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The Memoirs of Marie Antoinette, entire by Madame Campan

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This etext was produced by David Widger

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


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



Louis XVI. possessed an immense crowd of confidants, advisers, and
guides; he selected them even from among the factions which attacked him.
Never, perhaps, did he make a full disclosure to any one of them, and
certainly he spoke with sincerity, to but very few. He invariably kept
the reins of all secret intrigues in his own hand; and thence, doubtless,
arose the want of cooperation and the weakness which were so conspicuous
in his measures. From these causes considerable chasms will be found in
the detailed history of the Revolution.

In order to become thoroughly acquainted with the latter years of the
reign of Louis XV., memoirs written by the Duc de Choiseul, the Duc
d'Aiguillon, the Marechal de Richelieu,

[I heard Le Marechal de Richelieu desire M. Campan, who was
librarian to the Queen, not to buy the Memoirs which would certainly
be attributed to him after his death, declaring them false by
anticipation; and adding that he was ignorant of orthography, and
had never amused himself with writing. Shortly after the death of
the Marshal, one Soulavie put forth Memoirs of the Marechal de

and the Duc de La Vauguyon, should be before us. To give us a faithful
portrait of the unfortunate reign of Louis XVI., the Marechal du Muy,
M. de Maurepas, M. de Vergennes, M. de Malesherbes, the Duc d'Orleans,
M. de La Fayette, the Abby de Vermond, the Abbe Montesquiou, Mirabeau,
the Duchesse de Polignac, and the Duchesse de Luynes should have noted
faithfully in writing all the transactions in which they took decided
parts. The secret political history of a later period has been
disseminated among a much greater number of persons; there are Ministers
who have published memoirs, but only when they had their own measures to
justify, and then they confined themselves to the vindication of their
own characters, without which powerful motive they probably would have
written nothing. In general, those nearest to the Sovereign, either by
birth or by office, have left no memoirs; and in absolute monarchies the
mainsprings of great events will be found in particulars which the most
exalted persons alone could know. Those who have had but little under
their charge find no subject in it for a book; and those who have long
borne the burden of public business conceive themselves to be forbidden
by duty, or by respect for authority, to disclose all they know. Others,
again, preserve notes, with the intention of reducing them to order when
they shall have reached the period of a happy leisure; vain illusion of
the ambitious, which they cherish, for the most part, but as a veil to
conceal from their sight the hateful image of their inevitable downfall!
and when it does at length take place, despair or chagrin deprives them
of fortitude to dwell upon the dazzling period which they never cease to

Louis XVI. meant to write his own memoirs; the manner in which his
private papers were arranged indicated this design. The Queen also had
the same intention; she long preserved a large correspondence, and a
great number of minute reports, made in the spirit and upon the event of
the moment. But after the 20th of June, 1792, she was obliged to burn
the larger portion of what she had so collected, and the remainder were
conveyed out of France.

Considering the rank and situations of the persons I have named as
capable of elucidating by their writings the history of our political
storms, it will not be imagined that I aim at placing myself on a level
with them; but I have spent half my life either with the daughters of
Louis XV. or with Marie Antoinette. I knew the characters of those
Princesses; I became privy to some extraordinary facts, the publication
of which may be interesting, and the truth of the details will form the
merit of my work.

I was very young when I was placed about the Princesses, the daughters of
Louis XV., in the capacity of reader. I was acquainted with the Court of
Versailles before the time of the marriage of Louis XVI. with the
Archduchess Marie Antoinette.

My father, who was employed in the department of Foreign Affairs, enjoyed
the reputation due to his talents and to his useful labours. He had
travelled much. Frenchmen, on their return home from foreign countries,
bring with them a love for their own, increased in warmth; and no man was
more penetrated with this feeling, which ought to be the first virtue of
every placeman, than my father. Men of high title, academicians, and
learned men, both natives and foreigners, sought my father's
acquaintance, and were gratified by being admitted into his house.

Twenty years before the Revolution I often heard it remarked that the
imposing character of the power of Louis XIV. was no longer to be found
in the Palace of Versailles; that the institutions of the ancient
monarchy were rapidly sinking; and that the people, crushed beneath the
weight of taxes, were miserable, though silent; but that they began to
give ear to the bold speeches of the philosophers, who loudly proclaimed
their sufferings and their rights; and, in short, that the age would not
pass away without the occurrence of some great outburst, which would
unsettle France, and change the course of its progress.

Those who thus spoke were almost all partisans of M. Turgot's system of
administration: they were Mirabeau the father, Doctor Quesnay, Abbe
Bandeau, and Abbe Nicoli, charge d'affaires to Leopold, Grand Duke of
Tuscany, and as enthusiastic an admirer of the maxims of the innovators
as his Sovereign.

My father sincerely respected the purity of intention of these
politicians. With them he acknowledged many abuses in the Government;
but he did not give these political sectarians credit for the talent
necessary for conducting a judicious reform. He told them frankly that
in the art of moving the great machine of Government, the wisest of them
was inferior to a good magistrate; and that if ever the helm of affairs
should be put into their hands, they would be speedily checked in the
execution of their schemes by the immeasurable difference existing
between the most brilliant theories and the simplest practice of

Destiny having formerly placed me near crowned heads, I now amuse my
solitude when in retirement with collecting a variety of facts which may
prove interesting to my family when I shall be no more. The idea of
collecting all the interesting materials which my memory affords occurred
to me from reading the work entitled "Paris, Versailles, and the
Provinces in the Eighteenth Century." That work, composed by a man
accustomed to the best society, is full of piquant anecdotes, nearly all
of which have been recognised as true by the contemporaries of the
author. I have put together all that concerned the domestic life of an
unfortunate Princess, whose reputation is not yet cleared of the stains
it received from the attacks of calumny, and who justly merited a
different lot in life, a different place in the opinion of mankind after
her fall. These memoirs, which were finished ten years ago, have met
with the approbation of some persons; and my son may, perhaps, think
proper to print them after my decease.

J. L. H. C.

--When Madame Campan wrote these lines, she did not anticipate that the
death of her son would precede her own.




JEANNE LOUISE HENRIETTE GENET was born in Paris on the 6th of October,
1752. M. Genet, her father, had obtained, through his own merit and the
influence of the Duc de Choiseul, the place of first clerk in the Foreign

Literature, which he had cultivated in his youth, was often the solace of
his leisure hours. Surrounded by a numerous family, he made the
instruction of his children his chief recreation, and omitted nothing
which was necessary to render them highly accomplished. His clever and
precocious daughter Henriette was very early accustomed to enter society,
and to take an intelligent interest in current topics and public events.
Accordingly, many of her relations being connected with the Court or
holding official positions, she amassed a fund of interesting
recollections and characteristic anecdotes, some gathered from personal
experience, others handed down by old friends of the family.

"The first event which made any impression on me in my childhood," she
says in her reminiscences, "was the attempt of Damiens to assassinate
Louis XV. This occurrence struck me so forcibly that the most minute
details relating to the confusion and grief which prevailed at Versailles
on that day seem as present to my imagination as the most recent events.
I had dined with my father and mother, in company with one of their
friends. The drawing-room was lighted up with a number of candles, and
four card-tables were already occupied, when a friend of the gentleman of
the house came in, with a pale and terrified countenance, and said, in a
voice scarcely audible, 'I bring you terrible news. The King has been
assassinated!' Two ladies in the company fainted; a brigadier of the
Body Guards threw down his cards and cried out, 'I do not wonder at it;
it is those rascally Jesuits.'--'What are you saying, brother?' cried a
lady, flying to him; 'would you get yourself arrested?'--'Arrested! For
what? For unmasking those wretches who want a bigot for a King?' My
father came in; he recommended circumspection, saying that the blow was
not mortal, and that all meetings ought to be suspended at so critical a
moment. He had brought the chaise for my mother, who placed me on her
knees. We lived in the Avenue de Paris, and throughout our drive I heard
incessant cries and sobs from the footpaths.

"At last I saw a man arrested; he was an usher of the King's chamber, who
had gone mad, and was crying out, 'Yes, I know them; the wretches! the
villains!' Our chaise was stopped by this bustle. My mother recognised
the unfortunate man who had been seized; she gave his name to the trooper
who had stopped him. The poor usher was therefore merely conducted to
the gens d'armes' guardroom, which was then in the avenue.

"I have often heard M. de Landsmath, equerry and master of the hounds,
who used to come frequently to my father's, say that on the news of the
attempt on the King's life he instantly repaired to his Majesty.
I cannot repeat the coarse expressions he made use of to encourage his
Majesty; but his account of the affair, long afterwards, amused the
parties in which he was prevailed on to relate it, when all apprehensions
respecting the consequences of the event had subsided. This M. de
Landsmath was an old soldier, who had given proofs of extraordinary
valour; nothing had been able to soften his manners or subdue his
excessive bluntness to the respectful customs of the Court. The King was
very fond of him. He possessed prodigious strength, and had often
contended with Marechal Saxe, renowned for his great bodily power, in
trying the strength of their respective wrists.

[One day when the King was hunting in the forest of St. Germain,
Landemath, riding before him, wanted a cart, filled with the slime
of a pond that had just been cleansed, to draw up out of the way.
The carter resisted, and even answered with impertinence.
Landsmath, without dismounting, seized him by the breast of his
coat, lifted him up, and threw him into his cart.--MADAME CAMPAN.

"M. de Landsmath had a thundering voice. When he came into the King's
apartment he found the Dauphin and Mesdames, his Majesty's daughters,
there; the Princesses, in tears, surrounded the King's bed. Send out all
these weeping women, Sire,' said the old equerry; 'I want to speak to you
alone: The King made a sign to the Princesses to withdraw. 'Come,' said
Landsmath, 'your wound is nothing; you had plenty of waistcoats and
flannels on.' Then uncovering his breast, 'Look here,' said he, showing
four or five great scars, 'these are something like wounds; I received
them thirty years ago; now cough as loud as you can.' The King did so.
''Tis nothing at all,' said Landsmath; 'you must laugh at it; we shall
hunt a stag together in four days.'--'But suppose the blade was
poisoned,' said the King. 'Old grandams' tales,' replied Landsmath;
'if it had been so, the waistcoats and flannels would have rubbed the
poison off.' The King was pacified, and passed a very good night.

"His Majesty one day asked M. de Landsmath how old he was. He was aged,
and by no means fond of thinking of his age; he evaded the question.
A fortnight later, Louis XV. took a paper out of his pocket and read
aloud: 'On such a day in the month of one thousand six hundred and
eighty, was baptised by me, rector of ------, the son of the high and
mighty lord,' etc. 'What's that?' said Landsmath, angrily; 'has your
Majesty been procuring the certificate of my baptism?'--'There it is, you
see, Landsmath,' said the King. 'Well, Sire, hide it as fast as you can;
a prince entrusted with the happiness of twenty-five millions of people
ought not wilfully to hurt the feelings of a single individual.'

"The King learned that Landsmath had lost his confessor, a missionary
priest of the parish of Notre-Dame. It was the custom of the Lazarists
to expose their dead with the face uncovered. Louis XV. wished to try
his equerry's firmness. 'You have lost your confessor, I hear,' said the
King. 'Yes, Sire.'--'He will be exposed with his face bare?'--'Such is
the custom.'--'I command you to go and see him.'--'Sire, my confessor was
my friend; it would be very painful to me.'--'No matter; I command you.'
--'Are you really in earnest, Sire?'--'Quite so.'--'It would be the first
time in my life that I had disobeyed my sovereign's order. I will go.'
The next day the King at his levee, as soon as he perceived Landsmath,
said, 'Have you done as I desired you, Landsmath?'--'Undoubtedly, Sire.'
--'Well, what did you see?'--'Faith, I saw that your Majesty and I are no
great shakes!'

"At the death of Queen Maria Leczinska, M. Campan,--[Her father-in-law,
afterwards secretary to Marie Antoinette.]--then an officer of the
chamber, having performed several confidential duties, the King asked
Madame Adelaide how he should reward him. She requested him to create an
office in his household of master of the wardrobe, with a salary of a
thousand crowns. 'I will do so,' said the King; 'it will be an
honourable title; but tell Campan not to add a single crown to his
expenses, for you will see they will never pay him.'

