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The Secret Memoirs of Louis XV./XVI, Complete by Madame du Hausset, an "Unknown English Girl" and the Princess Lamballe

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The reader will find in the course of this work that on the 2nd of
August, 1792, from the kindness and humanity of my, august
benefactresses, I was compelled to accept a mission to Italy, devised
merely to send me from the sanguinary scenes of which they foresaw they
and theirs must presently become victims. Early in the following month
the Princesse de Lamballe was murdered. As my history extends beyond the
period I have mentioned, it is fitting I should explain the indisputable
authorities whence I derived such particulars as I did not see.

A person, high in the confidence of the Princess, through the means of
the honest coachman of whom I shall have occasion to speak, supplied me
with regular details of whatever took place, till she herself, with the
rest of the ladies and other attendants, being separated from the Royal
Family, was immured in the prison of La Force. When I returned to Paris
after this dire tempest, Madame Clery and her friend, Madame de Beaumont,
a natural daughter of Louis XV., with Monsieur Chambon of Rheims, who
never left Paris during the time, confirmed the correctness of my papers.
The Madame Clery I mention is the same who assisted her husband in his
faithful attendance upon the Royal Family in the Temple; and this
exemplary man added his testimony to the rest, in the presence of the
Duchesse de Guiche Grammont, at Pyrmont in Germany, when I there met him
in the suite of the late sovereign of France, Louis XVIII., at a concert.
After the 10th of August, I had also a continued correspondence: with
many persons at Paris, who supplied me with thorough accounts of the
succeeding horrors, in letters directed to Sir William Hamilton, at
Naples, and by him forwarded to me. And in addition to all these high
sources, many particular circumstances: have been disclosed to me by
individuals, whose authority, when I have used it, I have generally
affixed to the facts they have enabled me to communicate.

It now only remains for me to mention that I have endeavoured to arrange
everything, derived either from the papers of the Princesse de Lamballe,
or from her remarks, my own observation, or the intelligence of others,
in chronological order. It will readily be seen by the reader where the
Princess herself speaks, as I have invariably set apart my own
recollections and remarks in paragraphs and notes, which are not only
indicated by the heading of each chapter, but by the context of the
passages themselves. I have also begun and ended what the Princess says
with inverted commas. All the earlier part, of the work preceding her
personal introduction proceeds principally from her pen or her lips: I
have done little more than change it from Italian into English, and
embody thoughts and sentiments that were often disjointed and detached.
And throughout, whether she or others speak, I may safely say this work
will be found the most circumstantial, and assuredly the most authentic,
upon the subject of which it treats, of all that have yet been presented
to the public of Great Britain. The press has been prolific in fabulous
writings upon these times, which have been devoured with avidity. I hope
John Bull is not so devoted to gilded foreign fictions as to spurn the
unadorned truth from one of his downright countrywomen: and let me advise
him en passant, not to treat us beauties of native growth with
indifference at home; for we readily find compensation in the regard,
patronage, and admiration of every nation in Europe. I am old now, and
may speak freely.

I have no interest whatever in the work I submit but that of endeavouring
to redeem the character of so many injured victims. Would to Heaven my
memory were less acute, and that I could obliterate from the knowledge of
the world and posterity the names of their infamous destroyers; I mean,
not the executioners who terminated their mortal existence for in their
miserable situation that early martyrdom was an act of grace--but I mean
some, perhaps still living, who with foul cowardice, stabbing like
assassins in the dark, undermined their fair fame, and morally murdered
them, long before their deaths, by daily traducing virtues the slanderers
never possessed, from mere jealousy of the glory they knew themselves
incapable of deserving.

Montesquieu says, "If there be a God, He must be just!" That divine
justice, after centuries, has been fully established on the descendants
of the cruel, sanguinary conquerers of South America and its butchered
harmless Emperor Montezuma and his innocent offspring, who are now
teaching Spain a moral lesson in freeing themselves from its insatiable
thirst for blood and wealth, while God Himself has refused that blessing
to the Spaniards which they denied to the Americans! Oh, France! what
hast thou not already suffered, and what hast thou not yet to suffer,
when to thee, like Spain, it shall visit their descendants even unto the
fourth generation?

To my insignificant losses in so mighty a ruin perhaps I ought not to
allude. I should not presume even to mention that fatal convulsion which
shook all Europe and has since left the nations in that state of agitated
undulation which succeeds a tempest upon the ocean, were it not for the
opportunity it gives me to declare the bounty of my benefactresses. All
my own property went down in the wreck; and the mariner who escapes only
with his life can never recur to the scene of his escape without a
shudder. Many persons are still living, of the first respectability, who
well remember my quitting this country, though very young, on the budding
of a brilliant career. Had those prospects been followed up they would
have placed me beyond the caprice of fickle fortune. But the dazzling
lustre of crown favours and princely patronage outweighed the slow,
though more solid hopes of self-achieved independence. I certainly was
then almost a child, and my vanity, perhaps, of the honour of being
useful to two such illustrious personages got the better of every other
sentiment. But now when I reflect, I look back with consternation on the
many risks I ran, on the many times I stared death in the face with no
fear but that of being obstructed in my efforts to serve, even with my
life, the interests dearest to my heart--that of implicit obedience to
these truly benevolent and generous Princesses, who only wanted the means
to render me as happy and independent as their cruel destiny has since
made me wretched and miserable! Had not death deprived me of their
patronage I should have had no reason to regret any sacrifice I could
have made for them, for through the Princess, Her Majesty, unasked, had
done me the honour to promise me the reversion of a most lucrative as
well as highly respectable post in her employ. In these august
personages I lost my best friends; I lost everything--except the tears,
which bathe the paper as I write tears of gratitude, which will never
cease to flow to the memory of their martyrdom.



"The character of Maria Theresa, the Empress-mother of Marie Antoinette,
is sufficiently known. The same spirit of ambition and enterprise which
had already animated her contentions with France in the latter part of
her career impelled her to wish for its alliance. In addition to other
hopes she had been encouraged to imagine that LOUIS XV. might one day aid
her in recovering the provinces which the King of Prussia had violently
wrested from her ancient dominions. She felt the many advantages to be
derived from a union with her ancient enemy, and she looked for its
accomplishment by the marriage of her daughter.

"Policy, in sovereigns, is paramount to every other consideration. They
regard beauty as a source of profit, like managers of theatres, who, when
a female candidate is offered, ask whether she is young and
handsome,--not whether she has talent. Maria Theresa believed that her
daughter's beauty would prove more powerful over France than her own
armies. Like Catharine II., her envied contemporary, she consulted no
ties of nature in the disposal of her children,--a system more in
character where the knout is the logician than among nations boasting
higher civilization: indeed her rivalry with Catharine even made her
grossly neglect their education. Jealous of the rising power of the
North, she saw that it was the purpose of Russia to counteract her views
in Poland and Turkey through France, and so totally forgot her domestic
duties in the desire to thwart the ascendency of Catharine that she often
suffered eight or ten days to go by without even seeing her children,
allowing even the essential sources of instruction to remain unprovided.
Her very caresses were scarcely given but for display, when the children
were admitted to be shown to some great personage; and if they were
overwhelmed with kindness, it was merely to excite a belief that they
were the constant care and companions of her leisure hours. When they
grew up they became the mere instruments of her ambition. The fate of
one of them will show how their mother's worldliness was rewarded.

"A leading object of Maria Theresa's policy was the attainment of
influence over Italy. For this purpose she first married one of the
Archduchesses to the imbecile Duke of Parma. Her second manoeuvre was to
contrive that Charles III. should seek the Archduchess Josepha for his
younger son, the King of Naples. When everything had been settled, and
the ceremony by proxy had taken place, it was thought proper to sound the
Princess as to how far she felt inclined to aid her mother's designs in
the Court of Naples. 'Scripture says,' was her reply, 'that when a woman
is married she belongs to the country of her husband.'

"'But the policy of State?' exclaimed Maria Theresa.

"'Is that above religion?' cried the Princess.

"This unexpected answer of the Archduchess was so totally opposite to the
views of the Empress that she was for a considerable time undecided
whether she would allow her daughter to depart, till, worn out by
perplexities, she at last consented, but bade the Archduchess, previous
to setting off for this much desired country of her new husband, to go
down to the tombs, and in the vaults of her ancestors offer up to Heaven
a fervent prayer for the departed souls of those she was about to leave.

"Only a few days before that a Princess had been buried in the vaults--I
think Joseph the Second's second wife, who had died of the small-pox.

"The Archduchess Josepha obeyed her Imperial mother's cruel commands,
took leave of all her friends and relatives, as if conscious of the
result, caught the same disease, and in a few days died!

"The Archduchess Carolina was now tutored to become her sister's
substitute, and when deemed adequately qualified was sent to Naples,
where she certainly never forgot she was an Austrian nor the interest of
the Court of Vienna. One circumstance concerning her and her mother
fully illustrates the character of both. On the marriage, the
Archduchess found that Spanish etiquette did not allow the Queen to have
the honour of dining at the same table as the King. She apprised her
mother. Maria Theresa instantly wrote to the Marchese Tenucei, then
Prime Minister at the Court of Naples, to say that, if her daughter, now
Queen of Naples, was to be considered less than the King her husband, she
would send an army to fetch her back to Vienna, and the King might
purchase a Georgian slave, for an Austrian Princess should not be thus
humbled. Maria Theresa need not have given herself all this trouble, for
before, the letter arrived the Queen of Naples had dismissed all the
Ministry, upset the Cabinet of Naples, and turned out even the King
himself from her bedchamber! So much for the overthrow of Spanish
etiquette by Austrian policy. The King of Spain became outrageous at the
influence of Maria Theresa, but there was no alternative.

"The other daughter of the Empress was married, as I have observed
already, to the Duke of Parma for the purpose of promoting the Austrian
strength in Italy against that of France, to which the Court of, Parma,
as well as that of Modena, had been long attached.

"The fourth Archduchess, Marie Antoinette, being the youngest and most
beautiful of the family, was destined for France. There were three older
than Marie Antoinette; but she, being much lovelier than her sisters, was
selected on account of her charms. Her husband was never considered by
the contrivers of the scheme: he was known to have no sway whatever, not
even in the choice of his own wife! But the character of Louis XV. was
recollected, and calculations drawn from it, upon the probable power
which youth and beauty might obtain over such a King and Court.

"It was during the time when Madame de Pompadour directed, not only the
King, but all France with most despotic sway, that the union of the
Archduchess Marie Antoinette with the grandson of Louis XV. was
proposed. The plan received the warmest support of Choiseul, then
Minister, and the ardent co-operation of Pompadour. Indeed it was to
her, the Duc de Choiseul, and the Comte de Mercy, the whole affair may be
ascribed. So highly was she flattered by the attention with which Maria
Theresa distinguished her, in consequence of her zeal, by presents and by
the title 'dear cousin,' which she used in writing to her, that she left
no stone unturned till the proxy of the Dauphin was sent to Vienna, to
marry Marie Antoinette in his name.

"All the interest by which this union was supported could not, however,
subdue a prejudice against it, not only among many of the Court, the
Cabinet, and the nation, but in the Royal Family itself. France has
never looked with complacency upon alliances with the House of Austria:
enemies to this one avowed themselves as soon as it was declared. The
daughters of Louis XV. openly expressed their aversion; but the stronger
influence prevailed, and Marie Antoinette became the Dauphine.

"Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, and afterwards of Sens, suggested the
appointment of the Librarian of the College des Quatre Nations, the Abbe
Vermond, as instructor to the Dauphine in French. The Abbe Vermond was
accordingly despatched by Louis XV. to Vienna. The consequences of this
appointment will be seen in the sequel. Perhaps not the least fatal of
them arose from his gratitude to the Archbishop, who recommended him.
Some years afterwards, in influencing his pupil, when Queen, to help
Brienne to the Ministry, he did her and her kingdom more injury than
their worst foes. Of the Abbe's power over Marie Antoinette there are
various opinions; of his capacity there is but one--he was superficial
and cunning. On his arrival at Vienna he became the tool of Maria
Theresa. While there, he received a salary as the daughter's tutor, and
when he returned to France, a much larger one as the mother's spy. He was
more ambitious to be thought a great man, in his power over his pupil,
than a rich one. He was too Jesuitical to wish to be deemed rich. He
knew that superfluous emoluments would soon have overthrown the authority
he derived from conferring, rather than receiving favours; and hence he
never soared to any higher post. He was generally considered to be
disinterested. How far his private fortunes benefited by his station has
never appeared; nor is it known whether, by the elevation of his friend
and patron to the Ministry in the time of Louis XVI., he gained anything
beyond the gratification of vanity, from having been the cause: it is
probable he did not, for if he had, from the general odium against that
promotion, no doubt it would have been exposed, unless the influence of
the Queen was his protection, as it proved in so many cases where he
grossly erred. From the first he was an evil to Marie Antoinette; and
ultimately habit rendered him a necessary evil.

