Part 6 out of 8
to consent to go to Paris.
"'To Paris!' exclaimed Her Majesty.
"'Yes, Madame,' said the King. 'I will put an end to these horrors; and
tell the people so.'
"On this, without waiting for the Queen's answer, he opened the balcony,
and told the populace he was ready to depart with his family.
"This sudden change caused a change equally sudden in the rabble mob. All
shouted, 'Vive le roi! Vive la nation!'
"Re-entering the room from the window, the King said, 'It is done. This
affair will soon be terminated.'
"'And with it,' said the Queen, 'the monarchy!'
"'Better that, Madame, than running the risk, as I did some hours since,
of seeing you and my children sacrificed!'
"'That, Sire, will be the consequence of our not having left Versailles.
Whatever you determine, it is my duty to obey. As to myself, I am
resigned to my fate.' On this she burst into a flood of tears. 'I only
feel for your humiliated state, and for the safety of our children.'
"The Royal Family departed without having consulted any of the Ministers,
military or civil, or the National Assembly, by whom they were followed.
"Scarcely had they arrived at Paris when the Queen recollected that she
had taken with her no change of dress, either for herself or her
children, and they were obliged to ask permission of the National
Assembly to allow them to send for their different wardrobes.
"What a situation for an absolute King and Queen, which, but a few hours
previous, they had been!
"I now took up my residence with Their Majesties at the Tuileries,--that
odious Tuileries, which I can not name but with horror, where the
malignant spirit of rebellion has, perhaps, dragged us to an untimely
"Monsieur and Madame had another residence. Bailly, the Mayor of Paris,
and La Fayette became the royal jailers.
"The Princesse Elizabeth and myself could not but deeply deplore, when we
saw the predictions of Dumourier so dreadfully confirmed by the result,
that Her Majesty should have so slighted his timely information, and
scorned his penitence. But delicacy bade us lament in silence; and,
while we grieved over her present sufferings, we could not but mourn the
loss of a barrier against future aggression, in the rejection of this
general's proffered services.
"It will be remembered, that Dumourier in his disclosure declared that
the object of this commotion was to place the Duc d'Orleans upon the
throne, and that Mirabeau, who was a prime mover, was to share in the
profits of the usurpation.
[But the heart of the traitor Duke failed him at the important crisis.
Though he was said to have been recognised through a vulgar disguise,
stimulating the assassins to the attempted murder of Her Majesty, yet,
when the moment to show himself had arrived, he was nowhere to be found.
The most propitious moment for the execution of the foul crime was lost,
and with it the confidence of his party. Mirabeau was disgusted. So far
from wishing longer to offer him the crown, he struck it forever from his
head, and turned against him. He openly protested he would no longer set
up traitors who were cowards.]
"Soon after this event, Her Majesty, in tears, came to tell me that the
King, having had positive proof of the agency of the Duc d'Orleans in the
riots of Versailles, had commenced some proceedings, which had given the
Duke the alarm, and exiled him to Villers-Cotterets. The Queen added
that the King's only object had been to assure the general tranquillity,
and especially her own security, against whose life the conspiracy seemed
most distinctly levelled.
"'Oh, Princess!' continued Her Majesty, in a flood of tears, 'the King's
love for me, and his wish to restore order to his people, have been our
ruin! He should have struck off the head of D'ORLEANS, or overlooked his
crime! Why did he not consult me before he took a step so important? I
have lost a friend also in his wife! For, however criminal he may be,
she loves him.'
"I assured Her Majesty that I could not think the Duchesse d'Orleans
would be so inconsiderate as to withdraw her affection on that account.
"'She certainly will,' replied Marie Antoinette. 'She is the
affectionate mother of his children, and cannot but hate those who have
been the cause of his exile. I know it will be laid to my charge, and
added to the hatred the husband has so long borne me; I shall now become
the object of the wife's resentment'
"In the midst of one of the paroxysms of Her Majesty's agonising
agitation after leaving Versailles, for the past, the present, and the
future state of the Royal Family, when the Princesse Elizabeth and myself
were in vain endeavouring to calm her, a deputation was announced from
the National Assembly and the City of Paris, requesting the honour of the
appearance of the King and herself at the theatre.
"'Is it possible, my dear Princess,' cried she, on the announcement,
'that I can enjoy any public amusement while I am still chilled with
horror at the blood these people have spilled, the blood of the faithful
defenders of our lives? I can forgive them, but I cannot so easily
"Count Fersen and the Austrian Ambassador now entered, both anxious to
know Her Majesty's intentions with regard to visiting the theatre, in
order to make a party to ensure her a good reception; but all their
persuasions were unavailing. She thanked the deputation for their
friendship; but at the same time told them that her mind was still too
much agitated from recent scenes to receive any pleasure but in the
domestic cares of her family, and that, for a time, she must decline
every other amusement.
"At this moment the Spanish and English Ambassadors came to pay their
respects to Her Majesty on the same subject as the others. As they
entered, Count Fersen observed to the Queen, looking around:
"'Courage, Madame! We are as many nations as persons in this
room--English, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and French; and all
equally ready to form a rampart around you against aggression. All these
nations will, I believe, admit that the French (bowing to the Princesse
Elizabeth) are the most volatile of the six; and Your Majesty may rely on
it that they will love you, now that you are more closely among them,
more tenderly than ever.'
"'Let me live to be convinced of that, monsieur, and my happiness will be
concentrated in its demonstration.'
"'Indeed, gentlemen,' said the Princesse Elizabeth, the Queen has yet had
but little reason to love the French.'
"'Where is our Ambassador,' said I, 'and the Neapolitan?'
"'I have had the pleasure of seeing them early this morning,' replied the
Queen; 'but I told them, also, that indisposition prevented my going into
public. They will be at our card-party in your apartment this evening,
where I hope to see these gentlemen. The only parties,' continued Her
Majesty, addressing herself to the Princesse Elizabeth and the
Ambassadors, 'the only parties I shall visit in future will be those of
the Princesse de Lamballe, my superintendent; as, in so doing, I shall
have no occasion to go out of the palace, which, from what has happened,
seems to me the only prudent course.'
"'Come, come, Madame,' exclaimed the Ambassadors; I do not give way to
gloomy ideas. All will yet be well.'
"'I hope so,' answered Her Majesty; 'but till that hope is realized, the
wounds I have suffered will make existence a burden to me!'
"The Duchesse de Luynes, like many others, had been a zealous partisan of
the new order of things, and had expressed herself with great
indiscretion in the presence of the Queen. But the Duchess was brought
to her senses when she saw herself, and all the mad, democratical
nobility, under the overpowering weight of Jacobinism, deprived of every
privileged prerogative and levelled and stripped of hereditary
"She came to me one day, weeping, to beg I would make use of my good
offices in her favour with the Queen, whom she was grieved that she had
so grossly offended by an unguarded speech.
"'On my knees,' continued the Duchess, I am I ready to supplicate the
pardon of Her Majesty. I cannot live without her forgiveness. One of my
servants has opened my eyes, by telling me that the Revolution can make a
Duchess a beggar, but cannot make a beggar a Duchess.'
"'Unfortunately,' said I, 'if some of these faithful servants had been
listened to, they would still be such, and not now our masters; but I can
assure you, Duchess, that the Queen has long since forgiven you. See!
Her Majesty comes to tell you so herself.'
"The Duchess fell upon her knees. The Queen, with her usual goodness of
heart, clasped her in her arms, and, with tears in her eyes, said:
"'We have all of us need of forgiveness. Our errors and misfortunes are
general. Think no more of the past; but let us unite in not sinning for
"'Heaven knows how many sins I have to atone for,' replied the Duchess,
'from the follies of youth; but now, at an age of discretion and in
adversity, oh, how bitterly do I reproach myself for my past levities!
But,' continued she, 'has Your Majesty really forgiven me?'
"'As I hope to be forgiven!' exclaimed Marie Antoinette. 'No penitent in
the sight of God is more acceptable than the one who makes a voluntary
sacrifice by confessing error. Forget and forgive is the language of our
Blessed Redeemer. I have adopted it in regard to my enemies, and surely
my friends have a right to claim it. Come, Duchess, I will conduct you
to the King and Elizabeth, who will rejoice in the recovery of one of our
lost sheep; for we sorely feel the diminution of the flock that once
"At this token of kindness, the Duchess was so much overcome that she
fell at the Queen's feet motionless, and it was some time before she
"From the moment of Her Majesty's arrival at Paris from Versailles, she
solely occupied herself with the education of her children,-excepting
when she resorted to my parties, the only ones, as she had at first
determined, which she ever honoured with her attendance. In order to
discover, as far as possible, the sentiments of certain persons, I gave
almost general invitations, whereby, from her amiable manners and
gracious condescension, she became very popular. By these means I hoped
to replace Her Majesty in the good estimation of her numerous visitors;
but, notwithstanding every exertion, she could not succeed in dispelling
the gloom with which the Revolution had overcast all her former gaiety.
Though treated with ceremonious respect, she missed the cordiality to
which she had been so long accustomed, and which she so much prized. From
the great emigration of the higher classes of the nobility, the societies
themselves were no longer what they had been. Madame Necker and Madame
de Stael were pretty regular visitors. But the most agreeable company
had lost its zest for Marie Antoinette; and she was really become afraid
of large assemblies, and scarcely ever saw a group of persons collected
together without fearing some plot against the King.
"Indeed, it is a peculiarity which has from the first marked, and still
continues to distinguish, the whole conduct and distrust of my royal
mistress, that it never operates to create any fears for herself, but
invariably refers to the safety of His Majesty.
"I had enlarged my circle and made my parties extensive, solely to
relieve the oppressed spirits of the Queen; but the very circumstance
which induced me to make them so general soon rendered them intolerable
to her; for the conversations at last became solely confined to the
topics of the Revolution, a subject frequently the more distressing from
the presence of the sons of the Duc d'Orleans. Though I loved my
sister-in-law and my nephews, I could not see them without fear, nor
could my royal mistress be at ease with them, or in the midst of such
distressing indications as perpetually intruded upon her, even beneath my
roof, of the spirit which animated the great body of the people for the
propagation of anti-monarchical principles.
"My parties were, consequently, broken up; and the Queen ceased to be
seen in society. Then commenced the unconquerable power over her of
those forebodings which have clung to her with such pertinacity ever
"I observed that Her Majesty would often indulge in the most melancholy
predictions long before the fatal discussion took place in the Assembly
respecting the King's abdication. The daily insolence with which she saw
His Majesty's authority deprived forever of the power of accomplishing
what he had most at heart for the good of his people gave her more
anguish than the outrages so frequently heaped upon herself; but her
misery was wrought up to a pitch altogether unutterable, whenever she saw
those around her suffer for their attachment to her in her misfortunes.
