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

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horrid state into which he has thrown us? Save me," continued Her
Majesty, "oh, save me from contaminating my feeble sight, which is almost
exhausted, nearly parched up for the loss of my dear husband, by looking
on him!--Oh, death! come, come and release me from such a sight!"

"Luckily," observed the guard to me, "it was the hour of the general jail
dinner, and we were alone; otherwise, I should infallibly have been
discovered, as my tears fell faster than those of the Queen, for really
hers seemed to be nearly exhausted: However," pursued he, "that D'ORLEANS
did see the Queen, and that the Queen saw him, I am very sure. From what
passed between them in the month of July, 1793, she was hurried off from
the Temple to the common prison, to take her trial." This circumstance
combined, with other motives, to make the Assembly hasten the Duke's
trial soon after, who had been sent with his young son to Marseilles,
there being no doubt that he wished to rescue the Queen, so as to have
her in his own power.

On the 16th of October, Her Majesty was beheaded. Her death was
consistent with her life. She met her fate like a Christian, but still
like a Queen.

Perhaps, had Marie Antoinette been uncontrolled in the exercise of her
judgment, she would have shown a spirit in emergency better adapted to
wrestle with the times than had been discovered by His Majesty. Certain
it is she was generally esteemed the most proper to be consulted of the
two. From the imperfect idea which many of the persons in office
entertained of the King's capacity, few of them ever made any
communication of importance but to the Queen. Her Majesty never kept a
single circumstance from her husband's knowledge, and scarcely decided on
the smallest trifle without his consent; but so thorough was his
confidence in the correctness of her judgment that he seldom, if ever,
opposed her decisions. The Princesse de Lamballe used to say, "Though
Marie Antoinette is not a woman of great or uncommon talents, yet her
long practical knowledge gave her an insight into matters of moment which
she turned to advantage with so much coolness and address amid
difficulties, that I am convinced she only wanted free scope to have
shone in the history of Princes as a great Queen. Her natural tendencies
were perfectly domestic. Had she been kept in countenance by the manners
of the times, or favoured earlier by circumstances, she would have sought
her only pleasures in the family circle, and, far from Court intrigue,
have become the model of her sex and age."

It is by no means to be wondered at that, in her peculiar situation,
surrounded by a thoughtless and dissipated Court, long denied the natural
ties so necessary to such a heart, in the heyday of youth and beauty, and
possessing an animated and lively spirit, she should have given way in
the earlier part of her career to gaiety, and been pleased with a round
of amusement. The sincere friendship which she afterwards formed for the
Duchesse de Polignac encouraged this predilection. The plot to destroy
her had already been formed, and her enemies were too sharp-sighted and
adroit not to profit and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by
this weakness. The miscreant had murdered her character long, long
before they assailed her person.

The charge against her of extravagance has been already refuted. Her
private palace was furnished from the State lumber rooms, and what was
purchased, paid for out of her savings. As for her favourites, she never
had but two, and these were no supernumerary expense or encumbrance to
the State.

Perhaps it would have been better had she been more thoroughly directed
by the Princesse de Lamballe. She was perfectly conscious of her good
qualities, but De Polignac dazzled and humoured her love of amusement and
display of splendour. Though this favourite was the image of her royal
mistress in her amiable characteristics, the resemblance unfortunately
extended to her weaknesses. This was not the case with the Princesse de
Lamballe; she possessed steadiness, and was governed by the cool
foresight of her father-in-law, the Duc de Penthievre, which both the
other friends wanted.

The unshaken attachment of the Princesse de Lamballe to the Queen,
notwithstanding the slight at which she at one time had reason to feel
piqued, is one of the strongest evidences against the slanderers of Her
Majesty. The moral conduct of the Princess has never been called in
question. Amid the millions of infamous falsehoods invented to vilify
and degrade every other individual connected with the Court, no
imputation, from the moment of her arrival in France, up to the fatal one
of her massacre, ever tarnished her character. To her opinion, then, the
most prejudiced might look with confidence. Certainly no one had a
greater opportunity of knowing the real character of Marie Antoinette.
She was an eye-witness to her conduct during the most brilliant and
luxurious portion of her reign; she saw her from the meridian of her
magnificence down to her dejection to the depths of unparalleled misery.
If the unfortunate Queen had ever been guilty of the slightest of those
glaring vices of which she was so generally accused, the Princess must
have been aware of them; and it was not in her nature to have remained
the friend and advocate, even unto death, of one capable of depravity.
Yet not a breath of discord ever arose between them on that score. Virtue
and vice can never harmonize; and even had policy kept Her Highness from
avowing a change of sentiments, it never could have continued her
enthusiasm, which was augmented, and not diminished, by the fall of her
royal friend. An attachment which holds through every vicissitude must
be deeply rooted from conviction of the integrity of its object.