"The education of the Dauphine was circumscribed; though very free in her
manners, she was very deficient in other respects; and hence it was she
so much avoided all society of females who were better informed than
herself, courting in preference the lively tittle-tattle of the other
sex, who were, in turn, better pleased with the gaieties of youth and
beauty than the more substantial logical witticisms of antiquated
Court-dowagers. To this may be ascribed her ungovernable passion for
great societies, balls, masquerades, and all kinds of public and private
amusements, as well as her subsequent attachment to the Duchesse de
Polignac, who so much encouraged them for the pastime of her friend and
sovereign. Though naturally averse to everything requiring study or
application, Marie Antoinette was very assiduous in preparing herself for
the parts she performed in the various comedies, farces, and cantatas
given at her private theatre; and their acquirement seemed to cost her no
trouble. These innocent diversions became a source of calumny against
her; yet they formed almost the only part of her German education, about
which Maria Theresa had been particular: the Empress-mother deemed them
so valuable to her children that she ordered the celebrated Metastasio to
write some of his most sublime cantatas for the evening recreations of
her sisters and herself. And what can more conduce to elegant literary
knowledge, or be less dangerous to the morals of the young, than domestic
recitation of the finest flights of the intellect? Certain it is that
Marie Antoinette never forgot her idolatry of her master Metastasio; and
it would have been well for her had all concerned in her education done
her equal justice. The Abbe Vermond encouraged these studies; and the
King himself afterwards sanctioned the translation of the works of his
Queen's revered instructor, and their publication at her own expense, in
a superb edition, that she might gratify her fondness the more
conveniently by reciting them in French. When Marie Antoinette herself
became a mother, and oppressed from the change of circumstances, she
regretted much that she had not in early life cultivated her mind more
extensively. 'What a resource,' would she exclaim, is a mind well stored
against human casualties!' She determined to avoid in her own offspring
the error, of which she felt herself the victim, committed by her
Imperial mother, for whose fault, though she suffered, she would invent
excuses. 'The Empress,' she would say, was left a young widow with ten
or twelve children; she had been accustomed, even during the Emperor's
life, to head her vast empire, and she thought it would be unjust to
sacrifice to her own children the welfare of the numerous family which
afterwards devolved upon her exclusive government and protection.'

"Most unfortunately for Marie Antoinette, her great supporter, Madame de
Pompadour, died before the Archduchess came to France. The pilot who was
to steer the young mariner safe into port was no more, when she arrived
at it. The Austrian interest had sunk with its patroness. The
intriguers of the Court no sooner saw the King without an avowed
favourite than they sought to give him one who should further their own
views and crush the Choiseul party, which had been sustained by
Pompadour. The licentious Duc de Richelieu was the pander on this
occasion. The low, vulgar Du Barry was by him introduced to the King,
and Richelieu had the honour of enthroning a successor to Pompadour, and
supplying Louis XV. with the last of his mistresses. Madame de Grammont,
who had been the royal confidante during the interregnum, gave up to the
rising star. The effect of a new power was presently seen in new events.
All the Ministers known to be attached to the Austrian interest were
dismissed; and the time for the arrival of the young bride, the
Archduchess of Austria, who was about to be installed Dauphine of France,
was at hand, and she came to meet scarcely a friend, and many foes--of
whom even her beauty, her gentleness, and her simplicity, were doomed to
swell the phalanx."


"On the marriage night, Louis XV. said gaily to the Dauphin, who was
supping with his usual heartiness, 'Don't overcharge your stomach

"'Why, I always sleep best after a hearty supper,' replied the Dauphin,
with the greatest coolness.

"The supper being ended, he accompanied his Dauphine to her chamber, and
at the door, with the greatest politeness, wished her a good night. Next
morning, upon his saying, when he met her at breakfast, that he hoped she
had slept well, Marie Antoinette replied, 'Excellently well, for I had no
one to disturb me!'

"The Princesse de Guemenee, who was then at the head of the household, on
hearing the Dauphine moving very early in her apartment, ventured to
enter it, and, not seeing the Dauphin, exclaimed, 'Bless me! he is risen
as usual!'--'Whom do you mean?' asked Marie Antoinette. The Princess
misconstruing the interrogation, was going to retire, when the Dauphine
said, 'I have heard a great deal of French politeness, but I think I am
married to the most polite of the nation!'--'What, then, he is
risen?'--'No, no, no!' exclaimed the Dauphine, 'there has been no rising;
he has never lain down here. He left me at the door of my apartment with
his hat in his hand, and hastened from me as if embarrassed with my

"After Marie Antoinette became a mother she would often laugh and tell
Louis XVI. of his bridal politeness, and ask him if in the interim
between that and the consummation he had studied his maiden aunts or his
tutor on the subject. On this he would laugh most excessively.

"Scarcely was Marie Antoinette seated in her new country before the
virulence of Court intrigue against her became active. She was beset on
all sides by enemies open and concealed, who never slackened their
persecutions. All the family of Louis XV., consisting of those maiden
aunts of the Dauphin just adverted to (among whom Madame Adelaide was
specially implacable), were incensed at the marriage, not only from their
hatred to Austria, but because it had accomplished the ambition of an
obnoxious favourite to give a wife to the Dauphin of their kingdom. On
the credulous and timid mind of the Prince, then in the leading strings
of this pious sisterhood, they impressed the misfortunes to his country
and to the interest of the Bourbon family, which must spring from the
Austrian influence through the medium of his bride. No means were left
unessayed to steel him against her sway. I remember once to have heard
Her Majesty remark to Louis XVI., in answer to some particular
observations he made, 'These, Sire, are the sentiments of our aunts, I am
sure.' And, indeed, great must have been their ascendency over him in
youth, for up to a late date he entertained a very high respect for their
capacity and judgment. Great indeed must it have been to have prevailed
against all the seducing allurements of a beautiful and fascinating young
bride, whose amiableness, vivacity, and wit became the universal
admiration, and whose graceful manner of address few ever equalled and
none ever surpassed; nay, even so to have prevailed as to form one of the
great sources of his aversion to consummate the marriage! Since the
death of the late Queen, their mother, these four Princesses (who, it was
said, if old maids, were not so from choice) had received and performed
the exclusive honours of the Court. It could not have diminished their
dislike for the young and lovely new-comer to see themselves under the
necessity of abandoning their dignities and giving up their station. So
eager were they to contrive themes of complaint against her, that when
she visited them in the simple attire in which she so much delighted,
'sans ceremonie', unaccompanied by a troop of horse and a squadron of
footguards, they complained to their father, who hinted to Marie
Antoinette that such a relaxation of the royal dignity would be attended
with considerable injury to French manufactures, to trade, and to the
respect due to her rank. 'My State and Court dresses,' replied she,
'shall not be less brilliant than those of any former Dauphine or Queen
of France, if such be the pleasure of the King,--but to my grandpapa I
appeal for some indulgence with respect to my undress private costume of
the morning.

"It was dangerous for one in whose conduct so many prying eyes were
seeking for sources of accusation to gratify herself even by the
overthrow of an absurdity, when that overthrow might incur the stigma of
innovation. The Court of Versailles was jealous of its Spanish
inquisitorial etiquette. It had been strictly wedded to its pageantries
since the time of the great Anne of Austria. The sagacious and prudent
provisions of this illustrious contriver were deemed the ne plus ultra of
royal female policy. A cargo of whalebone was yearly obtained by her to
construct such stays for the Maids of Honour as might adequately conceal
the Court accidents which generally--poor ladies!--befell them in
rotation every nine months.

"But Marie Antoinette could not sacrifice her predilection for a
simplicity quite English, to prudential considerations. Indeed, she was
too young to conceive it even desirable. So much did she delight in
being unshackled by finery that she would hurry from Court to fling off
her royal robes and ornaments, exclaiming, when freed from them, 'Thank
Heaven, I am out of harness!'

"But she had natural advantages, which gave her enemies a pretext for
ascribing this antipathy to the established fashion to mere vanity. It
is not impossible that she might have derived some pleasure from
displaying a figure so beautiful, with no adornment except its native
gracefulness; but how great must have been the chagrin of the Princesses,
of many of the Court ladies, indeed, of all in any way ungainly or
deformed, when called to exhibit themselves by the side of a bewitching
person like hers, unaided by the whalebone and horse-hair paddings with
which they had hitherto been made up, and which placed the best form on a
level with the worst? The prudes who practised illicitly, and felt the
convenience of a guise which so well concealed the effect of their
frailties, were neither the least formidable nor the least numerous of
the enemies created by this revolution of costume; and the Dauphine was
voted by common consent--for what greater crime could there be in
France?--the heretic Martin Luther of female fashions! The four
Princesses, her aunts, were as bitter against the disrespect with which
the Dauphine treated the armour, which they called dress, as if they
themselves had benefited by the immunities it could, confer.

"Indeed, most of the old Court ladies embattled themselves against Marie
Antoinette's encroachments upon their habits. The leader of them was a
real medallion, whose costume, character, and notions spoke a genealogy
perfectly antediluvian; who even to the latter days of Louis XV., amid a
Court so irregular, persisted in her precision. So systematic a
supporter of the antique could be no other than the declared foe of any
change, and, of course, deemed the desertion of large sack gowns,
monstrous Court hoops, and the old notions of appendages attached to
them, for tight waists and short petticoats, an awful demonstration of
the depravity of the time!--[The editor needs scarcely add, that the
allusion of the Princess is to Madame de Noailles.]

"This lady had been first lady to the sole Queen of Louis XV. She was
retained in the same station for Marie Antoinette. Her motions were
regulated like clock-work. So methodical was she in all her operations
of mind and body, that, from the beginning of the year to its end, she
never deviated a moment. Every hour had its peculiar occupation. Her
element was etiquette, but the etiquette of ages before the flood. She
had her rules even for the width of petticoats, that the Queens and
Princesses might have no temptation to straddle over a rivulet, or
crossing, of unroyal size.

"The Queen of Louis XV. having been totally subservient in her movements
night and day to the wishes of the Comtesse de Noailles, it will be
readily conceived how great a shock this lady must have sustained on
being informed one morning that the Dauphine had actually risen in the
night, and her ladyship not by to witness a ceremony from which most
ladies would have felt no little pleasure in being spared, but which, on
this occasion, admitted of no delay! Notwithstanding the Dauphine
excused herself by the assurance of the urgency allowing no time to call
the Countess, she nearly fainted at not having been present at that,
which others sometimes faint at, if too near! This unaccustomed
watchfulness so annoyed Marie Antoinette, that, determined to laugh her
out of it, she ordered an immense bottle of hartshorn to be placed upon
her toilet. Being asked what use was to be made of the hartshorn, she
said it was to prevent her first Lady of Honour from falling into
hysterics when the calls of nature were uncivil enough to exclude her
from being of the party. This, as may be presumed, had its desired
effect, and Marie Antoinette was ever afterwards allowed free access at
least to one of her apartments, and leave to perform that in private
which few individuals except Princesses do with parade and publicity.

"These things, however, planted the seeds of rancour against Marie
Antoinette, which Madame de Noailles carried with her to the grave. It
will be seen that she declared against her at a crisis of great
importance. The laughable title of Madame Etiquette, which the Dauphine
gave her, clung to her through life; though conferred only in merriment,
it never was forgiven.

"The Dauphine seemed to be under a sort of fatality with regard to all
those who had any power of doing her mischief either with her husband or
the Court. The Duc de Vauguyon, the Dauphin's tutor, who both from
principle and interest hated everything Austrian, and anything whatever
which threatened to lessen his despotic influence so long exercised over
the mind of his pupil, which he foresaw would be endangered were the
Prince once out of his leading-strings and swayed by a young wife, made
use of all the influence which old courtiers can command over the minds
they have formed (more generally for their own ends than those of
uprightness) to poison that of the young Prince against his bride.

