"The King remained mute; nobody spoke. It was reserved for me to give the last piece of advice. I had the firmness to say, 'Let us go, and not deliberate; honour commands it, the good of the State requires it. Let us go to the National Assembly; this step ought to have been taken long ago: 'Let us go,' said the King, raising his right hand; 'let us start; let us give this last mark of self-devotion, since it is necessary.' The Queen was persuaded. Her first anxiety was for the King, the second for her son; the King had none. 'M. Roederer—gentlemen,' said the Queen, 'you answer for the person of the King; you answer for that of my son.'—'Madame,' replied M. Roederer, 'we pledge ourselves to die at your side; that is all we can engage for.'"—MONTJOIE, "History of Marie Antoinette."]
The Queen said to me as she left the King's chamber, "Wait in my apartments; I will come to you, or I will send for you to go I know not whither." She took with her only the Princesse de Lamballe and Madame de Tourzel. The Princesse de Tarente and Madame de la Roche-Aymon were inconsolable at being left at the Tuileries; they, and all who belonged to the chamber, went down into the Queen's apartments.
We saw the royal family pass between two lines formed by the Swiss grenadiers and those of the battalions of the Petits-Peres and the Filles Saint Thomas. They were so pressed upon by the crowd that during that short passage the Queen was robbed of her watch and purse. A man of great height and horrible appearance, one of such as were to be seen at the head of all the insurrections, drew near the Dauphin, whom the Queen was leading by the hand, and took him up in his arms. The Queen uttered a scream of terror, and was ready to faint. The man said to her, "Don't be frightened, I will do him no harm;" and he gave him back to her at the entrance of the chamber.
I leave to history all the details of that too memorable day, confining myself to recalling a few of the frightful scenes acted in the interior of the Tuileries after the King had quitted the palace.
The assailants did not know that the King and his family had betaken themselves to the Assembly; and those who defended the palace from the aide of the courts were equally ignorant of it. It is supposed that if they had been aware of the fact the siege would never have taken place.
[In reading of the events of the 10th of August, 1792, the reader must remember that there was hardly any armed force to resist the mob. The regiments that had shown signs of being loyal to the King had been removed from Paris by the Assembly. The Swiss had been deprived of their own artillery, and the Court had sent one of their battalions into Normandy at a time when there was an idea of taking refuge there. The National Guard were either disloyal or disheartened, and the gunners, especially of that force at the Tuileries, sympathised with the mob. Thus the King had about 800 or 900 Swiss and little more than one battalion of the National Guard. Mandat, one of the six heads of the legions of the National Guard, to whose turn the command fell on that day, was true to his duty, but was sent for to the Hotel de Ville and assassinated. Still the small force, even after the departure of the King, would have probably beaten off the mob had not the King given the fatal order to the Swiss to cease firing. (See Thiers's "Revolution Francaise," vol. i., chap. xi.) Bonaparte's opinion of the mob may be judged by his remarks on the 20th June, 1792, when, disgusted at seeing the King appear with the red cap on his head, he exclaimed, "Che coglione! Why have they let in all that rabble? Why don't they sweep off 400 or 500 of them with the cannon? The rest would then set off." ("Bourrienne," vol. i., p.13, Bentley, London, 1836.) Bonaparte carried out his own plan against a far stronger force of assailants on the Jour des Sections, 4th October, 1795.]
The Marseillais began by driving from their posts several Swiss, who yielded without resistance; a few of the assailants fired upon them; some of the Swiss officers, seeing their men fall, and perhaps thinking the King was still at the Tuileries, gave the word to a whole battalion to fire. The aggressors were thrown into disorder, and the Carrousel was cleared in a moment; but they soon returned, spurred on by rage and revenge. The Swiss were but eight hundred strong; they fell back into the interior of the Chateau; some of the doors were battered in by the guns, others broken through with hatchets; the populace rushed from all quarters into the interior of the palace; almost all the Swiss were massacred; the nobles, flying through the gallery which leads to the Louvre, were either stabbed or shot, and the bodies thrown out of the windows.
