and of grief filled my eyes, and the depth of our poverty exasperated my soul against the injustice of fate. All at once the whispering and talking ceased,—the king and the queen had entered the gallery. The king advanced to the middle of the hall, the grand almoner called the names, and the favored ones approached the king, to receive from him the fulfilment of their wishes, or at least keep their hope alive. Near him stood the young queen, and while she was converging with some gentlemen of the court, her beautiful eyes glanced over to us, and lingered upon the noble but sad form of my father. I had noticed that on previous days, and every time it seemed to me as if a ray from the sun had warmed my poor trembling heart—as if new blossoms of hope were putting forth in my soul. To-day this sensation, when the queen looked at us, was more intense than before. My father looked at the king and whispered softly, 'I see him to-day for the last time!' But I saw only the queen, and while I pressed the cold, moist hand of my father to my lips, I whispered, 'Courage, dear father, courage! The queen has seen us.' She stopped short in her conversation with the gentleman and advanced through the hall with a quick, light step directly to us; her large gray- blue eyes beamed with kindness, a heavenly smile played around her rosy lips, her cheeks were flushed with feeling; she was simply dressed, and yet there floated around her an atmosphere of grace and nobleness. 'My dear chevalier,' said she, and her voice rang like the sweetest music, 'my dear chevalier, have you given a petition to the king?' 'Yes, madame,' answered my father trembling, 'fourteen days ago I presented a petition to the king.' 'And have you received no answer yet?' she asked quickly. 'I see you every day here with the lad there, and conclude you are still hoping for an answer.' 'So it is, madame,' answered my father, 'I expect an answer, that is I expect a decision involving my life or death.' 'Poor man!' said the queen, with a tone of deep sympathy. 'Fourteen days of such waiting must be dreadful! I pity you sincerely. Have you no one to present your claims?' 'Madame,' answered my father, 'I have no one else to present my claims than this empty sleeve which lacks a right arm—no other protection than the justice of my cause.' 'Poor man!' sighed the queen, 'you must know the world very little if you believe that this is enough. But, if you allow me, I will undertake your protection, and be your intercessor with the king. Tell me your name and address.' My father gave them, the queen listened attentively and smiled in friendly fashion. 'Be here to-morrow at this hour—I myself will bring you the king's answer.' We left the palace with new courage, with new hope. We felt no longer that we were tired and hungry, and heeded not the complaints of our host, who declared that he had no more patience, and that he would no longer give us credit for the miserable chamber which we had. His scolding and threatening troubled us that day no more. We begged him to have patience with us till to-morrow. We told him our hopes for the future, and we rejoiced in our own cheerful expectations. At length the next day arrived, the hour of the audience came, and we repaired to the great gallery. My heart beat so violently that I could feel it upon my lips, and my father's face was lighted up with a glow of hope; his eye had its old fire, his whole being was filled with new life, his carriage erect as in our happy days. At last the doors opened and the royal couple entered. 'Pray for me, my son,' my father whispered—'pray for me that my hopes be not disappointed, else I shall fall dead to the earth.' But I could not pray, I could not think. I could only gaze at the beautiful young queen, who seemed to my eyes as if beaming in a golden cloud surrounded by all the stars of heaven. The eyes of the queen darted inquiringly through the hall; at last she caught mine and smiled. Oh that smile! it shot like a ray of sunlight through my soul, it filled my whole being with rapture. I sank upon my knee, folded my hands, and now I could think, could pray: 'A blessing upon the queen! she comes to save my dear father's life, for she frees us from our sufferings.' The queen approached, so beautiful, so lovely, with such a beaming eye. She held a sealed paper in her hand and gave it to my father with a gentle inclination of her head. 'Here, sir,' she said, 'the king is happy to be able to reward, in the name of France, one of his best officers. The king grants you a yearly pension of three hundred louis-d'or, and I wish for you and your son that you may live yet many years to enjoy happiness and health. Go at once with this paper to the treasury, and you will receive the first quarterly payment.' Then, when she saw that my father was almost swooning, she summoned with a loud voice some gentlemen of the court, and commanded them to take care of my father; to take him out into the fresh air, and to arrange that he be sent home in a carriage. Now all these fine gentlemen were busy in helping us. Every one vied with the others in being friendly to us; and the poor neglected invalid who had been crowded to the wall, the overlooked officer Toulan, was now an object of universal care and attention. We rode home to our inn in a royal carriage, and the host did not grumble any longer; he was anxious to procure us food, and very active in caring for all our needs. The queen had saved us from misfortune, the queen had made us happy and well to do."
"A blessing upon the dear head of our queen!" cried Margaret, raising her folded hands to heaven. "Now I shall doubly love her, for she is the benefactor of him I love. Oh, why have you waited until now before telling me this beautiful, touching story? Why have I not enjoyed it before? But I thank you from my heart for the good which it has done me."
"My dear one," answered Toulan, gravely, "there are experiences in the human soul that one may reveal only in the most momentous epochs of life—just as in the Jewish temple the Holy of Holies was revealed only on the chief feast-days. Such a time, my dear one, is to-day, and I withdraw all veils from my heart, and let you see and know what, besides you, only God sees and knows. Since that day when I returned with my father from the palace, and when the queen had made us happy again—since that day my whole soul has belonged to the queen. I thanked her for all, for the contentment of my father, for every cheerful hour which we spent together; and all the knowledge I have gained, all the studies I have attempted, I owe to the beautiful, noble Marie Antoinette. We went to our home, and I entered the high-school in order to fit myself to be a merchant, a bookseller. My father had enjoined upon me riot to choose a soldier's lot. The sad experience of his invalid life hung over him like a dark cloud, and he did not wish that I should ever enter into the same. 'Be an independent, free man,' said he to me. 'Learn to depend on your own strength and your own will alone. Use the powers of your mind, become a soldier of labor, and so serve your country. I know, indeed, that if the hour of danger ever comes, you will be a true, bold soldier for your queen, and fight for her till your last breath.' I had to promise him on his death-bed that I would so do. Even then he saw the dark and dangerous days approach, which have now broken upon the realm—even then he heard the muttering of the tempest which now so inevitably is approaching; and often when I went home to his silent chamber I found him reading, with tears in his eyes, the pamphlets and journals which had come from Paris to us at Rouen, and which seemed to us like the storm-birds announcing the tempest. 'The queen is so good, so innocent,' he would sigh, 'and they make her goodness a crime and her innocence they make guilt! She is like a lamb, surrounded by tigers, that plays thoughtlessly with the flowers, and does not know the poison that lurks beneath them. Swear to me, Louis, that you will seek, if God gives you the power, to free the lamb from the bloodthirsty tigers. Swear to me that your whole life shall be devoted to her service.' And I did swear it, Margaret, not merely to my dear father, but to myself as well. Every day I have repeated, 'To Queen Marie Antoinette belongs my life, for every thing that makes life valuable I owe to her.' "When my father died, I left Rouen and removed to Paris, there to pursue my business as a bookseller. My suspicions told me that the time would soon come when the friends of the queen must rally around her, and must perhaps put a mask over their faces, in order to sustain themselves until the days of real danger. That time has now come, Margaret; the queen is in danger! The tigers have surrounded the lamb, and it cannot escape. Enemies everywhere, wherever you look!—enemies even in the palace itself. The Count de Provence, her own brother-in-law, has for years persecuted her with his epigrams, because he cannot forgive it in her that the king pays more attention to her counsels than he does to those of his brother, who hates the Austrian. The Count d'Artois, formerly the only friend of Marie Antoinette in the royal family, deserted her when the queen took ground against the view of the king's brothers in favor of the double representation of the Third Estate, and persuaded her husband to comply with the wishes of the nation and call together the States-General. He has gone over to the camp of her enemies, and rages against the queen, because she is inclined to favor the wishes of the people. And yet this very people is turned against her, does not believe in the love, but only in the hate of the queen, and all parties are agreed in keeping the people in this faith. The Duke d'Orleans revenges himself upon the innocent and pure queen for the scorn which she displays to this infamous prince. The aunts of the queen revenge themselves for the obscure position to which fate has consigned them, they having to play the second part at the brilliant court of Versailles, and be thrown into the shade by Marie Antoinette. The whole court—all these jealous, envious ladies— revenge themselves for the favor which the queen has shown to the Polignacs. They have undermined her good name; they have fought against her with the poisoned arrows of denunciation, calumny, pamphlets, and libels. Every thing bad that has happened has been ascribed to her. She has been held responsible for every evil that has happened to the nation.