"Never were there more intrigues among the female slaves in the Seraglio
of Constantinople for the Grand Signior's handkerchief than were
continually harassing one party against the other at the Court of
Versailles. The Dauphine was even attacked through her own tutor, the
Abbe Vermond. A cabal was got up between the Abbe and Madame Marsan,
instructress of the sisters of Louis XVI. (the Princesses Clotilde and
Elizabeth) upon the subject of education. Nothing grew out of this
affair excepting a new stimulus to the party spirit against the Austrian
influence, or, in other words, the Austrian Princess; and such was
probably its purpose. Of course every trifle becomes Court tattle. This
was made a mighty business of, for want of a worse. The royal aunts
naturally took the part of Madame Marsan. They maintained that their
royal nieces, the French Princesses, were much better educated than the
German Archduchesses had been by the Austrian Empress. They attempted to
found their assertion upon the embonpoint of the French Princesses. They
said that their nieces, by the exercise of religious principles, obtained
the advantage of solid flesh, while the Austrian Archduchesses, by
wasting themselves in idleness and profane pursuits, grew thin and
meagre, and were equally exhausted in their minds and bodies! At this
the Abbe Vermond, as the tutor of Marie Antoinette, felt himself highly
offended, and called on Comte de Mercy, then the Imperial Ambassador, to
apprise him of the insult the Empire had received over the shoulders of
the Dauphine's tutor. The Ambassador gravely replied that he should
certainly send off a courier immediately to Vienna to inform the Empress
that the only fault the French Court could find with Marie Antoinette was
her being not so unwieldy as their own Princesses, and bringing charms
with her to a bridegroom, on whom even charms so transcendent could make
no impression! Thus the matter was laughed off, but it left, ridiculous
as it was, new bitter enemies to the cause of the illustrious stranger.

"The new favourite, Madame du Barry, whose sway was now supreme, was of
course joined by the whole vitiated intriguing Court of Versailles. The
King's favourite is always that of his parasites, however degraded. The
politics of the De Pompadour party were still feared, though De Pompadour
herself was no more, for Choiseul had friends who were still active in
his behalf. The power which had been raised to crush the power that was
still struggling formed a rallying point for those who hated Austria,
which the deposed Ministry had supported; and even the King's daughters,
much as they abhorred the vulgarity of Du Barry, were led, by dislike for
the Dauphine, to pay their devotions to their father's mistress. The
influence of the rising sun, Marie Antoinette, whose beauteous rays of
blooming youth warmed every heart in her favour, was feared by the new
favourite as well as by the old maidens. Louis XV. had already expressed
a sufficient interest for the friendless royal stranger to awaken the
jealousy of Du Barry, and she was as little disposed to share the King's
affections with another, as his daughters were to welcome a future Queen
from Austria in their palace. Mortified at the attachment the King daily
evinced, she strained every nerve to raise a party to destroy his
predilections. She called to her aid the strength of ridicule, than
which no weapon is more false or deadly. She laughed at qualities she
could not comprehend, and underrated what she could not imitate. The Duc
de Richelieu, who had been instrumental to her good fortune, and for whom
(remembering the old adage: when one hand washes the other both are made
clean) she procured the command of the army--this Duke, the triumphant
general of Mahon and one of the most distinguished noblemen of France,
did not blush to become the secret agent of a depraved meretrix in the
conspiracy to blacken the character of her victim! The Princesses, of
course, joined the jealous Phryne against their niece, the daughter of
the Caesars, whose only faults were those of nature, for at that time she
could have no other excepting those personal perfections which were the
main source of all their malice. By one considered as an usurper, by the
others as an intruder, both were in consequence industrious in the quiet
work of ruin by whispers and detraction.

"To an impolitic act of the Dauphine herself may be in part ascribed the
unwonted virulence of the jealousy and resentment of Du Barry. The old
dotard, Louis XV., was so indelicate as to have her present at the first
supper of the Dauphine at Versailles. Madame la Marechale de Beaumont,
the Duchesse de Choiseul, and the Duchesse de Grammont were there also;
but upon the favourite taking her seat at table they expressed themselves
very freely to Louis XV. respecting the insult they conceived offered to
the young Dauphine, left the royal party, and never appeared again at
Court till after the King's death. In consequence of this scene, Marie
Antoinette, at the instigation of the Abbe Vermond, wrote to her mother,
the Empress, complaining of the slight put upon her rank, birth, and
dignity, and requesting the Empress would signify her displeasure to the
Court of France, as she had done to that of Spain on a similar occasion
in favour of her sister, the Queen of Naples.

"This letter, which was intercepted, got to the knowledge of the Court
and excited some clamour. To say the worst, it could only be looked upon
as an ebullition of the folly of youth. But insignificant as such
matters were in fact, malignity converted them into the locust, which
destroyed the fruit she was sent to cultivate.

"Maria Theresa, old fox that she was, too true to her system to retract
the policy, which formerly, laid her open to the criticism of all the
civilised Courts of Europe for opening the correspondence with De
Pompadour, to whose influence she owed her daughter's footing in
France--a correspondence whereby she degraded the dignity of her sex and
the honour of her crown--and at the same time suspecting that it was not
her daughter, but Vermond, from private motives, who complained, wrote
the following laconic reply to the remonstrance:

"'Where the sovereign himself presides, no guest can be exceptionable.'

"Such sentiments are very much in contradiction with the character of
Maria Theresa. She was always solicitous to impress the world with her
high notion of moral rectitude. Certainly, such advice, however politic,
ought not to have proceeded from a mother so religious as Maria Theresa
wished herself to be thought; especially to a young Princess who, though
enthusiastically fond of admiration, at least had discretion to see and
feel the impropriety of her being degraded to the level of a female like
Du Barry, and, withal, courage to avow it. This, of itself, was quite
enough to shake the virtue of Marie Antoinette; or, at least, Maria
Theresa's letter was of a cast to make her callous to the observance of
all its scruples. And in that vitiated, depraved Court, she too soon,
unfortunately, took the hint of her maternal counsellor in not only
tolerating, but imitating, the object she despised. Being one day told
that Du Barry was the person who most contributed to amuse Louis XV.,
'Then,' said she, innocently, 'I declare myself her rival; for I will try
who can best amuse my grandpapa for the future. I will exert all my
powers to please and divert him, and then we shall see who can best

"Du Barry was by when this was said, and she never forgave it. To this,
and to the letter, her rancour may principally be ascribed. To all those
of the Court party who owed their places and preferments to her exclusive
influence, and who held them subject to her caprice, she, of course,
communicated the venom.

"Meanwhile, the Dauphin saw Marie Antoinette mimicking the monkey tricks
with which this low Sultana amused her dotard, without being aware of the
cause. He was not pleased; and this circumstance, coupled with his
natural coolness and indifference for a union he had been taught to deem
impolitic and dangerous to the interests of France, created in his
virtuous mind that sort of disgust which remained so long an enigma to
the Court and all the kingdom, excepting his royal aunts, who did the
best they could to confirm it into so decided an aversion as might induce
him to impel his grandfather to annul the marriage and send the Dauphine
back to Vienna."

"After the Dauphin's marriage, the Comte d'Artois and his brother
Monsieur--[Afterwards Louis XVIII., and the former the present Charles
X.]--returned from their travels to Versailles. The former was delighted
with the young Dauphine, and, seeing her so decidedly neglected by her
husband, endeavoured to console her by a marked attention, but for which
she would have been totally isolated, for, excepting the old King, who
became more and more enraptured with the grace, beauty, and vivacity of
his young granddaughter, not another individual in the Royal Family was
really interested in her favour. The kindness of a personage so
important was of too much weight not to awaken calumny. It was, of
course, endeavoured to be turned against her. Possibilities, and even
probabilities, conspired to give a pretext for the scandal which already
began to be whispered about the Dauphine and D'Artois. It would have
been no wonder had a reciprocal attachment arisen between a virgin wife,
so long neglected by her husband, and one whose congeniality of character
pointed him out as a more desirable partner than the Dauphin. But there
is abundant evidence of the perfect innocence of their intercourse. Du
Barry was most earnest in endeavouring, from first to last, to establish
its impurity, because the Dauphine induced the gay young Prince to join
in all her girlish schemes to tease and circumvent the favourite. But
when this young Prince and his brother were married to the two Princesses
of Piedmont, the intimacy between their brides and the Dauphine proved
there could have been no doubt that Du Barry had invented a calumny, and
that no feeling existed but one altogether sisterly. The three stranger
Princesses were indeed inseparable; and these marriages, with that of the
French Princess, Clotilde, to the Prince of Piedmont, created
considerable changes in the coteries of Court.

"The machinations against Marie Antoinette could not be concealed from
the Empress-mother. An extraordinary Ambassador was consequently sent
from Vienna to complain of them to the Court of Versailles, with
directions that the remonstrance should be supported and backed by the
Comte de Mercy, then Austrian Ambassador at the Court of France. Louis
XV. was the only person to whom the communication was news. This old
dilettanti of the sex was so much engaged between his seraglio of the
Parc-aux-cerfs and Du Barry that he knew less of what was passing in his
palace than those at Constantinople. On being informed by the Austrian
Ambassador, he sent an Ambassador of his own to Vienna to assure the
Empress that he was perfectly satisfied of the innocent conduct of his
newly acquired granddaughter.

"Among the intrigues within intrigues of the time I mention, there was
one which shows that perhaps Du Barry's distrust of the constancy of her
paramour, and apprehension from the effect on him of the charms of the
Dauphine, in whom he became daily more interested, were not utterly
without foundation. In this instance even her friend, the Duc de
Richelieu, that notorious seducer, by lending himself to the secret
purposes of the King, became a traitor to the cause of the King's
favourite, to which he had sworn allegiance, and which he had supported
by defaming her whom he now became anxious to make his Queen.

"It has already been said, that the famous Duchesse de Grammont was one
of the confidential friends of Louis XV. before he took Du Barry under
his especial protection. Of course, there can be no difficulty in
conceiving how likely a person she would be, to aid any purpose of the
King which should displace the favourite, by whom she herself had been
obliged to retire, by ties of a higher order, to which she might prove

"Louis XV. actually flattered himself with the hope of obtaining
advantages from the Dauphin's coolness towards the Dauphine. He
encouraged it, and even threw many obstacles in the way of the
consummation of the marriage. The apartments of the young couple were
placed at opposite ends of the palace, so that the Dauphin could not
approach that of his Dauphine without a publicity which his bashfulness
could not brook.

"Louis XV. now began to act upon his secret passion to supplant his
grandson, and make the Dauphine his own Queen, by endeavouring to secure
her affections to himself. His attentions were backed by gifts of
diamonds, pearls, and other valuables, and it was at this period that
Boehmer, the jeweller, first received the order for that famous necklace,
which subsequently produced such dreadful consequences, and which was
originally meant as a kingly present to the intended Queen, though
afterwards destined for Du Barry, had not the King died before the
completion of the bargain for it.

"The Queen herself one day told me, 'Heaven knows if ever I should have
had the blessing of being a mother had I not one evening surprised the
Dauphin, when the subject was adverted to, in the expression of a sort of
regret at our being placed so far asunder from each other. Indeed, he
never honoured me with any proof of his affection so explicit as that you
have just witnessed'--for the King had that moment kissed her, as he left
the apartment--'from the time of our marriage till the consummation. The
most I ever received from him was a squeeze of the hand in secret. His
extreme modesty, and perhaps his utter ignorance of the intercourse with
woman, dreaded the exposure of crossing the palace to my bedchamber; and
no doubt the accomplishment would have occurred sooner, could it have
been effectuated in privacy. The hint he gave emboldened me with
courage, when he next left me, as usual, at the door of my apartment, to
mention it to the Duchesse de Grammont, then the confidential friend of
Louis XV., who laughed me almost out of countenance; saying, in her gay
manner of expressing herself, "If I were as young and as beautiful a wife
as you are I should certainly not trouble myself to remove the obstacle
by going to him while there were others of superior rank ready to supply
his place." Before she quitted me, however, she said: "Well, child, make
yourself easy: you shall no longer be separated from the object of your
wishes: I will mention it to the King, your grandpapa, and he will soon
order your husband's apartment to be changed for one nearer your own."
And the change shortly afterwards took place.

