Part 1 out of 2
This etext was produced by David Widger
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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
"The dismissal of M. Necker irritated the people beyond description.
They looked upon themselves as insulted in their favourite. Mob
succeeded mob, each more mischievous and daring than the former. The Duc
d'Orleans continued busy in his work of secret destruction. In one of
the popular risings, a sabre struck his bust, and its head fell, severed
from its body. Many of the rioters (for the ignorant are always
superstitious) shrunk back at this omen of evil to their idol. His real
friends endeavoured to deduce a salutary warning to him from the
circumstance. I was by when the Duc de Penthievre told him, in the
presence of his daughter, that he might look upon this accident as
prophetic of the fate of his own head, as well as the ruin of his family,
if he persisted. He made no answer, but left the room.
"On the 14th of July, and two or three days preceding, the commotions
took a definite object. The destruction of the Bastille was the point
proposed, and it was achieved. Arms were obtained from the old
pensioners at the Hotel des Invalides. Fifty thousand livres were
distributed among the chiefs of those who influenced the Invalides to
give up the arms.
"The massacre of the Marquis de Launay, commandant of the place, and of
M. de Flesselles, and the fall of the citadel itself, were the
"Her Majesty was greatly affected when she heard of the murder of these
officers and the taking of the Bastille. She frequently told me that the
horrid circumstance originated in a diabolical Court intrigue, but never
explained the particulars of the intrigue. She declared that both the
officers and the citadel might have been saved had not the King's orders
for the march of the troops from Versailles, and the environs of Paris,
been disobeyed. She blamed the precipitation of De Launay in ordering up
the drawbridge and directing the few troops on it to fire upon the
people. 'There,' she added, 'the Marquis committed himself; as, in case
of not succeeding, he could have no retreat, which every commander should
take care to secure, before he allows the commencement of a general
[Certainly, the French Revolution may date its epoch as far back as
the taking of the Bastille; from that moment the troubles
progressively continued, till the final extirpation of its
illustrious victims. I was just returning from a mission to England
when the storms began to threaten not only the most violent effects
to France itself, but to all the land which was not divided from it
by the watery element. The spirit of liberty, as the vine, which
produces the most luxurious fruit, when abused becomes the most
pernicious poison, was stalking abroad and revelling in blood and
massacre. I myself was a witness to the enthusiastic national ball
given on the ruins of the Bastille, while it was still stained and
reeking with the hot blood of its late keeper, whose head I saw
carried in triumph. Such was the effect on me that the Princesse de
Lamballe asked me if I had known the Marquis de Launay. I answered
in the negative; but told her from the knowledge I had of the
English Revolution, I was fearful of a result similar to what
followed the fall of the heads of Buckingham and Stafford. The
Princess mentioning my observation to the Duc de Penthievre, they
both burst into tears.]
The death of the Dauphin, the horrible Revolution of the 14th of
July, the troubles about Necker, the insults and threats offered to
the Comte d'Artois and herself,--overwhelmed the Queen with the most
"She was most desirous of some understanding being established between
the government and the representatives of the people, which she urged
upon the King the expediency of personally attempting.
"The King, therefore, at her reiterated remonstrances and requests,
presented himself, on the following day, with his brothers, to the
National Assembly, to assure them of his firm determination to support
the measures of the deputies, in everything conducive to the general good
of his subjects. As a proof of his intentions, he said he had commanded
the troops to leave Paris and Versailles.
"The King left the Assembly, as he had gone thither, on foot, amid the
vociferations of 'Vive le roi!' and it was only through the enthusiasm of
the deputies, who thus hailed His Majesty, and followed him in crowds to
the palace, that the Comte d'Artois escaped the fury of an outrageous
"The people filled every avenue of the palace, which vibrated with cries
for the King, the Queen, and the Dauphin to show themselves at the
"'Send for the Duchesse de Polignac to bring the royal children,' cried I
to Her Majesty.
"'Not for the world!' exclaimed the Queen. 'She will be assassinated,
and my children too, if she make her appearance before this infuriate
mob. Let Madame and the Dauphin be brought unaccompanied.'
"The Queen, on this occasion, imitated her Imperial mother, Maria
Theresa. She took the Dauphin in her arms, and Madame by her side, as
that Empress had done when she presented herself to the Hungarian
magnates; but the reception here was very different. It was not
'moriamur pro nostra regina'. Not that they were ill received; but the
furious party of the Duc d'Orleans often interrupted the cries of 'Vive
le roi! Vive la reine!' etc., with those of 'Vive la nation! Vive d'
Orleans!' and many severe remarks on the family of the De Polignacs,
which proved that the Queen's caution on this occasion was exceedingly
"Not to wound the feelings of the Duchesse de Polignac, I kept myself at
a distance behind the Queen; but I was loudly called for by the mobility,
and, 'malgre moi', was obliged, at the King and Queen's request, to come
"As I approached the balcony, I perceived one of the well-known agents of
the Duc d'Orleans, whom I had noticed some time before in the throng,
menacing me, the moment I made my appearance, with his upreared hand in
fury. I was greatly terrified, but suppressed my agitation, and saluted
the populace; but, fearful of exhibiting my weakness in sight of the
wretch who had alarmed me, withdrew instantly, and had no sooner re-
entered than I sunk motionless in the arms of one of the attendants.
Luckily, this did not take place till I left the balcony. Had it been
otherwise, the triumph to my declared enemies would have been too great.
"Recovering, I found myself surrounded by the Royal Family, who were all
kindness and concern for my situation; but I could not subdue my tremor
and affright. The horrid image of that monster seemed, still to threaten
"'Come, come!' said the King, 'be not alarmed, I shall order a council of
all the Ministers and deputies to-morrow, who will soon put an end to
"We were ere long joined by the Prince de Conde, the Duc de Bourbon, and
others, who implored the King not to part with the army, but to place
himself, with all the Princes of the blood, at its head, as the only
means to restore tranquillity to the country, and secure his own safety.
"The Queen was decidedly of the same opinion; and added, that, if the
army were to depart, the King and his family ought to go with it; but the
King, on the contrary, said he would not decide upon any measures
whatever till he had heard the opinion of the Council.
"The Queen, notwithstanding the King's indecision, was occupied, during
the rest of the day and the whole of the night, in preparing for her
intended; journey, as she hoped to persuade the King to follow the advice
of the Princes, and not wait the result of the next day's deliberation.
Nay, so desirous was she of this, that she threw herself on her knees to
the King, imploring him to leave Versailles and head the army, and
offering to accompany him herself, on horseback, in uniform; but it was
like speaking to a corpse he never answered.
"The Duchesse de Polignac came to Her Majesty in a state of the greatest
agitation, in consequence of M. de Chinon having just apprised her that a
most malicious report had been secretly spread among the deputies at
Versailles that they were all to be blown up at their next meeting.
"The Queen was as much surprised as the Duchess, and scarcely less
agitated. These wretched friends could only, in silence, compare notes
of their mutual cruel misfortunes. Both for a time remained speechless
at this new calamity. Surely this was not wanting to be added to those
by which the Queen was already so bitterly oppressed.
"I was sent for by Her Majesty. Count Fersen accompanied me. He had
just communicated to me what the Duchess had already repeated from M.
Chinon to the Queen.
"The rumour had been set afloat merely as a new pretext for the
continuation of the riots.
"The communication of the report, so likely to produce a disastrous
effect, took place while the King was with his Ministers deliberating
whether he should go to Paris, or save himself and family by joining the
"His Majesty was called from the council to the Queen's apartment, and
was there made acquainted with the circumstance which had so awakened the
terror of the royal party. He calmly replied, 'It is some days since
this invention has been spread among the deputies; I was aware of it from
the first; but from its being utterly impossible to be listened to for a
moment by any one, I did not wish to afflict you by the mention of an
impotent fabrication, which I myself treated with the contempt it justly
merited. Nevertheless, I did not forget, yesterday, in the presence of
both my brothers, who accompanied me to the National Assembly, there to
exculpate myself from an imputation at which my nature revolts; and, from
the manner in which it was received, I flatter myself that every honest
Frenchman was fully satisfied that my religion will ever be an
insurmountable barrier against my harbouring sentiments allied in the
slightest degree to such actions.
"The King embraced the Queen, begged she would tranquilise herself,
calmed the fears of the two ladies, thanked the gentlemen for the
interest they took in his favour, and returned to the council, who, in
his absence, had determined on his going to the Hotel de Ville at Paris,
suggesting at the same time the names of several persons likely to be
well received, if His Majesty thought proper to allow their accompanying
"During this interval, the Queen, still flattering herself that she
should pursue her wished-for journey, ordered the carriages to be
prepared and sent off to Rambouillet, where she said she should sleep;
but this Her Majesty only stated for the purpose of distracting the
attention of her pages and others about her from her real purpose. As it
was well known that M. de St. Priest had pointed out Rambouillet as a fit
asylum for the mob, she fancied that an understanding on the part of her
suite that they were to halt there, and prepare for her reception, would
protect her project of proceeding much farther.
"When the council had broken up and the King returned, he said to the
Queen, 'It is decided.'
"'To go, I hope?' said Her Majesty.
"'No'--(though in appearance calm, the words remained on the lips of the
King, and he stood for some moments incapable of utterance; but,
recovering, added)--'To Paris!'
"The Queen, at the word Paris, became frantic. She flung herself wildly
into the arms of her friends.
"'Nous sommes perdus! nous sommes perdus !' cried she, in a passion of
tears. But her dread was not for herself. She felt only for the danger
to which the King was now going to expose himself; and she flew to him,
and hung on his neck.
"'And what,' exclaimed she, 'is to become of all our faithful friends and
"'I advise them all,' answered His Majesty, 'to make the best of their
way out of France; and that as soon as possible.'
"By this time, the apartments of the Queen were filled with the
attendants and the royal children, anxiously expecting every moment to
receive the Queen's command to proceed on their journey, but they were
all ordered to retire to whence they came.
"The scene was that of a real tragedy. Nothing broke the silence but
groans of the deepest affliction. Our consternation at the counter order
cast all into a state of stupefied insensibility.
"The Queen was the only one whose fortitude bore her up proudly under
this weight of misfortunes. Recovering from the frenzy of the first
impression, she adjured her friends, by the love and obedience they had
ever shown her and the King, to prepare immediately to fulfil his mandate
and make themselves ready for the cruel separation!
"The Duchesse de Polignac and myself were, for some hours, in a state of
agony and delirium.
"When the Queen saw the body-guards drawn up to accompany the King's
departure, she ran to the window, threw apart the sash, and was going to
speak to them, to recommend the King to their care; but the Count Fersen
"'For God's sake, Madame,'--exclaimed he, 'do not commit yourself to the
suspicion of having any doubts of the people!'
