Part 2 out of 2
under the operation of this bounty would, in the course of twenty years,
possess a yearly income of from five to seven hundred francs.
Another of the schemes suggested by Mr. Burke was to purge the kingdom of
all the troops which had been corrupted from their allegiance by the
intrigues growing out of the first meeting of the Notables. He proposed
that they should sail at the same time, or nearly so, to be colonized in
the different French islands and Madagascar; and, in their place, a new
national guard created, who should be bound to the interest of the
legitimate Government by receiving the waste crown lands to be shared
among them, from the common soldier to its generals and Field-marshals.
Thus would the whole mass of rebellious blood have been reformed. To
ensure an effectual change, Mr. Burke advised the enrolment, in rotation,
of sixty thousand Irish troops, twenty thousand always to remain in
France, and forty thousand in reversion for the same service. The lynx-
eyed statesman saw clearly, from the murders of the Marquis de Launay and
M. Flesselles, and from the destruction of the Bastille, and of the
ramparts of Paris, that party had not armed itself against Louis, but
against the throne. It was therefore necessary to produce a permanent
revolution in the army.
[Mr. Burke was too great a statesman not to be the friend of his
country's interest. He also saw that, from the destruction of the
monarchy in France, England had more to fear than to gain. He well
knew that the French Revolution was not, like that of the Americans,
founded on grievances and urged in support of a great and
disinterested principle. He was aware that so restless a people,
when they had overthrown the monarchy, would not limit the overthrow
to their own country. After Mr. Burke's death, Mr. Fox was applied
to, and was decidedly of the same opinion. Mr. Sheridan was
interrogated, and, at the request of the Princesse de Lamballe, he
presented, for the Queen's inspection, plans nearly equal to those
of the above two great statesmen; and what is most singular and
scarcely credible is that one and all of the opposition party in
England strenuously exerted themselves for the upholding of the
monarchy in France. Many circumstances which came to my knowledge
before and after the death of Louis XVI. prove that Mr. Pitt himself
was averse to the republican principles being organized so near a
constitutional monarchy as France was to Great Britain. Though the
conduct of the Duc d'Orleans was generally reprobated, I firmly
believe that if he had possessed sufficient courage to have usurped
the crown and re-established the monarchy, he would have been
treated with in preference to the republicans. I am the more
confirmed in this opinion by a conversation between the Princesse de
Lamballe and Mirabeau, in which he said a republic in France would
There was another suggestion to secure troops around the throne of a more
loyal temper. It was planned to incorporate all the French soldiers, who
had not voluntarily deserted the royal standard, with two-thirds of
Swiss, German, and Low Country forces, among whom were to be divided,
after ten years' service, certain portions of the crown lands, which were
to be held by presenting every year a flag of acknowledgment to the King
and Queen; with the preference of serving in the civil or military
departments, according to the merit or capacity of the respective
individuals. Messieurs de Broglie, de Bouille, de Luxembourg, and
others, were to have been commanders. But this plan, like many others,
was foiled in its birth, and, it is said, through the intrigues of
However, all concurred in the necessity of ridding France, upon the most
plausible pretexts, of the fomenters of its ruin. Now arose a fresh
difficulty. Transports were wanted, and in considerable numbers.
A navy agent in England was applied to for the supply of these
transports. So great was the number required, and so peculiar the
circumstances, that the agent declined interfering without the sanction
of his Government.
A new dilemma succeeded. Might not the King of England place improper
constructions on this extensive shipment of troops from the different
ports of France for her West India possessions? Might it not be fancied
that it involved secret designs on the British settlements in that
All these circumstances required that some communication should be opened
with the Court of St. James; and the critical posture of affairs exacted
that such communication should be less diplomatic than confidential.
It will be recollected that, at the very commencement of the reign of
Louis XVI., there were troubles in Britanny, which the severe
governorship of the Duc d'Aiguillon augmented. The Bretons took
privileges with them, when they became blended with the kingdom of
France, by the marriage of Anne of Brittany with Charles VIII., beyond
those of any other of its provinces. These privileges they seemed rather
disposed to extend than relinquish, and were by no means reserved in the
expression of their resolution. It was considered expedient to place a
firm, but conciliatory, Governor over them, and the Duc de Penthievre was
appointed to this difficult trust. The Duke was accompanied to his vice-
royalty by his daughter-in-law, the Princesse de Lamballe, who, by her
extremely judicious management of the female part of the province, did
more for the restoration of order than could have been achieved by
armies. The remembrance of this circumstance induced the Queen to regard
Her Highness as a fit person to send secretly to England at this very
important crisis; and the purpose was greatly encouraged by a wish to
remove her from a scene of such daily increasing peril.
For privacy, it was deemed expedient that Her Highness should withdraw to
Aumale, under the plea of ill-health, and thence proceed to England; and
it was also by way of Aumale that she as secretly returned, after the
fatal disaster of the stoppage, to discourage the impression of her ever
having been out of France.
The mission was even unknown to the French Minister at the Court of St.
The Princess was ordered by Her Majesty to cultivate the acquaintance of
the late Duchess of Gordon, who was supposed to possess more influence
than any woman in England--in order to learn the sentiments of Mr. Pitt
relative to the revolutionary troubles. The Duchess, however, was too
much of an Englishwoman, and Mr. Pitt too much interested in the ruin of
France, to give her the least clue to the truth.
In order to fathom the sentiments of the opposition party, the Princess
cultivated the society also of the late Duchess of Devonshire, but with
as little success. The opposition party foresaw too much risk in
bringing anything before the house to alarm the prejudices of the nation.
The French Ambassador, too, jealous of the unexplained purpose of the
Princess, did all he could to render her expedition fruitless.
Nevertheless, though disappointed in some of her main objects with regard
to influence and information, she became so great a favourite at the
British Court that she obtained full permission of the King and Queen of
England to signify to her royal mistress and friend that the specific
request she came to make would be complied with.
[The Princess visited Bath, Windsor, Brighton, and many other parts
of England, and associated with all parties. She managed her
conduct so judiciously that the real object of her visit was never
suspected. In all these excursions I had the honour to attend her
confidentially. I was the only person entrusted with papers from
Her Highness to Her Majesty. I had many things to copy, of which
the originals went to France. Twice during the term of Her
Highness's residence in England I was sent by Her Majesty with
papers communicating the result of the secret mission to the Queen
of Naples. On the second of these two trips, being obliged to
travel night and day, I could only keep my eyes open by means of the
strongest coffee. When I reached my destination I was immediately
compelled to decipher the despatches with the Queen of Naples in the
office of the Secretary of State. That done, General Acton ordered
some one, I know not whom, to conduct me, I know not where, but it
was to a place where, after a sound sleep of twenty-four hours, I
awoke thoroughly refreshed, and without a vestige of fatigue either
of mind or body. On waking, lest anything should transpire, I was
desired to quit Naples instantly, without seeing the British
Minister. To make assurance doubly sure, General Acton sent a
person from his office to accompany me out of the city on horseback;
and, to screen me from the attack of robbers, this person went on
with me as far as the Roman frontier.]