"'Here,' continued the Queen, 'I accuse myself of a want of that courage
which every virtuous wife ought to exercise in not having complained of
the visible neglect shown me long, long before I did; for this, perhaps,
would have spared both of us the many bitter pangs originating in the
seeming coldness, whence have arisen all the scandalous stories against
my character--which have often interrupted the full enjoyment I should
have felt had they not made me tremble for the security of that
attachment, of which I had so many proofs, and which formed my only
consolation amid all the malice that for yearn had been endeavouring to
deprive me of it! So far as regards my husband's estimation, thank fate,
I have defied their wickedness! Would to Heaven I could have been
equally secure in the estimation of my people--the object nearest to my
heart, after the King and my dear children!'"

[The Dauphine could not understand the first allusion of the Duchess; but
it is evident that the vile intriguer took this opportunity of sounding
her upon what she was commissioned to carry on in favour of Louis XV.,
and it is equally apparent that when she heard Marie Antoinette express
herself decidedly in favour of her young husband, and distinctly saw how
utterly groundless were the hopes of his secret rival, she was led
thereby to abandon her wicked project; and perhaps the change of
apartments was the best mask that could have been devised to hide the

"The present period appears to have been one of the happiest in the life
of Marie Antoinette. Her intimate society consisted of the King's
brothers, and their Princesses, with the King's saint-like sister
Elizabeth; and they lived entirely together, excepting when the Dauphine
dined in public. These ties seemed to be drawn daily closer for some
time, till the subsequent intimacy with the Polignacs. Even when the
Comtesse d'Artois lay-in, the Dauphine, then become Queen, transferred
her parties to the apartments of that Princess, rather than lose the
gratification of her society.

"During all this time, however, Du Barry, the Duc d'Aiguillon, and the
aunts-Princesses, took special care to keep themselves between her and
any tenderness on the part of the husband Dauphin, and, from different
motives uniting in one end, tried every means to get the object of their
hatred sent back to Vienna."


"The Empress-mother was thoroughly aware of all that was going on. Her
anxiety, not only about her daughter, but her State policy, which it may
be apprehended was in her mind the stronger motive of the two, encouraged
the machinations of an individual who must now appear upon the stage of
action, and to whose arts may be ascribed the worst of the sufferings of
Marie Antoinette.

"I allude to the Cardinal Prince de Rohan.

"At this time he was Ambassador at the Court of Vienna. The reliance the
Empress placed on him favoured his criminal machinations against her
daughter's reputation. He was the cause of her sending spies to watch
the conduct of the Dauphine, besides a list of persons proper for her to
cultivate, as well as of those it was deemed desirable for her to exclude
from her confidence.

"As the Empress knew all those who, though high in office in Versailles,
secretly received pensions from Vienna, she could, of course, tell,
without much expense of sagacity, who were in the Austrian interest. The
Dauphine was warned that she was surrounded by persons who were not her

"The conduct of Maria Theresa towards her daughter, the Queen of Naples,
will sufficiently explain how much the Empress must have been chagrined
at the absolute indifference of Marie Antoinette to the State policy
which was intended to have been served in sending her to France. A less
fitting instrument for the purpose could not have been selected by the
mother. Marie Antoinette had much less of the politician about her than
either of her surviving sisters; and so much was she addicted to
amusement, that she never even thought of entering into State affairs
till forced by the King's neglect of his most essential prerogatives, and
called upon by the Ministers themselves to screen them from
responsibility. Indeed, the latter cause prevailed upon her to take her
seat in the Cabinet Council (though she took it with great reluctance)
long before she was impelled thither by events and her consciousness of
its necessity. She would often exclaim to me: 'How happy I was during
the lifetime of Louis XV.! No cares to disturb my peaceful slumbers! No
responsibility to agitate my mind! No fears of erring, of partiality, of
injustice, to break in upon my enjoyments! All, all happiness, my dear
Princess, vanishes from the bosom of a woman if she once deviate from the
prescribed domestic character of her sex! Nothing was ever framed more
wise than the Salique Laws, which in France and many parts of Germany
exclude women from reigning, for few of us have that masculine capacity
so necessary to conduct with impartiality and justice the affairs of

"To this feeling of the impropriety of feminine interference in masculine
duties, coupled with her attachment to France, both from principle and
feeling, may be ascribed the neglect of her German connexions, which led
to many mortifying reproaches, and the still more galling espionage to
which she was subjected in her own palace by her mother. These are,
however, so many proofs of the falsehood of the allegations by which she
suffered so deeply afterwards, of having sacrificed the interests of her
husband's kingdom to her predilection for her mother's empire.

"The subtle Rohan designed to turn the anxiety of Maria Theresa about the
Dauphine to account, and he was also aware that the ambition of the
Empress was paramount in Maria Theresa's bosom to the love for her child.
He was about to play a deep and more than double game. By increasing the
mother's jealousy of the daughter, and at the same time enhancing the
importance of the advantages afforded by her situation, to forward the
interests of the mother, he, no doubt, hoped to get both within his
power: for who can tell what wild expectation might not have animated
such a mind as Rohan's at the prospect of governing not only the Court of
France but that of Austria?--the Court of France, through a secret
influence of his own dictation thrown around the Dauphine by the mother's
alarm; and that of Austria, through a way he pointed out, in which the
object that was most longed for by the mother's ambition seemed most
likely to be achieved! While he endeavoured to make Maria Theresa beset
her daughter with the spies I have mentioned, and which were generally of
his own selection, he at the same time endeavoured to strengthen her
impression of how important it was to her schemes to insure the
daughter's co-operation. Conscious of the eagerness of Maria Theresa for
the recovery of the rich province which Frederick the Great of Prussia
had wrested from her ancient dominions, he pressed upon her credulity the
assurance that the influence of which the Dauphine was capable over Louis
XV., by the youthful beauty's charms acting upon the dotard's admiration,
would readily induce that monarch to give such aid to Austria as must
insure the restoration of what it lost. Silesia, it has been before
observed, was always a topic by means of which the weak side of Maria
Theresa could be attacked with success. There is generally some peculiar
frailty in the ambitious, through which the artful can throw them off
their guard. The weak and tyrannical Philip II., whenever the recovery
of Holland and the Low Countries was proposed to him, was always ready to
rush headlong into any scheme for its accomplishment; the bloody Queen
Mary, his wife, declared that at her death the loss of Calais would be
found engraven on her heart; and to Maria Theresa, Silesia was the
Holland and the Calais for which her wounded pride was thirsting.

"But Maria Theresa was wary, even in the midst of the credulity of her
ambition. The Baron de Neni was sent by her privately to Versailles to
examine, personally, whether there was anything in Marie Antoinette's
conduct requiring the extreme vigilance which had been represented as
indispensable. The report of the Baron de Neni to his royal mistress was
such as to convince her she had been misled and her daughter
misrepresented by Rohan. The Empress instantly forbade him her presence.

"The Cardinal upon this, unknown to the Court of Vienna, and indeed, to
every one, except his factotum, principal agent, and secretary, the Abbe
Georgel, left the Austrian capital, and came to Versailles, covering his
disgrace by pretended leave of absence. On seeing Marie Antoinette he
fell enthusiastically in love with her. To gain her confidence he
disclosed the conduct which had been observed towards her by the Empress,
and, in confirmation of the correctness of his disclosure, admitted that
he had himself chosen the spies which had been set on her. Indignant at
such meanness in her mother, and despising the prelate, who could be base
enough to commit a deed equally corrupt and uncalled for, and even thus
wantonly betrayed when committed, the Dauphine suddenly withdrew from his
presence, and gave orders that he should never be admitted to any of her

"But his imagination was too much heated by a guilty passion of the
blackest hue to recede; and his nature too presumptuous and fertile in
expedients to be disconcerted. He soon found means to conciliate both
mother and daughter; and both by pretending to manage with the one the
self-same plot which, with the other, he was recommending himself by
pretending to overthrow. To elude detection he interrupted the regular
correspondence between the Empress and the Dauphine, and created a
coolness by preventing the communications which would have unmasked him,
that gave additional security to the success of his deception.

"By the most diabolical arts he obtained an interview with the Dauphine,
in which he regained her confidence. He made her believe that he had
been commissioned by her mother, as she had shown so little interest for
the house of Austria, to settle a marriage for her sister, the
Archduchess Elizabeth, with Louis XV. The Dauphine was deeply affected
at the statement. She could not conceal her agitation. She
involuntarily confessed how much she should deplore such an alliance. The
Cardinal instantly perceived his advantage, and was too subtle to let it
pass. He declared that, as it was to him the negotiation had been
confided, if the Dauphine would keep her own counsel, never communicate
their conversation to the Empress, but leave the whole matter to his
management and only assure him that he was forgiven, he would pledge
himself to arrange things to her satisfaction. The Dauphine, not wishing
to see another raised to the throne over her head and to her scorn, under
the assurance that no one knew of the intention or could prevent it but
the Cardinal, promised him her faith and favour; and thus rashly fell
into the springs of this wily intriguer.

"Exulting to find Marie Antoinette in his power, the Cardinal left
Versailles as privately as he arrived there, for Vienna. His next object
was to ensnare the Empress, as he had done her daughter; and by a
singular caprice, fortune, during his absence, had been preparing for him
the means.

"The Abbe Georgel, his secretary, by underhand manoeuvres, to which he
was accustomed, had obtained access to all the secret State
correspondence, in which the Empress had expressed herself fully to the
Comte de Mercy relative to the views of Russia and Prussia upon Poland,
whereby her own plans were much thwarted. The acquirement of copies of
these documents naturally gave the Cardinal free access to the Court and
a ready introduction once more to the Empress. She was too much
committed by his possession of such weapons not to be most happy to make
her peace with him; and he was too sagacious not to make the best use of
his opportunity. To regain her confidence, he betrayed some of the
subaltern agents, through whose treachery he had procured his evidences,
and, in farther confirmation of his resources, showed the Empress several
dispatches from her own Ministers to the Courts of Russia and Prussia. He
had long, he said, been in possession of similar views of aggrandisement,
upon which these Courts were about to act; and had, for a while, even
incurred Her Imperial Majesty's displeasure, merely because he was not in
a situation fully to explain; but that he had now thought of the means to
crush their schemes before they could be put in practice. He apprised her
of his being aware that Her Imperial Majesty's Ministers were actively
carrying on a correspondence with Russia, with a view of joining her in
checking the French co-operation with the Grand Signior; and warned her
that if this design were secretly pursued, it would defeat the very views
she had in sharing in the spoliation of Poland; and if openly, it would
be deemed an avowal of hostilities against the Court of France, whose
political system would certainly impel it to resist any attack upon the
divan of Constantinople, that the balance of power in Europe might be
maintained against the formidable ambition of Catherine, whose gigantic
hopes had been already too much realised.

"Maria Theresa was no less astonished at these disclosures of the
Cardinal than the Dauphine had been at his communication concerning her.
She plainly saw that all her plans were known, and might be defeated from
their detection.

"The Cardinal, having succeeded in alarming the Empress, took from his
pocket a fabulous correspondence, hatched by his secretary, the Abbe
Georgel. 'There, Madame,' said he, 'this will convince Your Majesty that
the warm interest I have taken in your Imperial house has carried me
farther than I was justified in having gone; but seeing the sterility of
the Dauphine, or, as it is reported by some of the Court, the total
disgust the Dauphin has to consummate the marriage, the coldness of your
daughter towards the interest of your Court, and the prospect of a race
from the Comtesse d'Artois, for the consequences of which there is no
answering, I have, unknown to Your Imperial Majesty, taken upon myself to
propose to LOUIS XV. a marriage with the Archduchess Elizabeth, who, on
becoming Queen of France, will immediately have it in her power to
forward the Austrian interest; for LOUIS XV., as the first proof of his
affection to his young bride, will at once secure to your Empire the aid
you stand so much in need of against the ambition of these two rising
States. The recovery of Your Imperial Majesty's ancient dominions may
then be looked upon as accomplished from the influence of the French

"The bait was swallowed. Maria Theresa was so overjoyed at this scheme
that she totally forgot all former animosity against the Cardinal. She
was encouraged to ascribe the silence of Marie Antoinette (whose letters
had been intercepted by the Cardinal himself) to her resentment of this
project concerning her sister; and the deluded Empress, availing herself
of the pretended zeal of the Cardinal for the interest of her family,
gave him full powers to return to France and secretly negotiate the
alliance for her daughter Elizabeth, which was by no means to be
disclosed to the Dauphine till the King's proxy should be appointed to
perform the ceremony at Vienna. This was all the Cardinal wished for.