"When the King entered to take leave of her, and of all his most faithful
attendants, he could only articulate, 'Adieu!' But when the Queen saw him
accompanied by the Comte d'Estaing and others, whom, from their new
principles, she knew to be popular favourites, she had command enough of
herself not to shed a tear in their presence.
"No sooner, however, had the King left the room than it was as much as
the Count Fersen, Princesse Elizabeth, and all of us could do to recover
her from the most violent convulsions. At last, coming to herself, she
retired with the Princess, the Duchess, and myself to await the King's
return; at the same time requesting the Count Fersen to follow His
Majesty to the Hotel de Ville. Again and again she implored the Count,
as she went, in case the King should be detained, to interest himself
with all the foreign Ministers to interpose for his liberation.
"Versailles, when the King was gone, seemed like a city deserted in
consequence of the plague. The palace was completely abandoned. All the
attendants were dispersed. No one was seen in the streets. Terror
prevailed. It was universally believed that the King would be detained
in Paris. The high road from Versailles to Paris was crowded with all
ranks of people, as if to catch a last look of their Sovereign.
"The Count Fersen set off instantly, pursuant to the Queen's desire. He
saw all that passed, and on his return related to me the history of that
"He arrived at Paris just in time to see His Majesty take the national
cockade from M. Bailly and place it in his hat. He, felt the Hotel de
Ville shake with the long-continued cries of 'Vive le roi!' in
consequence, which so affected the King that, for some moments, he was
unable to express himself. "I myself,' added the Count, I was so moved
at the effect on His Majesty, in being thus warmly received by his
Parisian subjects, which portrayed the paternal emotions of his long-
lacerated heart, that every other feeling was paralysed for a moment, in
exultation at the apparent unanimity between the Sovereign and his
people. But it did not,' continued the Ambassador, 'paralyse the artful
tongue of Bailly, the Mayor of Paris. I could have kicked the fellow for
his malignant impudence; for, even in the cunning compliment he framed,
he studied to humble the afflicted Monarch by telling the people it was
to them he owed the sovereign authority.
"'But,' pursued the Count, 'considering the situation of Louis XVI. and
that of his family, agonised as they must have been during his absence,
from the Queen's impression that the Parisians would never again allow
him to see Versailles, how great was our rapture when we saw him safely
replaced in his carriage, and returning to those who were still lamenting
him as lost!
"'When I left Her Majesty in the morning, she was nearly in a state of
mental aberration. When I saw her again in the evening, the King by her
side, surrounded by her family, the Princesse Eizabeth, and yourself,
madame' said the kind Count, 'she appeared to me like a person risen from
the dead and restored to life. Her excess of joy at the first moment was
"Count Fersen might well say the first moment, for the pleasure of the
Queen was of short duration. Her heart was doomed to bleed afresh, when
the thrill of delight, at what she considered the escape of her husband,
was past, for she had already seen her chosen friend, the Duchesse de
Polignac, for the last time.
"Her Majesty was but just recovered from the effects of the morning's
agitation, when the Duchess, the Duke, his sister, and all his family set
off. It was impossible for her to take leave of her friend. The hour
was late--about midnight. At the same time departed the Comte d'Artois
and his family, the Prince de Conde and his, the Prince of Hesse
d'Armstadt, and all those who were likely to be suspected by the people.
"Her Majesty desired the Count Fersen to see the Duchess in her name.
When the King heard the request, he exclaimed:
"'What a cruel state for Sovereigns, my dear Count! To be compelled to
separate ourselves from our most faithful attendants, and not be allowed,
for fear of compromising others or our own lives, to take a last
"'Ah!' said the Queen, 'I fear so too. I fear it is a last farewell to
all our friends!'
"The Count saw the Duchess a few moments before she left Versailles.
Pisani, the Venetian Ambassador, and Count Fersen, helped her on the
coachbox, where she rode disguised.
"What must have been most poignantly mortifying to the fallen favourite
was, that, in the course of her journey, she met with her greatest enemy,
(Necker) who was returning, triumphant, to Paris, called by the voice of
that very nation by whom she and her family were now forced from its
territory,--Necker, who himself conceived that she, who now went by him
into exile, while he himself returned to the greatest of victories, had
thwarted all his former plans of operation, and, from her influence over
the Queen, had caused his dismission and temporary banishment.
"For my own part, I cannot but consider this sudden desertion of France
by those nearest the throne as ill-judged. Had all the Royal Family,
remained, is it likely that the King and Queen would have been watched
with such despotic vigilance? Would not confidence have created
confidence, and the breach have been less wide between the King and his
"When the father and his family will now be thoroughly reconciled, Heaven
alone can tell!"
"Barnave often lamented his having been betrayed, by a love of notoriety,
into many schemes, of which his impetuosity blinded him to the
consequences. With tears in his eyes, he implored me to impress the
Queen's mind with the sad truths he inculcated. He said his motives had
been uniformly the same, however he might have erred in carrying them
into action; but now he relied on my friendship for my royal mistress to
give efficacy to his earnest desire to atone for those faults, of which
he had become convinced by dear-bought experience. He gave me a list of
names for Her Majesty, in which were specified all the Jacobins who had
emissaries throughout France, for the purpose of creating on the same
day, and at the same hour, an alarm of something like the 'Vesparo
Siciliano' (a general insurrection to murder all the nobility and burn
their palaces, which, in fact, took place in many parts of France), the
object of which was to give the Assembly, by whom all the regular troops
were disbanded, a pretext for arming the people as a national guard, thus
creating a perpetual national faction.
"The hordes of every faubourg now paraded in this new democratic livery.
Even some of them, who were in the actual service of the Court, made no
scruple of decorating themselves thus, in the very face of their
Sovereign. The King complained, but the answer made to him was that the
"The very first time Their Majesties went to the royal chapel, after the
embodying of the troops with the national guards, all the persons
belonging to it were accoutred in the national uniform. The Queen was
highly incensed, and deeply affected at this insult offered to the King's
authority by the persons employed in the sacred occupations of the
Church. 'Such persons,' said Her Majesty, 'would, I had hoped, have been
the last to interfere with politics.' She was about to order all those
who preferred their uniforms to their employments to be discharged from
the King's service; but my advice, coupled with that of Barnave,
dissuaded her from executing so dangerous a threat. On being assured
that those, perhaps, who might be selected to replace the offenders might
refuse the service, if not allowed the same ridiculous prerogatives,
and thus expose Their Royal Majesties to double mortification, the Queen
seemed satisfied, and no more was said upon the subject, except to an
Italian soprano, to whom the King signified his displeasure at his
singing a 'salva regina' in the dress of a grenadier of the new faction.
"The singer took the hint and never again intruded his uniform into the
"Necker, notwithstanding the enthusiasm his return produced upon the
people, felt mortified in having lost the confidence of the King. He
came to me, exclaiming that, unless Their Majesties distinguished him by
some mark of their royal favour, his influence must be lost with the
National Assembly. He perceived, he said, that the councils of the King
were more governed by the advice of the Queen's favourite, the Abbe
Vermond, than by his (Necker's). He begged I would assure Her Majesty
that Vermond was quite as obnoxious to the people as the Duchesse de
Polignac had ever been; for it was generally known that Her Majesty was
completely guided by him, and, therefore, for her own safety and the
tranquillity of national affairs, he humbly suggested the prudence of
sending him from the Court, at least for a time.
"I was petrified at hearing a Minister dare presume thus to dictate the
line of conduct which the Queen of France, his Sovereign, should pursue
with respect to her most private servants. Such was my indignation at
this cruel wish to dismiss every object of her choice, especially one
from whom, owing to long habits of intimacy since her childhood, a
separation would be rendered, by her present situation, peculiarly cruel,
that nothing but the circumstances in which the Court then stood could
have given me patience to listen to him.
"I made no answer. Upon my silence, Necker subjoined, 'You must
perceive, Princess, that I am actuated for the general good of the
"'And I hope, monsieur, for the prerogatives of the monarchy also,'
"'Certainly,' said Necker. 'But if Their Majesties continue to be guided
by others, and will not follow my advice, I cannot answer for the
"I assured the Minister that I would be the faithful bearer of his
commission, however unpleasant.
"Knowing the character of the Queen, in not much relishing being dictated
to with respect to her conduct in relation to the persons of her
household, especially the Abbe Vermond, and aware, at the same time,
of her dislike to Necker, who thus undertook to be her director, I felt
rather awkward in being the medium of the Minister's suggestions. But
what was my surprise, on finding her prepared, and totally indifferent as
to the privation.
"'I foresaw,' replied Her Majesty, 'that Vermond would become odious to
the present order of things, merely because he had been a faithful
servant, and long attached to my interest; but you may tell M. Necker
that the Abbe leaves Versailles this very night, by my express order, for
"If the proposal of Necker astonished me, the Queen's reception of it
astonished me still more. What a lesson is this for royal favourites!
The man who had been her tutor, and who, almost from her childhood, never
left her, the constant confidant for fifteen or sixteen years, was now
sent off without a seeming regret.
"I doubt not, however, that the Queen had some very powerful secret
motive for the sudden change in her conduct towards the Abbe, for she was
ever just in all her concerns, even to her avowed enemies; but I was
happy that she seemed to express no particular regret at the Minister's
suggested policy. I presume, from the result, that I myself had
overrated the influence of the Abbe over the mind of his royal pupil;
that he had by no means the sway imputed to him; and that Marie
Antoinette merely considered him as the necessary instrument of her
private correspondence, which he had wholly managed.
[The truth is, Her Majesty had already taken leave of the Abbe, in
the presence of the King, unknown to the Princess; or, more
properly, the Abbe had taken an affectionate leave of them.]
"But a circumstance presently occurred which aroused Her Majesty from
this calmness and indifference. The King came in to inform her that
La Fayette, during the night, had caused the guards to desert from the
palace of Versailles.
"The effect on her of this intelligence was like the lightning which
precedes a loud clap of thunder.
"Everything that followed was perfectly in character, and shook every
nerve of the royal authority.
"'Thus,' exclaimed Marie Antoinette, 'thus, Sire, have you humiliated
yourself, in condescending to go to Paris, without having accomplished
the object. You have not regained the confidence of your subjects. Oh,
how bitterly do I deplore the loss of that confidence! It exists no
longer. Alas! when will it be restored!'
"The French guards, indeed, had been in open insurrection through the
months of June and July, and all that could be done was to preserve one
single company of grenadiers, by means of their commander, the Baron de
Leval, faithful to their colours. This company had now been influenced
by General La Fayette to desert and join their companions, who had
enrolled themselves in the Paris national guard.
