After that day, the dauphin did not go into his garden again, and the park of the Tuileries was now the exclusive property of the populace, that took possession of it with furious eagerness.
The songs of the revolution, the wild curses of the haters of royalty, the coarse laughter and shouting of the rabble—these were the storm birds which were beating at the windows of the royal apartments.
Marie Antoinette had still one source of enjoyment left to her in her sufferings, her correspondence with her absent friends, and the Duchess de Polignac before all others. Once in a while there was a favorable opportunity to send a letter by the hands of some faithful friend around her, and the queen had then the sad satisfaction at least of being able to express to some sympathizing heart what she was undergoing, without fearing that these complaints would be read by her enemies, as was the case with all letters which were sent by post.
One of these letters to the Duchess de Polignac, which history has preserved, gives a faithful and touching picture of the sorrows and grief of the queen. A translation of it runs thus:
"I cannot deny myself the pleasure of embracing you, my dear heart, but it must be done quickly, for the opportunity is a passing one, although a certain one. I can only write a word, which will be forwarded to you with a large package. We are guarded like criminals, and this restraint is truly dreadfully hard to bear!— constantly too apprehensive for one another, not to be able to approach the window without being loaded with insults; not to be able to take the poor children out into the air without exposing the dear innocents to reproaches, what a situation is ours, my dear heart! And when you think that I suffer not for myself alone, but have to tremble for the king as well, and for our friends who are with us, you will see that the burden is well-nigh unbearable! But, as I have told you before, you absent ones, you keep me up. Adieu, dear heart, let us hope in God, who looks into our consciences, and who knows whether we are not animated by the truest love for this land. I embrace you!
"P. S.—The king has just come in and wants to add a word."
"I will only say, duchess, that you are not forgotten, that we regret receiving so few letters from you, and that, whether near or far away, you and yours are always loved. Louis." [Footnote: Beauchesne "Louis XVII," vol. 1., p. 143.]
Not to be able to show one's self near the window without being showered with insults! Yes, and even into the very middle of her room they followed her. Even when sitting far away from the window, she could not help hearing the loud cries which were thundered out on the pavement below, as the hucksters offered to the laughing crowd the infamous pamphlet, written with a poisoned pen, and entitled "The Life of Marie Antoinette."
At times her anger mastered her, her eyes flashed, her figure was straightened up, and the suffering martyr was transformed for an instant into the proud, commanding queen.
"I will not bear it!" she cried, walking up and down with great strides, "I will speak to them; they shall not insult me without hearing my justification. Yes, I will go down to these people, who call me a foreigner. I will say to them, 'Frenchmen, people have had the want of feeling to tell you that I do not love France, I, the mother of a dauphin, I—'" [Footnote: The queen's own words.-See Campan, "Memoires," vol. II. ]
But her voice choked in her tears, and she fled to the extreme end of the room, fell sobbing on her knees, and held both her hands to her ears, in order not to hear the dreadful insults which came up from below and through her windows.
Thus, amid trials which renewed themselves daily, the months passed by. The queen had no longer any hope. She had given up every thing, even the hope of an honorable end, of a death such as becomes a queen, proud and dignified beneath the ruins of a palace laid low by an exasperated populace. She knew that the king would never bring himself to meet such a death, that his weakness would yield to all humiliation, and his good-nature resist all measures that might perhaps bring help. She had sought in vain to inspire him with her zeal. Louis was a good man, but a bad king; his was not a nature to rule and govern, but rather to serve as the scape-goat for the sins of his fathers, and to fall as a victim for the misdeeds which his ancestors had committed, and through which they had excited the wrath of the people, the divine Nemesis that never sleeps.
The queen knew and felt this, and this knowledge lay like a mourning veil over her whole thought and being, filling her at times with a moody resignation, and at times with a swiftly-kindling and wrathful pain.
"I am content that we be the victims," cried she, wringing her hands, "but I cannot bear to think that my children too are to be punished for what they have not committed."
This thought of her children was the pillar which always raised the queen up again, when the torture of her daily life cast her to the ground. She would, she must live for her children. She must, so long as a breath remained in her, devote all her powers to retain for her son the dauphin at least the crown beneath whose burden his father sank. She wanted nothing more for herself, all for her son alone.
There were still true friends who wanted to save the queen. Secret tidings came to her that all was ready for her escape. It was against her that the popular rage was chiefly directed, and her life was even threatened. Twice had the attempt been made to kill the queen, and the most violent denunciations of the populace were directed against her. It was therefore the queen whom her friends wanted most to save. Every thing was prepared for the flight, true and devoted friends were waiting for her, ready to conduct her to the boundaries of France, where she should meet deputies sent by her nephew, the Emperor Francis. The plan was laid with the greatest care; nothing but the consent of the queen was needed to bring it to completion, and save her from certain destruction. But Marie Antoinette withheld her acquiescence. "It is of no consequence about my life," she said. "I know that I must die, and I am prepared for it. If the king and my children cannot escape with me, I remain; for my place is at the side of my husband and my children."
At last the king himself, inspired by the courage and energy of his wife, ventured to oppose the decisions and decrees of the all- powerful Assembly. It had put forth two new decrees. It had resolved upon the deportation of all priests beyond the limits of France, and also upon the establishment of a camp of twenty thousand men on the Rhine frontier. With the latter there had been coupled a warning, threatening with death all who should spend any time abroad, and engage in any armed movement against their own country.
To both these decrees Louis refused his sanction; both he vetoed on the 20th of June, 1792.
The populace, which thronged the doors of the National Assembly in immense masses, among whom the emissaries of revolution had been very active, received the news of the king's veto with a howl of rage. The storm-birds of revolution flew through the streets, and shouted into all the windows: "The country is in danger! The king has been making alliances abroad. The Austrian woman wants to summon the armies of her own land against France, and therefore the king has vetoed the decree which punishes the betrayers of their country. A curse on M. Veto! Down with Madame Veto! That is the cry to-day for the revolutionary party. A curse on M. Veto! Down with Madame Veto!"
The watch-cry rolled like a peal of thunder through all the streets and into all the houses; and, while within their closed doors, and in the stillness of their own homes, the well-disposed praised the king for having the courage to protect the priests and the emigres, the evil-disposed bellowed out their curses through all the streets, and called upon the rabble to avenge themselves upon Monsieur and Madame Veto.
Nobody prevented this. The National Assembly let every thing go quietly on, and waited with perfect indifference to see what the righteous anger of the people should resolve to do.
Immense masses of howling, shrieking people rolled up, on the afternoon of the 20th of June, to the Tuileries, where no arrangements had been made for defence, the main entrances not even being protected that day by the National Guard.
The king gave orders, therefore, that the great doors should be opened, and the people allowed to pass in unhindered.
In a quarter of an hour all the staircases, corridors, and halls were filled by a howling, roaring crowd; the room of the king alone was locked, and in this apartment were the royal family and a few faithful friends—the king, bland and calm as ever; the queen, pale, firm, uncomplaining; Madame Elizabeth, with folded hands, praying; the two children drawing closely together, softly weeping, and yet suppressing their sobs, because the queen had, in a whisper, commanded them to keep still.
A little company of faithful servants filled the background of the room, and listened with suspended breath to the axe-strokes with which the savage crowd broke down the doors, and heard the approaching cries of the multitude.
At last a division of the National Guard reached the palace, too late to drive the people out, but perhaps in season to protect the royal family. The door of the royal apartment was opened to the second officer of the National Guard, M. Acloque. He burst in, and kneeling before the king, conjured him, with tears in his eyes, to show himself to the people, and by his presence to calm the savage multitude.
By this time the two children were no longer able to control their feelings and suppress their fear. The dauphin burst into tears and loud cries; he clung affrighted to the dress of his mother; he implored her with the most moving tones to take him away, and go with him to his room. Marie Antoinette stooped down to the poor little fellow, and pressed him and Theresa, who was weeping calmly, to her heart, whispering a few quieting words into their ears.
While the mother was comforting her children, Louis, yielding to Acloque's entreaties, had left the room, in order to show himself to the people. Madame Elizabeth, his sister, followed him through the corridor into the great hall, passing through the seething crowd, which soon separated her from the king. Pushed about on all sides, Madame Elizabeth could not follow, and was now alone in the throng, accompanied only by her equerry, M. Saint-Pardoux. Armed men pressed up against the princess, and horrid cries surged around her.
"There is the Austrian woman!" and at once all pikes, all weapons were directed against the princess.
"For God's sake!" cried M. de Saint Pardoux, "what do you want to do? This is not the queen!"
"Why do you undeceive them?" asked Madame Elizabeth, "their error might save the queen!"
And while she put back one of the bayonets directed against her breast, she said, gently: "Take care, sir, you might wound somebody, and I am convinced that you would be sorry."
The people were amazed at this, and respectfully made way for her to come up with the king. He stood in the middle of the hall, surrounded by a crowd threatening him with wild curses. One of these desperadoes pressed close up to the king, while the others were shouting that they must strangle the whole royal family, and, pulling a bottle and a glass out of his pocket, he filled the latter, gave it to the king, and ordered him to drink to the welfare of the nation.
The king quietly took the glass. "The nation must know that I love it," said he, "for I have made many sacrifices for it. From the bottom of my heart I drink to its welfare," and, in spite of the warning cries of his friends, he put the glass to his lips and emptied it.
The crowd was beside itself with delight, and their cries were answered from without by the demand of the bloodthirsty rabble—"How soon are you going to throw out the heads of the king and the queen?"
Marie Antoinette had meanwhile succeeded in pacifying the dauphin. She raised herself up, and when she saw that the king had gone out, she started toward the door.
Her faithful friends stopped the way; they reminded her that she was not simply a queen, that she was a mother, too. They conjured her with tears to give ear to prudence—not to rush in vain into danger, and imperil the king still more.