"The Princesse Elizabeth has been from the beginning an unwavering
comforter. She still flatters Marie Antoinette that Heaven will spare
her for better times to reward our fidelity and her own agonies. The
pious consolations of Her Highness have never failed to make the most
serious impression on our wretched situation. Indeed, each of us strives
to pour the balm of comfort into the wounded hearts of the others, while
not one of us, in reality, dares to flatter herself with what we all so
ardently wish for in regard to our fellow-sufferers. Delusions, even
sustained by facts, have long since been exhausted. Our only hope on
this side of the grave is in our all-merciful Redeemer!"
The reader will not, I trust, be dissatisfied at reposing for a moment
from the sad story of the Princesse de Lamballe to hear some ridiculous
circumstances which occurred to me individually; and which, though they
form no part of the history, are sufficiently illustrative of the temper
of the times.
I had been sent to England to put some letters into the postoffice for
the Prince de Conde, and had just returned. The fashion then in England
was a black dress, Spanish hat, and yellow satin lining, with three
ostrich feathers forming the Prince of Wales's crest, and bearing his
inscription, 'Ich dien,' ("I serve.") I also brought with me a white
satin cloak, trimmed with white fur. This crest and motto date as far
back, I believe, as the time of Edward, the Black Prince.
In this dress, I went to the French opera. Scarcely was I seated in the
bog, when I heard shouts of, "En bas les couleurs de d'empereur! En
I was very busy talking to a person in the box, and, having been
accustomed to hear and see partial riots in the pit, I paid no attention;
never dreaming that my poor hat and feathers, and cloak, were the cause
of the commotion, till an officer in the national guard very politely
knocked at the door of the box, and told me I must either take them off
or leave the theatre.
There is nothing I more dislike than the being thought particular, or
disposed to attract attention by dress. The moment, therefore, I found
myself thus unintentionally the object of a whole theatre's disturbance,
in the first impulse of indignation, I impetuously caught off the cloak
and hat, and flung them into the pit, at the very faces of the rioters.
The theatre instantly rang with applause. The obnoxious articles were
carefully folded up and taken to the officer of the guard, who, when I
left the box, at the end of the opera, brought them to me and offered to
assist me in putting them on; but I refused them with true cavalier-like
loftiness, and entered my carriage without either hat or cloak.
There were many of the audience collected round the carriage at the time,
who, witnessing my rejection of the insulted colours, again loudly
cheered me; but insisted on the officer's placing the hat and cloak in
the carriage, which drove off amidst the most violent acclamations.
Another day, as I was going to walk in the Tuileries (which I generally
did after riding on horseback), the guards crossed their bayonets at the
gate and forbade my entering. I asked them why. They told me no one was
allowed to walk there without the national ribbon.
Now, I always had one of these national ribbons about me, from the time
they were first worn; but I kept it in the inside of my riding-habit; and
on that day, in particular, my supply was unusually ample, for I had on a
new riding-habit, the petticoat of which was so very long and heavy that
I bought a large quantity to tie round my waist, and fasten up the dress,
to prevent it from falling about my feet.
However, I was determined to plague the guards for their impudence. My
English beau, who was as pale as death, and knew I had the ribbon, kept
pinching my arm, and whispering, "Show it, show it; zounds, madame, show
it! We shall be sent to prison! show it! show it!" But I took care to
keep my interrupters in parley till a sufficient mob was collected, and
then I produced my colours.
The soldiers were consequently most gloriously hissed, and would have
been maltreated by the mob, and sent to the guard-house by their officer,
but for my intercession; on which I was again applauded all through the
gardens as La Brave Anglaise. But my, beau declared he would never go
out with me again: unless I wore the ribbon on the outside of my hat,
which I never did and never would do.
At that time the Queen used to occupy herself much in fancy needle-works.
Knowing, from arrangements, that I was every day in a certain part of the
Tuileries, Her Majesty, when she heard the shout of La Brave Anglaise!
immediately called the Princesse de Lamballe to know if she had sent me
on any message. Being answered in the negative, one of the pages was
despatched to ascertain the meaning of the cry. The Royal Family lived
in so continual a state of alarm that it was apprehended I had got into
some scrape; but I had left the Tuileries before the messenger arrived,
and was already with the Princesse de Lamballe, relating the
circumstances. The Princess told Her Majesty, who graciously observed,
"I am very happy that she got off so well; but caution her to be more
prudent for the future. A cause, however bad, is rather aided than
weakened by unreasonable displays of contempt for it. These unnecessary
excitements of the popular jealousy do us no good."
I was, of course, severely reprimanded by the Princess for my frolic,
though she enjoyed it of all things, and afterwards laughed most
The Princess told me, a few days after these circumstances of the
national ribbon and the Austrian colours had taken place at the theatre,
that some one belonging to the private correspondence at the palace had
been at the French opera on the night the disturbance took place there,
and, without knowing the person to whom it related, had told the whole
story to the King.
The Queen and the Princesses Elizabeth and de Lamballe being present,
laughed very heartily. The two latter knew it already from myself, the
fountain head, but the Princesse Elizabeth said:
"Poor lady! what a fright she must have been in, to have had her things
taken away from her at the theatre"
"No fright at all," said the King; "for a young woman who could act thus
firmly under such an insolent outrage will always triumph over cowards,
unmanly enough to abuse their advantages by insulting her. She was not a
Frenchwoman, I'll answer for it."
"Oh, no, Sire. She is an Englishwoman," said the Princesse de Lamballe.
"I am glad of it," exclaimed the King; "for when she returns to England
this will be a good personal specimen for the information of some of her
countrymen, who have rejoiced at what they call the regeneration of the
French nation; a nation once considered the most polished in Europe, but
now become the most uncivil, and I wish I may never have occasion to add,
the most barbarous! An insult offered, wantonly, to either sex, at any
time, is the result of insubordination; but when offered to a woman, it
is a direct violation of civilised hospitality, and an abuse of power
which never before tarnished that government now so much the topic of
abuse by the enemies of order and legitimate authority. The French
Princes, it is true, have been absolute; still I never governed
despotically, but always by the advice of my counsellors and Cabinet
Ministers. If they have erred, my conscience is void of reproach. I
wish the National Assembly may govern for the future with equal prudence,
equity, and justice; but they have given a poor earnest in pulling down
one fabric before they have laid the solid foundation of another. I am
very happy that their agents, who, though they call themselves the
guardians of public order have hitherto destroyed its course, have, in
the courage of this English lady, met with some resistance to their
insolence, in foolishly occupying themselves with petty matters, while
those of vital import are totally neglected."
It is almost superfluous to mention that, at the epoch of which I am
speaking in the Revolution, the Royal Family were in so much distrust of
every one about them, and very necessarily and justly so, that none were
ever confided in for affairs, however trifling, without first having
their fidelity repeatedly put to the test. I was myself under this
probation long before I knew that such had ever been imposed.
With the private correspondence I had already been for some time
entrusted; and it was only previous to employing me on secret missions of
any consequence that I was subject to the severer scrutiny. Even before
I was sent abroad, great art was necessary to elude the vigilance of
prying eyes in the royal circle; and, in order to render my activity
available to important purposes, my connection with the Court was long
kept secret. Many stratagems were devised to mislead the Arguses of the
police. To this end, after the disorders of the Revolution began, I
never entered the palaces but on an understood signal, for which I have
been often obliged to attend many hours in the gardens of Versailles, as
I had subsequently done in that of the Tuileries.
To pass the time unnoticed, I used generally to take a book, and seat
myself, occupied in reading, sometimes in one spot, sometimes in another;
but with my man and maid servant always within call, though never where
they could be seen.
On one of these occasions, a person, though not totally masked yet
sufficiently disguised to prevent my recognising his features, came
behind my seat, and said he wished to speak to me. I turned round and
asked his business.
"That's coming to the point!" he answered. "Walk a little way with me,
and I will tell you."
Not to excite suspicion, I walked into a more retired part of the garden,
after a secret signal to my man servant, who followed me unperceived by
"I am commissioned," said my mysterious companion, "to make you a very
handsome present, if you will tell me what you are waiting for."
I laughed, and was turning from him, saying, "Is this all your business?"
"No," he replied.
"Then keep it to yourself. I am not waiting here for any one or
anything; but am merely occupied in reading and killing time to the best
"Are you a poetess?"
"And scarcely a woman; for your answers are very short."
"But I have something of importance to communicate-----"
"That is impossible."
"But listen to me-----"
"You are mistaken in your person."
"But surely you will not be so unreasonable as not to hear what I have to
"I am a stranger in this country, and can have nothing of importance with
one I do not know."
"You have quarrelled with your lover and are in an ill-humour.
"Perhaps so. Well! come! I believe you have guessed the cause."
"Ah! it is the fate of us all to get into scrapes! But you will soon
make it up; and now let me entreat your attention to what I have to
I became impatient, and called my servant.
"Madame," resumed the stranger, "I am a gentleman, and mean no harm. But
I assure you, you stand in your own light. I know more about you than
you think I do."
"Yes, madame, you are waiting here for an august personage."
At this last sentence, my lips laughed, while my heart trembled.
"I wish to caution you," continued he, "how you embark in plans of this
"Monsieur, I repeat, you have taken me for some other person. I will no
longer listen to one who is either a maniac or an officious intruder."
Upon this, the stranger bowed and left me; but I could perceive that he
was not displeased with my answers, though I was not a little agitated,
and longed to see Her Highness to relate to her this curious adventure.
In a few hours I did so. The Princess was perfectly satisfied with my
manner of proceeding, only she thought it singular, she said, that the
stranger should suspect I was there in attendance for some person of
rank; and she repeated, three or four times, "I am heartily glad that you
did not commit yourself by any decided answer. What sort of a man was
"Very much of the gentleman; above the middle stature; and, from what I
could see of his countenance, rather handsome than otherwise."
"Was he a Frenchman?"
"No. I think he spoke good French and English, with an Irish accent."
"Then I know who it is," exclaimed she. "It is Dillon: I know it from
some doubts which arose between Her Majesty, Dillon, and myself,
respecting sending you upon a confidential mission. Oh, come hither!
come hither!" continued Her Highness, overwhelming me with kisses. "How
glad, how very glad I am, that the Queen will be convinced I was not
deceived in what I told Her Majesty respecting you. Take no notice of
what I am telling you; but he was sent from the Queen, to tempt you into
some imprudence, or to be convinced, by your not falling into the snare,
that she might rely on your fidelity."
"What! doubt my fidelity?" said I.
"Oh, my dear, you must excuse Her Majesty. We live in critical times.
You will be the more rewarded, and much more esteemed, for this proof of
your firmness. Do you think you should know him, if you were to see him
"Certainly, I should, if he were in the same disguise.
"That, I fear, will be rather difficult to accomplish. However, you
shall go in your carriage and wait at the door of his sister, the
Marquise of Desmond; where I will send for him to come to me at four
o'clock to-morrow. In this way, you will have an opportunity of seeing
him on horseback, as he always pays his morning visits riding."
I would willingly have taken a sleeping draught, and never did I wait
more anxiously than for the hour of four.