"Louis XV., by his dignified carriage, and the amiable yet majestic
expression of his features, was worthy to succeed to Louis the Great.
But he too frequently indulged in secret pleasures, which at last were
sure to become known. During several winters, he was passionately fond
of 'candles' end balls', as he called those parties amongst the very
lowest classes of society. He got intelligence of the picnics given by
the tradesmen, milliners, and sempstresses of Versailles, whither he
repaired in a black domino, and masked, accompanied by the captain of his
Guards, masked like himself. His great delight was to go 'en brouette'--
[In a kind of sedan-chair, running on two wheels, and drawn by a
chairman.]--Care was always taken to give notice to five or six officers
of the King's or Queen's chamber to be there, in order that his Majesty
might be surrounded by people on whom he could depend, without finding it
troublesome. Probably the captain of the Guards also took other
precautions of this description on his part. My father-in-law, when the
King and he were both young, has often made one amongst the servants
desired to attend masked at these parties, assembled in some garret, or
parlour of a public-house. In those times, during the carnival, masked
companies had a right to join the citizens' balls; it was sufficient that
one of the party should unmask and name himself.

"These secret excursions, and his too habitual intercourse with ladies
more distinguished for their personal charms than for the advantages of
education, were no doubt the means by which the King acquired many vulgar
expressions which otherwise would never have reached his ears.

"Yet amidst the most shameful excesses the King sometimes suddenly
resumed the dignity of his rank in a very noble manner. The familiar
courtiers of Louis XV. had one day abandoned themselves to the
unrestrained gaiety, of a supper, after returning from the chase. Each
boasted of and described the beauty of his mistress. Some of them amused
themselves with giving a particular account of their wives' personal
defects. An imprudent word, addressed to Louis XV., and applicable only
to the Queen, instantly dispelled all the mirth of the entertainment.
The King assumed his regal air, and knocking with his knife on the table
twice or thrice, 'Gentlemen; said he, 'here is the King!'

"Those men who are most completely abandoned to dissolute manners are
not, on that account, insensible to virtue in women. The Comtesse de
Perigord was as beautiful as virtuous. During some excursions she made
to Choisy, whither she had been invited, she perceived that the King took
great notice of her. Her demeanour of chilling respect, her cautious
perseverance in shunning all serious conversation with the monarch, were
insufficient to extinguish this rising flame, and he at length addressed
a letter to her, worded in the most passionate terms. This excellent
woman instantly formed her resolution: honour forbade her returning the
King's passion, whilst her profound respect for the sovereign made her
unwilling to disturb his tranquillity. She therefore voluntarily
banished herself to an estate she possessed called Chalais, near
Barbezieux, the mansion of which had been uninhabited nearly a century;
the porter's lodge was the only place in a condition to receive her.
From this seat she wrote to his Majesty, explaining her motives for
leaving Court; and she remained there several years without visiting
Paris. Louis XV. was speedily attracted by other objects, and regained
the composure to which Madame de Perigord had thought it her duty to
sacrifice so much. Some years after, Mesdames' lady of honour died.
Many great families solicited the place. The King, without answering any
of their applications, wrote to the Comtesse de Perigord: 'My daughters
have just lost their lady of honour; this place, madame, is your due, as
much on account of your personal qualities as of the illustrious name of
your family.'

"Three young men of the college of St. Germain, who had just completed
their course of studies, knowing no person about the Court, and having
heard that strangers were always well treated there, resolved to dress
themselves completely in the Armenian costume, and, thus clad, to present
themselves to see the grand ceremony of the reception of several knights
of the Order of the Holy Ghost. Their stratagem met with all the success
with which they had flattered themselves. While the procession was
passing through the long mirror gallery, the Swiss of the apartments
placed them in the first row of spectators, recommending every one to pay
all possible attention to the strangers. The latter, however, were
imprudent enough to enter the 'oeil-de-boeuf' chamber, where, were
Messieurs Cardonne and Ruffin, interpreters of Oriental languages, and
the first clerk of the consul's department, whose business it was to
attend to everything which related to the natives of the East who were in
France. The three scholars were immediately surrounded and questioned by
these gentlemen, at first in modern Greek. Without being disconcerted,
they made signs that they did not understand it. They were then
addressed in Turkish and Arabic; at length one of the interpreters,
losing all patience, exclaimed, 'Gentlemen, you certainly must understand
some of the languages in which you have been addressed. What country can
you possibly come from then?'--'From St. Germain-en-Laye, sir,' replied
the boldest among them; 'this is the first time you have put the question
to us in French.' They then confessed the motive of their disguise; the
eldest of them was not more than eighteen years of age. Louis XV. was
informed of the affair. He laughed heartily, ordered them a few hours'
confinement and a good admonition, after which they were to be set at

"Louis XV. liked to talk about death, though he was extremely
apprehensive of it; but his excellent health and his royal dignity
probably made him imagine himself invulnerable. He often said to people
who had very bad colds, 'You've a churchyard cough there.' Hunting one
day in the forest of Senard, in a year in which bread was extremely dear,
he met a man on horseback carrying a coffin. 'Whither are you carrying
that coffin?'--'To the village of ------,' answered the peasant. 'Is it
for a man or a woman?'--'For a man.'--'What did he die of?'--'Of hunger,'
bluntly replied the villager. The King spurred on his horse, and asked
no more questions.

"Weak as Louis XV. was, the Parliaments would never have obtained his
consent to the convocation of the States General. I heard an anecdote on
this subject from two officers attached to that Prince's household. It
was at the period when the remonstrances of the Parliaments, and the
refusals to register the decrees for levying taxes, produced alarm with
respect to the state of the finances. This became the subject of
conversation one evening at the coucher of Louis XV. 'You will see,
Sire,' said a courtier, whose office placed him in close communication
with the King, 'that all this will make it absolutely necessary to
assemble the States General!'

"The King, roused by this speech from the habitual apathy of his
character, seized the courtier by the arm, and said to him, in a passion,
'Never repeat, these words. I am not sanguinary; but had I a brother,
and were he to dare to give me such advice, I would sacrifice him, within
twenty-four hours, to the duration of the monarchy and the tranquillity
of the kingdom.'

"Several years prior to his death the Dauphin, the father of Louis XVI.,
had confluent smallpox, which endangered his life; and after his
convalescence he was long troubled with a malignant ulcer under the nose.
He was injudiciously advised to get rid of it by the use of extract of
lead, which proved effectual; but from that time the Dauphin, who was
corpulent, insensibly grew thin, and a short, dry cough evinced that the
humour, driven in, had fallen on the lungs. Some persons also suspected
him of having taken acids in too great a quantity for the purpose of
reducing his bulk. The state of his health was not, however, such as to
excite alarm. At the camp at Compiegne, in July, 1764, the Dauphin
reviewed the troops, and evinced much activity in the performance of his
duties; it was even observed that he was seeking to gain the attachment
of the army. He presented the Dauphiness to the soldiers, saying, with a
simplicity which at that time made a great sensation, 'Mes enfans, here
is my wife.' Returning late on horseback to Compiegne, he found he had
taken a chill; the heat of the day had been excessive; the Prince's
clothes had been wet with perspiration. An illness followed, in which
the Prince began to spit blood. His principal physician wished to have
him bled; the consulting physicians insisted on purgation, and their
advice was followed. The pleurisy, being ill cured, assumed and retained
all the symptoms of consumption; the Dauphin languished from that period
until December, 1765, and died at Fontainebleau, where the Court, on
account of his condition, had prolonged its stay, which usually ended on
the 2d of November.

"The Dauphiness, his widow, was deeply afflicted; but the immoderate
despair which characterised her grief induced many to suspect that the
loss of the crown was an important part of the calamity she lamented.
She long refused to eat enough to support life; she encouraged her tears
to flow by placing portraits of the Dauphin in every retired part of her
apartments. She had him represented pale, and ready to expire, in a
picture placed at the foot of her bed, under draperies of gray cloth,
with which the chambers of the Princesses were always hung in court
mournings. Their grand cabinet was hung with black cloth, with an
alcove, a canopy, and a throne, on which they received compliments of
condolence after the first period of the deep mourning. The Dauphiness,
some months before the end of her career, regretted her conduct in
abridging it; but it was too late; the fatal blow had been struck. It
may also be presumed that living with a consumptive, man had contributed
to her complaint. This Princess had no opportunity of displaying her
qualities; living in a Court in which she was eclipsed by the King and
Queen, the only characteristics that could be remarked in her were her
extreme attachment to her husband, and her great piety.

"The Dauphin was little known, and his character has been much mistaken.
He himself, as he confessed to his intimate friends, sought to disguise
it. He one day asked one of his most familiar servants, 'What do they
say in Paris of that great fool of a Dauphin?' The person interrogated
seeming confused, the Dauphin urged him to express himself sincerely,
saying, 'Speak freely; that is positively the idea which I wish people to
form of me.'

"As he died of a disease which allows the last moment to be anticipated
long beforehand, he wrote much, and transmitted his affections and his
prejudices to his son by secret notes.

"Madame de Pompadour's brother received Letters of Nobility from his
Majesty, and was appointed superintendent of the buildings and gardens.
He often presented to her Majesty, through the medium of his sister, the
rarest flowers, pineapples, and early vegetables from the gardens of
Trianon and Choisy. One day, when the Marquise came into the Queen's
apartments, carrying a large basket of flowers, which she held in her two
beautiful arms, without gloves, as a mark of respect, the Queen loudly
declared her admiration of her beauty; and seemed as if she wished to
defend the King's choice, by praising her various charms in detail, in a
manner that would have been as suitable to a production of the fine arts
as to a living being. After applauding the complexion, eyes, and fine
arms of the favourite, with that haughty condescension which renders
approbation more offensive than flattering, the Queen at length requested
her to sing, in the attitude in which she stood, being desirous of
hearing the voice and musical talent by which the King's Court had been
charmed in the performances of the private apartments, and thus combining
the gratification of the ears with that of the eyes. The Marquise, who
still held her enormous basket, was perfectly sensible of something
offensive in this request, and tried to excuse herself from singing. The
Queen at last commanded her; she then exerted her fine voice in the solo
of Armida--'At length he is in my power.' The change in her Majesty's
countenance was so obvious that the ladies present at this scene had the
greatest difficulty to keep theirs.

"The Queen was affable and modest; but the more she was thankful in her
heart to Heaven for having placed her on the first throne in Europe, the
more unwilling she was to be reminded of her elevation. This sentiment
induced her to insist on the observation of all the forms of respect due
to royal birth; whereas in other princes the consciousness of that birth
often induces them to disdain the ceremonies of etiquette, and to prefer
habits of ease and simplicity. There was a striking contrast in this
respect between Maria Leczinska and Marie Antoinette, as has been justly
and generally observed. The latter unfortunate Queen, perhaps, carried
her disregard of everything belonging to the strict forms of etiquette
too far. One day, when the Marechale de Mouchy was teasing her with
questions relative to the extent to which she would allow the ladies the
option of taking off or wearing their cloaks, and of pinning up the
lappets of their caps, or letting them hang down, the Queen replied to
her, in my presence: 'Arrange all those matters, madame, just as you
please; but do not imagine that a queen, born Archduchess of Austria, can
attach that importance to them which might be felt by a Polish princess
who had become Queen of France.'