The queen is accountable for the financial troubles that have broken over us, and since the ministry have declared the state bankrupt, Parisians call the queen Madame Deficit. Curses follow her when she drives out, and even when she enters the theatre. Even in her own gardens of St. Cloud and Trianon men dare to insult the queen as she passes by. In all the clubs of Paris they thunder at the queen, and call her the destruction of Prance. The downfall of Marie Antoinette is resolved upon by her enemies, and the time has come when her friends must be active for her. The time has come for me to pay the vow which I made to my dying father and to myself. God has blessed my efforts and crowned my industry and activity with success. I have reached an independent position. The confidence of my fellow- citizens has made me a councillor. I have accepted the position, not out of vanity or ambition, but because it will give me opportunity to serve the queen. I wear a mask before my face. I belong to the democrats and agitators. I appear to the world as an enemy of the queen, in order to be able to do her some secret service as a friend; for I say to you, and repeat it before God, to the queen belong my whole life, my whole being, and thought. I love you, Margaret! Every thing which can make my life happy will come from you, and yet I shall be ready every hour to leave you—to see my happiness go to ruin without a complaint, without a sigh, if I can be of service to the queen. You my heart loves; her my soul adores. Wherever I shall be, Margaret, if the call of the queen comes to me, I shall follow it, even if I know that death lurks at the door behind which the queen awaits me. We stand before a dark and tempestuous time, and our country is to be torn with fearful strife. All passions are unfettered, all want to fight for freedom, and against the chains with which the royal government has held them bound. An abyss has opened between the crown and the nation, and the States-General and the Third Estate will not close it, but only widen it. I tell you, Margaret, dark days are approaching; I see them coming, and I cannot, for your sake, withdraw from them, for I am the soldier of the queen. I must keep guard before her door, and, if I cannot save her, I must die in her service. Know this, Margaret, but know, too, that I love you. Let me repeat, that from you alone all fortune and happiness can come to me, and then do you decide. Will you, after all that I have told you, still accept my hand, which I offer you in tenderest affection? Will you be my wife, knowing that my life belongs not to you alone, but still more to another? Will you share with me the dangers of a stormy time, of an inevitable future with me, and devote yourself with, me to the service of the queen? Examine yourself, Margaret, before you answer. Do not forget your great and noble heart; consider that it is a vast sacrifice to devote your life to a man who is prepared every hour to give his life for another woman—to leave the one he loves, and to go to his death in defence of his queen. Prove your heart; and, if you find that the sacrifice is too great, turn your face away from me, and I will quickly go my way—will not complain, will think that it happens rightly, will love you my whole life long, and thank you for the pleasant hours which your love has granted to me."
He had dropped from the divan upon his knee, and looked up to her with supplicating and anxious eyes. But Margaret did not turn her face away from him. A heavenly smile played over her features, her eye beamed with love and emotion. And as her glance sank deep into the heart of her lover, he caught the look as if it had been a ray of sunlight. She laid her arms upon his shoulders, and pressing his head to her bosom, she bowed over him and kissed his black, curly hair.
"Ah! I love you, Louis," she whispered. "I am ready to devote my life to you, to share your dangers with you, and in all contests to stand by your side. Soldier of the queen, in me you shall always have a comrade. With you I will fight for her, with you die for her, if it must be. We will have a common love for her, we will serve her in common, and with fidelity and love thank her for the good which she has done to you and your father."
"Blessings upon you, Margaret!" cried Toulan, as breaking into tears he rested his head upon the knee of his affianced. "Blessings on you, angel of my love and happiness!" Then he sprang up, and, drawing the young girl within his arms, he impressed a glowing kiss upon her lips.
"That is my betrothal kiss, Margaret; now you are mine; in this hour our souls are united in never-ending love and faithfulness. Nothing can separate us after this, for we journey hand in hand upon the same road; we have the same great and hallowed goal! Now come, my love, let us take our place before the altar of God, and testify with an oath to the love which we cherish toward our queen!"
He offered her his arm, and, both smiling, both with beaming faces, left the room, and joined the wedding guests who had long been waiting for them with growing impatience. They entered the carriages and drove to the church. With joyful faces the bridal pair pledged their mutual fidelity before the altar, and their hands pressed one another, and their eyes met with a secret understanding of all that was meant at that wedding. They both knew that at that moment they were pledging their fidelity to the queen, and that, while seeming to give themselves away to each other, they were really giving themselves to their sovereign.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, they left the church of St. Louis to repair to the wedding dinner, which Councillor Bugeaud had ordered to be prepared in one of the most brilliant restaurants of Versailles.
"Will you not tell me now, my dear son," he said to Toulan—"will you not tell me now why you wish so strongly to celebrate the wedding in Versailles, and not in Paris, and why in the church of St. Louis?"
"I will tell you, father," answered Toulan, pressing the arm of his bride closer to his heart. "I wanted here, where the country erects its altar, where in a few days the nation will meet face to face these poor earthly majesties; here, where in a few days the States- General will convene, to defend the right of the people against the prerogative of the sovereign, here alone to give to my life its new consecration. Versailles will from this time be doubly dear to me. I shall owe to it my life's happiness as a man, my freedom as a citizen. They have done me the honor in Rouen to elect me to a place in the Third Estate, and as, in a few days, the Assembly of the Nation will meet here in Versailles, I wanted my whole future happiness to be connected with the place. And I wanted to be married in St. Louis's church, because I love the good King Louis. He is the true and sincere friend of the nation, and he would like to make his people happy, if the queen, the Austrian, would allow it."
"Yes, indeed," sighed the councillor, who, in spite of his relation to Madame de Campan, belonged to the opponents of the queen—" yes, indeed, if the Austrian woman allowed it. But she is not willing that France should be happy. Woe to the queen; all our misery comes from her!
THE OPENING OF THE STATES-GENERAL.
On the morning of the 5th of May, 1789, the solemn opening of the States-General of France was to occur at Versailles. This early date was appointed for the convocation of the estates, in order to be able to protract as much as possible the ceremonial proceedings. But at the same time this occasion was to be improved in preparing a sensible humiliation for the members of the Third Estate.
In the avenue of the Versailles palace a large and fine hall was fixed upon as the most appropriate place for receiving the twelve hundred representatives of France, and a numerous company of spectators besides; and, being chosen, was appropriately fitted up. Louis XVI. himself, who was very fond of sketching and drawing architectural plans, had busied himself in the most zealous way with the arrangements and decorations of the hall.
It had long been a matter of special interest to the king to fit up the room which was to receive the representatives of the nation, in a manner which would be worthy of so significant an occasion. He had himself selected the hangings and the curtains which were to protect the audience from the too glaring light of the day.
When the members of the Third Estate arrived, they saw with the greatest astonishment that they were not to enter the hall by the same entrance which was appropriated to the representatives of the nobility and the clergy, who were chosen at the same time with themselves. While for the last two the entrance was appointed through the main door of the hall, the commoners were allowed to enter by a rear door, opening into a dark and narrow corridor, where, crowded together, they were compelled to wait till the doors were opened.
Almost two hours elapsed before they were allowed to pass out of this dark place of confinement into the great hall, at a signal from the Marquis de Brize, the master of ceremonies.
A splendid scene now greeted their eyes. The Salle de Menus, which had been fitted up for the reception of the nobility, displayed within two rows of Ionic pillars, which gave to the hall an unwonted air of dignity and solemnity. The hall was lighted mainly from above, through a skylight, which was covered with a screen of white sarcenet. A gentle light diffused itself throughout the room, making one object as discernible as another. In the background the throne could be seen on a richly ornamented estrade and beneath a gilded canopy, an easy-chair for the queen, tabourets for the princesses, and chairs for the other members of the royal family. Below the estrade stood the bench devoted to the ministers and the secretaries of state. At the right of the throne, seats had been placed for the clergy, on the left for the nobility; while in front were the six hundred chairs devoted to the Third Estate.
The Marquis de Brize, with two assistant masters of ceremonies, now began to assign the commoners to their seats, in accordance with the situation of the districts which they represented.
As the Duke d'Orleans appeared in the midst of the other deputies of Crespy, there arose from the amphitheatre, where the spectators sat, a gentle sound of applause, which increased in volume, and was repeated by some of the commoners, when it was noticed that the duke made a clergyman, who had gone behind him in the delegation from this district, go in front of him, and did not desist till the round-bellied priest had really taken his place before him. In the mean time the bench of the ministers had begun to fill. They appeared as a body, clothed in rich uniforms, heavy with gold. Only one single man among them appeared in simple citizen's clothing, and bearing himself as naturally as if he were engaged in business of the state, or in ordinary parlor conversation, and by no means as if taking part in an extraordinary solemnity. As soon as he was seen, there arose on all sides, as much in the assembly as on the tribune, a movement as of joy which culminated in a general clapping of hands.