"Messieurs de Bouille and de Luxembourg being interrogated by the Queen
respecting the spirit of the troops under their immediate command, M. de
Bouille answered, Madame, I should be very sorry to be compelled to
undertake any internal operation with men who have been seduced from
their allegiance, and are daily paid by a faction which aims at the
overthrow of its legitimate Sovereign. I would not answer for a man that
has been in the neighbourhood of the seditious national troops, or that
has read the inflammatory discussions of the National Assembly. If Your
Majesty and the King wish well to the nation--I am sorry to say it--its
happiness depends on your quitting immediately the scenes of riot and
placing yourselves in a situation to treat with the National Assembly on
equal terms, whereby the King may be unbiassed and unfettered by a
compulsive, overbearing mob; and this can only be achieved by your flying
to a place of safety. That you may find such a place, I will answer with
"'Yes,' said M. de Luxembourg, 'I think we may both safely answer that,
in such a case, you will find a few Frenchmen ready to risk a little to
save all!' And both concurred that there was no hope of salvation for
the King or country but through the resolution they advised.
"'This,' said the Queen, 'will be a very difficult task. His Majesty, I
fear, will never consent to leave France.'
"'Then, Madame,' replied they, 'we can only regret that we have nothing
to offer but our own perseverance in the love and service of our King and
his oppressed family, to whom we deplore we can now be useful only with
our feeble wishes.'
"'Well, gentlemen,' answered Her Majesty, 'you must not despair of better
prospects. I will take an early opportunity of communicating your loyal
sentiments to the King, and will hear his opinion on the subject before I
give you a definite answer. I thank you, in the name of His Majesty, as
well as on my own account, for your good intentions towards us.'
"Scarcely had these gentlemen left the palace, when a report prevailed
that the King, his family, and Ministers, were about to withdraw to some
fortified situation. It was also industriously rumoured that, as soon as
they were in safety, the National Assembly would be forcibly dismissed,
as the Parliament had been by Louis XIV. The reports gained universal
belief when it became known that the King had ordered the Flanders
regiment to Versailles.
"The National Assembly now daily watched the royal power more and more
assiduously. New sacrifices of the prerogatives of the nobles were
incessantly proposed by them to the King.
"When His Majesty told the Queen that he had been advised by Necker to
sanction the abolition of the privileged nobility, and that all
distinctions, except the order of the Holy Ghost to himself and the
Dauphin, were also annihilated by the Assembly, even to the order of
Maria Theresa, which she could no longer wear, 'These, Sire,' answered
she, in extreme anguish, 'are trifles, so far as they regard myself.
I do not think I have twice worn the order of Maria Theresa since my
arrival in this once happy country. I need it not. The immortal memory
of her who gave me being is engraven on my heart; that I shall wear
forever, none can wrest it from me. But what grieves me to the soul is
your having sanctioned these decrees of the National Assembly upon the
mere 'ipse dixit' of M. Necker.'
"'I have only, given my sanction to such as I thought most necessary to
tranquilise the minds of those who doubted my sincerity; but I have
withheld it from others, which, for the good of my, people, require
maturer consideration. On these, in a full Council, and in your
presence, I shall again deliberate.'
"'Oh, said the Queen, with tears in her eyes, could but the people hear
you, and know, once for all, how to appreciate the goodness of your
heart, as I do now, they would cast themselves at your feet, and
supplicate your forgiveness for having shown such ingratitude to your
paternal interest for their welfare!'
"But this unfortunate refusal to sanction all the decrees sent by the
National Assembly, though it proceeded from the best motives, produced
the worst effects. Duport, De Lameth, and Barnave well knew the troubles
such a course must create. Of this they forewarned His Majesty, before
any measure was laid before him for approval. They cautioned him not to
trifle with the deputies. They assured him that half measures would only
rouse suspicion. They enforced the necessity of uniform assentation, in
order to lull the Mirabeau party, who were canvassing for a majority to
set up D'ORLEANS, to whose interest Mirabeau and his myrmidons were then
devoted. The scheme of Duport, De Lameth, and Barnave was to thwart and
weaken the Mirabeau and Orleans faction, by gradually persuading them, in
consequence of the King's compliance with whatever the Assembly exacted,
that they could do no better than to let him into a share of the
executive power; for now nothing was left to His Majesty but
responsibility, while the privileges of grace and justice had become
merely nominal, with the one dangerous exception of the veto, to which he
could never have recourse without imminent peril to his cause and to
"Unfortunately for His Majesty's interest, he was too scrupulous to act,
even through momentary policy, distinctly against his conscience. When
he gave way, it was with reluctance, and often with an avowal, more or
less express, that he only complied with necessity against conviction.
His very sincerity made him appear the reverse. His adherents
consequently dwindled, while the Orleans faction became immeasurably
"In the midst of these perplexities, an Austrian courier was stopped with
despatches from Prince Kaunitz. These, though unsought for on the part
of Her Majesty, though they contained a friendly advice to her to submit
to the circumstances of the times, and though, luckily, they were couched
in terms favourable to the Constitution, showed the mob that there was a
correspondence with Vienna, carried on by the Queen, and neither Austria
nor the Queen were deemed the friends either of the people or of the
Constitution. To have received the letters was enough for the faction.
"Affairs were now ripening gradually into something like a crisis, when
the Flanders regiment arrived. The note of preparation had been sounded.
'Let us go to Versailles, and bring the King away from his evil
counsellors,' was already in the mouths of the Parisians.
"In the meantime, Dumourier, who had been leagued with the Orleans
faction, became disgusted with it. He knew the deep schemes of treason
which were in train against the Royal Family, and, in disguise, sought
the Queen at Versailles, and had an interview with Her Majesty in my
presence. He assured her that an abominable insurrection was ripe for
explosion among the mobs of the faubourgs; gave her the names of the
leaders, who had received money to promote its organisation; and warned
her that the massacre of the Royal Family was the object of the
manoeuvre, for the purpose of declaring the Duke of Orleans the
constitutional King; that he was to be proclaimed by Mirabeau, who had
already received a considerable sum in advance, for distribution among
the populace, to ensure their support; and that Mirabeau, in return for
his co-operation, was to be created a Duke, with the office of Prime
Minister and Secretary of State, and to have the framing of the
Constitution, which was to be modelled from that of Great Britain. It
was farther concerted that D'ORLEANS was to show himself in the midst of
the confusion, and the crown to be conferred upon him by public
"On his knees Dumourier implored Her Majesty to regard his voluntary
discovery of this infamous and diabolical plot as a proof of his sincere
repentance. He declared he came disinterestedly to offer himself as a
sacrifice to save her, the King, and her family from the horrors then
threatening their lives, from the violence of an outrageous mob of
regicides; he called God to witness that he was actuated by no other wish
than to atone for his error, and die in their defence; he looked for no
reward beyond the King's forgiveness of his having joined the Orleans
faction; he never had any view in joining that faction but that of aiding
the Duke, for the good of his country, in the reform of ministerial
abuses, and strengthening the royal authority by the salutary laws of the
National Assembly; but he no sooner discovered that impure schemes of
personal aggrandisement gave the real impulse to these pretended
reformers than he forsook their unholy course. He supplicated Her
Majesty to lose no time, but to allow him to save her from the
destruction to which she would inevitably be exposed; that he was ready
to throw himself at the King's feet, to implore his forgiveness also, and
to assure him of his profound penitence, and his determination to
renounce forever the factious Orleans party.
"As Her Majesty would not see any of those who offered themselves, except
in my presence, I availed myself, in this instance, of the opportunity it
gave me by enforcing the arguments of Dumourier. But all I could say,
all the earnest representations to be deduced from this critical crisis,
could not prevail with her, even so far as to persuade her to temporise
with Dumourier, as she had done with many others on similar occasions.
She was deaf and inexorable. She treated all he had said as the effusion
of an overheated imagination, and told him she had no faith in traitors.
Dumourier remained upon his knees while she was replying, as if
stupefied; but at the word traitor he started and roused himself; and
then, in a state almost of madness, seized the Queen's dress, exclaiming,
'Allow yourself to be persuaded before it is too late! Let not your
misguided prejudice against me hurry you to your own and your children's
destruction; let it not get the better, Madame, of your good sense and
reason; the fatal moment is near; it is at hand!' Upon this, turning, he
addressed himself to me.
"'Oh, Princess,' he cried, 'be her guardian angel, as you have hitherto
been her only friend, and use your never-failing influence. I take God
once more to witness, that I am sincere in all I have said; that all I
have disclosed is true. This will be the last time I shall have it in my
power to be of any essential service to you, Madame, and my Sovereign.
The National Assembly will put it out of my power for the future, without
becoming a traitor to my country.'
"'Rise, monsieur,' said the Queen, 'and serve your country better than
you have served your King!'
"'Madame, I obey.'
"When he was about to leave the room, I again, with tears, besought Her
Majesty not to let him depart thus, but to give him some hope, that,
after reflection, she might perhaps endeavour to soothe the King's anger.
But in vain. He withdrew very much affected. I even ventured, after his
departure, to intercede for his recall.
"'He has pledged himself,' said I, 'to save you, Madame !'
"'My dear Princess,' replied the Queen, 'the goodness of your own heart
will not allow you to have sinister ideas of others. This man is like
all of the same stamp. They are all traitors; and will only hurry us the
sooner, if we suffer ourselves to be deceived by them, to an ignominious
death! I seek no safety for myself.'
"'But he offered to serve the King also, Madame.'
"'I am not,' answered Her Majesty, 'Henrietta of France. I will never
stoop to ask a pension of the murderers of my husband; nor will I leave
the King, my son, or my adopted country, or even meanly owe my existence
to wretches who have destroyed the dignity of the Crown and trampled
under foot the most ancient monarchy in Europe! Under its ruins they
will bury their King and myself. To owe our safety to them would be more
hateful than any death they can prepare for us'
"While the Queen was in this state of agitation, a note was presented to
me with a list of the names of the officers of the Flanders regiment,
requesting the honour of an audience of the Queen.
"The very idea of seeing the Flanders officers flushed Her Majesty's
countenance with an ecstasy of joy. She said she would retire to compose
herself, and receive them in two hours.
"The Queen saw the officers in her private cabinet, and in my presence.
They were presented to her by me. They told Her Majesty that, though
they had changed their paymaster, they had not changed their allegiance
to their Sovereign or herself, but were ready to defend both with their
lives. They placed one hand on the hilt of their swords, and, solemnly
lifting the other up to Heaven, swore that the weapons should never be
wielded but for the defence of the King and Queen, against all foes,
whether foreign or domestic.
"This unexpected loyalty burst on us like the beauteous rainbow, after a
tempest, by the dawn of which we are taught to believe the world is saved
from a second deluge.
