a rose,
in token of her royal approbation, and then hastily disappear.
The importunity of the jewellers, on the failure of the stipulated
payment, disclosed the plot. A direct appeal of theirs to the
Queen, to save them from ruin, was the immediate source of
detection. The Cardinal was arrested, and all the parties tried.
But the Cardinal was acquitted, and Lamotte and a subordinate agent
alone punished. The quack Cagliostro was also in the plot, but he,
too, escaped, like his confederate, the Cardinal, who was made to
appear as the dupe of Lamotte.

The Queen never got over the effect of this affair. Her friends
well knew the danger of severe measures towards one capable of
collecting around him strong support against a power already so much
weakened by faction and discord. But the indignation of conscious
innocence insulted, prevailed, though to its ruin!

But it is time to let the Princesse de Lamballe give her own
impressions upon this fatal subject, and in her own words.]

"How could Messieurs Boehmer and Bassange presume that the Queen would
have employed any third person to obtain an article of such value,
without enabling them to produce an unequivocal document signed by her
own hand and countersigned by mine, as had ever been the rule during my
superintendence of the household, whenever anything was ordered from the
jewellers by Her Majesty? Why did not Messieurs Boehmer and Bassange
wait on me, when they saw a document unauthorised by me, and so widely
departing from the established forms? I must still think, as I have
often said to the King, that Boehmer and Bassange wished to get rid of
this dead weight of diamonds in any way; and the Queen having
unfortunately been led by me to hush up many foul libels against her
reputation, as I then thought it prudent she should do, rather than
compromise her character with wretches capable of doing anything to
injure her, these jewellers, judging from this erroneous policy of the
past, imagined that in this instance, also, rather than hazard exposure,
Her Majesty would pay them for the necklace. This was a compromise which
I myself resisted, though so decidedly adverse to bringing the affair
before the nation by a public trial. Of such an explosion, I foresaw the
consequences, and I ardently entreated the King and Queen to take other
measures. But, though till now so hostile to severity with the Cardinal,
the Queen felt herself so insulted by the proceeding that she gave up
every other consideration to make manifest her innocence.

"The wary Comte de Vergennes did all he could to prevent the affair from
getting before the public. Against the opinion of the King and the whole
council of Ministers, he opposed judicial proceedings. Not that he
conceived the Cardinal altogether guiltless; but he foresaw the fatal
consequences that must result to Her Majesty, from bringing to trial an
ecclesiastic of such rank; for he well knew that the host of the higher
orders of the nobility, to whom the prelate was allied, would naturally
strain every point to blacken the character of the King and Queen, as the
only means of exonerating their kinsman in the eyes of the world from the
criminal mystery attached to that most diabolical intrigue against the
fair fame of Marie Antoinette. The Count could not bear the idea of the
Queen's name being coupled with those of the vile wretches, Lamotte and
the mountebank Cagliostro, and therefore wished the King to chastise the
Cardinal by a partial exile, which might have been removed at pleasure.
But the Queen's party too fatally seconded her feelings, and prevailed.

"I sat by Her Majesty's bedside the whole of the night, after I heard
what had been determined against the Cardinal by the council of
Ministers, to beg her to use all her interest with the King to persuade
him to revoke the order of the warrant for the prelate's arrest. To this
the Queen replied, 'Then the King, the Ministers, and the people, will
all deem me guilty.'

"Her Majesty's remark stopped all farther argument upon the subject, and
I had the inconsolable grief to see my royal mistress rushing upon
dangers which I had no power of preventing her from bringing upon
herself.

"The slanderers who had imputed such unbounded influence to the Queen
over the mind of Louis XVI. should have been consistent enough to
consider that, with but a twentieth part of the tithe of her imputed
power, uncontrolled as she then was by national authority, she might,
without any exposure to third persons, have at once sent one of her pages
to the garde-meuble and other royal depositaries, replete with hidden
treasures of precious stones which never saw the light, and thence have
supplied herself with more than enough to form ten necklaces, or to have
fully satisfied, in any way she liked, the most unbounded passion for
diamonds, for the use of which she would never have been called to
account.

"But the truth is, the Queen had no love of ornaments. A proof occurred
very soon after I had the honour to be nominated Her Majesty's
superintendent. On the day of the great fete of the Cordon Bleu, when it
was the etiquette to wear diamonds and pearls, the Queen had omitted
putting them on. As there had been a greater affluence of visitors than
usual that morning, and Her Majesty's toilet was overthronged by Princes
and Princesses, I fancied in the bustle that the omission proceeded from
forgetfulness. Consequently, I sent the tirewoman, in the Queen's
hearing, to order the jewels to be brought in. Smilingly, Her Majesty
replied, 'No, no! I have not forgotten these gaudy things; but I do not
intend that the lustre of my eyes should be outshone by the one, or the
whiteness of my teeth by the other; however, as you wish art to eclipse
nature, I'll wear them to satisfy you, ma belle dame!'

"The King was always so thoroughly indulgent to Her Majesty, with regard
both to her public and private conduct, that she never had any pretext
for those reserves which sometimes tempt Queens as well as the wives of
private individuals to commit themselves to third persons for articles of
high value, which their caprice indiscreetly impels them to procure
unknown to their natural guardians. Marie Antoinette had no reproach or
censure for plunging into excesses beyond her means to apprehend from her
royal husband. On the contrary, the King himself had spontaneously
offered to purchase the necklace from the jewellers, who had urged it on
him without limiting any time for payment. It was the intention of His
Majesty to have liquidated it out of his private purse. But Marie
Antoinette declined the gift. Twice in my presence was the refusal
repeated before Messieurs Boehmer and Bassange. Who, then, can for a
moment presume, after all these circumstances, that the Queen of France,
with a nation's wealth at her feet and thousands of individuals offering
her millions, which she never accepted, would have so far degraded
herself and the honour of the nation, of which she was born to be the
ornament, as to place herself gratuitously in the power of a knot of
wretches, headed by a man whose general bad character for years had
excluded him from Court and every respectable society, and had made the
Queen herself mark him as an object of the utmost aversion.

"If these circumstances be not sufficient adequately to open the eyes of
those whom prejudice has blinded, and whose ears have been deafened
against truth, by the clamours of sinister conspirators against the
monarchy instead of the monarchs; if all these circumstances, I repeat,
do not completely acquit the Queen, argument, or even ocular
demonstration itself, would be thrown away. Posterity will judge
impartially, and with impartial judges the integrity of Marie Antoinette
needs no defender.

"When the natural tendency of the character of De Rohan to romantic and
extraordinary intrigue is considered in connection with the associates he
had gathered around him, the plot of the necklace ceases to be a source
of wonder. At the time the Cardinal was most at a loss for means to meet
the necessities of his extravagance, and to obtain some means of access
to the Queen, the mountebank quack, Cagliostro, made his appearance in
France. His fame had soon flown from Strasburg to Paris, the magnet of
vices and the seat of criminals. The Prince-Cardinal, known of old as a
seeker after everything of notoriety, soon became the intimate of one who
flattered him with the accomplishment of all his dreams in the
realization of the philosopher's stone; converting puffs and French paste
into brilliants; Roman pearls into Oriental ones; and turning earth to
gold. The Cardinal, always in want of means to supply the insatiable
exigencies of his ungovernable vices, had been the dupe through life of
his own credulity--a drowning man catching at a straw! But instead of
making gold of base materials, Cagliostro's brass soon relieved his blind
adherent of all his sterling metal. As many needy persons enlisted under
the banners of this nostrum speculator, it is not to be wondered at that
the infamous name of the Comtesse de Lamotte, and others of the same
stamp, should have thus fallen into an association of the Prince-Cardinal
or that her libellous stories of the Queen of France should have found
eager promulgators, where the real diamonds of the famous necklace being
taken apart were divided piecemeal among a horde of the most depraved
sharpers that ever existed to make human nature blush at its own
degradation!