The man who received this salutation was the newly-appointed minister of finance, Necker, to whom the nation was looking for a reestablishment of its prosperity and of its credit.
Necker manifested only by a thoughtful smile, which mounted to his earnest, thought-furrowed face, that he was conscious to whom the garland of supreme popularity was extended at this moment.
Next, the deputation of Provence appeared, in the midst of which towered Count Mirabeau, with his proud, erect bearing, advancing to take the place appointed for him. His appearance was the sign for a few hands to commence clapping in a distant part of the hall, in honor of a man so much talked of in Prance, and of whom such strange things were said. But at this instant the king appeared, accompanied by the queen, followed by the princes and princesses of the royal family.
At the entrance of the king, the whole assembly broke into a loud, enthusiastic shout of applause and of joy. The Third Estate as well, at a signal from Count Mirabeau, had quickly risen, but continued to stand without bending the knee, as had been, at the last time when all the estate were assembled, the invariable rule. Only one of the representatives of the Third Estate, a young man with energetic, proud face, and dark, glowing eyes, bent his knee when he saw the queen entering behind the king. But the powerful hand of his neighbor was laid upon his shoulder and drew him quickly up.
"Mr. Deputy," whispered this neighbor to him, "it becomes the representatives of the nation to stand erect before the crown."
"It is true, Count Mirabeau," answered Toulan. "I did not bend my knee to the crown, but to the queen as, a beautiful woman."
Mirabeau made no reply, but turned his flaming eyes to the king.
Louis XVI. appeared that day arrayed in the great royal ermine, and wore upon his head a plumed hat, whose band glistened with great diamonds, while the largest in the royal possession, the so-called Titt, formed the centre, and threw its rays far and wide. The king appeared at the outset to be deeply moved at the reception which had been given him. A smile, indicating that his feelings were touched, played upon his face. But afterward, when all was still, and the king saw the grave, manly, marked faces of the commoners opposite him, his manner became confused, and for an instant he seemed to tremble.
The queen, however, looked around her with a calm and self-possessed survey. Her fine eyes swept slowly and searchingly over the rows of grave men who sat opposite the royal couple, and dwelt a moment on Toulan, as if she recalled in him the young man who, two years before, had brought the message of Cardinal Rohan's acquittal. A painful smile shot for an instant over her fine features. Yes, she had recognized him; the young man who, at Madame de Campan's room, had sworn a vow of eternal fidelity to her. And now he sat opposite her, on the benches of the commoners, among her enemies, who gazed at her with angry looks. That was his way of fulfilling the vow which he had made of his own free will!
But Marie Antoinette wondered at nothing now; she had witnessed the falling away of so many friends, she had been forsaken by so many who were closely associated with her, and who were indebted to her, that it caused her no surprise that the young man who hardly knew her, who had admired her in a fit of youthful rapture, had done like all the rest in joining the number of her enemies.
Marie Antoinette sadly let her eyes fall. She could look at nothing more; she had in this solemn moment received a new wound, seen a new deserter!
Toulan read her thoughts in her sad mien, on her throbbing forehead, but his own countenance remained cheerful and bright.
"She will live to see the day when she will confess that I am her friend, am true to her," he said to himself. "And on that day I shall be repaid for the dagger-thrusts which I have just received from her eyes. Courage, Toulan, courage! Hold up your head and be strong. The contest has begun; you must fight it through or die!"
But the queen did not raise her head again. She looked unspeakably sad in her simple, unadorned attire—in her modest, gentle bearing— and it was most touching to see the pale, fair features which sought in vain to disclose nothing of the painful emotions of her soul.
The king now arose from his throne and removed his plumed hat. At once Marie Antoinette rose from her armchair, in order to listen standing to the address of the king.
"Madame," said the king, bowing to her lightly, "madame, be seated, I beg of you."
"Sire," answered Marie Antoinette, calmly, "allow me to stand, for it does not become a subject to sit while the king is standing."
A murmur ran through the rows of men, and loud, scornful laughter from one side. Marie Antoinette shrank back as if an adder had wounded her, and with a flash of wrath her eyes darted in the direction whence the laugh had come. It was from Philip d'Orleans. He did not take the trouble to smooth down his features; he looked with searching, defiant gaze over to the queen, proclaiming to her in this glance that he was her death-foe, that he was bent on revenge for the scorn which she had poured out on the spendthrift- revenge for the joke which she had once made at his expense before the whole court. It was at the time when the Duke d'Orleans, spendthrift and miser at the same time, had rented the lower rooms of his palace to be used as stores. On his next appearance at Versailles, Marie Antoinette said: "Since you have become a shopkeeper, we shall probably see you at Versailles only on Sundays and holidays, when your stores are closed!" Philip d'Orleans thought of this at this moment, as he stared at the queen with his laughing face, while his looks were threatening vengeance and requital.
The king now began the speech with which he proposed to open the assembly of his estates. The queen listened with deep emotion; a feeling of unspeakable sorrow filled her soul, and despite all her efforts her eyes filled with tears, which leisurely coursed down her cheeks. When, at the close of his address, the king said that he was the truest and most faithful friend of the people, and that France had his whole love, the queen looked up with a gentle, beseeching expression, and her eyes seemed as if they wanted to say to the deputies, "I, too, am a friend of the people! I, too, love France!"
The king ended his address; it was followed by a prolonged and lively clapping of hands, and sitting down upon the chair of the throne, he covered his head with the jewelled chapeau.
At the same moment all the noblemen who were in the hall put on their own hats. At once Count Mirabeau, the representative of the Third Estate, put on his hat; other deputies followed his example, but Toulan, whom Mirabeau had before hindered from kneeling—Toulan now wanted to prevent the proud democrats covering themselves in presence of the queen.
"Hats off!" he cried, with aloud voice, and here and there in the hall the same cry was repeated.
But from other sides there arose a different cry, "Hats on! Be covered!"
Scarcely had the ear of the king caught the discordant cry which rang up and down the hall, when he snatched his hat from his head, and at once the whole assembly followed his example.
Toulan had gained his point, the assembly remained uncovered in presence of the queen.
At last, after four long, painful hours, the ceremony was ended; the queen followed the example of the king, rising, greeting the deputies with a gentle inclination of her head, and leaving the hall at the side of the king.
Some of the deputies cried, "Long live the king!" but their words died away without finding any echo. Not a single voice was raised in honor of the queen! But outside, on the square, there were confused shouts; the crowd of people pressed hard up to the door, and called for the queen. They had seen the deputies as they entered the hall; they had seen the king as he had attended divine service at the church of St. Louis. Now the people were curious to see the queen!
A joyful look passed over the face of the queen as she heard those cries. For a long time she had not heard such acclaims. Since the unfortunate 1786, since the necklace trial, they had become more rare; at last, they had ceased altogether, and at times the queen, when she appeared in public, was hailed with loud hisses and angry murmurs.
"The queen! The queen!" sounded louder and louder in the great square. Marie Antoinette obeyed the cry, entered the great hall, had the doors opened which led to the balcony, went out and showed herself to the people, and greeted them with friendly smiles.
But, instead of the shouts of applause which she had expected, the crowd relapsed at once into a gloomy silence. Not a hand was raised to greet her, not a mouth was opened to cry "Long live the queen!"
Soon, however, there was heard a harsh woman's voice shouting, "Long live the Duke d'Orleans! Long life to the friend of the people!"
The queen, pale and trembling, reeled back from the balcony, and sank almost in a swoon into the arms of the Duchess de Polignac, who was behind her. Her eyes were closed, and a convulsive spasm shook her breast.
Through the opened doors of the balcony the shouts of the people could be heard all the time, "Long live the Duke d'Orleans!"
The queen, still in her swoon, was carried into her apartments and laid upon her bed; only Madame de Campan remained in front of it to watch the queen, who, it was supposed, had fallen asleep.
A deep silence prevailed in the room, and the stillness awoke Marie Antoinette from her half insensibility. She opened her eyes, and seeing Campan kneeling before her bed, she threw her arms around the faithful friend, and with gasping breath bowed her head upon her shoulder.
"Oh, Campan," she cried, with loud, choking voice, "ruin is upon me! I am undone! All my happiness is over, and soon my life will be over too! I have to-day tasted of the bitterness of death! We shall never be happy more, for destruction hangs over us, and our death-sentence is pronounced!"
THE INHERITANCE OF THE DAUPHIN.