"The countenance of Her Majesty brightened over the gloom which had
oppressed her, like the heavenly sun dispersing threatening clouds, and
making the heart of the poor mariner bound with joy. Her eyes spoke her
secret rapture. It was evident she felt even unusual dignity in the
presence of these noble-hearted warriors, when comparing them with him
whom she had just dismissed. She graciously condescended to speak to
every one of them, and one and all were enchanted with her affability.
"She said she was no longer the Queen who could compensate loyalty and
valour; but the brave soldier found his reward in the fidelity of his
service, which formed the glory of his immortality. She assured them she
had ever been attached to the army, and would make it her study to
recommend every individual, meriting attention, to the King.
"Loud bursts of repeated acclamations and shouts of 'Vive la reine!'
instantly followed her remarks. She thanked the officers most
graciously; and, fearing to commit herself, by saying more, took her
leave, attended by me; but immediately sent me back, to thank them again
in her name.
"They departed, shouting as they went, 'Vive la reine! Vive la Princesse!
Vive le roi, le Dauphin, et toute la famille royale!'
"When the National Assembly saw the officers going to and coming from the
King's palace with such demonstrations of enthusiasm, they took alarm,
and the regicide faction hastened on the crisis for which it had been
longing. It was by no means unusual for the chiefs of regiments,
destined to form part of the garrison of a royal residence, to be
received by the Sovereign on their arrival, and certainly only natural
that they should be so; but in times of excitement trifling events have
"But if the National Assembly began to tremble for their own safety, and
had already taken secret, measures to secure it, by conspiring to put an
instantaneous end to the King's power, against which they had so long
been plotting, when the Flanders regiment arrived, it may be readily
conceived what must have been their emotions on the fraternisation of
this regiment with the body-guard, and on the scene to which the dinner,
given to the former troops by the latter, so unpremeditatedly led.
"On the day of this fatal dinner I remarked to the Queen, 'What a
beautiful sight it must be to behold, in these troublesome times, the
happy union of such a meeting!'
"'It must indeed!' replied the King; 'and the pleasure I feel in knowing
it would be redoubled had I the privilege of entertaining the Flanders
regiment, as the body-guards are doing.'
"'Heaven forbid!' cried Her Majesty; 'Heaven forbid that you should think
of such a thing! The Assembly would never forgive us!'
"After we had dined, the Queen sent to the Marquise de Tourzel for the
Dauphin. When he came, the Queen told him about her having seen the
brave officers on their arrival; and how gaily those good officers had
left the palace, declaring they would die rather than suffer any harm to
come to him, or his papa and mamma; and that at that very time they were
all dining at the theatre.
"'Dining in the theatre, mamma?' said the young, Prince. 'I never heard
of people dining in a theatre!'
"'No, my dear child,' replied Her Majesty, 'it is not generally allowed;
but they are doing so, because the body-guards are giving a dinner to
this good Flanders regiment; and the Flanders regiment are so brave that
the guards chose the finest place they could think of to entertain them
in, to show how much they like them; that is the reason why they are
dining in the gay, painted theatre.'
"'Oh, mamma!' exclaimed the Dauphin, whom the Queen adored, 'Oh, papa!'
cried he, looking at the King, 'how I should like to see them!'
"'Let us go and satisfy the child!' said the King, instantly starting up
from his seat.
"The Queen took the Dauphin by the hand, and they proceeded to the
theatre. It was all done in a moment. There was no premeditation on the
part of the King or Queen; no invitation on the part of the officers.
Had I been asked, I should certainly have followed the Queen; but just as
the King rose, I left the room. The Prince being eager to see the
festival, they set off immediately, and when I returned to the apartment
they were gone. Not being very well, I remained where I was; but most of
the household had already followed Their Majesties.
"On the Royal Family making their appearance, they were received with the
most unequivocal shouts of general enthusiasm by the troops. Intoxicated
with the pleasure of seeing Their Majesties among them, and overheated
with the juice of the grape, they gave themselves up to every excess of
joy, which the circumstances and the situation of Their Majesties were so
well calculated to inspire. 'Oh! Richard! oh, mon roi!' was sung, as
well as many other loyal songs. The healths of the King, Queen, and
Dauphin were drunk, till the regiments were really inebriated with the
mingled influence of wine and shouting vivas!
"When the royal party retired, they were followed by all the military to
the very palace doors, where they sung, danced, embraced each other, and
gave way to all the frantic demonstrations of devotedness to the royal
cause which the excitement of the scene and the table could produce.
Throngs, of course, collected to get near the Royal Family. Many persons
in the rush were trampled on, and one or two men, it was said, crushed to
death. The Dauphin and King were delighted; but the Queen, in giving the
Princesse Elizabeth and myself an account of the festival, foresaw the
fatal result which would ensue; and deeply deplored the marked enthusiasm
with which they had been greeted and followed by the military.
"There was one more military spectacle, a public breakfast which took
place on the second of October. Though none of the Royal Family appeared
at it, it was no less injurious to their interests than the former. The
enemies of the Crown spread reports all over Paris, that the King and
Queen had manoeuvred to pervert the minds of the troops so far as to make
them declare against the measures of the National Assembly. It is not
likely that the Assembly, or politics, were even spoken of at the
breakfast; but the report did as much mischief as the reality would have
done. This was quite sufficient to encourage the D'ORLEANS and Mirabeau
faction in the Assembly to the immediate execution of their long-
meditated scheme, of overthrowing the monarchy.
"On the very day following, Duport, De Lameth, and Barnave sent their
confidential agent to apprise the Queen that certain deputies had already
fully matured a plot to remove the King, nay, to confine Her Majesty from
him in a distant part of France, that her influence over his mind might
no farther thwart their premeditated establishment of a Constitution.
"But others of this body, and the more powerful and subtle portion, had a
deeper object, so depraved, that, even when forewarned, the Queen could
not deem it possible; but of which she was soon convinced by their
"The riotous faction, for the purpose of accelerating this denouement,
had contrived, by buying up all the corn and sending it out of the
country, to reduce the populace to famine, and then to make it appear
that the King and Queen had been the monopolisers, and the extravagance
of Marie Antoinette and her largesses to Austria and her favourites, the
cause. The plot was so deeply laid that the wretches who, undertook to
effect the diabolical scheme were metamorphosed in the Queen's livery, so
that all the odium might fall on her unfortunate Majesty. At the head of
the commission of monopolisers was Luckner, who had taken a violent
dislike to the Queen, in consequence of his having been refused some
preferment, which he attributed to her influence. Mirabeau, who was
still in the background, and longing to take a more prominent part,
helped it on as much as possible. Pinet, who had been a confidential
agent of the Duc d'Orleans, himself told the Duc de Penthievre that
D'ORLEANS had monopolised all the corn. This communication, and the
activity of the Count Fersen, saved France, and Paris in particular, from
perishing for the want of bread. Even at the moment of the abominable
masquerade, in which Her Majesty's agents were made to appear the enemies
who were starving the French people, out of revenge for the checks
imposed by them on the royal authority, it was well known to all the
Court that both Her Majesty and the King were grieved to the soul at
their piteous want, and distributed immense sums for the relief of the
poor sufferers, as did the Duc de Penthievre, the Duchesse d'Orleans, the
Prince de Conde, the Duc and Duchesse de Bourbon, and others; but these
acts were done privately, while he who had created the necessity took to
himself the exclusive credit of the relief, and employed thousands daily
to propagate reports of his generosity. Mirabeau, then the factotum
agent of the operations of the Palais Royal and its demagogues, greatly
added to the support of this impression. Indeed, till undeceived
afterwards, he believed it to be really the Duc d'Orleans who had
succoured the people.
"I dispensed two hundred and twenty thousand livres merely to discover
the names of the agents who had been employed to carry on this nefarious
plot to exasperate the people against the throne by starvation imputed to
the Sovereign. Though money achieved the discovery in time to clear the
characters of my royal mistress and the King, the detection only followed
the mischief of the crime. But even the rage thus wickedly excited was
not enough to carry through the plot. In the faubourgs of Paris, where
the women became furies, two hundred thousand livres were distributed ere
the horror could be completely exposed.
"But it is time for me to enter upon the scenes to which all the
intrigues I have detailed were intended to lead--the removal of the Royal
Family from Versailles.
"My heart sickens when I retrace these moments of anguish. The point to
which they are to conduct us yet remains one of the mysteries of fate."
"Her Majesty had been so thoroughly lulled into security by the
enthusiasm of the regiments at Versailles that she treated all the
reports from Paris with contempt. Nothing was apprehended from that
quarter, and no preparations were consequently made for resistance or
protection. She was at Little Trianon when the news of the approach of
the desolating torrent arrived. The King was hunting. I presented
to her the commandant of the troops at Versailles, who assured Her
Majesty that a murderous faction, too powerful, perhaps, for resistance,
was marching principally against her royal person, with La Fayette at
their head, and implored her to put herself and valuables in immediate
safety; particularly all her correspondence with the Princes, emigrants,
and foreign Courts, if she had no means of destroying them.
"Though the Queen was somewhat awakened to the truth by this earnest
appeal, yet she still considered the extent of the danger as exaggerated,
and looked upon the representation as partaking, in a considerable
degree, of the nature of all reports in times of popular commotion.
"Presently, however, a more startling omen appeared, in a much milder but
ambiguous communication from General La Fayette. He stated that he was
on his march from Paris with the national guard, and part of the people,
coming to make remonstrances; but he begged Her Majesty to rest assured
that no disorder would take place, and that he himself would vouch that
there should be none.
"The King was instantly sent for to the heights of Meudon, while the
Queen set off from Little Trianon, with me, for Versailles.
"The first movements were commenced by a few women, or men in women's
clothes, at the palace gates of Versailles. The guards refused them
entrance, from an order they had received to that effect from La Fayette.
The consternation produced by their resentment was a mere prelude to the
horrid tragedy that succeeded.
"The information now pouring in from different quarters increased Her
Majesty's alarm every moment. The order of La Fayette, not to let the
women be admitted, convinced her that there was something in agitation,
which his unexplained letter made her sensible was more to be feared than
if he had signified the real situation and danger to which she was
"A messenger was forthwith despatched for M. La Fayette, and another, by
order of the Queen, for M. de St. Priest, to prepare a retreat for the
Royal Family, as the Parisian mob's advance could no longer be doubted.
Everything necessary was accordingly got ready.
"La Fayette now arrived at Versailles in obedience to the message, and,
in the presence of all the Court and Ministers, assured the King that he
could answer for the Paris army, at the head of which he intended to
march, to prevent disorders; and advised the admission of the women into
the palace, who, he said, had nothing to propose but a simple memorial
relative to the scarcity of bread.