"The virtues and information of the great are always evinced by their
conduct; their accomplishments, coming within the scope of flattery, are
difficult to be ascertained by any authentic proofs, and those who have
lived near them may be excused for some degree of scepticism with regard
to their attainments of this kind. If they draw or paint, there is
always an able artist present, who, if he does not absolutely guide the
pencil with his own hand, directs it by his advice. If a princess
attempt a piece of embroidery in colours, of that description which ranks
amongst the productions of the arts, a skilful embroideress is employed
to undo and repair whatever has been spoilt. If the princess be a
musician, there are no ears that will discover when she is out of tune;
at least there is no tongue that will tell her so. This imperfection in
the accomplishments of the great is but a slight misfortune. It is
sufficiently meritorious in them to engage in such pursuits, even with
indifferent success, because this taste and the protection it extends
produce abundance of talent on every side. Maria Leczinska delighted in
the art of painting, and imagined she herself could draw and paint. She
had a drawing-master, who passed all his time in her cabinet. She
undertook to paint four large Chinese pictures, with which she wished to
ornament her private drawing-room, which was richly furnished with rare
porcelain and the finest marbles. This painter was entrusted with the
landscape and background of the pictures; he drew the figures with a
pencil; the faces and arms were also left by the Queen to his execution;
she reserved to herself nothing but the draperies, and the least
important accessories. The Queen every morning filled up the outline
marked out for her, with a little red, blue, or green colour, which the
master prepared on the palette, and even filled her brush with,
constantly repeating, 'Higher up, Madame--lower down, Madame--a little to
the right--more to the left.' After an hour's work, the time for hearing
mass, or some other family or pious duty, would interrupt her Majesty;
and the painter, putting the shadows into the draperies she had painted,
softening off the colour where she had laid too much, etc., finished the
small figures. When the work was completed the private drawing-room was
decorated with her Majesty's work; and the firm persuasion of this good
Queen that she had painted it herself was so entire that she left this
cabinet, with all its furniture and paintings, to the Comtesse de
Noailles, her lady of honour. She added to the bequest: 'The pictures in
my cabinet being my own work, I hope the Comtesse de Noailles will
preserve them for my sake.' Madame de Noailles, afterwards Marechale de
Mouchy, had a new pavilion constructed in her hotel in the Faubourg St.
Germain, in order to form a suitable receptacle for the Queen's legacy;
and had the following inscription placed over the door, in letters of
gold: 'The innocent falsehood of a good princess.'

"Maria Leczinska could never look with cordiality on the Princess of
Saxony, who married the Dauphin; but the attentive behaviour of the
Dauphiness at length made her Majesty forget that the Princess was the
daughter of a king who wore her father's crown. Nevertheless, although
the Queen now saw in the Princess of Saxony only a wife beloved by her
son, she never could forget that Augustus wore the crown of Stanislaus.
One day an officer of her chamber having undertaken to ask a private
audience of her for the Saxon minister, and the Queen being unwilling to
grant it, he ventured to add that he should not have presumed to ask this
favour of the Queen had not the minister been the ambassador of a member
of the family. 'Say of an enemy of the family,' replied the Queen,
angrily; 'and let him come in.'

"Comte de Tesse, father of the last Count of that name, who left no
children, was first equerry to Queen Maria Leczinska. She esteemed his
virtues, but often diverted herself at the expense of his simplicity.
One day, when the conversation turned on the noble military, actions by
which the French nobility was distinguished, the Queen said to the Count:
'And your family, M. de Tesse, has been famous, too, in the field.'--
'Ah, Madame, we have all been killed in our masters' service!'--'How
rejoiced I am,' replied the Queen, 'that you have revived to tell me of
it.' The son of this worthy M. de Tesse was married to the amiable and
highly gifted daughter of the Duc d'Ayen, afterwards Marechale de
Noailles. He was exceedingly fond of his daughter-in-law, and never
could speak of her without emotion. The Queen, to please him, often
talked to him about the young Countess, and one day asked him which of
her good qualities seemed to him most conspicuous. 'Her gentleness,
Madame, her gentleness,' said he, with tears in his eyes; 'she is so
mild, so soft,--as soft as a good carriage.'--'Well,' said her Majesty,
'that's an excellent comparison for a first equerry.'

"In 1730 Queen Maria Leczinska, going to mass, met old Marechal Villars,
leaning on a wooden crutch not worth fifteen pence. She rallied him
about it, and the Marshal told her that he had used it ever since he had
received a wound which obliged him to add this article to the equipments
of the army. Her Majesty, smiling, said she thought this crutch so
unworthy of him that she hoped to induce him to give it up. On returning
home she despatched M. Campan to Paris with orders to purchase at the
celebrated Germain's the handsomest cane, with a gold enamelled crutch,
that he could find, and carry it without delay to Mardchal Villars's
hotel, and present it to him from her. He was announced accordingly, and
fulfilled his commission. The Marshal, in attending him to the door,
requested him to express his gratitude to the Queen, and said that he had
nothing fit to offer to an officer who had the honour to belong to her
Majesty; but he begged him to accept of his old stick, saying that his
grandchildren would probably some day be glad to possess the cane with
which he had commanded at Marchiennes and Denain. The known frugality of
Marechal Villars appears in this anecdote; but he was not mistaken with
respect to the estimation in which his stick would be held. It was
thenceforth kept with veneration by M. Campan's family. On the 10th of
August, 1792, a house which I occupied on the Carrousel, at the entrance
of the Court of the Tuileries, was pillaged and nearly burnt down. The
cane of Marechal Villars was thrown into the Carrousel as of no value,
and picked up by my servant. Had its old master been living at that
period we should not have witnessed such a deplorable day.

"Before the Revolution there were customs and words in use at Versailles
with which few people were acquainted. The King's dinner was called
'The King's meat.' Two of the Body Guard accompanied the attendants who
carried the dinner; every one rose as they passed through the halls,
saying, 'There is the King's meat.' All precautionary duties were
distinguished by the words 'in case.' One of the guards might be heard
to say, 'I am in case in the forest of St. Germain.' In the evening they
always brought the Queen a large bowl of broth, a cold roast fowl, one
bottle of wine, one of orgeat, one of lemonade, and some other articles,
which were called the 'in case' for the night. An old medical gentleman,
who had been physician in ordinary to Louis XIV., and was still living at
the time of the marriage of Louis XV., told M. Campan's father an
anecdote which seems too remarkable to have remained unknown;
nevertheless he was a man of honour, incapable of inventing this story.
His name was Lafosse. He said that Louis XIV. was informed that the
officers of his table evinced, in the most disdainful and offensive
manner, the mortification they felt at being obliged to eat at the table
of the comptroller of the kitchen along with Moliere, valet de chambre to
his Majesty, because Moliere had performed on the stage; and that this
celebrated author consequently declined appearing at that table. Louis
XIV., determined to put an end to insults which ought never to have been
offered to one of the greatest geniuses of the age, said to him one
morning at the hour of his private levee, 'They say you live very poorly
here, Moliere; and that the officers of my chamber do not find you good
enough to eat with them. Perhaps you are hungry; for my part I awoke
with a very good appetite this morning: sit down at this table. Serve up
my 'in case' for the night there.' The King, then cutting up his fowl,
and ordering Moliere to sit down, helped him to a wing, at the same time
taking one for himself, and ordered the persons entitled to familiar
entrance, that is to say the most distinguished and favourite people at
Court, to be admitted. 'You see me,' said the King to them, 'engaged in
entertaining Moliere, whom my valets de chambre do not consider
sufficiently good company for them.' From that time Moliere never had
occasion to appear at the valets' table; the whole Court was forward
enough to send him invitations.

"M. de Lafosse used also to relate that a brigade-major of the Body
Guard, being ordered to place the company in the little theatre at
Versailles, very roughly turned out one of the King's comptrollers who
had taken his seat on one of the benches, a place to which his newly
acquired office entitled him. In vain he insisted on his quality and his
right. The altercation was ended by the brigade-major in these words:
'Gentlemen Body Guards, do your duty.' In this case their duty was to
turn the offender out at the door. This comptroller, who had paid sixty
or eighty thousand francs for his appointment, was a man of a good
family, and had had the honour of serving his Majesty five and twenty
years in one of his regiments; thus ignominiously driven out of the hall,
he placed himself in the King's way in the great hall of the Guards, and,
bowing to his Majesty, requested him to vindicate the honour of an old
soldier who had wished to end his days in his Prince's civil employment,
now that age had obliged him to relinquish his military service. The
King stopped, heard his story, and then ordered him to follow him. His
Majesty attended the representation in a sort of amphitheatre, in which
his armchair was placed; behind him was a row of stools for the captain
of the Guards, the first gentleman of the chamber, and other great
officers. The brigade-major was entitled to one of these places; the
King stopped opposite the seat which ought to have been occupied by that
officer and said to the comptroller, 'Take, monsieur, for this evening,
the place near my person of him who has offended you, and let the
expression of my displeasure at this unjust affront satisfy you instead
of any other reparation:

"During the latter years of the reign of Louis XIV. he never went out but
in a chair carried by porters, and he showed a great regard for a man
named D'Aigremont, one of those porters who always went in front and
opened the door of the chair. The slightest preference shown by
sovereigns, even to the meanest of their servants, never fails to excite

[People of the very first rank did not disdain to descend to the
level of D'Aigremont. "Lauzun," said the Duchesse d'Orleans in her
"Memoirs," "sometimes affects stupidity in order to show people
their own with impunity, for he is very malicious. In order to make
Marechal de Tease feel the impropriety of his familiarity with
people of the common sort, he called out, in the drawing-room at
Marly, 'Marechal, give me a pinch of snuff; some of your best, such
as you take in the morning with Monsieur d'Aigremont, the
chairman.'"--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

The King had done something for this man's numerous family, and
frequently talked to him. An abbe belonging to the chapel thought proper
to request D'Aigremont to present a memorial to the King, in which he
requested his Majesty to grant him a benefice. Louis XIV. did not
approve of the liberty thus taken by his chairman, and said to him, in a
very angry tone, 'D'Aigremont, you have been made to do a very unbecoming
act, and I am sure there must be simony in the case.'--'No, Sire, there
is not the least ceremony in the case, I assure you,' answered the poor
man, in great consternation; 'the abbe only said he would give me a
hundred Louis.'--'D'Aigremont,' said the King, 'I forgive you on account
of your ignorance and candour. I will give you the hundred Louis out of
my privy purse; but I will discharge you the very next time you venture
to present a memorial to me.'

"Louis XIV. was very kind to those of his servants who were nearest his
person; but the moment he assumed his royal deportment, those who were
most accustomed to see him in his domestic character were as much
intimidated as if they were appearing in his presence for the first time
in their lives. Some of the members of his Majesty's civil household,
then called 'commensalite', enjoying the title of equerry, and the
privileges attached to officers of the King's household, had occasion to
claim some prerogatives, the exercise of which the municipal body of St.
Germain, where they resided, disputed with them. Being assembled in
considerable numbers in that town, they obtained the consent of the
minister of the household to allow them to send a deputation to the King;
and for that purpose chose from amongst them two of his Majesty's valets
de chambre named Bazire and Soulaigre. The King's levee being over, the
deputation of the inhabitants of the town of St. Germain was called in.
They entered with confidence; the King looked at them, and assumed his
imposing attitude. Bazire, one of these valets de chambre, was about to
speak, but Louis the Great was looking on him. He no longer saw the
Prince he was accustomed to attend at home; he was intimidated, and could
not find words; he recovered, however, and began as usual with the word
Sire. But timidity again overpowered him, and finding himself unable to
recollect the slightest particle of what he came to say, he repeated the
word Sire several times, and at length concluded by paying, 'Sire, here
is Soulaigre.' Soulaigre, who was very angry with Bazire, and expected
to acquit himself much better, then began to speak; but he also, after
repeating 'Sire' several times, found his embarrassment increasing upon
him, until his confusion equalled that of his colleague; he therefore
ended with 'Sire, here is Bazire.' The King smiled, and answered,
'Gentlemen, I have been informed of the business upon which you have been
deputed to wait on me, and I will take care that what is right shall be
done. I am highly satisfied with the manner in which you have fulfilled
your functions as deputies.'"

Mademoiselle Genet's education was the object of her father's particular
attention. Her progress in the study of music and of foreign languages
was surprising; Albaneze instructed her in singing, and Goldoni taught
her Italian. Tasso, Milton, Dante, and even Shakespeare, soon became
familiar to her. But her studies were particularly directed to the
acquisition of a correct and elegant style of reading. Rochon de
Chabannes, Duclos, Barthe, Marmontel, and Thomas took pleasure in hearing
her recite the finest scenes of Racine. Her memory and genius at the age
of fourteen charmed them; they talked of her talents in society, and
perhaps applauded them too highly.

She was soon spoken of at Court. Some ladies of high rank, who took an
interest in the welfare of her family, obtained for her the place of
Reader to the Princesses. Her presentation, and the circumstances which
preceded it, left a strong impression on her mind. "I was then fifteen,"
she says; "my father felt some regret at yielding me up at so early an
age to the jealousies of the Court. The day on which I first put on my
Court dress, and went to embrace him in his study, tears filled his eyes,
and mingled with the expression of his pleasure. I possessed some
agreeable talents, in addition to the instruction which it had been his
delight to bestow on me. He enumerated all my little accomplishments, to
convince me of the vexations they would not fail to draw upon me."