For four weeks the National Assembly met daily at Versailles; that is to say, for four weeks the political excitement grew greater day by day, the struggle of the parties more pronounced and fierce, only with this qualification, that the party which attacked the queen was stronger than that which defended her. Or rather, to express the exact truth, there was no party for Marie Antoinette; there were only here and there devoted friends, who dared to encounter the odium which their position called down upon them—dared face the calumnies which were set in circulation by the other parties: that of the people, the democrats; that of Orleans; that of the princes and princesses of the royal family. All these united their forces in order to attack the "Austrian," to obscure the last gleams of the love and respect which were paid to her in happier days.
When Mirabeau made the proposition in the National Assembly that the person of the king should be declared inviolable, there arose from all these four hundred representatives of the French nation only one man who dared to declare with a loud voice and with defiant face, "The persons of the king and queen shall be declared inviolable!"
This was Toulan, the "soldier of the queen." But the Assembly replied to this demand only with loud murmurs, and scornful laughter; not a voice was raised in support of this last cry in favor of the queen, and the Assembly decreed only this: "The person of the king is inviolable."
"That means," said the queen to the police minister Brienne, who brought the queen every morning tidings of what had occurred at Paris and Versailles, "that means that my death-warrant was signed yesterday."
"Your majesty goes too far!" cried the minister in horror, "I think that this has an entirely different meaning. The National Assembly has not pronounced the person of the queen inviolable, because they want to say that the queen has nothing to do with politics, and therefore it is unnecessary to pass judgment upon the inviolability of the queen."
"Ah!" sighed the queen, "I should have been happy if I had not been compelled to trouble myself with these dreadful politics. It certainly was not in my wish nor in my character. My enemies have compelled me to it; it is they who have turned the simple, artless queen into an intriguer."
"Ah! madam!" said the minister, astonished, "you use there too harsh a word; you speak as if they belonged to your enemies."
"No, I use the right word," cried Marie Antoinette, sadly. "My enemies have made an intriguer of me. Every woman who goes beyond her knowledge and the bounds of her duty in meddling with politics is nothing better than an intriguer. You see at least that I do not flatter myself, although it troubles me to have to give myself so bad a name. The Queens of France are happy only when they have nothing to trouble themselves about, and reserve only influence enough to give pleasure to their friends, and reward their faithful servants. Do you know what recently happened to me?" continued the queen, with a sad smile. "As I was going into the privy council chamber to have a consultation with the king, I heard, while passing OEil de Boeuf, one of the musicians saying so loud that I had to listen to every word, 'A queen who does her duty stays in her own room and busies herself with her sewing and knitting.' I said within myself, 'Poor fellow, you are right, but you don't know my unhappy condition; I yield only to necessity, and my bad luck urges me forward." [Footnote: The queen's own words.—See "Memoires de Madame de Campan," vol ii., p. 32.]
"Ah! madame," said the minister with a sigh, "would that they who accuse you of mingling in politics out of ambition and love of power—would that they could hear your majesty complain of yourself in these moving words!"
"My friend," said Marie Antoinette, with a sad smile, "if they heard it they would say that it was only something learned by heart, with which I was trying to disarm the righteous anger of my enemies. It is in vain to want to excuse or justify myself, for no one will hear a word. I must be guilty, I must be criminal, that they who accuse me may appear to have done right; that they may ascend while they pull me down. But let us not speak more of this! I know my future, I feel it clear and plain in my mind and in my soul that I am lost, but I will at least fight courageously and zealously till the last moment; and, if I must go down, it shall be at least with honor, true to myself and true to the views and opinions in which I have been trained. Now, go on; let me know the new libels and accusations which have been disseminated about me." The minister drew from his portfolio a whole package of pamphlets, and spread them upon a little table before the queen.
"So much at once!" said the queen, sadly, turning over the papers. "How much trouble I make to my enemies, and how much they must hate me that I have such tenacity of life! Here is a pamphlet entitled 'Good advice to Madame Deficit to leave France as soon as possible.' 'Madame Deficit!' that means me, doesn't it?"
"It is a name, your majesty, which the wickedness of the Duke d'Orleans has imposed upon your majesty, answered the minister, with a shrug of his shoulders.
The eyes of the queen flashed in anger. She opened her lips to utter a choleric word, but she governed herself, and went on turning over the pamphlets and caricatures. While doing that, while reading the words charged with poison of wickedness and hate, the tears coursed slowly over her cheeks, and once in a while a convulsive gasp forced itself from her breast.
Brienne pitied the deep sorrow of the queen. He begged her to discontinue this sad perusal. He wanted to gather up again the contumelious writings, but Marie Antoinette held his hand back.
"I must know every thing, every thing," said she. "Go on bringing me every thing, and do not be hindered by my tears. It is of course natural that I am sensitive to the evil words that are spoken about me, and to the bad opinion that is cherished toward me by a people that I love, and to win whose love I am prepared to make every sacrifice." [Footnote: The queen's own words.—See Malleville, "Histoire de Marie Antoinette," p. 197]
At this moment the door of the cabinet was dashed open without ceremony, and the Duchess de Polignac entered.
"Forgiveness! your majesty, forgiveness that I have ventured to disturb you, but—"
"What is it?" cried the queen, springing up. "You come to announce misfortune to me, duchess. It concerns the dauphin, does it not? His illness has increased?"
"Yes, your majesty, cramps have set in, and the physicians fear the worst."
"O God! O God!" cried the queen, raising both her hands to heaven, "is every misfortune to beat down upon me? I shall lose my son, my dear child! Here I sit weeping pitiful tears about the malice of my enemies, and all this while my child is wrestling in the pains of death! Farewell, sir, I must go to my child."
And the queen, forgetting every thing else, thinking only of her child—the sick, dying dauphin—hurried forward, dashing through the room with such quick step that the duchess could scarcely follow her.
"Is he dead?" cried Marie Antoinette to the servant standing in the antechamber of the dauphin. She did not await the reply, but burst forward, hastily opened the door of the sick-room, and entered.
There upon the bed, beneath the gold-fringed canopy, lay the pale, motionless boy, with open, staring eyes, with parched lips, and wandering mind—and it was her child, it was the Dauphin of France.
Around his bed stood the physicians, the quickly-summoned priests, and the servants, looking with sorrowful eyes at the poor, deathly- pale creature that was now no more than a withered flower, a son of dust that must return to dust; then they looked sadly at the pale, trembling wife who crouched before the bed, and who now was nothing more than a sorrow-stricken mother, who must bow before the hand of Fate, and feel that she had no more power over life and death than the meanest of her subjects.
She bent over the bed; she put her arms tenderly around the little shrunken form of the poor child that had long been sick, and that was now confronting death. She covered the pale face of her son with kisses, and watered it with her tears.
And these kisses, these tears of his mother, awakened the child out of his stupor, and called him back to life. The Dauphin Louis roused up once more, raised his great eyes, and, when he saw the countenance of his mother above him bathed in tears, he smiled and sought to raise his head and move his hand to greet her. But Death had already laid his iron bands upon him, and held him back upon the couch of his last sufferings.
"Are you in pain, my child?" whispered Marie Antoinette, kissing him affectionately. "Are you suffering?"
The boy looked at her tenderly. "I do not suffer," he whispered so softly that it sounded like the last breath of a departing spirit. "I only suffer if I see you weep, mamma." [Footnote: The very words of the dying dauphin.—See Weber, "Memoires," vol. L, p. 209.]
Marie Antoinette quickly dried her tears, and, kneeling near the bed, found power in her motherly love to summon a smile to her lips, in order that the dauphin, whose eyes remained fixed upon her, might not see that she was suffering.
A deep silence prevailed now in the apartment; nothing was heard but the gently-whispered prayers of the spectators, and the slow, labored breathing of the dying child.
Once the door was lightly opened, and a man's figure stole lightly in, advanced on tiptoe to the bed, and sank on his knees close by Marie Antoinette. It was the king, who had just been summoned from the council-room to see his son die.
And now with a loud voice the priest began the prayers for the dying, and all present softly repeated them. Only the queen could not; her eyes were fastened upon her son, who now saw her no more, for his eyes were fixed in the last death-struggle.
Still one last gasp, one last breath; then came a cry from Marie Antoinette's lips, and her head sank upon the hand of her son, which rested in her own, and which was now stiff. A few tears coursed slowly over the cheeks of the king, and his hands, folded in prayer, trembled.
The priest raised his arms, and with a loud, solemn voice cried: "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord. Amen."
"Amen, amen," whispered all present.
"Amen," said the king, closing with gentle pressure the open eyes of his son. "God has taken you to Himself, my son, perhaps because He wanted to preserve you from much trouble and sorrow. Blessed be His name!"