I left the Princess, and, in crossing from the Carrousel to go to the
Place Vendome, it rained very fast, and there glanced by me, on
horseback, the same military cloak in which the stranger had been
wrapped. My carriage was driving so fast that I still remained in doubt
as to the wearer's person.
Next day, however, as appointed, I repaired to the place of rendezvous;
and I could almost have sworn, from the height of the person who alighted
from his horse, that he was my mysterious questioner.
Still, I was not thoroughly certain. I watched the Princess coming out,
and followed her carriage to the Champs Elysees and told her what I
"Well," replied she, "we must think no more about it; nor must it ever be
mentioned to him, should you by any chance meet him."
I said I should certainly obey Her Highness.
A guilty conscience needs no accuser. A few days after I was riding on
horseback in the Bois de Boulogne, when Lord Edward Fitzgerald came up to
speak to me. Dillon was passing at the time, and, seeing Lord Edward,
stopped, took off his hat, and observed, "A very pleasant day for riding,
madame!" Then, looking me full in the face, he added, "I beg your
pardon, madame, I mistook you for another lady with whom Lord Edward is
often in company."
I said there was no offence; but the moment I heard him speak I was no
longer in doubt of his being the identical person.
When I had learnt the ciphering and deciphering, and was to be sent to
Italy, the Queen acknowledged to the Princesse de Lamballe that she was
fully persuaded I might be trusted, as she had good reason to know that
my fidelity was not to be doubted or shaken.
Dear, hapless Princess! She said to me, in one of her confidential
conversations on these matters, "The Queen has been so cruelly deceived
and so much watched that she almost fears her own shadow; but it gives me
great pleasure that Her Majesty had been herself confirmed by one of her
own emissaries in what I never for a moment doubted.
"But do not fancy," continued the Princess, laughing, "that you have had
only this spy to encounter. Many others have watched your motions and
your conversations, and all concur in saying you are the devil, and they
could make nothing of you. But that, 'mia cara piccola diavolina', is
just what we want!"
Editor in continuation.
I am compelled, with reluctance, to continue personally upon the stage,
and must do so for the three ensuing chapters, in order to put my readers
in possession of circumstances explanatory of the next portion of the
Journal of the Princesse de Lamballe.
Even the particulars I am about to mention can give but a very faint idea
of the state of alarm in which the Royal Family lived, and the perpetual
watchfulness and strange and involved expedients that were found
necessary for their protection. Their most trifling communications were
scrutinized with so much jealousy that when any of importance were to be
made it required a dexterity almost miraculous to screen them from the
ever-watchful eye of espionage.
I was often made instrumental in evading the curiosity of others, without
ever receiving any clue to the gratification of my own, even had I been
troubled with such impertinence. The anecdote I am about to mention will
show how cautious a game it was thought necessary to play; and the result
of my half-information will evince that over-caution may produce evils
almost equal to total carelessness.
Some time previous to the flight of the Royal Family from Paris, the
Princesse de Lamballe told me she wanted some repairs made to the locks
of certain dressing and writing-desks; but she would prefer having them
done at my apartments, and by a locksmith who lived at a distance from
When the boxes were repaired, I was sent with one of them to Lisle, where
another person took charge of it for the Archduchess at Brussels.
There was something which strongly marked the kind-heartedness of the
Princesse de Lamballe in a part of this transaction. I had left Paris
without a passport, and Her Highness, fearing it might expose me to
inconvenience, sent an express after me. The express arrived three hours
before I did, and the person to whom I have alluded came out of Brussels
in his carriage to meet me and receive the box. At the same time, he
gave me a sealed letter, without any address. I asked him from whom he
received it, and to whom it was to be delivered. He said he was only
instructed to deliver it to the lady with the box, and he showed me the
Queen's cipher. I took the letter, and, after partaking of some
refreshments, returned with it, according to my orders.
On my arrival at Paris, the Princesse de Lamballe told me her motive for
sending the express, who, she said, informed her, on his return, that I
had a letter for the Queen. I said it was more than I knew. "Oh, I
suppose that is because the letter bears no address," replied she; "but
you were shown the cipher, and that is all which is necessary."
She did not take the letter, and I could not help remarking how far, in
this instance, the rigour of etiquette was kept up, even between these
close friends. The Princess, not having herself received the letter,
could not take it from my hands to deliver without Her Majesty's express
command. This being obtained, she asked me for it, and gave it to Her
Majesty. The circumstance convinced me that the Princess exercised much
less influence over the Queen, and was much more directed by Her
Majesty's authority, than has been imagined.
Two or three days after my arrival at Paris, my servant lost the key of
my writing-desk, and, to remedy the evil, he brought me the same
locksmith I had employed on the repairs just mentioned. As it was
necessary I should be present to remove my papers when the lock was taken
off, of course I saw the man. While I was busy clearing the desk, with
an air of great familiarity he said, "I have had jobs to do here before
now, my girl, as your sweetheart there well knows."
I humoured his mistake in taking me for my own maid and my servant's
sweetheart, and I pertly answered, "Very likely."
"Oh, yes, I have," said he; "it was I who repaired the Queen's boxes in
this very room."
Knowing I had never received anything of the sort from Her Majesty, and
utterly unaware that the boxes the Princess sent to my apartments had
been the Queen's, I was greatly surprised. Seeing my confusion, he said,
"I know the boxes as well as I know myself. I am the King's locksmith,
my dear, and I and the King worked together many years. Why, I know
every creek and corner of the palace, aye, and I know everything that's
going on in them, too--queer doings! Lord, my pretty damsel, I made a
secret place in the palace to hide the King's papers, where the devil
himself would never find them out, if I or the King didn't tell!"
Though I wished him at the devil every moment he detained me from
disclosing his information at the palace, yet I played off the soubrette
upon him till he became so interested I thought he never would have gone.
At last, however, he took his departure, and the moment he disappeared,
out of the house I flew.
The agitation and surprise of the Princess at what I related were
extreme. "Wait," cried she; "I must go and inform the Queen instantly."
In going out of the room, "Great God, what a discovery!" exclaimed Her
It was not long before she returned. Luckily, I was dressed for dinner.
She took me by the hand and, unable to speak, led me to the private
closet of the Queen.
Her Majesty graciously condescended to thank me for the letter I had
taken charge of. She told me that for the future all letters to her
would be without any superscription; and desired me, if any should be
given to me by persons I had not before seen, and the cipher were shown
at the same time, to receive and deliver them myself into her hands, as
the production of the cipher would be a sufficient pledge of their
Being desired to repeat the conversation with Gamin, "There, Princess!"
exclaimed Her Majesty, "Am I not the crow of evil forebodings? I trust
the King will never again be credulous enough to employ this man. I have
long had an extreme aversion to His Majesty's familiarity with him; but
he shall hear his impudence himself from your own lips, my good little
Englishwoman; and then he will not think it is prepossession or
A few evenings elapsed, and I thought no more of the subject, till one
night I was ordered to the palace by the Princess, which never happened
but on very particular occasions, as she was fearful of exciting
suspicion by any appearance of close intimacy with one so much about
Paris upon the secret embassies of the Court.
When I entered the apartment, the King, the Queen, and the Princesse
Elizabeth were, as if by accident, in an adjoining room; but, from what
followed, I am certain they all came purposely to hear my deposition. I
was presently commanded to present myself to the august party.
The King was in deep conversation with the Princesse Elizabeth. I must
confess I felt rather embarrassed. I could not form an idea why I was
thus honoured. The Princesse de Lamballe graciously took me by the hand.
"Now tell His Majesty, yourself, what Gamin said to you."
I began to revive, perceiving now wherefore I was summoned. I accordingly
related, in the presence of the royal guests assembled, as I had done
before Her Majesty and the Princesse de Lamballe, the scene as it
When I came to that part where he said, "where the devil himself could
never find them out," His Majesty approached from the balcony, at which
he had been talking with the Princesse Elizabeth, and said, "Well! he is
very right--but neither he nor the devil shall find them out, for they
shall be removed this very night."
[Which was done; and these are, therefore, no doubt, the papers and
portfolio of which Madame Campan speaks, vol. ii., p. 142, as having
been entrusted to her care after being taken from their hiding-place by
the King himself.]
The King, the Queen, and the Princesse Elizabeth most graciously said,
"Nous sommes bien obligis, ma petite anglaise!" and Her Majesty added,
"Now, my dear, tell me all the rest about this man, whom I have long
suspected for his wickedness."
I said he had been guilty of no hostile indications, and that the chief
fault I had to find with him was his exceeding familiarity in mentioning
himself before the King, saying, "I and the King."
"Go on," said Her Majesty; "give us the whole as it occurred, and let us
form our own conclusions."
"Yes," cried the Princess, "parlate sciolto."--"Si Si," rejoined the
Queen, "parlate tutto--yes, yes, speak out and tell us all."
I then related the remainder of the conversation, which very much alarmed
the royal party, and it was agreed that, to avoid suspicion, I should
next day send for the locksmith and desire him, as an excuse, to look at
the locks of my trunks and travelling carriage, and set off in his
presence to take up my pretended mistress on the road to Calais, that he
might not suspect I had any connection with any one about the Court. I
was strictly enjoined by Her Majesty to tell him that the man servant had
had the boxes from some one to get them repaired, without either my
knowledge or that of my mistress, and, by her pretended orders, to give
him a discharge upon the spot for having dared to use her apartments as a
workshop for the business of other people.
"Now," said the Princesse de Lamballe, "now play the comic part you acted
between your servant and Gamin:" which I did, as well as I could
recollect it, and the royal audience were so much amused, that I had the
honour to remain in the room and see them play at cards. At length,
however, there came three gentle taps at the outer door. "Ora a tempo
perche vene andata," exclaimed Her Highness at the sound, having ordered
a person to call with this signal to see me out of the palace to the Rue
Nicaise, where my carriage was in waiting to conduct me home.
It is not possible for me to describe the gracious condescension of the
Queen and the Princesse Elizabeth, in expressing their sentiments for the
accidental discovery I had made. Amid their assurances of tender
interest and concern, they both reproved me mildly for my imprudence in
having, when I went to Brussels, hurried from Paris without my passport.
They gave me prudential cautions with regard to my future conduct and
residence at Paris; and it was principally owing to the united
persuasions and remonstrances of these three angels in human form that I
took six or seven different lodgings, where the Princesse de Lamballe
used to meet me by turns; because had I gone often to the palace, as many
others did, or waited for Her Highness regularly in any one spot, I
should, infallibly, have been discovered.
"Gracious God!" exclaimed Her Majesty in the course of this
conversation, "am I born to be the misfortune of every one who shows an
interest in serving me? Tell my sister, when you return to Brussels
again--and do not forget to say I desired you to tell her--our cruel
situation! She does not believe that we are surrounded by enemies, even
in our most private seclusions! in our prison! that we are even thrown
exclusively upon foreigners in our most confidential affairs; that in
France there is scarcely an individual to whom we can look! They betray
us for their own safety, which is endangered by any exertions in our
favour. Tell her this," repeated the Queen three or four times.