"No one shall hinder me from doing what is my duty," cried the queen. "Leave the doorway free."
But her friends would not yield; they defied even the wrath of the queen. At that moment, some of the National Guards came in through another door, and pacified Marie Antoinette, assuring her that the life of the king was not threatened.
In the mean while the shouting came nearer and nearer, the cries resounded from the guard-room, the doors were torn open, and the people surged in, in immense waves, like the sea lashed into fury by the storm. The National Guards rolled a table before the queen and her children, and placed themselves at the two sides to defend them.
Only a bit of wood now separated the queen from her enemies, who brandished their weapons at her. But Marie Antoinette had now regained her whole composure. She stood erect; at her right hand, her daughter, who nestled up to her mother—at her left, the dauphin, who, with wide-open eyes and looks of astonishment, gazed at the people bursting in. Behind the queen were Princesses Lamballe and Tarente, and Madame Tourzel.
A man, with dishevelled hair and bare bosom, gave the queen a handful of rods, bearing the inscription, "For Marie Antoinette!" Another showed her a guillotine, a third a gallows, with the inscription, "Tremble, tyrant! thy hour has come!" Another held up before her, on the point of a pike, a human heart dripping with blood, and cried: "Thus shall they all bleed—the hearts of tyrants and aristocrats!"
The queen did not let her eyes fall, her fixed look rested upon the shrieking and howling multitude; but when this man, with the bleeding heart, approached her, her eyelids trembled—a deathly paleness spread over her cheeks, for she recognized him—Simon the cobbler—and a fearful presentiment told her that this man, who had always been for her the incarnation of hatred, is now, when her life is threatened, to be the source of her chief peril.
From the distance surged in the cries: "Long live Santerre! Long live the Faubourg Saint Antoine! Long live the sans-culottes!"
And at the head of a crowd of half-naked fellows, the brewer Santerre, arrayed in the fantastic costume of a robber of the Abruzzo Mountains, with a dagger and pistol in his girdle, dashed into the room, his broad-brimmed hat, with three red plumes, aslant upon his brown hair, that streamed down on both sides of his savage countenance, like the mane of a lion.
The queen lifted the dauphin up, set him upon the table, and whispered softly to him, he must not cry, he must not grieve, and the child smiled and kissed his mother's hands. Just then a drunken woman rushed up to the table, threw a red cap down upon it, and ordered the queen, on pain of death, to put it on.
Marie Antoinette threw both her arms around the dauphin, kissed his auburn hair, and turned calmly to General de Wittgenhofen, who stood near her.
"Put the cap upon me," said she, and the women howled with pleasure, while the general, pale with rage and trembling with grief, obeyed the queen's command, and put the red cap upon that hair which trouble had already turned gray in a night.
But, after a minute, General Wittgenhofen took the red cap from the head of the queen, and laid it on the table.
From all sides resounded thus the commanding cry: "The red cap for the dauphin! The tri-color for Little Veto!" And the women tore their three-colored ribbons from their caps and threw them upon the table.
"If you love the nation," cried the women to the queen, "put the red cap on your son."
The queen motioned to Madame Tourzel, who put the red cap on the dauphin, and decked his neck and arms with the ribbons. The child did not understand whether it was a joke or a way of insulting him, and looked on with a smile of astonishment.
Santerre leaned over the table and looked complacently at the singular group. The proud and yet gentle face of the queen was so near him, that when he saw the sweat-drops rolling down from beneath the woollen cap over the dauphin's forehead, even he felt a touch of pity, and, straightening himself up, perhaps to escape the eye of the queen, he called out, roughly: "Take that cap off from that child; don't you see how he sweats?"
The queen thanked him with a mute glance, and took the cap herself from the head of the poor child.
At this point a horde of howling women pressed up to the table, and threatened the queen with their fists, and hurled wild curses at her.
"Only see how proudly and scornfully this Austrian looks at us!" cried a young woman, who stood in the front rank." She would like to blast us with her eyes, for she hates us."
Marie Antoinette turned kindly to them: "Why should I hate you?" she asked, in gentle tones. "It is you that hate me—you. Have I ever done you any harm?"
"Not to me," answered the young woman, "not to me, but to the nation."
"Poor child!" answered the queen, gently, "they have told you so, and you have believed it. What advantage would it bring to me to harm the nation? You call me the Austrian, but I am the wife of the King of France, the mother of the dauphin. I am French with all my feelings of wife and mother. I shall never see again the land in which I was born, and only in France can I be happy or unhappy. And when you loved me, I was happy there." [Footnote: The queen's own words.—See Beauchesne, vol. i., p. 106.]
She said this with quivering voice and moving tones, the tears filling her eyes; and while she was speaking the noise was hushed, and even these savage creatures were transformed into gentle, sympathetic women.
Tears came to the eyes of the young woman who before had spoken so savagely to the queen. "Forgive me," she said, weeping, "I did not know you; now I see that you are not bad."
"No, she is not bad," cried Santerre, striking with both fists upon the table, "but bad people have misled her," and a second time he struck the table with his resounding blows. Marie Antoinette trembled a little, and hastily lifting the dauphin from the table, she put him by her side.
"Ah! madame," cried Santerre, smiling, "don't be afraid, they will do you no harm; but just think how you have been misled, and how dangerous it is to deceive the people. I tell you that in the name of the people. For the rest, you needn't fear."
"I am not afraid," said Marie Antoinette, calmly; "no one need ever be afraid who is among brave people," and with a graceful gesture she extended her hands to the National Guards who stood by the table.
A general shout of applause followed the words of the queen; the National Guards covered her hands with kisses, and even the women were touched.
"How courageous the Austrian is!" cried one. "How handsome the prince is!" cried another, and all pressed up to get a nearer view of the dauphin, and a smile or a look from him.
The great eyes of Santerre remained fixed upon the queen, and resting both arms upon the table he leaned over to her until his mouth was close by her ear.
"Madame," he whispered, "you have very unskilful friends; I know people who would serve you better, who—"
But as if ashamed of this touch of sympathy, he stopped, sprang back from the table, and with a thundering voice, commanded all present to march out and leave the palace.
They obeyed his command, filed out in military order past the table, behind which stood the queen with her children and her faithful friends.
A rare procession, a rare army, consisting of men armed with pikes, hatchets, and spades, of women brandishing knives and scissors in their hands, and all directing their countenances, before hyena-like and scornful, but now subdued and sympathetic, to the queen, who with calm eye and gentle look responded to the salutations of the retreating crowd with a friendly nod.
In the mean while the long-delayed help had reached the king: the National Guards had overcome the raging multitude, and gained possession of the great reception-room where Louis was. The mayor of Paris, Petion, had come at last, and, hailed loudly by the crowd which occupied the whole space in the rear of the National Guards, he approached the king.
"Sire," said he, "I have just learned what is going on here."
"I am surprised at that," answered the king, with a reproachful look, "the mayor of Paris ought to have learned before this about this tumult, which has now been lasting three hours."
"But is now at an end, sire, since I have come," cried Petion, proudly. "You have now nothing more to fear, sire."
"To fear?" replied Louis with a proud shrug. "A man who has a good conscience does not fear. Feel," he said, taking the hand of the grenadier who stood at his side, "lay your hand upon my heart, and tell this man whether it beats faster." [Footnote: The king's words. The grenadier's name whose hand the king took, was Lalanne. Later, in the second year of "the one and indivisible republic," he was condemned to die by the guillotine, because, as stated in the sentence, he showed himself on the 30th of June, 1798, as a common servant of tyranny, and boasted to other citizens that Capet took his hand, laid it upon his heart, and said: "Feel, my friend, whether it beats quicker."—See Hue, "Dernieres Annees de Louis Seize," p. 180.]
Petion now turned to the people and commanded them to withdraw. "Fellow-citizens," said he, "you began this day wisely and worthily; you have proved that you are free. End the day as you began it. Separate peaceably; do as I do, return to your houses, and go to bed!" The multitude, flattered by Petion's praises, began to withdraw, and the National Guards escorted the king into the great council-chamber, where a deputation of the National Assembly had met to pay their respects to the king.
"Where is the queen, where are the children?" cried the king, as, exhausted, he sank into a chair.
His gentlemen hastened out to bring them, and soon the queen and the children came in. With extended arms Marie Antoinette hastened to her husband, and they remained a long time locked in their embrace.
"Papa king," cried the dauphin, "give me a kiss, too! I have deserved it, for I was brave and did not cry when the people put the red cap on my head."
The king stooped down to the child and kissed his golden hair, and then pressed his little daughter, who was nestling up to him, to his heart.
The deputies stood with curious looks around the group, to whom it was not granted, even after such a fearful day and such imminent peril, to embrace each other, and thank God for their preservation, without witnesses.
"Confess, madame," said one of the deputies to Marie Antoinette, in a confidential tone, "confess that you have experienced great anxiety."
"No, sir," replied the queen, "I have not been anxious, but I have suffered severely, because I was separated from the king at a moment when his life was threatened. I had at least my children with me, and so could discharge one of my duties."
"I will not excuse every thing that took place to-day," said the deputy, with a shrug. "But confess at least, madame, that the people conducted themselves very well."
"Sir, the king and I are convinced of the natural good-nature of the people; they are only bad when they are led astray."
Some other deputies approached the dauphin, and directed various questions to him, in order to convince themselves about his precocious understanding that was so much talked about.
One of the gentlemen, speaking of the day that had gone by, compared it with St. Bartholomew's night.
"The comparison does not hold," cried another: "here is no Charles the Ninth."
"And no Catherine de Medicis either," said the dauphin, quickly, pressing the hand of the queen to his lips.
