The King repaired to the chamber at mid-day. His speech was followed by plaudits which lasted several minutes. After the signing of the constitutional act all sat down. The President rose to deliver his speech; but after he had begun, perceiving that the King did not rise to hear him, he sat down again. His speech made a powerful impression; the sentence with which it concluded excited fresh acclamations, cries of "Bravo!" and "Vive le Roi!"—"Sire," said he, "how important in our eyes, and how dear to our hearts—how sublime a feature in our history—must be the epoch of that regeneration which gives citizens to France, and a country to Frenchmen,—to you, as a king, a new title of greatness and glory, and, as a man, a source of new enjoyment." The whole Assembly accompanied the King on his return, amidst the people's cries of happiness, military music, and salvoes of artillery.
At length I hoped to see a return of that tranquillity which had so long vanished from the countenances of my august master and mistress. Their suite left them in the salon; the Queen hastily saluted the ladies, and returned much affected; the King followed her, and, throwing himself into an armchair, put his handkerchief to his eyes. "Ah! Madame," cried he, his voice choked by tears, "why were you present at this sitting? to witness—" these words were interrupted by sobs. The Queen threw herself upon her knees before him, and pressed him in her arms. I remained with them, not from any blamable curiosity, but from a stupefaction which rendered me incapable of determining what I ought to do. The Queen said to me, "Oh! go, go!" with an accent which expressed, "Do not remain to see the dejection and despair of your sovereign!" I withdrew, struck with the contrast between the shouts of joy without the palace and the profound grief which oppressed the sovereigns within. Half an hour afterwards the Queen sent for me. She desired to see M. de Goguelat, to announce to him his departure on that very night for Vienna. The renewed attacks upon the dignity of the throne which had been made during the sitting; the spirit of an Assembly worse than the former; the monarch put upon a level with the President, without any deference to the throne,—all this proclaimed but too loudly that the sovereignty itself was aimed at. The Queen no longer saw any ground for hope from the Provinces. The King wrote to the Emperor; she told me that she would herself, at midnight, bring the letter which M. de Goguelat was to bear to the Emperor, to my room.
During all the remainder of the day the Chateau and the Tuileries were crowded; the illuminations were magnificent. The King and Queen were requested to take an airing in their carriage in the Champs-Elysees, escorted by the aides-decamp, and leaders of the Parisian army, the Constitutional Guard not being at the time organised. Many shouts of "Vive le Roi!" were heard; but as often as they ceased, one of the mob, who never quitted the door of the King's carriage for a single instant, exclaimed with a stentorian voice, "No, don't believe them! Vive la Nation!" This ill-omened cry struck terror into the Queen.
A few days afterwards M. de Montmorin sent to say he wanted to speak to me; that he would come to me, if he were not apprehensive his doing so would attract observation; and that he thought it would appear less conspicuous if he should see me in the Queen's great closet at a time which he specified, and when nobody would be there. I went. After having made some polite observations upon the services I had already performed, and those I might yet perform, for my master and mistress, he spoke to me of the King's imminent danger, of the plots which were hatching, and of the lamentable composition of the Legislative Assembly; and he particularly dwelt upon the necessity of appearing, by prudent remarks, determined as much as possible to abide by the act the King had just recognised. I told him that could not be done without committing ourselves in the eyes of the royalist party, with which moderation was a crime; that it was painful to hear ourselves taxed with being constitutionalists, at the same time that it was our opinion that the only constitution which was consistent with the King's honour, and the happiness and tranquillity of his people, was the absolute power of the sovereign; that this was my creed, and it would pain me to give any room for suspicion that I was wavering in it.
"Could you ever believe," said he, "that I should desire any other order of things? Have you any doubt of my attachment to the King's person, and the maintenance of his rights?"
"I know it, Count," replied I; "but you are not ignorant that you lie under the imputation of having adopted revolutionary ideas."
"Well, madame, have resolution enough to dissemble and to conceal your real sentiments; dissimulation was never more necessary. Endeavours are being made to paralyse the evil intentions of the factious as much as possible; but we must not be counteracted here by certain dangerous expressions which are circulated in Paris as coming from the King and Queen."
I told him that I had been already struck with apprehension of the evil which might be done by the intemperate observations of persons who had no power to act; and that I had felt ill consequences from having repeatedly enjoined silence on those in the Queen's service.
"I know that," said the Count; "the Queen informed me of it, and that determined me to come and request you to increase and keep alive, as much as you can, that spirit of discretion which is so necessary."
While the household of the King and Queen were a prey to all these fears, the festivities in celebration of the acceptance of the constitution proceeded. Their Majesties went to the Opera; the audience consisted entirely of persons who sided with the King, and on that day the happiness of seeing him for a short time surrounded by faithful subjects might be enjoyed. The acclamations were then sincere.
"La Coquette Corrigee" had been selected for representation at the Theatre Francais solely because it was the piece in which Mademoiselle Contat shone most. Yet the notions propagated by the Queen's enemies coinciding in my mind with the name of the play, I thought the choice very ill-judged. I was at a loss, however, how to tell her Majesty so; but sincere attachment gives courage. I explained myself; she was obliged to me, and desired that another play might be performed. They accordingly selected "La Gouvernante," almost equally unfortunate in title.
The Queen, Madame the King's daughter, and Madame Elisabeth were all well received on this occasion. It is true that the opinions and feelings of the spectators in the boxes could not be otherwise than favourable, and great pains had been taken, previously to these two performances, to fill the pit with proper persons. But, on the other hand, the Jacobins took the same precautions on their side at the Theatre Italien, and the tumult was excessive there. The play was Gretry's "Les Evenements Imprevus." Unfortunately, Madame Dugazon thought proper to bow to the Queen as she sang the words, "Ah, how I love my mistress!" in a duet. Above twenty voices immediately exclaimed from the pit, "No mistress! no master! liberty!" A few replied from the boxes and slips, "Vive le Roi! vive la Reine!" Those in the pit answered, "No master! no Queen!" The quarrel increased; the pit formed into parties; they began fighting, and the Jacobins were beaten; tufts of their black hair flew about the theatre.—[At this time none but the Jacobins had discontinued the use of hairpowder.—MADAME CAMPAN.]—A military guard arrived. The Faubourg St. Antoine, hearing of what was going on at the Theatre Italien, flocked together, and began to talk of marching towards the scene of action. The Queen preserved the calmest demeanour; the commandants of the guard surrounded and encouraged her; they conducted themselves promptly and discreetly. No accident happened. The Queen was highly applauded as she quitted the theatre; it was the last time she was ever in one!
While couriers were bearing confidential letters from the King to the Princes, his brothers, and to the foreign sovereigns, the Assembly invited him to write to the Princes in order to induce them to return to France. The King desired the Abbe de Montesquiou to write the letter he was to send; this letter, which was admirably composed in a simple and affecting style, suited to the character of Louis XVI., and filled with very powerful arguments in favour of the advantages to be derived from adopting the principles of the constitution, was confided to me by the King, who desired me to make him a copy of it.
At this period M. M——-, one of the intendants of Monsieur's household, obtained a passport from the Assembly to join that Prince on business relative to his domestic concerns. The Queen selected him to be the bearer of this letter. She determined to give it to him herself, and to inform him of its object. I was astonished at her choice of this courier. The Queen assured me he was exactly the man for her purpose, that she relied even upon his indiscretion, and that it was merely necessary that the letter from the King to his brothers should be known to exist. The Princes were doubtless informed beforehand on the subject by the private correspondence. Monsieur nevertheless manifested some degree of surprise, and the messenger returned more grieved than pleased at this mark of confidence, which nearly cost him his life during the Reign of Terror.
Among the causes of uneasiness to the Queen there was one which was but too well founded, the thoughtlessness of the French whom she sent to foreign Courts. She used to say that they had no sooner passed the frontiers than they disclosed the most secret matters relative to the King's private sentiments, and that the leaders of the Revolution were informed of them through their agents, many of whom were Frenchmen who passed themselves off as emigrants in the cause of their King.
After the acceptance of the constitution, the formation of the King's household, as well military as civil, formed a subject of attention. The Duc de Brissac had the command of the Constitutional Guard, which was composed of officers and men selected from the regiments, and of several officers drawn from the National Guard of Paris. The King was satisfied with the feelings and conduct of this band, which, as is well known, existed but a very short time.