The next day I punctually obeyed my orders. Gamin was sent for to look
at the locks, and received six francs for his opinion. The man servant
was reproved by me on behalf of my supposed mistress, and, in the
presence of Gamin, discharged for having brought suspicious things into
The man being tutored in his part, begged Gamin to plead for my
intercession with our mistress. I remained inexorable, as he knew I
should. While Gamin was still by I discharged the bill at the house, got
into my carriage, and took the road towards Calais.
At Saint Denis, however, I feigned to be taken ill, and in two days
returned to Paris.
Even this simple act required management. I contrived it in the
following manner. I walked out on the high road leading to the capital
for the purpose of meeting my servant at a place which had been fixed for
the meeting before I left Paris. I found him on horseback at his post,
with a carriage prepared for my return. As soon as I was out of sight he
made the best of his way forward, went to the inn with a note from me,
and returned with my carriage and baggage I had to lodgings at Passy.
The joy of the Princess on seeing me safe again brought tears into her
eyes; and, when I related the scene I played off before Gamin against my
servant, she laughed most heavily. "But surely," said she, "you have not
really discharged the poor man?"--"Oh, no," replied I; "he acted his part
so well before the locksmith, that I should be very sorry to lose such an
"You must perform this 'buffa scena'," observed Her Highness, "to the
Queen. She has been very anxious to know the result; but her spirits are
so depressed that I fear she will not come to my party this evening.
However, if she do not, I will see her to-morrow, and you shall make her
laugh. It would be a charity, for she has not done so from the heart for
many a day!"
Editor in continuation:
Every one who has read at all is familiar with the immortal panegyric of
the great Edmund Burke upon Marie Antoinette. It is known that this
illustrious man was not mean enough to flatter; yet his eloquent praises
of her as a Princess, a woman, and a beauty, inspiring something beyond
what any other woman could excite, have been called flattery by those who
never knew her; those who did, must feel them to be, if possible, even
below the truth. But the admiration of Mr. Burke was set down even to a
baser motive, and, like everything else, converted into a source of
slander for political purposes, long before that worthy palladium of
British liberty had even thought of interesting himself for the welfare
of France, which his prophetic eye saw plainly was the common cause of
But, keenly as that great statesman looked into futurity, little did he
think, when he visited the Queen in all her splendour at Trianon, and
spoke so warmly of the cordial reception he had met with at Versailles
from the Duc and Duchesse de Polignac, that he should have so soon to
deplore their tragic fate!
Could his suggestions to Her Majesty, when he was in France, have been
put in force, there is scarcely a doubt that the Revolution might have
been averted, or crushed. But he did not limit his friendship to
personal advice. It is not generally known that the Queen carried on,
through the medium of the Princesse de Lamballe, a very extensive
correspondence with Mr. Burke. He recommended wise and vast plans; and
these, if possible, would have been adopted. The substance of some of
the leading ones I can recall from the journal of Her Highness and
letters which I have myself frequently deciphered. I shall endeavour,
succinctly, to detail such of them as I remember.
Mr. Burke recommended the suppression of all superfluous religious
institutions, which had not public seminaries to support. Their lands,
he advised, should be divided, without regard to any distinction but that
of merit, among such members of the army and other useful classes of
society, as, after having served the specified time, should have risen,
through their good conduct, to either civil or military preferment. By
calculations upon the landed interest, it appeared that every individual
under the operation of this bounty would, in the course of twenty years,
possess a yearly income of from five to seven hundred francs.
Another of the schemes suggested by Mr. Burke was to purge the kingdom of
all the troops which had been corrupted from their allegiance by the
intrigues growing out of the first meeting of the Notables. He proposed
that they should sail at the same time, or nearly so, to be colonized in
the different French islands and Madagascar; and, in their place, a new
national guard created, who should be bound to the interest of the
legitimate Government by receiving the waste crown lands to be shared
among them, from the common soldier to its generals and Field-marshals.
Thus would the whole mass of rebellious blood have been reformed. To
ensure an effectual change, Mr. Burke advised the enrolment, in rotation,
of sixty thousand Irish troops, twenty thousand always to remain in
France, and forty thousand in reversion for the same service. The
lynx-eyed statesman saw clearly, from the murders of the Marquis de
Launay and M. Flesselles, and from the destruction of the Bastille, and
of the ramparts of Paris, that party had not armed itself against Louis,
but against the throne. It was therefore necessary to produce a
permanent revolution in the army.
[Mr. Burke was too great a statesman not to be the friend of his
country's interest. He also saw that, from the destruction of the
monarchy in France, England had more to fear than to gain. He well knew
that the French Revolution was not, like that of the Americans, founded
on grievances and urged in support of a great and disinterested
principle. He was aware that so restless a people, when they had
overthrown the monarchy, would not limit the overthrow to their own
country. After Mr. Burke's death, Mr. Fox was applied to, and was
decidedly of the same opinion. Mr. Sheridan was interrogated, and, at
the request of the Princesse de Lamballe, he presented, for the Queen's
inspection, plans nearly equal to those of the above two great statesmen;
and what is most singular and scarcely credible is that one and all of
the opposition party in England strenuously exerted themselves for the
upholding of the monarchy in France. Many circumstances which came to my
knowledge before and after the death of Louis XVI. prove that Mr. Pitt
himself was averse to the republican principles being organized so near a
constitutional monarchy as France was to Great Britain. Though the
conduct of the Duc d'Orleans was generally reprobated, I firmly believe
that if he had possessed sufficient courage to have usurped the crown and
re-established the monarchy, he would have been treated with in
preference to the republicans. I am the more confirmed in this opinion
by a conversation between the Princesse de Lamballe and Mirabeau, in
which he said a republic in France would never thrive.]
There was another suggestion to secure troops around the throne of a more
loyal temper. It was planned to incorporate all the French soldiers, who
had not voluntarily deserted the royal standard, with two-thirds of
Swiss, German, and Low Country forces, among whom were to be divided,
after ten years' service, certain portions of the crown lands, which were
to be held by presenting every year a flag of acknowledgment to the King
and Queen; with the preference of serving in the civil or military
departments, according to the merit or capacity of the respective
individuals. Messieurs de Broglie, de Bouille, de Luxembourg, and
others, were to have been commanders. But this plan, like many others,
was foiled in its birth, and, it is said, through the intrigues of
However, all concurred in the necessity of ridding France, upon the most
plausible pretexts, of the fomenters of its ruin. Now arose a fresh
difficulty. Transports were wanted, and in considerable numbers.
A navy agent in England was applied to for the supply of these
transports. So great was the number required, and so peculiar the
circumstances, that the agent declined interfering without the sanction
of his Government.
A new dilemma succeeded. Might not the King of England place improper
constructions on this extensive shipment of troops from the different
ports of France for her West India possessions? Might it not be fancied
that it involved secret designs on the British settlements in that
All these circumstances required that some communication should be opened
with the Court of St. James; and the critical posture of affairs exacted
that such communication should be less diplomatic than confidential.
It will be recollected that, at the very commencement of the reign of
Louis XVI., there were troubles in Britanny, which the severe
governorship of the Duc d'Aiguillon augmented. The Bretons took
privileges with them, when they became blended with the kingdom of
France, by the marriage of Anne of Brittany with Charles VIII., beyond
those of any other of its provinces. These privileges they seemed rather
disposed to extend than relinquish, and were by no means reserved in the
expression of their resolution. It was considered expedient to place a
firm, but conciliatory, Governor over them, and the Duc de Penthievre was
appointed to this difficult trust. The Duke was accompanied to his
vice-royalty by his daughter-in-law, the Princesse de Lamballe, who, by
her extremely judicious management of the female part of the province,
did more for the restoration of order than could have been achieved by
armies. The remembrance of this circumstance induced the Queen to regard
Her Highness as a fit person to send secretly to England at this very
important crisis; and the purpose was greatly encouraged by a wish to
remove her from a scene of such daily increasing peril.
For privacy, it was deemed expedient that Her Highness should withdraw to
Aumale, under the plea of ill-health, and thence proceed to England; and
it was also by way of Aumale that she as secretly returned, after the
fatal disaster of the stoppage, to discourage the impression of her ever
having been out of France.
The mission was even unknown to the French Minister at the Court of St.
The Princess was ordered by Her Majesty to cultivate the acquaintance of
the late Duchess of Gordon, who was supposed to possess more influence
than any woman in England--in order to learn the sentiments of Mr. Pitt
relative to the revolutionary troubles. The Duchess, however, was too
much of an Englishwoman, and Mr. Pitt too much interested in the ruin of
France, to give her the least clue to the truth.
In order to fathom the sentiments of the opposition party, the Princess
cultivated the society also of the late Duchess of Devonshire, but with
as little success. The opposition party foresaw too much risk in
bringing anything before the house to alarm the prejudices of the nation.
The French Ambassador, too, jealous of the unexplained purpose of the
Princess, did all he could to render her expedition fruitless.
Nevertheless, though disappointed in some of her main objects with regard
to influence and information, she became so great a favourite at the
British Court that she obtained full permission of the King and Queen of
England to signify to her royal mistress and friend that the specific
request she came to make would be complied with.
[The Princess visited Bath, Windsor, Brighton, and many other parts of
England, and associated with all parties. She managed her conduct so
judiciously that the real object of her visit was never suspected. In
all these excursions I had the honour to attend her confidentially. I
was the only person entrusted with papers from Her Highness to Her
Majesty. I had many things to copy, of which the originals went to
France. Twice during the term of Her Highness's residence in England I
was sent by Her Majesty with papers communicating the result of the
secret mission to the Queen of Naples. On the second of these two trips,
being obliged to travel night and day, I could only keep my eyes open by
means of the strongest coffee. When I reached my destination I was
immediately compelled to decipher the despatches with the Queen of Naples
in the office of the Secretary of State. That done, General Acton
ordered some one, I know not whom, to conduct me, I know not where, but
it was to a place where, after a sound sleep of twenty-four hours, I
awoke thoroughly refreshed, and without a vestige of fatigue either of
mind or body. On waking, lest anything should transpire, I was desired
to quit Naples instantly, without seeing the British Minister. To make
assurance doubly sure, General Acton sent a person from his office to
accompany me out of the city on horseback; and, to screen me from the
attack of robbers, this person went on with me as far as the Roman
In the meantime, however, the troubles in France were so rapidly
increasing from hour to hour, that it became impossible for the
Government to carry any of their plans into effect. This particular one,
on the very eve of its accomplishment, was marred, as it was imagined, by
the secret intervention of the friends of Mirabeau. The Government
became more and more infirm and wavering in its purposes; the Princess
was left without instructions, and under such circumstances as to expose
her to the supposition of having trifled with the good-will of Their
Majesties of England.
In this dilemma I was sent off from England to the Queen of France. I
left Her Highness at Bath, but when I returned she had quitted Bath for
Brighton. I am unacquainted with the nature of all the papers she
received, but I well remember the agony they seemed to inflict on her.