The friendship that subsisted between this illustrious pair is an
everlasting monument that honours their sex. The Queen used to say of
her, that she was the only woman she had ever known without gall. "Like
the blessed land of Ireland," observed Her Majesty, "exempt from the
reptiles elsewhere so dangerous to mankind, so was she freed by
Providence from the venom by which the finest form in others is
empoisoned. No envy, no ambition, no desire, but to contribute to the
welfare and happiness of her fellow creatures--and yet, with all these
estimable virtues, these angelic qualities, she is doomed, from her
virtuous attachment to our persons, to sink under the weight of that
affliction, which, sooner or later, must bury us all in one common
ruin--a ruin which is threatening hourly."

These presentiments of the awful result of impending storms were mutual.
From frequent conversations with the Princesse de Lamballe, from the
evidence of her letters and her private papers, and from many remarks
which have been repeated to me personally by Her Highness, and from
persons in her confidence, there is abundant evidence of the forebodings
she constantly had of her own and the Queen's untimely end.

[A very remarkable circumstance was related to me when I was at Vienna,
after this horrid murder. The Princess of Lobkowitz, sister to the
Princesse de Lamballe, received a box, with an anonymous letter, telling
her to conceal the box carefully till further notice. After the riots
had subsided a little in France, she was apprised that the box contained
all, or the greater part, of the jewels belonging to the Princess, and
had been taken from the Tuileries on the 10th of August.

It is supposed that the jewels had been packed by the Princess in
anticipation of her doom, and forwarded to her sister through her agency
or desire.]

There was no friend of the Queen to whom the King showed any deference,
or rather anything like the deference he paid to the Princesse de
Lamballe. When the Duchesse de Polignac, the Comtesse Diane de Polignac,
the Comte d'Artois, the Duchesse de Guiche, her husband, the present Duc
de Grammont, the Prince of Hesse-Darmstadt, etc., fled from Paris, he and
the Queen, as if they had foreseen the awful catastrophe which was to
destroy her so horribly, entreated her to leave the Court, and take
refuge in Italy. So also did her father-in-law, the Duc de Penthievre;
but all in vain. She saw her friend deprived of De Polignac, and all
those near and dear to her heart, and became deaf to every solicitation.
Could such constancy, which looked death in its worst form in the face
unshrinking, have existed without great and estimable qualities in its

The brother-in-law of the Princesse de Lamballe, the Duc d'Orleans, was
her declared enemy merely from her attachment to the Queen. These three
great victims have been persecuted to the tomb, which had no sooner
closed over the last than the hand of Heaven fell upon their destroyer.
That Louis XVI. was not the friend of this member of his family can
excite no surprise, but must rather challenge admiration. He had been
seduced by his artful and designing regicide companions to expend
millions to undermine the throne, and shake it to pieces under the feet
of his relative, his Sovereign, the friend of his earliest youth, who was
aware of the treason, and who held the thunderbolt, but would not crush
him. But they have been foiled in their hope of building a throne for
him upon the ruin they had made, and placed an age where they flattered
him he would find a diadem.

The Prince de Conti told me at Barcelona that the Duchesse d'Orleans had
assured him that, even had the Duc d'Orleans survived, he never could
have attained, his object. The immense sums he had lavished upon the
horde of his revolutionary satellites had, previous to his death, thrown
him into embarrassment. The avarice of his party increased as his
resources diminished. The evil, as evil generally does, would have
wrought its own punishment in either way. He must have lived suspected
and miserable, had he not died. But his reckless character did not
desert him at the scaffold. It is said that before he arrived at the
Place de Greve he ate a very rich ragout, and drank a bottle of
champagne, and left the world as he had gone through it.