The new constitution abolished what were called honours, and the prerogatives belonging to them. The Duchesse de Duras resigned her place of lady of the bedchamber, not choosing to lose her right to the tabouret at Court. This step hurt the Queen, who saw herself forsaken through the loss of a petty privilege at a time when her own rights and even life were so hotly attacked. Many ladies of rank left the Court for the same reason. However, the King and Queen did not dare to form the civil part of their household, lest by giving the new names of the posts they should acknowledge the abolition of the old ones, and also lest they should admit into the highest positions persons not calculated to fill them well. Some time was spent in discussing the question, whether the household should be formed without chevaliers and without ladies of honour. The Queen's constitutional advisers were of opinion that the Assembly, having decreed a civil list adequate to uphold the splendour of the throne, would be dissatisfied at seeing the King adopting only a military household, and not forming his civil household upon the new constitutional plan. "How is it, Madame," wrote Barnave to the Queen, "that you will persist in giving these people even the smallest doubt as to your sentiments? When they decree you a civil and a military household, you, like young Achilles among the daughters of Lycomedes, eagerly seize the sword and scorn the mere ornaments." The Queen persisted in her determination to have no civil household. "If," said she, "this constitutional household be formed, not a single person of rank will remain with us, and upon a change of affairs we should be obliged to discharge the persons received into their place."
"Perhaps," added she, "perhaps I might find one day that I had saved the nobility, if I now had resolution enough to afflict them for a time; I have it not. When any measure which injures them is wrested from us they sulk with me; nobody comes to my card party; the King goes unattended to bed. No allowance is made for political necessity; we are punished for our very misfortunes."
The Queen wrote almost all day, and spent part of the night in reading: her courage supported her physical strength; her disposition was not at all soured by misfortunes, and she was never seen in an ill-humour for a moment. She was, however, held up to the people as a woman absolutely furious and mad whenever the rights of the Crown were in any way attacked.
I was with her one day at one of her windows. We saw a man plainly dressed, like an ecclesiastic, surrounded by an immense crowd. The Queen imagined it was some abbe whom they were about to throw into the basin of the Tuileries; she hastily opened her window and sent a valet de chambre to know what was going forward in the garden. It was Abbe Gregoire, whom the men and women of the tribunes were bringing back in triumph, on account of a motion he had just made in the National Assembly against the royal authority. On the following day the democratic journalists described the Queen as witnessing this triumph, and showing, by expressive gestures at her window, how highly she was exasperated by the honours conferred upon the patriot.
The correspondence between the Queen and the foreign powers was carried on in cipher. That to which she gave the preference can never be detected; but the greatest patience is requisite for its use. Each correspondent must have a copy of the same edition of some work. She selected "Paul and Virginia." The page and line in which the letters required, and occasionally a monosyllable, are to be found are pointed out in ciphers agreed upon. I assisted her in finding the letters, and frequently I made an exact copy for her of all that she had ciphered, without knowing a single word of its meaning.
There were always several secret committees in Paris occupied in collecting information for the King respecting the measures of the factions, and in influencing some of the committees of the Assembly. M. Bertrand de Molleville was in close correspondence with the Queen. The King employed M. Talon and others; much money was expended through the latter channel for the secret measures. The Queen had no confidence in them. M. de Laporte, minister of the civil list and of the household, also attempted to give a bias to public opinion by means of hireling publications; but these papers influenced none but the royalist party, which did not need influencing. M. de Laporte had a private police which gave him some useful information.
I determined to sacrifice myself to my duty, but by no means to any intrigue, and I thought that, circumstanced as I was, I ought to confine myself to obeying the Queen's orders. I frequently sent off couriers to foreign countries, and they were never discovered, so many precautions did I take. I am indebted for the preservation of my own existence to the care I took never to admit any deputy to my abode, and to refuse all interviews which even people of the highest importance often requested of me; but this line of conduct exposed me to every species of ill-will, and on the same day I saw myself denounced by Prud'homme, in his 'Gazette Revolutionnaire', as capable of making an aristocrat of the mother of the Gracchi, if a person so dangerous as myself could have got into her household; and by Gauthier's Gazette Royaliste, as a monarchist, a constitutionalist, more dangerous to the Queen's interests than a Jacobin.
At this period an event with which I had nothing to do placed me in a still more critical situation. My brother, M. Genet, began his diplomatic career successfully. At eighteen he was attached to the embassy to Vienna; at twenty he was appointed chief secretary of Legation in England, on occasion of the peace of 1783. A memorial which he presented to M. de Vergennes upon the dangers of the treaty of commerce then entered into with England gave offence to M. de Calonne, a patron of that treaty, and particularly to M. Gerard de Rayneval, chief clerk for foreign affairs. So long as M. de Vergennes lived, having upon my father's death declared himself the protector of my brother, he supported him against the enemies his views had created. But on his death M. de Montmorin, being much in need of the long experience in business which he found in M. de Rayneval, was guided solely by the latter. The office of which my brother was the head was suppressed. He then went to St. Petersburg, strongly recommended to the Comte de Segur, minister from France to that Court, who appointed him secretary of Legation. Some time afterwards the Comte de Segur left him at St. Petersburg, charged with the affairs of France. After his return from Russia, M. Genet was appointed ambassador to the United States by the party called Girondists, the deputies who headed it being from the department of the Gironde. He was recalled by the Robespierre party, which overthrew the former faction, on the 31st of May, 1793, and condemned to appear before the Convention. Vice-President Clinton, at that time Governor of New York, offered him an asylum in his house and the hand of his daughter, and M. Genet established himself prosperously in America.
When my brother quitted Versailles he was much hurt at being deprived of a considerable income for having penned a memorial which his zeal alone had dictated, and the importance of which was afterwards but too well understood. I perceived from his correspondence that he inclined to some of the new notions. He told me it was right he should no longer conceal from me that he sided with the constitutional party; that the King had in fact commanded it, having himself accepted the constitution; that he would proceed firmly in that course, because in this case disingenuousness would be fatal, and that he took that side of the question because he had had it proved to him that the foreign powers would not serve the King's cause without advancing pretensions prompted by long-standing interests, which always would influence their councils; that he saw no salvation for the King and Queen but from within France, and that he would serve the constitutional King as he served him before the Revolution. And lastly, he requested me to impart to the Queen the real sentiments of one of his Majesty's agents at a foreign Court. I immediately went to the Queen and gave her my brother's letter; she read it attentively, and said, "This is the letter of a young man led astray by discontent and ambition; I know you do not think as he does; do not fear that you will lose the confidence of the King and myself." I offered to discontinue all correspondence with my brother; she opposed that, saying it would be dangerous. I then entreated she would permit me in future to show her my own and my brother's letters, to which she consented. I wrote warmly to my brother against the course he had adopted. I sent my letters by sure channels; he answered me by the post, and no longer touched upon anything but family affairs. Once only he informed me that if I should write to him respecting the affairs of the day he would give me no answer. "Serve your august mistress with the unbounded devotion which is due from you," said he, "and let us each do our duty. I will only observe to you that at Paris the fogs of the Seine often prevent people from seeing that immense capital, even from the Pavilion of Flora, and I see it more clearly from St. Petersburg." The Queen said, as she read this letter, "Perhaps he speaks but too truly; who can decide upon so disastrous a position as ours has become?" The day on which I gave the Queen my brother's first letter to read she had several audiences to give to ladies and other persons belonging to the Court, who came on purpose to inform her that my brother was an avowed constitutionalist and revolutionist. The Queen replied, "I know it; Madame Campan has told me so." Persons jealous of my situation having subjected me to mortifications, and these unpleasant circumstances recurring daily, I requested the Queen's permission to withdraw from Court. She exclaimed against the very idea, represented it to me as extremely dangerous for my own reputation, and had the kindness to add that, for my sake as well as for her own, she never would consent to it. After this conversation I retired to my apartment. A few minutes later a footman brought me this note from the Queen: "I have never ceased to give you and yours proofs of my attachment; I wish to tell you in writing that I have full faith in your honour and fidelity, as well as in your other good qualities; and that I ever rely on the zeal and address you exert to serve me."
[I had just received this letter from the Queen when M. de la Chapelle, commissary-general of the King's household, and head of the offices of M. de Laporte, minister of the civil list, came to see me. The palace having been already sacked by the brigands on the 20th of June, 1792, he proposed that I should entrust the paper to him, that he might place it in a safer situation than the apartments of the Queen. When he returned into his offices he placed the letter she had condescended to write to me behind a large picture in his closet; but on the loth of August M. de la Chapelle was thrown into the prisons of the Abbaye, and the committee of public safety established themselves in his offices, whence they issued all their decrees of death. There it was that a villainous servant belonging to M. de Laporte went to declare that in the minister's apartments, under a board in the floor, a number of papers would be found. They were brought forth, and M. de Laporte was sent to the scaffold, where he suffered for having betrayed the State by serving his master and sovereign. M. de la Chapelle was saved, as if by a miracle, from the massacres of the 2d of September. The committee of public safety having removed to the King's apartments at the Tuileries, M. de la Chapelle had permission to return to his closet to take away some property belonging to him. Turning round the picture, behind which he had hidden the Queen's letter, he found it in the place into which he had slipped it, and, delighted to see that I was safe from the ill consequences the discovery of this paper might have brought upon me, he burnt it instantly. In times of danger a mere nothing may save life or destroy it.—MADAME CAMPAN]
At the moment that I was going to express my gratitude to the Queen I heard a tapping at the door of my room, which opened upon the Queen's inner corridor. I opened it; it was the King. I was confused; he perceived it, and said to me, kindly: "I alarm you, Madame Campan; I come, however, to comfort you; the Queen has told me how much she is hurt at the injustice of several persons towards you. But how is it that you complain of injustice and calumny when you see that we are victims of them? In some of your companions it is jealousy; in the people belonging to the Court it is anxiety. Our situation is so disastrous, and we have met with so much ingratitude and treachery, that the apprehensions of those who love us are excusable! I could quiet them by telling them all the secret services you perform for us daily; but I will not do it. Out of good-will to you they would repeat all I should say, and you would be lost with the Assembly. It is much better, both for you and for us, that you should be thought a constitutionalist. It has been mentioned to me a hundred times already; I have never contradicted it; but I come to give you my word that if we are fortunate enough to see an end of all this, I will, at the Queen's residence, and in the presence of my brothers, relate the important services you have rendered us, and I will recompense you and your son for them." I threw myself at the King's feet and kissed his hand. He raised me up, saying, "Come, come, do not grieve; the Queen, who loves you, confides in you as I do."
