[The disturbances of the 13th of April, 1790, occasioned by the warmth of the discussions upon Dom Gerle's imprudent motion in the National Assembly, having afforded room for apprehension that the enemies of the country would endeavour to carry off the King from the capital, M. de La Fayette promised to keep watch, and told Louis XVI. that if he saw any alarming movement among the disaffected he would give him notice of it by the discharge of a cannon from Henri IV.'s battery on the Pont Neuf. On the same night a few casual discharges of musketry were heard from the terrace of the Tuileries. The King, deceived by the noise, flew to the Queen's apartments; he did not find her; he ran to the Dauphin's room, where he found the Queen holding her son in her arms. "Madame;" said the King to her, "I have been seeking you; and you have made me uneasy." The Queen, showing her son, said to him, "I was at my post."—"Anecdotes of the Reign of Louis XVI."]
This Princess received advice and memorials from all quarters. Rivarol addressed several to her, which I read to her. They were full of ingenious observations; but the Queen did not find that they, contained anything of essential service under the circumstances in which the royal family was placed. Comte du Moustier also sent memorials and plans of conduct. I remember that in one of his writings he said to the King, "Read 'Telemachus' again, Sire; in that book which delighted your Majesty in infancy you will find the first seeds of those principles which, erroneously followed up by men of ardent imaginations, are bringing on the explosion we expect every moment." I read so many of these memorials that I could hardly give a faithful account of them, and I am determined to note in this work no other events than such as I witnessed; no other words than such as (notwithstanding the lapse of time) still in some measure vibrate in my ears.
Comte de Segur, on his return from Russia, was employed some time by the Queen, and had a certain degree of influence over her; but that did not last long. Comte Augustus de la Marck likewise endeavoured to negotiate for the King's advantage with the leaders of the factious. M. de Fontanges, Archbishop of Toulouse, possessed also the Queen's confidence; but none of the endeavours which were made on the spot produced any, beneficial result. The Empress Catherine II. also conveyed her opinion upon the situation of Louis XVI. to the Queen, and her Majesty made me read a few lines in the Empress's own handwriting, which concluded with these words:
"Kings ought to proceed in their career undisturbed by the cries of the people, even as the moon pursues her course unimpeded by the baying of dogs." This maxim of the despotic sovereign of Russia was very inapplicable to the situation of a captive king.
Meanwhile the revolutionary party followed up its audacious enterprise in a determined manner, without meeting any opposition. The advice from without, as well from Coblentz as from Vienna, made various impressions upon the members of the royal family, and those cabinets were not in accordance with each other. I often had reason to infer from what the Queen said to me that she thought the King, by leaving all the honour of restoring order to the Coblentz party,—[The Princes and the chief of the emigrant nobility assembled at Coblentz, and the name was used to designate the reactionary party.]—would, on the return of the emigrants, be put under a kind of guardianship which would increase his own misfortunes. She frequently said to me, "If the emigrants succeed, they will rule the roast for a long time; it will be impossible to refuse them anything; to owe the crown to them would be contracting too great an obligation." It always appeared to me that she wished her own family to counterbalance the claims of the emigrants by disinterested services. She was fearful of M. de Calonne, and with good reason. She had proof that this minister was her bitterest enemy, and that he made use of the most criminal means in order to blacken her reputation. I can testify that I have seen in the hands of the Queen a manuscript copy of the infamous memoirs of the woman De Lamotte, which had been brought to her from London, and in which all those passages where a total ignorance of the customs of Courts had occasioned that wretched woman to make blunders which would have been too palpable were corrected in M. de Calonne's own handwriting.
The two King's Guards who were wounded at her Majesty's door on the 6th of October were M. du Repaire and M. de Miomandre de Sainte-Marie; on the dreadful night of the 6th of October the latter took the post of the former the moment he became incapable of maintaining it.
A considerable number of the Body Guards, who were wounded on the 6th of October, betook themselves to the infirmary at Versailles. The brigands wanted to make their way into the infirmary in order to massacre them. M. Viosin, head surgeon of that infirmary, ran to the entrance hall, invited the assailants to refresh themselves, ordered wine to be brought, and found means to direct the Sister Superior to remove the Guards into a ward appropriated to the poor, and dress them in the caps and greatcoats furnished by the institution. The good sisters executed this order so promptly that the Guards were removed, dressed as paupers, and their beds made, while the assassins were drinking. They searched all the wards, and fancied they saw no persons there but the sick poor; thus the Guards were saved.
M. de Miomandre was at Paris, living on terms of friendship with another of the Guards, who, on the same day, received a gunshot wound from the brigands in another part of the Chateau. These two officers, who were attended and cured together at the infirmary of Versailles, were almost constant companions; they were recognised at the Palais Royal, and insulted. The Queen thought it necessary for them to quit Paris. She desired me to write to M. de Miomandre de Sainte-Marie, and tell him to come to me at eight o'clock in the evening; and then to communicate to him her wish to hear of his being in safety; and ordered me, when he had made up his mind to go, to tell him in her name that gold could not repay such a service as he had rendered; that she hoped some day to be in sufficiently happy circumstances to recompense him as she ought; but that for the present her offer of money was only that of a sister to a brother situated as he then was, and that she requested he would take whatever might be necessary to discharge his debts at Paris and defray the expenses of his journey. She told me also to desire he would bring his friend Bertrand with him, and to make him the same offer.
The two Guards came at the appointed hour, and accepted, I think, each one or two hundred louis. A moment afterwards the Queen opened my door; she was accompanied by the King and Madame Elisabeth; the King stood with his back against the fireplace; the Queen sat down upon a sofa and Madame Elisabeth sat near her; I placed myself behind the Queen, and the two Guards stood facing the King. The Queen told them that the King wished to see before they went away two of the brave men who had afforded him the strongest proofs of courage and attachment. Miomandre said all that the Queen's affecting observations were calculated to inspire. Madame Elisabeth spoke of the King's gratitude; the Queen resumed the subject of their speedy departure, urging the necessity of it; the King was silent; but his emotion was evident, and his eyes were suffused with tears. The Queen rose, the King went out, and Madame Elisabeth followed him; the Queen stopped and said to me, in the recess of a window, "I am sorry I brought the King here! I am sure Elisabeth thinks with me; if the King had but given utterance to a fourth part of what he thinks of those brave men they would have been in ecstacies; but he cannot overcome his diffidence."
The Emperor Joseph died about this time. The Queen's grief was not excessive; that brother of whom she had been so proud, and whom she had loved so tenderly, had probably suffered greatly in her opinion; she reproached him sometimes, though with moderation, for having adopted several of the principles of the new philosophy, and perhaps she knew that he looked upon our troubles with the eye of the sovereign of Germany rather than that of the brother of the Queen of France.
The Emperor on one occasion sent the Queen an engraving which represented unfrocked nuns and monks. The first were trying on fashionable dresses, the latter were having their hair arranged; the picture was always left in the closet, and never hung up. The Queen told me to have it taken away; for she was hurt to see how much influence the philosophers had over her brother's mind and actions.
Mirabeau had not lost the hope of becoming the last resource of the oppressed Court; and at this time some communications passed between the Queen and him. The question was about an office to be conferred upon him. This transpired, and it must have been about this period that the Assembly decreed that no deputy could hold an office as a minister of the King until the expiration of two years after the cessation of his legislative functions. I know that the Queen was much hurt at this decision, and considered that the Court had lost a promising opening.
The palace of the Tuileries was a very disagreeable residence during the summer, which made the Queen wish to go to St. Cloud. The removal was decided on without any opposition; the National Guard of Paris followed the Court thither. At this period new opportunities of escape were presented; nothing would have been more easy than to execute them. The King had obtained leave (!) to go out without guards, and to be accompanied only by an aide-de-camp of M. de La Fayette. The Queen also had one on duty with her, and so had the Dauphin. The King and Queen often went out at four in the afternoon, and did not return until eight or nine.