She sent off a packet by express that very night to Windsor.
The Princess immediately began the preparations for her return. Her own
journal is explicit on this point of her history, and therefore I shall
leave her to speak for herself. I must not, however, omit to mention the
remark she made to me upon the subject of her reception in Great Britain.
With these, let me dismiss the present chapter.
"The general cordiality with which I have been received in your country,"
said Her Highness, "has made a lasting impression upon my heart. In
particular, never shall I forget the kindness of the Queen of England,
the Duchess of Devonshire, and her truly virtuous mother, Lady Spencer.
It gave me a cruel pang to be obliged to undervalue the obligations with
which they overwhelmed me by leaving England as I did, without giving
them an opportunity of carrying their good intentions, which, I had
myself solicited, into effect. But we cannot command fate. Now that the
King has determined to accept the Constitution (and you know my
sentiments upon the article respecting ecclesiastics), I conceive it my
duty to follow Their Majesties' example in submitting to the laws of the
nation. Be assured, 'Inglesina', it will be my ambition to bring about
one of the happiest ages of French history. I shall endeavour to create
that confidence so necessary for the restoration to their native land of
the Princes of the blood, and all the emigrants who abandoned the King,
their families, and their country, while doubtful whether His Majesty
would or would not concede this new charter; but now that the doubt
exists no longer, I trust we shall all meet again, the happier for the
privation to which we have been doomed from absence. As the limitation
of the monarchy removes every kind of responsibility from the monarch,
the Queen will again taste the blissful sweets she once enjoyed during
the reign of Louis XV. in the domestic tranquillity of her home at
Trianon. Often has she wept those times in which she will again rejoice.
Oh, how I long for their return! I fly to greet the coming period of
future happiness to us all!"
Although I am not making myself the historian of France, yet it may not
be amiss to mention that it was during this absence of Her Highness that
Necker finally retired from power and from France.
The return of this Minister had been very much against the consent of Her
Majesty and the King. They both feared what actually happened soon
afterwards. They foresaw that he would be swept away by the current of
popularity from his deference to the royal authority. It was to preserve
the favour of the mob that he allowed them to commit the shocking murders
of M. de Foulon (who had succeeded him on his first dismission as
Minister of Louis XVI.) and of Berthier, his son-in-law. The union of
Necker with D'ORLEANS, on this occasion, added to the cold indifference
with which Barnave in one of his speeches expressed himself concerning
the shedding of human blood, certainly animated the factious assassins to
methodical murder, and frustrated all the efforts of La Fayette to save
these victims from the enraged populace, to whom both unfortunately fell
Necker, like La Fayette, when too late, felt the absurdity of relying
upon the idolatry of the populace. The one fancied he could command the
Parisian 'poissardes' as easily as his own battalions; and the other
persuaded himself that the mob, which had been hired to carry about his
bust, would as readily promulgate his theories.
But he forgot that the people in their greatest independence are only the
puppets of demagogues; and he lost himself by not gaining over that class
which, of all others, possesses most power over the million, I mean the
men of the bar, who, arguing more logically than the rest of the world,
felt that from the new Constitution the long robe was playing a losing
game, and therefore discouraged a system which offered nothing to their
personal ambition or private emolument. Lawyers, like priests, are never
over-ripe for any changes or innovations, except such as tend to their
personal interest. The more perplexed the, state of public and private
affairs, the better for them. Therefore, in revolutions, as a body, they
remain neuter, unless it is made for their benefit to act. Individually,
they are a set of necessary evils; and, for the sake of the bar, the
bench, and the gibbet, require to be humoured. But any legislator who
attempts to render laws clear, concise, and explanatory, and to divest
them of the quibbles whereby these expounders--or confounders--of codes
fatten on the credulity of States and the miseries of unfortunate
millions, will necessarily encounter opposition, direct or indirect, in
every measure at all likely to reduce the influence of this most
abominable horde of human depredators. It was Necker's error to have
gone so directly to the point with the lawyers that they at once saw his
scope; and thus he himself defeated his hopes of their support, the want
of which utterly baffled all his speculations.
[The great Frederick of Prussia, on being told of the numbers of lawyers
there were in England, said he wished he had them in his country. "Why?"
some one enquired. "To do the greatest benefit in my power to
society."--"How so?"--"Why to hang one-half as an example to the other!"]
When Necker undertook to re-establish the finances, and to reform
generally the abuses in the Government, he was the most popular Minister
(Lord Chatham, when the great Pitt, excepted) in Europe. Yet his errors
were innumerable, though possessing such sound knowledge and judgment,
such a superabundance of political contrivance, diplomatic coolness, and
mathematical calculation, the result of deep thought aided by great
But how futile he made all these appear when he declared the national
bankruptcy. Could anything be more absurd than the assumption, by the
individual, of a personal instead of a national guarantee of part of a
national debt?--an undertaking too hazardous and by far too ambiguous,
even for a monarch who is not backed by his kingdom--flow doubly frantic,
then, for a subject! Necker imagined that the above declaration and his
own Quixotic generosity would have opened the coffers of the great body
of rich proprietors, and brought them forward to aid the national crisis.
But he was mistaken. The nation then had no interest in his financial
system. The effect it produced was the very reverse of what was
expected. Every proprietor began to fear the ambition of the Minister,
who undertook impossibilities. The being bound for the debts of an
individual, and justifying bail in a court of law in commercial matters,
affords no criterion for judging of, or regulating, the pecuniary
difficulties of a nation. Necker's conduct in this case was, in my
humble opinion, as impolitic as that of a man who, after telling his
friends that he is ruined past redemption, asks for a loan of money. The
conclusion is, if he obtains the loan, that "the fool and his money are
It was during the same interval of Her Highness's stay in England, that
the discontent ran so high between the people and the clergy.
I have frequently heard the Princesse de Lamballe ascribe the King's not
sanctioning the decrees against the clergy to the influence of his aunt,
the Carmelite nun, Madame Louise. During the life of her father, Louis
XV., she nearly engrossed all the Church benefices by her intrigues. She
had her regular conclaves of all orders of the Church. From the Bishop
to the sexton, all depended on her for preferment; and, till the
Revolution, she maintained equal power over the mind of Louis XVI. upon
similar matters. The Queen would often express her disapprobation; but
the King was so scrupulous, whenever the discussion fell on the topic of
religion, that she made it a point not to contrast her opinion with his,
from a conviction that she was unequal to cope with him on that head,
upon which he was generally very animated.
It is perfectly certain that the French clergy, by refusing to contribute
to the exigencies of the State, created some of the primary horrors of
the Revolution. They enjoyed one-third the national revenues, yet they
were the first to withhold their assistance from the national wants. I
have heard the Princesse de Lamballe say, "The Princesse Elizabeth and
myself used our utmost exertion to induce some of the higher orders of
the clergy to set the example and obtain for themselves the credit of
offering up a part of the revenues, the whole of which we knew must be
forfeited if they continued obstinate; but it was impossible to move
The characters of some of the leading dignitaries of the time
sufficiently explain their selfish and pernicious conduct; when churchmen
trifle with the altar, be their motives what they may, they destroy the
faith they possess, and give examples to the flock entrusted to their
care, of which no foresight can measure the baleful consequences. Who
that is false to his God can be expected to remain faithful to his
Sovereign? When a man, as a Catholic Bishop, marries, and, under the
mask of patriotism, becomes the declared tool of all work to every
faction, and is the weathercock, shifting to any quarter according to the
wind,--such a man can be of no real service to any party: and yet has a
man of this kind been by turns the primum mobile of them all, even to the
present times, and was one of those great Church fomenters of the
troubles of which we speak, who disgraced the virtuous reign of Louis
Amidst the perplexities of the Royal Family it was perfectly unavoidable
that repeated proposals should have been made at various times for them
to escape these dangers by flight. The Queen had been frequently and
most earnestly entreated to withdraw alone; and the King, the Princesse
Elizabeth, the Princesse de Lamballe, the royal children, with their
little hands uplifted, and all those attached to Marie Antoinette, after
the horrid business at Versailles, united to supplicate her to quit
France and shelter herself from the peril hanging over her existence.
Often and often have I heard the Princesse de Lamballe repeat the words
in which Her Majesty uniformly rejected the proposition. "I have no
wish," cried the Queen, "for myself. My life or death must be encircled
by the arms of my husband and my family. With them, and with them only,
will I live or die."
It would have been impossible to have persuaded her to leave France
without her children. If any woman on earth could have been justified in
so doing, it would have been Marie Antoinette. But she was above such
unnatural selfishness, though she had so many examples to encourage her;
for, even amongst the members of her own family, self-preservation had
been considered paramount to every other consideration.
I have heard the Princess say that Pope Pius VI. was the only one of all
the Sovereigns who offered the slightest condolence or assistance to
Louis XVI. and his family. "The Pope's letter," added she, "when shown
to me by the Queen, drew tears from my eyes. It really was in a style of
such Christian tenderness and princely feeling as could only be dictated
by a pious and illuminated head of the Christian Church. He implored not
only all the family of Louis XVI., but even extended his entreaties to me
[the Princesse de Lamballe] to leave Paris, and save themselves, by
taking refuge in his dominions, from the horrors which so cruelly
overwhelmed them. The King's aunts were the only ones who profited by
the invitation. Madame Elizabeth was to have been of the party, but
could not be persuaded to leave the King and Queen."
As the clouds grew more threatening, it is scarcely to be credited how
many persons interested themselves for the same purpose, and what
numberless schemes were devised to break the fetters which had been
imposed on the Royal Family, by their jailers, the Assembly.
A party, unknown to the King and Queen, was even forming under the
direction of the Princesse Elizabeth; but as soon as Their Majesties were
apprised of it, it was given up as dangerous to the interests of the
Royal Family, because it thwarted the plans of the Marquis de Bouille.
Indeed, Her Majesty could never be brought to determine on any plan for
her own or the King's safety until their royal aunts, the Princesses
Victoria and Adelaide, had left Paris.
The first attempt to fly was made early in the year 1791, at St. Cloud,
where the horses had been in preparation nearly a fortnight; but the
scheme was abandoned in consequence of having been entrusted to too many
persons. This the Queen acknowledged. She had it often in her power to
escape alone with her son, but would not consent.
The second attempt was made in the spring of the same year at Paris. The
guards shut the gates of the Tuileries, and would not allow the King's
carriage to pass. Even though a large sum of money had been expended to
form a party to overpower the mutineers, the treacherous mercenaries did
not appear. The expedition was, of course, obliged to be relinquished.
Many of the royal household were very ill-treated, and some lives
At last, the deplorable journey did take place. The intention had been
communicated by Her Majesty to the Princesse de Lamballe before she went
abroad, and it was agreed that, whenever it was carried into effect, the
Queen should write to Her Highness from Montmedi, where the two friends
were once more to have been reunited.