"Meanwhile, in order to obtain a still greater ascendency over the Court
of France, he had expended immense sums to bribe secretaries and
Ministers; and couriers were even stopped to have copies taken of all the
correspondence to and from Austria.

"At the same crisis the Empress was informed by Prince Kaunitz that the
Cardinal and his suite at the palace of the French Ambassador carried on
such an immense and barefaced traffic of French manufactures of every
description that Maria Theresa thought proper, in order to prevent future
abuse, to abolish the privilege which gave to Ministers and Ambassadors
an opportunity of defrauding the revenue. Though this law was levelled
exclusively at the Cardinal, it was thought convenient under the
circumstances to avoid irritating him, and it was consequently made
general. But, the Comte de Mercy now obtaining some clue to his
duplicity, an intimation was given to the Court at Versailles, to which
the King replied, 'If the Empress be dissatisfied with the French
Ambassador, he shall be recalled.' But though completely unmasked, none
dared publicly to accuse him, each party fearing a discovery of its own
intrigue. His official recall did not in consequence take place for some
time; and the Cardinal, not thinking it prudent to go back till Louis XV.
should be no more, lest some unforeseen discovery of his project for
supplying her royal paramour with a Queen should rouse Du Barry to get
his Cardinalship sent to the Bastille for life, remained fixed in his
post, waiting for events.

"At length Louis XV. expired, and the Cardinal returned to Versailles. He
contrived to obtain a private audience of the young Queen. He presumed
upon her former facility in listening to him, and was about to betray the
last confidence of Maria Theresa; but the Queen, shocked at the knowledge
which she had obtained of his having been equally treacherous to her and
to her mother, in disgust and alarm left the room without receiving a
letter he had brought her from Maria Theresa, and without deigning to
address a single word to him. In the heat of her passion and resentment,
she was nearly exposing all she knew of his infamies to the King, when
the coolheaded Princesse Elizabeth opposed her, from the seeming
imprudence of such an abrupt discovery; alleging that it might cause an
open rupture between the two Courts, as it had already been the source of
a reserve and coolness, which had not yet been explained. The Queen was
determined never more to commit herself by seeing the Cardinal. She
accordingly sent for her mother's letter, which he himself delivered into
the hands of her confidential messenger, who advised the Queen not to
betray the Cardinal to the King, lest, in so doing, she should never be
able to guard herself against the domestic spies, by whom, perhaps, she
was even yet surrounded! The Cardinal, conceiving, from the impunity of
his conduct, that he still held the Queen in check, through the influence
of her fears of his disclosing her weakness upon the subject of the
obstruction she threw in the way of her sister's marriage, did not resign
the hope of converting that ascendency to his future profit.

"The fatal silence to which Her Majesty was thus unfortunately advised I
regret from the bottom of my soul! All the successive vile plots of the
Cardinal against the peace and reputation of the Queen may be attributed
to this ill-judged prudence! Though it resulted from an honest desire of
screening Her Majesty from the resentment or revenge to which she might
have subjected herself from this villain, who had already injured her in
her own estimation for having been credulous enough to have listened to
him, yet from this circumstance it is that the Prince de Rohan built the
foundation of all the after frauds and machinations with which he
blackened the character and destroyed the comfort of his illustrious
victim. It is obvious that a mere exclusion from Court was too mild a
punishment for such offences, and it was but too natural that such a mind
as his, driven from the royal presence, and, of course, from all the
noble societies to which it led (the anti-Court party excepted), should
brood over the means of inveigling the Queen into a consent for his
reappearance before her and the gay world, which was his only element,
and if her favour should prove unattainable to revenge himself by her

"On the Cardinal's return to France, all his numerous and powerful
friends beset the King and Queen to allow of his restoration to his
embassy; but though on his arrival at Versailles, finding the Court had
removed to Compiegne, he had a short audience there of the King, all
efforts in his favour were thrown away. Equally unsuccessful was every
intercession with the Empress-mother. She had become thoroughly awakened
to his worthlessness, and she declared she would never more even receive
him in her dominions as a visitor. The Cardinal, being apprised of this
by some of his intimates, was at last persuaded to give up the idea of
further importunity; and, pocketing his disgrace, retired with his hey
dukes and his secretary, the Abbe Georgel, to whom may be attributed all
the artful intrigues of his disgraceful diplomacy.

"It is evident that Rohan had no idea, during all his schemes to supplant
the Dauphine by marrying her sister to the King, that the secret hope of
Louis XV. had been to divorce the Dauphin and marry the slighted bride
himself. Perhaps it is fortunate that Rohan did not know this. A brain
so fertile in mischief as his might have converted such a circumstance to
baneful uses. But the death of Louis XV. put an end to all the then
existing schemes for a change in her position. It was to her a real,
though but a momentary triumph. From the hour of her arrival she had a
powerful party to cope with; and the fact of her being an Austrian,
independent of the jealousy created by her charms, was, in itself, a
spell to conjure up armies, against which she stood alone, isolated in
the face of embattled myriads! But she now reared her head, and her foes
trembled in her presence. Yet she could not guard against the moles busy
in the earth secretly to undermine her. Nay, had not Louis XV. died at
the moment he did, there is scarcely a doubt, from the number and the
quality of the hostile influences working on the credulity of the young
Dauphin, that Marie Antoinette would have been very harshly dealt
with,--even the more so from the partiality of the dotard who believed
himself to be reigning. But she has been preserved from her enemies to
become their sovereign; and if her crowned brow has erewhile been stung
by thorns in its coronal, let me not despair of their being hereafter
smothered in yet unblown roses."


"The accession of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette to the crown of France
took place (May 10, 1774) under the most propitious auspices!

"After the long, corrupt reign of an old debauched Prince, whose vices
were degrading to himself and to a nation groaning under the lash of
prostitution and caprice, the most cheering changes were expected from
the known exemplariness of his successor and the amiableness of his
consort. Both were looked up to as models of goodness. The virtues of
Louis XVI. were so generally known that all France hastened to
acknowledge them, while the Queen's fascinations acted like a charm on
all who had not been invincibly prejudiced against the many excellent
qualities which entitled her to love and admiration. Indeed, I never
heard an insinuation against either the King or Queen but from those
depraved minds which never possessed virtue enough to imitate theirs, or
were jealous of the wonderful powers of pleasing that so eminently
distinguished Marie Antoinette from the rest of her sex.

"On the death of Louis XV. the entire Court removed from Versailles to
the palace of La Muette, situate in the Bois de Boulogne, very near
Paris. The confluence of Parisians, who came in crowds joyfully to hail
the death of the old vitiated Sovereign, and the accession of his adored
successors, became quite annoying to the whole Royal Family. The
enthusiasm with which the Parisians hailed their young King, and in
particular his amiable young partner, lasted for many days. These
spontaneous evidences of attachment were regarded as prognostics of a
long reign of happiness. If any inference can be drawn from public
opinion, could there be a stronger assurance than this one of
uninterrupted future tranquility to its objects?

"To the Queen herself it was a double triumph. The conspirators, whose
depravity had been labouring to make her their victim, departed from the
scene of power. The husband, who for four years had been callous to her
attractions, became awakened to them. A complete change in the domestic
system of the palace was wrought suddenly. The young King, during the
interval which elapsed between the death and the interment of his
grandfather, from Court etiquette was confined to his apartments. The
youthful couple therefore saw each other with less restraint. The
marriage was consummated. Marie Antoinette from this moment may date
that influence over the heart (would I might add over the head and
policy!) of the King, which never slackened during the remainder of their

"Madame du Barry was much better dealt with by the young King, whom she
had always treated with the greatest levity, than she, or her numerous
courtiers, expected. She was allowed her pension, and the entire
enjoyment of all her ill-gotten and accumulated wealth; but, of course,
excluded from ever appearing at Court, and politically exiled from Paris
to the Chateau aux Dames.

"This implacable foe and her infamous coadjutors being removed from
further interference in matters of State by the expulsion of all their
own Ministers, their rivals, the Duc de Choiseul and his party, by whom
Marie Antoinette had been brought to France, were now in high expectation
of finding the direction of the Government, by the Queen's influence,
restored to that nobleman. But the King's choice was already made. He
had been ruled by his aunts, and appointed Ministers suggested by them
and his late grandfather's friends, who feared the preponderance of the
Austrian influence. The three ladies, Madame la Marechale de Beauveau,
the Duchesse de Choiseul, and the Duchesse de Grammont, who were all
well-known to Louis XVI. and stood high in his opinion for many excellent
qualities, and especially for their independent assertion of their own
and the Dauphine's dignity by retiring from Court in consequence of the
supper at which Du Barry was introduced these ladies, though received on
their return thither with peculiar welcome, in vain united their efforts
with those of the Queen and the Abbe Vermond, to overcome the prejudice
which opposed Choiseul's reinstatement. It was all in vain. The royal
aunts, Adelaide especially, hated Choiseul for the sake of Austria, and
his agency in bringing Marie Antoinette to France; and so did the King's
tutor and governor, the Duc de Vauguyon, who had ever been hostile to any
sort of friendship with Vienna; and these formed a host impenetrable even
to the influence of the Queen, which was opposed by all the leaders of
the prevailing party, who, though they were beginning externally to
court, admire, and idolize her, secretly surrounded her by their noxious
and viperous intrigues, and, while they lived in her bosom, fattened on
the destruction of her fame!

"One of the earliest of the paltry insinuations against Marie Antoinette
emanated from her not counterfeiting deep affliction at the decease of
the old King. A few days after that event, the Court received the
regular visits of condolence and congratulation of the nobility, whose
duty prescribes their attendance upon such occasions; and some of them,
among whom were the daughters of Louis XV., not finding a young Queen of
nineteen hypocritically bathed in tears, on returning to their abodes
declared her the most indecorous of Princesses, and diffused a strong
impression of her want of feeling. At the head of these detractors were
Mesdames de Guemenee and Marsan, rival pretenders to the favours of the
Cardinal de Rohan, who, having by the death of Louis XV. lost their
influence and their unlimited power to appoint and dismiss Ministers,
themselves became ministers to their own evil geniuses, in calumniating
her whose legitimate elevation annihilated their monstrous pretensions!

"The Abbe Vermond, seeing the defeat of the party of the Duc de Choiseul,
by whom he had been sent to the Court of Vienna on the recommendation of
Brienne, began to tremble for his own security. As soon as the Court had
arrived at Choisy, and he was assured of the marriage having been
consummated, he obtained, with the Queen's consent, an audience of the
King, for the purpose of soliciting his sanction to his continuing in his
situation. On submitting his suit to the King, His Majesty merely gave a
shrug of the shoulders, and turned to converse with the Duc d'Aiguillon,
who at that moment entered the room. The Abbe stood stupefied, and the
Queen, seeing the crestfallen humour of her tutor, laughed and cheered
him by remarking, 'There is more meaning in the shrug of a King than in
the embrace of a Minister. The one always promises, but is seldom
sincere; the other is generally sincere, but never promises.' The Abbe,
not knowing how to interpret the dumb answer, finding the King's back
turned and his conversation with D'Aiguillon continuing, was retiring
with a shrug of his own shoulders to the Queen, when she exclaimed,
good-humouredly, to Louis, laughing and pointing to the Abbe, 'Look!
look! see how readily a Church dignitary can imitate the good Christian
King, who is at the head of the Church.' The King, seeing the Abbe still
waiting, said, dryly, 'Monsieur, you are confirmed in your situation,'
and then resumed his conversation with the Duke.

"This anecdote is a sufficient proof that LOUIS XVI. had no
prepossession in favour of the Abbe Vermond, and that it was merely not
to wound the feelings of the Queen that he was tolerated. The Queen
herself was conscious of this, and used frequently to say to me how much
she was indebted to the King for such deference to her private choice, in
allowing Vermond to be her secretary, as she did not remember the King's
ever having held any communication with the Abbe during the whole time he
was attached to the service, though the Abbe always expressed himself
with the greatest respect towards the King.