In the meantime, however, the troubles in France were so rapidly
increasing from hour to hour, that it became impossible for the
Government to carry any of their plans into effect. This particular one,
on the very eve of its accomplishment, was marred, as it was imagined,
by the secret intervention of the friends of Mirabeau. The Government
became more and more infirm and wavering in its purposes; the Princess
was left without instructions, and under such circumstances as to expose
her to the supposition of having trifled with the good-will of Their
Majesties of England.
In this dilemma I was sent off from England to the Queen of France.
I left Her Highness at Bath, but when I returned she had quitted Bath for
Brighton. I am unacquainted with the nature of all the papers she
received, but I well remember the agony they seemed to inflict on her.
She sent off a packet by express that very night to Windsor.
The Princess immediately began the preparations for her return. Her own
journal is explicit on this point of her history, and therefore I shall
leave her to speak for herself. I must not, however, omit to mention the
remark she made to me upon the subject of her reception in Great Britain.
With these, let me dismiss the present chapter.
"The general cordiality with which I have been received in your country,"
said Her Highness, "has made a lasting impression upon my heart.
In particular, never shall I forget the kindness of the Queen of England,
the Duchess of Devonshire, and her truly virtuous mother, Lady Spencer.
It gave me a cruel pang to be obliged to undervalue the obligations with
which they overwhelmed me by leaving England as I did, without giving
them an opportunity of carrying their good intentions, which, I had
myself solicited, into effect. But we cannot command fate. Now that the
King has determined to accept the Constitution (and you know my
sentiments upon the article respecting ecclesiastics), I conceive it my
duty to follow Their Majesties' example in submitting to the laws of the
nation. Be assured, 'Inglesina', it will be my ambition to bring about
one of the happiest ages of French history. I shall endeavour to create
that confidence so necessary for the restoration to their native land of
the Princes of the blood, and all the emigrants who abandoned the King,
their families, and their country, while doubtful whether His Majesty
would or would not concede this new charter; but now that the doubt
exists no longer, I trust we shall all meet again, the happier for the
privation to which we have been doomed from absence. As the limitation
of the monarchy removes every kind of responsibility from the monarch,
the Queen will again taste the blissful sweets she once enjoyed during
the reign of Louis XV. in the domestic tranquillity of her home at
Trianon. Often has she wept those times in which she will again rejoice.
Oh, how I long for their return! I fly to greet the coming period of
future happiness to us all!"
Although I am not making myself the historian of France, yet it may not
be amiss to mention that it was during this absence of Her Highness that
Necker finally retired from power and from France.
The return of this Minister had been very much against the consent of Her
Majesty and the King. They both feared what actually happened soon
afterwards. They foresaw that he would be swept away by the current of
popularity from his deference to the royal authority. It was to preserve
the favour of the mob that he allowed them to commit the shocking murders
of M. de Foulon (who had succeeded him on his first dismission as
Minister of Louis XVI.) and of Berthier, his son-in-law. The union of
Necker with D'ORLEANS, on this occasion, added to the cold indifference
with which Barnave in one of his speeches expressed himself concerning
the shedding of human blood, certainly animated the factious assassins to
methodical murder, and frustrated all the efforts of La Fayette to save
these victims from the enraged populace, to whom both unfortunately fell
Necker, like La Fayette, when too late, felt the absurdity of relying
upon the idolatry of the populace. The one fancied he could command the
Parisian 'poissardes' as easily as his own battalions; and the other
persuaded himself that the mob, which had been hired to carry about his
bust, would as readily promulgate his theories.
But he forgot that the people in their greatest independence are only the
puppets of demagogues; and he lost himself by not gaining over that class
which, of all others, possesses most power over the million, I mean the
men of the bar, who, arguing more logically than the rest of the world,
felt that from the new Constitution the long robe was playing a losing
game, and therefore discouraged a system which offered nothing to their
personal ambition or private emolument. Lawyers, like priests, are never
over-ripe for any changes or innovations, except such as tend to their
personal interest. The more perplexed the, state of public and private
affairs, the better for them. Therefore, in revolutions, as a body, they
remain neuter, unless it is made for their benefit to act. Individually,
they are a set of necessary evils; and, for the sake of the bar, the
bench, and the gibbet, require to be humoured. But any legislator who
attempts to render laws clear, concise, and explanatory, and to divest
them of the quibbles whereby these expounders--or confounders--of codes
fatten on the credulity of States and the miseries of unfortunate
millions, will necessarily encounter opposition, direct or indirect, in
every measure at all likely to reduce the influence of this most
abominable horde of human depredators. It was Necker's error to have
gone so directly to the point with the lawyers that they at once saw his
scope; and thus he himself defeated his hopes of their support, the want
of which utterly baffled all his speculations.
[The great Frederick of Prussia, on being told of the numbers of
lawyers there were in England, said he wished he had them in his
country. "Why?" some one enquired. "To do the greatest benefit in
my power to society."--"How so?"--"Why to hang one-half as an
example to the other!"]
When Necker undertook to re-establish the finances, and to reform
generally the abuses in the Government, he was the most popular Minister
(Lord Chatham, when the great Pitt, excepted) in Europe. Yet his errors
were innumerable, though possessing such sound knowledge and judgment,
such a superabundance of political contrivance, diplomatic coolness, and
mathematical calculation, the result of deep thought aided by great
But how futile he made all these appear when he declared the national
bankruptcy. Could anything be more absurd than the assumption, by the
individual, of a personal instead of a national guarantee of part of a
national debt?--an undertaking too hazardous and by far too ambiguous,
even for a monarch who is not backed by his kingdom--flow doubly frantic,
then, for a subject! Necker imagined that the above declaration and his
own Quixotic generosity would have opened the coffers of the great body
of rich proprietors, and brought them forward to aid the national crisis.
But he was mistaken. The nation then had no interest in his financial
system. The effect it produced was the very reverse of what was
expected. Every proprietor began to fear the ambition of the Minister,
who undertook impossibilities. The being bound for the debts of an
individual, and justifying bail in a court of law in commercial matters,
affords no criterion for judging of, or regulating, the pecuniary
difficulties of a nation. Necker's conduct in this case was, in my
humble opinion, as impolitic as that of a man who, after telling his
friends that he is ruined past redemption, asks for a loan of money.
The conclusion is, if he obtains the loan, that "the fool and his money
are soon parted."
It was during the same interval of Her Highness's stay in England, that
the discontent ran so high between the people and the clergy.
I have frequently heard the Princesse de Lamballe ascribe the King's not
sanctioning the decrees against the clergy to the influence of his aunt,
the Carmelite nun, Madame Louise. During the life of her father, Louis
XV., she nearly engrossed all the Church benefices by her intrigues. She
had her regular conclaves of all orders of the Church. From the Bishop
to the sexton, all depended on her for preferment; and, till the
Revolution, she maintained equal power over the mind of Louis XVI. upon
similar matters. The Queen would often express her disapprobation; but
the King was so scrupulous, whenever the discussion fell on the topic of
religion, that she made it a point not to contrast her opinion with his,
from a conviction that she was unequal to cope with him on that head,
upon which he was generally very animated.