"Oh! see the little scholar," cried the by-standers. "Let us see whether he knows as much about geography as about history!"
And all pressed up to him, to put questions to him about the situation and boundaries of France, and about the division of the French territory into departments and districts. The prince answered all these questions quickly and correctly. After every answer he cast an inquiring glance at the queen, and when he read in her looks that his answer had been correct, his eyes brightened, and his cheeks glowed with pleasure.
"Our dauphin is really very learned," cried one of the deputies. "I should like to know whether he has paid any attention yet to the arts. Do you love music, my little prince?"
"Ah, sir," answered the dauphin, eagerly, "whoever has heard mamma sing and play, must love music!"
"Do you sing too, prince?"
The dauphin raised his eyes to his mother. "Mamma," he asked, "shall I sing the prayer of this morning?"
Marie Antoinette nodded. "Sing it, my son, for perhaps God heard it this morning, and has graciously answered it."
The dauphin sank upon his knees, and folding his hands, he raised his head and turned his blue eyes toward heaven, and, with a sweet voice and a mild, smiling look, he sang these words:
"Ciel, entends la priere Qu'ici je fais; Conserve un si boil pere A ses sujets." [Footnote: See Beauchesne, vol. i., p. 146. This scene is historical. Sees Hue, "Dernioree Anneesde Louis XVI." This prayer is from the opera so much admired at that time, "Peter the Great" "O Heaven, accept the prayer, I offer here; Unto his subjects spare My father dear."]
A deep, solemn silence reigned while the dauphin's voice rang through the room. The faces of the deputies, hitherto defiant and severe, softened, deeply moved. They all looked at the beautiful boy, who was still on his knees, his countenance beaming, and with a smile upon it like the face of one in a blissful dream. No one ventured to break the silence. The king, whose arm was thrown around the neck of his daughter, looked affectionately at the dauphin; Madame Elizabeth had folded her hands, and was praying; but Marie Antoinette, no longer able to control her deep emotion, covered her face with her hands, and wept in silence.
From this day the life of the royal family was one of constant excitement—an incessant, feverish expectation of coming evil. The king bore it all with an uncomplaining resignation; no one drew from him a complaint, no one a reproach. But the thought never seemed to occur to him that perhaps even yet safety might be attained by energy, by spirit, or even by flight.
He had surrendered all; he was ready to suffer as a Christian instead of rising as a king, and preferred to fall in honorable battle rather than to live despised.
Marie Antoinette had given up her efforts to inspire her husband with her own energetic will. She knew that all was in vain, and had accepted her fate. Since she could not live as a queen, she would at least die as one. She made her preparations for this calmly and with characteristic decision. "They will kill me, I know," she said to her maids. "I have only one duty left me, to prepare myself to die!"
She lost her accustomed spirit, wept much, and exhibited a great deal of feeling. Yet she still stood guard over the shattered throne like a resolute sentinel, and looked around with sharp and searching glances, to keep an eye on the enemy, and to be ready for his nearer approach.
She still continued to receive news about every thing that transpired in Paris, every thing that was resolved upon in the National Assembly and discussed in the clubs, and had the libels and pamphlets which were directed at her all sent to her. Marie Antoinette understood the condition of the capital and the feeling of the people better than did the king (who often sat for hours, and at times whole days, silent and unoccupied) better even than did the ministers. She received every morning the reports of the emissaries, followed the intrigues of the conspirators, and was acquainted with the secret assemblies which Marat called together, and the alliances of the clubs. She knew about the calling together of the forty-eight sections of the Paris "fraternity" in one general convention. She knew that Potion, Danton, and Manuel, three raving republicans, were at the head, and that their emissaries were empowered to stir up the suburbs of the city. She knew, too, that the monsters from Marseilles, who had been active on the 20th of June, were boasting that they were going to repeat the deeds of that day on a greater scale.
Nor was it unknown to her that more than half the deputies in the National Assembly belonged to the Jacobin party, and that they were looking for an opportunity to strike a fresh blow at royalty. Very often, when at dead of night Marie Antoinette heard the noisy chorus of the rioters from Marseilles singing beneath her windows,
"Allons, enfants de la patrie," or the Parisians chanting the "Qa ira, fa ira!" she sprang from her bed (she now never disrobed herself on retiring), hurried to the beds of her children to see that they were not in danger, or called her maids and commanded them to light the candles, that they might at least see the danger which threatened.
At last, on the night of the 9th of August, the long-feared terror arrived.
A gun fired in the court of the Tuileries announced its advent. Marie Antoinette sprang from her bed, and sent her waiting-maid to the king to waken him. The king had already risen; his ministers and a few tried friends were now with him. The queen wakened her children, and assisted in dressing them. She then went with the little ones to the king, who received them with an affectionate greeting. At length a blast of trumpets announced that the movement had become general; the thunder of cannon and the peals of bells awakened the sleeping city.
The royal family, crowded close together, silently awaited the stalking of the republic into the halls of the king's palace, or the saving of the monarchy by the grace of God and the bravery of their faithful friends. For even then monarchy had those who were true to it; and while the trumpet-blasts continued and the bells to ring, to awaken republicans to the struggle, the sounds were at the same time the battle-cry of the royalists, and told them, that the king was in danger and needed their help.
About two hundred noblemen had remained in Paris, and had not followed the royal princes to Coblentz to take arms against their own country. They had remained in Paris, in order to defend the monarchy to the last drop of their blood, and at least to be near the throne, if they were not able to hold it up longer. In order not to be suspected, they carried no arms, and yet it was known that beneath the silk vest of the cavalier they concealed the dagger of the soldier, and they received in consequence the appellation of "Chevaliers of the Dagger."
At the first notes of the trumpet the nobility had hurried on the night of the 10th of August to the Tuileries, which were already filled with grenadiers, Swiss guards, and volunteers of every rank, who had hastened thither to protect the royal family. All the staircases, all the corridors and rooms, were occupied by them.
The "Chevaliers of the Dagger" marched in solemn procession by them all to the grand reception-room, where were the king, the queen, and the children. With respectful mien they approached the royal pair, imploring the king's permission to die for him, and beseeching the queen to touch their weapons, in order to make them victorious, and to allow them to kiss the royal hand, in order to sweeten death for them. There were cries of enthusiasm and loyalty on all sides, "Long live the king of our fathers!" cried the young people. "Long live the king of our children!" cried the old men, taking the dauphin in their arms and raising him above their heads, as if he were the living banner in whose defence they wished to die.
As the morning dawned, the king, at the pressing request of his wife, walked with her and the children through the halls and galleries of the palace, to reanimate the courage of their defenders who were assembled there, and to thank them for their fidelity. Everywhere the royal family was received with enthusiasm, everywhere oaths of loyalty to death resounded through the rooms. The king then went, accompanied by a few faithful friends, down into the park, to review the battalions of the National Guard who were stationed there.
When Louis appeared, the cry, "Long live the king!" began to lose the unanimity which had characterized it in the palace. It was suppressed and overborne by a hostile murmur, and the farther the king advanced, the louder grew these mutterings; till at last, from hundreds and hundreds of throats, the thundering cry resounded, "Abdication or death! Long live Petion! Resignation or death!"
The king turned hastily around, and, with pale face and forehead covered with drops of cold sweat, he returned to the palace.
"All is lost!" cried the queen, bitterly, "Nothing more remains for us than to die worthily."
But soon she raised herself up again, and new courage animated her soul, when she saw that new defenders were constantly pressing into the hall, and that even many grenadiers of the National Guard mingled in the ranks of the nobility.
But these noblemen, these "Chevaliers of the Dagger," excited mistrust, and a major of the National Guard demanded their removal with a loud voice.
"No," cried the queen, eagerly, "these noblemen are our best friends. Place them before the mouth of the cannon, and they will show you how death for one's king is met. Do not disturb yourselves about these brave people,"
She continued, turning to some grenadiers who were approaching her, "your interests and theirs are common.
Every thing that is dearest to you and them-wives, children, property-depends upon your courage and your common bravery."
The grenadiers extended their hands to the chevaliers, and mutual oaths were exchanged to die for the royal family, to save the throne or to perish with it. It was a grand and solemn moment, full of lofty eloquence! The hearts of these noblemen and these warriors longed impatiently for death. With their hands laid upon their weapons, they awaited its coming.
The populace rolled up in great masses to the palace. "Wild shrieks were heard, the thunder of cannon, the harsh cries of women, and the yells of men. Within the palace they listened with suspended breath. The queen straightened herself up, grasped with a quick movement the hands of her children, drew them to herself, and, with head bent forward and with breathless expectation, gazed at the door, like a lioness awaiting her enemy, and making herself ready to defend her young with her own life.
The door was suddenly opened, and the attorney-general Roderer burst in.
"Sire," cried he, with impassioned utterance, "you must save yourself! All opposition is vain. Only the smallest part of the National Guard is still to be trusted, and even this part only waits the first pretext to fraternize with the populace. The cannoneers have already withdrawn the loading from the cannon, because they are unwilling to fire upon the people. The king has no time to lose. Sire, there is protection for you only in the National Assembly, and only the representatives of the people can now protect the royal family."
The queen uttered a cry of anger and horror. "How!" she cried. "What do you say? We seek protection with our worst enemies? Never, oh, never! Rather will I be nailed to these walls, than leave the palace to go to the National Assembly!" [Footnote: The queen's own words.— See Beauchesne, vol. i., p. 90.]
And turning to the king, who stood silent and undecided, she spoke to him with flaming words, with glowing eloquence, addressed him as the father of the dauphin, the successor of Henry IV. and Louis XIV., sought to animate his ambition and touch his heart, and tried for the last time to kindle him with her courage and her decision.