[Cagliostro, when he came to Rome, for I know not whether there had
been any previous intimacy, got acquainted with a certain Marchese
Vivaldi, a Roman, whose wife had been for years the chere amie of
the last Venetian Ambassador, Peter Pesaro, a noble patrician, and
who has ever since his embassy at Rome been his constant companion
and now resides with him in England. No men in Europe are more
constant in their attachments than the Venetians. Pesaro is the
sole proprietor of one of the moat beautiful and magnificent palaces
on the Grand Canal at Venice, though he now lives in the outskirts
of London, in a small house, not so large as one of the offices of
his immense noble palace, where his agent transacts his business.
The husband of Pesaro's chere amie, the Marchese Vivaldi, when
Cagliostro was arrested and sent to the Castello Santo Angelo at
Rome, was obliged to fly his country, and went to Venice, where he
was kept secreted and maintained by the Marquis Solari, and it was
only through his means and those of the Cardinal Consalvi, then
known only as the musical Abbe Consalvi, from his great attachment
to the immortal Cimarosa, that Vivaldi was ever allowed to return to
his native country; but Consalvi, who was the friend of Vivaldi,
feeling with the Marquis Solari much interested for his situation,
they together contrived to convince Pius VI. that he was more to be
pitied than blamed, and thus obtained his recall. I have merely
given this note as a further warning to be drawn from the
connections of the Cardinal de Rohan, to deter hunters after novelty
from forming ties with innovators and impostors. Cagliostro was
ultimately condemned, by the Roman laws under Pope Pius VI.,
for life, to the galleys, where he died.

Proverbs ought to be respected; for it is said that no phrase
becomes a proverb until after a century's experience of its truth.
In England it is proverbial to judge of men by the company they
keep. Judge of the Cardinal de Rohan from his most intimate friend,
the galley-slave.]

"Eight or ten years had elapsed from the time Her Majesty had last seen
the Cardinal to speak to him, with the exception of the casual glance as
she drove by when he furtively introduced himself into the garden at the
fete at Trianon, till he was brought to the King's cabinet when arrested,
and interrogated, and confronted with her face to face. The Prince
started when he saw her. The comparison of her features with those of
the guilty wretch who had dared to personate her in the garden at
Versailles completely destroyed his self-possession. Her Majesty's
person was become fuller, and her face was much longer than that of the
infamous D'Oliva. He could neither speak nor write an intelligible reply
to the questions put to him. All he could utter, and that only in broken
accents, was, 'I'll pay! I'll pay Messieurs Bassange.'

"Had he not speedily recovered himself, all the mystery in which this
affair has been left, so injuriously to the Queen, might have been
prevented. His papers would have declared the history of every
particular, and distinctly established the extent of his crime and the
thorough innocence of Marie Antoinette of any connivance at the fraud, or
any knowledge of the necklace. But when the Cardinal was ordered by the
King's Council to be put under arrest, his self-possession returned. He
was given in charge to an officer totally unacquainted with the nature of
the accusation. Considering only the character of his prisoner as one of
the highest dignitaries of the Church, from ignorance and inexperience,
he left the Cardinal an opportunity to write a German note to his
factotum, the Abbe Georgel. In this note the trusty secretary was
ordered to destroy all the letters of Cagliostro, Madame de Lamotte, and
the other wretched associates of the infamous conspiracy; and the traitor
was scarcely in custody when every evidence of his treason had
disappeared. The note to Georgel saved his master from expiating his
offence at the Place de Grave.

"The consequences of the affair would have been less injurious, however,
had it been managed, even as it stood, with better judgment and temper.
But it was improperly entrusted to the Baron de Breteuil and the Abbe
Vermond, both sworn enemies of the Cardinal. Their main object was the
ruin of him they hated, and they listened only to their resentments.
They never weighed the danger of publicly prosecuting an individual whose
condemnation would involve the first families in France, for he was
allied even to many of the Princes of the blood. They should have
considered that exalted personages, naturally feeling as if any crime
proved against their kinsman would be a stain upon themselves, would of
course resort to every artifice to exonerate the accused. To criminate
the Queen was the only and the obvious method. Few are those nearest the
Crown who are not most jealous of its wearers! Look at the long civil
wars of York and Lancaster, and the short reign of Richard. The downfall
of Kings meets less resistance than that of their inferiors.

"Still, notwithstanding all the deplorable blunders committed in this
business of De Rohan, justice was not smothered without great difficulty.
His acquittal cost the families of De Rohan and De Conde more than a
million of livres, distributed among all ranks of the clergy; besides
immense sums sent to the Court of Rome to make it invalidate the judgment
of the civil authority of France upon so high a member of the Church,
and to induce it to order the Cardinal's being sent to Rome by way of
screening him from the prosecution, under the plausible pretext of more
rigid justice.

"Considerable sums in money and jewels were also lavished on all the
female relatives of the peers of France, who were destined to sit on the
trial. The Abbe Georgel bribed the press, and extravagantly paid all the
literary pens in France to produce the most Jesuitical and sophisticated
arguments in his patron's justification. Though these writers dared not
accuse or in any way criminate the Queen, yet the respectful doubts, with
which their defence of her were seasoned, did indefinitely more mischief
than any direct attack, which could have been directly answered.

"The long cherished, but till now smothered, resentment of the Comtesse
de Noailles, the scrupulous Madame Etiquette, burst forth on this
occasion. Openly joining the Cardinal's party against her former
mistress and Sovereign, she recruited and armed all in favour of her
protege; for it was by her intrigues De Rohan had been nominated
Ambassador to Vienna. Mesdames de Guemenee and Marsan, rival pretenders
to favours of His Eminence, were equally earnest to support him against
the Queen. In short, there was scarcely a family of distinction in
France that, from the libels which then inundated the kingdom, did not
consider the King as having infringed on their prerogatives and
privileges in accusing the Cardinal.

"Shortly after the acquittal of this most artful, and, in the present
instance, certainly too fortunate prelate, the Princesse de Conde came to
congratulate me on the Queen's innocence, and her kinsman's liberation
from the Bastille.

"Without the slightest observation, I produced to the Princess documents
in proof of the immense sums she alone had expended in bribing the judges
and other persons, to save her relation, the Cardinal, by criminating Her
Majesty.

"The Princesse de Conde instantly fell into violent hysterics, and was
carried home apparently, lifeless.

"I have often reproached myself for having given that sudden shock and
poignant anguish to Her Highness, but I could not have supposed that one
who came so barefacedly to impress me with the Cardinal's innocence,
could have been less firm in refuting her own guilt.

"I never mentioned the circumstance to the Queen. Had I done so, Her
Highness would have been forever excluded from the Court and the royal
presence. This was no time to increase the enemies of Her Majesty, and,
the affair of the trial being ended, I thought it best to prevent any
further breach from a discord between the Court and the house of Conde.
However, from a coldness subsisting ever after between the Princess and
myself, I doubt not that the Queen had her suspicions that all was not as
it should be in that quarter. Indeed, though Her Majesty never confessed
it, I think she herself had discovered something at that very time not
altogether to the credit of the Princesse de Conde, for she ceased going,
from that period, to any of the fetes given at Chantilly.

"These were but a small portion of the various instruments successfully
levelled by parties, even the least suspected, to blacken and destroy the
fair fame of Marie Antoinette.