It is perfectly certain that the French clergy, by refusing to contribute
to the exigencies of the State, created some of the primary horrors of
the Revolution. They enjoyed one-third the national revenues, yet they
were the first to withhold their assistance from the national wants.
I have heard the Princesse de Lamballe say, "The Princesse Elizabeth and
myself used our utmost exertion to induce some of the higher orders of
the clergy to set the example and obtain for themselves the credit of
offering up a part of the revenues, the whole of which we knew must be
forfeited if they continued obstinate; but it was impossible to move
The characters of some of the leading dignitaries of the time
sufficiently explain their selfish and pernicious conduct; when churchmen
trifle with the altar, be their motives what they may, they destroy the
faith they possess, and give examples to the flock entrusted to their
care, of which no foresight can measure the baleful consequences. Who
that is false to his God can be expected to remain faithful to his
Sovereign? When a man, as a Catholic Bishop, marries, and, under the
mask of patriotism, becomes the declared tool of all work to every
faction, and is the weathercock, shifting to any quarter according to the
wind,--such a man can be of no real service to any party: and yet has a
man of this kind been by turns the primum mobile of them all, even to the
present times, and was one of those great Church fomenters of the
troubles of which we speak, who disgraced the virtuous reign of Louis
Amidst the perplexities of the Royal Family it was perfectly unavoidable
that repeated proposals should have been made at various times for them
to escape these dangers by flight. The Queen had been frequently and
most earnestly entreated to withdraw alone; and the King, the Princesse
Elizabeth, the Princesse de Lamballe, the royal children, with their
little hands uplifted, and all those attached to Marie Antoinette, after
the horrid business at Versailles, united to supplicate her to quit
France and shelter herself from the peril hanging over her existence.
Often and often have I heard the Princesse de Lamballe repeat the words
in which Her Majesty uniformly rejected the proposition. "I have no
wish," cried the Queen, "for myself. My life or death must be encircled
by the arms of my husband and my family. With them, and with them only,
will I live or die."
It would have been impossible to have persuaded her to leave France
without her children. If any woman on earth could have been justified in
so doing, it would have been Marie Antoinette. But she was above such
unnatural selfishness, though she had so many examples to encourage her;
for, even amongst the members of her own family, self-preservation had
been considered paramount to every other consideration.
I have heard the Princess say that Pope Pius VI. was the only one of all
the Sovereigns who offered the slightest condolence or assistance to
Louis XVI. and his family. "The Pope's letter," added she, "when shown
to me by the Queen, drew tears from my eyes. It really was in a style of
such Christian tenderness and princely feeling as could only be dictated
by a pious and illuminated head of the Christian Church. He implored not
only all the family of Louis XVI., but even extended his entreaties to me
[the Princesse de Lamballe] to leave Paris, and save themselves, by
taking refuge in his dominions, from the horrors which so cruelly
overwhelmed them. The King's aunts were the only ones who profited by
the invitation. Madame Elizabeth was to have been of the party, but
could not be persuaded to leave the King and Queen."
As the clouds grew more threatening, it is scarcely to be credited how
many persons interested themselves for the same purpose, and what
numberless schemes were devised to break the fetters which had been
imposed on the Royal Family, by their jailers, the Assembly.
A party, unknown to the King and Queen, was even forming under the
direction of the Princesse Elizabeth; but as soon as Their Majesties were
apprised of it, it was given up as dangerous to the interests of the
Royal Family, because it thwarted the plans of the Marquis de Bouille.
Indeed, Her Majesty could never be brought to determine on any plan for
her own or the King's safety until their royal aunts, the Princesses
Victoria and Adelaide, had left Paris.
The first attempt to fly was made early in the year 1791, at St. Cloud,
where the horses had been in preparation nearly a fortnight; but the
scheme was abandoned in consequence of having been entrusted to too many
persons. This the Queen acknowledged. She had it often in her power to
escape alone with her son, but would not consent.
The second attempt was made in the spring of the same year at Paris. The
guards shut the gates of the Tuileries, and would not allow the King's
carriage to pass. Even though a large sum of money had been expended to
form a party to overpower the mutineers, the treacherous mercenaries did
not appear. The expedition was, of course, obliged to be relinquished.
Many of the royal household were very ill-treated, and some lives
At last, the deplorable journey did take place. The intention had been
communicated by Her Majesty to the Princesse de Lamballe before she went
abroad, and it was agreed that, whenever it was carried into effect, the
Queen should write to Her Highness from Montmedi, where the two friends
were once more to have been reunited.
Soon after the departure of the Princess, the arrangements for the fatal
journey to Varennes were commenced, but with blamable and fatal
Mirabeau was the first person who advised the King to withdraw; but he
recommended that it should be alone, or, at most, with the Dauphin only.
He was of opinion that the overthrow of the Constitution could not be
achieved while the Royal Family remained in Paris. His first idea was
that the King should go to the sea-coast, where he would have it in his
power instantly to escape to England, if the Assembly, through his
(Mirabeau's), means, did not comply with the royal propositions. Though
many of the King's advisers were for a distinct and open rejection of the
Constitution, it was the decided impression of Mirabeau that he ought to
stoop to conquer, and temporize by an instantaneous acceptance, through
which he might gain time to put himself in an attitude to make such terms
as would at once neutralize the act and the faction by which it was
forced upon him. Others imagined that His Majesty was too conscientious
to avail himself of any such subterfuge, and that, having once given his
sanction, he would adhere to it rigidly. This third party of the royal
counsellors were therefore for a cautious consideration of the document,
clause by clause, dreading the consequences of an 'ex abrupto' signature
in binding the Sovereign, not only against his policy, but his will.
In the midst of all these distracting doubts, however, the departure was
resolved upon. Mirabeau had many interviews with the Count Fersen upon
the subject. It was his great object to prevent the flight from being
encumbered. But the King would not be persuaded to separate himself from
the Queen and the rest of the family, and entrusted the project to too
many advisers. Had he been guided by Fersen only, he would have
The natural consequence of a secret being in so many hands was felt in
the result. Those whom it was most important to keep in ignorance were
the first on the alert. The weakness of the Queen in insisting upon
taking a remarkable dressing-case with her, and, to get it away
unobserved, ordering a facsimile to be made under the pretext of
intending it as a present to her sister at Brussels, awakened the
suspicion of a favourite, but false female attendant, then intriguing
with the aide-de-camp of La Fayette. The rest is easily to be conceived.
The Assembly were apprised of all the preparations for the departure a
week or more before it occurred. La Fayette, himself, it is believed,
knew and encouraged it, that he might have the glory of stopping the
fugitive himself; but he was overruled by the Assembly.
When the secretary of the Austrian Ambassador came publicly, by
arrangement, to ask permission of the Queen to take the model of the
dressing-case in question, the very woman to whom I have alluded was in
attendance at Her Majesty's toilet. The paramour of the woman was with
her, watching the motions of the Royal Family on the night they passed
from their own apartments to those of the Duc de Villequier in order to
get into the carriage; and by this paramour was La Fayette instantly
informed of the departure. The traitress discovered that Her Majesty was
on the eve of setting off by seeing her diamonds packed up. All these
things were fully known to the Assembly, of which the Queen herself was
afterwards apprised by the Mayor of Paris.