In vain, all in vain. The king remained silent and undecided. A cry, one single cry of grief, burst from the lips of the queen, and one moment her head sank upon her breast.
"Hasten, hasten, sire!" cried Roderer, "every moment increases the peril. In a quarter of an hour perhaps the queen and the children will be lost beyond remedy!"
These words awakened the king from his reverie. He looked up and nodded his head. "We can do nothing else," he said. "Let us go at once to the National Assembly."
"Sir," cried the queen, turning to Roderer, "is it true that we are deserted by all?"
"Madame," answered the attorney-general, sadly, "all opposition is in vain, it will only increase the danger. Would you suffer yourself, the king, your children, and friends, to be killed?"
"God forbid it! Would that I alone could be the offering!"
"Another minute," urged Roderer, "perhaps another second, and it is impossible to guarantee your life, and perhaps that of your husband and children."
"My children!" cried the queen, throwing her arms around them, and drawing them to her breast. "No, oh no, I will not give them over to the knife!"
One sigh, one last sob, burst from her lips, and then she released herself from the children, and approached the king and his ministers.
"This is the last sacrifice," she said, heavily, "that I can offer. I submit myself, M. Roderer," and then with louder tones, as if she wanted to call all present to be witnesses, she continued, "will you pledge yourself for the person of the king, and for that of my son?"
"Madame," answered Roderer, solemnly, "I pledge myself for this, that we are all ready to die at your side. That is all that I can promise."
And now the noblemen and the grenadiers pressed up to take the king and queen in their escort.
"For God's sake," cried Roderer, "no demonstration, or the king is lost!
"Remain, my friends," said the king, stolidly, "await our return here."
"We shall soon return," said Marie Antoinette; and leading her two children, she followed the king, who walked slowly through the hall. Princess Lamballe and Madame Tourzel brought up the rear.
It was done. The dying monarchy left the royal palace to put itself under the protection of the revolution, which was soon to give birth to the republic.
It was six o'clock in the morning when the royal family crossed the threshold of the Tuileries—in front the king, conducting Princess Elizabeth on his arm, behind him the queen with the two children.
Before leaving the palace, the king received tidings that a part of the National Guard had withdrawn, in order to protect their families and their property from an attack of the populace, and that another part had declared, itself against the king and in favor of the revolution.
Louis made his way through the seething crowd that scarcely opened to allow a free passage for the royal family, and overwhelmed them with curses, insults, and abuse.
Some members of the National Assembly went in advance, and could themselves scarcely control the raging waves of popular fury.
On the Terrace des Feuillants the people shouted, "Down with the tyrants! To death, to death with them!"
The dauphin cried aloud with fright, for the bloody hands of two yelling women were extended after him. A grenadier sprang forward, seized the boy with his strong arm, and raised him upon his shoulder.
"My son, give me back my son!" cried the queen, wildly. The grenadier bowed to her. "Do not be afraid, do you not recognize me?"
Marie Antoinette looked at him, and the hint of a smile passed over her face. She did indeed recognize him who, like a good angel, was always present when danger and death threatened her. It was Toulan, the faithful one, by her side in the uniform of a National Guardsman.
"Courage, courage, good queen, the demons are loose, but good angels are near thee too; and where those curse and howl, these bring blessing and reconciliation."
"Down with the tyrants!" roared the savage women.
"Do not be afraid, my prince," said the grenadier, to the dauphin whom he carried upon his shoulder, in order to protect him from the thronging of the crowd. "Nobody will hurt you."
"Not me, but my dear papa," sobbed the child, while the tears rolled over his pale cheeks.
The poor child trembled and was afraid, and how could he help it? Even the king was terrified for a moment, and felt as if the tears were coming into his eyes. The queen too wept, dried her tears, and then wept again. The sad march consumed more than an hour, in order to traverse the bit of way to the Manege, where the National Assembly met. Before the doors of this building the cries were doubled; the attorney-general harangued the mob, and sought to quiet it, and pushed the royal family into the narrow corridor, in which, hemmed in by abusive crowds, they made their way forward slowly. At last the hall doors opened, and as Marie Antoinette passed in behind the king, Toulan gave the little dauphin to her, who flung both his arms around the neck of his mother.
A death-like silence reigned in the hall. The deputies looked with dark faces at the new-comers. No one rose to salute the king, no word of welcome was spoken.
The king took his place by the side of the president, the queen and her ladies took the chairs of the ministers. Then came an angry cry from the tribune: "The dauphin must sit with the king, he belongs to the nation. The Austrian has no claim to the confidence of the people."
An officer came down to take the child away, but Louis Charles clung to his mother, fear was expressed on his features, tears stood in his eyes, and won a word of sympathy, so that the officer did not venture to remove the prince forcibly.
A deep silence sat in again, till the king raised his voice. "I have come hither," he said, "to prevent a great crime, and because I believe that I am safest surrounded by the representatives of the nation."
"Sire," replied President Vergniaud, "you can reckon upon the devotion of the National Assembly. It knows its duties; its members have sworn to live and to die in defence of the rights of the people and of the constitutional authorities."
Voices were heard at this point from all sides of the hall, declaring that the constitution forbids the Assembly holding its deliberations in the presence of the king and the queen.
They then took the royal family into the little low box scarcely ten feet long, in which the reporters of the "Logograph" used to write their accounts of the doings of the Assembly. Into this narrow space were a king, a queen, with her sister and her children, their ministers and faithful servants, crowded, to listen to the discussions concerning the deposition of the king.
From without there came into the hall the wild cry of the populace that the Swiss guards had been killed, and shouts accompanied the heads as they were carried about on the points of pikes. The crack of muskets was heard, and the roar of cannon. The last faithful regiments were contending against the army of the revolutionists, while within the hall the election by the French people of a General Convention was discussed.
This scene lasted the whole day; the whole day the queen sat in the glowing heat, her son asleep in her lap, motionless, and like a marble statue. She appeared to be alive only when once in a while a sigh or a faint moan escaped her. A glass of water mixed with currant-juice was the only nourishment she took through the day.
At about five in the afternoon, while the Assembly was still deliberating about the disposal of the king, Louis turned composedly around to the valet who was standing back of him.
"I am hungry," he said; "bring me something to eat!" Hue hastened to bring, from a restaurant near by, a piece of roast chicken, some fruit and stewed plums; a small table was procured, and carried into the reporters' box of the "Logograph."
The countenance of the king lightened up a little, as he sat down at the table and ate his dinner with a good appetite. He did not hear the suppressed sobs that issued from a dark corner of the box. To this corner the unhappy woman had withdrawn, who yesterday was Queen of France, and whose pale cheeks reddened with shame at this hour to see the king eating with his old relish!
The tears started afresh from her eyes, and, in order to dry them, she asked for a handkerchief, for her own was already wet with her tears, and with the sweat which she had wiped from the forehead of her sleeping boy. But no one of her friends could reach her a handkerchief that was not red with the blood of those who had been wounded in the defence of the queen!
It was only at two o'clock in the night that the living martyrdom of this session ended, and the royal family were conducted to the cells of the former Convent des Feuillants, which was above the rooms of the Assembly, and which had hastily been put in readiness for the night quarters of the royal family. Hither armed men, using their gun-barrels as candlesticks for the tapers which they carried, marched, conducting a king and a queen to their improvised sleeping- rooms. A dense crowd of people, bearing weapons, surrounded them, and often closed the way, so that it needed the energetic command of the officer in charge to make a free passage for them. The populace drew back, but bellowed and sang into the ears of the queen as she passed by:
"Madame Veto avait promis D'fegorger tout Paris."
These horrible faces, these threatening, abusive voices, frightened the dauphin, who clung tremblingly to his mother. Marie Antoinette stooped down to him and whispered a few words in his ear. At once the countenance of the boy brightened, and he sprang quickly and joyfully up the staircase; but at the top he stood still, and waited for his sister, who was so heavy with sleep that she had to be led slowly up. "Listen, Theresa," said the prince, joyously, "mamma has promised me that I shall sleep in her room with her, because I was so good before the bad people. " [Footnote: Goncourt.—"Histoirede Marie Antoinette," p. 234.] And he jumped about delightedly into the rooms which had been opened, and in which a supper had been even prepared. But suddenly, his countenance darkened, and his eyes wandered around with an anxious look.
"Where is Moufflet?" he asked. "He came with me, and he was with me when we left the box. Moufflet, Moufflet, where are you, Moufflet?" and asking this question loudly, the dauphin hurried through the four rooms everywhere seeking after the little dog, the inheritance from his brother, the former Dauphin of France.
But Moufflet did not come, and all search was in vain; no Moufflet was to be found. He had probably been lost in the crowd, or been trodden under foot.
When at last silence and peace came, and the royal family were resting on their hard beds, sighs and suppressed sobs were heard from where the dauphin lay. It was the little fellow weeping for his lost dog. The heir of the kings of France had to-day lost his last possession—his little, faithful dog.
Marie Antoinette stooped down and kissed his wet eyes.
"Do not cry, my boy; Moufflet will come back again tomorrow."
"To-morrow! certainly, mamma?"
The boy dried his tears, and went to sleep with a smile upon his lips.
But Marie Antoinette did not sleep; sitting erect in her bed, she listened to the cries and fiendish shoutings which came up from the terrace of the Feuillants, as the people heaped their abuses upon her, and demanded her head.
On the next day new sufferings! The royal family had to go again into the little box which they had occupied the day before; they had to listen to the deliberation of the National Assembly about the future residence of the royal family, which had made itself unworthy to inhabit the Tuileries, while even the Luxemburg palace was no suitable residence for Monsieur and Madame Veto.