"The document which so justly alarmed the Princesse de Conde, when I
showed it to her came into my hands in the following manner:

"Whenever a distressed family, or any particular individual, applied to
me for relief, or was otherwise recommended for charitable purposes, I
generally sent my little English protegee--whose veracity, well knowing
the goodness of her heart, I could rely--to ascertain whether their
claims were really well grounded.

[Indeed, I never deceived the Princess on these occasions. She was
so generously charitable that I should have conceived it a crime.
When I could get no satisfactory information, I said I could not
trace anything undeserving her charity, and left Her Highness to
exercise her own discretion.]

"One day I received an earnest memorial from a family, desiring to make
some private communications of peculiar delicacy. I sent my usual
ambassadress to inquire into its import. On making her mission known,
she found no difficulty in ascertaining the object of the application.
It proceeded from conscientious distress of mind. A relation of this
family had been the regular confessor of a convent. With the Lady Abbess
of this convent and her trusty nuns, the Princesse de Conde had deposited
considerable sums of money, to be bestowed in creating influence in
favour of the Cardinal de Rohan. The confessor, being a man of some
consideration among the clergy, was applied to, to use his influence with
the needier members of the Church more immediately about him, as well as
those of higher station, to whom he had access, in furthering the
purposes of the Princesse de Conde. The bribes were applied as intended.
But, at the near approach of death, the confessor was struck with
remorse. He begged his family, without mentioning his name, to send the
accounts and vouchers of the sums he had so distributed, to me, as a
proof of his contrition, that I might make what use of them I should
think proper. The papers were handed to my messenger, who pledged her
word of honour that I would certainly adhere to the dying man's last
injunctions. She desired they might be sealed up by the family, and by
them directed to me.--[To this day, I neither know the name of the
convent or the confessor.]--She then hastened back to our place of
rendezvous, where I waited for her, and where she consigned the packet
into my own hands.

"That part of the papers which compromised only the Princesse de Conde
was shown by me to the Princess on the occasion I have mentioned. It was
natural enough that she should have been shocked at the detection of
having suborned the clergy and others with heavy bribes to avert the
deserved fate of the Cardinal. I kept this part of the packet secret
till the King's two aunts, who had also been warm advocates in favour of
the prelate, left Paris for Rome. Then, as Pius VI. had interested
himself as head of the Church for the honour of one of its members, I
gave them these very papers to deliver to His Holiness for his private
perusal. I was desirous of enabling this truly charitable and Christian
head of our sacred religion to judge how far his interference was
justified by facts. I am thoroughly convinced that, had he been sooner
furnished with these evidences, instead of blaming the royal proceeding,
he would have urged it on, nay, would himself have been the first to
advise that the foul conspiracy should be dragged into open day.

"The Comte de Vergennes told me that the King displayed the greatest
impartiality throughout the whole investigation for the exculpation of
the Queen, and made good his title on this, as he did on every occasion
where his own unbiassed feelings and opinions were called into action,
to great esteem for much higher qualities than the world has usually
given him credit for.

"I have been accused of having opened the prison doors of the culprit
Lamotte for her escape; but the charge is false. I interested myself,
as was my duty, to shield the Queen from public reproach by having
Lamotte sent to a place of penitence; but I never interfered, except to
lessen her punishment, after the judicial proceedings. The diamonds, in
the hands of her vile associates at Paris, procured her ample means to
escape. I should have been the Queen's greatest enemy had I been the
cause of giving liberty to one who acted, and might naturally have been
expected to act, as this depraved woman did.

"Through the private correspondence which was carried on between this
country and England, after I had left it, I was informed that M. de
Calonne, whom the Queen never liked, and who was called to the
administration against her will--which he knew, and consequently became
one of her secret enemies in the affair of the necklace--was discovered
to have been actively employed against Her Majesty in the work published
in London by Lamotte.

"Mr. Sheridan was the gentleman who first gave me this information.

"I immediately sent a trusty person by the Queen's orders to London, to
buy up the whole work. It was too late. It had been already so widely
circulated that its consequences could no longer be prevented. I was
lucky enough, however, for a considerable sum, to get a copy from a
person intimate with the author, the margin of which, in the handwriting
of M. de Calonne, actually contained numerous additional circumstances
which were to have been published in a second edition! This publication
my agent, aided by some English gentlemen, arrived in time to suppress.

"The copy I allude to was brought to Paris and shown to the Queen. She
instantly flew with it in her hands to the King's cabinet.

"'Now, Sire,' exclaimed she, 'I hope you will be convinced that my
enemies are those whom I have long considered as the most pernicious of
Your Majesty's Councillors--your own Cabinet Ministers--your M. de
Calonne!--respecting whom I have often given you my opinion, which,
unfortunately, has always been attributed to mere female caprice, or as
having been biassed by the intrigues of Court favourites! This, I hope,
Your Majesty will now be able to contradict!'

"The King all this time was looking over the different pages containing
M. de Calonne's additions on their margins. On recognising the hand-
writing, His Majesty was so affected by this discovered treachery of his
Minister and the agitation of his calumniated Queen that he could
scarcely articulate.

"'Where,' said he, I did you procure this?'

"'Through the means, Sire, of some of the worthy members of that nation
your treacherous Ministers made our enemy--from England! where your
unfortunate Queen, your injured wife, is compassionated!'

"'Who got it for you?'

"'My dearest, my real, and my only sincere friend, the Princesse de
Lamballe!'

"The King requested I should be sent for. I came. As may be imagined, I
was received with the warmest sentiments of affection by both Their
Majesties. I then laid before the King the letter of Mr. Sheridan, which
was, in substance, as follows:

"'MADAME,

"'A work of mine, which I did not choose should be printed, was
published in Dublin and transmitted to be sold in London. As soon
as I was informed of it, and had procured a spurious copy, I went to
the bookseller to put a stop to its circulation. I there met with a
copy of the work of Madame de Lamotte, which has been corrected by
some one at Paris and sent back to the bookseller for a second
edition. Though not in time to suppress the first edition, owing to
its rapid circulation, I have had interest enough, through the means
of the bookseller of whom I speak, to remit you the copy which has
been sent as the basis of a new one. The corrections, I am told,
are by one of the King's Ministers. If true, I should imagine the
writer will be easily traced.

"'I am happy that it has been in my power to make this discovery,
and I hope it will be the means of putting a stop to this most
scandalous publication. I feel myself honoured in having
contributed thus far to the wishes of Her Majesty, which I hope I
have fulfilled to the entire satisfaction of Your Highness.

"'Should anything further transpire on this subject, I will give you
the earliest information.

"'I remain, madame, with profound respect, Your Highness' most
devoted,

"'very humble servant,

"'RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN.'

[Madame Campan mentions in her work that the Queen had informed her
of the treachery of the Minister, but did not enter into
particulars, nor explain the mode or source of its detection.
Notwithstanding the parties had bound themselves for the sums they
received not to reprint the work, a second edition appeared a short
time afterwards in London. This, which was again bought up by the
French Ambassador, was the same which was to have been burned by the
King's command at the china manufactory at Sevres.]

"M. de Calonne immediately received the King's mandate to resign the
portfolio. The Minister desired that he might be allowed to give his
resignation to the King himself. His request was granted. The Queen was
present at the interview. The work in question was produced. On
beholding it, the Minister nearly fainted. The King got up and left the
room. The Queen, who remained, told M. de Calonne that His Majesty had
no further occasion for his services. He fell on his knees. He was not
allowed to speak, but was desired to leave Paris.

"The dismissal and disgrace of M. de Calonne were scarcely known before
all Paris vociferated that they were owing to the intrigues of the
favourite De Polignac, in consequence of his having refused to administer
to her own superfluous extravagance and the Queen's repeated demands on
the Treasury to satisfy the numerous dependants of the Duchess.