But the queen still bowed over the cold face of the child, and kissed his lips. "Farewell, my son," she whispered, "farewell! Ah!, why could I not die with you—with you fly from this pitiful, sorrow-stricken world?"
Then, as if the queen regretted the words which the mother had spoken with sighs, Marie Antoinette rose from her knees and turned to the priest, who was sprinkling the corpse of the dauphin with holy water.
"Father," said she, "the children of poor parents, who may be born to-day in Versailles, are each to receive from me the sum of a thousand francs. I wish that the death-bed of my son may be a day of joy for the poor who have not, like me, lost a child, but gained one, and that the lips of happy mothers may bless the day on which my boy died. Have the goodness to bring me to-morrow morning a list of the children born to-day."
"Come, Marie," said the king, "the body of our son belongs no more to the living, but to the grave of out ancestors in St. Denis; his soul to God. The dauphin is dead! Long live the dauphin! Madame de Polignac, conduct the dauphin to us in the cabinet of his mother."
And with the proud and dignified bearing which was peculiar to the king in great and momentous epochs, he extended his arm to the queen and conducted her out of the death-chamber, and through the adjacent apartments, to her cabinet.
"Ah!" cried the queen, "here we are alone; here I can weep for my poor lost child."
And she threw her arms around the neck of her husband, and, leaning her head upon his breast, wept aloud.
The king pressed her closely to his heart, and the tears which flowed from his own eyes fell in hot drops upon the head of the queen.
Neither saw the door beyond lightly open, and the Duchess de Polignac appear there. But when she saw the royal pair in close embrace, when she heard their loud weeping, she drew back, stooped down to the little boy who stood by her side, whispered a few words to him, and, while gently pushing him forward, drew back herself, and gently closed the door behind them. The little fellow stood a moment irresolutely at the door, fixing his eyes now upon his father and mother, now upon the nosegay of violets and roses which he carried in his hand. The little Louis Charles was of that sweet and touching beauty that brings tears into one's eyes, and fills the heart with sadness, because the thought cannot be suppressed, that life, with its rough, wintry storms, will have no pity on this tender blossom of innocence, and that the beaming, angel-face of the child must one day be changed into the clouded, weather-beaten, furrowed face of the man. A cheering sight to look upon was the little, delicate figure of the four-year-old boy, pleasing in his whole appearance. Morocco boots, with red tips, covered his little feet; broad trousers, of dark-blue velvet, came to his knees, and were held together at the waist by a blue silk sash, whose lace- tipped ends fell at his left side. He wore a blue velvet jacket, with a tastefully embroidered lace ruffle around the neck. The round, rosy face, with the ruby lips, the dimple in the chin, the large blue eyes, shaded by long, dark lashes, and crowned by the broad, lofty brow, was rimmed around with a profusion of golden hair, which fell in long, heavy locks upon his shoulders and over his neck. The child was as beautiful to look upon as one of the angels in Raphael's "Sistine Madonna," and he might have been taken for one, had it not been for the silver-embroidered, brilliant star upon his left side. This star, which designated his princely rank, was for the pretty child the seal of his mortality—the seal which ruin had already impressed upon his innocent child's breast.
One moment the boy stood indecisively there, looking at his weeping parents; then he turned quickly forward, and, holding up his nosegay, he said: "Mamma, I have brought you some flowers from my garden."
Marie Antoinette raised her head, and smiled through her tears as she looked at her son. The king loosened his embrace from the queen, in order to lift up the prince.
"Marie," said he, holding him up to his wife, "Marie, this is our son—this is the Dauphin of France."
Marie Antoinette took his head between her hands, and looked long, with tears in her eyes, and yet smiling all the while, into the lovely, rosy face of her boy. Then she stooped down, and impressed a long, tender kiss upon his smooth forehead.
"God love you, my child!" said she, solemnly. "God bless you, Dauphin of France! May the storms which now darken our horizon, have long been past when you shall ascend the throne of your fathers! God bless and defend you, Dauphin of France!"
"But, mamma," asked the boy, timidly, "why do you call me dauphin to-day? I am your little Louis, and I am called Duke de Normandy."
"My son," said the king, solemnly, "God has been pleased to give you another name and another calling. Your poor brother, Louis, has left us forever. He has gone to God, and you are now Dauphin of France!"
"And God grant that it be for your good," said the queen, with a sigh.
The little prince slowly shook his locks. "It certainly is not for my good," said he, "else mamma would not weep."
"She is weeping, my child," said the queen—" she is weeping, because your brother, who was the dauphin, has left us."
"And will he never come back?" asked the child, eagerly.
"No, Louis, he never will come back."
The boy threw both his arms around the neck of the queen. "Ah!" he cried, "how can any one ever leave his dear mamma and never come back? I will never leave you, mamma!"
"I pray God you speak the truth," sighed the queen, pressing him tenderly to herself. "I pray God I may die before you both!"
"Not before me—oh, not before me!" ejaculated the king, shuddering. "Without you, my dear one, my life were a desert; without you, the King of France were the poorest man in the whole land!"
He smiled sadly at her. "And with me he will perhaps be the most unfortunate one," she whispered softly, as if to herself.
"Never unfortunate, if you are with me, and if you love me," cried the king, warmly. "Weep no more; we must overcome our grief, and comfort ourselves with what remains. I say to you once more: the dauphin is dead, long live the dauphin!"
"Papa king," said the boy, quickly, "you say the dauphin is dead, and has left us. Has he taken every thing away with him that belongs to him?"
"No, my son, he has left every thing. You are now the dauphin, and some time will be King of France, for you are the heir of your brother."
"What does that mean, his heir?" asked the child.
"It means," answered the king, "that to you belong now the titles and honors of your brother."
"Nothing but that?" asked the prince, timidly. "I do not want his titles and honors."
"You are the heir to the throne; you have now the title of Dauphin of France."
The little one timidly grasped the hand of his mother, and lifted his great blue eyes supplicatingly to her.
"Mamma queen," he whispered, "do you not think the title of Duke de Normandy sounds just as well, or will you love me more, if I am called Dauphin of France?"
"No, my son," answered the queen, "I shall not love you better, and I should be very happy if you were now the Duke de Normandy."
"Then, mamma," cried the boy, eagerly, "I am not at all glad to receive this new title. But I should like to know whether I have received any thing else from my dear sick brother."
"Any thing else?" asked the king in amazement; "what would you desire, my child?"
The little prince cast down his eyes. "I should not like to tell, papa. But if it is true that the dauphin has left us and is not coming back again, and yet has not taken away every thing which belongs to him, there is something which I should very much like to have, and which would please me more than that I am now the dauphin."
The king turned his face inquiringly to the queen. "Do you understand, Marie, what he wants to say?" he whispered.
"I think I can guess," answered Marie Antoinette softly, and she walked quickly across the room, opened the door of the adjoining apartment, and whispered a few words to the page who was there. Then she returned to the king, but while doing so she stepped upon the bouquet which had fallen out of the boy's hands when his father lifted him up.
"Oh, my pretty violets, my pretty roses," cried the prince, sadly, and his face put on a sorrowful expression. But he quickly brightened, and, looking up at the queen, he said, smiling, "Mamma queen, I wish you always walked on flowers which I have planted and plucked for you!"
At this moment the door softly opened, and a little black dog stepped in, and ran forward, whining, directly up to the prince.
"Moufflet," cried the child, falling upon his knee, "Moufflet!"
The little dog, with its long, curly locks of hair, put its fore- paws upon the shoulders of the boy and eagerly and tenderly licked his laughing, rosy face.
"Now, my Louis," asked the queen, "have I guessed right?—wasn't it the doggy that you wanted so much?"
"Mamma queen has guessed it," cried the boy joyfully, putting his arms around the neck of the dog. "Does Moufflet belong to my inheritance too? Do I receive him, since my brother has left him behind?"
"Yes, my son, the little dog belongs to your inheritance," answered the king, with a sad smile.
The child shouted with pleasure, and pressed the dog close to his breast. "Moufflet is mine!" he cried, glowing with joy, "Moufflet is my inheritance!"
The queen slowly raised to heaven her eyes, red with weeping. "Oh, the innocence of childhood, the happiness of childhood!" said she, softly, "why do they not go with us through life? why must we tread them under feet like the violets arid roses of my son? A kingdom falls to him as his portion, and yet he takes pleasure in the little dog which only licks his hands! Love is the fairest inheritance, for love remains with us till death!"
KING LOUIS THE SIXTEENTH.