I will relate one of the plans of emigration which the Queen communicated to me, the success of which seemed infallible. The royal family were to meet in a wood four leagues from St. Cloud; some persons who could be fully relied on were to accompany the King, who was always followed by his equerries and pages; the Queen was to join him with her daughter and Madame Elisabeth. These Princesses, as well as the Queen, had equerries and pages, of whose fidelity no doubt could be entertained. The Dauphin likewise was to be at the place of rendezvous with Madame de Tourzel; a large berlin and a chaise for the attendants were sufficient for the whole family; the aides-de-camp were to have been gained over or mastered. The King was to leave a letter for the President of the National Assembly on his bureau at St. Cloud. The people in the service of the King and Queen would have waited until nine in the evening without anxiety, because the family sometimes did not return until that hour. The letter could not be forwarded to Paris until ten o'clock at the earliest. The Assembly would not then be sitting; the President must have been sought for at his own house or elsewhere; it would have been midnight before the Assembly could have been summoned and couriers sent off to have the royal family stopped; but the latter would have been six or seven hours in advance, as they would have started at six leagues' distance from Paris; and at this period travelling was not yet impeded in France.
The Queen approved of this plan; but I did not venture to interrogate her, and I even thought if it were put in execution she would leave me in ignorance of it. One evening in the month of June the people of the Chateau, finding the King did not return by nine o'clock, were walking about the courtyards in a state of great anxiety. I thought the family, was gone, and I could scarcely breathe amidst the confusion of my good wishes, when I heard the sound of the carriages. I confessed to the Queen that I thought she had set off; she told me she must wait until Mesdames the King's aunts had quitted France, and afterwards see whether the plan agreed with those formed abroad.
There was a meeting at Paris for the first federation on the 14th of July, 1790, the anniversary of the taking of the Bastille. What an astonishing assemblage of four hundred thousand men, of whom there were not perhaps two hundred who did not believe that the King found happiness and glory in the order of things then being established. The love which was borne him by all, with the exception of those who meditated his ruin, still reigned in the hearts of the French in the departments; but if I may judge from those whom I had an opportunity of seeing, it was totally impossible to enlighten them; they were as much attached to the King as to the constitution, and to the constitution as to the King; and it was impossible to separate the one from the other in their hearts and minds.
The Court returned to St. Cloud after the federation. A wretch, named Rotondo, made his way into the palace with the intention of assassinating the Queen. It is known that he penetrated to the inner gardens: the rain prevented her Majesty from going out that day. M. de La Fayette, who was aware of this plot, gave all the sentinels the strictest orders, and a description of the monster was distributed throughout the palace by order of the General. I do not know how he was saved from punishment. The police belonging to the King discovered that there was likewise a scheme on foot for poisoning the Queen. She spoke to me, as well as to her head physician, M. Vicq-d'Azyr, about it, without the slightest emotion, but both he and I consulted what precautions it would be proper to take. He relied much upon the Queen's temperance; yet he recommended me always to have a bottle of oil of sweet almonds within reach, and to renew it occasionally, that oil and milk being, as is known, the most certain antidotes to the divellication of corrosive poisons.
The Queen had a habit which rendered M. Vicq-d'Azyr particularly uneasy: there was always some pounded sugar upon the table in her Majesty's bedchamber; and she frequently, without calling anybody, put spoonfuls of it into a glass of water when she wished to drink. It was agreed that I should get a considerable quantity of sugar powdered; that I should always have some papers of it in my bag, and that three or four times a day, when alone in the Queen's room, I should substitute it for that in her sugar-basin. We knew that the Queen would have prevented all such precautions, but we were not aware of her reason. One day she caught me alone making this exchange, and told me, she supposed it was agreed on between myself and M. Vicq-d'Azyr, but that I gave myself very unnecessary trouble. "Remember," added she, "that not a grain of poison will be put in use against me. The Brinvilliers do not belong to this century: this age possesses calumny, which is a much more convenient instrument of death; and it is by that I shall perish."
Even while melancholy presentiments afflicted this unfortunate Princess, manifestations of attachment to her person, and to the King's cause, would frequently raise agreeable illusions in her mind, or present to her the affecting spectacle of tears shed for her sorrows. I was one day, during this same visit to St. Cloud, witness of a very touching scene, which we took great care to keep secret. It was four in the afternoon; the guard was not set; there was scarcely anybody at St. Cloud that day, and I was reading to the Queen, who was at work in a room the balcony of which hung over the courtyard. The windows were closed, yet we heard a sort of inarticulate murmur from a great number of voices. The Queen desired me to go and see what it was; I raised the muslin curtain, and perceived more than fifty persons beneath the balcony: this group consisted of women, young and old, perfectly well dressed in the country costume, old chevaliers of St. Louis, young knights of Malta, and a few ecclesiastics. I told the Queen it was probably an assemblage of persons residing in the neighbourhood who wished to see her. She rose, opened the window, and appeared in the balcony; immediately all these worthy people said to her, in an undertone: "Courage, Madame; good Frenchmen suffer for you, and with you; they pray for you. Heaven will hear their prayers; we love you, we respect you, we will continue to venerate our virtuous King." The Queen burst into tears, and held her handkerchief to her eyes. "Poor Queen! she weeps!" said the women and young girls; but the dread of exposing her Majesty, and even the persons who showed so much affection for her, to observation, prompted me to take her hand, and prevail upon her to retire into her room; and, raising my eyes, I gave the excellent people to understand that my conduct was dictated by prudence. They comprehended me, for I heard, "That lady is right;" and afterwards, "Farewell, Madame!" from several of them; and all this in accents of feeling so true and so mournful, that I am affected at the recollection of them even after a lapse of twenty years.
A few days afterwards the insurrection of Nancy took place.
[The insurrection of the troops at Nancy broke out in August 1790, and was put down by Marechal de Bouille on the last day of that month. See "Bouille," p. 195.]
Only the ostensible cause is known; there was another, of which I might have been in full possession, if the great confusion I was in upon the subject had not deprived me of the power of paying attention to it. I will endeavour to make myself understood. In the early part of September the Queen, as she was going to bed, desired me to let all her people go, and to remain with her myself; when we were alone she said to me, "The King will come here at midnight. You know that he has always shown you marks of distinction; he now proves his confidence in you by selecting you to write down the whole affair of Nancy from his dictation. He must have several copies of it." At midnight the King came to the Queen's apartments, and said to me, smiling, "You did not expect to become my secretary, and that, too, during the night." I followed the King into the council chamber. I found there sheets of paper, an inkstand, and pens all ready prepared. He sat down by my side and dictated to me the report of the Marquis de Bouille, which he himself copied at the same time. My hand trembled; I wrote with difficulty; my reflections scarcely left me sufficient power of attention to listen to the King. The large table, the velvet cloth, seats which ought to have been filled by none but the King's chief councillors; what that chamber had been, and what it was at that moment, when the King was employing a woman in an office which had so little affinity with her ordinary functions; the misfortunes which had brought him to the necessity of doing so,—all these ideas made such an impression upon me that when I had returned to the Queen's apartments I could not sleep for the remainder of the night, nor could I remember what I had written.
The more I saw that I had the happiness to be of some use to my employers, the more scrupulously careful was I to live entirely with my family; and I never indulged in any conversation which could betray the intimacy to which I was admitted; but nothing at Court remains long concealed, and I soon saw I had many enemies. The means of injuring others in the minds of sovereigns are but too easily obtained, and they had become still more so, since the mere suspicion of communication with partisans of the Revolution was sufficient to forfeit the esteem and confidence of the King and Queen; happily, my conduct protected me, with them, against calumny. I had left St. Cloud two days, when I received at Paris a note from the Queen, containing these words:
"Come to St. Cloud immediately; I have something concerning you to communicate." I set off without loss of time. Her Majesty told me she had a sacrifice to request of me; I answered that it was made. She said it went so far as the renunciation of a friend's society; that such a renunciation was always painful, but that it must be particularly so to me; that, for her own part, it might have been very useful that a deputy, a man of talent, should be constantly received at my house; but at this moment she thought only of my welfare. The Queen then informed me that the ladies of the bedchamber had, the preceding evening, assured her that M. de Beaumetz, deputy from the nobility of Artois, who had taken his seat on the left of the Assembly, spent his whole time at my house. Perceiving on what false grounds the attempt to injure, me was based, I replied respectfully, but at the same time smiling, that it was impossible for me to make the sacrifice exacted by her Majesty; that M. de Beaumetz, a man of great judgment, had not determined to cross over to the left of the Assembly with the intention of afterwards making himself unpopular by spending his time with the Queen's first woman; and that, ever since the 1st of October, 1789, I had seen him nowhere but at the play, or in the public walks, and even then without his ever coming to speak to me; that this line of conduct had appeared to me perfectly consistent: for whether he was desirous to please the popular party, or to be sought after by the Court, he could not act in any other way towards me. The Queen closed this explanation by saying, "Oh! it is clear, as clear as the day! this opportunity for trying to do you an injury is very ill chosen; but be cautious in your slightest actions; you perceive that the confidence placed in you by the King and myself raises you up powerful enemies."