M. Pallas and M. de Marchais, ushers of the King's chamber, were killed in defending the door of the council chamber; many others of the King's servants fell victims to their fidelity. I mention these two persons in particular because, with their hats pulled over their brows and their swords in their hands, they exclaimed, as they defended themselves with unavailing courage, "We will not survive!—this is our post; our duty is to die at it." M. Diet behaved in the same manner at the door of the Queen's bedchamber; he experienced the same fate. The Princesse de Tarente had fortunately opened the door of the apartments; otherwise, the dreadful band seeing several women collected in the Queen's salon would have fancied she was among us, and would have immediately massacred us had we resisted them. We were, indeed, all about to perish, when a man with a long beard came up, exclaiming, in the name of Potion, "Spare the women; don't dishonour the nation!" A particular circumstance placed me in greater danger than the others. In my confusion I imagined, a moment before the assailants entered the Queen's apartments, that my sister was not among the group of women collected there; and I went up into an 'entresol', where I supposed she had taken refuge, to induce her to come down, fancying it safer that we should not be separated. I did not find her in the room in question; I saw there only our two femmes de chambre and one of the Queen's two heyducs, a man of great height and military aspect. I saw that he was pale, and sitting on a bed. I cried out to him, "Fly! the footmen and our people are already safe."—"I cannot," said the man to me; "I am dying of fear." As he spoke I heard a number of men rushing hastily up the staircase; they threw themselves upon him, and I saw him assassinated.
I ran towards the staircase, followed by our women. The murderers left the heyduc to come to me. The women threw themselves at their feet, and held their sabres. The narrowness of the staircase impeded the assassins; but I had already felt a horrid hand thrust into my back to seize me by my clothes, when some one called out from the bottom of the staircase, "What are you doing above there? We don't kill women." I was on my knees; my executioner quitted his hold of me, and said, "Get up, you jade; the nation pardons you."
The brutality of these words did not prevent my suddenly experiencing an indescribable feeling which partook almost equally of the love of life and the idea that I was going to see my son, and all that was dear to me, again. A moment before I had thought less of death than of the pain which the steel, suspended over my head, would occasion me. Death is seldom seen so close without striking his blow. I heard every syllable uttered by the assassins, just as if I had been calm.
Five or six men seized me and my companions, and, having made us get up on benches placed before the windows, ordered us to call out, "The nation for ever!"
I passed over several corpses; I recognised that of the old Vicomte de Broves, to whom the Queen had sent me at the beginning of the night to desire him and another old man in her name to go home. These brave men desired I would tell her Majesty that they had but too strictly obeyed the King's orders in all circumstances under which they ought to have exposed their own lives in order to preserve his; and that for this once they would not obey, though they would cherish the recollection of the Queen's goodness.
Near the grille, on the side next the bridge, the men who conducted me asked whither I wished to go. Upon my inquiring, in my turn, whether they were at liberty to take me wherever I might wish to go, one of them, a Marseillais, asked me, giving me at the same time a push with the butt end of his musket, whether I still doubted the power of the people? I answered "No," and I mentioned the number of my brother-in-law's house. I saw my sister ascending the steps of the parapet of the bridge, surrounded by members of the National Guard. I called to her, and she turned round. "Would you have her go with you?" said my guardian to me. I told him I did wish it. They called the people who were leading my sister to prison; she joined me.
Madame de la Roche-Aymon and her daughter, Mademoiselle Pauline de Tourzel, Madame de Ginestoux, lady to the Princesse de Lamballe, the other women of the Queen, and the old Comte d'Affry, were led off together to the Abbaye.
Our progress from the Tuileries to my sister's house was most distressing. We saw several Swiss pursued and killed, and musket-shots were crossing each other in all directions. We passed under the walls of the Louvre; they were firing from the parapet into the windows of the gallery, to hit the knights of the dagger; for thus did the populace designate those faithful subjects who had assembled at the Tuileries to defend the King.