Down to the day of the acceptance it was impossible to introduce Barnave into the interior of the palace; but when the Queen was free from the inner guard she said she would see him. The very great precautions which it was necessary for the deputy to take in order to conceal his connection with the King and Queen compelled them to spend two hours waiting for him in one of the corridors of the Tuileries, and all in vain. The first day that he was to be admitted, a man whom Barnave knew to be dangerous having met him in the courtyard of the palace, he determined to cross it without stopping, and walked in the gardens in order to lull suspicion. I was desired to wait for Barnave at a little door belonging to the entresols of the palace, with my hand upon the open lock. I was in that position for an hour. The King came to me frequently, and always to speak to me of the uneasiness which a servant belonging to the Chateau, who was a patriot, gave him. He came again to ask me whether I had heard the door called de Decret opened. I assured him nobody had been in the corridor, and he became easy. He was dreadfully apprehensive that his connection with Barnave would be discovered. "It would," said the King, "be a ground for grave accusations, and the unfortunate man would be lost." I then ventured to remind his Majesty that as Barnave was not the only one in the secret of the business which brought him in contact with their Majesties, one of his colleagues might be induced to speak of the association with which they were honoured, and that in letting them know by my presence that I also was informed of it, a risk was incurred of removing from those gentlemen part of the responsibility of the secret. Upon this observation the King quitted me hastily and returned a moment afterwards with the Queen. "Give me your place," said she; "I will wait for him in my turn. You have convinced the King. We must not increase in their eyes the number of persons informed of their communications with us."
The police of M. de Laporte, intendant of the civil list, apprised him, as early as the latter end of 1791, that a man belonging to the King's offices who had set up as a pastrycook at the Palais Royal was about to resume the duties of his situation, which had devolved upon him again on the death of one who held it for life; that he was so furious a Jacobin that he had dared to say it would be a good thing for France if the King's days were shortened. His duty was confined to making the pastry; he was closely watched by the head officers of the kitchen, who were devoted to his Majesty; but it is so easy to introduce a subtle poison into made dishes that it was determined the King and Queen should eat only plain roast meat in future; that their bread should be brought to them by M. Thierry de Ville-d'Avray, intendant of the smaller apartments, and that he should likewise take upon himself to supply the wine. The King was fond of pastry; I was directed to order some, as if for myself, sometimes of one pastry-cook, and sometimes of another. The pounded sugar, too, was kept in my room. The King, the Queen, and Madame Elisabeth ate together, and nobody remained to wait on them. Each had a dumb waiter and a little bell to call the servants when they were wanted. M. Thierry used himself to bring me their Majesties' bread and wine, and I locked them up in a private cupboard in the King's closet on the ground floor. As soon as the King sat down to table I took in the pastry and bread. All was hidden under the table lest it might be necessary to have the servants in. The King thought it dangerous as well as distressing to show any apprehension of attempts against his person, or any mistrust of his officers of the kitchen. As he never drank a whole bottle of wine at his meals (the Princesses drank nothing but water), he filled up that out of which he had drunk about half from the bottle served up by the officers of his butlery. I took it away after dinner. Although he never ate any other pastry than that which I brought, he took care in the same manner that it should seem that he had eaten of that served at table. The lady who succeeded me found this duty all regulated, and she executed it in the same manner; the public never was in possession of these particulars, nor of the apprehensions which gave rise to them. At the end of three or four months the police of M. de Laporte gave notice that nothing more was to be dreaded from that sort of plot against the King's life; that the plan was entirely changed; and that all the blows now to be struck would be directed as much against the throne as against the person of the sovereign.
There are others besides myself who know that at this time one of the things about which the Queen most desired to be satisfied was the opinion of the famous Pitt. She would sometimes say to me, "I never pronounce the name of Pitt without feeling a chill like that of death." (I repeat here her very expressions.) "That man is the mortal enemy of France; and he takes a dreadful revenge for the impolitic support given by the Cabinet of Versailles to the American insurgents. He wishes by our destruction to guarantee the maritime power of his country forever against the efforts made by the King to improve his marine power and their happy results during the last war. He knows that it is not only the King's policy but his private inclination to be solicitous about his fleets, and that the most active step he has taken during his whole reign was to visit the port of Cherbourg. Pitt had served the cause of the French Revolution from the first disturbances; he will perhaps serve it until its annihilation. I will endeavour to learn to what point he intends to lead us, and I am sending M.——- to London for that purpose. He has been intimately connected with Pitt, and they have often had political conversations respecting the French Government. I will get him to make him speak out, at least so far as such a man can speak out." Some time afterwards the Queen told me that her secret envoy was returned from London, and that all he had been able to wring from Pitt, whom he found alarmingly reserved, was that he would not suffer the French monarchy to perish; that to suffer the revolutionary spirit to erect an organised republic in France would be a great error, affecting the tranquillity of Europe. "Whenever," said she, "Pitt expressed himself upon the necessity of supporting monarchy in France, he maintained the most profound silence upon what concerns the monarch. The result of these conversations is anything but encouraging; but, even as to that monarchy which he wishes to save, will he have means and strength to save it if he suffers us to fall?"
The death of the Emperor Leopold took place on the 1st of March, 1792. When the news of this event reached the Tuileries, the Queen was gone out. Upon her return I put the letter containing it into her hands. She exclaimed that the Emperor had been poisoned; that she had remarked and preserved a newspaper, in which, in an article upon the sitting of the Jacobins, at the time when the Emperor Leopold declared for the coalition, it was said, speaking of him, that a pie-crust would settle that matter. At this period Barnave obtained the Queen's consent that he should read all the letters she should write. He was fearful of private correspondences that might hamper the plan marked out for her; he mistrusted her Majesty's sincerity on this point; and the diversity of counsels, and the necessity of yielding, on the one hand, to some of the views of the constitutionalists, and on the other, to those of the French Princes, and even of foreign Courts, were unfortunately the circumstances which most rapidly impelled the Court towards its ruin.
However, the emigrants showed great apprehensions of the consequences which might follow in the interior from a connection with the constitutionalists, whom they described as a party existing only in idea, and totally without means of repairing their errors. The Jacobins were preferred to them, because, said they, there would be no treaty to be made with any one at the moment of extricating the King and his family from the abyss in which they were plunged.
In the beginning of the year 1792, a worthy priest requested a private interview with me. He had learned the existence of a new libel by Madame de Lamotte. He told me that the people who came from London to get it printed in Paris only desired gain, and that they were ready to deliver the manuscript to him for a thousand louis, if he could find any friend of the Queen disposed to make that sacrifice for her peace; that he had thought of me, and if her Majesty would give him the twenty-four thousand francs, he would hand the manuscript to me.
I communicated this proposal to the Queen, who rejected it, and desired me to answer that at the time when she had power to punish the hawkers of these libels she deemed them so atrocious and incredible that she despised them too much to stop them; that if she were imprudent and weak enough to buy a single one of them, the Jacobins might possibly discover the circumstance through their espionage; that were this libel brought up, it would be printed nevertheless, and would be much more dangerous when they apprised the public of the means she had used to suppress it.
Baron d'Aubier, gentleman-in-ordinary to the King, and my particular friend, had a good memory and a clear way of communicating the substance of the debates and decrees of the National Assembly. I went daily to the Queen's apartments to repeat all this to the King, who used to say, on seeing me, "Ah! here's the Postillon par Calais,"—a newspaper of the time.
M. d'Aubier one day said to me: "The Assembly has been much occupied with an information laid by the workmen of the Sevres manufactory. They brought to the President's office a bundle of pamphlets which they said were the life of Marie Antoinette. The director of the manufactory was ordered up to the bar, and declared he had received orders to burn the printed sheets in question in the furnaces used for baking his china."