The private communications which were still kept up between the Court and Mirabeau at length procured him an interview with the Queen, in the gardens of St. Cloud. He left Paris on horseback, on pretence of going into the country, to M. de Clavieres, one of his friends; but he stopped at one of the gates of the gardens of St. Cloud, and was led to a spot situated in the highest part of the private garden, where the Queen was waiting for him. She told me she accosted him by saying, "With a common enemy, with a man who had sworn to destroy monarchy without appreciating its utility among a great people, I should at this moment be guilty of a most ill-advised step; but in speaking to a Mirabeau," etc. The poor Queen was delighted at having discovered this method of exalting him above all others of his principles; and in imparting the particulars of this interview to me she said, "Do you know that those words, 'a Mirabeau,' appeared to flatter him exceedingly." On leaving the Queen he said to her with warmth, "Madame, the monarchy is saved!" It must have been soon afterwards that Mirabeau received considerable sums of money. He showed it too plainly by the increase of his expenditure. Already did some of his remarks upon the necessity of arresting the progress of the democrats circulate in society. Being once invited to meet a person at dinner who was very much attached to the Queen, he learned that that person withdrew on hearing that he was one of the guests; the party who invited him told him this with some degree of satisfaction; but all were very much astonished when they heard Mirabeau eulogise the absent guest, and declare that in his place he would have done the same; but, he added, they had only to invite that person again in a few months, and he would then dine with the restorer of the monarchy. Mirabeau forgot that it was more easy to do harm than good, and thought himself the political Atlas of the whole world.
Outrages and mockery were incessantly mingled with the audacious proceedings of the revolutionists. It was customary to give serenades under the King's windows on New Year's Day. The band of the National Guard repaired thither on that festival in 1791; in allusion to the liquidation of the debts of the State, decreed by the Assembly, they played solely, and repeatedly, that air from the comic opera of the "Debts," the burden of which is, "But our creditors are paid, and that makes us easy."
On the same day some "conquerors of the Bastille," grenadiers of the Parisian guard, preceded by military music, came to present to the young Dauphin, as a New Year's gift, a box of dominoes, made of some of the stone and marble of which that state prison was built. The Queen gave me this inauspicious curiosity, desiring me to preserve it, as it would be a curious illustration of the history of the Revolution. Upon the lid were engraved some bad verses, the purport of which was as follows: "Stones from those walls, which enclosed the innocent victims of arbitrary power, have been converted into a toy, to be presented to you, Monseigneur, as a mark of the people's love; and to teach you their power."
The Queen said that M. de La Fayette's thirst for popularity induced him to lend himself, without discrimination, to all popular follies. Her distrust of the General increased daily, and grew so powerful that when, towards the end of the Revolution, he seemed willing to support the tottering throne, she could never bring herself to incur so great an obligation to him.
M. de J——-, a colonel attached to the staff of the army, was fortunate enough to render several services to the Queen, and acquitted himself with discretion and dignity of various important missions.
[During the Queen's detention in the Temple he introduced himself Into that prison in the dress of a lamplighter, and there discharged his duty unrecognised.—MADAME CAMPAN.]
Their Majesties had the highest confidence in him, although it frequently happened that his prudence, when inconsiderate projects were under discussion, brought upon him the charge of adopting the principles of the constitutionals. Being sent to Turin, he had some difficulty in dissuading the Princes from a scheme they had formed at that period of reentering France, with a very weak army, by way of Lyons; and when, in a council which lasted till three o'clock in the morning, he showed his instructions, and demonstrated that the measure would endanger the King, the Comte d'Artois alone declared against the plan, which emanated from the Prince de Conde.
Among the persons employed in subordinate situations, whom the critical circumstances of the times involved in affairs of importance, was M. de Goguelat, a geographical engineer at Versailles, and an excellent draughtsman. He made plans of St. Cloud and Trianon for the Queen; she was very much pleased with them, and had the engineer admitted into the staff of the army. At the commencement of the Revolution he was sent to Count Esterhazy, at Valenciennes, in the capacity of aide-de-camp. The latter rank was given him solely to get him away from Versailles, where his rashness endangered the Queen during the earlier months of the Assembly of the States General. Making a parade of his devotion to the King's interests, he went repeatedly to the tribunes of the Assembly, and there openly railed at all the motions of the deputies, and then returned to the Queen's antechamber, where he repeated all that he had just heard, or had had the imprudence to say. Unfortunately, at the same time that the Queen sent away M. de Goguelat, she still believed that, in a dangerous predicament, requiring great self-devotion, the man might be employed advantageously. In 1791 he was commissioned to act in concert with the Marquis de Bouille in furtherance of the King's intended escape.
[See the "Memoirs" of M. de Bouille, those of the Duc de Choiseul, and the account of the journey to Varennes, by M. de Fontanges, in "Weber's Memoirs."—NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]
Projectors in great numbers endeavoured to introduce themselves not only to the Queen, but to Madame Elisabeth, who had communications with many individuals who took upon themselves to make plans for the conduct of the Court. The Baron de Gilliers and M. de Vanoise were of this description; they went to the Baronne de Mackau's, where the Princess spent almost all her evenings. The Queen did not like these meetings, where Madame Elisabeth might adopt views in opposition to the King's intentions or her own.
The Queen gave frequent audiences to M. de La Fayette. One day, when he was in her inner closet, his aides-de-camp, who waited for him, were walking up and down the great room where the persons in attendance remained. Some imprudent young women were thoughtless enough to say, with the intention of being overheard by those officers, that it was very alarming to see the Queen alone with a rebel and a brigand. I was annoyed at their indiscretion, and imposed silence on them. One of them persisted in the appellation "brigand." I told her that M. de La Fayette well deserved the name of rebel, but that the title of leader of a party was given by history to every man commanding forty thousand men, a capital, and forty leagues of country; that kings had frequently treated with such leaders, and if it was convenient to the Queen to do the same, it remained for us only to be silent and respect her actions. On the morrow the Queen, with a serious air; but with the greatest kindness, asked what I had said respecting M. de La Fayette on the preceding day; adding that she had been assured I had enjoined her women silence, because they did not like him, and that I had taken his part. I repeated what had passed to the Queen, word for word. She condescended to tell me that I had done perfectly right.
Whenever any false reports respecting me were conveyed to her she was kind enough to inform me of them; and they had no effect on the confidence with which she continued to honour me, and which I am happy to think I have justified even at the risk of my life.
Mesdames, the King's aunts, set out from Bellevue in the beginning of the year 1791. Alexandre Berthier, afterwards Prince de Neufchatel, then a colonel on the staff of the army, and commandant of the National Guard of Versailles, facilitated the departure of Mesdames. The Jacobins of that town procured his dismissal, and he ran the greatest risk, on account of having rendered this service to these Princesses.
I went to take leave of Madame Victoire. I little thought that I was then seeing her for the last time. She received me alone in her closet, and assured me that she hoped, as well as wished, soon to return to France; that the French would be much to be pitied if the excesses of the Revolution should arrive at such a pitch as to force her to prolong her absence.
[General Berthier justified the monarch's confidence by a firm and prudent line of conduct which entitled him to the highest military honours, and to the esteem of the great warrior whose fortune, dangers, and glory he afterwards shared. This officer, full of honour, and gifted with the highest courage, was shut into the courtyard of Bellevue by his own troop, and ran great risk of being murdered. It was not until the 14th of March that he succeeded in executing his instructions ("Memoirs of Mesdames," by Montigny, vol. i.)]