"This, however, was soon officially disproved by the exhibition of a
written proposition of Calonne's to the Queen, to supply an additional
hundred thousand francs that year to her annual revenue, which Her
Majesty refused. As for the Duchesse de Polignac, so far from having
caused the disgrace, she was not even aware of the circumstance from
which it arose; nor did the Minister himself ever know how, or by what
agency, his falsehood was so thoroughly unmasked."

NOTE:

[The work which is here spoken of, the Queen kept, as a proof of the
treachery of Calonne towards her and his Sovereign, till the
storming of the Tuileries on the 10th of August, 1792, when, with
the rest of the papers and property plundered on that memorable
occasion, it fell into the hands of the ferocious mob.

M. de Calonne soon after left France for Italy. There he lived for
some time in the palace of a particular friend of mine and the
Marquis, my husband, the Countess Francese Tressino, at Vicenza.

In consequence of our going every season to take the mineral waters
and use the baths at Valdagno, we had often occasion to be in
company with M. de Calonne, both at Vicenza and Valdagno, where I
must do him the justice to say he conducted himself with the
greatest circumspection in speaking of the Revolution.

Though he evidently avoided the topic which terminates this chapter,
yet one day, being closely pressed upon the subject, he said
forgeries were daily committed on Ministers, and were most
particularly so in France at the period in question; that he had
borne the blame of various imprudencies neither authorized nor
executed by him; that much had been done and supposed to have been
done with his sanction, of which he had not the slightest knowledge.
This he observed generally, without specifying any express instance.

He was then asked whether he did not consider himself responsible
for the mischief he occasioned by declaring the nation in a state of
bankruptcy. He said, "No, not in the least. There was no other way
of preventing enormous sums from being daily lavished, as they then
were, on herds of worthless beings; that the Queen had sought to
cultivate a state of private domestic society, but that, in the
attempt, she only warmed in her bosom domestic vipers, who fed on
the vital spirit of her generosity." He mentioned no names.

I then took the liberty of asking him his opinion of the Princesse
de Lamballe.

"Oh, madame! had the rest of Her Majesty's numerous attendants
possessed the tenth part of that unfortunate Victim's virtues, Her
Majesty would never have been led into the errors which all France
must deplore!

"I shall never forget her," continued he, "the day I went to take
leave of her. She was sitting on a sofa when I entered. On seeing
me, she rose immediately. Before I could utter a syllable,
'Monsieur,' said the Princess, 'you are accused of being the Queen's
enemy. Acquit yourself of the foul deed imputed to you, and I shall
be happy to serve you as far as lies in my power. Till then, I must
decline holding any communication with an individual thus situated.
I am her friend, and cannot receive any one known to be otherwise.'

"There was something," added he, "so sublime, so dignified, and
altogether so firm, though mild in her manner, that she appeared not
to belong to a race of earthly beings!"

Seeing the tears fall from his eyes, while he was thus eulogising
her whose memory I shall ever venerate, I almost forgave him the
mischief of his imprudence, which led to her untimely end. I
therefore carefully avoided wounding his few gray hairs and latter
days, and left him still untold that it was by her, of whom he
thought so highly, that his uncontradicted treachery had been
discovered.

SECTION III.

"Of the many instances in which the Queen's exertions to serve those whom
she conceived likely to benefit and relieve the nation, turned to the
injury, not only of herself, but those whom she patronised and the cause
she would strengthen, one of the most unpopular was that of the promotion
of Brienne, Archbishop of Sens, to the Ministry. Her interest in his
favour was entirely created by the Abbe Vermond, himself too superficial
to pronounce upon any qualities, and especially such as were requisite
for so high a station. By many, the partiality which prompted Vermond to
espouse the interests of the Archbishop was ascribed to the amiable
sentiment of gratitude for the recommendation of that dignitary, by which
Vermond himself first obtained his situation at Court; but there were
others, who have been deemed deeper in the secret, who impute it to the
less honourable source of self-interest, to the mere spirit of
ostentation, to the hope of its enabling him to bring about the
destruction of the De Polignacs. Be this as it may, the Abbe well knew
that a Minister indebted for his elevation solely to the Queen would be
supported by her to the last.

"This, unluckily, proved the case. Marie Antoinette persisted in
upholding every act of Brienne, till his ignorance and unpardonable
blunders drew down the general indignation of the people against Her
Majesty and her protege, with whom she was identified. The King had
assented to the appointment with no other view than that of not being
utterly isolated and to show a respect for his consort's choice. But the
incapable Minister was presently compelled to retire not only from
office, but from Paris. Never was a Minister more detested while in
power, or a people more enthusiastically satisfied at his going out. His
effigy was burnt in every town of France, and the general illuminations
and bonfires in the capital were accompanied by hooting and hissing the
deposed statesman to the barriers.

"The Queen, prompted by the Abbe Vermond, even after Brienne's
dismission, gave him tokens of her royal munificence. Her Majesty feared
that her acting otherwise to a Minister, who had been honoured by her
confidence, would operate as a check to prevent all men of celebrity from
exposing their fortunes to so ungracious a return for lending their best
services to the State, which now stood in need of the most skilful
pilots. Such were the motives assigned by Her Majesty herself to me,
when I took the liberty, of expostulating with her respecting the dangers
which threatened herself and family, from this continued devotedness to a
Minister against whom the nation had pronounced so strongly. I could not
but applaud the delicacy of the feeling upon which her conduct had been
grounded; nor could I blame her, in my heart, for the uprightness of her
principle, in showing that what she had once undertaken should not be
abandoned through female caprice. I told Her Majesty that the system
upon which she acted was praiseworthy; and that its application in the
present instance would have been so had the Archbishop possessed as much
talent as he lacked; but, that now it was quite requisite for her to stop
the public clamour by renouncing her protection of a man who had so
seriously endangered the public tranquillity and her own reputation.

"As a proof how far my caution was well founded, there was an immense
riotous mob raised about this time against the Queen, in consequence of
her having, appointed the dismissed Minister's niece, Madame de Canisy,
to a place at Court, and having given her picture, set in diamonds, to
the Archbishop himself.

"The Queen, in many cases, was by far too communicative to some of her
household, who immediately divulged all they gathered from her unreserve.
How could these circumstances have transpired to the people but from
those nearest the person of Her Majesty, who, knowing the public feeling
better than their royal mistress could be supposed to know it, did their
own feeling little credit by the mischievous exposure? The people were
exasperated beyond all conception. The Abbe Vermond placed before Her
Majesty the consequences of her communicativeness, and from this time
forward she never repeated the error. After the lesson she had received,
none of her female attendants, not even the Duchesse de Polignac, to whom
she would have confided her very existence, could, had they been ever so
much disposed, have drawn anything upon public matters from her. With
me, as her superintendent and entitled by my situation to interrogate and
give her counsel, she was not, of course, under the same restriction.
To his other representations of the consequences of the Queen's
indiscreet openness, the Abbe Vermond added that, being obliged to write
all the letters, private and public, he often found himself greatly
embarrassed by affairs having gone forth to the world beforehand. One
misfortune of putting this seal upon the lips of Her Majesty was that it
placed her more thoroughly in the Abbe's power. She was, of course,
obliged to rely implicitly upon him concerning many points, which, had
they undergone the discussion necessarily resulting from free
conversation, would have been shown to her under very different aspects.
A man with a better heart, less Jesuitical, and not so much interested as
Vermond was to keep his place, would have been a safer monitor.