While I was relating this business to the Queen the King coloured and held his head down over his plate. The Queen said to him, "Do you know anything about this, Sire?" The King made no answer. Madame Elisabeth requested him to explain what it meant. Louis was still silent. I withdrew hastily. A few minutes afterwards the Queen came to my room and informed me that the King, out of regard for her, had purchased the whole edition struck off from the manuscript which I had mentioned to her, and that M. de Laporte had not been able to devise any more secret way of destroying the work than that of having it burnt at Sevres, among two hundred workmen, one hundred and eighty of whom must, in all probability, be Jacobins! She told me she had concealed her vexation from the King; that he was in consternation, and that she could say nothing, since his good intentions and his affection for her had been the cause of the mistake.
[M. de Laporte had by order of the King bought up the whole edition of the "Memoirs" of the notorious Madame de Lamotte against the Queen. Instead of destroying them immediately, he shut them up in one of the closets in his house, The alarming and rapid growth of the rebellion, the arrogance of the crowd of brigands, who in great measure composed the populace of Paris, and the fresh excesses daily resulting from it, rendered the intendant of the civil list apprehensive that some mob might break into his house, carry off these "Memoirs," and spread them among the public. In order to prevent this he gave orders to have the "Memoirs" burnt with every necessary precaution; and the clerk who received the order entrusted the execution of it to a man named Riston, a dangerous Intriguer, formerly an advocate of Nancy, who had a twelve-month before escaped the gallows by favour of the new principles and the patriotism of the new tribunals, although convicted of forging the great seal, and fabricating decrees of the council. This Riston, finding himself entrusted with a commission which concerned her Majesty, and the mystery attending which bespoke something of importance, was less anxious to execute it faithfully than to make a parade of this mark of confidence. On the 30th of May, at ten in the morning, he had the sheets carried to the porcelain manufactory at Sevres, in a cart which he himself accompanied, and made a large fire of them before all the workmen, who were expressly forbidden to approach it. All these precautions, and the suspicions to which they gave rise, under such critical circumstances, gave so much publicity to this affair that it was denounced to the Assembly that very night. Brissot, and the whole Jacobin party, with equal effrontery and vehemence, insisted that the papers thus secretly burnt could be no other than the registers and documents of the correspondence of the Austrian committee. M. de Laporte was ordered to the bar, and there gave the most precise account of the circumstances. Riston was also called up, and confirmed M. de Laporte's deposition. But these explanations, however satisfactory, did not calm the violent ferment raised in the Assembly by this affair.—"Memoirs of Bertrand de Molleville."]
Some time afterwards the Assembly received a denunciation against M. de Montmorin. The ex-minister was accused of having neglected forty despatches from M. Genet, the charge d'affaires from France in Russia, not having even unsealed them, because M. Genet acted on constitutional principles. M. de Montmorin appeared at the bar to answer this accusation. Whatever distress I might feel in obeying the order I had received from the King to go and give him an account of the sitting, I thought I ought not to fail in doing so. But instead of giving my brother his family name, I merely said "your Majesty's charge d'affaires at St. Petersburg."
The King did me the favour to say that he noticed a reserve in my account, of which he approved. The Queen condescended to add a few obliging remarks to those of the King. However, my office of journalist gave me in this instance so much pain that I took an opportunity, when the King was expressing his satisfaction to me at the manner in which I gave him this daily account, to tell him that its merits belonged wholly to M. d'Aubier; and I ventured to request the King to suffer that excellent man to give him an account of the sittings himself. I assured the King that if he would permit it, that gentleman might proceed to the Queen's apartments through mine unseen; the King consented to the arrangement. Thenceforward M. d'Aubier gave the King repeated proofs of zeal and attachment.
The Cure of St. Eustache ceased to be the Queen's confessor when he took the constitutional oath. I do not remember the name of the ecclesiastic who succeeded him; I only know that he was conducted into her apartments with the greatest mystery. Their Majesties did not perform their Easter devotions in public, because they could neither declare for the constitutional clergy, nor act so as to show that they were against them.
The Queen did perform her Easter devotions in 1792; but she went to the chapel attended only by myself. She desired me beforehand to request one of my relations, who was her chaplain, to celebrate a mass for her at five o'clock in the morning. It was still dark; she gave me her arm, and I lighted her with a taper. I left her alone at the chapel door. She did not return to her room until the dawn of day.
Dangers increased daily. The Assembly were strengthened in the eyes of the people by the hostilities of the foreign armies and the army of the Princes. The communication with the latter party became more active; the Queen wrote almost every day. M. de Goguelat possessed her confidence for all correspondence with the foreign parties, and I was obliged to have him in my apartments; the Queen asked for him very frequently, and at times which she could not previously appoint.
All parties were exerting themselves either to ruin or to save the King. One day I found the Queen extremely agitated; she told me she no longer knew where she was; that the leaders of the Jacobins offered themselves to her through the medium of Dumouriez; or that Dumouriez, abandoning the Jacobins, had come and offered himself to her; that she had granted him an audience; that when alone with her, he had thrown himself at her feet, and told her that he had drawn the 'bonnet rouge' over his head to the very ears; but that he neither was nor could be a Jacobin; that the Revolution had been suffered to extend even to that rabble of destroyers who, thinking of nothing but pillage, were ripe for anything, and might furnish the Assembly with a formidable army, ready to undermine the remains of a throne already but too much shaken. Whilst speaking with the utmost ardour he seized the Queen's hand and kissed it with transport, exclaiming, "Suffer yourself to be saved!" The Queen told me that the protestations of a traitor were not to be relied on; that the whole of his conduct was so well known that undoubtedly the wisest course was not to trust to it; that, moreover, the Princes particularly recommended that no confidence should be placed in any proposition emanating from within the kingdom; that the force without became imposing; and that it was better to rely upon their success, and upon the protection due from Heaven to a sovereign so virtuous as Louis XVI. and to so just a cause.
[The sincerity of General Dumouriez cannot be doubted in this instance. The second volume of his Memoirs shows how unjust the mistrust and reproaches of the Queen were. By rejecting his services, Marie Antoinette deprived herself of her only remaining support. He who saved France in the defiles of Argonne would perhaps have saved France before the 20th of June, had he obtained the full confidence of Louis XVI. and the Queen.—NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]
The constitutionalists, on their part, saw that there had been nothing more than a pretence of listening to them. Barnave's last advice was as to the means of continuing, a few weeks longer, the Constitutional Guard, which had been denounced to the Assembly, and was to be disbanded. The denunciation against the Constitutional Guard affected only its staff, and the Duc de Brissac. Barnave wrote to the Queen that the staff of the guard was already attacked; that the Assembly was about to pass a decree to reduce it; and he entreated her to prevail on the King, the very instant the decree should appear, to form the staff afresh of persons whose names he sent her. Barnave said that all who were set down in it passed for decided Jacobins, but were not so in fact; that they, as well as himself, were in despair at seeing the monarchical government attacked; that they had learnt to dissemble their sentiments, and that it would be at least a fortnight before the Assembly could know them well, and certainly before it could succeed in making them unpopular; that it would be necessary to take advantage of that short space of time to get away from Paris, immediately after their nomination. The Queen was of opinion that she ought not to yield to this advice. The Duc de Brissac was sent to Orleans, and the guard was disbanded.
Barnave, seeing that the Queen did not follow his counsel in anything, and convinced that she placed all her reliance on assistance from abroad, determined to quit Paris. He obtained a last audience. "Your misfortunes, Madame," said he, "and those which I anticipate for France, determined me to sacrifice myself to serve you. I see, however, that my advice does not agree with the views of your Majesties. I augur but little advantage from the plan you are induced to pursue,—you are too remote from your succours; you will be lost before they reach you. Most ardently do I wish I may be mistaken in so lamentable a prediction; but I am sure to pay with my head for the interest your misfortunes have raised in me, and the services I have sought to render you. I request, for my sole reward, the honour of kissing your hand." The Queen, her eyes suffused with tears, granted him that favour, and remained impressed with a favourable idea of his sentiments. Madame Elisabeth participated in this opinion, and the two Princesses frequently spoke of Barnave. The Queen also received M. Duport several times, but with less mystery. Her connection with the constitutional deputies transpired. Alexandre de Lameth was the only one of the three who survived the vengeance of the Jacobins.
[Barnave was arrested at Grenoble. He remained in prison in that town fifteen months, and his friends began to hope that he would be forgotten, when an order arrived that he should be removed to Paris. At first he was imprisoned in the Abbaye, but transferred to the Conciergerie, and almost immediately taken before the revolutionary tribunal. He appeared there with wonderful firmness, summed up the services he had rendered to the cause of liberty with his usual eloquence, and made such an impression upon the numerous auditors that, although accustomed to behold only conspirators worthy of death in all those who appeared before the tribunal, they themselves considered his acquittal certain. The decree of death was read amidst the deepest silence; but Barnave'a firmness was immovable. When he left the court, he cast upon the judges, the jurors, and the public looks expressive of contempt and indignation. He was led to his fate with the respected Duport du Tertre, one of the last ministers of Louis XVI. when he had ascended the scaffold, Barnave stamped, raised his eyes to heaven, and said: "This, then, is the reward of all that I have done for liberty!" He fell on the 29th of October, 1793, in the thirty-second year of his age; his bust was placed in the Grenoble Museum. The Consular Government placed his statue next to that of Vergniaud, on the great staircase of the palace of the Senate.—"Biographie de Bruxelles."]