I knew from the Queen that the departure of Mesdames was deemed necessary, in order to leave the King free to act when he should be compelled to go away with his family. It being impossible that the constitution of the clergy should be otherwise than in direct opposition to the religious principles of Mesdames, they thought their journey to Rome would be attributed to piety alone. It was, however, difficult to deceive an Assembly which weighed the slightest actions of the royal family, and from that moment they were more than ever alive to what was passing at the Tuileries.
Mesdames were desirous of taking Madame Elisabeth to Rome. The free exercise of religion, the happiness of taking refuge with the head of the Church, and the prospect of living in safety with her aunts, whom she tenderly loved, were sacrificed by that virtuous Princess to her attachment to the King.
The oath required of priests by the civil constitution of the clergy introduced into France a division which added to the dangers by which the King was already surrounded.
[The priests were required to swear to the civil constitution of the clergy of 1790, by which all the former bishoprics and parishes were remodelled, and the priests and bishops elected by the people. Most refused, and under the name of 'pretres insermentes' (as opposed to the few who took the oath, 'pretres assermentes') were bitterly persecuted. A simple promise to obey the constitution of the State was substituted by Napoleon as soon as he came to power.]
Mirabeau spent a whole night with the cure of St. Eustache, confessor of the King and Queen, to persuade him to take the oath required by that constitution. Their Majesties chose another confessor, who remained unknown.
A few months afterwards (2d April, 1791), the too celebrated Mirabeau, the mercenary democrat and venal royalist, terminated his career. The Queen regretted him, and was astonished at her own regret; but she had hoped that he who had possessed adroitness and weight enough to throw everything into confusion would have been able by the same means to repair the mischief he had caused. Much has been said respecting the cause of Mirabeau's death. M. Cabanis, his friend and physician, denied that he was poisoned. M. Vicq-d'Azyr assured the Queen that the 'proces-verbal' drawn up on the state of the intestines would apply just as well to a case of death produced by violent remedies as to one produced by poison. He said, also, that the report had been faithful; but that it was prudent to conclude it by a declaration of natural death, since, in the critical state in which France then was, if a suspicion of foul play were admitted, a person innocent of any such crime might be sacrificed to public vengeance.
In the beginning of the spring of 1791, the King, tired of remaining at the Tuileries, wished to return to St. Cloud. His whole household had already gone, and his dinner was prepared there. He got into his carriage at one; the guard mutinied, shut the gates, and declared they would not let him pass. This event certainly proceeded from some suspicion of a plan to escape. Two persons who drew near the King's carriage were very ill treated. My father-in-law was violently laid hold of by the guards, who took his sword from him. The King and his family were obliged to alight and return to their apartments.
They did not much regret this outrage in their hearts; they saw in it a justification, even in the eyes of the people, of their intention to leave Paris.
So early as the month of March in the same year, the Queen began to busy herself in preparing for her departure. I spent that month with her, and executed a great number of secret orders which she gave me respecting the intended event. It was with uneasiness that I saw her occupied with cares which seemed to me useless, and even dangerous, and I remarked to her that the Queen of France would find linen and gowns everywhere. My observations were made in vain; she determined to have a complete wardrobe with her at Brussels, as well for her children as herself. I went out alone and almost disguised to purchase the articles necessary and have them made up.
I ordered six chemises at the shop of one seamstress, six at that of another, gowns, combing cloths, etc. My sister had a complete set of clothes made for Madame, by the measure of her eldest daughter, and I ordered clothes for the Dauphin from those of my son. I filled a trunk with these things, and addressed them, by the Queen's orders, to one of her women, my aunt, Madame Cardon,—a widow living at Arras, by virtue of an unlimited leave of absence,—in order that she might be ready to start for Brussels, or any other place, as soon as she should be directed to do so. This lady had landed property in Austrian Flanders, and could at any time quit Arras unobserved.
The Queen was to take only her first woman in attendance with her from Paris. She apprised me that if I should not be on duty at the moment of departure, she would make arrangements for my joining her. She determined also to take her travelling dressing-case. She consulted me on her idea of sending it off, under pretence of making a present of it to the Archduchess Christina, Gouvernante of the Netherlands. I ventured to oppose this plan strongly, and observed that, amidst so many people who watched her slightest actions, there would be found a sufficient number sharp-sighted enough to discover that it was only a pretext for sending away the property in question before her own departure; she persisted in her intention, and all I could arrange was that the dressing-case should not be removed from her apartment, and that M. de charge d'afaires from the Court of Vienna during the absence of the Comte de Mercy, should come and ask her, at her toilet, before all her people, to order one exactly like her own for Madame the Gouvernante of the Netherlands. The Queen, therefore, commanded me before the charge d'affaires to order the article in question. This occasioned only an expense of five hundred louis, and appeared calculated to lull suspicion completely.
About the middle of May, 1791, a month after the Queen had ordered me to bespeak the dressing-case, she asked me whether it would soon be finished. I sent for the ivory-turner who had it in hand. He could not complete it for six weeks. I informed the Queen of this, and she told me she should not be able to wait for it, as she was to set out in the course of June. She added that, as she had ordered her sister's dressing-case in the presence of all her attendants, she had taken a sufficient precaution, especially by saying that her sister was out of patience at not receiving it, and that therefore her own must be emptied and cleaned, and taken to the charge d'affaires, who would send it off. I executed this order without any, appearance of mystery. I desired the wardrobe woman to take out of the dressing-case all that it contained, because that intended for the Archduchess could not be finished for some time; and to take great care to leave no remains of the perfumes which might not suit that Princess.
The woman in question executed her commission punctually; but, on the evening of that very day, the 15th of May, 1791, she informed M. Bailly, the Mayor of Paris, that preparations were making at the Queen's residence for a departure; and that the dressing-case was already sent off, under pretence of its being presented to the Archduchess Christina.
[After the return from Varennes M. Bailly put this woman's deposition into the Queen's hands.—MADAME CAMPAN.]
It was necessary, likewise, to send off all the diamonds belonging to the Queen. Her Majesty shut herself up with me in a closet in the entresol, looking into the garden of the Tuileries, and we packed all the diamonds, rubies, and pearls she possessed in a small chest. The cases containing these ornaments, being altogether of considerable bulk, had been deposited, ever since the 6th of October, 1789, with the valet de chambre who had the care of the Queen's jewels. That faithful servant, himself detecting the use that was to be made of the valuables, destroyed all the boxes, which were, as usual, covered with red morocco, marked with the cipher and arms of France. It would have been impossible for him to hide them from the eyes of the popular inquisitors during the domiciliary visits in January, 1793, and the discovery might have formed a ground of accusation against the Queen.
I had but a few articles to place in the box when the Queen was compelled to desist from packing it, being obliged to go down to cards, which began at seven precisely. She therefore desired me to leave all the diamonds upon the sofa, persuaded that, as she took the key of her closet herself, and there was a sentinel under the window, no danger was to be apprehended for that night, and she reckoned upon returning very early next day to finish the work.
The same woman who had given information of the sending away of the dressing-case was also deputed by the Queen to take care of her more private rooms. No other servant was permitted to enter them; she renewed the flowers, swept the carpets, etc. The Queen received back the key, when the woman had finished putting them in order, from her own hands; but, desirous of doing her duty well, and sometimes having the key in her possession for a few minutes only, she had probably on that account ordered one without the Queen's knowledge. It is impossible not to believe this, since the despatch of the diamonds was the subject of a second accusation which the Queen heard of after the return from Varennes. She made a formal declaration that her Majesty, with the assistance of Madame Campan, had packed up all her jewelry some time before the departure; that she was certain of it, as she had found the diamonds, and the cotton which served to wrap them, scattered upon the sofa in the Queen's closet in the 'entresol'; and most assuredly she could only have seen these preparations in the interval between seven in the evening and seven in the morning. The Queen having met me next day at the time appointed, the box was handed over to Leonard, her Majesty's hairdresser,—[This unfortunate man, after having emigrated for some time, returned to France, and perished upon the scaffold.—NOTE BY EDITOR]—who left the country with the Duc de Choiseul. The box remained a long time at Brussels, and at length got into the hands of Madame la Duchesse d'Angouleme, being delivered to her by the Emperor on her arrival at Vienna.
In order not to leave out any of the Queen's diamonds, I requested the first tirewoman to give me the body of the full dress, and all the assortment which served for the stomacher of the full dress on days of state, articles which always remained at the wardrobe.