"Though the Archbishop of Sens was so much hated and despised, much may
be said in apology for his disasters. His unpopularity, and the Queen's
support of him against the people, was certainly a vital blow to the
monarchy. There is no doubt of his having been a poor substitute for the
great men who had so gloriously beaten the political paths of
administration, particularly the Comte de Vergennes and Necker.
But at that time, when France was threatened by its great convulsion,
where is the genius which might not have committed itself? And here is a
man coming to rule amidst revolutionary feelings, with no knowledge
whatever of revolutionary principles--a pilot steering into one harbour
by the chart of another. I am by no means a vindicator of the
Archbishop's obstinacy in offering himself a candidate for a situation
entirely foreign to the occupations, habits, and studies of his whole
life; but his intentions may have been good enough, and we must not
charge the physician with murder who has only mistaken the disease, and,
though wrong in his judgment, has been zealous and conscientious; nor
must we blame the comedians for the faults of the comedy. The errors
were not so much in the men who did not succeed as in the manners of the
times.

"The part which the Queen was now openly compelled to bear, in the
management of public affairs, increased the public feeling against her
from dislike to hatred. Her Majesty was unhappy, not only from the
necessity which called her out of the sphere to which she thought her sex
ought to be confined, but from the divisions which existed in the Royal
Family upon points in which their common safety required a common scheme
of action. Her favourite brother-in-law, D'Artois, had espoused the side
of D'ORLEANS, and the popular party seemed to prevail against her, even
with the King.

"The various parliamentary assemblies, which had swept on their course,
under various denominations, in rapid and stormy succession, were now
followed by one which, like Aaron's rod, was to swallow up the rest.
Its approach was regarded by the Queen with ominous reluctance.
At length, however, the moment for the meeting of the States General
at Versailles arrived. Necker was once more in favour, and a sort of
forlorn hope of better times dawned upon the perplexed monarch, in his
anticipations from this assembly.

"The night before the procession of the instalment of the States General
was to take place, it being my duty to attend Her Majesty, I received an
anonymous letter, cautioning me not to be seen that day by her side.
I immediately went to the King's apartments and showed him the letter.
His Majesty humanely enjoined me to abide by its counsels. I told him
I hoped he would for once permit me to exercise my own discretion; for if
my royal Sovereign were in danger, it was then that her attendants should
be most eager to rally round her, in order to watch over her safety and
encourage her fortitude.

"While we were thus occupied, the Queen and my sister-in-law, the
Duchesse d'Orleans, entered the King's apartment, to settle some part of
the etiquette respecting the procession.

"'I wish,' exclaimed the Duchess, 'that this procession were over; or
that it were never to take place; or that none of us had to be there; or
else, being obliged, that we had all passed, and were comfortably at home
again.'

"'Its taking place,' answered the Queen, 'never had my sanction,
especially at Versailles. M. Necker appears to be in its favour, and
answers for its success. I wish he may not be deceived; but I much fear
that he is guided more by the mistaken hope of maintaining his own
popularity by this impolitic meeting, than by any conscientious
confidence in its advantage to the King's authority.'

"The King, having in his hand the letter which I had just brought him,
presented it to the Queen.

"'This, my dear Duchess,' cried the Queen, I comes from the Palais Royal
manufactory, [Palais d' Orleans. D.W.] to poison the very first
sentiments of delight at the union expected between the King and his
subjects, by innuendoes of the danger which must result from my being
present at it. Look at the insidiousness of the thing! Under a pretext
of kindness, cautions against the effect of their attachment are given to
my most sincere and affectionate attendants, whose fidelity none dare
attack openly. I am, however, rejoiced that Lamballe has been
cautioned.'

"'Against what?' replied I.

"'Against appearing in the procession,' answered the Queen.

"'It is only,' I exclaimed, 'by putting me in the grave they can ever
withdraw me from Your Majesty. While I have life and Your Majesty's
sanction, force only will prevent me from doing my duty. Fifty thousand
daggers, Madame, were they all raised against me, would have no power to
shake the firmness of my character or the earnestness of my attachment.
I pity the wretches who have so little penetration. Victim or no victim,
nothing shall ever induce me to quit Your Majesty.'

"The Queen and Duchess, both in tears, embraced me. After the Duchess
had taken her leave, the King and Queen hinted their suspicions that she
had been apprised of the letter, and had made this visit expressly to
observe what effect it had produced, well knowing at the time that some
attempt was meditated by the hired mob and purchased deputies already
brought over to the D'ORLEANS faction. Not that the slightest suspicion
of collusion could ever be attached to the good Duchesse d'Orleans
against the Queen. The intentions of the Duchess were known to be as
virtuous and pure as those of her husband's party were criminal and
mischievous. But, no doubt, she had intimations of the result intended;
and, unable to avert the storm or prevent its cause, had been instigated
by her strong attachment to me, as well as the paternal affection her
father, the Duc de Penthievre, bore me, to attempt to lessen the
exasperation of the Palais Royal party and the Duke, her husband, against
me, by dissuading me from running any risk upon the occasion.

"The next day, May 5, 1789, at the very moment when all the resources of
nature and art seemed exhausted to render the Queen a paragon of
loveliness beyond anything I had ever before witnessed, even in her;
when every impartial eye was eager to behold and feast on that form whose
beauty warmed every heart in her favour; at that moment a horde of
miscreants, just as she came within sight of the Assembly, thundered in
her ears, 'Orleans forever!' three or four times, while she and the King
were left to pass unheeded. Even the warning of the letter, from which
she had reason to expect some commotions, suggested to her imagination
nothing like this, and she was dreadfully shaken. I sprang forward to
support her. The King's party, prepared for the attack, shouted 'Vive le
roi! Vive la reine!' As I turned, I saw some of the members lividly
pale, as if fearing their machinations had been discovered; but, as they
passed, they said in the hearing of Her Majesty, 'Remember, you are the
daughter of Maria Theresa.'--'True,' answered the Queen. The Duc de
Biron, Orleans, La Fayette, Mirabeau, and the Mayor of Paris, seeing Her
Majesty's emotion, came up, and were going to stop the procession. All,
in apparent agitation, cried out 'Halt!' The Queen, sternly looking at
them, made a sign with her head to proceed, recovered herself, and moved
forward in the train, with all the dignity and self-possession for which
she was so eminently distinguished.

"But this self-command in public proved nearly fatal to Her Majesty on
her return to her apartment. There her real feelings broke forth, and
their violence was so great as to cause the bracelets on her wrists and
the pearls in her necklace to burst from the threads and settings, before
her women and the ladies in attendance could have time to take them off.
She remained many hours in a most alarming state of strong convulsions.
Her clothes were obliged to be cut from her body, to give her ease; but
as soon as she was undressed, and tears came to her relief, she flew
alternately to the Princesse Elizabeth and to myself; but we were both
too much overwhelmed to give her the consolation of which she stood so
much in need.

"Barnave that very evening came to my private apartment, and tendered his
services to the Queen. He told me he wished Her Majesty to be convinced
that he was a Frenchman; that he only desired his country might be
governed by salutary laws, and not by the caprice of weak sovereigns,
or a vitiated, corrupt Ministry; that the clergy and nobility ought to
contribute to the wants of the State equally with every other class of
the King's subjects; that when this was accomplished, and abuses were
removed, by such a national representation as would enable the Minister,
Necker, to accomplish his plans for the liquidation of the national debt,
I might assure Her Majesty that both the King and herself would find
themselves happier in a constitutional government than they had ever yet
been; for such a government would set them free from all dependence on
the caprice of Ministers, and lessen a responsibility of which they now
experienced the misery; that if the King sincerely entered into the
spirit of regenerating the French nation, he would find among the present
representatives many members of probity, loyal and honourable in their
intentions, who would never become the destroyers of a limited legitimate
monarchy, or the corrupt regicides of a rump Parliament, such as brought
the wayward Charles the First, of England, to the fatal block.