The National Guard, which succeeded the King's Guard, having occupied the gates of the Tuileries, all who came to see the Queen were insulted with impunity. Menacing cries were uttered aloud even in the Tuileries; they called for the destruction of the throne, and the murder of the sovereign; the grossest insults were offered by the very lowest of the mob.
About this time the King fell into a despondent state, which amounted almost to physical helplessness. He passed ten successive days without uttering a single word, even in the bosom of his family; except, indeed, when playing at backgammon after dinner with Madame Elisabeth. The Queen roused him from this state, so fatal at a critical period, by throwing herself at his feet, urging every alarming idea, and employing every affectionate expression. She represented also what he owed to his family; and told him that if they were doomed to fall they ought to fall honourably, and not wait to be smothered upon the floor of their apartment.
About the 15th of June, 1792, the King refused his sanction to the two decrees ordaining the deportation of priests and the formation of a camp of twenty thousand men under the walls of Paris. He himself wished to sanction them, and said that the general insurrection only waited for a pretence to burst forth. The Queen insisted upon the veto, and reproached herself bitterly when this last act of the constitutional authority had occasioned the day of the 20th of June.
A few days previously about twenty thousand men had gone to the Commune to announce that, on the 20th, they would plant the tree of liberty at the door of the National Assembly, and present a petition to the King respecting the veto which he had placed upon the decree for the deportation of the priests. This dreadful army crossed the garden of the Tuileries, and marched under the Queen's windows; it consisted of people who called themselves the citizens of the Faubourgs St. Antoine and St. Marceau. Clothed in filthy rags, they bore a most terrifying appearance, and even infected the air. People asked each other where such an army could come from; nothing so disgusting had ever before appeared in Paris.
On the 20th of June this mob thronged about the Tuileries in still greater numbers, armed with pikes, hatchets, and murderous instruments of all kinds, decorated with ribbons of the national colours, Shouting, "The nation for ever! Down with the veto!" The King was without guards. Some of these desperadoes rushed up to his apartment; the door was about to be forced in, when the King commanded that it should be opened. Messieurs de Bougainville, d'Hervilly, de Parois, d'Aubier, Acloque, Gentil, and other courageous men who were in the apartment of M. de Septeuil, the King's first valet de chambre, instantly ran to his Majesty's apartment. M. de Bougainville, seeing the torrent furiously advancing, cried out, "Put the King in the recess of the window, and place benches before him." Six royalist grenadiers of the battalion of the Filles Saint Thomas made their way by an inner staircase, and ranged themselves before the benches. The order given by M. de Bougainville saved the King from the blades of the assassins, among whom was a Pole named Lazousky, who was to strike the first blow. The King's brave defenders said, "Sire, fear nothing." The King's reply is well known: "Put your hand upon my heart, and you will perceive whether I am afraid." M. Vanot, commandant of battalion, warded off a blow aimed by a wretch against the King; a grenadier of the Filles Saint Thomas parried a sword-thrust made in the same direction. Madame Elisabeth ran to her brother's apartments; when she reached the door she heard loud threats of death against the Queen: they called for the head of the Austrian. "Ah! let them think I am the Queen," she said to those around her, "that she may have time to escape."
The Queen could not join the King; she was in the council chamber, where she had been placed behind the great table to protect her, as much as possible, against the approach of the barbarians. Preserving a noble and becoming demeanour in this dreadful situation, she held the Dauphin before her, seated upon the table. Madame was at her side; the Princesse de Lamballe, the Princesse de Tarente, Madame de la Roche-Aymon, Madame de Tourzel, and Madame de Mackau surrounded her. She had fixed a tricoloured cockade, which one of the National Guard had given her, upon her head. The poor little Dauphin was, like the King, shrouded in an enormous red cap.
[One of the circumstances of the 20th of June which most vexed the King's friends being that of his wearing the bonnet rouge nearly three hours, I ventured to ask him for some explanation of a fact so strikingly in contrast with the extraordinary intrepidity shown by his Majesty during that horrible day. This was his answer: "The cries of 'The nation for ever!' violently increasing around me, and seeming to be addressed to me, I replied that the nation had not a warmer friend than myself. Upon this an ill-looking man, making his way through the crowd, came up to me and said, rather roughly, 'Well, if you speak the truth, prove it by putting on this red cap.' 'I consent,' replied I. One or two of them immediately came forward and placed the cap upon my hair, for it was too small for my head. I was convinced, I knew not why, that his intention was merely to place the cap upon my head for a moment, and then to take it off again; and I was so completely taken up with what was passing before me that I did not feel whether the cap did or did not remain upon my hair. I was so little aware of it that when I returned to my room I knew only from being told so that it was still there. I was very much surprised to find it upon my head, and was the more vexed at it because I might have taken it off immediately without the smallest difficulty. But I am satisfied that if I had hesitated to consent to its being placed upon my head the drunken fellow who offered it to me would have thrust his pike into my stomach."—"Memoirs of Bertrand de Molleville."]
The horde passed in files before the table;the sort of standards which they carried were symbols of the most atrocious barbarity. There was one representing a gibbet, to which a dirty doll was suspended; the words "Marie Antoinette a la lanterne" were written beneath it. Another was a board, to which a bullock's heart was fastened, with "Heart of Louis XVI." written round it. And a third showed the horn of an ox, with an obscene inscription.
One of the most furious Jacobin women who marched with these wretches stopped to give vent to a thousand imprecations against the Queen. Her Majesty asked whether she had ever seen her. She replied that she had not. Whether she had done her any, personal wrong? Her answer was the same; but she added:
"It is you who have caused the misery of the nation."
"You have been told so," answered the Queen; "you are deceived. As the wife of the King of France, and mother of the Dauphin, I am a French-woman; I shall never see my own country again, I can be happy or unhappy only in France; I was happy when you loved me."
The fury began to weep, asked her pardon, and said, "It was because I did not know you; I see that you are good."
Santerre, the monarch of the faubourgs, made his subjects file off as quickly as he could; and it was thought at the time that he was ignorant of the object of this insurrection, which was the murder of the royal family. However, it was eight o'clock in the evening before the palace was completely cleared. Twelve deputies, impelled by attachment to the King's person, ranged themselves near him at the commencement of the insurrection; but the deputation from the Assembly did not reach the Tuileries until six in the evening; all the doors of the apartments were broken. The Queen pointed out to the deputies the state of the King's palace, and the disgraceful manner in which his asylum had been violated under the very eyes of the Assembly; she saw that Merlin de Thionville was so much affected as to shed tears while she spoke.
"You weep, M. Merlin," said she to him, "at seeing the King and his family so cruelly treated by a people whom he always wished to make happy."
"True, Madame," replied Merlin; "I weep for the misfortunes of a beautiful and feeling woman, the mother of a family; but do not mistake, not one of my tears falls for either King or Queen; I hate kings and queens,—it is my religion."
The Queen could not appreciate this madness, and saw all that was to be apprehended by persons who evinced it.
All hope was gone, and nothing was thought of but succour from abroad. The Queen appealed to her family and the King's brothers; her letters probably became more pressing, and expressed apprehensions upon the tardiness of relief. Her Majesty read me one to herself from the Archduchess Christina, Gouvernante of the Low Countries: she reproached the Queen for some of her expressions, and told her that those out of France were at least as much alarmed as herself at the King's situation and her own; but that the manner of attempting to assist her might either save her or endanger her safety; and that the members of the coalition were bound to act prudently, entrusted as they were with interests so dear to them.
The 14th of July, 1792, fixed by the constitution as the anniversary of the independence of the nation drew near. The King and Queen were compelled to make their appearance on the occasion; aware that the plot of the 20th of June had their assassination for its object, they had no doubt but that their death was determined on for the day of this national festival. The Queen was recommended, in order to give the King's friends time to defend him if the attack should be made, to guard him against the first stroke of a dagger by making him wear a breastplate. I was directed to get one made in my apartments: it was composed of fifteen folds of Italian taffety, and formed into an under-waistcoat and a wide belt. This breastplate was tried; it resisted all thrusts of the dagger, and several balls were turned aside by it. When it was completed the difficulty was to let the King try it on without running the risk of being surprised. I wore the immense heavy waistcoat as an under-petticoat for three days without being able to find a favourable moment. At length the King found an opportunity one morning to pull off his coat in the Queen's chamber and try on the breastplate.