The 14th of July had broken upon Paris with its fearful events. The revolution had for the first time opened the crater, after subterranean thunder had long been heard, and after the ground of Paris had long been shaken. The glowing lava-streams of intense excitement, popular risings, and murder, had broken out and flooded all Paris, and before them judgment, discretion, and truth even, had taken flight.
The people had stormed the Bastile with arms, killed the governor, and for the first time the dreadful cry "To the lamp-post!" was heard in the streets of Paris; for the first time the iron arms of the lamp-posts had been transformed to gallows, on which those were suspended whom the people had declared guilty.
Meanwhile the lava-streams of revolution had not yet flowed out as far as Versailles.
On the evening of the 14th of July, peace and silence had settled early upon the palace, after a whole day spent in the apartments of the king and queen with the greatest anxiety, and after resolution had followed resolution in the efforts to come to a decision.
Marie Antoinette had early withdrawn to her rooms. The king, too, had retired to rest, and had already fallen into a deep slumber upon his bed. He had only slept a few hours, however, when he heard something moving near his bed, with the evident intention of awakening him. The king recognized his valet, who, with signs of the greatest alarm in his face, announced the Duke de Liancourt, grand maitre de la garde-robe of his majesty, who was in the antechamber, and who pressingly urged an immediate audience with the king. Louis trembled an instant, and tried to think what to do. Then he rose from his bed with a quick and energetic motion, and ordered the valet to dress him at once. After this had been done with the utmost rapidity, the king ordered that the Duke de Liancourt should be summoned to the adjacent apartment, when he would receive him.
As the king went out in the greatest excitement, he saw the duke, whose devotion to the person of the king was well known, standing before him with pale, distorted countenance and trembling limbs.
"What has happened, my friend?" asked the king, in breathless haste.
"Sire," answered the Duke de Liancourt, with suppressed voice, "in the discharge of my office, which permits the closest approach to your majesty, I have undertaken to bring you tidings which are now so confirmed, and which are so important and dreadful, that it would be a folly to try to keep what has happened longer from your knowledge."
"You speak of the occurrences in the capital?" asked the king, slightly drawing back.
"I have been told that your majesty has not yet been informed," continued the duke, "and yet in the course of yesterday the most dreadful events occurred in Paris. The head of the army had not ventured to send your majesty and the cabinet any report. It was known yesterday in Versailles at nightfall that the people, with, arms in their hands, had stormed and destroyed the Bastile. I have just received a courier from Paris, and these tidings are confirmed with the most horrible particularity. Sire, I held it my duty as a faithful servant of the crown to break the silence which has hitherto hindered your majesty from seeing clearly and acting accordingly. In Paris, not only has the Bastile been stormed by the people, but truly dreadful crimes and murders have taken place. The bloody heads of Delaunay and Flesselles were carried on pikes through the city by wild crowds of people. A part of the fortifications of the Bastile have been levelled. Several of the invalides, who were guarding the fort, have been found suspended from the lantern-posts. A want of fidelity has begun to appear in the other regiments. The armed people now arrayed in the streets of Paris are estimated at two hundred thousand men. They fear this very night a rising of the whole population of the city."
The king had listened standing, as in a sad dream. His face had become pale, but his bearing was unchanged.
"There is then a revolt!" said Louis XVI., after a pause, as if suddenly awakening from deep thought.
"No, sire," answered the duke, earnestly, "it is a revolution."
"The queen was right," said the monarch, softly, to himself; "and now rivers of blood would be necessary to hide the ruin that has grown so great. But my resolution is taken; the blood of the French shall not be poured out."
"Sire," cried Liancourt, with a solemn gesture, "the safety of France and of the royal family lies in this expression of your majesty. I ought to be and I must be plain-spoken this hour. The greatest danger lies in your majesty's following the faithless counsels of your ministers. How I bless this hour which is granted me to stand face to face with your majesty, and dare to address myself to your own judgment and to your heart! Sire, the spirit of the infatuated capital will make rapid and monstrous steps forward. I conjure you make your appearance in the National Assembly to-day, and utter there the word of peace. Your appearance will work wonders; it will disarm the parties and make this body of men the truest allies of the crown."
The king looked at him with a long, penetrating glance. The youthful fire in which the noble duke had spoken appeared to move the king. He extended his hand and pressed the duke's in his own. Then he said softly: "You are yourself one of the most influential members of this National Assembly, my lord duke. Can you give me your personal word that my appearance there will be viewed as indicating the interest of the crown in the welfare of France?"
At this moment the first glow of the morning entered the apartment, and overpowered the pale candle-light which till then had illuminated the room.
"The Assembly longs every day and every hour for the conciliatory words of your majesty," cried Liancourt. "The doubts and disquiet into which the National Assembly is falling more and more every day are not to be dispelled in any other way than by the appearance of your majesty's gracious face. I beseech you to appear to-day at the National Assembly. The service of to-day, which begins in a few hours, may take the most unfortunate turn, if you, sire, do not take this saving step."
Just then the door opened, and Monsieur, together with Count d'Artois, entered. Both brothers of the king appeared to be in the greatest excitement. From their appearance and gestures it could be inferred that the news brought by the Duke de Liancourt had reached the palace of Versailles.
Liancourt at once approached the Count d'Artois, and said to him in decisive tones:
"Prince, your head is threatened by the people. I have with my own eyes seen the poster which announces this fearful proscription."
The prince uttered a cry of terror at these words, and stood in the middle of the room like one transfixed.
"It is good, if the people think so," he said then, recovering himself. "I am, like the people, for open war. They want my head, and I want their heads. Why do we not fire? A fixed policy, no quarter to the so-called freedom ideas-cannon well served! These alone can save us!"
"His majesty the king has come to a different conclusion!" said the Duke de Liancourt, bowing low before the king, who stood calmly by with folded arms.
"I beg my brothers, the Count de Provence and the Count d'Artois, to accompany me this morning to the Assembly of States-General," said the king, in a firm tone.
"I wish to go thither in order to announce to the Assembly my resolution to withdraw my troops. At the same time I shall announce to them my decided wish that they may complete the work of their counsels in peace, for I have no higher aim than through them to learn the will of the nation."
Count d'Artois retreated a step in amazement. Upon his mobile face appeared the sharp, satirical expression which was peculiar to the character of the prince. It was different with Provence, who, at the king's words, quickly approached him to press his hand in token of cordial agreement and help.
At this moment the door of the chamber was opened, and the queen, accompanied by several persons, her most intimate companions, entered in visible excitement.
"Does your majesty know what has happened?" she asked, with pale face and tearful eyes, as she violently grasped the king's hand.
"It will be all well yet," said the king, with gentle dignity; "it will prove a help to us that we have nothing as yet to accuse ourselves with. I am resolved to go to-day to the National Assembly, and to show it a sign of my personal confidence, in announcing the withdrawal of my troops from Paris and Versailles."
The queen looked at her husband with the greatest amazement; then, like one in a trance, she dropped his hand and stood supporting her fair head upon her hand, with a thoughtful, pained expression.
"By doing so your majesty will make the revolution an irrevocable fact," she then said, slowly raising her eyes to him; "and it troubles me, sire, that you will again set foot in an Assembly numbering so many dreadful and hostile men, and in which the resolution made last month to disband it ought to have been carried into effect long ago."
"Has the Assembly, in fact, so many dreadful members?" asked the king, with his good-natured smile. "Yet I see before me here two extremely amiable members of that Assembly, and their looks really give me courage to appear there. There is my old, true friend, the Duke de Liancourt, and even in the train of your majesty there is the valiant Count de la Marck, whom I heartily welcome. May I not, Count de la Marck, depend upon some favor with your colleagues in the National Assembly?" asked the king, with an amiable expression.
"Sire," answered the count, in his most perfect court manner, "in the variety of persons constituting the Assembly, I do not know a single one who would be able to close his heart to the direct word of the monarch, and such condescending grace. The nobility, to whose side I belong, would find itself confirmed thereby in its fidelity; the clergy would thank God for the manifestation of royal authority which shall bring peace; and the Third Estate would have to confess in its astonishment that safety comes only from the monarch's hands."
The king smiled and nodded in friendly manner to the count.
"It seems to me," he said, "that the time is approaching for us to go to the Assembly. Their royal highnesses Count de Provence and Count d'Artois will accompany me. I commission the Duke de Liancourt to go before us to the Salle des Menus, and to announce to the Assembly, directly after the opening of the session, that we shall appear there at once in person."
On this the king dismissed all who were present. The queen took tender leave of him, in a manner indicating her excited feelings. She had never seen her royal husband bearing himself in so decided and confident a manner, and it almost awakened new confidence in her troubled breast. But at the same moment all the doubts and cares returned, and sadly, with drooping head, the queen withdrew.