In the suite of the Count Fersen
[Alvise de Pisani, the last venetian Ambassador to the King, who was
my husband's particular friend, and with whom I was myself long
acquainted, and have been ever since to this day, as well as with
all his noble family, during my many years' residence at Venice,
told me this circumstance while walking with him at his country-seat
at Stra, which was subsequently taken from him by Napoleon, and made
the Imperial palace of the viceroy, and is now that of the German
there was a young Swede who had an intrigue purposely with one of the
Queen's women, from whom he obtained many important disclosures relative
to the times. The Swede mentioned this to his patron, who advised Her
Majesty to discharge a certain number of these women, among whom was the
one who afterwards proved her betrayer. It was suggested to dismiss a
number at once, that the guilty person might not suspect the exclusion to
be levelled against her in particular. Had the Queen allowed herself to
be directed in this affair by Fersen, the chain of communication would
have been broken, and the Royal Family would not have been stopped at
Varennes, but have got clear out of France, many hours before they could
have been perceived by the Assembly; but Her Majesty never could believe
that she had anything to fear from the quarter against which she was
It is not generally known that a very considerable sum had been given to
the head recruiting sergeant, Mirabeau, to enlist such of the
constituents as could be won with gold to be ready with a majority in
favour of the royal fugitives. But the death of Mirabeau, previous to
this event, leaves it doubtful how far he distributed the bribes
conscientiously; indeed, it is rather to be questioned whether he did not
retain the money, or much of it, in his own hands, since the strongly
hoped for and dearly paid majority never gave proof of existence, either
before or after the journey to Varennes. Immense bribes were also given
to the Mayor of Paris, which proved equally ineffective.
Had Mirabeau lived till the affair of Varennes, it is not impossible that
his genius might have given a different complexion to the result. He had
already treated with the Queen and the Princess for a reconciliation; and
in the apartments of Her Highness had frequent evening, and early
morning, audiences of the Queen.
It is pretty certain, however, that the recantation of Mirabeau, from
avowed democracy to aristocracy and royalty, through the medium of
enriching himself by a 'salva regina', made his friends prepare for him
that just retribution, which ended in a 'de profundis'. At a period when
all his vices were called to aid one virtuous action, his thread of
vicious life was shortened, and he; no doubt, became the victim of his
insatiable avarice. That he was poisoned is not to be disproved; though
it was thought necessary to keep it from the knowledge of the people.
I have often heard Her Highness say, "When I reflect on the precautions
which were taken to keep the interviews with Mirabeau profoundly secret
that he never conversed but with the King, the Queen, and myself--his
untimely death must be attributed to his own indiscreet enthusiasm, in
having confidentially entrusted the success with which he flattered
himself, from the ascendency he had gained over the Court, to some one
who betrayed him. His death, so very unexpectedly, and at that crisis,
made a deep impression on the mind of the Queen. She really believed him
capable of redressing the monarchy, and he certainly was the only one of
the turncoat constitutionalists in whom she placed any confidence. Would
to Heaven that she had had more in Barnave, and that she had listened to
Dumourier! These I would have trusted more, far more readily than the
I now return, once more, to the journal of the Princess.
"In the midst of the perplexing debates upon the course most advisable
with regard to the Constitution after the unfortunate return from
Varennes, I sent off my little English amanuensis to Paris to bring me,
through the means of another trusty person I had placed about the Queen,
the earliest information concerning the situation of affairs. On her
return she brought me a ring, which Her Majesty had graciously,
condescended to send me, set with her own hair, which had whitened like
that of a person of eighty, from the anguish the Varennes affair had
wrought upon her mind; and bearing the inscription, 'Bleached by sorrow.'
This ring was accompanied by the following letter:
"'MY DEAREST FRIEND,--
"'The King has made up his mind to the acceptance of the
Constitution, and it will ere long be proclaimed publicly. A few
days ago I was secretly waited upon and closeted in your apartment
with many of our faithful friends,--in particular, Alexandre de
Lameth, Duport, Barnave, Montmorin, Bertrand de Moleville, et
cetera. The two latter opposed the King's Council, the Ministers,
and the numerous other advisers of an immediate and unscrutinizing
acceptance. They were a small minority, and could not prevail with
me to exercise my influence with His Majesty in support of their
opinion, when all the rest seemed so confident that a contrary
course must re-establish the tranquillity of the nation and our own
happiness, weaken the party of the Jacobins against us, and greatly
increase that of the nation in our favor.
"'Your absence obliged me to call Elizabeth to my aid in managing
the coming and going of the deputies to and from the Pavilion of
Flora, unperceived by the spies of our enemies. She executed her
charge so adroitly, that the visitors were not seen by any of the
household. Poor Elizabeth! little did I look for such
circumspection in one so unacquainted with the intrigues of Court,
or the dangers surrounding us, which they would now fain persuade us
no longer exist. God grant it may be so! and that I may once more
freely embrace and open my heart to the only friend I have nearest
to it. But though this is my most ardent wish, yet, my dear,
dearest Lamballe, I leave it to yourself to act as your feelings
dictate. Many about us profess to see the future as clear as the
sun at noon-day. But, I confess, my vision is still dim. I cannot
look into events with the security of others--who confound logic
with their wishes. The King, Elizabeth, and all of us, are anxious
for your return. But it would grieve us sorely for you to come back
to such scenes as you have already witnessed. Judge and act from
your own impressions. If we do not see you, send me the result of
your interview at the precipice.--[The name the Queen gave to Mr.
Pitt]--'Vostra cara picciolca Inglesina' will deliver you many
letters. After looking over the envelopes, you will either send her
with them as soon as possible or forward them as addressed, as you
may think most advisable at the time you receive them.
"'Ever, ever, and forever,
"There was another hurried and abrupt note from Her Majesty among these
papers, obviously written later than the first. It lamented the cruel
privations to which she was doomed at the Tuileries, in consequence of
the impeded flight, and declared that what the Royal Family were forced
to suffer, from being totally deprived of every individual of their
former friends and attendants to condole with, excepting the equally
oppressed and unhappy Princesse Elizabeth, was utterly insupportable.
"On the receipt of these much esteemed epistles, I returned, as my duty
directed, to the best of Queens, and most sincere of friends. My arrival
at Paris, though so much wished for, was totally unexpected.
"At our first meeting, the Queen was so agitated that she was utterly at
a loss to explain the satisfaction she felt in beholding me once more
near her royal person. Seeing the ring on my finger, which she had done
me the honour of sending me, she pointed to her hair, once so beautiful,
but now, like that of an old woman, not only gray, but deprived of all
its softness, quite stiff and dried up.
"Madame Elizabeth, the King, and the rest of our little circle, lavished
on me the most endearing caresses. The dear Dauphin said to me, 'You
will not go away again, I hope, Princess? Oh, mamma has cried so since
you left us!'
"I had wept enough before, but this dear little angel brought tears into
the eyes of us all."