The Queen was in bed; the King pulled me gently by the gown, and drew me as far as he could from the Queen's bed, and said to me, in a very low tone of voice: "It is to satisfy her that I submit to this inconvenience: they will not assassinate me; their scheme is changed; they will put me to death another way." The Queen heard the King whispering to me, and when he was gone out she asked me what he had said. I hesitated to answer; she insisted that I should, saying that nothing must be concealed from her, and that she was resigned upon every point.
When she was informed of the King's remark she told me she had guessed it, that he had long since observed to her that all which was going forward in France was an imitation of the revolution in England in the time of Charles I., and that he was incessantly reading the history of that unfortunate monarch in order that he might act better than Charles had done at a similar crisis. "I begin to be fearful of the King's being brought to trial," continued the Queen; "as to me, I am a foreigner; they will assassinate me. What will become of my poor children?"
These sad ejaculations were followed by a torrent of tears. I wished to give her an antispasmodic; she refused it, saying that only happy women could feel nervous; that the cruel situation to which she was reduced rendered these remedies useless. In fact, the Queen, who during her happier days was frequently attacked by hysterical disorders, enjoyed more uniform health when all the faculties of her soul were called forth to support her physical strength.
I had prepared a corset for her, for the same purpose as the King's under-waistcoat, without her knowledge; but she would not make use of it; all my entreaties, all my tears, were in vain. "If the factions assassinate me," she replied, "it will be a fortunate event for me; they will deliver me from a most painful existence." A few days after the King had tried on his breastplate I met him on a back staircase. I drew back to let him pass. He stopped and took my hand; I wished to kiss his; he would not suffer it, but drew me towards him by the hand, and kissed both my cheeks without saying a single word.
The fear of another attack upon the Tuileries occasioned scrupulous search among the King's papers.
I burnt almost all those belonging to the Queen. She put her family letters, a great deal of correspondence which she thought it necessary to preserve for the history of the era of the Revolution, and particularly Barnave's letters and her answers, of which she had copies, into a portfolio, which she entrusted to M. de J——. That gentleman was unable to save this deposit, and it was burnt. The Queen left a few papers in her secretaire. Among them were instructions to Madame de Tourzel, respecting the dispositions of her children and the characters and abilities of the sub-governesses under that lady's orders. This paper, which the Queen drew up at the time of Madame de Tourzel's appointment, with several letters from Maria Theresa, filled with the best advice and instructions, was printed after the 10th of August by order of the Assembly in the collection of papers found in the secretaires of the King and Queen.
Her Majesty had still, without reckoning the income of the month, one hundred and forty thousand francs in gold. She was desirous of depositing the whole of it with me; but I advised her to retain fifteen hundred louis, as a sum of rather considerable amount might be suddenly necessary for her. The King had an immense quantity of papers, and unfortunately conceived the idea of privately making, with the assistance of a locksmith who had worked with him above ten years, a place of concealment in an inner corridor of his apartments. The place of concealment, but for the man's information, would have been long undiscovered? The wall in which it was made was painted to imitate large stones, and the opening was entirely concealed among the brown grooves which formed the shaded part of these painted stones. But even before this locksmith had denounced what was afterwards called the iron closet to the Assembly, the Queen was aware that he had talked of it to some of his friends; and that this man, in whom the King from long habit placed too much confidence, was a Jacobin. She warned the King of it, and prevailed on him to fill a very large portfolio with all the papers he was most interested in preserving, and entrust it to me. She entreated him in my presence to leave nothing in this closet; and the King, in order to quiet her, told her that he had left nothing there. I would have taken the portfolio and carried it to my apartment, but it was too heavy for me to lift. The King said he would carry it himself; I went before to open the doors for him. When he placed the portfolio in my inner closet he merely said, "The Queen will tell you what it contains." Upon my return to the Queen I put the question to her, deeming, from what the King had said, that it was necessary I should know. "They are," the Queen answered me, "such documents as would be most dangerous to the King should they go so far as to proceed to a trial against him. But what he wishes me to tell you is, that the portfolio contains a 'proces-verbal' of a cabinet council, in which the King gave his opinion against the war. He had it signed by all the ministers, and, in case of a trial, he trusts that this document will be very useful to him." I asked the Queen to whom she thought I ought to commit the portfolio. "To whom you please," answered she; "you alone are answerable for it. Do not quit the palace even during your vacation months: there may be circumstances under which it would be very desirable that we should be able to have it instantly."
At this period M. de La Fayette, who had probably given up the idea of establishing a republic in France similar to that of the United States, and was desirous to support the first constitution which he had sworn to defend, quitted his army and came to the Assembly for the purpose of supporting by his presence and by an energetic speech a petition signed by twenty thousand citizens against the late violation of the residence of the King and his family. The General found the constitutional party powerless, and saw that he himself had lost his popularity. The Assembly disapproved of the step he had taken; the King, for whom it, was taken, showed no satisfaction at it, and he saw himself compelled to return to his army as quickly as he could. He thought he could rely on the National Guard; but on the day of his arrival those officers who were in the King's interest inquired of his Majesty whether they were to forward the views of Gendral de La Fayette by joining him in such measures as he should pursue during his stay at Paris. The King enjoined them not to do so. From this answer M. de La Fayette perceived that he was abandoned by the remainder of his party in the Paris guard.
On his arrival a plan was presented to the Queen, in which it was proposed by a junction between La Fayette's army and the King's party to rescue the royal family and convey them to Rouen. I did not learn the particulars of this plan; the Queen only said to me upon the subject that M. de La Fayette was offered to them as a resource; but that it would be better for them to perish than to owe their safety to the man who had done them the most mischief, or to place themselves under the necessity of treating with him.
I passed the whole month of July without going to bed; I was fearful of some attack by night. There was one plot against the Queen's life which has never been made known. I was alone by her bedside at one o'clock in the morning; we heard somebody walking softly down the corridor, which passes along the whole line of her apartments, and which was then locked at each end. I went out to fetch the valet de chambre; he entered the corridor, and the Queen and myself soon heard the noise of two men fighting. The unfortunate Princess held me locked in her arms, and said to me, "What a situation! insults by day and assassins by night!" The valet de chambre cried out to her from the corridor, "Madame, it is a wretch that I know; I have him!"—"Let him go," said the Queen; "open the door to him; he came to murder me; the Jacobins would carry him about in triumph to-morrow." The man was a servant of the King's toilet, who had taken the key of the corridor out of his Majesty's pocket after he was in bed, no doubt with the intention of committing the crime suspected. The valet de chambre, who was a very strong man, held him by the wrists, and thrust him out at the door. The wretch did not speak a word. The valet de chambre said, in answer to the Queen, who spoke to him gratefully of the danger to which he had exposed himself, that he feared nothing, and that he had always a pair of excellent pistols about him for no other purpose than to defend her Majesty. The next day M. de Septeuil had all the locks of the King's inner apartments changed. I did the same by those of the Queen.
We were every moment told that the Faubourg St. Antoine was preparing to march against the palace. At four o'clock one morning towards the latter end of July a person came to give me information to that effect. I instantly sent off two men, on whom I could rely, with orders to proceed to the usual places for assembling, and to come back speedily and give me an account of the state of the city. We knew that at least an hour must elapse before the populace or the faubourgs assembled on the site of the Bastille could reach the Tuileries. It seemed to me sufficient for the Queen's safety that all about her should be awakened. I went softly into her room; she was asleep; I did not awaken her. I found General de W——in the great closet; he told me the meeting was, for this once, dispersing. The General had endeavoured to please the populace by the same means as M. de La Fayette had employed. He saluted the lowest poissarde, and lowered his hat down to his very stirrup. But the populace, who had been flattered for three years, required far different homage to its power, and the poor man was unnoticed. The King had been awakened, and so had Madame Elisabeth, who had gone to him. The Queen, yielding to the weight of her griefs, slept till nine o'clock on that day, which was very unusual with her. The King had already been to know whether she was awake; I told him what I had done, and the care I had taken not to disturb her. He thanked me, and said, "I was awake, and so was the whole palace; she ran no risk. I am very glad to see her take a little rest. Alas! her griefs double mine!" What was my chagrin when, upon awaking and learning what had passed, the Queen burst into tears from regret at not having been called, and began to upbraid me, on whose friendship she ought to have been able to rely, for having served her so ill under such circumstances! In vain did I reiterate that it had been only a false alarm, and that she required to have her strength recruited. "It is not diminished," said she; "misfortune gives us additional strength. Elisabeth was with the King, and I was asleep,—I who am determined to perish by his side! I am his wife; I will not suffer him to incur the smallest risk without my sharing it."
During July the correspondence of M. Bertrand de Molleville with the King and Queen was most active. M. de Marsilly, formerly a lieutenant of the Cent-Suisses of the Guard, was the bearer of the letters.