Mademoiselle Genet, at fifteen, was naturally less of a philosopher than
her father was at forty. Her eyes were dazzled by the splendour which
glittered at Versailles. "The Queen, Maria Leczinska, the wife of Louis
XV., died," she says, "just before I was presented at Court. The grand
apartments hung with black, the great chairs of state, raised on several
steps, and surmounted by a canopy adorned with Plumes; the caparisoned
horses, the immense retinue in Court mourning, the enormous shoulder-
knots, embroidered with gold and silver spangles, which decorated the
coats of the pages and footmen,--all this magnificence had such an effect
on my senses that I could scarcely support myself when introduced to the
Princesses. The first day of my reading in the inner apartment of Madame
Victoire I found it impossible to pronounce more than two sentences; my
heart palpitated, my voice faltered, and my sight failed. How well
understood was the potent magic of the grandeur and dignity which ought
to surround sovereigns! Marie Antoinette, dressed in white, with a plain
straw hat, and a little switch in her hand, walking on foot, followed by
a single servant, through the walks leading to the Petit Trianon, would
never have thus disconcerted me; and I believe this extreme simplicity
was the first and only real mistake of all those with which she is

When once her awe and confusion had subsided, Mademoiselle Genet was
enabled to form a more accurate judgment of her situation. It was by no
means attractive; the Court of the Princesses, far removed from the
revels to which Louie XV. was addicted, was grave, methodical, and dull.
Madame Adelaide, the eldest of the Princesses, lived secluded in the
interior of her apartments; Madame Sophie was haughty; Madame Louise a
devotee. Mademoiselle Genet never quitted the Princesses' apartments;
but she attached herself most particularly to Madame Victoire. This
Princess had possessed beauty; her countenance bore an expression of
benevolence, and her conversation was kind, free, and unaffected. The
young reader excited in her that feeling which a woman in years, of an
affectionate disposition, readily extends to young people who are growing
up in her sight, and who possess some useful talents. Whole days were
passed in reading to the Princess, as she sat at work in her apartment.
Mademoiselle Genet frequently saw there Louis XV., of whom she has
related the following anecdote:

"One day, at the Chateau of Compiegne, the King came in whilst I was
reading to Madame. I rose and went into another room. Alone, in an
apartment from which there was no outlet, with no book but a Massillon,
which I had been reading to the Princess, happy in all the lightness and
gaiety of fifteen, I amused myself with turning swiftly round, with my
court hoop, and suddenly kneeling down to see my rose-coloured silk
petticoat swelled around me by the wind. In the midst of this grave
employment enters his Majesty, followed by one of the Princesses. I
attempt to rise; my feet stumble, and down I fall in the midst of my
robes, puffed out by the wind. 'Daughter,' said Louis XV., laughing
heartily, 'I advise you to send back to school a reader who makes
cheeses.'" The railleries of Louis XV. were often much more cutting,
as Mademoiselle Genet experienced on another occasion, which, thirty
years afterwards, she could not relate without an emotion of fear.
"Louis XV.," she said, "had the most imposing presence. His eyes
remained fixed upon you all the time he was speaking; and,
notwithstanding the beauty of his features, he inspired a sort of fear.
I was very young, it is true, when he first spoke to me; you shall judge
whether it was in a very gracious manner. I was fifteen. The King was
going out to hunt, and a numerous retinue followed him. As he stopped
opposite me he said, 'Mademoiselle Genet, I am assured you are very
learned, and understand four or five foreign languages.'--'I know only
two, Sire,' I answered, trembling. 'Which are they?' English and
Italian.'--'Do you speak them fluently?' Yes, Sire, very fluently.'
'That is quite enough to drive a husband mad.' After this pretty
compliment the King went on; the retinue saluted me, laughing; and, for
my part, I remained for some moments motionless with surprise and

At the time when the French alliance was proposed by the Duc de Choiseul
there was at Vienna a doctor named Gassner,--[Jean Joseph Gassner, a
pretender to miraculous powers.]--who had fled thither to seek an asylum
against the persecutions of his sovereign, one of the ecclesiastical
electors. Gassner, gifted with an extraordinary warmth of imagination,
imagined that he received inspirations. The Empress protected him, saw
him occasionally, rallied him on his visions, and, nevertheless, heard
them with a sort of interest. "Tell me,"--said she to him one day,
"whether my Antoinette will be happy." Gassner turned pale, and remained
silent. Being still pressed by the Empress, and wishing to give a
general expression to the idea with which he seemed deeply occupied,
"Madame," he replied, "there are crosses for all shoulders."

The occurrences at the Place Louis XV. on the marriage festivities at
Paris are generally known. The conflagration of the scaffolds intended
for the fireworks, the want of foresight of the authorities, the avidity
of robbers, the murderous career of the coaches, brought about and
aggravated the disasters of that day; and the young Dauphiness, coming
from Versailles, by the Cours la Reine, elated with joy, brilliantly
decorated, and eager to witness the rejoicings of the whole people, fled,
struck with consternation and drowned in tears, from the dreadful scene.
This tragic opening of the young Princess's life in France seemed to bear
out Gassner's hint of disaster, and to be ominous of the terrible future
which awaited her.

In the same year in which Marie Antoinette was married to the Dauphin,
Henriette Genet married a son of M. Campan, already mentioned as holding
an office at the Court; and when the household of the Dauphiness was
formed, Madame Campan was appointed her reader, and received from Marie
Antoinette a consistent kindness and confidence to which by her loyal
service she was fully entitled. Madame Campan's intelligence and
vivacity made her much more sympathetic to a young princess, gay and
affectionate in disposition, and reared in the simplicity of a German
Court, than her lady of honour, the Comtesse de Noailles. This
respectable lady, who was placed near her as a minister of the laws of
etiquette, instead of alleviating their weight, rendered their yoke
intolerable to her.

"Madame de Noailles," says Madame Campan, "abounded in virtues. Her
piety, charity, and irreproachable morals rendered her worthy of praise;
but etiquette was to her a sort of atmosphere; at the slightest
derangement of the consecrated order, one would have thought the
principles of life would forsake her frame.

"One day I unintentionally threw this poor lady into a terrible agony.
The Queen was receiving I know not whom,--some persons just presented, I
believe; the lady of honour, the Queen's tirewoman, and the ladies of the
bedchamber, were behind the Queen. I was near the throne, with the two
women on duty. All was right,--at least I thought so. Suddenly I
perceived the eyes of Madame de Noailles fixed on mine. She made a sign
with her head, and then raised her eyebrows to the top of her forehead,
lowered them, raised them again, then began to make little signs with her
hand. From all this pantomime, I could easily perceive that something
was not as it should be; and as I looked about on all sides to find out
what it was, the agitation of the Countess kept increasing. The Queen,
who perceived all this, looked at me with a smile; I found means to
approach her Majesty, who said to me in a whisper, 'Let down your
lappets, or the Countess will expire.' All this bustle arose from two
unlucky pins which fastened up my lappets, whilst the etiquette of
costume said 'Lappets hanging down.'"

Her contempt of the vanities of etiquette became the pretext for the
first reproaches levelled at the Queen. What misconduct might not be
dreaded from a princess who could absolutely go out without a hoop! and
who, in the salons of Trianon, instead of discussing the important rights
to chairs and stools, good-naturedly invited everybody to be seated.

[M. de Fresne Forget, being one day in company with the Queen
Marguerite, told her he was astonished how men and women with such
great ruffs could eat soup without spoiling them; and still more how
the ladies could be gallant with their great fardingales. The Queen
made no answer at that time, but a few days after, having a very
large ruff on, and some 'bouili' to eat, she ordered a very long
spoon to be brought, and ate her 'bouili' with it, without soiling
her ruff. Upon which, addressing herself to M. de Fresne, she said,
laughing, "There now, you see, with a little ingenuity one may
manage anything."--"Yes, faith, madame," said the good man, "as far
as regards the soup I am satisfied."--LAPLACE's "Collection," vol.
ii., p. 350.]

The anti-Austrian party, discontented and vindictive, became spies upon
her conduct, exaggerated her slightest errors, and calumniated her most
innocent proceedings. "What seems unaccountable at the first glance,"
says Montjoie, "is that the first attack on the reputation of the Queen
proceeded from the bosom of the Court. What interest could the courtiers
have in seeking her destruction, which involved that of the King? Was it
not drying up the source of all the advantages they enjoyed, or could
hope for?"

[Madame Campan relates the following among many anecdotes
illustrative of the Queen's kindness of heart: "A petition was
addressed to the Queen by a corporation in the neighbourhood of
Paris, praying for the destruction of the game which destroyed their
crops. I was the bearer of this petition to her Majesty, who said,
'I will undertake to have these good people relieved from so great
an annoyance.' She gave the document to M. de Vermond in my
presence, saying, 'I desire that immediate justice be done to this
petition.' An assurance was given that her order should be attended
to, but six weeks afterwards a second petition was sent up, for the
nuisance had not been abated after all. If the second petition had
reached the Queen, M. de Vermond would have received a sharp
reprimand. She was always so happy when it was in her power to do

The quick repartee, which was another of the Queen's
characteristics, was less likely to promote her popularity. "M.
Brunier," says Madame Campan, "was physician to the royal children.
During his visits to the palace, if the death of any of his patients
was alluded to, he never failed to say, 'Ah! there I lost one of my
best friends! 'Well,' said the Queen, 'if he loses all his patients
who are his friends, what will become of those who are not?'"]

When the terrible Danton exclaimed, "The kings of Europe menace us; it
behooves us to defy them; let us throw down to them the head of a king as
our gage!" these detestable words, followed by so cruel a result, formed,
however, a formidable stroke of policy. But the Queen! What urgent
reasons of state could Danton, Collot d'Herbois, and Robespierre allege
against her? What savage greatness did they discover in stirring up a
whole nation to avenge their quarrel on a woman? What remained of her
former power? She was a captive, a widow, trembling for her children!
In those judges, who at once outraged modesty and nature; in that people
whose vilest scoffs pursued her to the scaffold, who could have
recognised the generous people of France? Of all the crimes which
disgraced the Revolution, none was more calculated to show how the spirit
of party can degrade the character of a nation.

The news of this dreadful event reached Madame Campan in an obscure
retreat which she had chosen. She had not succeeded in her endeavours to
share the Queen's captivity, and she expected every moment a similar
fate. After escaping, almost miraculously, from the murderous fury of
the Marseillais; after being denounced and pursued by Robespierre, and
entrusted, through the confidence of the King and Queen, with papers of
the utmost importance, Madame Campan went to Coubertin, in the valley of
Chevreuse. Madame Auguid, her sister, had just committed suicide, at the
very moment of her arrest.

[Maternal affection prevailed over her religious sentiments; she
wished to preserve the wreck of her fortune for her children. Had
she deferred this fatal act for one day she would have been saved;
the cart which conveyed Robespierre to execution stopped her funeral

The scaffold awaited Madame Campan, when the 9th of Thermidor restored
her to life; but did not restore to her the most constant object of her
thoughts, her zeal, and her devotion.

A new career now opened to Madame Campan. At Coubertin, surrounded by
her nieces, she was fond of directing their studies. This occupation
caused her ideas to revert to the subject of education, and awakened once
more the inclinations of her youth. At the age of twelve years she could
never meet a school of young ladies passing through the streets without
feeling ambitious of the situation and authority of their mistress. Her
abode at Court had diverted but not altered her inclinations. "A month
after the fall of Robespierre," she says, "I considered as to the means
of providing for myself, for a mother seventy years of age, my sick
husband, my child nine years old, and part of my ruined family. I now
possessed nothing in the world but an assignat of five hundred francs.
I had become responsible for my husband's debts, to the amount of thirty
thousand francs. I chose St. Germain to set up a boarding-school, for
that town did not remind me, as Versailles did, both of happy times and
of the misfortunes of France. I took with me a nun of l'Enfant-Jesus, to
give an unquestionable pledge of my religious principles. The school of
St. Germain was the first in which the opening of an oratory was ventured
on. The Directory was displeased at it, and ordered it to be immediately
shut up; and some time after commissioners were sent to desire that the
reading of the Scriptures should be suppressed in my school. I inquired
what books were to be substituted in their stead. After some minutes'
conversation, they observed: 'Citizeness, you are arguing after the old
fashion; no reflections. The nation commands; we must have obedience,
and no reasoning.' Not having the means of printing my prospectus, I
wrote a hundred copies of it, and sent them to the persons of my
acquaintance who had survived the dreadful commotions. At the year's end
I had sixty pupils; soon afterwards a hundred. I bought furniture and
paid my debts."