In the mean time, close upon the opening of the National Assembly that morning, stormy debates had begun about the new steps which they were going to take with the monarch.
Count Mirabeau had just been breaking out into an anathema in flaming words about the holiday which the king had given to the new regiments, when the Duke de Liancourt, who that moment entered the hall, advanced to the speaker's desk and announced that the king was just on the point of coming to the Assembly. The greatest amazement, followed immediately by intense disquiet, was expressed on all sides at hearing this. Men sprang up from their places and formed scattered groups to talk over this unexpected circumstance and come to an understanding in advance. They spoke in loud, angry words about the reception which should be given to the king in the National Assembly, when Mirabeau sprang upon the tribune, and, with his voice towering above every other sound, cried that "mere silent respect should be the only reception that we give to the monarch. In a moment of universal grief, silence is the true lesson of kings." [Footnote: Mirabeau's own words.—See "Memoires du Comte de Mirabeau," vol. ii., p. 301.]
A resounding bravo accompanied these words, which appeared to produce the deepest impression upon all parties in the Assembly.
Before the room was silent, the king, accompanied by his brothers, but with no other retinue besides, entered the hall. Notwithstanding all the plans and efforts which had been made, his appearance at this moment wrought so powerfully that, as soon as they saw him, the cry "Long live the king!" was taken up and repeated so often as to make the arched ceiling ring.
The king stood in the midst of the Assembly, bearing himself modestly and with uncovered head. He did not make use of an arm- chair which was placed for him, but remained standing, as, without any ceremony, he began to address the Assembly with truly patriarchal dignity. When at the very outset he said that as the chief of the nation, as he called himself, he had come with confidence to meet the nation's representatives, to testify his grief for what had happened, and to consult them respecting the re- establishing of peace and order, a pacified expression appeared upon almost all faces.
With gentle and almost humble bearing the king then entered upon the suspicions that had been breathed, that the persons of the deputies were not safe. With the tone of an honest burgher he referred to his own "well-known character," which made it superfluous for him to dismiss such a suspicion. "Ah!" he cried, "it is I who have trusted myself to you! Help me in these painful circumstances to strengthen the welfare of the state. I expect it of the National Assembly."
Then with a tone of touching kindness he said: "Counting upon the love and fidelity of my subjects, I have given orders to the troops to withdraw from Paris and Versailles. At the same time I commission and empower you to convey these my orders to the capital."
The king now closed his address, which had been interrupted by frequent expressions of delight and enthusiasm, but which was received at the close with a thunder of universal applause. After the Archbishop of Brienne had expressed the thanks of the Assembly in a few words, the king prepared to leave the hall. At that instant all present rose in order to follow the king's steps. Silently the whole National Assembly became the retinue of the king, and accompanied him to the street.
The king wished to return on foot to the palace. Behind him walked the National Assembly in delighted, joyful ranks. The startling importance of the occasion seemed to have overpowered the most hostile and the most alienated An immense crowd of people, which had gathered before the door of the hall, seeing the king suddenly reappear in the midst of the whole National Assembly, broke into jubilant cries of delight. The shouts, "Long live the king! Long live the nation!" blended in a harmonious concord which rang far and wide. Upon the Place d'Armes were standing the gardes du corps, both the Swiss and the French, with their arms in their hands. But they, too, were infected with the universal gladness, as they saw the procession, whose like had never been seen before, move on.
The cries which to-day solemnized the happy reconciliation of the king and the people now were united with the discordant clang of trumpets and the rattle of drums on all sides.
Upon the great balcony of the palace at Versailles stood the queen, awaiting the return of the king. The thousands of voices raised in behalf of Louis XVI. and the nation had drawn Marie Antoinette to the balcony, after remaining in her own room with thoughts full of evil forebodings. She held the dauphin in her arms, and led her little daughter. Her eyes, from which the heavy veils of sadness were now withdrawn, cast joyful glances over the immense, shouting crowds of people approaching the palace, at whose head she joyfully recognized her husband, the king, wearing an expression of cheerfulness which for a time she had not seen on his face.
When the king caught sight of his wife, he hastened to remove his hat and salute her. But few of the deputies followed the royal example, and silently, without any salutation, without any cries of acclamation, they looked up at the queen. Marie Antoinette turned pale, and stepped hack with her children into the hall.
"It is all over," she said, with a gush of tears, "it is all over with my hopes. The Queen of France is still to be the poorest and most unhappy woman in France, for she is not loved, she is despised."
Two soft young arms were laid around her neck, and with a face full of sorrow, and with tears in his great blue eyes, the dauphin looked up to the disturbed countenance of his mother.
"Mamma queen," he whispered, pressing fondly up to her, "mamma queen, I love you and everybody loves you, and my dear brother in heaven prays for you."
With a loud cry of pain, that escaped her against her will, the queen pressed her son to her heart and covered his head with her kisses.
"Love me, my son, love me," she whispered, choking, "and may thy brother in heaven pray for me that I may soon be released from the pains which I suffer!"
But as she heard now the voice of the king without, taking leave of his retinue with friendly words, Marie Antoinette hastily dried her tears, and putting down the dauphin, whispered to him, "Do not tell papa that I have been crying," and in her wonted lofty bearing, with a smile upon her trembling lips, she went to meet her husband.
As it grew late and dark in the evening, several baggage-wagons heavily laden and tightly closed moved noiselessly and hastily from the inner courts of the palace, and took the direction toward the country. In these carriages were the Count d'Artois, the Duke d'Angouleme, and the Duke de Berry, the Prince de Conde, the Duke de Bourbon, and the Duke d'Enghein, who were leaving the kingdom in secret flight.
Louis XVI. had tried to quiet the anxieties of his brother, the Count d'Artois, by advising him to leave France for some time, and to remain in a foreign land, until the times should be more quiet and peaceful. The other princes, although not so sorely threatened with popular rage as the Count d'Artois, whose head had already been demanded at Paris, had, with the exception of the king's other brother, been so overcome with their anxieties as to resolve upon flight. They were followed on the next day by the new ministers, who now, yielding to the demands of the National Assembly, had handed in their resignation to the king, but did not consider it safe to remain within range of the capital.
But another offering, and one more painful to the queen, had to be made to the hatred of the people and the hostile demands of the National Assembly. Marie Antoinette herself felt it, and had the courage to express it.
Her friends the Polignacs must be sent away. In all the libellous pamphlets which had been directed against the queen, and which Brienne had sedulously given to her, it was one of the main charges which had been hurled against her, that the queen had given to her friends enormous sums from the state's treasury; that the Duchess Julia, as governess of the royal children, and her husband the Duke de Polignac, as director of the royal mews, received a yearly salary of two million francs; and that the whole Polignac family together drew nearly six million francs yearly from the national treasury.
Marie Antoinette knew that the people hated the Polignacs on this account, and she wanted at least to put her friends in a place of safety.
At the same hour in which the brothers of the king and the princes of the royal family left Versailles, the Duke and the Duchess de Polignac were summoned to the queen, and Marie Antoinette had told them with trembling voice that they too must fly, that they must make their escape that very night. But the duchess, as well as the duke, refused almost with indignation to comply with the request of the queen. The duchess, who before had been characterized by so calm a manner, now showed for the first time a glow of affection for her royal friend, and unreckoning tenderness. "Let us remain with you, Marie," she said, choking, and throwing both her arms around the neck of the queen. "Do not drive me from you. I will not go, I will share your perils and will die for you, if it must be."
But Marie Antoinette found now in her great love the power to resist these requests—the power to hold back the tears which started from her heart and to withdraw herself from the arms of her friend.
"It must be," she said. "In the name of our friendship I conjure you, Julia, take your departure at once, for, if you are not willing to, I shall die with anxiety about you. There is still time for you and yours to escape the rage of my enemies. They hate you not for your own sake, and how would it be possible to hate my Julia? It is for my sake, and because they hate me, that they persecute my dearest friend. Go, Julia, you ought not to be the victim of your friendship for me."
"No, I remain," said the duchess, passionately. "Nothing shall separate me from my queen."
"Duke," implored the queen, "speak the word, say that it is necessary for you to fly!"
"Your majesty," replied the duke, gravely, "I can only repeat what Julia says: nothing shall separate us from our queen. If we have in the days of prosperity enjoyed the favor of being permitted to be near your majesty, we must claim it as the highest favor to be permitted to be near you in the days of your misfortune!"
Just then the door opened and the king entered.