[I received by night only the King's answer, written with his own hand, in the margin of my letter. I always sent him back with the day's letter that to which he had replied the day before, so that my letters and his answers, of which I contented myself with taking notes only, never remained with me twenty-four hours. I proposed this arrangement to his Majesty to remove all uneasiness from his mind; my letters were generally delivered to the King or the Queen by M. de Marsilly, captain of the King's Guard, whose attachment and fidelity were known to their Majesties. I also sometimes employed M. Bernard de Marigny, who had left Brest for the purpose of sharing with his Majesty's faithful servants the dangers which threatened the King.—"Memoirs of Bertrand de Molleville," vol. ii., p. 12.]
He came to me the first time with a note from the Queen directed to M. Bertrand himself. In this note the Queen said: "Address yourself with full confidence to Madame Campan; the conduct of her brother in Russia has not at all influenced her sentiments; she is wholly devoted to us; and if, hereafter, you should have anything to say to us verbally, you may rely entirely upon her devotion and discretion."
The mobs which gathered almost nightly in the faubourgs alarmed the Queen's friends; they entreated her not to sleep in her room on the ground floor of the Tuileries. She removed to the first floor, to a room which was between the King's apartments and those of the Dauphin. Being awake always from daybreak, she ordered that neither the shutters nor the window-blinds should be closed, that her long sleepless nights might be the less weary. About the middle of one of these nights, when the moon was shining into her bedchamber, she gazed at it, and told me that in a month she should not see that moon unless freed from her chains, and beholding the King at liberty. She then imparted to me all that was concurring to deliver them; but said that the opinions of their intimate advisers were alarmingly at variance; that some vouched for complete success, while others pointed out insurmountable dangers. She added that she possessed the itinerary of the march of the Princes and the King of Prussia: that on such a day they would be at Verdun, on another day at such a place, that Lille was about to be besieged, but that M. de J——-, whose prudence and intelligence the King, as well as herself, highly valued, alarmed them much respecting the success of that siege, and made them apprehensive that, even were the commandant devoted to them, the civil authority, which by the constitution gave great power to the mayors of towns, would overrule the military commandant. She was also very uneasy as to what would take place at Paris during the interval, and spoke to me of the King's want of energy, but always in terms expressive of her veneration for his virtues and her attachment to himself.—"The King," said she, "is not a coward; he possesses abundance of passive courage, but he is overwhelmed by an awkward shyness, a mistrust of himself, which proceeds from his education as much as from his disposition. He is afraid to command, and, above all things, dreads speaking to assembled numbers. He lived like a child, and always ill at ease under the eyes of Louis XV., until the age of twenty-one. This constraint confirmed his timidity.
"Circumstanced as we are, a few well-delivered words addressed to the Parisians, who are devoted to him, would multiply the strength of our party a hundredfold: he will not utter them. What can we expect from those addresses to the people which he has been advised to post up? Nothing but fresh outrages. As for myself, I could do anything, and would appear on horseback if necessary. But if I were really to begin to act, that would be furnishing arms to the King's enemies; the cry against the Austrian, and against the sway of a woman, would become general in France; and, moreover, by showing myself, I should render the King a mere nothing. A queen who is not regent ought, under these circumstances, to remain passive and prepare to die."
The garden of the Tuileries was full of maddened men, who insulted all who seemed to side with the Court. "The Life of Marie Antoinette" was cried under the Queen's windows, infamous plates were annexed to the book, the hawkers showed them to the passersby. On all sides were heard the jubilant outcries of a people in a state of delirium almost as frightful as the explosion of their rage. The Queen and her children were unable to breathe the open air any longer. It was determined that the garden of the Tuileries should be closed: as soon as this step was taken the Assembly decreed that the whole length of the Terrace des Feuillans belonged to it, and fixed the boundary between what was called the national ground and the Coblentz ground by a tricoloured ribbon stretched from one end of the terrace to the other. All good citizens were ordered, by notices affixed to it, not to go down into the garden, under pain of being treated in the same manner as Foulon and Berthier. A young man who did not observe this written order went down into the garden; furious outcries, threats of la lanterne, and the crowd of people which collected upon the terrace warned him of his imprudence, and the danger which he ran. He immediately pulled off his shoes, took out his handkerchief, and wiped the dust from their soles. The people cried out, "Bravo! the good citizen for ever!" He was carried off in triumph. The shutting up of the Tuileries did not enable the Queen and her children to walk in the garden. The people on the terrace sent forth dreadful shouts, and she was twice compelled to return to her apartments.
In the early part of August many zealous persons offered the King money; he refused considerable sums, being unwilling to injure the fortunes of individuals. M. de la Ferte, intendant of the 'menus plaisirs', brought me a thousand louis, requesting me to lay them at the feet of the Queen. He thought she could not have too much money at so perilous a time, and that every good Frenchman should hasten to place all his ready money in her hands. She refused this sum, and others of much greater amount which were offered to her.
[M. Auguie, my brother-in-law, receiver-general of the finances, offered her, through his wife, a portfolio containing one hundred thousand crowns in paper money. On this occasion the Queen said the most affecting things to my sister, expressive of her happiness at having contributed to the fortunes of such faithful subjects as herself and her husband, but declined her offer.—MADAME CAMPAN.]
However, a few days afterwards, she told me she would accept M. de la Ferte's twenty-four thousand francs, because they would make up a sum which the King had to expend. She therefore directed, me to go and receive those twenty-four thousand francs, to add them to the one hundred thousand francs she had placed in my hands, and to change the whole into assignats to increase their amount. Her orders were executed, and the assignats were delivered to the King. The Queen informed me that Madame Elisabeth had found a well-meaning man who had engaged to gain over Petion by the bribe of a large sum of money, and that deputy would, by a preconcerted signal, inform the King of the success of the project. His Majesty soon had an opportunity of seeing Petion, and on the Queen asking him before me if he was satisfied with him, the King replied, "Neither more nor less satisfied than usual; he did not make the concerted signal, and I believe I have been cheated." The Queen then condescended to explain the whole of the enigma to me. "Petion," said she, "was, while talking to the King, to have kept his finger fixed upon his right eye for at least two seconds."—"He did not even put his hand up to his chin," said the King; "after all, it is but so much money stolen: the thief will not boast of it, and the affair will remain a secret. Let us talk of something else." He turned to me and said, "Your father was an intimate friend of Mandat, who now commands the National Guard; describe him to me; what ought I to expect from him?" I answered that he was one of his Majesty's most faithful subjects, but that with a great deal of loyalty he possessed very little sense, and that he was involved in the constitutional vortex. "I understand," said the King; "he is a man who would defend my palace and my person, because that is enjoined by the constitution which he has sworn to support, but who would fight against the party in favour of sovereign authority; it is well to know this with certainty."
On the next day the Princesse de Lamballe sent for me very early in the morning. I found her on a sofa facing a window that looked upon the Pont Royal. She then occupied that apartment of the Pavilion of Flora which was on a level with that of the Queen. She desired me to sit down by her. Her Highness had a writing-desk upon her knees. "You have had many enemies," said she; "attempts have been made to deprive you of the Queen's favour; they have been far from successful. Do you know that even I myself, not being so well acquainted with you as the Queen, was rendered suspicious of you; and that upon the arrival of the Court at the Tuileries I gave you a companion to be a spy upon you; and that I had another belonging to the police placed at your door! I was assured that you received five or six of the most virulent deputies of the Tiers Etat; but it was that wardrobe woman whose rooms were above you.
"In short," said the Princess, "persons of integrity have nothing to fear from the evil-disposed when they belong to so upright a prince as the King. As to the Queen, she knows you, and has loved you ever since she came into France. You shall judge of the King's opinion of you: it was yesterday evening decided in the family circle that, at a time when the Tuileries is likely to be attacked, it was necessary to have the most faithful account of the opinions and conduct of all the individuals composing the Queen's service. The King takes the same precaution on his part respecting all who are about him. He said there was with him a person of great integrity, to whom he would commit this inquiry; and that, with regard to the Queen's household, you must be spoken to, that he had long studied your character, and that he esteemed your veracity."
The Princess had a list of the names of all who belonged to the Queen's chamber on her desk. She asked me for information respecting each individual. I was fortunate in having none but the most favourable information to give. I had to speak of my avowed enemy in the Queen's chamber; of her who most wished that I should be responsible for my brother's political opinions. The Princess, as the head of the chamber, could not be ignorant of this circumstance; but as the person in question, who idolised the King and Queen, would not have hesitated to sacrifice her life in order to save theirs, and as possibly her attachment to them, united to considerable narrowness of intellect and a limited education, contributed to her jealousy of me, I spoke of her in the highest terms.
The Princess wrote as I dictated, and occasionally looked at me with astonishment. When I had done I entreated her to write in the margin that the lady alluded to was my declared enemy. She embraced me, saying, "Ah! do not write it! we should not record an unhappy circumstance which ought to be forgotten." We came to a man of genius who was much attached to the Queen, and I described him as a man born solely to contradict, showing himself an aristocrat with democrats, and a democrat among aristocrats; but still a man of probity, and well disposed to his sovereign. The Princess said she knew many persons of that disposition, and that she was delighted I had nothing to say against this man, because she herself had placed him about the Queen.