The rapid success of the establishment at St. Germain was undoubtedly
owing to the talents, experience, and excellent principles of Madame
Campan, seconded by public opinion. All property had changed hands; all
ranks found themselves confusedly jumbled by the shock of the Revolution:
the grand seigneur dined at the table of the opulent contractor; and the
witty and elegant marquise was present at the ball by the side of the
clumsy peasant lately grown rich. In the absence of the ancient
distinctions, elegant manners and polished language now formed a kind of
aristocracy. The house of St. Germain, conducted by a lady who possessed
the deportment and the habits of the best society, was not only a school
of knowledge, but a school of the world.

"A friend of Madame de Beauharnais," continues Madame Campan, "brought me
her daughter Hortense de Beauharnais, and her niece Emilie de
Beauharnais. Six months afterwards she came to inform me of her marriage
with a Corsican gentleman, who had been brought up in the military
school, and was then a general. I was requested to communicate this
information to her daughter, who long lamented her mother's change of
name. I was also desired to watch over the education of little Eugene de
Beauharnais, who was placed at St. Germain, in the same school with my

"A great intimacy sprang up between my nieces and these young people.
Madame de Beauharnaias set out for Italy, and left her children with me.
On her return, after the conquests of Bonaparte, that general, much
pleased with the improvement of his stepdaughter, invited me to dine at
Malmaison, and attended two representations of 'Esther' at my school."

He also showed his appreciation of her talents by sending his sister
Caroline to St. Germain. Shortly before Caroline's marriage to Murat,
and while she was yet at St. Germain, Napoleon observed to Madame Campan:
"I do not like those love matches between young people whose brains are
excited by the flames of the imagination. I had other views for my
sister. Who knows what high alliance I might have procured for her! She
is thoughtless, and does not form a just notion of my situation. The
time will come when, perhaps, sovereigns might dispute for her hand. She
is about to marry a brave man; but in my situation that is not enough.
Fate should be left to fulfil her decrees."

[Madame Murat one day said to Madame Campan: "I am astonished that
you are not more awed in our presence; you speak to us with as much
familiarity as when we were your pupils!"--"The best thing you can
do," replied Madame Campan, "is to forget your titles when you are
with me, for I can never be afraid of queens whom I have held under
the rod."]

Madame Campan dined at the Tuileries in company with the Pope's nuncio,
at the period when the Concordat was in agitation. During dinner the
First Consul astonished her by the able manner in which he conversed on
the subject under discussion. She said he argued so logically that his
talent quite amazed her. During the consulate Napoleon one day said to
her, "If ever I establish a republic of women, I shall make you First

Napoleon's views as to "woman's mission" are now well known. Madame
Campan said that she heard from him that when he founded the convent of
the Sisters of la Charite he was urgently solicited to permit perpetual
vows. He, however, refused to do so, on the ground that tastes may
change, and that he did not see the necessity of excluding from the world
women who might some time or other return to it, and become useful
members of society. "Nunneries," he added, "assail the very roots of
population. It is impossible to calculate the loss which a nation
sustains in having ten thousand women shut up in cloisters. War does but
little mischief; for the number of males is at least one-twenty-fifth
greater than that of females. Women may, if they please, be allowed to
make perpetual vows at fifty years of age; for then their task is

Napoleon once said to Madame Campan, "The old systems of education were
good for nothing; what do young women stand in need of, to be well
brought up in France?"--"Of mothers," answered Madame Campan. "It is
well said," replied Napoleon. "Well, madame, let the French be indebted
to you for bringing up mothers for their children."--"Napoleon one day
interrupted Madame de Stael in the midst of a profound political argument
to ask her whether she had nursed her children."

Never had the establishment at St. Germain been in a more flourishing
condition than in 1802-3. What more could Madame Campan wish? For ten
years absolute in her own house, she seemed also safe from the caprice of
power. But the man who then disposed of the fate of France and Europe
was soon to determine otherwise.

After the battle of Austerlitz the State undertook to bring up, at the
public expense, the sisters, daughters, or nieces of those who were
decorated with the Cross of Honour. The children of the warriors killed
or wounded in glorious battle were to find paternal care in the ancient
abodes of the Montmorencys and the Condes. Accustomed to concentrate
around him all superior talents, fearless himself of superiority,
Napoleon sought for a person qualified by experience and abilities to
conduct the institution of Ecouen; he selected Madame Campan.

Comte de Lacepede, the pupil, friend, and rival of Buffon, then Grand
Chancellor of the Legion of Honour, assisted her with his enlightened
advice. Napoleon, who could descend with ease from the highest political
subjects to the examination of the most minute details; who was as much
at home in inspecting a boarding-school for young ladies as in reviewing
the grenadiers of his guard; whom it was impossible to deceive, and who
was not unwilling to find fault when he visited the establishment at
Ecouen,--was forced to say, "It is all right."

[Napoleon wished to be informed of every particular of the
furniture, government, and order of the house, the instruction and
education of the pupils. The internal regulations were submitted to
him. One of the intended rules, drawn up by Madame Campan, proposed
that the children should hear mass on Sundays and Thursdays.
Napoleon himself wrote on the margin, "every day."]

"In the summer of 1811," relates Madame Campan, "Napoleon, accompanied by
Marie Louise and several personages of distinction, visited the
establishment at Ecouen. After inspecting the chapel and the
refectories, Napoleon desired that the three principal pupils might be
presented to him. 'Sire,' said I, 'I cannot select three; I must present
six.' He turned on his heel and repaired to the platform, where, after
seeing all the classes assembled, he repeated his demand. 'Sire,' said
I, 'I beg leave to inform your Majesty that I should commit an injustice
towards several other pupils who are as far advanced as those whom I
might have the honour to present to you.'

"Berthier and others intimated to me, in a low tone of voice, that I
should get into disgrace by my noncompliance. Napoleon looked over the
whole of the house, entered into the most trivial details, and after
addressing questions to several of the pupils: 'Well, madame,' said he,
'I am satisfied; show me your six best pupils.'" Madame Campan presented
them to him; and as he stepped into his carriage, he desired that their
names might be sent to Berthier. On addressing the list to the Prince de
Neufchatel, Madame Campan added to it the names of four other pupils, and
all the ten obtained a pension of 300 francs. During the three hours
which this visit occupied, Marie Louise did not utter a single word.

M. de Beaumont, chamberlain to the Empress Josephine, one day at
Malmaison was expressing his regret that M. D-----, one of Napoleon's
generals, who had recently been promoted, did not belong to a great
family. "You mistake, monsieur," observed Madame Campan, "he is of very
ancient descent; he is one of the nephews of Charlemagne. All the heroes
of our army sprang from the elder branch of that sovereign's family, who
never emigrated."

When Madame Campan related this circumstance she added: "After the 30th
of March, 1814, some officers of the army of Conde presumed to say to
certain French marshals that it was a pity they were not more nobly
connected. In answer to this, one of them said, 'True nobility,
gentlemen, consists in giving proofs of it. The field of honour has
witnessed ours; but where are we to look for yours? Your swords have
rusted in their scabbards. Our laurels may well excite envy; we have
earned them nobly, and we owe them solely to our valour. You have merely
inherited a name. This is the distinction between us."

[When one of the princes of the smaller German States was showing
Marechal Lannes, with a contemptuous superiority of manner but ill
concealed, the portraits of his ancestors, and covertly alluding to
the absence of Lannes's, that general turned the tables on him by
haughtily remarking, "But I am an ancestor."]

Napoleon used to observe that if he had had two such field-marshals as
Suchet in Spain he would have not only conquered but kept the Peninsula.
Suchet's sound judgment, his governing yet conciliating spirit, his
military tact, and his bravery, had procured him astonishing success.
"It is to be regretted," added he, "that a sovereign cannot improvise men
of his stamp."

On the 19th of March, 1815, a number of papers were left in the King's
closet. Napoleon ordered them to be examined, and among them was found
the letter written by Madame Campan to Louis XVIII., immediately after
the first restoration. In this letter she enumerated the contents of the
portfolio which Louis XVI. had placed under her care. When Napoleon read
this letter, he said, "Let it be sent to the office of Foreign Affairs;
it is an historical document."

Madame Campan thus described a visit from the Czar of Russia: "A few days
after the battle of Paris the Emperor Alexander came to Ecouen, and he
did me the honour to breakfast with me. After showing him over the
establishment I conducted him to the park, the most elevated point of
which overlooked the plain of St. Denis. 'Sire,' said I, 'from this
point I saw the battle of Paris'--'If,' replied the Emperor, 'that battle
had lasted two hours longer we should not have had a single cartridge at
our disposal. We feared that we had been betrayed; for on arriving so
precipitately before Paris all our plans were laid, and we did not expect
the firm resistance we experienced.' I next conducted the Emperor to the
chapel, and showed him the seats occupied by 'le connetable' (the
constable) of Montmorency, and 'la connetable' (the constable's lady),
when they went to hear mass. 'Barbarians like us,' observed the Emperor,
'would say la connetable and le connetable.'

"The Czar inquired into the most minute particulars respecting the
establishment of Ecouen, and I felt great pleasure in answering his
questions. I recollect having dwelt on several points which appeared to
me to be very important, and which were in their spirit hostile to
aristocratic principles. For example, I informed his Majesty that the
daughters of distinguished and wealthy individuals and those of the
humble and obscure mingled indiscriminately in the establishment. 'If,'
said I, 'I were to observe the least pretension on account of the rank or
fortune of parents, I should immediately put an end to it. The most
perfect equality is preserved; distinction is awarded only to merit and
industry. The pupils are obliged to cut out and make all their own
clothes. They are taught to clean and mend lace; and two at a time, they
by turns, three times a week, cook and distribute food to the poor of the
village. The young girls who have been brought up at Ecouen, or in my
boarding-school at St. Germain, are thoroughly acquainted with everything
relating to household business, and they are grateful to me for having
made that a part of their education. In my conversations with them I
have always taught them that on domestic management depends the
preservation or dissipation of their fortunes.'

"The post-master of Ecouen was in the courtyard at the moment when the
Emperor, as he stepped into his carriage, told me he would send some
sweetmeats for the pupils. I immediately communicated to them the
intelligence, which was joyfully received; but the sweetmeats were looked
for in vain. When Alexander set out for England he changed horses at
Ecouen, and the post-master said to him: 'Sire, the pupils of Ecouen are
still expecting the sweetmeats which your Majesty promised them.' To
which the Emperor replied that he had directed Saken to send them. The
Cossacks had most likely devoured the sweetmeats, and the poor little
girls, who had been so highly flattered by the promise, never tasted

"A second house was formed at St. Denis, on the model of that of Ecouen.
Perhaps Madame Campan might have hoped for a title to which her long
labours gave her a right; perhaps the superintendence of the two houses
would have been but the fair recompense of her services; but her
fortunate years had passed her fate was now to depend on the most
important events. Napoleon had accumulated such a mass of power as no
one but himself in Europe could overturn. France, content with thirty
years of victories, in vain asked for peace and repose. The army which
had triumphed in the sands of Egypt, on the summits of the Alps, and in
the marshes of Holland, was to perish amidst the snows of Russia.
Nations combined against a single man. The territory of France was
invaded. The orphans of Ecouen, from the windows of the mansion which
served as their asylum, saw in the distant plain the fires of the Russian
bivouacs, and once more wept the deaths of their fathers. Paris
capitulated. France hailed the return of the descendants of Henri IV.;
they reascended the throne so long filled by their ancestors, which the
wisdom of an enlightened prince established on the empire of the laws.

[A lady, connected with the establishment of St. Denis, told Madame
Campan that Napoleon visited it during the Hundred Days, and that
the pupils were so delighted to see him that they crowded round him,
endeavouring to touch his clothes, and evincing the most extravagant
joy. The matron endeavoured to silence them; but Napoleon said,
'Let them alone; let them alone. This may weaken the head, but it
strengthens the heart.'"]