The supernumerary, the uncalled-for martyr, the last of the four devoted
royal sufferers, was beheaded the following spring. For this murder
there could not have been the shadow of a pretext. The virtues of this
victim were sufficient to redeem the name of Elizabeth

[The eighteen years' imprisonment and final murder of Mary, Queen of
Scots, by Elizabeth of England, is enough to stigmatize her forever,
independently of the many other acts of tyranny which stain her memory.
The dethronement by Elizabeth of Russia of the innocent Prince Ivan, her
near relation, while yet in the cradle, gives the Northern Empress a
claim to a similar character to the British Queen.]

from the stain with which the two of England and Russia, who had already
borne it, had clouded its immortality. She had never, in any way,
interfered in political events. Malice itself had never whispered a
circumstance to her dispraise. After this wanton assassination, it is
scarcely to be expected that the innocent and candid looks and streaming
azure eyes of that angelic infant, the Dauphin, though raised in humble
supplication to his brutal assassins, with an eloquence which would have
disarmed the savage tiger, could have won wretches so much more pitiless
than the most ferocious beasts of the wilderness, or saved him from their
slow but sure poison, whose breath was worse than the upas tree to all
who came within its influence.

The Duchesse d'Angouleme, the only survivor of these wretched captives,
is a living proof of the baleful influence of that contaminated prison,
the infectious tomb of the royal martyrs. That once lovely countenance,
which, with the goodness and amiableness of her royal father, whose
mildness hung on her lips like the milk and honey of human kindness,
blended the dignity, grace, elegance, and innocent vivacity, which were
the acknowledged characteristics of her beautiful mother, lost for some
time all traces of its original attractions. The lines of deep-seated
sorrow are not easily obliterated. If the sanguinary republic had not
wished to obtain by exchange the Generals La Fayette, Bournonville,
Lameth, etc., whom Dumourier had treacherously consigned into the hands
of Austria, there is little: doubt but that, from the prison in which she
was so long doomed to vegetate only to make life a burthen, she would
have been sent to share the fate of her murdered family.

How can the Parisians complain that they found her Royal Highness, on her
return to France, by no means what they required in a Princess? Can it
be wondered at that her marked grief should be visible when amidst the
murderers of her family? It should rather be a wonder that she can at
all bear the scenes in which she moves, and not abhor the very name of
Paris, when every step must remind her of some out rage to herself, or
those most dear to her, or of some beloved relative or friend destroyed!
Her return can only be accounted for by the spell of that all-powerful
'amor patriae', which sometimes prevails over every other influence.

Before I dismiss this subject, it may not be uninteresting to my readers
to receive some desultory anecdotes that I have heard concerning one or
two of the leading monsters, by whom the horrors upon which I have
expatiated were occasioned.

David, the famous painter, was a member of the sanguinary tribunal which
condemned the King. On this account he has been banished from France
since the restoration.

If any one deserved this severity, it was David. It was at the expense
of the Court of Louis XVI. that this ungrateful being was sent to Rome,
to perfect himself in his sublime art. His studies finished, he was
pensioned from the same patrons, and upheld as an artist by the special
protection of every member of the Royal Family.

And yet this man, if he may be dignified by the name, had the baseness to
say in the hearing of the unfortunate Louis XVI., when on trial, "Well!
when are we to have his head dressed, a la guillotine."

At another time, being deputed to visit the Temple, as one of the
committee of public safety, as he held out his snuff-box before the
Princesse Elizabeth, she, conceiving he meant to offer it, took a pinch.
The monster, observing what she had done, darting a look of contempt at
her, instantly threw away the snuff, and dashed the box to pieces on the

Robespierre had a confidential physician, who attended him almost to the
period when he ascended the scaffold, and who was very often obliged,
'malgre-lui', to dine tete-a-tete with this monopolizer of human flesh
and blood. One day he happened to be with him, after a very
extraordinary number had been executed, and amongst the rest, some of the
physician's most intimate acquaintances.

The unwilling guest was naturally very downcast, and ill at ease, and
could not dissemble his anguish. He tried to stammer out excuses and get
away from the table.

Robespierre, perceiving his distress, interrogated him as to the cause.

The physician, putting his hand to his head, discovered his reluctance to

Robespierre took him by the hand, assured him he had nothing to fear, and
added, "Come, doctor, you, as a professional man, must be well informed
as to the sentiments of the major part of the Parisians respecting me. I
entreat you, my dear friend, frankly to avow their opinion. It may
perhaps serve me for the future, as a guide for governing them."

The physician answered, "I can no longer resist the impulse of nature. I
know I shall thereby oppose myself to your power, but I must tell you,
you are generally abhorred,--considered the Attila, the Sylla, of the
age,--the two-footed plague, that, walks about to fill peaceful abodes
with miseries and family mournings. The myriads you are daily sending to
the slaughter at the Place de Greve, who have, committed no crime, the
carts of a certain description, you have ordered daily to bear a stated
number to be sacrificed, directing they should be taken from the prisons,
and, if enough are not in the prisons, seized, indiscriminately in the
streets, that no place in the deadly vehicle may be left unoccupied, and
all this without a trial, without even an accusation, and without any
sanction but your own mandate--these things call the public curse upon
you, which is not the less bitter for not being audible."