The whole of her Majesty's chamber, which consisted entirely of persons of fidelity, gave throughout all the dreadful convulsions of the Revolution proofs of the greatest prudence and self-devotion. The same cannot be said of the antechambers. With the exception of three or four, all the servants of that class were outrageous Jacobins; and I saw on those occasions the necessity of composing the private household of princes of persons completely separated from the class of the people.
The situation of the royal family was so unbearable during the months which immediately preceded the 10th of August that the Queen longed for the crisis, whatever might be its issue. She frequently said that a long confinement in a tower by the seaside would seem to her less intolerable than those feuds in which the weakness of her party daily threatened an inevitable catastrophe.
[A few days before the 10th of August the squabbles between the royalists and the Jacobins, and between the Jacobins and the constitutionalists, increased in warmth; among the latter those men who defended the principles they professed with the greatest talent, courage, and constancy were at the same time the most exposed to danger. Montjoie says: "The question of dethronement was discussed with a degree of frenzy in the Assembly. Such of the deputies as voted against it were abused, ill treated, and surrounded by assassins. They had a battle to fight at every step they took; and at length they did not dare to sleep in their own houses. Of this number were Regnault de Beaucaron, Froudiere, Girardin, and Vaublanc. Girardin complained of having been struck in one of the lobbies of the Assembly. A voice cried out to him, 'Say where were you struck.' 'Where?' replied Girardin, 'what a question! Behind. Do assassins ever strike otherwise?"]
Not only were their Majesties prevented from breathing the open air, but they were also insulted at the very foot of the altar. The Sunday before the last day of the monarchy, while the royal family went through the gallery to the chapel, half the soldiers of the National Guard exclaimed, "Long live the King!" and the other half, "No; no King! Down with the veto!" and on that day at vespers the choristers preconcerted to use loud and threatening emphasis when chanting the words, "Deposuit potentes de sede," in the "Magnificat." Incensed at such an irreverent proceeding, the royalists in their turn thrice exclaimed, "Et reginam," after the "Domine salvum fac regem." The tumult during the whole time of divine service was excessive.
At length the terrible night of the 10th of August, 1792, arrived. On the preceding evening Potion went to the Assembly and informed it that preparations were making for an insurrection on the following day; that the tocsin would sound at midnight; and that he feared he had not sufficient means for resisting the attack which was about to take place. Upon this information the Assembly passed to the order of the day. Petion, however, gave an order for repelling force by force.
[Petion was the Mayor of Paris, and Mandat on this day was commandant of the National Guard. Mandat was assassinated that night.—"Thiers," vol. i., p. 260.]
M. Mandat was armed with this order; and, finding his fidelity to the King's person supported by what he considered the law of the State, he conducted himself in all his operations with the greatest energy. On the evening of the 9th I was present at the King's supper. While his Majesty was giving me various orders we heard a great noise at the door of the apartment. I went to see what was the cause of it, and found the two sentinels fighting. One said, speaking of the King, that he was hearty in the cause of the constitution, and would defend it at the peril of his life; the other maintained that he was an encumbrance to the only constitution suitable to a free people. They were almost ready to cut one another's throats. I returned with a countenance which betrayed my emotion. The King desired to know what was going forward at his door; I could not conceal it from him. The Queen said she was not at all surprised at it, and that more than half the guard belonged to the Jacobin party.
The tocsin sounded at midnight. The Swiss were drawn up like walls; and in the midst of their soldierlike silence, which formed a striking contrast with the perpetual din of the town guard, the King informed M. de J——-, an officer of the staff, of the plan of defence laid down by General Viomenil. M. de J——- said to me, after this private conference, "Put your jewels and money into your pockets; our dangers are unavoidable; the means of defence are nil; safety might be obtained by some degree of energy in the King, but that is the only virtue in which he is deficient."
An hour after midnight the Queen and Madame Elisabeth said they would lie down on a sofa in a room in the entresols, the windows of which commanded the courtyard of the Tuileries.
The Queen told me the King had just refused to put on his quilted under-waistcoat; that he had consented to wear it on the 14th of July because he was merely going to a ceremony where the blade of an assassin was to be apprehended, but that on a day on which his party might fight against the revolutionists he thought there was something cowardly in preserving his life by such means.
During this time Madame Elisabeth disengaged herself from some of her clothing which encumbered her in order to lie down on the sofa: she took a cornelian pin out of her cape, and before she laid it down on the table she showed it to me, and desired me to read a motto engraved upon it round a stalk of lilies. The words were, "Oblivion of injuries; pardon for offences."—"I much fear," added that virtuous Princess, "this maxim has but little influence among our enemies; but it ought not to be less dear to us on that account."
[The exalted piety of Madame Elisabeth gave to all she said and did a noble character, descriptive of that of her soul. On the day on which this worthy descendant of Saint Louis was sacrificed, the executioner, in tying her hands behind her, raised up one of the ends of her handkerchief. Madame Elisabeth, with calmness, and in a voice which seemed not to belong to earth, said to him, "In the name of modesty, cover my bosom." I learned this from Madame de Serilly, who was condemned the same day as the Princess, but who obtained a respite at the moment of the execution, Madame de Montmorin, her relation, declaring that her cousin was enceinte.-MADAME CAMPAN.]
The Queen desired me to sit down by her; the two Princesses could not sleep; they were conversing mournfully upon their situation when a musket was discharged in the courtyard. They both quitted the sofa, saying, "There is the first shot, unfortunately it will not be the last; let us go up to the King." The Queen desired me to follow her; several of her women went with me.
At four o'clock the Queen came out of the King's chamber and told us she had no longer any hope; that M. Mandat, who had gone to the Hotel de Ville to receive further orders, had just been assassinated, and that the people were at that time carrying his head about the streets. Day came. The King, the Queen, Madame Elisabeth, Madame, and the Dauphin went down to pass through the ranks of the sections of the National Guard; the cry of "Vive le Roi!" was heard from a few places. I was at a window on the garden side; I saw some of the gunners quit their posts, go up to the King, and thrust their fists in his face, insulting him by the most brutal language. Messieurs de Salvert and de Bridges drove them off in a spirited manner. The King was as pale as a corpse. The royal family came in again. The Queen told me that all was lost; that the King had shown no energy; and that this sort of review had done more harm than good.
I was in the billiard-room with my companions; we placed ourselves upon some high benches. I then saw M. d'Hervilly with a drawn sword in his hand, ordering the usher to open the door to the French noblesse. Two hundred persons entered the room nearest to that in which the family were; others drew up in two lines in the preceding rooms. I saw a few people belonging to the Court, many others whose features were unknown to me, and a few who figured technically without right among what was called the noblesse, but whose self-devotion ennobled them at once. They were all so badly armed that even in that situation the indomitable French liveliness indulged in jests. M. de Saint-Souplet, one of the King's equerries, and a page, carried on their shoulders instead of muskets the tongs belonging to the King's antechamber, which they had broken and divided between them. Another page, who had a pocket-pistol in his hand, stuck the end of it against the back of the person who stood before him, and who begged he would be good enough to rest it elsewhere. A sword and a pair of pistols were the only arms of those who had had the precaution to provide themselves with arms at all. Meanwhile, the numerous bands from the faubourgs, armed with pikes and cutlasses, filled the Carrousel and the streets adjacent to the Tuileries. The sanguinary Marseillais were at their head, with cannon pointed against the Chateau. In this emergency the King's Council sent M. Dejoly, the Minister of Justice, to the Assembly to request they would send the King a deputation which might serve as a safeguard to the executive power. His ruin was resolved on; they passed to the order of the day. At eight o'clock the department repaired to the Chateau. The procureur-syndic, seeing that the guard within was ready to join the assailants, went into the King's closet and requested to speak to him in private. The King received him in his chamber; the Queen was with him. There M. Roederer told him that the King, all his family, and the people about them would inevitably perish unless his Majesty immediately determined to go to the National Assembly. The Queen at first opposed this advice, but the procureur-syndic told her that she rendered herself responsible for the deaths of the King, her children, and all who were in the palace. She no longer objected. The King then consented to go to the Assembly. As he set out, he said to the minister and persons who surrounded him, "Come, gentlemen, there is nothing more to be done here."
["The King hesitated, the Queen manifested the highest dissatisfaction. 'What!' said she,' are we alone; is there nobody who can act?'—'Yes, Madame, alone; action is useless—resistance is impossible.' One of the members of the department, M. Gerdrot, insisted on the prompt execution of the proposed measure. 'Silence, monsieur,' said the Queen to him; 'silence; you are the only person who ought to be silent here; when the mischief is done, those who did it should not pretend to wish to remedy it.' . . .