"The decorum of Marie Antoinette would not allow her to endure those
public exhibitions of the ceremony, of dressing herself which had been
customary at Court. This reserve was highly approved by His Majesty; and
one of the first reforms she introduced, after the accession, was in the
internal discipline of her own apartment.

"It was during one of the visits, apart from Court etiquette, to the
toilet of the Queen, that the Duchesse de Chartres, afterwards Duchesse
d'Orleans, introduced the famous Mademoiselle Bertin, who afterwards
became so celebrated as the Queen's milliner--the first that was ever
allowed to approach a royal palace; and it was months before Marie
Antoinette had courage to receive her milliner in any other than the
private apartment which, by the alteration Her Majesty had made in the
arrangements of the household, she set apart for the purpose of dressing
in comfort by herself and free from all intruders.

"Till then the Queen was not only very plain in her attire, but very,
economical--a circumstance which, I have often heard her say, gave great
umbrage to the other Princesses of the Court of Versailles, who never
showed themselves, from the moment they rose till they returned to bed,
except in full dress; while she herself made all her morning visits in a
simple white cambric gown and straw hat. This simplicity, unfortunately,
like many other trifles, whose consequences no foresight would have
predicted, tended much to injure Marie Antoinette, not only with the
Court dandies, but the nation; by whom, though she was always censured,
she was as suddenly imitated in all she wore or did.

"From the private closet, which Marie Antoinette reserved to herself, and
had now opened to her milliner, she would retire, after the great points
of habiliment were accomplished, to those who were waiting with memorials
at her public toilet, where the hairdresser would finish putting the
ornaments in Her Majesty's hair.

"The King made Marie Antoinette a present of Le Petit Trianon. Much has
been said of the extravagant expense lavished by her upon this spot. I
can only declare that the greater part of the articles of furniture which
had not been worn out by time or were not worm or moth-eaten, and her own
bed among them, were taken from the apartments of former Queens, and some
of them had actually belonged to Anne of Austria, who, like Marie
Antoinette, had purchased them out of her private savings. Hence it is
clear that neither of the two Queens were chargeable to the State even
for those little indulgences which every private lady of property is
permitted from her husband, without coming under the lash of censure.

"Her allowance as Queen of France was no more than 300,000 francs. It is
well known that she was generous, liberal, and very charitable; that she
paid all her expenses regularly respecting her household, Trianon, her
dresses, diamonds, millinery, and everything else; her Court
establishment excepted, and some few articles, which were paid by the
civil list. She was one of the first Queens in Europe, had the first
establishment in Europe, and was obliged to keep up the most refined and
luxurious Court in Europe; and all upon means no greater than had been
assigned to many of the former bigoted Queens, who led a cloistered life,
retired from the world without circulating their wealth among the nation
which supplied them with so large a revenue; and yet who lived and died
uncensured for hoarding from the nation what ought at least to have been
in part expended for its advantage.

"And yet of all the extra expenditure which the dignity and circumstances
of Marie Antoinette exacted, not a franc came from the public Treasury;
but everything out of Her Majesty's private purse and savings from the
above three hundred thousand francs, which was an infinitely less sum
than Louis XIV. had lavished yearly on the Duchesse de Montespan, and
less than half what Louis XV. had expended on the last two favourites, De
Pompadour and Du Barry. These two women, as clearly appeared from the
private registers, found among the papers of Louis XV. after his death,
by Louis XVI. (but which, out of respect for the memory of his
grandfather, he destroyed), these two women had amassed more property in
diamonds and other valuables than all the Queens of France from the days
of Catherine de Medicis up to those of Marie Antoinette.

"Such was the goodness of heart of the excellent Queen of Louis XVI.,
such the benevolence of her character, that not only did she pay all the
pensions of the invalids left by her predecessors, but she distributed in
public and private charities greater sums than any of the former Queens,
thus increasing her expenses without any proportionate augmentation of
her resources."

[Indeed, could Louis XVI. have foreseen--when, in order not to expose the
character of his predecessor and to honour the dignity of the throne and
monarchy of France, he destroyed the papers of his grandfather--what an
arm of strength he would have possessed in preserving them, against the
accusers of his unfortunate Queen and himself, he never could have thrown
away such means of establishing a most honourable contrast between his
own and former reigns. His career exhibits no superfluous expenditure.
Its economy was most rigid. No sovereign was ever more scrupulous with
the public money. He never had any public or private predilection; no
dilapidated Minister for a favourite: no courtesan intrigue. For gaming
he had no fondness; and, if his abilities were not splendid, he certainly
had no predominating vices.]


[I must once more quit the journal of the Princess. Her Highness here
ceases to record particulars of the early part of the reign of Louis
XVI., and everything essential upon those times is too well known to
render it desirable to detain the reader by an attempt to supply the
deficiency. It is enough to state that the secret unhappiness of the
Queen at not yet having the assurance of an heir was by no means weakened
by the impatience of the people, nor by the accouchement of the Comtesse
d'Artois of the Duc d'Angouleme. While the Queen continued the intimacy,
and even held her parties at the apartments of the Duchess that she might
watch over her friend, even in this triumph over herself, the poissardes
grossly insulted her in her misfortune, and coarsely called on her to
give heirs to the throne!

A consolation, however, for the unkind feeling of the populace was about
to arise in the delights of one of her strongest friendships. I am come
to the epoch when Her Majesty first formed an acquaintance with the
Princesse de Lamballe.

After a few words of my own on the family of Her Highness, I shall leave
her to pursue her beautiful and artless narrative of her parentage, early
sorrows, and introduction to Her Majesty, unbroken.

The journal of the history of Marie Antoinette, after this slight
interruption for the private history of her friend, will become blended
with the journal of the Princesse de Lamballe, and both thenceforward
will proceed in their course together, like their destinies, which from
that moment never became disunited.]


[MARIA THERESA LOUISA CARIGNAN, Princess of Savoy, was born at Turin on
the 8th September, 1749. She had three sisters; two of them were married
at Rome, one to the Prince Doria Pamfili, the other to the Prince
Colonna; and the third at Vienna, to the Prince Lobkowitz, whose son was
the great patron of the immortal Haydn, the celebrated composer.

The celebrated Haydn was, even at the age of 74, when I last saw him at
Vienna, till the most good-humoured bon vivant of his age. He delighted
in telling the origin of his good fortune, which he said he entirely owed
to a bad wife.

When he was first married, he said, finding no remedy against domestic
squabbles, he used to quit his bad half and go and enjoy himself with his
good friends, who were Hungarians and Germans, for weeks together. Once,
having returned home after a considerable absence, his wife, while he was
in bed next morning, followed her husband's example: she did even more,
for she took all his clothes, even to his shoes, stockings, and small
clothes, nay, everything he had, along with her! Thus situated, he was
under the necessity of doing something to cover his nakedness; and this,
he himself acknowledged, was the first cause of his seriously applying
himself to the profession which has since made his name immortal.

He used to laugh, saying, "I was from that time so habituated to study
that my wife, often fearing it would injure me, would threaten me with
the same operation if I did not go out and amuse myself; but then," added
he, "I was grown old, and she was sick and no longer jealous." He spoke
remarkably good Italian, though he had never been in Italy, and on my
going to Vienna to hear his "Creation," he promised to accompany me back
to Italy; but he unfortunately died before I returned to Vienna from

She had a brother also, the Prince Carignan, who, marrying against the
consent of his family, was no longer received by them; but the
unremitting and affectionate attention which the Princesse de Lamballe
paid to him and his new connexions was an ample compensation for the loss
he sustained in the severity of his other sisters.

With regard to the early life of the Princesse de Lamballe, the arranger
of these pages must now leave her to pursue her own beautiful and artless
narrative unbroken, up to the epoch of her appointment to the household
of the Queen. It will be recollected that the papers of which the
reception has been already described in the introduction formed the
private journal of this most amiable Princess; and those passages
relating to her own early life being the most connected part of them, it
has been thought that to disturb them would be a kind of sacrilege.
After the appointment of Her Highness to the superintendence of the
Queen's household, her manuscripts again become confused, and fall into
scraps and fragments, which will require to be once more rendered clear
by the recollections of events and conversations by which the preceding
chapters have been assisted.]

"I was the favourite child of a numerous family, and intended, almost at
my birth--as is generally the case among Princes who are nearly allied to
crowned heads--to be united to one of the Princes, my near relation, of
the royal house of Sardinia.

"A few years after this, the Duc and Duchesse de Penthievre arrived at
Turin, on their way to Italy, for the purpose of visiting the different
Courts, to make suitable marriage contracts for both their infant

"These two children were Mademoiselle de Penthievre, afterwards the
unhappy Duchesse d'Orleans, and their idolised son, the Prince de

[The father of Louis Alexander Joseph Stanislaus de Bourbon Penthievre,
Prince de Lamballe, was the son of Comte de Toulouse, himself a natural
son of Louis XIV. and Madame de Montespan, who was considered as the most
wealthy of all the natural children, in consequence of Madame de
Montespan having artfully entrapped the famous Mademoiselle de
Moutpensier to make over her immense fortune to him as her heir after her
death, as the price of liberating her husband from imprisonment in the
Bastille, and herself from a ruinous prosecution, for having contracted
this marriage contrary to the express commands of her royal cousin, Louis
XIV.--Vide Histoire de Louis XIV. par Voltaire.]

"Happy would it have been both for the Prince who was destined to the
former and the Princess who was given to the latter, had these
unfortunate alliances never taken place.

"The Duc and Duchesse de Penthievre became so singularly attached to my
beloved parents, and, in particular, to myself, that the very day they
first dined at the Court of Turin, they mentioned the wish they had
formed of uniting me to their young son, the Prince de Lamballe.

"The King of Sardinia, as the head of the house of Savoy and Carignan,
said there had been some conversation as to my becoming a member of his
royal family; but as I was so very young at the time, many political
reasons might arise to create motives for a change in the projected
alliance. 'If, therefore, the Prince de Carignan,' said the King, 'be
anxious to settle his daughter's marriage, by any immediate matrimonial
alliance, I certainly shall not avail myself of any prior engagement, nor
oppose any obstacle in the way of its solemnisation.'

"The consent of the King being thus unexpectedly obtained by the Prince,
so desirable did the arrangement seem to the Duke and Duchess that the
next day the contract was concluded with my parents for my becoming the
wife of their only son, the Prince de Lamballe.

"I was too young to be consulted. Perhaps had I been older the result
would have been the same, for it generally happens in these great family
alliances that the parties most interested, and whose happiness is most
concerned, are the least thought of. The Prince was, I believe, at
Paris, under the tuition of his governess, and I was in the nursery,
heedless, and totally ignorant of my future good or evil destination!

"So truly happy and domestic a life as that led by the Duc and Duchesse
de Penthievre seemed to my family to offer an example too propitious not
to secure to me a degree of felicity with a private Prince, very rarely
the result of royal unions! Of course, their consent was given with
alacrity. When I was called upon to do homage to my future parents, I
had so little idea, from my extreme youthfulness, of what was going on
that I set them all laughing, when, on being asked if I should like to
become the consort of the Prince de Lamballe, I said, 'Yes, I am very
fond of music!' No, my dear,' resumed the good and tender-hearted Duc de
Penthievre, 'I mean, would you have any objection to become his
wife?'--'No, nor any other person's!' was the innocent reply, which
increased the mirth of all the guests at my expense.

"Happy, happy days of youthful, thoughtless innocence, luxuriously felt
and appreciated under the thatched roof of the cottage, but unknown and
unattainable beneath the massive pile of a royal palace and a gemmed
crown! Scarcely had I entered my teens when my adopted parents strewed
flowers of the sweetest fragrance to lead me to the sacred altar, that
promised the bliss of busses, but which, too soon, from the foul
machinations of envy, jealousy, avarice, and a still more criminal
passion, proved to me the altar of my sacrifice!

"My misery and my uninterrupted grief may be dated from the day my
beloved sister-in-law, Mademoiselle de Penthievre, sullied her hand by
its union with the Duc de Chartres.--[Afterwards Duc d'Orleans, and the
celebrated revolutionary Philippe Egalite.]--From that moment all
comfort, all prospect of connubial happiness, left my young and
affectionate heart, plucked thence by the very roots, never more again to
bloom there. Religion and philosophy were the only remedies remaining.