"Ah!" said Robespierre, laughing. "This puts me in mind of a story told
of the cruelty and tyranny, of Pope Sixtus the Fifth, who, having one
night, after he had enjoyed himself at a Bacchanalian supper, when heated
with wine, by way of a 'bonne bouche', ordered the first man that should
come through the gate of the 'Strada del popolo' at Rome to be
immediately hanged. Every person at this drunken conclave--nay, all
Rome--considered the Pope a tyrant, the most cruel of tyrants, till it
was made known and proved, after his death, that the wretch so executed
had murdered his father and mother ten years previously. I know whom I
send to the Place de Greve. All who go there are guilty, though they may
not seem so. Go on, what else have you heard?"

"Why, that you have so terrified all descriptions of persons, that they
fear even your very breath, and look upon you as worse than the plague;
and I should not be surprised, if you persist in this course of conduct,
if something serious to yourself should be the consequence, and that ere

Not the least extraordinary part of the story is that this dialogue
between the devil and the doctor took place but a very, few hours
previous to Robespierre's being denounced by Tallien and Carriere to the
national convention, as a conspirator against the republican cause. In
defending himself from being arrested by the guard, he attempted to shoot
himself, but the ball missed, broke the monster's jaw-bone only, and
nearly impeded his speaking.

Singularly enough, it was this physician who was sent for to assist and
dress his wounds. Robespierre replied to the doctor's observations,
laughing, and in the following language:

"Oh, poor devils! they do not know their own interest. But my plan of
exterminating the evil will soon teach them. This is the only thing for
the good of the nation; for, before you can reform a thousand Frenchmen,
you must first lop off half a million of these vagabonds, and, if God
spare my life, in a few months there will be so many the less to breed
internal commotions, and disturb the general peace of Europe.

[When Bonaparte was contriving the Consulship for life, and, in the Irish
way, forced the Italian Republic to volunteer an offer of the Consulship
of Italy, by a deputation to him at Paris, I happened to be there. Many
Italians, besides the deputies, went on the occasion, and, among them, we
had the good fortune to meet the Abbe Fortis, the celebrated naturalist,
a gentleman of first-rate abilities, who had travelled three-fourths of
the globe in mineralogical research. The Abbe chanced one day to be in
company with my husband, who was an old acquaintance of his, where many
of the chopfallen deputies, like themselves, true lovers of their
country, could not help declaring their indignation at its degraded
state, and reprobating Bonaparte for rendering it so ridiculous in the
face of Europe and the world. The Abbe Fords, with the voice of a
Stentor, and spreading his gigantic form, which exceeded six feet in
height, exclaimed: "This would not have been the case had that just and
wise man Robespierre lived but a little longer."

Every one present was struck with horror at the observation. Noticing the
effect of his words, the Abbe resumed:

"I knew well I should frighten you in showing any partiality for that
bloody monopoliser of human heads. But you do not know the perfidy of
the French nation so well as I do. I have lived among them many years.
France is the sink of human deception. A Frenchman will deceive his
father, wife, and child; for deception is his element. Robespierre knew
this, and acted upon it, as you shall hear."

The Abbe then related to us the story I have detailed above, verbatim, as
he had it from the son of Esculapius, who himself confirmed it afterwards
in a conversation with the Abbe in our presence.

Having completed his anecdote, "Well," said the Abbe, "was I not right in
my opinion of this great philosopher and foreseer of evils, when I
observed that had he but lived a few months longer, there would have been
so many less in the world to disturb its tranquillity?"]

The same physician observed that from the immense number of executions
during the sanguinary reign of that monster, the Place de Greve became so
complete a swamp of human blood that it would scarcely hold the
scaffolding of the instrument of death, which, in consequence, was
obliged to be continually moved from one side of the square to the other.
Many of the soldiers and officers, who were obliged to attend these
horrible executions, had constantly their half-boots and stockings filled
with the blood of the poor sufferers; and as, whenever there was any
national festival to be given, it generally followed one of the most
sanguinary of these massacres, the public places, the theatres
especially, all bore the tracks of blood throughout the saloons and

The infamous Carrier, who was the execrable agent of his still more
execrable employer, Robespierre, was left afterwards to join Tallien in a
conspiracy against him, merely to save himself; but did not long survive
his atrocious crimes or his perfidy.