"The Queen said to him, 'Remember, monsieur, you have pledged your honour
for the King's safety.'
"'And I hope, Madame, to be able to redeem it.'
"He then left Versailles to return to his post with the army.
"A limited number of the women were at length admitted; and so completely
did they seem satisfied with the reception they met with from the King,
as, in all appearance, to have quieted their riotous companions. The
language of menace and remonstrance had changed into shouts of 'Vive le
roi!' The apprehensions of Their Majesties were subdued; and the whole
system of operation, which had been previously adopted for the Royal
Family's quitting Versailles, was, in consequence, unfortunately changed.
"But the troops, that had been hitherto under arms for the preservation
of order, in going back to their hotel, were assailed and fired at by the
"The return of the body-guards, thus insulted in going to and coming from
the palace, caused the Queen and the Court to resume the resolution of
instantly retiring from Versailles; but it was now too late. They were
stopped by the municipality and the mob of the city, who were animated to
excess against the Queen by one of the bass singers of the French opera.
"Every hope of tranquillity was now shaken by the hideous howlings which
arose from all quarters. Intended flight had become impracticable.
Atrocious expressions were levelled against the Queen, too shocking for
repetition. I shudder when I reflect to what a degree of outrage the
'poissardes' of Paris were excited, to express their abominable designs
on the life of that most adored of Sovereigns.
"Early in the evening Her Majesty came to my apartment, in company with
one of her female attendants. She was greatly agitated. She brought all
her jewels and a considerable quantity of papers, which she had begun to
collect together immediately on her arrival from Trianon, as the
commandant had recommended.
[Neither Her Majesty nor the Princess ever returned to Versailles
after the sixth of that fatal October! Part of the papers, brought
by the Queen to the apartment of the Princess, were tacked by me on
two of my petticoats; the under one three fold, one on the other,
and outside; and the upper one, three or four fold double on the
inside; and thus I left the room with this paper undergarment, which
put me to no inconvenience. Returning to the Princess, I was
ordered to go to Lisle, there take the papers from their hiding-
place, and deliver them, with others, to the same person who
received the box, of which mention will be found in another part of
this work. I was not to take any letters, and was to come back
As I was leaving the apartment Her Majesty said something to Her
Highness which I did not hear. The Princess turned round very
quickly, and kissing me on the forehead, said in Italian, "My dear
little Englishwoman, for Heaven's sake be careful of yourself, for I
should never forgive myself if any misfortune were to befall you."
"Nor I," said Her Majesty.]
"Notwithstanding the fatigue and agitation which the Queen must have
suffered during the day, and the continued threats, horrible howlings,
and discharge of firearms during the night, she had courage enough to
visit the bedchambers of her children and then to retire to rest in her
"But her rest was soon fearfully interrupted. Horrid cries at her
chamber door of 'Save the Queen! Save the Queen! or she will be
assassinated!' aroused her. The faithful guardian who gave the alarm was
never heard more. He was murdered in her defence! Her Majesty herself
only escaped the poignards of immediate death by flying to the King's
apartment, almost in the same state as she lay in bed, not having had
time to screen herself with any covering but what was casually thrown
over her by the women who assisted her in her flight; while one well
acquainted with the palace is said to have been seen busily engaged in
encouraging the regicides who thus sought her for midnight murder. The
faithful guards who defended the entrance to the room of the intended
victim of these desperadoes took shelter in the room itself upon her
leaving it, and were alike threatened with instant death by the grenadier
assassins for having defeated them in their fiend-like purpose; they
were, however, saved by the generous interposition and courage of two
gentlemen, who, offering themselves as victims in their place, thus
brought about a temporary accommodation between the regular troops and
the national guard.
"All this time General La Fayette never once appeared. It is presumed
that he himself had been deceived as to the horrid designs of the mob,
and did not choose to show himself, finding it impossible to check the
impetuosity of the horde he had himself brought to action, in concurring
to countenance their first movements from Paris. Posterity will decide
how far he was justified in pledging himself for the safety of the Royal
Family, while he was heading a riotous mob, whose atrocities were
guaranteed from punishment or check by the sanction of his presence and
the faith reposed in his assurance. Was he ignorant, or did he only
pretend to be so, of the incalculable mischief inevitable from giving
power and a reliance on impunity to such an unreasoning mass? By any
military operation, as commander-in-chief, he might have turned the tide.
And why did he not avail himself of that authority with which he had been
invested by the National Assembly, as the delegates of the nation, for
the general safety and guardianship of the people? for the people, of
whom he was the avowed protector, were themselves in peril: it was only
the humanity (or rather, in such a crisis, the imbecility) of Louis XVI.
that prevented them from being fired on; and they would inevitably have
been sacrificed, and that through the want of policy in their leader, had
not this mistaken mercy of the King prevented his guards from offering
resistance to the murderers of his brave defenders!
"The cry of 'Queen! Queen!' now resounded from the lips of the cannibals
stained with the blood of her faithful guards. She appeared, shielded by
filial affection, between her two innocent children, the threatened
orphans! But the sight of so much innocence and heroic courage paralysed
the hands uplifted for their massacre!
"A tiger voice cried out, 'No children!' The infants were hurried away
from the maternal side, only to witness the author of their being
offering up herself, eagerly and instantly, to the sacrifice, an ardent
and delighted victim to the hoped-for preservation of those, perhaps,
orphans, dearer to her far than life! Her resignation and firm step in
facing the savage cry that was thundering against her, disarmed the
ferocious beasts that were hungering and roaring for their prey!
"Mirabeau, whose immense head and gross figure could not be mistaken, is
said to have been the first among the mob to have sonorously chanted,
'To Paris!' His myrmidons echoed and re-echoed the cry upon the signal.
He then hastened to the Assembly to contravene any measures the King
might ask in opposition. The riots increasing, the Queen said to His
"'Oh, Sire! why am I not animated with the courage of Maria Theresa?
Let me go with my children to the National Assembly, as she did to the
Hungarian Senate, with my Imperial brother, Joseph, in her arms and
Leopold in her womb, when Charles the Seventh of Bavaria had deprived her
of all her German dominions, and she had already written to the Duchesse
de Lorraine to prepare her an asylum, not knowing where she should be
delivered of the precious charge she was then bearing; but I, like the
mother of the Gracchi, like Cornelia, more esteemed for my birth than for
my marriage, am the wife of the King of France, and I see we shall be
murdered in our beds for the want of our own exertions!'
"The King remained as if paralysed and stupefied, and made no answer.
The Princesse Elizabeth then threw herself at the Queen's feet, imploring
her to consent to go to Paris.
"'To Paris!' exclaimed Her Majesty.
"'Yes, Madame,' said the King. 'I will put an end to these horrors; and
tell the people so.'
"On this, without waiting for the Queen's answer, he opened the balcony,
and told the populace he was ready to depart with his family.
"This sudden change caused a change equally sudden in the rabble mob.
All shouted, 'Vive le roi! Vive la nation!'
"Re-entering the room from the window, the King said, 'It is done. This
affair will soon be terminated.'
"'And with it,' said the Queen, 'the monarchy!'
"'Better that, Madame, than running the risk, as I did some hours since,
of seeing you and my children sacrificed!'
"'That, Sire, will be the consequence of our not having left Versailles.
Whatever you determine, it is my duty to obey. As to myself, I am
resigned to my fate.' On this she burst into a flood of tears. 'I only
feel for your humiliated state, and for the safety of our children.'
"The Royal Family departed without having consulted any of the Ministers,
military or civil, or the National Assembly, by whom they were followed.
"Scarcely had they arrived at Paris when the Queen recollected that she
had taken with her no change of dress, either for herself or her
children, and they were obliged to ask permission of the National
Assembly to allow them to send for their different wardrobes.
"What a situation for an absolute King and Queen, which, but a few hours
previous, they had been!
"I now took up my residence with Their Majesties at the Tuileries,--that
odious Tuileries, which I can not name but with horror, where the
malignant spirit of rebellion has, perhaps, dragged us to an untimely
"Monsieur and Madame had another residence. Bailly, the Mayor of Paris,
and La Fayette became the royal jailers.
"The Princesse Elizabeth and myself could not but deeply deplore, when we
saw the predictions of Dumourier so dreadfully confirmed by the result,
that Her Majesty should have so slighted his timely information, and
scorned his penitence. But delicacy bade us lament in silence; and,
while we grieved over her present sufferings, we could not but mourn the
loss of a barrier against future aggression, in the rejection of this
general's proffered services.
"It will be remembered, that Dumourier in his disclosure declared that
the object of this commotion was to place the Duc d'Orleans upon the
throne, and that Mirabeau, who was a prime mover, was to share in the
profits of the usurpation.
[But the heart of the traitor Duke failed him at the important
crisis. Though he was said to have been recognised through a vulgar
disguise, stimulating the assassins to the attempted murder of Her
Majesty, yet, when the moment to show himself had arrived, he was
nowhere to be found. The most propitious moment for the execution
of the foul crime was lost, and with it the confidence of his party.
Mirabeau was disgusted. So far from wishing longer to offer him the
crown, he struck it forever from his head, and turned against him.
He openly protested he would no longer set up traitors who were
"Soon after this event, Her Majesty, in tears, came to tell me that the
King, having had positive proof of the agency of the Duc d'Orleans in the
riots of Versailles, had commenced some proceedings, which had given the
Duke the alarm, and exiled him to Villers-Cotterets. The Queen added
that the King's only object had been to assure the general tranquillity,
and especially her own security, against whose life the conspiracy seemed
most distinctly levelled.
"'Oh, Princess!' continued Her Majesty, in a flood of tears, 'the King's
love for me, and his wish to restore order to his people, have been our
ruin! He should have struck off the head of D'ORLEANS, or overlooked his
crime! Why did he not consult me before he took a step so important? I
have lost a friend also in his wife! For, however criminal he may be,
she loves him.'
"I assured Her Majesty that I could not think the Duchesse d'Orleans
would be so inconsiderate as to withdraw her affection on that account.
"'She certainly will,' replied Marie Antoinette. 'She is the
affectionate mother of his children, and cannot but hate those who have
been the cause of his exile. I know it will be laid to my charge, and
added to the hatred the husband has so long borne me; I shall now become
the object of the wife's resentment'
"In the midst of one of the paroxysms of Her Majesty's agonising
agitation after leaving Versailles, for the past, the present, and the
future state of the Royal Family, when the Princesse Elizabeth and myself
were in vain endeavouring to calm her, a deputation was announced from
the National Assembly and the City of Paris, requesting the honour of the
appearance of the King and herself at the theatre.