"I attempted to relate the conversation to the Queen. She listened with
the greatest attention till I came to the part concerning the
constitutional King, when Her Majesty lost her patience, and prevented me
from proceeding.

[This and other conversations, which will be found in subsequent
pages, will prove that Barnave's sentiments in favour of the Royal
Family long preceded the affair at Varennes, the beginning of which
Madame Campan assigns to it. Indeed it must by this time be evident
to the reader that Madame Campan, though very correct in relating
all she knew, with respect to the history of Marie Antoinette, was
not in possession of matters foreign to her occupation about the
person of the Queen, and, in particular, that she could communicate
little concerning those important intrigues carried on respecting
the different deputies of the first Assembly, till in the latter
days of the Revolution, when it became necessary, from the pressure
of events, that she should be made a sort of confidante, in order to
prevent her from compromising the persons of the Queen and the
Princesse de Lamballe: a trust, of her claim to which her undoubted
fidelity was an ample pledge. Still, however, she was often absent
from Court at moments of great importance, and was obliged to take
her information, upon much which she has recorded, from hearsay,
which has led her, as I have before stated, into frequent mistakes.]

"The expense of the insulting scene, which had so overcome Her Majesty,
was five hundred thousand francs! This sum was paid by the agents of the
Palais Royal, and its execution entrusted principally to Mirabeau,
Bailly, the Mayor of Paris, and another individual, who was afterwards
brought over to the Court party.

"The history of the Assembly itself on the day following, the 6th of May,
is too well known. The sudden perturbation of a guilty conscience, which
overcame the Duc d'Orleans, seemed like an awful warning. He had
scarcely commenced his inflammatory address to the Assembly, when some
one, who felt incommoded by the stifling heat of the hall, exclaimed,
'Throw open the windows!' The conspirator fancied he heard in this his
death sentence. He fainted, and was conducted home in the greatest
agitation. Madame de Bouffon was at the Palais Royal when the Duke was
taken thither. The Duchesse d'Orleans was at the palace of the Duc de
Penthievre, her father, while the Duke himself was at the Hotel Thoulouse
with me, where he was to dine, and where we were waiting for the Duchess
to come and join us, by appointment. But Madame de Bouffon was so
alarmed by the state in which she saw the Duc d'Orleans that she
instantly left the Palais Royal, and despatched his valet express to
bring her thither. My sister-in-law sent an excuse to me for not coming
to dinner, and an explanation to her father for so abruptly leaving his
palace, and hastened home to her husband. It was some days before he
recovered; and his father-in-law, his wife, and myself were not without
hopes that he would see in this an omen to prevent him from persisting
any longer in his opposition to the Royal Family.

"The effects of the recall of the popular Minister, Necker, did not
satisfy the King. Necker soon became an object of suspicion to the Court
party, and especially to His Majesty and the Queen. He was known to have
maintained an understanding with D'ORLEANS. The miscarriage of many
plans and the misfortunes which succeeded were the result of this
connection, though it was openly disavowed. The first suspicion of the
coalition arose thus:

"When the Duke had his bust carried about Paris, after his unworthy
schemes against the King had been discovered, it was thrown into the
mire. Necker passing, perhaps by mere accident, stopped his carriage,
and expressing himself with some resentment for such treatment to a
Prince of the blood and a friend of the people, ordered the bust to be
taken to the Palais Royal, where it was washed, crowned with laurel, and
thence, with Necker's own bust, carried to Versailles. The King's aunts,
coming from Bellevue as the procession was upon the road, ordered the
guards to send the men away who bore the busts, that the King and Queen
might not be insulted with the sight. This circumstance caused another
riot, which was attributed to Their Majesties. The dismission of the
Minister was the obvious result. It is certain, however, that, in
obeying the mandate of exile, Necker had no wish to exercise the
advantage he possessed from his great popularity. His retirement was
sudden and secret; and, although it was mentioned that very evening by
the Baroness de Stael to the Comte de Chinon, so little bustle was made
about his withdrawing from France, that it was even stated at the time to
have been utterly unknown, even to his daughter.

"Necker himself ascribed his dismission to the influence of the De
Polignacs; but he was totally mistaken, for the Duchesse de Polignac was
the last person to have had any influence in matters of State, whatever
might have been the case with those who surrounded her. She was devoid
of ambition or capacity to give her weight; and the Queen was not so
pliant in points of high import as to allow herself to be governed or
overruled, unless her mind was thoroughly convinced. In that respect,
she was something like Catharine II., who always distinguished her
favourites from her Minister; but in the present case she had no choice,
and was under the necessity of yielding to the boisterous voice of a
faction.

"From this epoch, I saw all the persons who had any wish to communicate
with the Queen on matters relative to the public business, and Her
Majesty was generally present when they came, and received them in my
apartments. The Duchesse de Polignac never, to my knowledge, entered
into any of these State questions; yet there was no promotion in the
civil, military, or ministerial department, which she has not been
charged with having influenced the Queen to make, though there were few
of them who were not nominated by the King and his Ministers, even
unknown to the Queen herself.

"The prevailing dissatisfaction against Her Majesty and the favourite
De Polignac now began to take so many forms, and produce effects so
dreadful, as to wring her own feelings, as well as those of her royal
mistress, with the most intense anguish. Let me mention one gross and
barbarous instance in proof of what I say.

"After the birth of the Queen's second son, the Duc de Normandie, who was
afterwards Dauphin, the Duke and Duchess of Harcourt, outrageously
jealous of the ascendency of the governess of the Dauphin, excited the
young Prince's hatred toward Madame de Polignac to such a pitch that he
would take nothing from her hands, but often, young as he was at the
time, order her out of the apartment, and treat her remonstrances with
the utmost contempt. The Duchess bitterly complained of the Harcourts to
the Queen; for she really sacrificed the whole of her time to the care
and attention required by this young Prince, and she did so from sincere
attachment, and that he might not be irritated in his declining state of
health. The Queen was deeply hurt at these dissensions between the
governor and governess. Her Majesty endeavoured to pacify the mind of
the young Prince, by literally making herself a slave to his childish
caprices, which in all probability would have created the confidence so
desired, when a most cruel, unnatural, I may say diabolical, report
prevailed to alienate the child's affections even from his mother,
in making him believe that, owing to his deformity and growing ugliness,
she had transferred all her tenderness to his younger brother, who
certainly was very superior in health and beauty to the puny Dauphin.
Making a pretext of this calumny, the governor of the heir-apparent was
malicious enough to prohibit him from eating or drinking anything but
what first passed through the hands of his physicians; and so strong was
the impression made by this interdict on the mind of the young Dauphin
that he never after saw the Queen but with the greatest terror. The
feelings of his disconsolate parent may be more readily conceived than
described. So may the mortification of his governess, the Duchesse de
Polignac, herself so tender, so affectionate a mother. Fortunately for
himself, and happily for his wretched parents, this royal youth, whose
life, though short, had been so full of suffering, died at Versailles on
the 4th of June, 1789, and, though only between seven and eight years of
age at the time of his decease, he had given proofs of intellectual
precocity, which would probably have made continued life, amidst the
scenes of wretchedness, which succeeded, anything to him but a blessing.

"The cabals of the Duke of Harcourt, to which I have just adverted,
against the Duchesse de Polignac, were the mere result of foul malice
and ambition. Harcourt wished to get his wife, who was the sworn enemy
of De Polignac, created governess to the Dauphin, instead of the Queen's
favourite. Most of the criminal stories against the Duchesse de
Polignac, and which did equal injury to the Queen, were fabricated by the
Harcourts, for the purpose of excluding their rival from her situation.