"I was a bride when an infant, a wife before I was a woman, a widow
before I was a mother, or had the prospect of becoming one! Our union
was, perhaps, an exception to the general rule. We became insensibly the
more attached to each other the more we were acquainted, which rendered
the more severe the separation, when we were torn asunder never to meet
again in this world!

"After I left Turin, though everything for my reception at the palaces of
Toulouse and Rambouillet had been prepared in the most sumptuous style of
magnificence, yet such was my agitation that I remained convulsively
speechless for many hours, and all the affectionate attention of the
family of the Duc de Penthievre could not calm my feelings.

"Among those who came about me was the bridegroom himself, whom I had
never yet seen. So anxious was he to have his first acquaintance
incognito that he set off from Paris the moment he was apprised of my
arrival in France and presented himself as the Prince's page. As he had
outgrown the figure of his portrait, I received him as such; but the
Prince, being better pleased with me than he had apprehended he should
be, could scarcely avoid discovering himself. During our journey to
Paris I myself disclosed the interest with which the supposed page had
inspired me. 'I hope,' exclaimed I, 'my Prince will allow his page to
attend me, for I like him much.'

"What was my surprise when the Duc de Penthievre presented me to the
Prince and I found in him the page for whom I had already felt such an
interest! We both laughed and wanted words to express our mutual
sentiments. This was really love at first sight.

[The young Prince was enraptured at finding his lovely bride so superior
in personal charms to the description which had been given of her, and
even to the portrait sent to him from Turin. Indeed, she must have been
a most beautiful creature, for when I left her in the year 1792, though
then five-and-forty years of age, from the freshness of her complexion,
the elegance of her figure, and the dignity of her deportment, she
certainly did not appear to be more than thirty. She had a fine head of
hair, and she took great pleasure in showing it unornamented. I remember
one day, on her coming hastily from the bath, as she was putting on her
dress, her cap falling off, her hair completely covered her!

The circumstances of her death always make me shudder at the recollection
of this incident! I have been assured by Mesdames Mackau, de Soucle, the
Comtesse de Noailles (not Duchesse, as Mademoiselle Bertin has created
her in her Memoirs of that name), and others, that the Princesse de
Lamballe was considered the most beautiful and accomplished Princess at
the Court of Louis XV., adorned with all the grace, virtue, and elegance
of manner which so eminently distinguished her through life.]

"The Duc de Chartres, then possessing a very handsome person and most
insinuating address, soon gained the affections of the amiable
Mademoiselle Penthievre. Becoming thus a member of the same family, he
paid me the most assiduous attention. From my being his sister-in-law,
and knowing he was aware of my great attachment to his young wife, I
could have no idea that his views were criminally levelled at my honour,
my happiness, and my future peace of mind. How, therefore, was I
astonished and shocked when he discovered to me his desire to supplant
the legitimate object of my affections, whose love for me equalled mine
for him! I did not expose this baseness of the Duc de Chartres, out of
filial affection for my adopted father, the Duc de Penthievre; out of the
love I bore his amiable daughter, she being pregnant; and, above all, in
consequence of the fear I was under of compromising the life of the
Prince, my husband, who I apprehended might be lost to me if I did not
suffer in silence. But still, through my silence he was lost--and oh,
how dreadfully! The Prince was totally in the dark as to the real
character of his brother-in-law. He blindly became every day more and
more attached to the man, who was then endeavouring by the foulest means
to blast the fairest prospects of his future happiness in life! But my
guardian angel protected me from becoming a victim to seduction,
defeating every attack by that prudence which has hitherto been my
invincible shield.

"Guilt, unpunished in its first crime, rushes onward, and hurrying from
one misdeed to another, like the flood-tide, drives all before it! My
silence, and his being defeated without reproach, armed him with courage
for fresh daring, and he too well succeeded in embittering the future
days of my life, as well as those of his own affectionate wife, and his
illustrious father-in-law, the virtuous Duc de Penthievre, who was to all
a father.

"To revenge himself upon me for the repulse he met with, this man
inveigled my young, inexperienced husband from his bridal bed to those
infected with the nauseous poison of every vice! Poor youth! he soon
became the prey of every refinement upon dissipation and studied
debauchery, till at length his sufferings made his life a burthen, and he
died in the most excruciating agonies both of mind and body, in the arms
of a disconsolate wife and a distracted father--and thus, in a few short
months, at the age of eighteen, was I left a widow to lament my having
become a wife!

"I was in this situation, retired from the world and absorbed in grief,
with the ever beloved and revered illustrious father of my murdered lord,
endeavouring to sooth his pangs for the loss of those comforts in a child
with which my cruel disappointment forbade my ever being blest--though,
in the endeavour to soothe, I often only aggravated both his and my own
misery at our irretrievable loss--when a ray of unexpected light burst
upon my dreariness. It was amid this gloom of human agony, these
heartrending scenes of real mourning, that the brilliant star shone to
disperse the clouds which hovered over our drooping heads,--to dry the
hot briny tears which were parching up our miserable vegetating
existence--it was in this crisis that Marie Antoinette came, like a
messenger sent down from Heaven, graciously to offer the balm of comfort
in the sweetest language of human compassion. The pure emotions of her
generous soul made her unceasing, unremitting, in her visits to two
mortals who must else have perished under the weight of their
misfortunes. But for the consolation of her warm friendship we must have
sunk into utter despair!

"From that moment I became seriously attached to the Queen of France. She
dedicated a great portion of her time to calm the anguish of my poor
heart, though I had not yet accepted the honour of becoming a member of
Her Majesty's household. Indeed, I was a considerable time before I
could think of undertaking a charge I felt myself so completely incapable
of fulfilling. I endeavoured to check the tears that were pouring down
my cheeks, to conceal in the Queen's presence the real feelings of my
heart, but the effort only served to increase my anguish when she had
departed. Her attachment to me, and the cordiality with which she
distinguished herself towards the Duc de Penthievre, gave her a place in
that heart, which had been chilled by the fatal vacuum left by its first
inhabitant; and Marie Antoinette was the only rival through life that
usurped his pretensions, though she could never wean me completely from
his memory.

"My health, from the melancholy life I led, had so much declined that my
affectionate father, the Duc de Penthievre, with whom I continued to
reside, was anxious that I should emerge from my retirement for the
benefit of my health. Sensible of his affection, and having always
honoured his counsels, I took his advice in this instance. It being in
the hard winter, when so many persons were out of bread, the Queen, the
Duchesse d'Orleans, the Duc de Penthievre, and myself, introduced the
German sledges, in which we were followed by most of the nobility and the
rich citizens. This afforded considerable employment to different
artificers. The first use I made of my own new vehicle was to visit, in
company with the Duc de Penthievre, the necessitous poor families and our
pensioners. In the course of our rounds we met the Queen.

"'I suppose,' exclaimed Her Majesty, 'you also are laying a good
foundation for my work! Heavens! what must the poor feel! I am wrapped
up like a diamond in a box, covered with furs, and yet I am chilled with

"'That feeling sentiment,' said the Duke, 'will soon warm many a cold
family's heart with gratitude to bless Your Majesty!'

"'Why, yes,' replied Her Majesty, showing a long piece of paper
containing the names of those to whom she intended to afford relief, 'I
have only collected two hundred yet on my list, but the cure will do the
rest and help me to draw the strings of my privy purse! But I have not
half done my rounds. I daresay before I return to Versailles I shall
have as many more, and, since we are engaged in the same business, pray
come into my sledge and do not take my work out of my hands! Let me have
for once the merit of doing something good!'

"On the coming up of a number of other vehicles belonging to the sledge
party, the Queen added, 'Do not say anything about what I have been
telling you!' for Her Majesty never wished what she did in the way of
charity or donations should be publicly known, the old pensioners
excepted, who, being on the list, could not be concealed; especially as
she continued to pay all those she found of the late Queen of Louis XV.
She was remarkably delicate and timid with respect to hurting the
feelings of any one; and, fearing the Duc de Penthievre might not be
pleased at her pressing me to leave him in order to join her, she said,
'Well, I will let you off, Princess, on your both promising to dine with
me at Trianon; for the King is hunting, not deer, but wood for the poor,
and he will see his game off to Paris before he comes back:

"The Duke begged to be excused, but wished me to accept the invitation,
which I did, and we parted, each to pursue our different sledge

"At the hour appointed, I made my appearance at Trianon, and had the
honour to dine tete-a-tete with Her Majesty, which was much more
congenial to my feelings than if there had been a party, as I was still
very low-spirited and unhappy.

"After dinner, 'My dear Princess,' said the Queen to me, 'at your time of
life you must not give yourself up entirely to the dead. You wrong the
living. We have not been sent into the world for ourselves. I have felt
much for your situation, and still do so, and therefore hope, as long as
the weather permits, that you will favour me with your company to enlarge
our sledge excursions. The King and my dear sister Elizabeth are also
much interested about your coming on a visit to Versailles. What think
you of our plan.

"I thanked Her Majesty, the King, and the Princess, for their kindness,
but I observed that my state of health and mind could so little
correspond in any way with the gratitude I should owe them for their
royal favours that I trusted a refusal would be attributed to the fact of
my consciousness how much rather my society must prove an annoyance and a
burthen than a source of pleasure.

"My tears flowing down my cheeks rapidly while I was speaking, the Queen,
with that kindness for which she was so eminently distinguished, took me
by the hand, and with her handkerchief dried my face.

"'I am,' said the Queen, I about to renew a situation which has for some
time past lain dormant; and I hope, my dear Princess, therewith to
establish my own private views, in forming the happiness of a worthy

"I replied that such a plan must insure Her Majesty the desired object
she had in view, as no individual could be otherwise than happy under the
immediate auspices of so benevolent and generous a Sovereign.

"The Queen, with great affability, as if pleased with my observation,
only said, 'If you really think as you speak, my views are accomplished.'

"My carriage was announced, and I then left Her Majesty, highly pleased
at her gracious condescension, which evidently emanated from the kind
wish to raise my drooping spirits from their melancholy.

"Gratitude would not permit me to continue long without demonstrating to
Her Majesty the sentiments her kindness had awakened in my heart.

"I returned next day with my sister-in-law, the Duchesse d'Orleans, who
was much esteemed by the Queen, and we joined the sledge parties with Her

"On the third or fourth day of these excursions I again had the honour to
dine with Her Majesty, when, in the presence of the Princesse Elizabeth,
she asked me if I were still of the same opinion with respect to the
person it was her intention to add to her household?

"I myself had totally forgotten the topic and entreated Her Majesty's
pardon for my want of memory, and begged she would signify to what
subject she alluded.

"The Princesse Elizabeth laughed. 'I thought,' cried she, 'that you had
known it long ago! The Queen, with His Majesty's consent, has nominated
you, my dear Princess (embracing me), superintendent of her household.'

"The Queen, also embracing me, said, 'Yes; it is very true. You said the
individual destined to such a situation could not be otherwise than
happy; and I am myself thoroughly happy in being able thus to contribute
towards rendering you so.'

"I was perfectly at a loss for a moment or two, but, recovering myself
from the effect of this unexpected and unlooked for preferment, I thanked
Her Majesty with the best grace I was able for such an unmerited mark of

"The Queen, perceiving my embarrassment, observed, 'I knew I should
surprise you; but I thought your being established at Versailles much
more desirable for one of your rank and youth than to be, as you were,
with the Duc de Penthievre; who, much as I esteem his amiable character
and numerous great virtues, is by no means the most cheering companion
for my charming Princess. From this moment let our friendships be united
in the common interest of each other's happiness.'

"The Queen took me by the hand. The Princesse Elizabeth, joining hers,
exclaimed to the Queen, 'Oh, my dear sister! let me make the trio in
this happy union of friends!'