This moment, which diffused joy amongst the faithful servants of the
royal family, and brought them the rewards of their devotion, proved to
Madame Campan a period of bitter vexation. The hatred of her enemies had
revived. The suppression of the school at Ecouen had deprived her of her
position; the most absurd calumnies followed her into her retreat; her
attachment to the Queen was suspected; she was accused not only of
ingratitude but of perfidy. Slander has little effect on youth, but in
the decline of life its darts are envenomed with a mortal poison. The
wounds which Madame Campan had received were deep. Her sister, Madame
Auguie, had destroyed herself; M. Rousseau, her brother-in-law, had
perished, a victim of the reign of terror. In 1813 a dreadful accident
had deprived her of her niece, Madame de Broc, one of the most amiable
and interesting beings that ever adorned the earth. Madame Campan seemed
destined to behold those whom she loved go down to the grave before her.

Beyond the walls of the mansion of Ecouen, in the village which surrounds
it, Madame Campan had taken a small house where she loved to pass a few
hours in solitary retirement. There, at liberty to abandon herself to
the memory of the past, the superintendent of the imperial establishment
became, once more, for the moment, the first lady of the chamber to Marie
Antoinette. To the few friends whom she admitted into this retreat she
would show, with emotion, a plain muslin gown which the Queen had worn,
and which was made from a part of Tippoo Saib's present. A cup, out of
which Marie Antoinette had drunk; a writing-stand, which she had long
used, were, in her eyes, of inestimable value; and she has often been
discovered sitting, in tears, before the portrait of her royal mistress.

After so many troubles Madame Campan sought a peaceful retreat. Paris
had become odious to her.

She paid a visit to one of her most beloved pupils, Mademoiselle Crouzet,
who had married a physician at Mantes, a man of talent, distinguished for
his intelligence, frankness, and cordiality.

[M. Maigne, physician to the infirmaries at Mantes. Madame Campan
found in him a friend and comforter, of whose merit and affection
she knew the value.]

Mantes is a cheerful place of residence, and the idea of an abode there
pleased her. A few intimate friends formed a pleasant society, and she
enjoyed a little tranquillity after so many disturbances. The revisal of
her "Memoirs," the arrangement of the interesting anecdotes of which her
"Recollections" were to consist, alone diverted her mind from the one
powerful sentiment which attached her to life. She lived only for her
son. M. Campan deserved the tenderness of, his mother. No sacrifice had
been spared for his education. After having pursued that course of study
which, under the Imperial Government, produced men of such distinguished
merit, he was waiting till time and circumstances should afford him an
opportunity of devoting his services to his country. Although the state
of his health was far from good, it did not threaten any rapid or
premature decay; he was, however, after a few days' illness, suddenly
taken from his family. "I never witnessed so heartrending a scene," M.
Maigne says, "as that which took place when Marechal Ney's lady, her
niece, and Madame Pannelier, her sister, came to acquaint her with this
misfortune.--[The wife of Marechal Ney was a daughter of Madame Auguie,
and had been an intimate friend of Hortense Beauharnais.]--When they
entered her apartment she was in bed. All three at once uttered a
piercing cry. The two ladies threw themselves on their knees, and kissed
her hands, which they bedewed with tears. Before they could speak to her
she read in their faces that she no longer possessed a son. At that
instant her large eyes, opening wildly, seemed to wander. Her face grew
pale, her features changed, her lips lost their colour, she struggled to
speak, but uttered only inarticulate sounds, accompanied by piercing
cries. Her gestures were wild, her reason was suspended. Every part of
her being was in agony. To this state of anguish and despair no calm
succeeded, until her tears began to flow. Friendship and the tenderest
cares succeeded for a moment in calming her grief, but not in diminishing
its power.

"This violent crisis had disturbed her whole organisation. A cruel
disorder, which required a still more cruel operation, soon manifested
itself. The presence of her family, a tour which she made in
Switzerland, a residence at Baden, and, above all, the sight, the tender
and charming conversation of a person by whom she was affectionately
beloved, occasionally diverted her mind, and in a slight degree relieved
her suffering." She underwent a serious operation, performed with
extraordinary promptitude and the most complete success. No unfavourable
symptoms appeared; Madame Campan was thought to be restored to her
friends; but the disorder was in the blood; it took another course: the
chest became affected. "From that moment," says M. Maigne, "I could
never look on Madame Campan as living; she herself felt that she belonged
no more to this world."

"My friend," she said to her physician the day before her death, "I am
attached to the simplicity of religion. I hate all that savours of
fanaticism." When her codicil was presented for her signature, her hand
trembled; "It would be a pity," she said, "to stop when so fairly on the

Madame Campan died on the 16th of March, 1822. The cheerfulness she
displayed throughout her malady had nothing affected in it. Her
character was naturally powerful and elevated. At the approach of death
she evinced the soul of a sage, without abandoning for an instant her
feminine character.


Ah, Madame, we have all been killed in our masters' service!
Brought me her daughter Hortense de Beauharnais
Condescension which renders approbation more offensive
Difference between brilliant theories and the simplest practice
Extreme simplicity was the Queens first and only real mistake
I hate all that savours of fanaticism
If ever I establish a republic of women....
No ears that will discover when she (The Princess) is out of tune
Observe the least pretension on account of the rank or fortune
On domestic management depends the preservation of their fortune
Spirit of party can degrade the character of a nation
Tastes may change
The anti-Austrian party, discontented and vindictive
They say you live very poorly here, Moliere
True nobility, gentlemen, consists in giving proofs of it
We must have obedience, and no reasoning
What do young women stand in need of?--Mothers!
"Would be a pity," she said, "to stop when so fairly on the road"
Your swords have rusted in their scabbards


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



I was fifteen years of age when I was appointed reader to Mesdames.
I will begin by describing the Court at that period.

Maria Leczinska was just dead; the death of the Dauphin had preceded hers
by three years; the Jesuits were suppressed, and piety was to be found at
Court only in the apartments of Mesdames. The Duc de Choiseuil ruled.

Etiquette still existed at Court with all the forms it had acquired under
Louis XIV.; dignity alone was wanting. As to gaiety, there was none.
Versailles was not the place at which to seek for assemblies where French
spirit and grace were displayed. The focus of wit and intelligence was

The King thought of nothing but the pleasures of the chase: it might have
been imagined that the courtiers indulged themselves in making epigrams
by hearing them say seriously, on those days when the King did not hunt,
"The King does nothing to-day."--[In sporting usance (see SOULAIRE, p.

The arrangement beforehand of his movements was also a matter of great
importance with Louis XV. On the first day of the year he noted down in
his almanac the days of departure for Compiegne, Fontainebleau, Choisy,
etc. The weightiest matters, the most serious events, never deranged
this distribution of his time.

Since the death of the Marquise de Pompadour, the King had no titled
mistress; he contented himself with his seraglio in the Parc-aux-Cerfs.
It is well known that the monarch found the separation of Louis de
Bourbon from the King of France the most animating feature of his royal
existence. "They would have it so; they thought it for the best," was
his way of expressing himself when the measures of his ministers were
unsuccessful. The King delighted to manage the most disgraceful points
of his private expenses himself; he one day sold to a head clerk in the
War Department a house in which one of his mistresses had lodged; the
contract ran in the name of Louis de Bourbon, and the purchaser himself
took in a bag the price of the house in gold to the King in his private

[Until recently little was known about the Parc-aux-Cerfs, and it
was believed that a great number of young women had been maintained
there at enormous expense. The investigations of M. J. A. Le Roi,
given in his interesting work, "Curiosites Historiques sur Louis
XIII., Louis XIV., Louis XV.," etc., Paris, Plon, 1864, have thrown
fresh light upon the matter. The result he arrives at (see page 229
of his work) is that the house in question (No. 4 Rue St. Mederic,
on the site of the Pare-aux-Cerfs, or breeding-place for deer, of
Louis XIII) was very small, and could have held only one girl, the
woman in charge of her, and a servant. Most of the girls left it
only when about to be confined, and it sometimes stood vacant for
five or six months. It may have been rented before the date of
purchase, and other houses seem sometimes to have been used also;
but in any case, it is evident that both the number of girls and the
expense incurred have been absurdly exaggerated. The system
flourished under Madame de Pompadour, but ceased as soon as Madame
du Barry obtained full power over the King, and the house was then
sold to M. J. B. Sevin for 16,000 livres, on 27th May, 1771, Louis
not acting under the name of Louis de Bourbon, but as King,--"Vente
par le Roi, notre Sire." In 1755 he had also been declared its
purchaser in a similar manner. Thus, Madame Campan is in error in
saying that the King made the contract as Louis de Bourbon.]--[And
it also possible that Madam Campan was correct and that the house
she refers to as sold for a "bag of gold" was another of the several
of the seraglio establishments of Louis XV. D.W.]

Louis XV. saw very little of his family. He came every morning by a
private staircase into the apartment of Madame Adelaide.

[Louis XV. seemed to feel for Madame Adelaide the tenderness he had
had for the Duchesse de Bourgogne, his mother, who perished so
suddenly, under the eyes and almost in the arms of Louis XIV. The
birth of Madame Adelaide, 23d March, 1732, was followed by that of
Madame Victoire Louise Marie Therese on the 11th May, 1733. Louis
had, besides, six daughters: Mesdames Sophie and Louise, who are
mentioned in this chapter; the Princesses Marie and Felicite, who
died young; Madame Henriette died at Versailles in 1752, aged
twenty-four; and finally, Madame the Duchess of Parma, who also died
at the Court.]

He often brought and drank there coffee that he had made himself. Madame
Adelaide pulled a bell which apprised Madame Victoire of the King's
visit; Madame Victoire, on rising to go to her sister's apartment, rang
for Madame Sophie, who in her turn rang for Madame Louise. The
apartments of Mesdames were of very large dimensions. Madame Louise
occupied the farthest room. This latter lady was deformed and very
short; the poor Princess used to run with all her might to join the daily
meeting, but, having a number of rooms to cross, she frequently in spite
of her haste, had only just time to embrace her father before he set out
for the chase.

Every evening, at six, Mesdames interrupted my reading to them to
accompany the princes to Louis XV.; this visit was called the King's
'debotter',--[Debotter, meaning the time of unbooting.]-- and was marked
by a kind of etiquette. Mesdames put on an enormous hoop, which set out
a petticoat ornamented with gold or embroidery; they fastened a long
train round their waists, and concealed the undress of the rest of their
clothing by a long cloak of black taffety which enveloped them up to the
chin. The chevaliers d'honneur, the ladies in waiting, the pages, the
equerries, and the ushers bearing large flambeaux, accompanied them to
the King. In a moment the whole palace, generally so still, was in
motion; the King kissed each Princess on the forehead, and the visit was
so short that the reading which it interrupted was frequently resumed at
the end of a quarter of an hour; Mesdames returned to their apartments,
and untied the strings of their petticoats and trains; they resumed their
tapestry, and I my book.

During the summer season the King sometimes came to the residence of
Mesdames before the hour of his 'debotter'. One day he found me alone in
Madame Victoire's closet, and asked me where 'Coche'[Piggy] was; I
started, and he repeated his question, but without being at all the more
understood. When the King was gone I asked Madame of whom he spoke. She
told me that it was herself, and very coolly explained to me, that, being
the fattest of his daughters, the King had given her the familiar name of
'Coche'; that he called Madame Adelaide, 'Logue' [Tatters], Madame
Sophie, 'Graille'[Mite], and Madame Louise, 'Chiffie'[Rubbish]. The
people of the King's household observed that he knew a great number of
such words; possibly he had amused himself with picking them out from
dictionaries. If this style of speaking betrayed the habits and tastes
of the King, his manner savoured nothing of such vulgarity; his walk was
easy and noble, he had a dignified carriage of the head, and his aspect,
with out being severe, was imposing; he combined great politeness with a
truly regal demeanour, and gracefully saluted the humblest woman whom
curiosity led into his path.

He was very expert in a number of trifling matters which never occupy
attention but when there is a lack of something better to employ it; for
instance, he would knock off the top of an egg-shell at a single stroke
of his fork; he therefore always ate eggs when he dined in public, and
the Parisians who came on Sundays to see the King dine, returned home
less struck with his fine figure than with the dexterity with which he
broke his eggs.