The queen had in the mean time regained her self-possession and calmness, she could even summon a smile to her lips with which to greet her children and the faithful friends who thronged around her in order to be near her in these painful hours. She was pleased with the attentions of the wife of the English ambassador, Lady Sutherland, who sent linen and clothes of her own son for the dauphin. The queen also received from Madame Tourzel her watch with many thanks, since she had been robbed of her own and her purse on the way to the Convent des Feuillants.
On receiving news of this theft, the five gentlemen present hastened to lay all the gold and notes that they carried about them on the table before they withdrew. But Marie Antoinette had noticed this. "Gentlemen," she said, with thanks and deep feeling, "gentlemen, keep your money; you will want it more than we, for you will, I trust, live longer." [Footnote: The queen's own words.—See "Beauehesne," vol. i., p. 806.]
Death had no longer any terrors for the queen, for she had too often looked him in the eye of late to be afraid. She had with joy often seen him take away her faithful servants and friends. Death would have been lighter to bear than the railings and abuse which she had to experience upon her walks from the Logograph's reporters' seat to the rooms in the Convent des Feuillants. On one of these walks she saw in the garden some respectably dressed people standing and looking without hurling insults at her.—Full of gratitude, the queen smiled and bowed to them. On this, one of the men shouted: "You needn't take the trouble to shake your head so gracefully, for you won't have it much longer!"
"I would the man were right!" said Marie Antoinette softly, going on to the hall of the Assembly to hear the representatives of the nation discuss the question whether the Swiss guards, who had undertaken to defend the royal family with weapons in their hands, should not be condemned to death as traitors to the French nation.
At length, after five days of continued sufferings, the Assembly became weary of insulting and humiliating longer those who had been robbed of their power and dignity; and it was announced to the royal family that they would hereafter reside in the Temple, and be perpetual prisoners of the nation.
On the morning of the 18th of August two great carriages, each drawn by only two horses, stood in the court des Feuillants ready to carry the royal family to the Temple. In the first of these sat the king, the queen, their two children, Madame Elizabeth, Princess Lamballe, Madame Tourzel and her daughter; and besides these, Potion the mayor of Paris, the attorney-general, and a municipal officer. In the second carriage were the servants of the king and two officials. A detachment of the National Guards escorted the carriages, on both sides of which dense masses of men stood, incessantly pouring out their abuse and insults.
In the Place Vendome the procession stopped, and with scornful laughter they showed the king the scattered fragments, upon the pavements, of the equestrian statue of Louis XIV., which had stood there, and which had been thrown from its pedestal by the anger of the people. "So shall it be with all tyrants!" shouted and roared the mob, raising their fists threateningly.
"How bad they are!" said the dauphin, looking with widely-opened eyes at the king, between whose knees he was standing.
"No," answered Louis, gently, "they are not bad, they are only misled."
At seven in the evening they reached the gloomy building which was now to be the home of the King and Queen of France. "Long live the nation!" roared the mob, which filled the inner court as Marie Antoinette and her husband dismounted from the carriage. "Long live the nation!—down with the tyrants!" The queen paid no attention to the cries; she looked down at her black shoe, which was torn, and out of whose tip her white silk stocking peeped. "See," she said, to Princess Lamballe, who was walking by her side, "see my foot, it would hardly be believed that the Queen of France has no shoes."
TO THE 21ST 0F JANUARY.
"We must look misfortune directly in the eye, and have courage to bear it worthily," said Marie Antoinette." "We are prisoners, and shall long remain so! Let us seek to have a kind of household life even in our prison. Let us make a fixed plan how to spend our days."
"You are right, Marie," replied Louis; "let us arrange how to spend each day. As I am no longer a king, I will be the teacher of my son, and try to educate him to be a good king."
"Do you believe, then, husband, that there are to be kings after this in France?" asked Marie Antoinette, with a shrug.
"Well," answered Louis, "we will at least seek to give him such an education that he shall be able to fill worthily whatever station he may be called to. I will be his teacher in the sciences."
"And I will interest him and our daughter in music and drawing," said the queen.
"And you will allow me to teach my niece to embroider an altar- cover," said Madame Elizabeth.
"And in the evening," said Marie Antoinette, nodding playfully to Princess Lamballe, "in the evening we will read comedies, that the children may learn of our Lamballe the art of declamation. We will seek to forget the past, and turn our thoughts only to the present, whatever it may be. You see that these four days that we have spent here in the Temple have been good schoolmasters for me, and have made me patient, and—but what is that?" exclaimed the queen; "did you not hear steps before the door? It must be something unusual, for it is not yet so late as the officials are accustomed to come. Where are the children?"
And, in the anxiety of her motherly love, the queen hastened up the little staircase which led to the second story of the Temple, where was the chamber of the dauphin, together with the general sitting- room.
Louis Charles sprang forward to meet his mother, and asked her whether she had come to fulfil her promise, and go out with him into the garden. The queen, instead of answering, clasped him in her arms, and beckoned to Theresa to come to her side. "Oh! my children, my dear children, I only wanted to see you; I—"
The door opened, and the king, followed by his sister, Princess Lamballe, and Madame Tourzel, entered.
"What is it?" cried Marie Antoinette. "Some new misfortune, is it not?"
She was silent, for she now became aware of the presence of both of the municipal officials, who had come in behind the ladies, and in whose presence she would not complain. Manuel, who, since the 10th of August, had been attorney-general—Manuel, the enemy of the queen, the chief supervisor of the prisoners in the Temple, was there—and Marie Antoinette would not grant him the triumph of seeing her weakness.
"You have something to say to us, sir," said the queen, with a voice which she compelled to be calm.
Yes, Manuel had something to say to her. He had to lay before her and the king a decree of the National Assembly, which ordered old parties who had accompanied "Louis Capet and his wife" to the Temple, either under the name of friends or servants, to leave the place at once. The queen had not a word of complaint, but her pride was vanquished; she suffered Manuel to see her tears. She extended her arms, and called the faithful Lamballe to her, mingled her tears with those of the princess, and then gave a parting kiss to Madame de Tourzel and her daughter.
The evening of that day was a silent and solitary one in the rooms of the Temple. Their last servants had been taken away from the royal prisoners, and only Clery, the valet of the king, had been suffered to remain, to wait upon his master. The next morning, however, Manuel came to inform the queen that she would be allowed to have two other women to wait upon her, and gave her a list of names from which she might choose. But Marie Antoinette, with proud composure, refused to accept this offer. "We have been deprived of those who remained faithful to us out of love, and devoted their services to us as a free gift, and we will not supply their places by servants who are paid by our enemies."
"Then you will have to wait upon yourselves," cried Manuel, with a harsh voice.
"Yes," answered the queen, gently, "we will wait upon ourselves, and take pleasure in it."
And they did wait upon themselves; they took the tenderest care one of another, and performed all these offices with constant readiness. The king had, happily, been allowed to retain his valet, who dressed him, who knew all his quiet, moderate ways, and who arranged every thing for the king in the little study at the Temple, as he had been accustomed to do in the grand cabinet at Versailles. The ladies waited upon themselves, and Marie Antoinette undertook the task of dressing and undressing the dauphin.
The little fellow was the sunbeam which now and then would light up even the sombre apartments of the Temple. With the happy carelessness of infancy, he had forgotten the past, and did not think of the future; he lived only in the present, sought to be happy, and found his happiness when he succeeded in calling a smile to the pale, proud lips of the queen, or in winning a word of praise from the king for his industry and his attention.
And thus the days went by with the royal family-monotonous, sad, and dreary. No greeting of love, no ray of hope came in from the outer world, to lighten up the thick walls of the old building. No one brought the prisoners news of what was transpiring without. They were too well watched for any of their friends to be able to communicate with them. This was the greatest trial for the royal captives. Not a moment, by day or by night, when the eyes of the sentries were not directed toward them, and their motions observed! The doors to the anterooms were constantly open, and in them always there were officials, with searching looks and with severe faces, watching the prisoners in the inner rooms. Even during the night this trial did not cease, and the Queen of France had to undergo the indignity of having the door of her sleeping-room constantly open, while the officials, who spent the night in their arm-chairs in the anteroom, drank, played, and smoked, always keeping an eye on her bed, in order to be sure of her presence.
Even when she undressed herself, the doors of the queen's apartment were not closed; a mere small screen stood at the foot of the bed; this was removed as soon as the queen had disrobed and lain down.
This daily renewed pain and humiliation—this being watched every minute—was the heaviest burden that the prisoners of the Temple had to bear, and the proud heart of Marie Antoinette rose in exasperation every day against these restraints. She endeavored to be patient and to choke the grief that rose within her, and yet she must sometimes give expression to it in tears and threatening words, which now fell like cold thunderbolts from the lips of the queen, and no longer kindled any thing, no longer dashed any thing in pieces.
Thus August passed and September began, sad, gloomy, and hopeless. On the morning of the 3d of September, Manuel came to the royal prisoners, to tell them that Paris was in great excitement, and that they were not to go into the garden that day as usual about noon, but were to remain in their rooms.
"How is it with my friend, Princess Lamballe?" asked Marie Antoinette.
Manuel was perplexed; he even blushed and cast down his eyes, as he answered that that morning the princess had been taken to the prison La Force. Then, in order to divert conversation from this channel, Manuel told the prisoners about the tidings which had recently reached Paris, and had thrown the city into such excitement and rage.
The neighboring powers had made an alliance against France. The King of Prussia was advancing with a powerful army, and had already confronted the French force before Chalons, while the Emperor of Germany was marching against Alsace. Marie Antoinette forgot the confusion and perplexity which Manuel had exhibited, in the importance of this news. She hoped again; she found in her elastic spirit support in these tidings, and began to think of the possibility of escape. It did not trouble her that beneath her windows she heard a furious cry, as the crowd surged up to the prison walls: "The head of the Austrian! Give us the head of the Austrian!" She had so often heard that—it had been so long the daily refrain to the sorrowful song of riot which filled Paris—that it had lost all meaning for Marie Antoinette.