"'Is it possible, my dear Princess,' cried she, on the announcement,
'that I can enjoy any public amusement while I am still chilled with
horror at the blood these people have spilled, the blood of the faithful
defenders of our lives? I can forgive them, but I cannot so easily
"Count Fersen and the Austrian Ambassador now entered, both anxious to
know Her Majesty's intentions with regard to visiting the theatre, in
order to make a party to ensure her a good reception; but all their
persuasions were unavailing. She thanked the deputation for their
friendship; but at the same time told them that her mind was still too
much agitated from recent scenes to receive any pleasure but in the
domestic cares of her family, and that, for a time, she must decline
every other amusement.
"At this moment the Spanish and English Ambassadors came to pay their
respects to Her Majesty on the same subject as the others. As they
entered, Count Fersen observed to the Queen, looking around:
"'Courage, Madame! We are as many nations as persons in this room-
English, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and French; and all equally
ready to form a rampart around you against aggression. All these nations
will, I believe, admit that the French (bowing to the Princesse
Elizabeth) are the most volatile of the six; and Your Majesty may rely on
it that they will love you, now that you are more closely among them,
more tenderly than ever.'
"'Let me live to be convinced of that, monsieur, and my happiness will be
concentrated in its demonstration.'
"'Indeed, gentlemen,' said the Princesse Elizabeth, the Queen has yet had
but little reason to love the French.'
"'Where is our Ambassador,' said I, 'and the Neapolitan?'
"'I have had the pleasure of seeing them early this morning,' replied the
Queen; 'but I told them, also, that indisposition prevented my going into
public. They will be at our card-party in your apartment this evening,
where I hope to see these gentlemen. The only parties,' continued Her
Majesty, addressing herself to the Princesse Elizabeth and the
Ambassadors, 'the only parties I shall visit in future will be those of
the Princesse de Lamballe, my superintendent; as, in so doing, I shall
have no occasion to go out of the palace, which, from what has happened,
seems to me the only prudent course.'
"'Come, come, Madame,' exclaimed the Ambassadors; I do not give way to
gloomy ideas. All will yet be well.'
"'I hope so,' answered Her Majesty; 'but till that hope is realized, the
wounds I have suffered will make existence a burden to me!'
"The Duchesse de Luynes, like many others, had been a zealous partisan of
the new order of things, and had expressed herself with great
indiscretion in the presence of the Queen. But the Duchess was brought
to her senses when she saw herself, and all the mad, democratical
nobility, under the overpowering weight of Jacobinism, deprived of every
privileged prerogative and levelled and stripped of hereditary
"She came to me one day, weeping, to beg I would make use of my good
offices in her favour with the Queen, whom she was grieved that she had
so grossly offended by an unguarded speech.
"'On my knees,' continued the Duchess, I am I ready to supplicate the
pardon of Her Majesty. I cannot live without her forgiveness. One of my
servants has opened my eyes, by telling me that the Revolution can make a
Duchess a beggar, but cannot make a beggar a Duchess.'
"'Unfortunately,' said I, 'if some of these faithful servants had been
listened to, they would still be such, and not now our masters; but I can
assure you, Duchess, that the Queen has long since forgiven you. See!
Her Majesty comes to tell you so herself.'
"The Duchess fell upon her knees. The Queen, with her usual goodness of
heart, clasped her in her arms, and, with tears in her eyes, said:
"'We have all of us need of forgiveness. Our errors and misfortunes are
general. Think no more of the past; but let us unite in not sinning for
"'Heaven knows how many sins I have to atone for,' replied the Duchess,
'from the follies of youth; but now, at an age of discretion and in
adversity, oh, how bitterly do I reproach myself for my past levities!
But,' continued she, 'has Your Majesty really forgiven me?'
"'As I hope to be forgiven!' exclaimed Marie Antoinette. 'No penitent in
the sight of God is more acceptable than the one who makes a voluntary
sacrifice by confessing error. Forget and forgive is the language of our
Blessed Redeemer. I have adopted it in regard to my enemies, and surely
my friends have a right to claim it. Come, Duchess, I will conduct you
to the King and Elizabeth, who will rejoice in the recovery of one of our
lost sheep; for we sorely feel the diminution of the flock that once
"At this token of kindness, the Duchess was so much overcome that she
fell at the Queen's feet motionless, and it was some time before she
"From the moment of Her Majesty's arrival at Paris from Versailles, she
solely occupied herself with the education of her children,-excepting
when she resorted to my parties, the only ones, as she had at first
determined, which she ever honoured with her attendance. In order to
discover, as far as possible, the sentiments of certain persons, I gave
almost general invitations, whereby, from her amiable manners and
gracious condescension, she became very popular. By these means I hoped
to replace Her Majesty in the good estimation of her numerous visitors;
but, notwithstanding every exertion, she could not succeed in dispelling
the gloom with which the Revolution had overcast all her former gaiety.
Though treated with ceremonious respect, she missed the cordiality to
which she had been so long accustomed, and which she so much prized.
From the great emigration of the higher classes of the nobility, the
societies themselves were no longer what they had been. Madame Necker
and Madame de Stael were pretty regular visitors. But the most agreeable
company had lost its zest for Marie Antoinette; and she was really become
afraid of large assemblies, and scarcely ever saw a group of persons
collected together without fearing some plot against the King.
"Indeed, it is a peculiarity which has from the first marked, and still
continues to distinguish, the whole conduct and distrust of my royal
mistress, that it never operates to create any fears for herself, but
invariably refers to the safety of His Majesty.
"I had enlarged my circle and made my parties extensive, solely to
relieve the oppressed spirits of the Queen; but the very circumstance
which induced me to make them so general soon rendered them intolerable
to her; for the conversations at last became solely confined to the
topics of the Revolution, a subject frequently the more distressing from
the presence of the sons of the Duc d'Orleans. Though I loved my sister-
in-law and my nephews, I could not see them without fear, nor could my
royal mistress be at ease with them, or in the midst of such distressing
indications as perpetually intruded upon her, even beneath my roof,
of the spirit which animated the great body of the people for the
propagation of anti-monarchical principles.
"My parties were, consequently, broken up; and the Queen ceased to be
seen in society. Then commenced the unconquerable power over her of
those forebodings which have clung to her with such pertinacity ever
"I observed that Her Majesty would often indulge in the most melancholy
predictions long before the fatal discussion took place in the Assembly
respecting the King's abdication. The daily insolence with which she saw
His Majesty's authority deprived forever of the power of accomplishing
what he had most at heart for the good of his people gave her more
anguish than the outrages so frequently heaped upon herself; but her
misery was wrought up to a pitch altogether unutterable, whenever she saw
those around her suffer for their attachment to her in her misfortunes.
"The Princesse Elizabeth has been from the beginning an unwavering
comforter. She still flatters Marie Antoinette that Heaven will spare
her for better times to reward our fidelity and her own agonies. The
pious consolations of Her Highness have never failed to make the most
serious impression on our wretched situation. Indeed, each of us strives
to pour the balm of comfort into the wounded hearts of the others, while
not one of us, in reality, dares to flatter herself with what we all so
ardently wish for in regard to our fellow-sufferers. Delusions, even
sustained by facts, have long since been exhausted. Our only hope on
this side of the grave is in our all-merciful Redeemer!"
The reader will not, I trust, be dissatisfied at reposing for a moment
from the sad story of the Princesse de Lamballe to hear some ridiculous
circumstances which occurred to me individually; and which, though they
form no part of the history, are sufficiently illustrative of the temper
of the times.
I had been sent to England to put some letters into the postoffice for
the Prince de Conde, and had just returned. The fashion then in England
was a black dress, Spanish hat, and yellow satin lining, with three
ostrich feathers forming the Prince of Wales's crest, and bearing his
inscription, 'Ich dien,' ("I serve.") I also brought with me a white
satin cloak, trimmed with white fur. This crest and motto date as far
back, I believe, as the time of Edward, the Black Prince.
In this dress, I went to the French opera. Scarcely was I seated in the
bog, when I heard shouts of, "En bas les couleurs de d'empereur! En
I was very busy talking to a person in the box, and, having been
accustomed to hear and see partial riots in the pit, I paid no attention;
never dreaming that my poor hat and feathers, and cloak, were the cause
of the commotion, till an officer in the national guard very politely
knocked at the door of the box, and told me I must either take them off
or leave the theatre.
There is nothing I more dislike than the being thought particular, or
disposed to attract attention by dress. The moment, therefore, I found
myself thus unintentionally the object of a whole theatre's disturbance,
in the first impulse of indignation, I impetuously caught off the cloak
and hat, and flung them into the pit, at the very faces of the rioters.
The theatre instantly rang with applause. The obnoxious articles were
carefully folded up and taken to the officer of the guard, who, when I
left the box, at the end of the opera, brought them to me and offered to
assist me in putting them on; but I refused them with true cavalier-like
loftiness, and entered my carriage without either hat or cloak.
There were many of the audience collected round the carriage at the time,
who, witnessing my rejection of the insulted colours, again loudly
cheered me; but insisted on the officer's placing the hat and cloak in
the carriage, which drove off amidst the most violent acclamations.
Another day, as I was going to walk in the Tuileries (which I generally
did after riding on horseback), the guards crossed their bayonets at the
gate and forbade my entering. I asked them why. They told me no one was
allowed to walk there without the national ribbon.
Now, I always had one of these national ribbons about me, from the time
they were first worn; but I kept it in the inside of my riding-habit; and
on that day, in particular, my supply was unusually ample, for I had on a
new riding-habit, the petticoat of which was so very long and heavy that
I bought a large quantity to tie round my waist, and fasten up the dress,
to prevent it from falling about my feet.
However, I was determined to plague the guards for their impudence. My
English beau, who was as pale as death, and knew I had the ribbon, kept
pinching my arm, and whispering, "Show it, show it; zounds, madame, show
it! We shall be sent to prison! show it! show it! "But I took care to
keep my interrupters in parley till a sufficient mob was collected, and
then I produced my colours.
The soldiers were consequently most gloriously hissed, and would have
been maltreated by the mob, and sent to the guard-house by their officer,
but for my intercession; on which I was again applauded all through the
gardens as La Brave Anglaise. But my, beau declared he would never go
out with me again: unless I wore the ribbon on the outside of my hat,
which I never did and never would do.
At that time the Queen used to occupy herself much in fancy needle-works.
Knowing, from arrangements, that I was every day in a certain part of the
Tuileries, Her Majesty, when she heard the shout of La Brave Anglaise!
immediately called the Princesse de Lamballe to know if she had sent me
on any message. Being answered in the negative, one of the pages was
despatched to ascertain the meaning of the cry. The Royal Family lived
in so continual a state of alarm that it was apprehended I had got into
some scrape; but I had left the Tuileries before the messenger arrived,
and was already with the Princesse de Lamballe, relating the
circumstances. The Princess told Her Majesty, who graciously observed,
"I am very happy that she got off so well; but caution her to be more
prudent for the future. A cause, however bad, is rather aided than
weakened by unreasonable displays of contempt for it. These unnecessary
excitements of the popular jealousy do us no good."