"When I mentioned to Her Majesty the affectionate sympathy expressed by
the King and Queen of England in her sufferings, and their regret at the
state of public affairs in France, 'It is most noble and praiseworthy in
them to feel thus,' exclaimed Marie Antoinette; 'and the more so
considering the illiberal part imputed to us against those Sovereigns in
the rebellion of their ultramarine subjects, to which, Heaven knows,
I never gave my approbation. Had I done so, how poignant would be my
remorse at the retribution of our own sufferings, and the pity of those I
had so injured! No. I was, perhaps, the only silent individual amongst
millions of infatuated enthusiasts at General La Fayette's return to
Paris, nor did I sanction any of the fetes given to Dr. Franklin, or the
American Ambassadors at the time. I could not conceive it prudent for
the Queen of an absolute monarchy to countenance any of their newfangled
philosophical experiments with my presence. Now, I feel the reward in my
own conscience. I exult in my freedom from a self-reproach, which would
have been altogether insupportable under the kindness of which you
"As soon as I was settled in my apartment, which was on the same floor
with that of the Queen, she condescended to relate to me every particular
of her unfortunate journey. I saw the pain it gave her to retrace the
scenes, and begged her to desist till time should have, in some degree,
assuaged the poignancy of her feelings. 'That,' cried she, embracing me,
I can never be! Never, never will that horrid circumstance of my life
lose its vividness in my recollection. What agony, to have seen those
faithful servants tied before us on the carriage, like common criminals!
All, all may be attributed to the King's goodness of heart, which
produces want of courage, nay, even timidity, in the most trying scenes.
As poor King Charles the First, when he was betrayed in the Isle of
Wight, would have saved himself, and perhaps thousands, had he permitted
the sacrifice of one traitor, so might Louis XVI. have averted calamities
so fearful that I dare not name, though I distinctly foresee them, had he
exerted his authority where he only called up his compassion.'
"'For Heaven's sake,' replied I, 'do not torment yourself by these cruel
"'These are gone by,' continued Her Majesty, and greater still than even
these. How can I describe my grief at what I endured in the Assembly,
from the studied humiliation to which the King and the royal authority
were there reduced in the face of the national representatives! from
seeing the King on his return choked with anguish at the mortifications
to which I was doomed to behold the majesty of a French Sovereign
humbled! These events bespeak clouds, which, like the horrid waterspout
at sea, nothing can dispel but cannon! The dignity of the Crown, the
sovereignty itself, is threatened; and this I shall write this very night
to the Emperor. I see no hope of internal tranquillity without the
powerful aid of foreign force.
[The only difference of any moment which ever existed between the
Queen and the Princesse de Lamballe as to their sentiments on the
Revolution was on this subject. Her Highness wished Marie
Antoinette to rely on the many persons who had offered and promised
to serve the cause of the monarchy with their internal resources,
and not depend on the Princes and foreign armies. This salutary
advice she never could enforce on the Queen's mind, though she had
to that effect been importuned by upwards of two hundred persona,
all zealous to show their penitence for former errors by their
"Whenever," observed Her Highness, "we came to that point, the Queen
(upon seriously reflecting that these persons had been active
instruments in promoting the first changes in the monarchy, for
which she never forgave them from her heart) would hesitate and
doubt; and never could I bring Her Majesty definitely to believe the
profferers to be sincere. Hence, they were trifled with, till one
by one she either lost them, or saw them sacrificed to an
attachment, which her own distrust and indecision rendered
The King has allowed himself to be too much led to attempt to recover his
power through any sort of mediation. Still, the very idea of owing our
liberty to any foreign army distracts me for the consequences.'
"My reinstatement in my apartments at the Pavilion of Flora seemed not
only to give universal satisfaction to every individual of the Royal
Family, but it was hailed with much enthusiasm by many deputies of the
constituent Assembly. I was honoured with the respective visits of all
who were in any degree well disposed to the royal cause.
"One day, when Barnave and others were present with the Queen, 'Now,'
exclaimed one of the deputies, 'now that this good Princess is returned
to her adopted country, the active zeal of Her Highness, coupled with
Your Majesty's powerful influence over the mind of the King for the
welfare of his subjects, will give fresh vigour to the full execution of
"My visitors were earnest in their invitations for me to go to the
Assembly to hear an interesting discussion, which was to be brought
forward upon the King's spontaneous acceptance of the Constitution.
"I went; and amidst the plaudits for the good King's condescension, how
was my heart lacerated to hear Robespierre denounce three of the most
distinguished of the members, who had requested my attendance, as
traitors to their country!
"This was the first and only Assembly discussion I ever attended;
and how dearly did I pay for my curiosity! I was accompanied by my 'cara
Inglesina', who, always on the alert, exclaimed, 'Let me entreat Your
Highness not to remain any longer in this place. You are too deeply
moved to dissemble.'
"I took her judicious advice, and the moment I could leave the Assembly
unperceived, I hastened back to the Queen to beg her, for God's sake,
to be upon her guard; for, from what I had just heard at the Assembly,
I feared the Jacobins had discovered her plans with Barnave, De Lameth,
Duport, and others of the royal party. Her countenance, for some
minutes, seemed to be the only sensitive part of her. It was perpetually
shifting from a high florid colour to the paleness of death. When her
first emotions gave way to nature, she threw herself into my arms, and,
for some time, her feelings were so overcome by the dangers which
threatened these worthy men, that she could only in the bitterness of her
anguish exclaim, 'Oh! this is all on my account!' And I think she was
almost as much alarmed for the safety of these faithful men, as she had
been for that of the King on the 17th of July, when the Jacobins in the
Champ de Mars called out to have the King brought to trial--a day of
which the horrors were never effaced from her memory!
"The King and Princesse Elizabeth fortunately came in at the moment; but
even our united efforts were unavailable. The grief of Her Majesty at
feeling herself the cause of the misfortunes of these faithful adherents,
now devoted victims of their earnestness in foiling the machinations
against the liberty and life of the King and herself, made her nearly
frantic. She too well knew that to be accused was to incur instant
death. That she retained her senses under the convulsion of her feelings
can only be ascribed to that wonderful strength of mind, which triumphed
over every bodily weakness, and still sustains her under every emergency.
"The King and the Princesse Elizabeth, by whom Barnave had been much
esteemed ever since the journey from Varennes, were both inconsolable.
I really believe the Queen entirely owed her instantaneous recovery from
that deadly lethargic state, in which she had been thrown by her grief
for the destined sacrifice, to the exuberant goodness of the King's
heart, who instantly resolved to compromise his own existence, to save
those who had forfeited theirs for him and his family.
"Seeing the emotion of the Queen, 'I will go myself to the Assembly,'
said Louis XVI., 'and declare their innocence.'
"The Queen sprang forward, as if on the wings of an angel, and grasping
the King in her arms, cried, 'Will you hasten their deaths by confirming
the impression of your keeping up an understanding with them? Gracious
Heaven! Oh, that I could recall the acts of attachment they have shown
us, since to these they are now falling victims! I would save them,'
continued Her Majesty, 'with my own blood; but, Sire, it is useless. We
should only expose ourselves to the vindictive spirit of the Jacobins
without aiding the cause of our devoted friends.'