"Sire," said the queen, as she advanced to meet him, "help me to persuade these noble friends that they ought to leave us!"
"The queen is right," said Louis, sadly, "they must go at once. Our misfortune compels us to part with all who love and esteem us. I have just said farewell to my brother, now I say the same to you; I command you to go. Pity us, but do not lose a minute's time. Take your children and your servants with you. Reckon at all times upon me. We shall meet again in happier days, after our dangers are past, and then you shall both resume your old places. Farewell! Once more I command you to go!" [Footnote: The king's own words. This intense parting scene is strictly historical, according to the concurrent communications of Montjoie in his "Histoire de Marie Antoinette." Campan, Mem., ii. Weber, Mem., i.]
And as the king perceived that the tears were starting into his eyes, and that his voice was trembling, he silently bowed to his friends, and hastily withdrew.
"You have heard what the king commands," said Marie Antoinette, eagerly, "and you will not venture to disobey him. Hear also this: I too, the Queen of France, command you to take your departure this very hour."
The duke bowed low before the queen, who stood with pale cheeks, but erect, and with a noble air.
"Your majesty has commanded, and it becomes us to obey. We shall go."
The duchess sank, with a loud cry of grief, on her knee before the queen, and buried her face in the royal robe.
Marie Antoinette did not disturb her, did not venture to speak to her, for she knew that, with the first word which she should utter, the pain of her heart would find expression on her lips, and she would be composed; she would not let her friend see how severe the sacrifice was which her love compelled her to make.
"Let me remain with you," implored the duchess, "do not drive me from you, Marie, my Marie!"
The queen turned her great eyes upward, and her looks were a prayer to God to give her power and steadfastness. Twice then she attempted to speak, twice her voice refused to perform its duty, and she remained silent, wrestling with her grief, and at last overcoming it.
"Julia," she said—and with every word her voice became firmer and stronger—" Julia, we must part. I should be doubly unhappy to draw you and yours into my misfortunes; it will, in all my troubles, be a consolation to me, that I have been able to save you. I do not say, as the king did, that we shall meet again in happier days, and after our perils are past—for I do not believe in any more happy days—we shall not be able to survive those perils, but shall perish in them. I say, farewell, to meet not in this, but in a better world! Not a word more. I cannot bear it! Your queen commands you to go at once! Farewell!"
She extended her hand firmly to her, but she could not look at her friend, who lay at her feet weeping and choking; she saluted the duke with a mere wave of the hand, turned quickly away, and hastened into the adjoining room, and then on till she reached her own toilet-room, where Madame de Campan was awaiting her.
"Campan," she cried, in tones of anguish, "Campan, it is done! I have lost my friend! I shall never see her again. Close the door, draw the bolt, that she cannot come in, I—I shall die!" And the queen uttered a loud cry, and sank in a swoon.
At midnight two well-packed carriages drove out of the inner courts of the palace. They were the Polignacs; they were leaving France, to take refuge in Switzerland.
In the first carriage was the Duchess de Polignac, with her husband and her daughter. She held two letters in her hand. Campan had given her both, in the name of the queen, as she was stepping into the carriage.
One was directed to Minister Necker, who, after his dismissal, had withdrawn to Basle. Since the National Assembly, the clubs, the whole population of Paris, desired Necker's return, and declared him to be the only man who could restore the shattered finances of the country; the queen had persuaded her husband to recall the minister, although an opponent of hers, and appoint him again minister of finance. The letter of the queen, which the Duchess Julia was commissioned to give to Necker, contained his recall, announced to him in flattering words.
The second letter was a parting word from the queen to her friend, a last cry from her heart. "Farewell," it ran—" farewell, tenderly- loved friend! How dreadful this parting word is! But it is needful. Farewell! I embrace thee in spirit! Farewell!"
THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER, 1789.
The morning dawned—a windy October morning, surrounding the sun with thick clouds; so the daylight came late to Paris, as if fearing to see what had taken place on the streets and squares. The national guard, summoned together by the alarm-signal of drum-beats and the clangor of trumpets and horns, collected in the gray morning light, for a fearful rumor had been spread through Paris the evening before, and one has whispered to another that tomorrow had been appointed by the clubs and by the agitators for a second act in the revolution, and the people are too quiet, they must be roused to new deeds.
"The people are too quiet," that was the watchword of the 4th of October, in all the clubs, and it was Marat who had carried it.
On the platform of the Club de Cordeliers, the cry was raised loudly and hoarsely: "Paris is in danger of folding its hands in its lap, praying and going to sleep. They must wake out of this state of lethargy, else the hateful, tyrannical monarchy will revive, and draw the nightcap so far over the ears of the sleeping capital, that it will stick as if covered with pitch, and suffer itself to relapse into bondage. We must awaken Paris, my friends; Paris must not sleep."
And on the night of the 4th of October, Paris had not slept, for the agitators had kept it awake. The watch-cry had been: "The bakers must not bake to-night! Paris must to-morrow morning be without bread, that the people may open their eyes again and awake. The bakers must not bake to-night!"
All the clubs had caught up their watch-cry, and their emissaries had spread it through the whole city, that all the bakers should be informed that whoever should "open his store in the morning, or give any other answer than this: 'There is no more meal in Paris; we have not been able to bake!' will be regarded as a traitor to the national cause, and as such, will be punished. Be on your guard!"
The bakers had been intimidated by this threat, and had not baked. When Paris awoke on the morning of the 5th of October, it was without bread. People lacked their most indispensable article of food.
At the outset, the women, who received these dreadful tidings at the bake-shops, returned dumb with horror to their families, to announce to their households and their hungry children: "There is no bread to-day! The supply of flour is exhausted! We must starve! There is no more bread to be had!"
And from the dark abode of the poor, the sad cry sounded out into the narrow and dirty streets and all the squares, "Paris contains no bread! Paris must starve!"
The women, the children uttered these cries in wild tones of despair. The men repeated the words with clinched fists and with threatening looks: "Paris contains no more bread! Paris must starve!"
"And do you know why Paris must starve?" croaked out a voice into the ears of the people who were crowding each other in wild confusion on the Place de Carrousel.
"Do you know who is the cause of all this misery and want?"
"Tell us, if you know!" cried a rough man's voice.
"Yes, yes, tell us!" shouted other voices. "We want to know!"
"I will tell you," answered the first, in rasping tones; and now upon the stones, which indicated where the carriage-road crossed the square, a little, shrunken, broad-shouldered figure, with an unnaturally large head, and ugly, crafty face, could be seen.
"Marat!" cried some man in the crowd. "Marat!" yelled the cobbler Simon, who had been since August the friend and admirer of Marat, and was to be seen everywhere at his side. "Listen, friends, listen! Marat is going to speak to us; he will tell us how it happens that Paris has bread no more, and that we shall all have to starve together! Marat is going to speak!"
"Silence, silence!" scattered men commanded here and there. "Silence!" ejaculated a gigantic woman, with broad, defiant face, around which her black hair hung in dishevelled masses, and which was gathered up in partly-secured knots under her white cap. With her broad shoulders and her robust arms she forced her way through the crowd, directing her course toward the place where Marat was standing, and near him Simon the cobbler, on whose broad shoulders, as upon a desk, Marat was resting one hand.
"Silence!" cried the giantess. "Marat, the people's friend, is going to speak! Let us listen, for it will certainly do us good. Marat is clever and wise, and loves the people!"
Marat's green, blazing eyes fixed themselves upon the gigantic form of the woman; he shrank back as if an electrical spark had touched him, and with a wonderful expression of mingled triumph and joy. "Come nearer, goodwife!" he exclaimed; "let me press your hand, and bring all the excellent, industrious, well-minded women of Paris to take Marat, the patriot, by the hand!"
The woman strode to the place where Marat was standing and reached him her hand. No one in the crowd noticed that this hand of unwonted delicacy and whiteness did not seem to comport well with the dress of a vender of vegetables from the market; no one noticed that on one of the tapering fingers a jewel of no ordinary size glistened.
Marat was the only one to notice it, and while pressing the offered hand of the woman in his bony fist, he stooped down and whispered in her ear:
"Monseigneur, take this jewelled ring off, and do not press forward too much, you might be identified!"
"I be identified!" answered the woman, turning pale. "I do not understand you, Doctor Marat!"
"But I do," whispered Marat, still more softly, for he saw that Simon's little sparkling eyes were turned toward the woman with a look of curiosity. "I understand the Duke Philip d'Orleans very well. He wants to rouse up the people, but he is unwilling to compromise his name or his title. And that may be a very good thing. But you are not to disown yourself before Marat, for Marat is your very good friend, and will keep your secret honorably."