I was, of course, severely reprimanded by the Princess for my frolic,
though she enjoyed it of all things, and afterwards laughed most
The Princess told me, a few days after these circumstances of the
national ribbon and the Austrian colours had taken place at the theatre,
that some one belonging to the private correspondence at the palace had
been at the French opera on the night the disturbance took place there,
and, without knowing the person to whom it related, had told the whole
story to the King.
The Queen and the Princesses Elizabeth and de Lamballe being present,
laughed very heartily. The two latter knew it already from myself, the
fountain head, but the Princesse Elizabeth said:
"Poor lady! what a fright she must have been in, to have had her things
taken away from her at the theatre"
"No fright at all," said the King; "for a young woman who could act thus
firmly under such an insolent outrage will always triumph over cowards,
unmanly enough to abuse their advantages by insulting her. She was not a
Frenchwoman, I'll answer for it."
"Oh, no, Sire. She is an Englishwoman," said the Princesse de Lamballe.
"I am glad of it," exclaimed the King; "for when she returns to England
this will be a good personal specimen for the information of some of her
countrymen, who have rejoiced at what they call the regeneration of the
French nation; a nation once considered the most polished in Europe, but
now become the most uncivil, and I wish I may never have occasion to add,
the most barbarous! An insult offered, wantonly, to either sex, at any
time, is the result of insubordination; but when offered to a woman, it
is a direct violation of civilised hospitality, and an abuse of power
which never before tarnished that government now so much the topic of
abuse by the enemies of order and legitimate authority. The French
Princes, it is true, have been absolute; still I never governed
despotically, but always by the advice of my counsellors and Cabinet
Ministers. If they have erred, my conscience is void of reproach. I
wish the National Assembly may govern for the future with equal prudence,
equity, and justice; but they have given a poor earnest in pulling down
one fabric before they have laid the solid foundation of another. I am
very happy that their agents, who, though they call themselves the
guardians of public order have hitherto destroyed its course, have, in
the courage of this English lady, met with some resistance to their
insolence, in foolishly occupying themselves with petty matters, while
those of vital import are totally neglected."
It is almost superfluous to mention that, at the epoch of which I am
speaking in the Revolution, the Royal Family were in so much distrust of
every one about them, and very necessarily and justly so, that none were
ever confided in for affairs, however trifling, without first having
their fidelity repeatedly put to the test. I was myself under this
probation long before I knew that such had ever been imposed.
With the private correspondence I had already been for some time
entrusted; and it was only previous to employing me on secret missions of
any consequence that I was subject to the severer scrutiny. Even before
I was sent abroad, great art was necessary to elude the vigilance of
prying eyes in the royal circle; and, in order to render my activity
available to important purposes, my connection with the Court was long
kept secret. Many stratagems were devised to mislead the Arguses of the
police. To this end, after the disorders of the Revolution began, I
never entered the palaces but on an understood signal, for which I have
been often obliged to attend many hours in the gardens of Versailles, as
I had subsequently done in that of the Tuileries.
To pass the time unnoticed, I used generally to take a book, and seat
myself, occupied in reading, sometimes in one spot, sometimes in another;
but with my man and maid servant always within call, though never where
they could be seen.
On one of these occasions, a person, though not totally masked yet
sufficiently disguised to prevent my recognising his features, came
behind my seat, and said he wished to speak to me. I turned round and
asked his business.
"That's coming to the point!" he answered. "Walk a little way with me,
and I will tell you."
Not to excite suspicion, I walked into a more retired part of the garden,
after a secret signal to my man servant, who followed me unperceived by
"I am commissioned," said my mysterious companion, "to make you a very
handsome present, if you will tell me what you are waiting for."
I laughed, and was turning from him, saying, "Is this all your business?"
"No," he replied.
"Then keep it to yourself. I am not waiting here for any one or
anything; but am merely occupied in reading and killing time to the best
"Are you a poetess?"
"And scarcely a woman; for your answers are very short."
"But I have something of importance to communicate-----"
"That is impossible."
"But listen to me-----"
"You are mistaken in your person."
"But surely you will not be so unreasonable as not to hear what I have to
"I am a stranger in this country, and can have nothing of importance with
one I do not know."
"You have quarrelled with your lover and are in an ill-humour.
"Perhaps so. Well! come! I believe you have guessed the cause."
"Ah! it is the fate of us all to get into scrapes! But you will soon
make it up; and now let me entreat your attention to what I have to
I became impatient, and called my servant.
"Madame," resumed the stranger, "I am a gentleman, and mean no harm. But
I assure you, you stand in your own light. I know more about you than
you think I do."
"Yes, madame, you are waiting here for an august personage."
At this last sentence, my lips laughed, while my heart trembled.
"I wish to caution you," continued he, "how you embark in plans of this
"Monsieur, I repeat, you have taken me for some other person. I will no
longer listen to one who is either a maniac or an officious intruder."
Upon this, the stranger bowed and left me; but I could perceive that he
was not displeased with my answers, though I was not a little agitated,
and longed to see Her Highness to relate to her this curious adventure.
In a few hours I did so. The Princess was perfectly satisfied with my
manner of proceeding, only she thought it singular, she said, that the
stranger should suspect I was there in attendance for some person of
rank; and she repeated, three or four times, "I am heartily glad that you
did not commit yourself by any decided answer. What sort of a man was
"Very much of the gentleman; above the middle stature; and, from what I
could see of his countenance, rather handsome than otherwise."
"Was he a Frenchman?"
"No. I think he spoke good French and English, with an Irish accent."
"Then I know who it is," exclaimed she. "It is Dillon: I know it from
some doubts which arose between Her Majesty, Dillon, and myself,
respecting sending you upon a confidential mission. Oh, come hither!
come hither!" continued Her Highness, overwhelming me with kisses. "How
glad, how very glad I am, that the Queen will be convinced I was not
deceived in what I told Her Majesty respecting you. Take no notice of
what I am telling you; but he was sent from the Queen, to tempt you into
some imprudence, or to be convinced, by your not falling into the snare,
that she might rely on your fidelity."
"What! doubt my fidelity?" said I.
"Oh, my dear, you must excuse Her Majesty. We live in critical times.
You will be the more rewarded, and much more esteemed, for this proof of
your firmness. Do you think you should know him, if you were to see him
"Certainly, I should, if he were in the same disguise.
"That, I fear, will be rather difficult to accomplish. However, you
shall go in your carriage and wait at the door of his sister, the
Marquise of Desmond; where I will send for him to come to me at four
o'clock to-morrow. In this way, you will have an opportunity of seeing
him on horseback, as he always pays his morning visits riding."
I would willingly have taken a sleeping draught, and never did I wait
more anxiously than for the hour of four.
I left the Princess, and, in crossing from the Carrousel to go to the
Place Vendome, it rained very fast, and there glanced by me, on
horseback, the same military cloak in which the stranger had been
wrapped. My carriage was driving so fast that I still remained in doubt
as to the wearer's person.
Next day, however, as appointed, I repaired to the place of rendezvous;
and I could almost have sworn, from the height of the person who alighted
from his horse, that he was my mysterious questioner.
Still, I was not thoroughly certain. I watched the Princess coming out,
and followed her carriage to the Champs Elysees and told her what I
"Well," replied she, "we must think no more about it; nor must it ever be
mentioned to him, should you by any chance meet him."
I said I should certainly obey Her Highness.
A guilty conscience needs no accuser. A few days after I was riding on
horseback in the Bois de Boulogne, when Lord Edward Fitzgerald came up to
speak to me. Dillon was passing at the time, and, seeing Lord Edward,
stopped, took off his hat, and observed, "A very pleasant day for riding,
madame!" Then, looking me full in the face, he added, "I beg your
pardon, madame, I mistook you for another lady with whom Lord Edward is
often in company."
I said there was no offence; but the moment I heard him speak I was no
longer in doubt of his being the identical person.
When I had learnt the ciphering and deciphering, and was to be sent to
Italy, the Queen acknowledged to the Princesse de Lamballe that she was
fully persuaded I might be trusted, as she had good reason to know that
my fidelity was not to be doubted or shaken.
Dear, hapless Princess! She said to me, in one of her confidential
conversations on these matters, "The Queen has been so cruelly deceived
and so much watched that she almost fears her own shadow; but it gives me
great pleasure that Her Majesty had been herself confirmed by one of her
own emissaries in what I never for a moment doubted.
"But do not fancy," continued the Princess, laughing, "that you have had
only this spy to encounter. Many others have watched your motions and
your conversations, and all concur in saying you are the devil, and they
could make nothing of you. But that, 'mia cara piccola diavolina', is
just what we want!"
Editor in continuation.
I am compelled, with reluctance, to continue personally upon the stage,
and must do so for the three ensuing chapters, in order to put my readers
in possession of circumstances explanatory of the next portion of the
Journal of the Princesse de Lamballe.
Even the particulars I am about to mention can give but a very faint idea
of the state of alarm in which the Royal Family lived, and the perpetual
watchfulness and strange and involved expedients that were found
necessary for their protection. Their most trifling communications were
scrutinized with so much jealousy that when any of importance were to be
made it required a dexterity almost miraculous to screen them from the
ever-watchful eye of espionage.
I was often made instrumental in evading the curiosity of others, without
ever receiving any clue to the gratification of my own, even had I been
troubled with such impertinence. The anecdote I am about to mention will
show how cautious a game it was thought necessary to play; and the result
of my half-information will evince that over-caution may produce evils
almost equal to total carelessness.
Some time previous to the flight of the Royal Family from Paris, the
Princesse de Lamballe told me she wanted some repairs made to the locks
of certain dressing and writing-desks; but she would prefer having them
done at my apartments, and by a locksmith who lived at a distance from
When the boxes were repaired, I was sent with one of them to Lisle, where
another person took charge of it for the Archduchess at Brussels.
There was something which strongly marked the kind-heartedness of the
Princesse de Lamballe in a part of this transaction. I had left Paris
without a passport, and Her Highness, fearing it might expose me to
inconvenience, sent an express after me. The express arrived three hours
before I did, and the person to whom I have alluded came out of Brussels
in his carriage to meet me and receive the box. At the same time, he
gave me a sealed letter, without any address. I asked him from whom he
received it, and to whom it was to be delivered. He said he was only
instructed to deliver it to the lady with the box, and he showed me the
Queen's cipher. I took the letter, and, after partaking of some
refreshments, returned with it, according to my orders.