"'Who,' asked she, I was the guilty wretch that accused our unfortunate
"'Robespierre!' echoed Her Majesty. 'Oh, God! then he is numbered with
the dead! This fellow is too fond of blood to be tempted with money.
But you, Sire, must not interfere!'
"Notwithstanding these doubts, however, I undertook, at the King's and
Queen's most earnest desire, to get some one to feel the pulse of
Robespierre, for the salvation of these our only palladium to the
constitutional monarchy. To the first application, though made through
the medium of one of his earliest college intimates, Carrier, the wretch
was utterly deaf and insensible. Of this failure I hastened to apprise
Her Majesty. 'Was any, sum,' asked she, 'named as a compensation for
suspending this trial?'--'None,' replied I. 'I had no commands to that
effect.'--'Then let the attempt be renewed, and back it with the argument
of a cheque for a hundred thousand livres on M. Laborde. He has saved my
life and the King's, and, as far as is in my power, I am determined to
save his. Barnave has exposed his life more than any of our unfortunate
friends, and if we can but succeed in saving him, he will speedily be
enabled to save his colleagues. Should the sum I name be insufficient,
my jewels shall be disposed of to make up a larger one. Fly to your
agent, dear Princess! Lose not a moment to intercede in behalf of these
our only true friends!'
"I did so, and was fortunate enough to gain over to my personal
entreaties one who had the courage to propose the business; and a
hundred and fifty thousand livres procured them a suspension of
accusation. All, however, are still watched with such severity of
scrutiny that I tremble, even now, for the result.
[And with reason; for all, eventually, were sacrificed upon the
scaffold. Carrier was the factotum in all the cool, deliberate,
sanguinary operations of Robespierre; when he saw the cheque, he
said to the Princesse de Lamballe: "Madame, though your personal
charms and mental virtues had completely influenced all the
authority I could exercise in favour of your protege, without this
interesting argument I should not have had courage to have renewed
the business with the principal agent of life and death."]
"It was in the midst of such apprehensions, which struck terror into the
hearts of the King and Queen, that the Tuileries resounded with cries of
multitudes hired to renew those shouts of 'Vive le roi! vive la famille
royale!' which were once spontaneous.
"In one of the moments of our deepest affliction, multitudes were
thronging the gardens and enjoying the celebration of the acceptance of
the Constitution. What a contrast to the feelings of the unhappy inmates
of the palace! We may well say, that many an aching heart rides in a
carriage, while the pedestrian is happy!
"The fetes on this occasion were very brilliant. The King, the Queen,
and the Royal Family were invited to take part in this first national
festival. They did so, by appearing in their carriage through the
streets of Paris, and the Champs Elysees, escorted only by the Parisian
guard, there being no other at the time. The mob was so great that the
royal carriage could only keep pace with the foot-passengers.
"Their Majesties were in general well received. The only exceptions were
a few of the Jacobin members of the Assembly, who, even on this occasion,
sought every means to afflict the hearts, and shock the ears, of Their
Majesties, by causing republican principles to be vociferated at the very
doors of their carriage.
"The good sense of the King and Queen prevented them from taking any
notice of these insults while in public; but no sooner had they returned
to the castle, than the Queen gave way to her grief at the premeditated
humiliation she was continually witnessing to the majesty of the
constitutional monarchy,--an insult less to the King himself than to the
nation, which had acknowledged him their Sovereign.
"When the royal party entered the apartment, they found M. de Montmorin
with me, who had come to talk over these matters, secure that at such a
moment we should not be surprised.
"On hearing the Queen's observation, M. de Montmorin made no secret of
the necessity there was of Their Majesties dissembling their feelings;
the avowal of which, he said, would only tend to forward the triumph of
Jacobinism, 'which,' added he, 'I am sorry to see predominates in the
Assembly, and keeps in subordination all the public and private clubs.'
"'What!' exclaimed the Princesse Elizabeth, can that be possible, after
the King has accepted the Constitution?'
"'Yes,' said the Queen; these people, my dear Elizabeth, wish for a
Constitution which sanctions the overthrow of him by whom it has been
"'In this,' observed M. de Montmorin, 'as on some other points, I
perfectly agree with Your Majesty and the King, notwithstanding I have
been opposed by the whole Council and many other honest constituent
members, as well as the Cabinet of Vienna. And it is still, as it has
ever been, my firm opinion, that the King ought, previous to the
acceptance of the Constitution, to have been allowed, for the security of
its future organization, to have examined it maturely; which, not having
been the case, I foresee the dangerous situation in which His Majesty
stands, and I foresee, too, the non-promulgation of this charter.
Malouet, who is an honest man, is of my opinion. Duport, De Lameth,
Barnave, and even La Fayette are intimidated at the prevailing spirit of
the Jacobins. They were all with the best intentions for Your Majesty's
present safety, for the acceptance in toto, but without reflecting on the
consequences which must follow should the nation be deceived. But I, who
am, and ever shall be, attached to royalty, regret the step, though I am
clear in my impression as to the only course which ought to succeed it.
The throne can now only be made secure by the most unequivocal frankness
of proceeding on the part of the Crown. It is not enough to have
conceded, it is necessary also to show that the concession has some more
solid origin than mere expediency. It should be made with a good grace.
Every motive of prudence, as well as of necessity, requires that the
monarch himself, and all those most interested for his safety, should,
neither in looks, manners, or conversation, seem as if they felt a regret
for what has been lost, but rather appear satisfied with what has been
"'In that case,' said the Queen, 'we should lose all the support of the
"'Every royalist, Madame,' replied he, 'who, at this critical crisis,
does not avow the sentiments of a constitutionalist, is a nail in the
King's untimely coffin.'
"'Gracious God !' cried the Queen; 'that would destroy the only hope
which still flatters our drooping existence. Symptoms of moderation, or
any conciliatory measures we might be inclined to show, of our free will,
to the constitutionalists, would be immediately considered as a desertion
of our supporters, and treachery to ourselves, by the royalists.'
"'It would be placed entirely out of my power, Madame,' replied M. de
Montmorin, 'to make my attachment to the persons of Your Majesties
available for the maintenance of your rights, did I permit the factious,
overbearing party which prevails to see into my real zeal for the
restoration of the royal authority, so necessary for their own future
honour, security, and happiness. Could they see this, I should be
accused as a national traitor, or even worse, and sent out of the world
by a sudden death of ignominy, merely to glut their hatred of monarchy;
and it is therefore I dissemble.'
"'I perfectly agree with you,' answered the Queen. That cruel moment
when I witnessed the humiliating state to which royalty had been reduced
by the constituents, when they placed the President of their Assembly
upon a level with the King; gave a plebeian, exercising his functions pro
tempore, prerogatives in the face of the nation to trample down
hereditary monarchy and legislative authority--that cruel moment
discovered the fatal truth. In the anguish of my heart, I told His
Majesty that he had outlived his kingly authority: Here she burst into
tears, hiding her face in her handkerchief.