"In the society of her adored Majesty and of her saint-like sister
Elizabeth I have found my only balm of consolation! Their graciously
condescending to sympathise in the grief with which I was overwhelmed
from the cruel disappointment of my first love, filled up in some degree
the vacuum left by his loss, who was so prematurely ravished from me in
the flower of youth, leaving me a widow at eighteen; and though that loss
is one I never can replace or forget, the poignancy of its effect has
been in a great degree softened by the kindnesses of my excellent
father-in-law, the Duc de Penthievre, and the relations resulting from my
situation with, and the never-ceasing attachment of my beloved royal


[The connexion of the Princesse de Lamballe with the Queen, of which she
has herself described the origin in the preceding chapter, proved so
important in its influence upon the reputation and fate of both these
illustrious victims, that I must once more withdraw the attention of the
reader, to explain, from personal observation and confidential
disclosures, the leading causes of the violent dislike which was kindled
in the public against an intimacy that it would have been most fortunate
had Her Majesty preferred through life to every other.

The selection of a friend by the Queen, and the sudden elevation of that
friend to the highest station in the royal household, could not fail to
alarm the selfishness of courtiers, who always feel themselves injured by
the favour shown to others. An obsolete office was revived in favour of
the Princesse de Lamballe. In the time of Maria Leckzinska, wife of
Louis XV., the office of superintendent, then held by Mademoiselle de
Clermont, was suppressed when its holder died. The office gave a control
over the inclinations of Queens, by which Maria Leckzinska was sometimes
inconvenienced; and it had lain dormant ever since. Its restoration by a
Queen who it was believed could be guided by no motive but the desire to
seek pretexts for showing undue favour, was of course eyed askance, and
ere long openly calumniated.

The Comtesse de Noailles, who never could forget the title the Queen gave
her of Madame Etiquette, nor forgive the frequent jokes which Her Majesty
passed upon her antiquated formality, availed herself of the opportunity
offered by her husband's being raised to the dignity of Marshal of
France, to resign her situation on the appointment of the Princesse de
Lamballe as superintendent. The Countess retired with feelings
embittered against her royal mistress, and her annoyance in the sequel
ripened into enmity. The Countess was attached to a very powerful party,
not only at Court but scattered throughout the kingdom. Her discontent
arose from the circumstance of no longer having to take her orders from
the Queen direct, but from her superintendent. Ridiculous as this may
seem to an impartial observer, it created one of the most powerful
hostilities against which Her Majesty had afterwards to contend.

Though the Queen esteemed the Comtesse de Noailles for her many good
qualities, yet she was so much put out of her way by the rigour with
which the Countess enforced forms which to Her Majesty appeared puerile
and absurd, that she felt relieved, and secretly gratified, by her
retirement. It will be shown hereafter to what an excess the Countess
was eventually carried by her malice.

One of the popular objections to the revival of the office of
superintendent in favour of the Princesse de Lamballe arose from its
reputed extravagance. This was as groundless as the other charges
against the Queen. The etiquettes of dress, and the requisite increase
of every other expense, from the augmentation of every article of the
necessaries as well as the luxuries of life, made a treble difference
between the expenditure of the circumscribed Court of Maria Leckzinska
and that of Louis XVI.; yet the Princesse de Lamballe received no more
salary than had been allotted to Mademoiselle de Clermont in the selfsame
situation half a century before.

(And even that salary she never appropriated to any private use of her
own, being amply supplied through the generous bounty of her
father-in-law, the Duc de Penthievre; and latterly, to my knowledge, so
far from receiving any pay, she often paid the Queen's and Princesse
Elizabeth's bills out of her own purse.)

So far from possessing the slightest propensity either to extravagance in
herself or to the encouragement of extravagance in others, the Princesse
de Lamballe was a model of prudence, and upon those subjects, as indeed
upon all others, the Queen could not have had a more discreet counsellor.
She eminently contributed to the charities of the Queen, who was the
mother of the fatherless, the support of the widow, and the general
protectress and refuge of suffering humanity. Previously to the purchase
of any article of luxury, the Princess would call for the list of the
pensioners: if anything was due on that account, it was instantly paid,
and the luxury dispensed with.

She never made her appearance in the Queen's apartments except at
established hours. This was scrupulously observed till the Revolution.
Circumstances then obliged her to break through forms. The Queen would
only receive communications, either written or verbal, upon the subjects
growing out of that wretched crisis, in the presence of the Princess; and
hence her apartments were open to all who had occasion to see Her
Majesty. This made their intercourse more constant and unceremonious.
But before this, the Princess only went to the royal presence at fixed
hours, unless she had memorials to present to the King, Queen, or
Ministers, in favour of such as asked for justice or mercy. Hence,
whenever the Princess entered before the stated times, the Queen would
run and embrace her, and exclaim: "Well, my dear Princesse de Lamballe!
what widow, what orphan, what suffering or oppressed petitioner am I to
thank for this visit? for I know you never come to me empty-handed when
you come unexpectedly!" The Princess, on these occasions, often had the
petitioners waiting in an adjoining apartment, that they might instantly
avail themselves of any inclination the Queen might show to see them.

Once the Princess was deceived by a female painter of doubtful character,
who supplicated her to present a work she had executed to the Queen. I
myself afterwards returned that work to its owner. Thenceforward, the
Princess became very rigid in her inquiries, previous to taking the least
interest in any application, or consenting to present any one personally
to the King or Queen. She required thoroughly to be informed of the
nature of the request, and of the merit and character of the applicant,
before she would attend to either. Owing to this caution Her Highness
scarcely ever after met with a negative. In cases of great importance,
though the Queen's compassionate and good heart needed no stimulus to
impel her to forward the means of justice, the Princess would call the
influence of the Princesse Elizabeth to her aid; and Elizabeth never sued
in vain.

Marie Antoinette paid the greatest attention to all memorials. They were
regularly collected every week by Her Majesty's private secretary, the
Abbe Vermond. I have myself seen many of them, when returned from the
Princesse de Lamballe, with the Queen's marginal notes in her own
handwriting, and the answers dictated by Her Majesty to the different,
officers of the departments relative to the nature of the respective
demands. She always recommended the greatest attention to all public
documents, and annexed notes to such as passed through her hands to
prevent their being thrown aside or lost.

One of those who were least satisfied with the appointment of the
Princesse de Lamballe to the office of superintendent was her
brother-in-law, the Duc d'Orleans, who, having attempted her virtue on
various occasions and been repulsed, became mortified and alarmed at her
situation as a check to his future enterprise.

At one time the Duc and Duchesse d'Orleans were most constant and
assiduous in their attendance on Marie Antoinette. They were at all her
parties. The Queen was very fond of the Duchess. It is supposed that
the interest Her Majesty took in that lady, and the steps to which some
time afterwards that interest led, planted the first seeds of the
unrelenting and misguided hostility which, in the deadliest times of the
Revolution, animated the Orleanists against the throne.

The Duc d'Orleans, then Duc de Chartres, was never a favourite of the
Queen. He was only tolerated at Court on account of his wife and of the
great intimacy which subsisted between him and the Comte d'Artois. Louis
XVI. had often expressed his disapprobation of the Duke's character,
which his conduct daily justified.

The Princesse de Lamballe could have no cause to think of her
brother-in-law but with horror. He had insulted her, and, in revenge at
his defeat, had, it was said, deprived her, by the most awful means, of
her husband. The Princess was tenderly attached to her sister-in-law,
the Duchess. Her attachment could not but make her look very
unfavourably upon the circumstance of the Duke's subjecting his wife to
the humiliation of residing in the palace with Madame de Genlis, and
being forced to receive a person of morals so incorrect as the guardian
of her children. The Duchess had complained to her father, the Duc de
Penthievre, in the presence of the Princesse de Lamballe, of the very
great ascendency Madame de Genlis exercised over her husband; and had
even requested the Queen to use her influence in detaching the Duke from
this connexion.

(It was generally understood that the Duke had a daughter by Madame de
Genlis. This daughter, when grown up, was married to the late Irish Lord
Robert Fitzgerald.)

But she had too much gentleness of nature not presently to forget her
resentment. Being much devoted to her husband, rather than irritate him
to further neglect by personal remonstrance, she determined to make the
best of a bad business, and tolerated Madame de Genlis, although she made
no secret among her friends and relations of the reason why she did so.
Nay, so far did her wish not to disoblige her husband prevail over her
own feelings as to induce her to yield at last to his importunities by
frequently proposing to present Madame de Genlis to the Queen. But
Madame de Genilis never could obtain either a public or a private
audience. Though the Queen was a great admirer of merit and was fond of
encouraging talents, of which Madame de Genlis was by no means deficient,
yet even the account the Duchess herself had given, had Her Majesty
possessed no other means of knowledge, would have sealed that lady's
exclusion from the opportunities of display at Court which she sought so

There was another source of exasperation against the Duc d'Orleans; and
the great cause of a new and, though less obtrusive, yet perhaps an
equally dangerous foe under all the circumstances, in Madame de Genlis.
The anonymous slander of the one was circulated through all France by the
other; and spleen and disappointment feathered the venomed arrows shot at
the heart of power by malice and ambition. Be the charge true or false,
these anonymous libels were generally considered as the offspring of this
lady: they were industriously scattered by the Duc d'Orleans; and their
frequent refutation by the Queen's friends only increased the malignant
industry of their inventor.

An event which proved the most serious of all that ever happened to the
Queen, and the consequences of which were distinctly foreseen by the
Princesse de Lamballe and others of her true friends, was now growing to

The deposed Court oracle, the Comtesse de Noailles, had been succeeded as
literary leader by the Comtesse Diane de Polignac. She was a favourite of
the Comte d'Artois, and was the first lady in attendance upon the
Countess, his wife.

(The Comtesse Diane de Polignac had a much better education, and
considerably more natural capacity, than her sister-in-law, the Duchess,
and the Queen merely disliked her for her prudish affectation. The
Comtesse d'Artois grew jealous of the Count's intimacy with the Comtesse
Diane. While she considered herself as the only one of the Royal Family
likely to be mother of a future sovereign, she was silent, or perhaps too
much engrossed by her castles in the air to think of anything but
diadems; but when she saw the Queen producing heirs, she grew out of
humour at her lost popularity, and began to turn her attention to her
husband's Endymionship to this now Diana! When she had made up her mind
to get her rival out of her house, she consulted one of the family; but
being told that the best means for a wife to keep her husband out of
harm's way was to provide him with a domestic occupation for his leisure
hours at home, than which nothing could be better than a handmaid under
the same roof, she made a merit of necessity and submitted ever after to
retain the Comtesse Diane, as she had been prudently advised. The
Comtesse Diane, in consequence, remained in the family even up to the
17th October, 1789, when she left Versailles in company with the De
Polignacs and the D'Artois, who all emigrated together from France to
Italy and lived at Stria on the Brenta, near Venice, for some time, till
the Comtesse d'Artois went to Turin.)

The Queen's conduct had always been very cool to her. She deemed her a
self-sufficient coquette. However, the Comtesse Diane was a constant
attendant at the gay parties which were then the fashion of the Court,
though not greatly admired.

The reader will scarcely need to be informed that the event to which I
have just alluded is the introduction by the Comtesse Diane of her
sister-in-law, the Comtesse Julie de Polignac, to the Queen; and having
brought the record up to this point I here once more dismiss my own pen
for that of the Princesse de Lamballe.

It will be obvious to every one that I must have been indebted to the
conversations of my beloved patroness for most of the sentiments and
nearly all the facts I have just been stating; and had the period on
which she has written so little as to drive me to the necessity of
writing for her been less pregnant with circumstances almost entirely
personal to herself, no doubt I should have found more upon that period
in her manuscript. But the year of which Her Highness says so little was
the year of happiness and exclusive favour; and the Princess was above
the vanity of boasting, even privately in the self-confessional of her
diary. She resumes her records with her apprehensions; and thus
proceeds, describing the introduction of the Comtesse Julie de Polignac,
regretting her ascendency over the Queen, and foreseeing its fatal

"I had been only a twelvemonth in Her Majesty's service, which I believe
was the happiest period of both our lives, when, at one of the Court
assemblies, the Comtesse Julie de Polignac was first introduced by her
sister-in-law, the Comtesse Diane de Polignac, to the Queen.

"She had lived in the country, quite a retired life, and appeared to be
more the motherly woman, and the domestic wife, than the ambitious Court
lady, or royal sycophant. She was easy of access, and elegantly plain in
her dress and deportment.

"Her appearance at Court was as fatal to the Queen as it was propitious
to herself!

"She seemed formed by nature to become a royal favourite, unassuming,
remarkably complaisant, possessing a refined taste, with a good-natured
disposition, not handsome, but well formed, and untainted by haughtiness
or pomposity.

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