Soon after the departure of the Princess, the arrangements for the fatal
journey to Varennes were commenced, but with blamable and fatal
Mirabeau was the first person who advised the King to withdraw; but he
recommended that it should be alone, or, at most, with the Dauphin only.
He was of opinion that the overthrow of the Constitution could not be
achieved while the Royal Family remained in Paris. His first idea was
that the King should go to the sea-coast, where he would have it in his
power instantly to escape to England, if the Assembly, through his
(Mirabeau's), means, did not comply with the royal propositions. Though
many of the King's advisers were for a distinct and open rejection of the
Constitution, it was the decided impression of Mirabeau that he ought to
stoop to conquer, and temporize by an instantaneous acceptance, through
which he might gain time to put himself in an attitude to make such terms
as would at once neutralize the act and the faction by which it was
forced upon him. Others imagined that His Majesty was too conscientious
to avail himself of any such subterfuge, and that, having once given his
sanction, he would adhere to it rigidly. This third party of the royal
counsellors were therefore for a cautious consideration of the document,
clause by clause, dreading the consequences of an 'ex abrupto' signature
in binding the Sovereign, not only against his policy, but his will.
In the midst of all these distracting doubts, however, the departure was
resolved upon. Mirabeau had many interviews with the Count Fersen upon
the subject. It was his great object to prevent the flight from being
encumbered. But the King would not be persuaded to separate himself from
the Queen and the rest of the family, and entrusted the project to too
many advisers. Had he been guided by Fersen only, he would have
The natural consequence of a secret being in so many hands was felt in
the result. Those whom it was most important to keep in ignorance were
the first on the alert. The weakness of the Queen in insisting upon
taking a remarkable dressing-case with her, and, to get it away
unobserved, ordering a facsimile to be made under the pretext of
intending it as a present to her sister at Brussels, awakened the
suspicion of a favourite, but false female attendant, then intriguing
with the aide-de-camp of La Fayette. The rest is easily to be conceived.
The Assembly were apprised of all the preparations for the departure a
week or more before it occurred. La Fayette, himself, it is believed,
knew and encouraged it, that he might have the glory of stopping the
fugitive himself; but he was overruled by the Assembly.
When the secretary of the Austrian Ambassador came publicly, by
arrangement, to ask permission of the Queen to take the model of the
dressing-case in question, the very woman to whom I have alluded was in
attendance at Her Majesty's toilet. The paramour of the woman was with
her, watching the motions of the Royal Family on the night they passed
from their own apartments to those of the Duc de Villequier in order to
get into the carriage; and by this paramour was La Fayette instantly
informed of the departure. The traitress discovered that Her Majesty was
on the eve of setting off by seeing her diamonds packed up. All these
things were fully known to the Assembly, of which the Queen herself was
afterwards apprised by the Mayor of Paris.
In the suite of the Count Fersen
[Alvise de Pisani, the last venetian Ambassador to the King, who was my
husband's particular friend, and with whom I was myself long acquainted,
and have been ever since to this day, as well as with all his noble
family, during my many years' residence at Venice, told me this
circumstance while walking with him at his country-seat at Stra, which
was subsequently taken from him by Napoleon, and made the Imperial palace
of the viceroy, and is now that of the German reigning Prince.]
there was a young Swede who had an intrigue purposely with one of the
Queen's women, from whom he obtained many important disclosures relative
to the times. The Swede mentioned this to his patron, who advised Her
Majesty to discharge a certain number of these women, among whom was the
one who afterwards proved her betrayer. It was suggested to dismiss a
number at once, that the guilty person might not suspect the exclusion to
be levelled against her in particular. Had the Queen allowed herself to
be directed in this affair by Fersen, the chain of communication would
have been broken, and the Royal Family would not have been stopped at
Varennes, but have got clear out of France, many hours before they could
have been perceived by the Assembly; but Her Majesty never could believe
that she had anything to fear from the quarter against which she was
It is not generally known that a very considerable sum had been given to
the head recruiting sergeant, Mirabeau, to enlist such of the
constituents as could be won with gold to be ready with a majority in
favour of the royal fugitives. But the death of Mirabeau, previous to
this event, leaves it doubtful how far he distributed the bribes
conscientiously; indeed, it is rather to be questioned whether he did not
retain the money, or much of it, in his own hands, since the strongly
hoped for and dearly paid majority never gave proof of existence, either
before or after the journey to Varennes. Immense bribes were also given
to the Mayor of Paris, which proved equally ineffective.
Had Mirabeau lived till the affair of Varennes, it is not impossible that
his genius might have given a different complexion to the result. He had
already treated with the Queen and the Princess for a reconciliation; and
in the apartments of Her Highness had frequent evening, and early
morning, audiences of the Queen.
It is pretty certain, however, that the recantation of Mirabeau, from
avowed democracy to aristocracy and royalty, through the medium of
enriching himself by a 'salva regina', made his friends prepare for him
that just retribution, which ended in a 'de profundis'. At a period when
all his vices were called to aid one virtuous action, his thread of
vicious life was shortened, and he; no doubt, became the victim of his
insatiable avarice. That he was poisoned is not to be disproved; though
it was thought necessary to keep it from the knowledge of the people.
I have often heard Her Highness say, "When I reflect on the precautions
which were taken to keep the interviews with Mirabeau profoundly secret
that he never conversed but with the King, the Queen, and myself--his
untimely death must be attributed to his own indiscreet enthusiasm, in
having confidentially entrusted the success with which he flattered
himself, from the ascendency he had gained over the Court, to some one
who betrayed him. His death, so very unexpectedly, and at that crisis,
made a deep impression on the mind of the Queen. She really believed him
capable of redressing the monarchy, and he certainly was the only one of
the turncoat constitutionalists in whom she placed any confidence. Would
to Heaven that she had had more in Barnave, and that she had listened to
Dumourier! These I would have trusted more, far more readily than the
I now return, once more, to the journal of the Princess.
"In the midst of the perplexing debates upon the course most advisable
with regard to the Constitution after the unfortunate return from
Varennes, I sent off my little English amanuensis to Paris to bring me,
through the means of another trusty person I had placed about the Queen,
the earliest information concerning the situation of affairs. On her
return she brought me a ring, which Her Majesty had graciously,
condescended to send me, set with her own hair, which had whitened like
that of a person of eighty, from the anguish the Varennes affair had
wrought upon her mind; and bearing the inscription, 'Bleached by sorrow.'
This ring was accompanied by the following letter:
"'MY DEAREST FRIEND,--
"'The King has made up his mind to the acceptance of the Constitution,
and it will ere long be proclaimed publicly. A few days ago I was
secretly waited upon and closeted in your apartment with many of our
faithful friends,--in particular, Alexandre de Lameth, Duport, Barnave,
Montmorin, Bertrand de Moleville, et cetera. The two latter opposed the
King's Council, the Ministers, and the numerous other advisers of an
immediate and unscrutinizing acceptance. They were a small minority, and
could not prevail with me to exercise my influence with His Majesty in
support of their opinion, when all the rest seemed so confident that a
contrary course must re-establish the tranquillity of the nation and our
own happiness, weaken the party of the Jacobins against us, and greatly
increase that of the nation in our favor.
"'Your absence obliged me to call Elizabeth to my aid in managing the
coming and going of the deputies to and from the Pavilion of Flora,
unperceived by the spies of our enemies. She executed her charge so
adroitly, that the visitors were not seen by any of the household. Poor
Elizabeth! little did I look for such circumspection in one so
unacquainted with the intrigues of Court, or the dangers surrounding us,
which they would now fain persuade us no longer exist. God grant it may
be so! and that I may once more freely embrace and open my heart to the
only friend I have nearest to it. But though this is my most ardent
wish, yet, my dear, dearest Lamballe, I leave it to yourself to act as
your feelings dictate. Many about us profess to see the future as clear
as the sun at noon-day. But, I confess, my vision is still dim. I
cannot look into events with the security of others--who confound logic
with their wishes. The King, Elizabeth, and all of us, are anxious for
your return. But it would grieve us sorely for you to come back to such
scenes as you have already witnessed. Judge and act from your own
impressions. If we do not see you, send me the result of your interview
at the precipice.--[The name the Queen gave to Mr. Pitt]--'Vostra cara
picciolca Inglesina' will deliver you many letters. After looking over
the envelopes, you will either send her with them as soon as possible or
forward them as addressed, as you may think most advisable at the time
you receive them.
"'Ever, ever, and forever,
"There was another hurried and abrupt note from Her Majesty among these
papers, obviously written later than the first. It lamented the cruel
privations to which she was doomed at the Tuileries, in consequence of
the impeded flight, and declared that what the Royal Family were forced
to suffer, from being totally deprived of every individual of their
former friends and attendants to condole with, excepting the equally
oppressed and unhappy Princesse Elizabeth, was utterly insupportable.
"On the receipt of these much esteemed epistles, I returned, as my duty
directed, to the best of Queens, and most sincere of friends. My arrival
at Paris, though so much wished for, was totally unexpected.
"At our first meeting, the Queen was so agitated that she was utterly at
a loss to explain the satisfaction she felt in beholding me once more
near her royal person. Seeing the ring on my finger, which she had done
me the honour of sending me, she pointed to her hair, once so beautiful,
but now, like that of an old woman, not only gray, but deprived of all
its softness, quite stiff and dried up.
"Madame Elizabeth, the King, and the rest of our little circle, lavished
on me the most endearing caresses. The dear Dauphin said to me, 'You
will not go away again, I hope, Princess? Oh, mamma has cried so since
you left us!'
"I had wept enough before, but this dear little angel brought tears into
the eyes of us all."
"When I mentioned to Her Majesty the affectionate sympathy expressed by
the King and Queen of England in her sufferings, and their regret at the
state of public affairs in France, 'It is most noble and praiseworthy in
them to feel thus,' exclaimed Marie Antoinette; 'and the more so
considering the illiberal part imputed to us against those Sovereigns in
the rebellion of their ultramarine subjects, to which, Heaven knows, I
never gave my approbation. Had I done so, how poignant would be my
remorse at the retribution of our own sufferings, and the pity of those I
had so injured! No. I was, perhaps, the only silent individual amongst
millions of infatuated enthusiasts at General La Fayette's return to
Paris, nor did I sanction any of the fetes given to Dr. Franklin, or the
American Ambassadors at the time. I could not conceive it prudent for
the Queen of an absolute monarchy to countenance any of their newfangled
philosophical experiments with my presence. Now, I feel the reward in my
own conscience. I exult in my freedom from a self-reproach, which would
have been altogether insupportable under the kindness of which you
"As soon as I was settled in my apartment, which was on the same floor
with that of the Queen, she condescended to relate to me every particular
of her unfortunate journey. I saw the pain it gave her to retrace the
scenes, and begged her to desist till time should have, in some degree,
assuaged the poignancy of her feelings. 'That,' cried she, embracing me,
I can never be! Never, never will that horrid circumstance of my life
lose its vividness in my recollection. What agony, to have seen those
faithful servants tied before us on the carriage, like common criminals!