"With the mildness of a saint, the angelic Princesse Elizabeth exclaimed,
turning to the King, 'Say something to the Queen, to calm her anguish!'
"'It will be of no avail,' said the King; 'her grief adds to my
affliction. I have been the innocent cause of her participating in this
total ruin, and as it is only her fortitude which has hitherto supported
me, with the same philosophical and religious resignation we must await
what fate destines!'
"'Yes,' observed M. de Montmorin; 'but Providence has also given us the
rational faculty of opposing imminent danger, and by activity and
exertion obviating its consequences.'
"'In what manner, sir?' cried the Queen; 'tell me how this is to be
effected, and, with the King's sanction, I am ready to do anything to
avert the storm, which so loudly threatens the august head of the French
"'Vienna, Madame,' replied he; 'Vienna! Your Majesty's presence at
Vienna would do more for the King's safety, and the nation's future
tranquillity, than the most powerful army.'
"'We have long since suggested,' said the Princesse Elizabeth, 'that Her
Majesty should fly from France and take refuge----'
"'Pardon me, Princess,' interrupted M. de Montmorin, 'it is not for
refuge solely I would have Her Majesty go thither. It is to give
efficacy to the love she bears the King and his family, in being there
the powerful advocate to check the fallacious march of a foreign army to
invade us for the subjection of the French nation. All these external
attempts will prove abortive, and only tend to exasperate the French to
crime and madness. Here I coincide with my coadjutors, Barnave, Duport,
De Lameth, etc. The principle on which the re-establishment of the order
and tranquillity of France depends, can be effected only by the non-
interference of foreign powers. Let them leave the rational resources of
our own internal force to re-establish our real interests, which every
honest Frenchman will strive to secure, if not thwarted by the threats
and menaces of those who have no right to interfere. Besides, Madame,
they are too far from us to afford immediate relief from the present
dangers internally surrounding us. These are the points of fearful
import. It is not the threats and menaces of a foreign army which can
subdue a nation's internal factions. These only rouse them to prolong
disorders. National commotions can be quelled only by national spirit,
whose fury, once exhausted on those who have aroused it, leave it free to
look within, and work a reform upon itself.'
"M. de Montmorin, after many other prudent exhortations and remarks, and
some advice with regard to the King and Queen's household, took his.
leave. He was no sooner gone than it was decided by the King that Marie
Antoinette, accompanied by myself and some other ladies, and the
gentlemen of the bedchamber, couriers, etc., should set out forthwith for
[The Princease de Lamballe sent me directions that very evening,
some time after midnight, to be at our place of rendezvous early in
the morning. I was overjoyed at the style of the note. It was the
least mysterious I had ever received from Her Highness. I inferred
that some fortunate event had occurred, with which, knowing how
deeply I was interested in the fate of her on whom my own so much
depended, she was, eager to make me acquainted.
But what was my surprise, on entering the church fixed on for the
meeting, to see the Queen's unknown confessor beckoning me to come
to him. I approached. He bade me wait till after Mass, when he had
something to communicate from the Princess.
This confessor officiated in the place of the one whom Mirabeau had
seduced to take the constitutional oath. The Queen and Princess
confessed to him in the private apartment of Her Highness on the
ground floor; though it was never known where, or to whom they
confessed, after the treachery of the royal confessor. This
faithful and worthy successor was only known as "the known." I
never heard who he was, or what was his name.
The Mass being over, I followed him into the sacristy. He told me
that the Princess, by Her Majesty's command, wished me to set off
immediately for Strasburg, and there await the arrival of Her
Highness, to be in readiness to follow her and Her Majesty for the
copying of the cipher, as they were going to Vienna.
When everything, however, had been settled for their departure,
which it was agreed was to take place from the house of Count
Fersen, the resolution was suddenly changed; but I was desired to
hold myself in readiness for another journey.]
"To say why this purpose was abandoned is unnecessary. The same
fatality, which renders every project unattainable, threw insuperable
impediments, in the way of this."
"The news of the death of the Emperor Leopold, in the midst of the other
distresses of Her Majesty, afflicted her very deeply; the more so because
she had every reason to think he fell a victim to the active part he took
in her favour. Externally, this monarch certainly demonstrated no very
great inclination to become a member of the coalition of Pilnitz. He
judged, very justly, that his brother Joseph had not only defeated his
own purposes by too openly and violently asserting the cause of their
unfortunate sister, but had destroyed himself, and, therefore, selected
what he deemed the safer and surer course of secret support. But all his
caution proved abortive. The Assembly knew his manoeuvres as well as he
himself did. He died an untimely death; and the Queen was assured, from
undoubted authority, that both Joseph and Leopold were poisoned in their
"During my short absence in England, the King's household had undergone a
complete change. When the emigration first commenced, a revolution in
the officers of the Court took place, but it was of a nature different
from this last; and, by destroying itself, left the field open to those
who now made the palace so intolerable. The first change to which I
refer arose as follows:
"The greater part of the high offices being vacated by the secession of
the most distinguished nobility, many places fell to persons who had all
their lives occupied very subordinate situations. These, to retain their
offices, were indiscreet enough publicly to declare their dissent from
all the measures of the Assembly; an absurdity, which, at the
commencement, was encouraged by the Court, till the extreme danger of
encouraging it was discovered too late; and when once the error had been
tolerated, and rewarded, it was found impossible to check it, and stop
these fatal tongues. The Queen, who disliked the character of
capriciousness, for a long time allowed the injury to go on, by
continuing about her those who inflicted it. The error, which arose from
delicacy, was imputed to a very different and less honourable feeling,
till the clamour became so great, that she was obliged to yield to it,
and dismiss those who had acted with so much indiscretion.
"The King and Queen did not dare now to express themselves on the subject
of the substitutes who were to succeed. Consequently they became
surrounded by persons placed by the Assembly as spies. The most
conspicuous situations were filled by the meanest persons--not, as in the
former case, by such as had risen, though by accident, still regularly to
their places--but by myrmidons of the prevailing power, to whom Their
Majesties were compelled to submit, because their rulers willed it. All
orders of nobility were abolished. All the Court ladies, not attached to
the King and Queen personally, abandoned the Court. No one would be seen
at the Queen's card-parties, once so crowded, and so much sought after.
We were entirely reduced to the family circle. The King, when weary of
playing with the Princesse Elizabeth and the Queen, would retire to his
apartments without uttering a word, not from sullenness, but overcome by
"The Queen was occupied continually by the extensive correspondence she
had to carry on with the foreign Sovereigns, the Princes, and the
different parties. Her Majesty once gave me nearly thirty letters she
had written in the course of two days, which were forwarded by my cara
Inglesina--cara indeed! for she was of the greatest service.
"Her Majesty slept very little. But her courage never slackened; and
neither her health, nor her general amiableness, was in the least
affected. Though few persons could be more sensible than herself to
poignant mortification at seeing her former splendour hourly decrease,
yet she never once complained. She was, in this respect, a real stoic.
"The palace was now become, what it still remains, like a police office.