Nor did it disturb her at all that she heard the loud beatings of drums approaching like muffled thunder, that trumpets were blown, that musketry rattled, and loud war cries resounded in the distant streets.
Marie Antoinette paid no heed to this. She heard constantly ringing before her ear Manuel's words: "The neighboring nations have allied against France. The King of Prussia is before Chalons. The Emperor of Germany is advancing upon Strasburg." "0 God of Heaven, be merciful to us! Grant to our friends victory over our enemies.
Release us from these sufferings and pains, that our children may at least find the happiness which for us is buried forever in the past."
And yet Marie Antoinette could speak to no one of her hopes and fears. She must breathe her prayer in her own heart alone, for the municipal officials were there, and the two servants who had been forced upon the prisoners, Tison and his wife, the paid servants of their enemies.
Only the brave look and the clearer brow told the king of the hopes and wishes of his wife, but he responded to them with a faint shrug and a sad smile.
All at once, after the royal family had sat down to take their dinner at the round table—all at once there was a stir in the building which was before so still. Terrible cries were heard, and steps advancing up the staircase. The two officials, who were sitting in the open anteroom, stood and listened at the door. This was suddenly opened, and a third official entered, pale, trembling with rage, and raising his clinched fists tremblingly against the king.
"The enemy is in Verdun," cried he. "We shall all be undone, but you shall be the first to suffer!"
The king looked quietly at him; but the dauphin, terrified at the looks of the angry man and his loud voice, burst into a violent fit of weeping and sobbing, and Marie Antoinette and the little Theresa strove in vain to quiet the little fellow by gentle words.
A fourth official now entered, and whispered secretly to his colleagues.
"Is my family no longer in safety here?" asked the king.
The official shrugged his shoulders. "The report has gone abroad that the royal family is no longer in the Temple. This has excited the people, and they desire that you all show yourselves at the windows, but we will not permit it; you shall not show yourselves. The public must have more confidence in its servants."
"Yes," cried the other official, still raising his fists—"yes, that it must; but if the enemy come, the royal family shall die!"
And when at these words the dauphin began to cry aloud again, he continued: "I pity the poor little fellow, but die he must!"
Meanwhile the cries outside were still louder, and abusive epithets were distinctly heard directed at the queen. A fifth official then came in, followed by some soldiers, in order to assure themselves, in the name of the people, that the Capet family was still in the tower. This official demanded, in an angry voice, that they should go to the window and show themselves to the people.
"No, no, they shall not do it," cried the other functionaries.
"Why not?" asked the king. "Come, Marie."
He extended his hand to her, and advanced with her to the window.
"No, don't do it!" cried the official, rushing to the window.
"Why not?" asked the king, in astonishment.
"Well," cried the man, with threatening fist, "the people want to show you the head of Lamballe, that you may see how the nation takes vengeance on its tyrants."
At that same instant there arose behind the window-pane a pale head encircled with long, fair hair, the livid forehead sprinkled with blood, the eyes lustreless and fixed—the head of Princess Lamballe, which the people had dressed by a friseur, to hoist it upon a pike and show it to the queen.
The queen had seen it; staggering she fell back upon a chair; she gazed fixedly at the window, even after the fearful phantom had disappeared. Her lips were open, as if for a cry which had been silenced by horror. She did not weep, she did not complain, and even the caresses of the children, the gentle address of Princess Elizabeth, and the comforting words of the king could not rouse her out of this stupefying of her whole nature.
Princess Lamballe had been murdered, and deep in her soul the queen saw that this was only the prelude to the fearful tragedy, in which her family would soon be implicated.
Poor Princess Lamballe! She had been killed because she had refused to repeat the imprecations against the queen, which they tried to extort from her lips: "Swear that you love liberty and equality; swear that you hate the king, the queen, and every thing pertaining to royalty."
"I will swear to the first," was the princess's answer, "but to the last I cannot swear, for it does not lie in my heart."
This was the offence of the princess, that hate did not lie in her heart—the offence of so many others who were killed on that 3d of September, that dreadful day on which the hordes of Marseilles opened the prisons, in order to drag the prisoners before the tribunals, or to execute them without further sentence.
The days passed by, and they had to be borne. Marie Antoinette had regained her composure and her proud calmness. She had to overcome even this great grief, and the heart of the queen had not yet been broken. She still loved, she still hoped. She owed it to her husband and children not to despair, and better days might come even yet. "We must keep up courage," she said, "to live till the dawn of this better day."
And it required spirit to bear the daily torture of this life! Always exposed to scorn and abuse! Always watched by the eyes of mocking, reviling men! Always scrutinized by Madame Tison, her servant, who followed every one of her motions as a cat watches its prey, and among all these sentinels the most obnoxious of all was the cobbler Simon.
Commissioned by the authorities to supervise the workmen and masons who were engaged in restoring the partially ruined ancient portion of the Temple, Simon had made himself at home within the building, to discharge his duties more comfortably. It was his pleasure to watch this humiliated royal family, to see them fall day by day, and hear the curses that accompanied them at every step. He never appeared in their presence without insulting them, and encouraging with loud laughter those who imitated him in this.
Some of the officials in charge never spoke excepting with dreadful abuse of the king, the queen, and the children.
One of them cried to his comrade in presence of Marie Antoinette: "If the hangman does not guillotine this accursed family, I will do it!"
When the royal family went down to take their walk in the garden, Santerre used to come up with a troop of soldiers. The sentries whom they passed shouldered arms before Santerre; but as soon as he had passed and the king came, they grounded their arms, and pretended not to see him. In the door that led into the garden, Rocher, the turnkey, used to stand, and take his pleasure in letting the royal family wait before unlocking, while he blew great clouds of smoke into their faces from his long tobacco-pipe. The National Guards who stood in the neighborhood used to laugh at this, and hurl all sorts of low, vile words at the princesses. Then, while the royal prisoners were taking their walk, the cannoneers used to collect in the allees through which they wandered, and dance to the music of revolutionary songs which some of them sang. Sometimes the gardeners who worked there hurried up to join them in this dance, and to encircle the prisoners in their wild evolutions. One of these people displayed his sickle to the king one day, and swore that he would cut off the head of the queen with it. And when, after their sad walk, they had returned to the Temple, they were received by the sentinels and the turnkey with renewed insults; and, as if it were not enough to fill the ear with this abuse, the eye too must have its share. The vilest of expressions were written upon the walls of the corridors which the royal party had to traverse. You might read there: "Madame Veto will soon be dancing again. Down with the Austrian she-wolf! The wolf's brood must be strangled. The king must be hanged with his own ribbon!" Another time they had drawn a gallows, on which a figure was hanging, with the expression written beneath, "Louis taking an air-bath!"
And so, even the short walks of the prisoners were transformed into suffering. At first the queen thought she could not bear it, and the promenades were given up. But the pale cheeks of her daughter, the longing looks which the dauphin cast from the closed window to the garden, warned the mother to do what the queen found too severe a task. She underwent the pain involved in this, she submitted herself, and every day the royal pair took the dear children into the garden again, and bore this unworthy treatment without complaint, that the children might enjoy a little air and sunshine.
One day, the 21st of September, the royal family had returned from their walk to their sitting-room. The king had taken a book and was reading; the queen was sitting near him, engaged in some light work; while the dauphin, with his sister Theresa, and his aunt Elizabeth, were in the next room, and were busying each other with riddles. In the open anteroom the two officials were sitting, their eyes fixed upon the prisoners with a kind of cruel pleasure.
Suddenly beneath their windows were heard the loud blast of trumpets and the rattle of drums; then followed deep silence, and amid this stillness the following proclamation was read with a loud voice:
"The monarchy is abolished in France. All official documents will be dated from the first year of the republic. The national seal will be encircled by the words, 'Republic of France.' The national coat-of- arms will be a woman sitting upon a bundle of weapons, and holding in her hand a lance tipped with a liberty-cap."
The two officials had fixed their eyes upon the king and queen, from whose heads the crown had just fallen. They wanted to read, with their crafty and malicious eyes, the impression which the proclamation had made upon them. But those proud, calm features disclosed nothing. Not for a moment did the king raise his eyes from the book which he was reading, while the voice without uttered each word with fearful distinctness. The queen quietly went on with her embroidery, and not for a moment did she intermit the regular motion of her needle.
Again the blast of trumpets and the rattle of drums. The funeral of the royalty was ended, and the king was, after this time, to be known simply as Louis Capet, and the queen as Marie Antoinette. Within the Temple there was no longer a dauphin, no longer a Madame Royale, no longer a princess, but only the Capet family!
The republic had hurled the crowns from the heads of Louis and Marie Antoinette; and when, some days later, the linen which had been long begged for, had been brought from the Tuileries, the republic commanded the queen to obliterate the crown which marked each piece, in addition to the name.
But their sufferings are by no means ended yet. Still there are some sources of comfort left, and now and then a peaceful hour. The crowns have fallen, but hearts still beat side by side. They have no longer a kingdom, but they are together, they can speak with looks one to another, they can seek to comfort one another with smiles, they can cheer each other up with a passing grasp of the hand, that escapes the eye of the sentries! We only suffer half what we bear in common with others, and every thing seems lighter, when there is a second one to help lift the load.
Perhaps the enemies of the king and queen have an instinctive feeling of this, and their hate makes them sympathetic, in order to teach them to invent new tortures and new sufferings.