All, all may be attributed to the King's goodness of heart, which
produces want of courage, nay, even timidity, in the most trying scenes.
As poor King Charles the First, when he was betrayed in the Isle of
Wight, would have saved himself, and perhaps thousands, had he permitted
the sacrifice of one traitor, so might Louis XVI. have averted calamities
so fearful that I dare not name, though I distinctly foresee them, had he
exerted his authority where he only called up his compassion.'
"'For Heaven's sake,' replied I, 'do not torment yourself by these cruel
"'These are gone by,' continued Her Majesty, and greater still than even
these. How can I describe my grief at what I endured in the Assembly,
from the studied humiliation to which the King and the royal authority
were there reduced in the face of the national representatives! from
seeing the King on his return choked with anguish at the mortifications
to which I was doomed to behold the majesty of a French Sovereign
humbled! These events bespeak clouds, which, like the horrid waterspout
at sea, nothing can dispel but cannon! The dignity of the Crown, the
sovereignty itself, is threatened; and this I shall write this very night
to the Emperor. I see no hope of internal tranquillity without the
powerful aid of foreign force.
[The only difference of any moment which ever existed between the Queen
and the Princesse de Lamballe as to their sentiments on the Revolution
was on this subject. Her Highness wished Marie Antoinette to rely on the
many persons who had offered and promised to serve the cause of the
monarchy with their internal resources, and not depend on the Princes and
foreign armies. This salutary advice she never could enforce on the
Queen's mind, though she had to that effect been importuned by upwards of
two hundred persona, all zealous to show their penitence for former
errors by their present devotedness.
"Whenever," observed Her Highness, "we came to that point, the Queen
(upon seriously reflecting that these persons had been active instruments
in promoting the first changes in the monarchy, for which she never
forgave them from her heart) would hesitate and doubt; and never could I
bring Her Majesty definitely to believe the profferers to be sincere.
Hence, they were trifled with, till one by one she either lost them, or
saw them sacrificed to an attachment, which her own distrust and
indecision rendered fruitless."]
The King has allowed himself to be too much led to attempt to recover his
power through any sort of mediation. Still, the very idea of owing our
liberty to any foreign army distracts me for the consequences.'
"My reinstatement in my apartments at the Pavilion of Flora seemed not
only to give universal satisfaction to every individual of the Royal
Family, but it was hailed with much enthusiasm by many deputies of the
constituent Assembly. I was honoured with the respective visits of all
who were in any degree well disposed to the royal cause.
"One day, when Barnave and others were present with the Queen, 'Now,'
exclaimed one of the deputies, 'now that this good Princess is returned
to her adopted country, the active zeal of Her Highness, coupled with
Your Majesty's powerful influence over the mind of the King for the
welfare of his subjects, will give fresh vigour to the full execution of
"My visitors were earnest in their invitations for me to go to the
Assembly to hear an interesting discussion, which was to be brought
forward upon the King's spontaneous acceptance of the Constitution.
"I went; and amidst the plaudits for the good King's condescension, how
was my heart lacerated to hear Robespierre denounce three of the most
distinguished of the members, who had requested my attendance, as
traitors to their country!
"This was the first and only Assembly discussion I ever attended; and how
dearly did I pay for my curiosity! I was accompanied by my 'cara
Inglesina', who, always on the alert, exclaimed, 'Let me entreat Your
Highness not to remain any longer in this place. You are too deeply
moved to dissemble.'
"I took her judicious advice, and the moment I could leave the Assembly
unperceived, I hastened back to the Queen to beg her, for God's sake, to
be upon her guard; for, from what I had just heard at the Assembly, I
feared the Jacobins had discovered her plans with Barnave, De Lameth,
Duport, and others of the royal party. Her countenance, for some
minutes, seemed to be the only sensitive part of her. It was perpetually
shifting from a high florid colour to the paleness of death. When her
first emotions gave way to nature, she threw herself into my arms, and,
for some time, her feelings were so overcome by the dangers which
threatened these worthy men, that she could only in the bitterness of her
anguish exclaim, 'Oh! this is all on my account!' And I think she was
almost as much alarmed for the safety of these faithful men, as she had
been for that of the King on the 17th of July, when the Jacobins in the
Champ de Mars called out to have the King brought to trial--a day of
which the horrors were never effaced from her memory!
"The King and Princesse Elizabeth fortunately came in at the moment; but
even our united efforts were unavailable. The grief of Her Majesty at
feeling herself the cause of the misfortunes of these faithful adherents,
now devoted victims of their earnestness in foiling the machinations
against the liberty and life of the King and herself, made her nearly
frantic. She too well knew that to be accused was to incur instant
death. That she retained her senses under the convulsion of her feelings
can only be ascribed to that wonderful strength of mind, which triumphed
over every bodily weakness, and still sustains her under every emergency.
"The King and the Princesse Elizabeth, by whom Barnave had been much
esteemed ever since the journey from Varennes, were both inconsolable. I
really believe the Queen entirely owed her instantaneous recovery from
that deadly lethargic state, in which she had been thrown by her grief
for the destined sacrifice, to the exuberant goodness of the King's
heart, who instantly resolved to compromise his own existence, to save
those who had forfeited theirs for him and his family.
"Seeing the emotion of the Queen, 'I will go myself to the Assembly,'
said Louis XVI., 'and declare their innocence.'
"The Queen sprang forward, as if on the wings of an angel, and grasping
the King in her arms, cried, 'Will you hasten their deaths by confirming
the impression of your keeping up an understanding with them? Gracious
Heaven! Oh, that I could recall the acts of attachment they have shown
us, since to these they are now falling victims! I would save them,'
continued Her Majesty, 'with my own blood; but, Sire, it is useless. We
should only expose ourselves to the vindictive spirit of the Jacobins
without aiding the cause of our devoted friends.'
"'Who,' asked she, I was the guilty wretch that accused our unfortunate
"'Robespierre!' echoed Her Majesty. 'Oh, God! then he is numbered with
the dead! This fellow is too fond of blood to be tempted with money. But
you, Sire, must not interfere!'
"Notwithstanding these doubts, however, I undertook, at the King's and
Queen's most earnest desire, to get some one to feel the pulse of
Robespierre, for the salvation of these our only palladium to the
constitutional monarchy. To the first application, though made through
the medium of one of his earliest college intimates, Carrier, the wretch
was utterly deaf and insensible. Of this failure I hastened to apprise
Her Majesty. 'Was any, sum,' asked she, 'named as a compensation for
suspending this trial?'--'None,' replied I. 'I had no commands to that
effect.'--'Then let the attempt be renewed, and back it with the argument
of a cheque for a hundred thousand livres on M. Laborde. He has saved my
life and the King's, and, as far as is in my power, I am determined to
save his. Barnave has exposed his life more than any of our unfortunate
friends, and if we can but succeed in saving him, he will speedily be
enabled to save his colleagues. Should the sum I name be insufficient,
my jewels shall be disposed of to make up a larger one. Fly to your
agent, dear Princess! Lose not a moment to intercede in behalf of these
our only true friends!'
"I did so, and was fortunate enough to gain over to my personal
entreaties one who had the courage to propose the business; and a hundred
and fifty thousand livres procured them a suspension of accusation. All,
however, are still watched with such severity of scrutiny that I tremble,
even now, for the result.
[And with reason; for all, eventually, were sacrificed upon the scaffold.
Carrier was the factotum in all the cool, deliberate, sanguinary
operations of Robespierre; when he saw the cheque, he said to the
Princesse de Lamballe: "Madame, though your personal charms and mental
virtues had completely influenced all the authority I could exercise in
favour of your protege, without this interesting argument I should not
have had courage to have renewed the business with the principal agent of
life and death."]
"It was in the midst of such apprehensions, which struck terror into the
hearts of the King and Queen, that the Tuileries resounded with cries of
multitudes hired to renew those shouts of 'Vive le roi! vive la famille
royale!' which were once spontaneous.
"In one of the moments of our deepest affliction, multitudes were
thronging the gardens and enjoying the celebration of the acceptance of
the Constitution. What a contrast to the feelings of the unhappy inmates
of the palace! We may well say, that many an aching heart rides in a
carriage, while the pedestrian is happy!
"The fetes on this occasion were very brilliant. The King, the Queen,
and the Royal Family were invited to take part in this first national
festival. They did so, by appearing in their carriage through the
streets of Paris, and the Champs Elysees, escorted only by the Parisian
guard, there being no other at the time. The mob was so great that the
royal carriage could only keep pace with the foot-passengers.
"Their Majesties were in general well received. The only exceptions were
a few of the Jacobin members of the Assembly, who, even on this occasion,
sought every means to afflict the hearts, and shock the ears, of Their
Majesties, by causing republican principles to be vociferated at the very
doors of their carriage.
"The good sense of the King and Queen prevented them from taking any
notice of these insults while in public; but no sooner had they returned
to the castle, than the Queen gave way to her grief at the premeditated
humiliation she was continually witnessing to the majesty of the
constitutional monarchy,--an insult less to the King himself than to the
nation, which had acknowledged him their Sovereign.
"When the royal party entered the apartment, they found M. de Montmorin
with me, who had come to talk over these matters, secure that at such a
moment we should not be surprised.
"On hearing the Queen's observation, M. de Montmorin made no secret of
the necessity there was of Their Majesties dissembling their feelings;
the avowal of which, he said, would only tend to forward the triumph of
Jacobinism, 'which,' added he, 'I am sorry to see predominates in the
Assembly, and keeps in subordination all the public and private clubs.'
"'What!' exclaimed the Princesse Elizabeth, can that be possible, after
the King has accepted the Constitution?'
"'Yes,' said the Queen; these people, my dear Elizabeth, wish for a
Constitution which sanctions the overthrow of him by whom it has been
"'In this,' observed M. de Montmorin, 'as on some other points, I
perfectly agree with Your Majesty and the King, notwithstanding I have
been opposed by the whole Council and many other honest constituent
members, as well as the Cabinet of Vienna. And it is still, as it has
ever been, my firm opinion, that the King ought, previous to the
acceptance of the Constitution, to have been allowed, for the security of
its future organization, to have examined it maturely; which, not having
been the case, I foresee the dangerous situation in which His Majesty
stands, and I foresee, too, the non-promulgation of this charter.
Malouet, who is an honest man, is of my opinion. Duport, De Lameth,
Barnave, and even La Fayette are intimidated at the prevailing spirit of
the Jacobins. They were all with the best intentions for Your Majesty's
present safety, for the acceptance in toto, but without reflecting on the
consequences which must follow should the nation be deceived. But I, who
am, and ever shall be, attached to royalty, regret the step, though I am
clear in my impression as to the only course which ought to succeed it.
The throne can now only be made secure by the most unequivocal frankness
of proceeding on the part of the Crown. It is not enough to have
conceded, it is necessary also to show that the concession has some more
solid origin than mere expediency. It should be made with a good grace.