The superintendent and the dame d'honneur being absent, the first tirewoman required me to sign a receipt, the terms of which she dictated, and which acquitted her of all responsibility for these diamonds. She had the prudence to burn this document on the 10th of August, 1792.—[The date of the sack of the Tuileries and slaughter of the Swiss Guard]—The Queen having determined, upon the arrest at Varennes, not to have her diamonds brought back to France, was often anxious about them during the year which elapsed between that period and the 10th of August, and dreaded above all things that such a secret should be discovered.
In consequence of a decree of the Assembly, which deprived the King of the custody of the Crown diamonds, the Queen had at this time already given up those which she generally used.
She preferred the twelve brilliants called Hazarins, from the name of the Cardinal who had enriched the treasury with them, a few rose-cut diamonds, and the Sanci. She determined to deliver, with her own hands, the box containing them to the commissioner nominated by the National Assembly to place them with the Crown diamonds. After giving them to him, she offered him a row of pearls of great beauty, saying to him that it had been brought into France by Anne of Austria; that it was invaluable, on account of its rarity; that, having been appropriated by that Princess to the use of the Queens and Dauphinesses, Louis XV. had placed it in her hands on her arrival in France; but that she considered it national property. "That is an open question, Madame," said the commissary. "Monsieur," replied the Queen, "it is one for me to decide, and is now settled."
My father-in-law, who was dying of the grief he felt for the misfortunes of his master and mistress, strongly interested and occupied the thoughts of the Queen. He had been saved from the fury of the populace in the courtyard of the Tuileries.
On the day on which the King was compelled by an insurrection to give up a journey to St. Cloud, her Majesty looked upon this trusty servant as inevitably lost, if, on going away, she should leave him in the apartment he occupied in the Tuileries. Prompted by her apprehensions, she ordered M. Vicq-d'Azyr, her physician, to recommend him the waters of Mont d'Or in Auvergne, and to persuade him to set off at the latter end of May. At the moment of my going away the Queen assured me that the grand project would be executed between the 15th and the 20th of June; that as it was not my month to be on duty, Madame Thibaut would take the journey; but that she had many directions to give me before I went. She then desired me to write to my aunt, Madame Cardon, who was by that time in possession of the clothes which I had ordered, that as soon as she should receive a letter from M. Augur, the date of which should be accompanied with a B, an L, or an M, she was to proceed with her property to Brussels, Luxembourg, or Montmedy. She desired me to explain the meaning of these three letters clearly to my sister, and to leave them with her in writing, in order that at the moment of my going away she might be able to take my place in writing to Arras.
The Queen had a more delicate commission for me; it was to select from among my acquaintance a prudent person of obscure rank, wholly devoted to the interests of the Court, who would be willing to receive a portfolio which she was to give up only to me, or some one furnished with a note from the Queen. She added that she would not travel with this portfolio, and that it was of the utmost importance that my opinion of the fidelity of the person to whom it was to be entrusted should be well founded. I proposed to her Madame Vallayer Coster, a painter of the Academy, and an amiable and worthy artist, whom I had known from my infancy. She lived in the galleries of the Louvre. The choice seemed a good one. The Queen remembered that she had made her marriage possible by giving her a place in the financial offices, and added that gratitude ought sometimes to be reckoned on. She then pointed out to me the valet belonging to her toilet, whom I was to take with me, to show him the residence of Madame Coster, so that he might not mistake it when he should take the portfolio to her. The day before her departure the Queen particularly recommended me to proceed to Lyons and the frontiers as soon as she should have started. She advised me to take with me a confidential person, fit to remain with M. Campan when I should leave him, and assured me that she would give orders to M. ——— to set off as soon as she should be known to be at the frontiers in order to protect me in going out. She condescended to add that, having a long journey to make in foreign countries, she determined to give me three hundred louis.
I bathed the Queen's hands with tears at the moment of this sorrowful separation; and, having money at my disposal, I declined accepting her gold. I did not dread the road I had to travel in order to rejoin her; all my apprehension was that by treachery or miscalculation a scheme, the safety of which was not sufficiently clear to me, should fail. I could answer for all those who belonged to the service immediately about the Queen's person, and I was right; but her wardrobe woman gave me well-founded reason for alarm. I mentioned to the Queen many revolutionary remarks which this woman had made to me a few days before. Her office was directly under the control of the first femme de chambre, yet she had refused to obey the directions I gave her, talking insolently to me about "hierarchy overturned, equality among men," of course more especially among persons holding offices at Court; and this jargon, at that time in the mouths of all the partisans of the Revolution, was terminated by an observation which frightened me. "You know many important secrets, madame," said this woman to me, "and I have guessed quite as many. I am not a fool; I see all that is going forward here in consequence of the bad advice given to the King and Queen; I could frustrate it all if I chose." This argument, in which I had been promptly silenced, left me pale and trembling. Unfortunately, as I began my narrative to the Queen with particulars of this woman's refusal to obey me,—and sovereigns are all their lives importuned with complaints upon the rights of places,—she believed that my own dissatisfaction had much to do with the step I was taking; and she did not sufficiently fear the woman. Her office, although a very inferior one, brought her in nearly fifteen thousand francs a year. Still young, tolerably handsome, with comfortable apartments in the entresols of the Tuileries, she saw a great deal of company, and in the evening had assemblies, consisting of deputies of the revolutionary party. M. de Gouvion, major-general of the National Guard, passed almost every day with her; and it is to be presumed that she had long worked for the party in opposition to the Court. The Queen asked her for the key of a door which led to the principal vestibule of the Tuileries, telling her she wished to have a similar one, that she might not be under the necessity of going out through the pavilion of Flora. M. de Gouvion and M. de La Fayette would, of course, be apprised of this circumstance, and well-informed persons have assured me that on the very night of the Queen's departure this wretched woman had a spy with her, who saw the royal family set off.
As soon as I had executed all the Queen's orders, on the 30th of May, 1791, I set out for Auvergne, and was settled in the gloomy narrow valley of Mont d'Or, when, about four in the afternoon of the 25th of June, I heard the beat of a drum to call the inhabitants of the hamlet together. When it had ceased I heard a hairdresser from Bresse proclaim in the provincial dialect of Auvergne: "The King and Queen were taking flight in order to ruin France, but I come to tell you that they are stopped, and are well guarded by a hundred thousand men under arms." I still ventured to hope that he was repeating only a false report, but he went on: "The Queen," with her well-known haughtiness, lifted up the veil which covered her face, and said to the citizens who were upbraiding the King, "Well, since you recognise your sovereign, respect him." Upon hearing these expressions, which the Jacobin club of Clermont could not have invented, I exclaimed, "The news is true!"
I immediately learnt that, a courier being come from Paris to Clermont, the 'procureur' of the commune had sent off messengers to the chief places of the canton; these again sent couriers to the districts, and the districts in like manner informed the villages and hamlets which they contained. It was through this ramification, arising from the establishment of clubs, that the afflicting intelligence of the misfortune of my sovereigns reached me in the wildest part of France, and in the midst of the snows by which we were environed.
On the 28th I received a note written in a hand which I recognised as that of M. Diet,—[This officer was slain in the Queen's chamber on the 10th of August]—usher of the Queen's chamber, but dictated by her Majesty. It contained these words: "I am this moment arrived; I have just got into my bath; I and my family exist, that is all. I have suffered much. Do not return to Paris until I desire you. Take good care of my poor Campan, soothe his sorrow. Look for happier times." This note was for greater safety addressed to my father-in-law's valet-de-chambre. What were my feelings on perceiving that after the most distressing crisis we were among the first objects of the kindness of that unfortunate Princess!