Yes, there are unknown pangs still to be felt; their cup of sorrows was not yet full! The parents are still left to each other, and their eyes are still allowed to rest upon their children! But the "one and indivisible republic" means to rend even these bonds which bind the royal family together, and to part those who have sworn that nothing shall separate them but death! The republic—which had abolished the churches, overthrown the altars, driven the priesthood into exile—the republic cannot grant to the Capet family that only death shall separate them, for it had even made Death its servant, and must accept daily victims from him, offered on the Place de Liberte, in the centre of which stood the guillotine, the only altar tolerated there.
In the middle of October the republic sent its emissaries to the Temple, to tear the king from the arms of his wife and his children. In spite of their pleadings and cries, he was taken to another part of the Temple—to the great tower, which from this time was to serve as his lodgings. And in order that the queen might be spared no pang, the dauphin was compelled to go with his father and be separated from his mother.
This broke the pride, the royal pride of Marie Antoinette. She wrung her hands, she wept, she cried, she implored with such moving, melting tones, not to be separated from her son and husband, that even the heart of Simon the cobbler was touched.
"I really believe that these cursed women make me blubber!" cried he, angry with the tears which forced themselves into his eyes. And he made no objection when the other officials said to the queen, with trembling voices, that they would allow the royal family to come together at their meals.
One last comfort, one last ray of sunshine! There were still hours in these dismal, monotonous days of November, when they could have some happiness—hours for which they longed, and for whose sake they bore the desolate solitude of the remaining time.
At breakfast, dinner, and supper, the Capet family were together; words were interchanged, hands could rest in one another, and they could delight in the pleasant chatter of the dauphin when the king told about the lessons he had given the boy, and the progress he was making.
They sometimes forgot, at those meetings, that Death was perhaps crouching outside the Temple, waiting to receive his victims; and they even uttered little words of pleasantry, to awaken the bright, fresh laugh of the dauphin, the only music that ever was heard in those dismal rooms.
But December took this last consolation from the queen. The National Assembly, which had now been transformed into the Convention, brought the charge of treason against the king. He was accused of entering into a secret alliance with the enemies of France, and calling the monarchs of Europe to come to his assistance. In an iron safe which had been set into the wall of the cabinet in the Tuileries, papers had been discovered which compromised the king, letters from the refugee princes, from the Emperor of Germany, and the King of Prussia. These monarchs were now on the very confines of France, ready to enter upon a bloody war, and that was the fault of the king! He was in alliance with the enemies of his country! He was the murderer of his own subjects! On his head the blood should return, which had been shed by him.
This was the charge which was brought against the king. Twenty members of the Convention went to the Temple, to read it to him, and to hear his reply. He stoutly denied haying entertained such relations with foreign princes; he declared, with a solemn oath, that he had declined all overtures from such quarters, because he had seen that, in order to free an imprisoned king, France itself must be threatened.
The chiefs of the revolution meant to find him guilty. Louis Capet must be put out of the way, in order that Robespierre and Marat, Danton, Petion, and their friends, might reach unlimited power.
There may have been several in the Convention who shrank from this last consequence of their doings, but they did not venture to raise their voices; they chimed in with the terrorism which the leaders of the revolution exercised upon the Convention. They knew that behind these leaders stood the savage masses of the streets, armed with hatred against monarchy and the aristocracy, and ready to tear in pieces any one as an enemy of the country who ventured to join the number of those who were under the ban and the sentence of the popular hate.
Still there were some courageous, faithful servants of the king who ventured to take his part even there. Louis had now been summoned to the bar as an accused person, and the Convention had transformed itself into a tribunal whose function was to pass judgment on the guilt or innocence of the king!
In order to satisfy all the forms of the law, the king should have had an advocate allowed him, and the benefit of legal counsel. The Convention demanded that those who were ready to undertake this task should send in their names. It was a form deemed safe to abide by, because it was believed that there would be no one who would venture to enter upon so momentous and perilous a duty.
But there were such, nevertheless. There were still courageous and noble men who pitied the forsaken king, and who wanted to try to save him; not willing to see him atone for the debts of his predecessors, and bleed for the sins of his fathers. And scarcely had the consent of the Convention been announced, that Louis Capet should have three advocates for his defence, when from Paris and all the minor cities letters came in from men who declared themselves ready to undertake the defence of the king.
Even from foreign lands there came letters and appeals in behalf of the deposed monarch. One of them, written in spirited and glowing language, conjured France not to soil its noble young freedom by the dreadful murder of an innocent man, who had committed no other offence than that he was the son of his fathers, the heir of their crown and their remissness. It was written by a German poet, Frederick Schiller. [Footnote: Schiller's defence of the king is preserved in the national archives—See Beauchesue vol. i., p. 366.]
From the many requests to serve as his advocates, Louis chose only two to defend him. The first of these was his former minister, the philosopher Lamoignon des Malesherbes, then the advocate Trouchet, and finally, at the pressing request of Malesherbes, the distinguished young advocate Deseges. To those three men was committed the trust of defending the king against the dreadful charge of treason to his country, to be substantiated by hundreds and hundreds of letters and documents.
After the preliminary investigations were closed, the public charge was made in the Convention, which still held its sessions in the Manage. To this building, situated near the Tuileries, the king, accompanied by his three defenders and two municipal defenders, and surrounded by National Guards, was conducted from the Temple. The people danced around the carriage with wild shouts of joy and curses of the king. Within the vehicle sat Louis, completely calm and self- possessed.
"This man must be filled with a singular fanaticism," said Colombeau, one of the leading officials, in the report which he gave to the Convention of the ride. "It is otherwise inexplicable how Louis could be so calm, since he had so much reason to fear. After we had all entered the carriage, and were driving through the streets, Louis entered upon conversation, which soon turned upon literature, and especially upon some Latin authors. He gave his judgments with remarkable correctness and insight, and it appeared to me that he took pleasure in showing his learning. One of us said that he did not enjoy Seneca, because his love for riches stood in marked contrast with his pretended philosophy, and because it could not easily be forgiven him that before the senate he apologized for the crimes of Nero. This reflection did not seem to affect Louis in the least. When we spoke of Livy, Capet said that he seemed to have taken satisfaction in composing great speeches which were never uttered to any other audience than that which was reached from his study-table; 'for,' he added, 'it is impossible that generals really delivered such long speeches in front of their armies.' He then compared Livy with Tacitus, and thought that the latter was far superior to the former in point of style." [Footnote: See Beauchesne, vol. i., p. 396.] The king went on talking about Latin authors while the carriage was carrying him through the roaring mob to the Convention, which Desege addressed in his defence in these courageous words: "I look for judges among you, but see only accusers."
The king was completely calm, yet he knew that his life was threatened, and that he was standing before a tribunal of death. As on the day when he was first taken to the Convention, he requested Malesherbes to forward a note to the priest whose attendance he desired, and who he believed would not deny his presence and attentions. His name was Edgewarth de Pirmont. The time was not distant when not the services of advocates were wanted by the king, but exclusively those of the priest.
The sentence of death was pronounced on January 26, 1793. Louis received it calmly, and desired merely to see his family, to have a confessor come to him, and to prepare himself for his death.
During these dreadful weeks Marie Antoinette was separated from her husband, alone with her children, who no longer were able to smile, but who sat day after day with fixed eyes and silent lips. The queen knew that the king had been accused, had made a private reply to the charges brought against him, and had been brought before the Convention. But not a word, not a syllable of the trial which followed, reached her. Madame Tison, the female dragon who guarded her, watched her too well for any tidings to reach her.
At last, however, the word was brought which the heart of the queen had so long anticipated tremblingly, for which she had prepared herself during the long nights with tears and prayers, and which now filled her with grief, anger, and despair. The king was condemned to death! He wanted only to see his family, to take his leave of them!
The Convention had granted this privilege to him, and had even gone so far in its grace as to permit the family to be without the presence of witnesses. The meeting was appointed, however, in the little dining-room of the king, because a glass door led into the adjoining room, and the officials could then look in upon the royal family. The functionary had withdrawn in order to conduct the queen, the children, and the king's sister from the upper tower. The king was awaiting them, walked disquietly up and down, and then directed Clery, who was arranging the little room, to set the round table, which was in the middle of the apartment, on one side, and then to bring in a carafe of water and some glasses. "But," he added, considerately, "not ice-water, for the queen cannot bear it, and she might be made unwell by it."
But all at once the king grew pale, and, standing still, he laid his hand upon his loudly-beating heart. He had heard the voice of the queen.
The door opened and they came in—all his dear ones. The queen led the dauphin by the hand; Madame Elizabeth walked with the Princess Theresa.
The king went toward them and opened his arms to them. They all pressed up to him and clasped him in their midst, while loud sobs and heart-rending cries filled the room. Behind the door were the officials, but they could not look in upon the scene, for their own eyes were filled with tears. In the king's cabinet, not far away, the Abbe Edgewarth de Firmont was upon his knees, praying for the unfortunates whose wails and groans reached even him.
Gradually the sobs died away. They took their places—the queen at the left of her husband; Madame Elizabeth, his sister, at his right; opposite to him, his daughter, Maria Theresa, and between his knees the dauphin, looking up into his father's face with widely-opened eyes and a sad smile.
Louis was the first to speak. He told them of his trial, and of the charges which they had brought against him. But his words were gentle and calm, and he expressed his pity for the "poor, misled men" who had condemned him. He asked his family, too, to forgive them. They answered him only with sobs, embraces, tears, and kisses.
Then all was still. The officials heard not a word, but they saw the queen, with her children and sister-in-law, sink upon their knees, while the king, standing erect in the midst of the group, raised his hands and blessed them in gentle, noble words, which touched the heart of the Abbe Edgewarth, who was kneeling behind the door of the neighboring cabinet.
The king then bade the family rise, took them again in his arms, and kissed the queen, who, pale and trembling, clung to him, and whose quivering lips were not able to restrain a word of denunciation of those who had condemned him.