Every motive of prudence, as well as of necessity, requires that the
monarch himself, and all those most interested for his safety, should,
neither in looks, manners, or conversation, seem as if they felt a regret
for what has been lost, but rather appear satisfied with what has been
"'In that case,' said the Queen, 'we should lose all the support of the
"'Every royalist, Madame,' replied he, 'who, at this critical crisis,
does not avow the sentiments of a constitutionalist, is a nail in the
King's untimely coffin.'
"'Gracious God !' cried the Queen; 'that would destroy the only hope
which still flatters our drooping existence. Symptoms of moderation, or
any conciliatory measures we might be inclined to show, of our free will,
to the constitutionalists, would be immediately considered as a desertion
of our supporters, and treachery to ourselves, by the royalists.'
"'It would be placed entirely out of my power, Madame,' replied M. de
Montmorin, 'to make my attachment to the persons of Your Majesties
available for the maintenance of your rights, did I permit the factious,
overbearing party which prevails to see into my real zeal for the
restoration of the royal authority, so necessary for their own future
honour, security, and happiness. Could they see this, I should be
accused as a national traitor, or even worse, and sent out of the world
by a sudden death of ignominy, merely to glut their hatred of monarchy;
and it is therefore I dissemble.'
"'I perfectly agree with you,' answered the Queen. That cruel moment
when I witnessed the humiliating state to which royalty had been reduced
by the constituents, when they placed the President of their Assembly
upon a level with the King; gave a plebeian, exercising his functions pro
tempore, prerogatives in the face of the nation to trample down
hereditary monarchy and legislative authority--that cruel moment
discovered the fatal truth. In the anguish of my heart, I told His
Majesty that he had outlived his kingly authority: Here she burst into
tears, hiding her face in her handkerchief.
"With the mildness of a saint, the angelic Princesse Elizabeth exclaimed,
turning to the King, 'Say something to the Queen, to calm her anguish!'
"'It will be of no avail,' said the King; 'her grief adds to my
affliction. I have been the innocent cause of her participating in this
total ruin, and as it is only her fortitude which has hitherto supported
me, with the same philosophical and religious resignation we must await
what fate destines!'
"'Yes,' observed M. de Montmorin; 'but Providence has also given us the
rational faculty of opposing imminent danger, and by activity and
exertion obviating its consequences.'
"'In what manner, sir?' cried the Queen; 'tell me how this is to be
effected, and, with the King's sanction, I am ready to do anything to
avert the storm, which so loudly threatens the august head of the French
"'Vienna, Madame,' replied he; 'Vienna! Your Majesty's presence at
Vienna would do more for the King's safety, and the nation's future
tranquillity, than the most powerful army.'
"'We have long since suggested,' said the Princesse Elizabeth, 'that Her
Majesty should fly from France and take refuge----'
"'Pardon me, Princess,' interrupted M. de Montmorin, 'it is not for
refuge solely I would have Her Majesty go thither. It is to give
efficacy to the love she bears the King and his family, in being there
the powerful advocate to check the fallacious march of a foreign army to
invade us for the subjection of the French nation. All these external
attempts will prove abortive, and only tend to exasperate the French to
crime and madness. Here I coincide with my coadjutors, Barnave, Duport,
De Lameth, etc. The principle on which the re-establishment of the order
and tranquillity of France depends, can be effected only by the
non-interference of foreign powers. Let them leave the rational
resources of our own internal force to re-establish our real interests,
which every honest Frenchman will strive to secure, if not thwarted by
the threats and menaces of those who have no right to interfere.
Besides, Madame, they are too far from us to afford immediate relief from
the present dangers internally surrounding us. These are the points of
fearful import. It is not the threats and menaces of a foreign army
which can subdue a nation's internal factions. These only rouse them to
prolong disorders. National commotions can be quelled only by national
spirit, whose fury, once exhausted on those who have aroused it, leave it
free to look within, and work a reform upon itself.'
"M. de Montmorin, after many other prudent exhortations and remarks, and
some advice with regard to the King and Queen's household, took his.
leave. He was no sooner gone than it was decided by the King that Marie
Antoinette, accompanied by myself and some other ladies, and the
gentlemen of the bedchamber, couriers, etc., should set out forthwith for
[The Princease de Lamballe sent me directions that very evening, some
time after midnight, to be at our place of rendezvous early in the
morning. I was overjoyed at the style of the note. It was the least
mysterious I had ever received from Her Highness. I inferred that some
fortunate event had occurred, with which, knowing how deeply I was
interested in the fate of her on whom my own so much depended, she was,
eager to make me acquainted.
But what was my surprise, on entering the church fixed on for the
meeting, to see the Queen's unknown confessor beckoning me to come to
him. I approached. He bade me wait till after Mass, when he had
something to communicate from the Princess.
This confessor officiated in the place of the one whom Mirabeau had
seduced to take the constitutional oath. The Queen and Princess
confessed to him in the private apartment of Her Highness on the ground
floor; though it was never known where, or to whom they confessed, after
the treachery of the royal confessor. This faithful and worthy successor
was only known as "the known." I never heard who he was, or what was his
The Mass being over, I followed him into the sacristy. He told me that
the Princess, by Her Majesty's command, wished me to set off immediately
for Strasburg, and there await the arrival of Her Highness, to be in
readiness to follow her and Her Majesty for the copying of the cipher, as
they were going to Vienna.
When everything, however, had been settled for their departure, which it
was agreed was to take place from the house of Count Fersen, the
resolution was suddenly changed; but I was desired to hold myself in
readiness for another journey.]
"To say why this purpose was abandoned is unnecessary. The same
fatality, which renders every project unattainable, threw insuperable
impediments, in the way of this."
"The news of the death of the Emperor Leopold, in the midst of the other
distresses of Her Majesty, afflicted her very deeply; the more so because
she had every reason to think he fell a victim to the active part he took
in her favour. Externally, this monarch certainly demonstrated no very
great inclination to become a member of the coalition of Pilnitz. He
judged, very justly, that his brother Joseph had not only defeated his
own purposes by too openly and violently asserting the cause of their
unfortunate sister, but had destroyed himself, and, therefore, selected
what he deemed the safer and surer course of secret support. But all his
caution proved abortive. The Assembly knew his manoeuvres as well as he
himself did. He died an untimely death; and the Queen was assured, from
undoubted authority, that both Joseph and Leopold were poisoned in their
"During my short absence in England, the King's household had undergone a
complete change. When the emigration first commenced, a revolution in
the officers of the Court took place, but it was of a nature different
from this last; and, by destroying itself, left the field open to those
who now made the palace so intolerable. The first change to which I
refer arose as follows:
"The greater part of the high offices being vacated by the secession of
the most distinguished nobility, many places fell to persons who had all
their lives occupied very subordinate situations. These, to retain their
offices, were indiscreet enough publicly to declare their dissent from
all the measures of the Assembly; an absurdity, which, at the
commencement, was encouraged by the Court, till the extreme danger of
encouraging it was discovered too late; and when once the error had been
tolerated, and rewarded, it was found impossible to check it, and stop
these fatal tongues. The Queen, who disliked the character of
capriciousness, for a long time allowed the injury to go on, by
continuing about her those who inflicted it. The error, which arose from
delicacy, was imputed to a very different and less honourable feeling,
till the clamour became so great, that she was obliged to yield to it,
and dismiss those who had acted with so much indiscretion.
"The King and Queen did not dare now to express themselves on the subject
of the substitutes who were to succeed. Consequently they became
surrounded by persons placed by the Assembly as spies. The most
conspicuous situations were filled by the meanest persons--not, as in the
former case, by such as had risen, though by accident, still regularly to
their places--but by myrmidons of the prevailing power, to whom Their
Majesties were compelled to submit, because their rulers willed it. All
orders of nobility were abolished. All the Court ladies, not attached to
the King and Queen personally, abandoned the Court. No one would be seen
at the Queen's card-parties, once so crowded, and so much sought after.
We were entirely reduced to the family circle. The King, when weary of
playing with the Princesse Elizabeth and the Queen, would retire to his
apartments without uttering a word, not from sullenness, but overcome by
"The Queen was occupied continually by the extensive correspondence she
had to carry on with the foreign Sovereigns, the Princes, and the
different parties. Her Majesty once gave me nearly thirty letters she
had written in the course of two days, which were forwarded by my cara
Inglesina--cara indeed! for she was of the greatest service.
"Her Majesty slept very little. But her courage never slackened; and
neither her health, nor her general amiableness, was in the least
affected. Though few persons could be more sensible than herself to
poignant mortification at seeing her former splendour hourly decrease,
yet she never once complained. She was, in this respect, a real stoic.
"The palace was now become, what it still remains, like a police office.
It was filled with spies and runners. Every member of the Assembly, by
some means or other, had his respective emissary. All the antechambers
were peopled by inveterate Jacobins, by those whose greatest pleasure was
to insult the ears and minds of all whom they considered above themselves
in birth, or rank, or virtue. So completely were the decencies of life
abolished, that common respect was withheld even from the Royal Family.
"I was determined to persevere in my usual line of conduct, of which the
King and Queen very much approved. Without setting up for a person of
importance, I saw all who wished for public or private audiences of Their
Majesties. I carried on no intrigues, and only discharged the humble
duties of my situation to the best of my ability for the general good,
and to secure, as far as possible, the comfort of Their Majesties, who
really were to be pitied, utterly friendless and forsaken as they were.
"M. Laporte, the head of the King's private police, came to me one day in
great consternation. He had discovered that schemes were on foot to
poison all the Royal Family, and that, in a private committee of the
Assembly, considerable pensions had been offered for the perpetration of
the crime. Its facility was increased, as far as regarded the Queen, by
the habit to which Her Majesty had accustomed herself of always keeping
powdered sugar at hand, which, without referring to her attendants, she
would herself mix with water and drink as a beverage whenever she was
"I entreated M. Laporte not to disclose the conspiracy to the Queen till
I had myself had an opportunity of apprising her of his praiseworthy
zeal. He agreed, on condition that precautions should be immediately
adopted with respect to the persons who attended the kitchen. This, I
assured him, should be done on the instant.
"At the period I mention, all sorts of etiquette had been abolished. The
custom which prevented my appearing before the Queen, except at stated
hours, had long since been discontinued; and, as all the other
individuals who came before or after the hours of service were eyed with
distrust, and I remained the only one whose access to Their Majesties was
free and unsuspected, though it was very early when M. Laporte called, I
thought it my duty to hasten immediately to my royal mistress.
"I found her in bed. 'Has Your Majesty breakfasted?' said I.
"'No,' replied she; 'will you breakfast with me?'
"'Most certainly,' said I, 'if Your Majesty will insure me against being
"At the word poison Her Majesty started up and looked at me very
earnestly, and with a considerable degree of alarm.
"'I am only joking,' continued I; 'I will breakfast with Your Majesty if
you will give me tea.'
"Tea was presently brought. 'In this,' said I, 'there is no danger.'
"'What do you mean?' asked Her Majesty.