M. Campan having been unable to benefit by the waters of Mont d'Or, and the first popular effervescence having subsided, I thought I might return to Clermont. The committee of surveillance, or that of general safety, had resolved to arrest me there; but the Abbe Louis, formerly a parliamentary counsellor, and then a member of the Constituent Assembly, was kind enough to affirm that I was in Auvergne solely for the purpose of attending my father-in-law, who was extremely ill. The precautions relative to my absence from Paris were limited to placing us under the surveillance of the 'procureur' of the commune, who was at the same time president of the Jacobin club; but he was also a physician of repute, and without having any doubt that he had received secret orders relative to me, I thought it would favour the chances of our safety if I selected him to attend my patient. I paid him according to the rate given to the best Paris physicians, and I requested him to visit us every morning and every evening. I took the precaution to subscribe to no other newspaper than the Moniteur. Doctor Monestier (for that was the physician's name) frequently took upon himself to read it to us. Whenever he thought proper to speak of the King and Queen in the insulting and brutal terms at that time unfortunately adopted throughout France, I used to stop him and say, coolly, "Monsieur, you are here in company with the servants of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette. Whatever may be the wrongs with which the nation believes it has to reproach them, our principles forbid our losing sight of the respect due to them from us." Notwithstanding that he was an inveterate patriot, he felt the force of this remark, and even procured the revocation of a second order for our arrest, becoming responsible for us to the committee of the Assembly, and to the Jacobin society.
The two chief women about the Dauphin, who had accompanied the Queen to Varennes, Diet, her usher, and Camot, her garcon de toilette,—the women on account of the journey, and the men in consequence of the denunciation of the woman belonging to the wardrobe,—were sent to the prisons of the Abbaye. After my departure the garcon de toilette whom I had taken to Madame Vallayer Coster's was sent there with the portfolio she had agreed to receive. This commission could not escape the detestable spy upon the Queen. She gave information that a portfolio had been carried out on the evening of the departure, adding that the King had placed it upon the Queen's easy-chair, that the garcon de toilette wrapped it up in a napkin and took it under his arm, and that she did not know where he had carried it. The man, who was remarkable for his fidelity, underwent three examinations without making the slightest disclosure. M. Diet, a man of good family, a servant on whom the Queen placed particular reliance, likewise experienced the severest treatment. At length, after a lapse of three weeks, the Queen succeeded in obtaining the release of her servants.
The Queen, about the 15th of August, had me informed by letter that I might come back to Paris without being under any apprehension of arrest there, and that she greatly desired my return. I brought my father-in-law back in a dying state, and on the day preceding that of the acceptation of the constitutional act, I informed the Queen that he was no more. "The loss of Lassonne and Campan," said she, as she applied her handkerchief to her streaming eyes, "has taught me how valuable such subjects are to their masters. I shall never find their equals."
I resumed my functions about the Queen on the 1st of September, 1791. She was unable then to converse with me on all the lamentable events which had occurred since the time of my leaving her, having on guard near her an officer whom she dreaded more than all the others. She merely told me that I should have some secret services to perform for her, and that she would not create uneasiness by long conversations with me, my return being a subject of suspicion. But next day the Queen, well knowing the discretion of the officer who was to be on guard that night, had my bed placed very near hers, and having obtained the favour of having the door shut, when I was in bed she began the narrative of the journey, and the unfortunate arrest at Varennes. I asked her permission to put on my gown, and kneeling by her bedside I remained until three o'clock in the morning, listening with the liveliest and most sorrowful interest to the account I am about to repeat, and of which I have seen various details, of tolerable exactness, in papers of the time.
The King entrusted Count Fersen with all the preparations for departure. The carriage was ordered by him; the passport, in the name of Madame de Korf, was procured through his connection with that lady, who was a foreigner. And lastly, he himself drove the royal family, as their coachman, as far as Bondy, where the travellers got into their berlin. Madame Brunier and Madame Neuville, the first women of Madame and the Dauphin, there joined the principal carriage. They were in a cabriolet. Monsieur and Madame set out from the Luxembourg and took another road. They as well as the King were recognised by the master of the last post in France, but this man, devoting himself to the fortunes of the Prince, left the French territory, and drove them himself as postilion. Madame Thibaut, the Queen's first woman, reached Brussels without the slightest difficulty. Madame Cardon, from Arras, met with no hindrance; and Leonard, the Queen's hairdresser, passed through Varennes a few hours before the royal family. Fate had reserved all its obstacles for the unfortunate monarch.
Nothing worthy of notice occurred in the beginning of the journey. The travellers were detained a short time, about twelve leagues from Paris, by some repairs which the carriage required. The King chose to walk up one of the hills, and these two circumstances caused a delay of three hours, precisely at the time when it was intended that the berlin should have been met, just before reaching Varennes, by the detachment commanded by M. de Goguelat. This detachment was punctually stationed upon the spot fixed on, with orders to wait there for the arrival of certain treasure, which it was to escort; but the peasantry of the neighbourhood, alarmed at the sight of this body of troops, came armed with staves, and asked several questions, which manifested their anxiety. M. de Goguelat, fearful of causing a riot, and not finding the carriage arrive as he expected, divided his men into two companies, and unfortunately made them leave the highway in order to return to Varennes by two cross roads. The King looked out of the carriage at Ste. Menehould, and asked several questions concerning the road. Drouet, the post-master, struck by the resemblance of Louis to the impression of his head upon the assignats, drew near the carriage, felt convinced that he recognised the Queen also, and that the remainder of the travellers consisted of the royal family and their suite, mounted his horse, reached Varennes by cross roads before the royal fugitives, and gave the alarm.—[Varennes lies between Verdun and Montmedy, and not far from the French frontier.]
The Queen began to feel all the agonies of terror; they were augmented by the voice of a person unknown, who, passing close to the carriage in full gallop, cried out, bending towards the window without slackening his speed, "You are recognised!" They arrived with beating hearts at the gates of Varennes without meeting one of the horsemen by whom they were to have been escorted into the place. They were ignorant where to find their relays, and some minutes were lost in waiting, to no purpose. The cabriolet had preceded them, and the two ladies in attendance found the bridge already blocked up with old carts and lumber. The town guards were all under arms. The King at last entered Varennes. M. de Goguelat had arrived there with his detachment. He came up to the King and asked him if he chose to effect a passage by force! What an unlucky question to put to Louis XVI., who from the very beginning of the Revolution had shown in every crisis the fear he entertained of giving the least order which might cause an effusion of blood! "Would it be a brisk action?" said the King. "It is impossible that it should be otherwise, Sire," replied the aide-decamp. Louis XVI. was unwilling to expose his family. They therefore went to the house of a grocer, Mayor of Varennes. The King began to speak, and gave a summary of his intentions in departing, analogous to the declaration he had made at Paris. He spoke with warmth and affability, and endeavoured to demonstrate to the people around him that he had only put himself, by the step he had taken, into a fit situation to treat with the Assembly, and to sanction with freedom the constitution which he would maintain, though many of its articles were incompatible with the dignity of the throne, and the force by which it was necessary that the sovereign should be surrounded. Nothing could be more affecting, added the Queen, than this moment, in which the King felt bound to communicate to the very humblest class of his subjects his principles, his wishes for the happiness of his people, and the motives which had determined him to depart.
Whilst the King was speaking to this mayor, whose name was Sauce, the Queen, seated at the farther end of the shop, among parcels of soap and candles, endeavoured to make Madame Sauce understand that if she would prevail upon her husband to make use of his municipal authority to cover the flight of the King and his family, she would have the glory of having contributed to restore tranquillity to France. This woman was moved; she could not, without streaming eyes, see herself thus solicited by her Queen; but she could not be got to say anything more than, "Bon Dieu, Madame, it would be the destruction of M. Sauce; I love my King, but I love my husband too, you must know, and he would be answerable, you see." Whilst this strange scene was passing in the shop, the people, hearing that the King was arrested, kept pouring in from all parts. M. de Goguelat, making a last effort, demanded of the dragoons whether they would protect the departure of the King; they replied only by murmurs, dropping the points of their swords. Some person unknown fired a pistol at M. de Goguelat; he was slightly wounded by the ball. M. Romeuf, aide-de-camp to M. de La Fayette, arrived at that moment. He had been chosen, after the 6th of October, 1789, by the commander of the Parisian guard to be in constant attendance about the Queen. She reproached him bitterly with the object of his mission. "If you wish to make your name remarkable, monsieur," said the Queen to him, "you have chosen strange and odious means, which will produce the most fatal consequences." This officer wished to hasten their departure. The Queen, still cherishing the hope of seeing M. de Bouille arrive with a sufficient force to extricate the King from his critical situation, prolonged her stay at Varennes by every means in her power.