"I have forgiven them," said the king, seriously. "I have written my will, and in it you will read that I pardon them, and that I ask you to do the same. Promise me, Marie, that you will never think how you may avenge my death."
A smile full of sadness and despair flitted over the pale lips of the queen.
"I shall never be in a situation to take vengeance upon them," she said. "But," she added quickly, "even if I should ever be able, and the power should be in my hands, I promise that I will exact no vengeance for this deed."
The king stooped down and imprinted a kiss upon her forehead.
"I thank you, Marie, and I know that you all, my dear ones, will sacredly regard my last testament, and that my wishes and words will be engraven on your hearts. But, my son"—and he took the dauphin upon his knee, and looked down into his face tenderly—"you are still a child, and might forget. You have heard what I have said, but as an oath is more sacred than a word, raise your hand and swear to me you will fulfil my wish and forgive all our enemies."
The boy, turning his great blue eyes fixedly on the king, and his lips trembling with emotion, raised his right hand, and even the officials in the next room could distinctly hear the sweet child's voice repeating the words: "I swear to you, papa king, that I will forgive all our enemies, and will do no harm to those who are going to kill my dear father!"
A shudder passed through the hearts of the men in the next room; they drew back from the door with pale faces. It seemed to them as if they had heard the voice of an angel, and a feeling of inexpressible pain and regret passed through their souls.
Within the king's room all now was still, and the abbe in the cabinet heard only the gentle murmuring of their prayers, and the suppressed weeping and sobs.
At last the king spoke. "Now, go, my dear ones. I must be alone. I need to rest and collect myself."
A loud wail was the answer. After some minutes, Clery opened the glass door, and the royal family were brought into the view of the officials once more. The queen was clinging to the right arm of Louis; they each gave a hand to the dauphin. Theresa had flung her arms around the king's body, his sister Elizabeth clung to his left arm. They thus moved forward a few steps toward the door, amid loud cries of grief and heart-breaking sobs.
"I promise you," said Louis, "to see you once more tomorrow morning, at eight o'clock."
"At eight! Why not at seven?" asked the queen, with a foreboding tone.
"Well, then," answered the king, gently, "at seven. Farewell, farewell!"
The depth of sadness in his utterance with which he spoke the last parting word, doubled the tears and sobs of the weeping family. The daughter fell in a swoon at the feet of her father, and Clery, assisted by the Princess Elizabeth, raised her up.
"Papa, my dear papa," cried the dauphin, nestling up closely to his father, "let us stay with you."
The queen said not a word. With pale face and with widely-opened eyes she looked fixedly at the king, as though she wanted to impress his countenance on her heart.
"Farewell, farewell!" cried the king, once more, and he turned quickly around and hurried into the next room.
A single cry of grief and horror issued from all lips. The two children, soon to be orphans, then clung closely to their mother, who threw herself, overmastered by her sobbing, on the neck of her sister-in-law.
"Forward! The Capet family will return to their own apartments!" cried one of the officials.
Marie Antoinette raised herself up, her eye flashed, and with a voice full of anger, she cried: "You are hangmen and traitors!" [Footnote: Beauchesne, vol. 1., p. 49.]
The king had withdrawn to his cabinet, where the priest, Abbe Edgewarth de Firmont, addressed him with comforting words. His earnest request had been granted, to give the king the sacrament before his death. The service was to take place very early the next morning, so ran the decision of the authorities, and at seven the king was to be taken to execution.
Louis received the first part of this communication joyfully, the second part with complete calmness.
"As I must rise so early," he said to his valet Clery, "I must retire early. This day has been a very trying one for me, and I need rest, so as not to be weak to-morrow." He was then undressed by the servant, and lay down. When Clery came at five the next morning to dress him, he found the king still asleep, and they must have been pleasant dreams which were passing before him, for a smile was playing on his lips.
The king was dressed, and the priest gave him the sacrament, the vessels used having been taken from the neighboring Capuchin church of Marais. An old chest of drawers was converted by Clery into an altar, two ordinary candlesticks stood on each side of the cup, and in them two tallow candles burned, instead of wax. Before this altar kneeled King Louis XVI., lost in thought and prayer, and wearing a calm, peaceful face.
The priest read the mass; Clery responded as sacristan; and even while the king was receiving the elements, the sound of the drums and trumpets was heard without, which awakened Paris that morning and told the city that the King of France was being led to his execution. Cannon were rattling through the streets, and National Guardsmen were hurrying on foot and on horse along the whole of the way that led from the Temple to the Place de la Concorde. A rank of men, four deep and standing close to one another, armed with pikes and other weapons, guarded both sides of the street, and made it impossible for those who wanted to liberate the king during the ride, to come near to him. The authorities knew that one of the bravest and most determined partisans of the king had arrived in Paris, and that he, in conjunction with a number of young and brave- spirited men, had resolved on rescuing the king at any cost, during his ride to the place of execution. The utmost precautions had been taken to render this impossible. Through the dense ranks of the National Guard, which to-day was composed of mere sans-culottes, the raging, bloodthirsty men of the suburbs drove the carriage in which was the king, followed and escorted by National Guardsmen on horseback. The windows were all closed and the curtains drawn in the houses by which the procession passed; but behind those curtained windows it is probable that people were upon their knees praying for the unhappy man who was now on his way to the scaffold, and who was once King of France.
All at once there arose a movement in this dreadful hedge of armed men, through which the carriage was passing. Two young men cried: "To us, Frenchmen—to us, all who want to save the king!"
But the cry found no response. Every one looked horrified at his neighbor, and believed he saw in him a spy or a murderer; fear benumbed all their souls, and the silence of death reigned around.
The two young men wanted to flee, to escape into a house close by. But the door was closed, and before the very door they were cut down and hewn in pieces by the exasperated sans-culottes.
The carriage of the king rolled on, and Louis paid no more attention to objects around him; in the prayer-book which he carried in his hands he read the petitions for the dying, and the abbe prayed with him.
The coachman halted at the foot of the scaffold, and the king dismounted. A forest of pikes surrounded the spot. The drummers beat loudly, but the king cried with a loud voice, "Silence!" and the noise ceased. On that, Santerre sprang forward and commanded them to commence beating their drums again, and they obeyed him. The king took off his upper garments, and the executioners approached to cut off his hair. He quietly let this be done, but when they wanted to tie his hands, his eyes flashed with anger, and with a firm voice he refused to allow them to do so.
"Sire," said the priest, "I see in this new insult only a fresh point of resemblance between your majesty and our Saviour, who will be your recompense and your strength."
Louis raised his eyes to heaven with an indescribable expression of grief and resignation. "Truly," he said, "only my recollection of Him and His example can enable me to endure this new degradation."
He gave his hands to the executioner, to let them be bound. Then resting on the arm of the abbe, he ascended the steps of the scaffold. The twenty drummers, who stood around the staging, beat their drums; but the king, advancing to the very verge of the scaffold, commanded them with a loud voice to be silent, and the noise ceased.
In a tone which was audible across the whole square, and which made every word intelligible, the king said: "I die innocent of all the charges which are brought against me. I forgive those who have caused my death, and I pray God that the blood which you spill this day may never come back upon the head of France. And you, unhappy people—"
"Do not let him go on talking this way," cried Santerre's commanding voice, interrupting the king, then turning to Louis he said, in an angry tone, "I brought you here not to make speeches, but to die!"
The drums beat, the executioners seized the king and bent him down. The priest stooped over him and murmured some words which only God heard, but which a tradition full of admiration and sympathy has transposed into the immortal and popular formula which is truer than truth and more historical than history: "Son of St. Louis, ascend to Heaven!"
The drums beat, a glistening object passed through the air, a stroke was heard, and blood spirted up. The King of France was dead, and Samson the executioner lifted up the head, which had once borne a crown, to show it to the people.
A dreadful silence followed for an instant; then the populace broke in masses through the rows of soldiers, and rushed to the scaffold, in order to bear away some remembrances of this ever-memorable event. The clothes of the king were torn to rags and distributed, and they even gave the executioner some gold in exchange for locks of hair from the bleeding head. An Englishman gave a child fifteen louis d'or for dipping his handkerchief in the blood which flowed from the scaffold. Another paid thirty louis d'or for the peruke of the king. [Footnote: These details I take from the "Vossische Zeitung," which, in its issue of the 5th of February, 1798, contains a full report of the execution of King Louis XVI., and also announces that the court of Prussia will testify its grief at the unmerited fate by wearing mourning for a period of four weeks. The author of this work possesses a copy of the " Vossische Zeitung " of that date, in small quarto form, printed on thick, gray paper. In the same number of the journal is a fable by Hermann Pfeffel, which runs in the following strain:
First moral, then political freedom.
A fable, by Hermann Pfeffel. Zeus and the Tigers.
To Zeus there came one day A deputation of tigers. "Mighty potentate," Thus spoke their Cicero before the monarch's throne, "The noble nation of tigers, Has long been wearied with the lion's choice as king. Does not Nature give us an equal claim with his? Therefore, O Zeus, declare my race To be a people of free citizens!" "No," said the god of gods, "it cannot be; You are deceivers, thieves, and murderers, Only a good people merits being free." [Footnote: "Marie Antoinette et sa Famine," par Lescure, p. 648.]
On the evening of the same day, the executioner Samson, shocked at the terrible deed which he had done, went to a priest, paid for masses to be said for the repose of the king, then laid down his office, retired into solitude, and died in six months. His son was his successor in his ghostly office, and, in a pious manner, he continued what his father began. The masses for the king, instituted by the two Samsons, continued to be read till the year 1840.
On the morrow which followed this dreadful day, the "Widow Capet" requested the authorities to provide for herself and her family a suite of mourning of the simplest kind.