"Barnave, meanwhile, continued faithful to his liberal principles, but
equally faithful to his desire of bringing Their Majesties over to those
principles, and making them republican Sovereigns. He lost no
opportunity of availing himself of my permission for him to call whenever
he chose on public business; and he continued to urge the same points,
upon which he had before been so much in earnest, although with no better
effect. Both the King and the Queen looked with suspicion upon Barnave,
and with still more suspicion upon his politics.

"The next time I received him, 'Madame,' exclaimed the deputy to me,
'since our last interview I have pondered well on the situation of the
King; and, as an honest Frenchman, attached to my lawful Sovereign, and
anxious for his future prosperous reign, I am decidedly of opinion that
his own safety, as well as the dignity of the crown of France, and the
happiness of his subjects, can only be secured by his giving his country
a Constitution, which will at once place his establishment beyond the
caprice and the tyranny of corrupt administrations, and secure hereafter
the first monarchy in Europe from the possibility of sinking under weak
Princes, by whom the royal splendour of France has too often been debased
into the mere tool of vicious and mercenary noblesse, and sycophantic
courtiers. A King, protected by a Constitution, can do no wrong. He is
unshackled with responsibility. He is empowered with the comfort of
exercising the executive authority for the benefit of the nation, while
all the harsher duties, and all the censures they create, devolve on
others. It is, therefore, madame, through your means, and the well-known
friendship you have ever evinced for the Royal Family, and the general
welfare of the French nation, that I wish to obtain a private audience of
Her Majesty, the Queen, in order to induce her to exert the never-failing
ascendency she has ever possessed over the mind of our good King,
in persuading him to the sacrifice of a small proportion of his power,
for the sake of preserving the monarchy to his heirs; and posterity will
record the virtues of a Prince who has been magnanimous enough, of his
own free will, to resign the unlawful part of his prerogatives, usurped
by his predecessors, for the blessing and pleasure of giving liberty to
a beloved people, among whom both the King and Queen will find many
Hampdens and Sidneys, but very few Cromwells. Besides, madame, we must
make a merit of necessity. The times are pregnant with events, and it is
more prudent to support the palladium of the ancient monarchy than risk
its total overthrow; and fall it must, if the diseased excrescences,
of which the people complain, and which threaten to carry death into
the very heart of the tree, be not lopped away in time by the Sovereign
himself.'

"I heard the deputy with the greatest attention. I promised to fulfil
his commission. The better to execute my task, I retired the moment he
left me, and wrote down all I could recollect of his discourse, that it
might be thoroughly placed before the Queen the first opportunity.

"When I communicated the conversation to Her Majesty, she listened with
the most gracious condescension, till I came to the part wherein Barnave
so forcibly impressed the necessity of adopting a constitutional
monarchy. Here, as she had done once before, when I repeated some former
observations of Barnave to her, Marie Antoinette somewhat lost her
equanimity. She rose from her seat, and exclaimed:

"'What! is an absolute Prince, and the hereditary Sovereign of the
ancient monarchy of France, to become the tool of a plebeian faction,
who will, their point once gained, dethrone him for his imbecile
complaisance? Do they wish to imitate the English Revolution of 1648,
and reproduce the sanguinary times of the unfortunate and weak Charles
the First? To make France a commonwealth! Well! be it so! But before
I advise the King to such a step, or give my consent to it, they shall
bury me under the ruins of the monarchy.'

"'But what answer,' said I, 'does Your Majesty wish me to return to the
deputy's request for a private audience?'

"'What answer?' exclaimed the Queen. No answer at all is the best answer
to such a presumptuous proposition! I tremble for the consequences of
the impression their disloyal manoeuvres have made upon the minds of the
people, and I have no faith whatever in their proffered services to the
King. However, on reflection, it may be expedient to temporise.
Continue to see him. Learn, if possible, how far he may be trusted;
but do not fix any time, as yet, for the desired audience. I wish to
apprise the King, first, of his interview with you, Princess. This
conversation does not agree with what he and Mirabeau proposed about the
King's recovering his prerogatives. Are these the prerogatives with
which he flattered the King? Binding him hand and foot, and excluding
him from every privilege, and then casting him a helpless dependant on
the caprice of a volatile plebeian faction! The French nation is very
different from the English. The first rules of the established ancient
order of the government broken through, they will violate twenty others,
and the King will be sacrificed, before this frivolous people again
organise themselves with any sort of regular government.'

"Agreeably to Her Majesty's commands, I continued to see Barnave. I
communicated with him by letter,' at his private lodgings at Passy, and
at Vitry; but it was long before the Queen could be brought to consent to
the audience he solicited.

[Of these letters I was generally the bearer. I recollect that day
perfectly. I was copying some letters for the Princesse de
Lamballe, when the Prince de Conti came in. The Prince lived not
only to see, but to feel the errors of his system. He attained a
great age. He outlived the glory of his country. Like many others,
the first gleam of political regeneration led him into a system,
which drove him out of France, to implore the shelter of a foreign
asylum, that he might not fall a victim to his own credulity. I had
an opportunity of witnessing in his latter days his sincere
repentance; and to this it is fit that I should bear testimony.
There were no bounds to the execration with which he expressed
himself towards the murderers of those victims, whose death he
lamented with a bitterness in which some remorse was mingled, from
the impression that his own early errors in favour of the Revolution
had unintentionally accelerated their untimely end. This was a
source to him of deep and perpetual self-reproach.

There was an eccentricity in the appearance, dress, and manners of
the Prince de Conti, which well deserves recording.

He wore to the very last--and it was in Barcelona, so late as 1803,
that I last had the honour of conversing with him--a white rich
stuff dress frock coat, of the cut and fashion of Louis XIV., which,
being without any collar, had buttons and button-holes from the neck
to the bottom of the skirt, and was padded and stiffened with
buckram. The cuffs were very large, of a different colour, and
turned up to the elbows. The whole was lined with white satin,
which, from its being very much moth-eaten, appeared as if it had
been dotted on purpose to show the buckram between the satin lining.
His waistcoat was of rich green striped silk, bound with gold lace;
the buttons and buttonholes of gold; the flaps very large, and
completely covering his small clothes; which happened very apropos,
for they scarcely reached his knees, over which he wore large
striped silk stockings, that came half-way up his thighs. His shoes
had high heels, and reached half up his legs; the buckles were
small, and set round with paste. A very narrow stiff stock
decorated his neck. He carried a hat, with a white feather on the
inside, under his arm. His ruffles were of very handsome point
lace. His few gray hairs were gathered in a little round bag. The
wig alone was wanting to make him a thorough picture of the polished
age of the founder of Versailles and Marly.

He had all that princely politeness of manner which so eminently
distinguished the old school of French nobility, previous to the
Revolution. He was the thorough gentleman, a character by no means
so readily to be met with in these days of refinement as one would
imagine. He never addressed the softer sex but with ease and
elegance, and admiration of their persons.

Could Louis XIV. have believed, had it been told to him when he
placed this branch of the Bourbons on the throne of Iberia, that it
would one day refuse to give shelter at the Court of Madrid to one
of his family, for fear of offending a Corsican usurper!]

"Indeed, Her Majesty had such an aversion to all who had declared
themselves for any innovation upon the existing power of the monarchy,
that she was very reluctant to give audience upon the subject to any
person, not even excepting the Princes of the blood. The Comte d'Artois
himself, leaning as he did to the popular side, had ceased to be welcome.
Expressions he had made use of, concerning the necessity for some change,
had occasioned the coolness, which was already of considerable standing.

"One day the Prince de Conti came to me, to complain of the Queen's
refusing to receive him, because he had expressed himself to the same
effect as had the Comte d'Artois on the subject of the Tiers Etat.