The Dauphin's first woman pretended to be taken ill with a violent colic, and threw herself upon a bed, in the hope of aiding the designs of her superiors; she went and implored for assistance. The Queen understood her perfectly well, and refused to leave one who had devoted herself to follow them in such a state of suffering. But no delay in departing was allowed. The three Body Guards (Valory, Du Moustier, and Malden) were gagged and fastened upon the seat of the carriage. A horde of National Guards, animated with fury and the barbarous joy with which their fatal triumph inspired them, surrounded the carriage of the royal family.
The three commissioners sent by the Assembly to meet the King, MM. de Latour-Maubourg, Barnave, and Potion, joined them in the environs of Epernay. The two last mentioned got into the King's carriage. The Queen astonished me by the favourable opinion she had formed of Barnave. When I quitted Paris a great many persons spoke of him only with horror. She told me he was much altered, that he was full of talent and noble feeling. "A feeling of pride which I cannot much blame in a young man belonging to the Tiers Etat," she said, "made him applaud everything which smoothed the road to rank and fame for that class in which he was born. And if we get the power in our own hands again, Barnave's pardon is already written on our hearts." The Queen added, that she had not the same feeling towards those nobles who had joined the revolutionary party, who had always received marks of favour, often to the injury of those beneath them in rank, and who, born to be the safeguard of the monarchy, could never be pardoned for having deserted it. She then told me that Barnave's conduct upon the road was perfectly correct, while Potion's republican rudeness was disgusting; that the latter ate and drank in the King's berlin in a slovenly manner, throwing the bones of the fowls out through the window at the risk of sending them even into the King's face; lifting up his glass, when Madame Elisabeth poured him out wine, to show her that there was enough, without saying a word; that this offensive behaviour must have been intentional, because the man was not without education; and that Barnave was hurt at it. On being pressed by the Queen to take something, "Madame," replied Barnave, "on so solemn an occasion the deputies of the National Assembly ought to occupy your Majesties solely about their mission, and by no means about their wants." In short, his respectful delicacy, his considerate attentions, and all that he said, gained the esteem not only of the Queen, but of Madame Elisabeth also.
The King began to talk to Petion about the situation of France, and the motives of his conduct, which were founded upon the necessity of giving to the executive power a strength necessary for its action, for the good even of the constitutional act, since France could not be a republic. "Not yet, 'tis true," replied Petion, "because the French are not ripe enough for that." This audacious and cruel answer silenced the King, who said no more until his arrival at Paris. Potion held the little Dauphin upon his knees, and amused himself with curling the beautiful light hair of the interesting child round his fingers; and, as he spoke with much gesticulation, he pulled his locks hard enough to make the Dauphin cry out. "Give me my son," said the Queen to him; "he is accustomed to tenderness and delicacy, which render him little fit for such familiarity."
The Chevalier de Dampierre was killed near the King's carriage upon leaving Varennes. A poor village cure, some leagues from the place where the crime was committed, was imprudent enough to draw near to speak to the King; the cannibals who surrounded the carriage rushed upon him. "Tigers," exclaimed Barnave, "have you ceased to be Frenchmen? Nation of brave men, are you become a set of assassins?" These words alone saved the cure, who was already upon the ground, from certain death. Barnave, as he spoke to them, threw himself almost out of the coach window, and Madame Elisabeth, affected by this noble burst of feeling, held him by the skirt of his coat. The Queen, while speaking of this event, said that on the most momentous occasions whimsical contrasts always struck her, and that even at such a moment the pious Elisabeth holding Barnave by the flap of his coat was a ludicrous sight.
The deputy was astonished in another way. Madame Elisabeth's comments upon the state of France, her mild and persuasive eloquence, and the, ease and simplicity with which she talked to him, yet without sacrificing her dignity in the slightest degree, appeared to him unique, and his heart, which was doubtless inclined to right principles though he had followed the wrong path, was overcome by admiration. The conduct of the two deputies convinced the Queen of the total separation between the republican and constitutional parties. At the inns where she alighted she had some private conversation with Barnave. The latter said a great deal about the errors committed by the royalists during the Revolution, adding that he had found the interest of the Court so feebly and so badly defended that he had been frequently tempted to go and offer it, in himself, an aspiring champion, who knew the spirit of the age and nation. The Queen asked him what was the weapon he would have recommended her to use.
"And how could I use that," replied her Majesty, "of which I have been deprived?"
"Ah! Madame, it was much more easy for you to regain it, than for me to acquire it."
The Queen mainly attributed the arrest at Varennes to M. de Goguelat; she said he calculated the time that would be spent in the journey erroneously. He performed that from Montmedy to Paris before taking the King's last orders, alone in a post-chaise, and he founded all his calculations upon the time he spent thus. The trial has been made since, and it was found that a light carriage without any courier was nearly three hours less in running the distance than a heavy carriage preceded by a courier.
The Queen also blamed him for having quitted the high-road at Pont-de-Sommevelle, where the carriage was to meet the forty hussars commanded by him. She thought that he ought to have dispersed the very small number of people at Varennes, and not have asked the hussars whether they were for the King or the nation; that, particularly, he ought to have avoided taking the King's orders, as he was previously aware of the reply M. d'Inisdal had received when it was proposed to carry off the King.
After all that the Queen had said to me respecting the mistakes made by M. de Goguelat, I thought him of course disgraced. What was my surprise when, having been set at liberty after the amnesty which followed the acceptance of the constitution, he presented himself to the Queen, and was received with the greatest kindness! She said he had done what he could, and that his zeal ought to form an excuse for all the rest.
[Full details of the preparations for the flight to Varennes will be found in "Le Comte de Fersen et La Cour de France," Paris, Didot et Cie, 1878 (a review of which was given in the Quarterly Review for July, 1880), and in the "Memoirs of the Marquis de Bouille", London, Cadell and Davis, 1797; Count Fersen being the person who planned the actual escape, and De Bouille being in command of the army which was to receive the King. The plan was excellent, and would certainly have succeeded, if it had not been for the royal family themselves. Marie Antoinette, it will have been seen by Madame Campan's account, nearly wrecked the plan from inability to do without a large dressing or travelling case. The King did a more fatal thing. De Bouille had pointed out the necessity for having in the King's carriage an officer knowing the route, and able to show himself to give all directions, and a proper person had been provided. The King, however, objected, as "he could not have the Marquis d'Agoult in the same carriage with himself; the governess of the royal children, who was to accompany them, having refused to abandon her privilege of constantly remaining with her charge." See "De Bouille," pp. 307 and 334. Thus, when Louis was recognised at the window of the carriage by Drouet, he was lost by the very danger that had been foreseen, and this wretched piece of etiquette led to his death.]
When the royal family was brought back from Varennes to the Tuileries, the Queen's attendants found the greatest difficulty in making their way to her apartments; everything had been arranged so that the wardrobe woman, who had acted as spy, should have the service; and she was to be assisted in it only by her sister and her sister's daughter.
M. de Gouvion, M. de La Fayette's aide-de-camp, had this woman's portrait placed at the foot of the staircase which led to the Queen's apartments, in order that the sentinel should not permit any other women to make their way in. As soon as the Queen was informed of this contemptible precaution, she told the King of it, who sent to ascertain the fact. His Majesty then called for M. de La Fayette, claimed freedom in his household, and particularly in that of the Queen, and ordered him to send a woman in, whom no one but himself could confide out of the palace. M. de La Fayette was obliged to comply.
On the day when the return of the royal family was expected, there were no carriages in motion in the streets of Paris. Five or six of the Queen's women, after being refused admittance at all the other gates, went with one of my sisters to that of the Feuillans, insisting that the sentinel should admit them. The poissardes attacked them for their boldness in resisting the order excluding them. One of them seized my sister by the arm, calling her the slave of the Austrian. "Hear me," said my sister to her, "I have been attached to the Queen ever since I was fifteen years of age; she gave me my marriage portion; I served her when she was powerful and happy. She is now unfortunate. Ought I to abandon her?"—"She is right," cried the poissardes; "she ought not to abandon her mistress; let us make an entry for them." They instantly surrounded the sentinel, forced the passage, and introduced the Queen's women, accompanying them to the terrace of the Feuillans. One of these furies, whom the slightest impulse would have driven to tear my sister to pieces, taking her under her protection, gave her advice by which she might reach the palace in safety. "But of all things, my dear friend," said she to her, "pull off that green ribbon sash; it is the color of that D'Artois, whom we will never forgive."