On my arrival at Paris, the Princesse de Lamballe told me her motive for
sending the express, who, she said, informed her, on his return, that I
had a letter for the Queen. I said it was more than I knew. "Oh, I
suppose that is because the letter bears no address," replied she; "but
you were shown the cipher, and that is all which is necessary."
She did not take the letter, and I could not help remarking how far, in
this instance, the rigour of etiquette was kept up, even between these
close friends. The Princess, not having herself received the letter,
could not take it from my hands to deliver without Her Majesty's express
command. This being obtained, she asked me for it, and gave it to Her
Majesty. The circumstance convinced me that the Princess exercised much
less influence over the Queen, and was much more directed by Her
Majesty's authority, than has been imagined.
Two or three days after my arrival at Paris, my servant lost the key of
my writing-desk, and, to remedy the evil, he brought me the same
locksmith I had employed on the repairs just mentioned. As it was
necessary I should be present to remove my papers when the lock was taken
off, of course I saw the man. While I was busy clearing the desk, with
an air of great familiarity he said, "I have had jobs to do here before
now, my girl, as your sweetheart there well knows."
I humoured his mistake in taking me for my own maid and my servant's
sweetheart, and I pertly answered, "Very likely."
"Oh, yes, I have," said he; "it was I who repaired the Queen's boxes in
this very room."
Knowing I had never received anything of the sort from Her Majesty, and
utterly unaware that the boxes the Princess sent to my apartments had
been the Queen's, I was greatly surprised. Seeing my confusion, he said,
"I know the boxes as well as I know myself. I am the King's locksmith,
my dear, and I and the King worked together many years. Why, I know
every creek and corner of the palace, aye, and I know everything that's
going on in them, too--queer doings! Lord, my pretty damsel, I made a
secret place in the palace to hide the King's papers, where the devil
himself would never find them out, if I or the King didn't tell!"
Though I wished him at the devil every moment he detained me from
disclosing his information at the palace, yet I played off the soubrette
upon him till he became so interested I thought he never would have gone.
At last, however, he took his departure, and the moment he disappeared,
out of the house I flew.
The agitation and surprise of the Princess at what I related were
extreme. "Wait," cried she; "I must go and inform the Queen instantly."
In going out of the room, "Great God, what a discovery!" exclaimed Her
It was not long before she returned. Luckily, I was dressed for dinner.
She took me by the hand and, unable to speak, led me to the private
closet of the Queen.
Her Majesty graciously condescended to thank me for the letter I had
taken charge of. She told me that for the future all letters to her
would be without any superscription; and desired me, if any should be
given to me by persons I had not before seen, and the cipher were shown
at the same time, to receive and deliver them myself into her hands, as
the production of the cipher would be a sufficient pledge of their
Being desired to repeat the conversation with Gamin, "There, Princess!"
exclaimed Her Majesty, "Am I not the crow of evil forebodings? I trust
the King will never again be credulous enough to employ this man. I have
long had an extreme aversion to His Majesty's familiarity with him; but
he shall hear his impudence himself from your own lips, my good little
Englishwoman; and then he will not think it is prepossession or
A few evenings elapsed, and I thought no more of the subject, till one
night I was ordered to the palace by the Princess, which never happened
but on very particular occasions, as she was fearful of exciting
suspicion by any appearance of close intimacy with one so much about
Paris upon the secret embassies of the Court.
When I entered the apartment, the King, the Queen, and the Princesse
Elizabeth were, as if by accident, in an adjoining room; but, from what
followed, I am certain they all came purposely to hear my deposition.
I was presently commanded to present myself to the august party.
The King was in deep conversation with the Princesse Elizabeth. I must
confess I felt rather embarrassed. I could not form an idea why I was
thus honoured. The Princesse de Lamballe graciously took me by the hand.
"Now tell His Majesty, yourself, what Gamin said to you."
I began to revive, perceiving now wherefore I was summoned. I accordingly
related, in the presence of the royal guests assembled, as I had done
before Her Majesty and the Princesse de Lamballe, the scene as it
When I came to that part where he said, "where the devil himself could
never find them out," His Majesty approached from the balcony, at which
he had been talking with the Princesse Elizabeth, and said, "Well! he is
very right--but neither he nor the devil shall find them out, for they
shall be removed this very night."
[Which was done; and these are, therefore, no doubt, the papers and
portfolio of which Madame Campan speaks, vol. ii., p. 142, as
having been entrusted to her care after being taken from their
hiding-place by the King himself.]
The King, the Queen, and the Princesse Elizabeth most graciously said,
"Nous sommes bien obligis, ma petite anglaise!" and Her Majesty added,
"Now, my dear, tell me all the rest about this man, whom I have long
suspected for his wickedness."
I said he had been guilty of no hostile indications, and that the chief
fault I had to find with him was his exceeding familiarity in mentioning
himself before the King, saying, "I and the King."
"Go on," said Her Majesty; "give us the whole as it occurred, and let us
form our own conclusions."
"Yes," cried the Princess, "parlate sciolto."--"Si Si," rejoined the
Queen, "parlate tutto--yes, yes, speak out and tell us all."
I then related the remainder of the conversation, which very much alarmed
the royal party, and it was agreed that, to avoid suspicion, I should
next day send for the locksmith and desire him, as an excuse, to look at
the locks of my trunks and travelling carriage, and set off in his
presence to take up my pretended mistress on the road to Calais, that he
might not suspect I had any connection with any one about the Court.
I was strictly enjoined by Her Majesty to tell him that the man servant
had had the boxes from some one to get them repaired, without either my
knowledge or that of my mistress, and, by her pretended orders, to give
him a discharge upon the spot for having dared to use her apartments as a
workshop for the business of other people.
"Now," said the Princesse de Lamballe, "now play the comic part you acted
between your servant and Gamin:" which I did, as well as I could
recollect it, and the royal audience were so much amused, that I had the
honour to remain in the room and see them play at cards. At length,
however, there came three gentle taps at the outer door. "Ora a tempo
perche vene andata," exclaimed Her Highness at the sound, having ordered
a person to call with this signal to see me out of the palace to the Rue
Nicaise, where my carriage was in waiting to conduct me home.
It is not possible for me to describe the gracious condescension of the
Queen and the Princesse Elizabeth, in expressing their sentiments for the
accidental discovery I had made. Amid their assurances of tender
interest and concern, they both reproved me mildly for my imprudence in
having, when I went to Brussels, hurried from Paris without my passport.
They gave me prudential cautions with regard to my future conduct and
residence at Paris; and it was principally owing to the united
persuasions and remonstrances of these three angels in human form that I
took six or seven different lodgings, where the Princesse de Lamballe
used to meet me by turns; because had I gone often to the palace, as many
others did, or waited for Her Highness regularly in any one spot,
I should, infallibly, have been discovered.
"Gracious God!" exclaimed Her Majesty in the course of this
conversation, "am I born to be the misfortune of every one who shows an
interest in serving me? Tell my sister, when you return to Brussels
again--and do not forget to say I desired you to tell her--our cruel
situation! She does not believe that we are surrounded by enemies, even
in our most private seclusions! in our prison! that we are even thrown
exclusively upon foreigners in our most confidential affairs; that in
France there is scarcely an individual to whom we can look! They betray
us for their own safety, which is endangered by any exertions in our
favour. Tell her this," repeated the Queen three or four times.
The next day I punctually obeyed my orders. Gamin was sent for to look
at the locks, and received six francs for his opinion. The man servant
was reproved by me on behalf of my supposed mistress, and, in the
presence of Gamin, discharged for having brought suspicious things into
The man being tutored in his part, begged Gamin to plead for my
intercession with our mistress. I remained inexorable, as he knew I
should. While Gamin was still by I discharged the bill at the house, got
into my carriage, and took the road towards Calais.
At Saint Denis, however, I feigned to be taken ill, and in two days
returned to Paris.
Even this simple act required management. I contrived it in the
following manner. I walked out on the high road leading to the capital
for the purpose of meeting my servant at a place which had been fixed for
the meeting before I left Paris. I found him on horseback at his post,
with a carriage prepared for my return. As soon as I was out of sight he
made the best of his way forward, went to the inn with a note from me,
and returned with my carriage and baggage I had to lodgings at Passy.
The joy of the Princess on seeing me safe again brought tears into her
eyes; and, when I related the scene I played off before Gamin against my
servant, she laughed most heavily. "But surely," said she, "you have not
really discharged the poor man?"--"Oh, no," replied I; "he acted his part
so well before the locksmith, that I should be very sorry to lose such an
"You must perform this 'buffa scena'," observed Her Highness, "to the
Queen. She has been very anxious to know the result; but her spirits are
so depressed that I fear she will not come to my party this evening.
However, if she do not, I will see her to-morrow, and you shall make her
laugh. It would be a charity, for she has not done so from the heart for
many a day!"
Editor in continuation:
Every one who has read at all is familiar with the immortal panegyric of
the great Edmund Burke upon Marie Antoinette. It is known that this
illustrious man was not mean enough to flatter; yet his eloquent praises
of her as a Princess, a woman, and a beauty, inspiring something beyond
what any other woman could excite, have been called flattery by those who
never knew her; those who did, must feel them to be, if possible, even
below the truth. But the admiration of Mr. Burke was set down even to a
baser motive, and, like everything else, converted into a source of
slander for political purposes, long before that worthy palladium of
British liberty had even thought of interesting himself for the welfare
of France, which his prophetic eye saw plainly was the common cause of
But, keenly as that great statesman looked into futurity, little did he
think, when he visited the Queen in all her splendour at Trianon, and
spoke so warmly of the cordial reception he had met with at Versailles
from the Duc and Duchesse de Polignac, that he should have so soon to
deplore their tragic fate!
Could his suggestions to Her Majesty, when he was in France, have been
put in force, there is scarcely a doubt that the Revolution might have
been averted, or crushed. But he did not limit his friendship to
personal advice. It is not generally known that the Queen carried on,
through the medium of the Princesse de Lamballe, a very extensive
correspondence with Mr. Burke. He recommended wise and vast plans; and
these, if possible, would have been adopted. The substance of some of
the leading ones I can recall from the journal of Her Highness and
letters which I have myself frequently deciphered. I shall endeavour,
succinctly, to detail such of them as I remember.
Mr. Burke recommended the suppression of all superfluous religious
institutions, which had not public seminaries to support. Their lands,
he advised, should be divided, without regard to any distinction but that
of merit, among such members of the army and other useful classes of
society, as, after having served the specified time, should have risen,
through their good conduct, to either civil or military preferment. By
calculations upon the landed interest, it appeared that every individual