Repartees of Louis XV., which marked the keenness of his wit and the
elevation of his sentiments, were quoted with pleasure in the assemblies
of Versailles.

This Prince was still beloved; it was wished that a style of life
suitable to his age and dignity should at length supersede the errors of
the past, and justify the love of his subjects. It was painful to judge
him harshly. If he had established avowed mistresses at Court, the
uniform devotion of the Queen was blamed for it. Mesdames were
reproached for not seeking to prevent the King's forming an intimacy with
some new favourite. Madame Henriette, twin sister of the Duchess of
Parma, was much regretted, for she had considerable influence over the
King's mind, and it was remarked that if she had lived she would have
been assiduous in finding him amusements in the bosom of his family,
would have followed him in his short excursions, and would have done the
honours of the 'petits soupers' which he was so fond of giving in his
private apartments.

Mesdames too much neglected the means of pleasing the wing, but the cause
of that was obvious in the little attention he had paid them in their

In order to console the people under their sufferings, and to shut their
eyes to the real depredations on the treasury, the ministers occasionally
pressed the most extravagant measures of reform in the King's household,
and even in his personal expenses.

Cardinal Fleury, who in truth had the merit of reestablishing the
finances, carried this system of economy so far as to obtain from the
King the suppression of the household of the four younger Princesses.
They were brought up as mere boarders in a convent eighty leagues distant
from the Court. Saint Cyr would have been more suitable for the
reception of the King's daughters; but probably the Cardinal shared some
of those prejudices which will always attach to even the most useful
institutions, and which, since the death of Louis XIV., had been raised
against the noble establishment of Madame de Maintenon. Madame Louise
often assured me that at twelve years of age she was not mistress of the
whole alphabet, and never learnt to read fluently until after her return
to Versailles.

Madame Victoire attributed certain paroxysms of terror, which she was
never able to conquer, to the violent alarms she experienced at the Abbey
of Fontevrault, whenever she was sent, by way of penance, to pray alone
in the vault where the sisters were interred.

A gardener belonging to the abbey died raving mad. His habitation,
without the walls, was near a chapel of the abbey, where Mesdames were
taken to repeat the prayers for those in the agonies of death. Their
prayers were more than once interrupted by the shrieks of the dying man.

When Mesdames, still very young, returned to Court, they enjoyed the
friendship of Monseigneur the Dauphin, and profited by his advice. They
devoted themselves ardently to study, and gave up almost the whole of
their time to it; they enabled themselves to write French correctly, and
acquired a good knowledge of history. Italian, English, the higher
branches of mathematics, turning and dialing, filled up in succession
their leisure moments. Madame Adelaide, in particular, had a most
insatiable desire to learn; she was taught to play upon all instruments,
from the horn (will it be believed!) to the Jew's-harp.

Madame Adelaide was graced for a short time with a charming figure; but
never did beauty so quickly vanish. Madame Victoire was handsome and
very graceful; her address, mien, and smile were in perfect accordance
with the goodness of her heart. Madame Sophie was remarkably ugly; never
did I behold a person with so unprepossessing an appearance; she walked
with the greatest rapidity; and, in order to recognise the people who
placed themselves along her path without looking at them, she acquired
the habit of leering on one side, like a hare. This Princess was so
exceedingly diffident that a person might be with her daily for years
together without hearing her utter a single word. It was asserted,
however, that she displayed talent, and even amiability, in the society
of some favourite ladies. She taught herself a great deal, but she
studied alone; the presence of a reader would have disconcerted her very
much. There were, however, occasions on which the Princess, generally so
intractable, became all at once affable and condescending, and manifested
the most communicative good-nature; this would happen during a storm; so
great was her alarm on such an occasion that she then approached the most
humble, and would ask them a thousand obliging questions; a flash of
lightning made her squeeze their hands; a peal of thunder would drive her
to embrace them, but with the return of the calm, the Princess resumed
her stiffness, her reserve, and her repellent air, and passed all by
without taking the slightest notice of any one, until a fresh storm
restored to her at once her dread and her affability. [Which reminds one
of the elder (and puritanic) Cato who said that he "embraced" his wife
only when it thundered, but added that he did enjoy a good thunderstorm.

Mesdames found in a beloved brother, whose rare attainments are known to
all Frenchmen, a guide in everything wanting to their education. In
their august mother, Maria Leczinska, they possessed the noblest example
of every pious and social virtue; that Princess, by her eminent qualities
and her modest dignity, veiled the failings of the King, and while she
lived she preserved in the Court of Louis XV. that decorous and dignified
tone which alone secures the respect due to power. The Princesses, her
daughters, were worthy of her; and if a few degraded beings did aim the
shafts of calumny at them, these shafts dropped harmless, warded off by
the elevation of their sentiments and the purity of their conduct.

If Mesdames had not tasked themselves with numerous occupations, they
would have been much to be pitied. They loved walking, but could enjoy
nothing beyond the public gardens of Versailles; they would have
cultivated flowers, but could have no others than those in their windows.

The Marquise de Durfort, since Duchesse de Civrac, afforded to Madame
Victoire agreeable society. The Princess spent almost all her evenings
with that lady, and ended by fancying herself domiciled with her.

Madame de Narbonne had, in a similar way, taken pains to make her
intimate acquaintance pleasant to Madame Adelaide.

Madame Louise had for many years lived in great seclusion; I read to her
five hours a day. My voice frequently betrayed the exhaustion of my
lungs; the Princess would then prepare sugared water for me, place it by
me, and apologise for making me read so long, on the score of having
prescribed a course of reading for herself.

One evening, while I was reading, she was informed that M. Bertin,
'ministre des parties casuelles', desired to speak with her; she went out
abruptly, returned, resumed her silks and embroidery, and made me resume
my book; when I retired she commanded me to be in her closet the next
morning at eleven o'clock. When I got there the Princess was gone out;
I learnt that she had gone at seven in the morning to the Convent of the
Carmelites of St. Denis, where she was desirous of taking the veil.
I went to Madame Victoire; there I heard that the King alone had been
acquainted with Madame Louise's project; that he had kept it faithfully
secret, and that, having long previously opposed her wish, he had only on
the preceding evening sent her his consent; that she had gone alone into
the convent, where she was expected; and that a few minutes afterwards
she had made her appearance at the grating, to show to the Princesse de
Guistel, who had accompanied her to the convent gate, and to her equerry,
the King's order to leave her in the monastery.

Upon receiving the intelligence of her sister's departure, Madame
Adelaide gave way to violent paroxysms of rage, and reproached the King
bitterly for the secret, which he had thought it his duty to preserve.
Madame Victoire missed the society of her favourite sister, but she shed
tears in silence only. The first time I saw this excellent Princess
after Madame Louise's departure, I threw myself at her feet, kissed her
hand, and asked her, with all the confidence of youth, whether she would
quit us as Madame Louise had done. She raised me, embraced me; and said,
pointing to the lounge upon which she was extended, "Make yourself easy,
my dear; I shall never have Louise's courage. I love the conveniences of
life too well; this lounge is my destruction." As soon as I obtained
permission to do so, I went to St. Denis to see my late mistress; she
deigned to receive me with her face uncovered, in her private parlour;
she told me she had just left the wash-house, and that it was her turn
that day to attend to the linen. "I much abused your youthful lungs for
two years before the execution of my project," added she. "I knew that
here I could read none but books tending to our salvation, and I wished
to review all the historians that had interested me."

She informed me that the King's consent for her to go to St. Denis had
been brought to her while I was reading; she prided herself, and with
reason, upon having returned to her closet without the slightest mark of
agitation, though she said she felt so keenly that she could scarcely
regain her chair. She added that moralists were right when they said
that happiness does not dwell in palaces; that she had proved it; and
that, if I desired to be happy, she advised me to come and enjoy a
retreat in which the liveliest imagination might find full exercise in
the contemplation of a better world. I had no palace, no earthly
grandeur to sacrifice to God; nothing but the bosom of a united family;
and it is precisely there that the moralists whom she cited have placed
true happiness. I replied that, in private life, the absence of a
beloved and cherished daughter would be too cruelly felt by her family.
The Princess said no more on the subject.

The seclusion of Madame Louise was attributed to various motives; some
were unkind enough to suppose it to have been occasioned by her
mortification at being, in point of rank, the last of the Princesses.
I think I penetrated the true cause. Her aspirations were lofty; she
loved everything sublime; often while I was reading she would interrupt
me to exclaim, "That is beautiful! that is noble!" There was but one
brilliant action that she could perform,--to quit a palace for a cell,
and rich garments for a stuff gown. She achieved it!

I saw Madame Louise two or three times more at the grating. I was
informed of her death by Louis XVI. "My Aunt Louise," said he to me,
"your old mistress, is just dead at St. Denis. I have this moment
received intelligence of it. Her piety and resignation were admirable,
and yet the delirium of my good aunt recalled to her recollection that
she was a princess, for her last words were, 'To paradise, haste, haste,
full speed.' No doubt she thought she was again giving orders to her

[The retirement of Madame Louise, and her removal from Court, had
only served to give her up entirely to the intrigues of the clergy.
She received incessant visits from bishops, archbishops, and
ambitious priests of every rank; she prevailed on the King, her
father, to grant many ecclesiastical preferments, and probably
looked forward to playing an important part when the King, weary of
his licentious course of life, should begin to think of religion.
This, perhaps, might have been the case had not a sudden and
unexpected death put an end to his career. The project of Madame
Louise fell to the ground in consequence of this event. She
remained in her convent, whence she continued to solicit favours,
as I knew from the complaints of the Queen, who often said to me,
"Here is another letter from my Aunt Louise. She is certainly the
most intriguing little Carmelite in the kingdom." The Court went to
visit her about three times a year, and I recollect that the Queen,
intending to take her daughter there, ordered me to get a doll
dressed like a Carmelite for her, that the young Princess might be
accustomed, before she went into the convent, to the habit of her
aunt, the nun.--MADAME CAMPAN]

Madame Victoire, good, sweet-tempered, and affable, lived with the most
amiable simplicity in a society wherein she was much caressed; she was
adored by her household. Without quitting Versailles, without
sacrificing her easy chair, she fulfilled the duties of religion with
punctuality, gave to the poor all she possessed, and strictly observed
Lent and the fasts. The table of Mesdames acquired a reputation for
dishes of abstinence, spread abroad by the assiduous parasites at that of
their maitre d'hotel. Madame Victoire was not indifferent to good
living, but she had the most religious scruples respecting dishes of
which it was allowable to partake at penitential times. I saw her one
day exceedingly tormented by her doubts about a water-fowl, which was
often served up to her during Lent. The question to be determined was,
whether it was 'maigre' or 'gras'. She consulted a bishop, who happened
to be of the party: the prelate immediately assumed the grave attitude of
a judge who is about to pronounce sentence. He answered the Princess
that, in a similar case of doubt, it had been resolved that after
dressing the bird it should be pricked over a very cold silver dish; if
the gravy of the animal congealed within a quarter of an hour, the
creature was to be accounted flesh; but if the gravy remained in an oily
state, it might be eaten without scruple. Madame Victoire immediately
made the experiment: the gravy did not congeal; and this was a source of
great joy to the Princess, who was very partial to that sort of game.
The abstinence which so much occupied the attention of Madame Victoire
was so disagreeable to her, that she listened with impatience for the
midnight hour of Holy Saturday; and then she was immediately supplied
with a good dish of fowl and rice, and sundry other succulent viands.
She confessed with such amiable candour her taste for good cheer and the
comforts of life, that it would have been necessary to be as severe in
principle as insensible to the excellent qualities of the Princess, to
consider it a crime in her.

Madame Adelaide had more mind than Madame Victoire; but she was
altogether deficient in that kindness which alone creates affection for
the great, abrupt manners, a harsh voice, and a short way of speaking,
rendering her more than imposing. She carried the idea of the
prerogative of rank to a high pitch. One of her chaplains was unlucky
enough to say 'Dominus vobiscum' with rather too easy an air; the
Princess rated him soundly for it after mass, and told him to remember
that he was not a bishop, and not again to think of officiating in the
style of a prelate.