It was filled with spies and runners. Every member of the Assembly, by
some means or other, had his respective emissary. All the antechambers
were peopled by inveterate Jacobins, by those whose greatest pleasure was
to insult the ears and minds of all whom they considered above themselves
in birth, or rank, or virtue. So completely were the decencies of life
abolished, that common respect was withheld even from the Royal Family.
"I was determined to persevere in my usual line of conduct, of which the
King and Queen very much approved. Without setting up for a person of
importance, I saw all who wished for public or private audiences of Their
Majesties. I carried on no intrigues, and only discharged the humble
duties of my situation to the best of my ability for the general good,
and to secure, as far as possible, the comfort of Their Majesties, who
really were to be pitied, utterly friendless and forsaken as they were.
"M. Laporte, the head of the King's private police, came to me one day in
great consternation. He had discovered that schemes were on foot to
poison all the Royal Family, and that, in a private committee of the
Assembly, considerable pensions had been offered for the perpetration of
the crime. Its facility was increased, as far as regarded the Queen, by
the habit to which Her Majesty had accustomed herself of always keeping
powdered sugar at hand, which, without referring to her attendants,
she would herself mix with water and drink as a beverage whenever she
"I entreated M. Laporte not to disclose the conspiracy to the Queen till
I had myself had an opportunity of apprising her of his praiseworthy
zeal. He agreed, on condition that precautions should be immediately
adopted with respect to the persons who attended the kitchen. This,
I assured him, should be done on the instant.
"At the period I mention, all sorts of etiquette had been abolished.
The custom which prevented my appearing before the Queen, except at
stated hours, had long since been discontinued; and, as all the other
individuals who came before or after the hours of service were eyed with
distrust, and I remained the only one whose access to Their Majesties was
free and unsuspected, though it was very early when M. Laporte called,
I thought it my duty to hasten immediately to my royal mistress.
"I found her in bed. 'Has Your Majesty breakfasted?' said I.
"'No,' replied she; 'will you breakfast with me?'
"'Most certainly,' said I, 'if Your Majesty will insure me against being
"At the word poison Her Majesty started up and looked at me very
earnestly, and with a considerable degree of alarm.
"'I am only joking,' continued I; 'I will breakfast with Your Majesty if
you will give me tea.'
"Tea was presently brought. 'In this,' said I, 'there is no danger.'
"'What do you mean?' asked Her Majesty.
"'I am ordered,' replied I, taking up a lump of sugar, 'not to drink
chocolate, or coffee, or anything with powdered sugar. These are times
when caution alone can prevent our being sent out of the world with all
our sins upon our heads.'
"'I am very glad to hear you say so; for you have reason to be
particular, after what you once so cruelly suffered from poison. But
what has brought that again into your mind just now?'
"'Well, then, since Your Majesty approves of my circumspection, allow me
to say I think it advisable that we should, at a moment like this
especially, abstain from all sorts of food by which our existence may be
endangered. For my own part, I mean to give up all made dishes, and
confine myself to the simplest diet.'
"'Come, come, Princess,' interrupted Her Majesty; 'there is more in this
than you wish me to understand. Fear not. I am prepared for anything
that may be perpetrated against my own life, but let me preserve from
peril my King, my husband, and my children!'
"My feelings prevented me from continuing to dissemble. I candidly
repeated all I had heard from M. Laporte.
"Her Majesty instantly rang for one of her confidential women. 'Go to
the King,' said Her Majesty to the attendant, 'and if you find him alone,
beg him to come to me at once; but, if there are any of the guards or
other persons within hearing, merely say that the Princesse de Lamballe
is with me and is desirous of the loan of a newspaper.'
"The King's guard, and indeed most of those about him, were no better
than spies, and this caution in the Queen was necessary to prevent any
jealousy from being excited by the sudden message.
"When the messenger left us by ourselves, I observed to Her Majesty that
it would be imprudent to give the least publicity to the circumstance,
for were it really mere suspicion in the head of the police, its
disclosure might only put this scheme into some miscreant's head, and
tempt him to realize it. The Queen said I was perfectly right, and it
should be kept secret.
"Our ambassadress was fortunate enough to reach the King's apartment
unobserved, and to find him unattended, so he received the message
forthwith. On leaving the apartment, however, she was noticed and
watched. She immediately went out of the Tuileries as if sent to make
purchases, and some time afterwards returned with some trifling articles
in her hand.
[This incident will give the reader an idea of the cruel situation
in which the first Sovereigns of Europe then stood; and how much
they appreciated the few subjects who devoted themselves to thwart
and mitigate the tyranny practised by the Assembly over these
illustrious victims. I can speak from my own experience on these
matters. From the time I last accompanied the Princesse de Lamballe
to Paris till I left it in 1792, what between milliners,
dressmakers, flower girls, fancy toy sellers, perfumers, hawkers of
jewellery, purse and gaiter makers, etc., I had myself assumed
twenty different characters, besides that of a drummer boy,
sometimes blackening my face to enter the palace unnoticed, and
often holding conversations analogous to the sentiments of the
wretches who were piercing my heart with the remarks circumstances
compelled me to encourage. Indeed, I can safely say I was known,
in some shape or other, to almost everybody, but to no one in my
real character, except the Princess by whom I was so graciously
"The moment the King appeared, 'Sire,' exclaimed Her Majesty, 'the
Assembly, tired of endeavouring to wear us to death by slow torment,
have devised an expedient to relieve their own anxiety and prevent us
from putting them to further inconvenience.'
"'What do you mean?' said the King. I repeated my conversation with M.
Laporte. 'Bah! bah!' resumed His Majesty, 'They never will attempt it.
They have fixed on other methods of getting rid of us. They have not
policy enough to allow our deaths to be ascribed to accident. They are
too much initiated in great crimes already.'
"'But,' asked the Queen, 'do you not think it highly necessary to make
use of every precaution, when we are morally sure of the probability of
such a plot?'
"'Most certainly! otherwise we should be, in the eyes of God, almost
guilty of suicide. But how prevent it? surrounded as we are by persons
who, being seduced to believe that we are plotting against them, feel
justified in the commission of any crime under the false idea of self-
"'We may prevent it,' replied Her Majesty, 'by abstaining from everything
in our diet wherein poison can be introduced; and that we can manage
without making any stir by the least change either in the kitchen
arrangements or in our own, except, indeed, this one. Luckily, as we are
restricted in our attendants, we have a fair excuse for dumb waiters,
whereby it will be perfectly easy to choose or discard without exciting
"This, consequently, was the course agreed upon; and every possible
means, direct and indirect, was put into action to secure the future
safety of the Royal Family and prevent the accomplishment of the threat
[On my seeing the Princess next morning, Her Highness condescended
to inform me of the danger to which herself and the Royal Family
were exposed. She requested I would send my man servant to the
persons who served me, to fill a moderate-sized hamper with wine,
salt, chocolate, biscuits, and liquors, and take it to her
apartment, at the Pavilion of Flora, to be used as occasion
required. All the fresh bread and butter which was necessary I got
made for nearly a fortnight by persons whom I knew at a distance
from the palace, whither I always conveyed it myself.]
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