"'And does Your Highness,' replied I, 'imagine that the Queen is less
displeased with the conduct of the Comte d'Artois on that head than she
is with you, Prince? I can assure Your Highness, that at this moment
there subsists a very great degree of coolness between Her Majesty and
her royal brother-in-law, whom she loves as if he were her own brother.
Though she makes every allowance for his political inexperience, and well
knows the goodness of his heart and the rectitude of his intentions, yet
policy will not permit her to change her sentiments.'

"'That may be,' said the Prince, 'but while Her Majesty continues to
honour with her royal presence the Duchesse de Polignac, whose friends,
as well as herself, are all enthusiastically mad in favour of the
constitutional system, she shows an undue partiality, by countenancing
one branch of the party and not the other; particularly so, as the great
and notorious leader of the opposition, which the Queen frowns upon,
is the sister-in-law of this very Duchesse de Polignac, and the avowed
favourite of the Comte d'Artois, by whom, and the councils of the Palais
Royal, he is supposed to be totally governed in his political career.'

"'The Queen,' replied I, 'is certainly her own mistress. She sees, I
believe, many persons more from habit than any other motive; to which,
Your Highness is aware, many Princes often make sacrifices. Your
Highness cannot suppose I can have the temerity to control Her Majesty,
in the selection of her friends, or in her sentiments respecting them.'

"'No,' exclaimed the Prince, 'I imagine not. But she might just as well
see any of us; for we are no more enemies of the Crown than the party she
is cherishing by constantly appearing among them; which, according to her
avowed maxims concerning the not sanctioning any but supporters of the
absolute monarchy, is in direct opposition to her own sentiments.

"'Who,' continued His Highness, 'caused that infernal comedy, 'Le Mariage
de Figaro', to be brought out, but the party of the Duchesse de Polignac?

[Note of the Princesse de Lamballe:--The Prince de Conti never could
speak of Beaumarchais but with the greatest contempt. There was
something personal in this exasperation. Beaumarchais had satirized
the Prince. 'The Spanish Barber' was founded on a circumstance
which happened at a country house between Conti and a young lady,
during the reign of Louis XV., when intrigues of every kind were
practised and almost sanctioned. The poet has exposed the Prince by
making him the Doctor Bartolo of his play. The affair which
supplied the story was hushed up at Court, and the Prince was
punished only by the loss of his mistress, who became the wife of
another.]

The play is a critique on the whole Royal Family, from the drawing up of
the curtain to its fall. It burlesques the ways and manners of every
individual connected with the Court of Versailles. Not a scene but
touches some of their characters. Are not the Queen herself and the
Comte d'Artois lampooned and caricatured in the garden scenes, and the
most slanderous ridicule cast upon their innocent evening walks on the
terrace? Does not Beaumarchais plainly show in it, to every impartial
eye, the means which the Comtesse Diane has taken publicly to demonstrate
her jealousy of the Queen's ascendency over the Comte d'Artois? Is it
not from the same sentiment that she roused the jealousy of the Comtesse
d'Artois against Her Majesty?'

"'All these circumstances,' observed I, 'the King prudently foresaw when
he read the manuscript, and caused it to be read to the Queen, to
convince her of the nature of its characters and the dangerous tendency
likely to arise from its performance. Of this Your Highness is aware.
It is not for me to apprise you that, to avert the excitement inevitable
from its being brought upon the stage, and under a thorough conviction of
the mischief it would produce in turning the minds of the people against
the Queen, His Majesty solemnly declared that the comedy should not be
performed in Paris; and that he would never sanction its being brought
before the public on any stage in France.'

"'Bah! bah! madame!' exclaimed De Conti. The Queen has acted like a
child in this affair, as in many others. In defiance of His Majesty's
determination, did not the Queen herself, through the fatal influence of
her favourite, whose party wearied her out by continued importunities,
cause the King to revoke his express mandate? And what has been the
consequence of Her Majesty's ungovernable partiality for these De
Polignacs?'

"'You know, Prince,' said I, 'better than I do.'

"'The proofs of its bad consequences,' pursued His Highness, 'are more
strongly verified than ever by your own withdrawing from the Queen's
parties since her unreserved acknowledgment of her partiality (fatal
partiality!) for those who will be her ruin; for they are her worst
enemies.'

"'Pardon me, Prince,' answered I, 'I have not withdrawn myself from the
Queen, but from the new parties, with whose politics I cannot identify
myself, besides some exceptions I have taken against those who frequent
them.'

"'Bah! bah!' exclaimed De Conti, 'your sagacity has got the better of
your curiosity. All the wit and humour of that traitor Beaumarchais
never seduced you to cultivate his society, as all the rest of the
Queen's party have done.'

"'I never knew him to be accused of treason.'

"'Why, what do you call a fellow who sent arms to the Americans before
the war was declared, without his Sovereign's consent?'

"'In that affair, I consider the Ministers as criminal as himself; for
the Queen, to this day, believes that Beaumarchais was sanctioned by them
and, you know, Her Majesty has ever since had an insuperable dislike to
both De Maurepas and De Vergennes. But I have nothing to do with these
things.'

"'Yes, yes, I understand you, Princess. Let her romp and play with the
'compate vous',--[A kind of game of forfeits, introduced for the
diversion of the royal children and those of the Duchesse de Polignac.]--
but who will 'compatire' (make allowance for) her folly? Bah! bah! bah!
She is inconsistent, Princess. Not that I mean by this to insinuate that
the Duchess is not the sincere friend and well-wisher of the Queen. Her
immediate existence, her interest, and that of her family, are all
dependent on the royal bounty. But can the Duchess answer for the same
sincerity towards the Queen, with respect to her innumerable guests?
No! Are not the sentiments of the Duchesses sister-in-law, the Comtesse
Diane, in direct opposition to the absolute monarchy? Has she not always
been an enthusiastic advocate for all those that have supported the
American war? Who was it that crowned, at a public assembly, the
democratical straight hairs of Dr. Franklin? Why the same Madame
Comtesse Diane! Who was 'capa turpa' in applauding the men who were
framing the American Constitution at Paris? Madame Comtesse Diane! Who
was it, in like manner, that opposed all the Queen's arguments against
the political conduct of France and Spain, relative to the war with
England, in favour of the American Independence? The Comtesse Diane!
Not for the love of that rising nation, or for the sacred cause of
liberty; but from a taste for notoriety, a spirit of envy and jealousy,
an apprehension lest the personal charms of the Queen might rob her of a
part of those affections, which she herself exclusively hoped to alienate
from that abortion, the Comtesse d'Artois, in whose service she is Maid
of Honour, and handmaid to the Count. My dear Princess, these are facts
proved. Beaumarchais has delineated them all. Why, then, refuse to see
me? Why withdraw her former confidence from the Comte d'Artois, when she
lives in the society which promulgates antimonarchical principles? These
are sad evidences of Her Majesty's inconsistency. She might as well see
the Duc d'Orleans'

"Here my feelings overwhelmed me. I could contain myself no longer. The
tears gushed from my eyes.

"'Oh, Prince!' exclaimed I, in a bitter agony of grief--'Oh, Prince!
touch not that fatal string. For how many years has he not caused these
briny tears of mine to flow from my burning eyes! The scalding drops
have nearly parched up the spring of life!'"

ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Beaumarchais sent arms to the Americans
Educate his children as quietists in matters of religion
It is an ill wind that blows no one any good
Judge of men by the company they keep
Les culottes--what do you call them?' 'Small clothes'
My little English protegee
No phrase becomes a proverb until after a century's experience
We say "inexpressibles"
Wish art to eclipse nature

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