It is impossible to calculate the vast number of private assassinations
committed in the dead of the night, by order of this cannibal, on persons
of every rank and description.

My task is now ended. Nothing remains for me but the reflections which
these sad and shocking remembrances cannot fail to awaken in all minds,
and especially in mine. Is it not astonishing that, in an age so
refined, so free from the enormous and flagitious crimes which were the
common stains of barbarous centuries, and at an epoch peculiarly
enlightened by liberal views, the French nation, by all deemed the most
polished since the Christian era, should have given an example of such
wanton, brutal, and coarse depravity to the world, under pretences
altogether chimerical, and, after unprecedented bloodshed and horror,
ended at the point where it began!

The organized system of plunder and anarchy, exercised under different
forms more or less sanguinary, produced no permanent result beyond an
incontestible proof that the versatility of the French nation, and its
puny suppleness of character, utterly incapacitate it for that energetic
enterprise without which there can be no hope of permanent emancipation
from national slavery. It is my unalterable conviction that the French
will never know how to enjoy an independent and free Constitution.

The tree of liberty unavoidably in all nations has been sprinkled with
human blood; but, when bathed by innocent victims, like the foul weed,
though it spring up, it rots in its infancy, and becomes loathsome and
infectious. Such has been the case in France; and the result justifies
the Italian satire:

"Un albero senza fruta
Baretta senza testa
Governo che non resta."


A liar ought to have a good memory
Air of science calculated to deceive the vulgar
And scarcely a woman; for your answers are very short
Bad habit of talking very indiscreetly before others
Beaumarchais sent arms to the Americans
Because he is fat, he is thought dull and heavy
Can make a Duchess a beggar, but cannot make a beggar a Duchess
Canvassing for a majority to set up D'Orleans
Clergy enjoyed one-third the national revenues
Clouds--you may see what you please in them
Danger of confiding the administration to noblemen
Dared to say to me, so he writes
Dead always in fault, and cannot be put out of sight too soon
Declaring the Duke of Orleans the constitutional King
Do not repulse him in his fond moments
Educate his children as quietists in matters of religion
Embonpoint of the French Princesses
Fatal error of conscious rectitude
Feel themselves injured by the favour shown to others
Few individuals except Princesses do with parade and publicity
Foolishly occupying themselves with petty matters
Frailty in the ambitious, through which the artful can act
French people do not do things by halves
Fresh proof of the intrigues of the Jesuits
He who quits the field loses it
Honesty is to be trusted before genius
How difficult it is to do good
I dared not touch that string
Infinite astonishment at his sharing the common destiny
It is an ill wind that blows no one any good
Judge of men by the company they keep
Laughed at qualities she could not comprehend
Les culottes--what do you call them?' 'Small clothes'
Listeners never hear any good of themselves
Madame made the Treaty of Sienna
Many an aching heart rides in a carriage
Mind well stored against human casualties
Money the universal lever, and you are in want of it
More dangerous to attack the habits of men than their religion
My little English protegee
No phrase becomes a proverb until after a century's experience
Offering you the spectacle of my miseries
Only retire to make room for another race
Over-caution may produce evils almost equal to carelessness
Panegyric of the great Edmund Burke upon Marie Antoinette
Pension is granted on condition that his poems are never printed
People in independence are only the puppets of demagogues
Pleasure of making a great noise at little expense
Policy, in sovereigns, is paramount to every other
Quiet work of ruin by whispers and detraction
Regardlessness of appearances
Revolution not as the Americans, founded on grievances
Ridicule, than which no weapon is more false or deadly
Salique Laws
Sending astronomers to Mexico and Peru, to measure the earth
Sentiment is more prompt, and inspires me with fear
She always says the right thing in the right place
She drives quick and will certainly be overturned on the road
Suppression of all superfluous religious institutions
Sworn that she had thought of nothing but you all her life
Thank Heaven, I am out of harness
The King remained as if paralysed and stupefied
These expounders--or confounders--of codes
To be accused was to incur instant death
To despise money, is to despise happiness, liberty...
Traducing virtues the slanderers never possessed
Underrated what she could not imitate
We look upon you as a cat, or a dog, and go on talking
We say "inexpressibles"
When the only security of a King rests upon his troops
Where the knout is the logician
Who confound logic with their wishes
Wish art to eclipse nature
You tell me bad news: having packed up, I had rather go

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