The measures adopted for guarding the King were rigorous with respect to the entrance into the palace, and insulting as to his private apartments. The commandants of battalion, stationed in the salon called the grand cabinet, and which led to the Queen's bedchamber, were ordered to keep the door of it always open, in order that they might have their eyes upon the royal family. The King shut this door one day; the officer of the guard opened it, and told him such were his orders, and that he would always open it; so that his Majesty in shutting it gave himself useless trouble. It remained open even during the night, when the Queen was in bed; and the officer placed himself in an armchair between the two doors, with his head turned towards her Majesty. They only obtained permission to have the inner door shut when the Queen was rising. The Queen had the bed of her first femme de chambre placed very near her own; this bed, which ran on casters, and was furnished with curtains, hid her from the officer's sight.
Madame de Jarjaye, my companion, who continued her functions during the whole period of my absence, told me that one night the commandant of battalion, who slept between the two doors, seeing that she was sleeping soundly, and that the Queen was awake, quitted his post and went close to her Majesty, to advise her as to the line of conduct she should pursue. Although she had the kindness to desire him to speak lower in order that he might not disturb Madame de Jarjaye's rest, the latter awoke, and nearly died with fright at seeing a man in the uniform of the Parisian guard so near the Queen's bed. Her Majesty comforted her, and told her not to rise; that the person she saw was a good Frenchman, who was deceived respecting the intentions and situation of his sovereign and herself, but whose conversation showed sincere attachment to the King.
There was a sentinel in the corridor which runs behind the apartments in question, where there is a staircase, which was at that time an inner one, and enabled the King and Queen to communicate freely. This post, which was very onerous, because it was to be kept four and twenty hours, was often claimed by Saint Prig, an actor belonging to the Theatre Francais. He took it upon himself sometimes to contrive brief interviews between the King and Queen in this corridor. He left them at a distance, and gave them warning if he heard the slightest noise. M. Collot, commandant of battalion of the National Guard, who was charged with the military duty of the Queen's household, in like manner softened down, so far as he could with prudence, all, the revolting orders he received; for instance, one to follow the Queen to the very door of her wardrobe was never executed. An officer of the Parisian guard dared to speak insolently of the Queen in her own apartment. M. Collot wished to make a complaint to M. de La Fayette against him, and have him dismissed. The Queen opposed it, and condescended to say a few words of explanation and kindness to the man; he instantly became one of her most devoted partisans.
The first time I saw her Majesty after the unfortunate catastrophe of the Varennes journey, I found her getting out of bed; her features were not very much altered; but after the first kind words she uttered to me she took off her cap and desired me to observe the effect which grief had produced upon her hair. It had become, in one single night, as white as that of a woman of seventy. Her Majesty showed me a ring she had just had mounted for the Princesse de Lamballe; it contained a lock of her whitened hair, with the inscription, "Blanched by sorrow." At the period of the acceptance of the constitution the Princess wished to return to France. The Queen, who had no expectation that tranquillity would be restored, opposed this; but the attachment of Madame de Lamballe to the royal family impelled her to come and seek death.
When I returned to Paris most of the harsh precautions were abandoned; the doors were not kept open; greater respect was paid to the sovereign; it was known that the constitution soon to be completed would be accepted, and a better order of things was hoped for.
On my arrival at Paris on the 25th of August I found the state of feeling there much more temperate than I had dared to hope. The conversation generally ran upon the acceptance of the constitution, and the fetes which would be given in consequence. The struggle between the Jacobins and the constitutionals on the 17th of July, 1791, nevertheless had thrown the Queen into great terror for some moments; and the firing of the cannon from the Champ de Mars upon a party which called for a trial of the King, and the leaders of which were in the very bosom of the Assembly, left the most gloomy impressions upon her mind.
The constitutionals, the Queen's connection with whom was not slackened by the intervention of the three members already mentioned, had faithfully served the royal family during their detention.
"We still hold the wire by which this popular mass is moved," said Barnave to M. de J——- one day, at the same time showing him a large volume, in which the names of all those who were influenced with the power of gold alone were registered. It was at that time proposed to hire a considerable number of persons in order to secure loud acclamations when the King and his family should make their appearance at the play upon the acceptance of the constitution. That day, which afforded a glimmering hope of tranquillity, was the 14th of September; the fetes were brilliant; but already fresh anxieties forbade the royal family to encourage much hope.
The Legislative Assembly, which had just succeeded the Constituent Assembly (October, 1791), founded its conduct upon the wildest republican principles; created from the midst of popular assemblies, it was wholly inspired by the spirit which animated them. The constitution, as I have said, was presented to the King on the 3d of September, 1791. The ministers, with the exception of M. de Montmorin, insisted upon the necessity of accepting the constitutional act in its entirety. The Prince de Kaunitz—[Minister of Austria]—was of the same opinion. Malouet wished the King to express himself candidly respecting any errors or dangers that he might observe in the constitution. But Duport and Barnave, alarmed at the spirit prevailing in the Jacobin Club, and even in the Assembly, where Robespierre had already denounced them as traitors to the country, and dreading still greater evils, added their opinions to those of the majority of the ministers and M. de Kaunitz; those who really desired that the constitution should be maintained advised that it should not be accepted thus literally.
[The extreme revolutionary party, so called from the club, originally "Breton," then "Amis de la Constitution," sitting at the convent of the Dominicans (called in France Jacobins) of the Rue Saint Honore.]
The King seemed inclined to this advice; and this is one of the strongest proofs of his sincerity.
Alexandre Lameth, Duport, and Barnave, still relying on the resources of their party, hoped to have credit for directing the King through the influence they believed they had acquired over the mind of the Queen. They also consulted people of acknowledged talent, but belonging to no council nor to any assembly. Among these was M. Dubucq, formerly intendant of the marine and of the colonies. He answered laconically in one phrase: "Prevent disorder from organising itself."
The letter written by the King to the Assembly, claiming to accept the constitution in the very place where it had been created, and where he announced he would be on the 14th September at mid-day, was received with transport, and the reading was repeatedly interrupted by plaudits. The sitting terminated amidst the greatest enthusiasm, and M. de La Fayette obtained the release of all those who were detained on account of the King's journey [to Varennes], the abandonment of all proceedings relative to the events of the Revolution, and the discontinuance of the use of passports and of temporary restraints upon free travelling, as well in the interior as without. The whole was conceded by acclamation. Sixty members were deputed to go to the King and express to him fully the satisfaction his Majesty's letter had given. The Keeper of the Seals quitted the chamber, in the midst of applause, to precede the deputation to the King.
The King answered the speech addressed to him, and concluded by saying to the Assembly that a decree of that morning, which had abolished the order of the Holy Ghost, had left him and his son alone permission to be decorated with it; but that an order having no value in his eyes, save for the power of conferring it, he would not use it.
The Queen, her son, and Madame, were at the door of the chamber into which the deputation was admitted. The King said to the deputies, "You see there my wife and children, who participate in my sentiments;" and the Queen herself confirmed the King's assurance. These apparent marks of confidence were very inconsistent with the agitated state of her mind. "These people want no sovereigns," said she. "We shall fall before their treacherous though well-planned tactics; they are demolishing the monarchy stone by stone."
Next day the particulars of the reception of the deputies by the King were reported to the Assembly, and excited warm approbation. But the President having put the question whether the Assembly ought not to remain seated while the King took the oath "Certainly," was repeated by many voices; "and the King, standing, uncovered." M. Malouet observed that there was no occasion on which the nation, assembled in the presence of the King, did not acknowledge him as its head; that the omission to treat the head of the State with the respect due to him would be an offence to the nation, as well as to the monarch. He moved that the King should take the oath standing, and that the Assembly should also stand while he was doing so. M. Malouet's observations would have carried the decree, but a deputy from Brittany exclaimed, with a shrill voice, that he had an amendment to propose which would render all unanimous. "Let us decree," said he, "that M. Malouet, and whoever else shall so please, may have leave to receive the King upon their knees; but let us stick to the decree."