Mesdames lived quite separate from the King. Since the death of Madame
de Pompadour he had lived alone. The enemies of the Duc de Choiseul did
not know in what department, nor through what channel, they could prepare
and bring about the downfall of the man who stood in their way. The King
was connected only with women of so low a class that they could not be
made use of for any delicate intrigue; moreover, the Parc-aux-Cerfs was a
seraglio, the beauties of which were often replaced; it was desirable to
give the King a mistress who could form a circle, and in whose drawing-
room the long-standing attachment of the King for the Duc de Choiseul
might be overcome. It is true that Madame du Barry was selected from a
class sufficiently low. Her origin, her education, her habits, and
everything about her bore a character of vulgarity and shamelessness; but
by marrying her to a man whose pedigree dated from 1400, it was thought
scandal would be avoided. The conqueror of Mahon conducted this coarse

[It appeared at this period as if every feeling of dignity was lost.
"Few noblemen of the French Court," says a writer of the time,
"preserved themselves from the general corruption. The Marechal de
Brissac was one of the latter. He was bantered on the strictness of
his principles of honour and honesty; it was thought strange that he
should be offended by being thought, like so many others, exposed to
hymeneal disgrace. Louis XV., who was present, and laughed at his
angry fit, said to him: 'Come, M. de Brissac, don't be angry; 'tis
but a trifling evil; take courage.'--'Sire,' replied M. de Brissac,
'I possess all kinds of courage, except that which can brave
shame.'"--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

Such a mistress was judiciously selected for the diversion of the latter
years of a man weary of grandeur, fatigued with pleasure, and cloyed with
voluptuousness. Neither the wit, the talents, the graces of the Marquise
de Pompadour, her beauty, nor even her love for the King, would have had
any further influence over that worn-out being.

He wanted a Roxalana of familiar gaiety, without any respect for the
dignity of the sovereign. Madame du Barry one day so far forgot
propriety as to desire to be present at a Council of State. The King was
weak enough to consent to it. There she remained ridiculously perched
upon the arm of his chair, playing all sorts of childish monkey tricks,
calculated to please an old sultan.

Another time she snatched a packet of sealed letters from the King's
hand. Among them she had observed one from Comte de Broglie. She told
the King that she knew that rascal Broglie spoke ill of her to him, and
that for once, at least, she would make sure he should read nothing
respecting her. The King wanted to get the packet again; she resisted,
and made him run two or three times round the table, which was in the
middle of the council-chamber, and then, on passing the fireplace, she
threw the letters into the grate, where they were consumed. The King
became furious; he seized his audacious mistress by the arm, and put her
out of the door without speaking to her. Madame du Barry thought herself
utterly disgraced; she returned home, and remained two hours, alone,
abandoned to the utmost distress. The King went to her; she threw
herself at his feet, in tears, and he pardoned her.

Madame la Marechale de Beauvau, the Duchesse de Choiseul, and the
Duchesse de Grammont had renounced the honour of the King's intimate
acquaintance rather than share it with Madame du Barry. But a few years
after the death of Louis XV., Madame la Marechale being alone at the Val,
a house belonging to M. de Beauvau, Mademoiselle de Dillon saw the
Countess's calash take shelter in the forest of St. Germain during a
violent storm. She invited her in, and the Countess herself related
these particulars, which I had from Madame de Beauvau.

The Comte du Barry, surnamed 'le roue' (the profligate), and Mademoiselle
du Barry advised, or rather prompted, Madame du Barry in furtherance of
the plans of the party of the Marechal de Richelieu and the Duc
d'Aiguillon. Sometimes they even set her to act in such a way as to have
a useful influence upon great political measures. Under pretence that
the page who accompanied Charles I. in his flight was a Du Barry or
Barrymore, they persuaded the Comtesse du Barry to buy in London that
fine portrait which we now have in the Museum. She had the picture
placed in her drawing-room, and when she saw the King hesitating upon the
violent measure of breaking up his Parliament, and forming that which was
called the Maupeou Parliament, she desired him to look at the portrait of
a king who had given way to his Parliament.

[The "Memoirs of General Dumouriez," vol. i., page 142, contain
some curious particulars about Madame Du Barry; and novel details
respecting her will be found at page 243 of "Curiosites
Historiques," by J. A. Le Rol (Paris, Plon, 1864). His
investigations lead to the result that her real name was Jean Becu,
born, 19th August, 1743, at Vaucouleurs, the natural daughter of
Anne Becu, otherwise known as "Quantiny." Her mother afterwards
married Nicolas Rancon. Comte Jean du Barry met her among the demi-
monde, and succeeded, about 1767, and by the help of his friend
Label, the valet de chambre of Louis XV., in introducing her to the
King under the name of Mademoiselle l'Ange. To be formally
mistress, a husband had to be found. The Comte Jean du Barry,
already married himself, found no difficulty in getting his brother,
Comte Guillaume, a poor officer of the marine troops, to accept the
post of husband. In the marriage-contract, signed on 23d July,
1768, she was described as the daughter of Anne Becu and of an
imaginary first husband, Sieur Jean Jacques Gomard de Vaubernier,"
and three years were taken off her age. The marriage-contract was
so drawn as to leave Madame du Barry entirely free from all control
by her husband. The marriage was solemnised on 1st September, 1768,
after which the nominal husband returned to Toulouse. Madame du
Barry in later years provided for him; and in 1772, tired of his
applications, she obtained an act of separation from him. He
married later Jeanne Madeleine Lemoine, and died in 1811. Madame du
Barry took care of her mother, who figured as Madame de Montrable.
In all, she received from the King, M. Le Roi calculates, about
twelve and a half millions of livres. On the death of Louis XV.
she had to retire first to the Abbey of Pont-aux-Dames, near Meaux,
then she was allowed to go to her small house at St. Vrain, near
Arpajon, and, finally, in 1775, to her chateau at Louveciennes.
Much to her credit be it said, she retained many of her friends,
and was on the most intimate terms till his death with the Duc de
Brissac (Louis Hercule Timoldon de Cosse-Brissac), who was killed at
Versailles in the massacre of the prisoners in September, 1792,
leaving at his death a large legacy to her. Even the Emperor Joseph
visited her. In 1791 many of her jewels were stolen and taken to
England. This caused her to make several visits to that country,
where she gained her suit. But these visits, though she took every
precaution to legalise them, ruined her. Betrayed by her servants,
among them by Zamor, the negro page, she was brought before the
Revolutionary tribunal, and was guillotined on 8th December, 1793,
in a frenzy of terror, calling for mercy and for delay up to the
moment when her head fell.]

The men of ambition who were labouring to overthrow the Duc de Choiseul
strengthened themselves by their concentration at the house of the
favourite, and succeeded in their project. The bigots, who never forgave
that minister the suppression of the Jesuits, and who had always been
hostile to a treaty of alliance with Austria, influenced the minds of
Mesdames. The Duc de La Vauguyon, the young Dauphin's governor, infected
them with the same prejudices.

Such was the state of the public mind when the young Archduchess Marie
Antoinette arrived at the Court of Versailles, just at the moment when
the party which brought her there was about to be overthrown.

Madame Adelaide openly avowed her dislike to a princess of the House of
Austria; and when M. Campan, my father-in-law, went to receive his
orders, at the moment of setting off with the household of the
Dauphiness, to go and receive the Archduchess upon the frontiers, she
said she disapproved of the marriage of her nephew with an archduchess;
and that, if she had the direction of the matter, she would not send for
an Austrian.


daughter of Francois de Lorraine and of Maria Theresa, was born on the
2d of November, 1755, the day of the earthquake at Lisbon; and this
catastrophe, which appeared to stamp the era of her birth with a fatal
mark, without forming a motive for superstitious fear with the Princess,
nevertheless made an impression upon her mind. As the Empress already
had a great number of daughters, she ardently desired to have another
son, and playfully wagered against her wish with the Duc de Tarouka,
who had insisted that she would give birth to an archduke. He lost by
the birth of the Princess, and had executed in porcelain a figure with
one knee bent on the earth, and presenting tablets, upon which the
following lines by Metastasio were engraved:

I lose by your fair daughter's birth
Who prophesied a son;
But if she share her mother's worth,
Why, all the world has won!

The Queen was fond of talking of the first years of her youth. Her
father, the Emperor Francis, had made a deep impression upon her heart;
she lost him when she was scarcely seven years old. One of those
circumstances which fix themselves strongly in the memories of children
frequently recalled his last caresses to her. The Emperor was setting
out for Innspruck; he had already left his palace, when he ordered a
gentleman to fetch the Archduchess Marie Antoinette, and bring her to his
carriage. When she came, he stretched out his arms to receive her, and
said, after having pressed her to his bosom, "I wanted to embrace this
child once more." The Emperor died suddenly during the journey, and
never saw his beloved daughter again.

The Queen often spoke of her mother, and with profound respect, but she
based all her schemes for the education of her children on the essentials
which had been neglected in her own. Maria Theresa, who inspired awe by
her great qualities, taught the Archduchesses to fear and respect rather
than to love her; at least I observed this in the Queen's feelings
towards her august mother. She therefore never desired to place between
her own children and herself that distance which had existed in the
imperial family. She cited a fatal consequence of it, which had made
such a powerful impression upon her that time had never been able to
efface it.

The wife of the Emperor Joseph II. was taken from him in a few days by
an attack of smallpox of the most virulent kind. Her coffin had recently
been deposited in the vault of the imperial family. The Archduchess
Josepha, who had been betrothed to the King of Naples, at the instant she
was quitting Vienna received an order from the Empress not to set off
without having offered up a prayer in the vault of her forefathers. The
Archduchess, persuaded that she should take the disorder to which her
sister-in-law had just fallen a victim, looked upon this order as her
death-warrant. She loved the young Archduchess Marie Antoinette
tenderly; she took her upon her knees, embraced her with tears, and told
her she was about to leave her, not for Naples, but never to see her
again; that she was going down then to the tomb of her ancestors, and
that she should shortly go again there to remain. Her anticipation was
realised; confluent smallpox carried her off in a very few days, and her
youngest sister ascended the throne of Naples in her place.

The Empress was too much taken up with high political interests to have
it in her power to devote herself to maternal attentions. The celebrated
Wansvietten, her physician, went daily, to visit the young imperial
family, and afterwards to Maria Theresa, and gave the most minute details
respecting the health of the Archdukes and Archduchesses, whom she
herself sometimes did not see for eight or ten days at a time. As soon
as the arrival of a stranger of rank at Vienna was made known, the
Empress brought her family about her, admitted them to her table, and by
this concerted meeting induced a belief that she herself presided over
the education of her children.

The chief governesses, being under no fear of inspection from Maria
Theresa, aimed at making themselves beloved by their pupils by the common
and blamable practice of indulgence, so fatal to the future progress and
happiness of children. Marie Antoinette was the cause of her governess
being dismissed, through a confession that all her copies and all her
letters were invariably first traced out with pencil; the Comtesse de
Brandes was appointed to succeed her, and fulfilled her duties with great
exactness and talent. The Queen looked upon having been confided to her
care so late as a misfortune, and always continued upon terms of
friendship with that lady. The education of Marie Antoinette was
certainly very much neglected. With the exception of the Italian
language, all that related to belles lettres, and particularly to
history, even that of her own country, was almost entirely unknown to
her. This was soon found out at the Court of France, and thence arose
the generally received opinion that she was deficient in sense. It will
be seen in the course of these "Memoirs" whether that opinion was well or
ill founded. The public prints, however, teemed with assertions of the
superior talents of Maria Theresa's children. They often noticed the
answers which the young Princesses gave in Latin to the harangues
addressed to them; they uttered them, it is true, but without
understanding them; they knew not a single word of that language.

Mention was one day made to the Queen of a drawing made by her, and
presented by the Empress to M. Gerard, chief clerk of Foreign Affairs, on
the occasion of his going to Vienna to draw up the articles for her
marriage-contract. "I should blush," said she, "if that proof of the
quackery of my education were shown to me. I do not believe that I ever
put a pencil to that drawing." However, what had been taught her she
knew perfectly well. Her facility of learning was inconceivable, and if
all her teachers had been as well informed and as faithful to their duty
as the Abbe Metastasio, who taught her Italian, she would have attained
as great a superiority in the other branches of her education. The Queen
spoke that language with grace and ease, and translated the most
difficult poets. She did not write French correctly, but she spoke it

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