The brigands broke some vessels of water in the Queen's first antechamber; the mixture of blood and water stained the skirts of our white gowns. The poissardes screamed after us in the streets that we were attached to the Austrian. Our protectors then showed some consideration for us, and made us go up a gateway to pull off our gowns; but our petticoats being too short, and making us look like persons in disguise, other poissardes began to bawl out that we were young Swiss dressed up like women. We then saw a tribe of female cannibals enter the street, carrying the head of poor Mandat. Our guards made us hastily enter a little public-house, called for wine, and desired us to drink with them. They assured the landlady that we were their sisters, and good patriots. Happily the Marseillais had quitted us to return to the Tuileries. One of the men who remained with us said to me in a low voice: "I am a gauze-worker in the faubourg. I was forced to march; I am not for all this; I have not killed anybody, and have rescued you. You ran a great risk when we met the mad women who are carrying Mandat's head. These horrible women said yesterday at midnight, upon the site of the Bastille, that they must have their revenge for the 6th of October, at Versailles, and that they had sworn to kill the Queen and all the women attached to her; the danger of the action saved you all."
As I crossed the Carrousel, I saw my house in flames; but as soon as the first moment of affright was over, I thought no more of my personal misfortunes. My ideas turned solely upon the dreadful situation of the Queen.
On reaching my sister's we found all our family in despair, believing they should never see us again. I could not remain in her house; some of the mob, collected round the door, exclaimed that Marie Antoinette's confidante was in the house, and that they must have her head. I disguised myself, and was concealed in the house of M. Morel, secretary for the lotteries. On the morrow I was inquired for there, in the name of the Queen. A deputy, whose sentiments were known to her, took upon himself to find me out.
I borrowed clothes, and went with my sister to the Feuillans—[A former monastery near the Tuileries, so called from the Bernardines, one of the Cistercian orders; later a revolutionary club.]—We got there at the same time with M. Thierry de Ville d'Avray, the King's first valet de chambre. We were taken into an office, where we wrote down our names and places of abode, and we received tickets for admission into the rooms belonging to Camus, the keeper of the Archives, where the King was with his family.
As we entered the first room, a person who was there said to me, "Ah! you are a brave woman; but where is that Thierry, that man loaded with his master's bounties?"
[M. Thierry, who never ceased to give his sovereign proofs of unalterable attachment, was one of the victims of the 2d of September.—MADAME CAMPAN.]
"He is here," said I; "he is following me. I perceive that even scenes of death do not banish jealousy from among you."
Having belonged to the Court from my earliest youth, I was known to many persons whom I did not know. As I traversed a corridor above the cloisters which led to the cells inhabited by the unfortunate Louis XVI. and his family, several of the grenadiers called me by name. One of them said to me, "Well, the poor King is lost! The Comte d'Artois would have managed it better."—"Not at all," said another.
The royal family occupied a small suite of apartments consisting of four cells, formerly belonging to the ancient monastery of the Feuillans. In the first were the men who had accompanied the King: the Prince de Poix, the Baron d'Aubier, M. de Saint-Pardou, equerry to Madame Elisabeth, MM. de Goguelat, de Chamilly, and de Hue. In the second we found the King; he was having his hair dressed; he took two locks of it, and gave one to my sister and one to me. We offered to kiss his hand; he opposed it, and embraced us without saying anything. In the third was the Queen, in bed, and in indescribable affliction. We found her accompanied only by a stout woman, who appeared tolerably civil; she was the keeper of the apartments. She waited upon the Queen, who as yet had none of her own people about her. Her Majesty stretched out her arms to us, saying, "Come, unfortunate women; come, and see one still more unhappy than yourselves, since she has been the cause of all your misfortunes. We are ruined," continued she; "we have arrived at that point to which they have been leading us for three years, through all possible outrages; we shall fall in this dreadful revolution, and many others will perish after us. All have contributed to our downfall; the reformers have urged it like mad people, and others through ambition, for the wildest Jacobin seeks wealth and office, and the mob is eager for plunder. There is not one real patriot among all this infamous horde. The emigrant party have their intrigues and schemes; foreigners seek to profit by the dissensions of France; every one has a share in our misfortunes."
The Dauphin came in with Madame and the Marquise de Tourzel. On seeing them the Queen said to me, "Poor children! how heartrending it is, instead of handing down to them so fine an inheritance, to say it ends with us!" She afterwards conversed with me about the Tuileries and the persons who had fallen; she condescended also to mention the burning of my house. I looked upon that loss as a mischance which ought not to dwell upon her mind, and I told her so. She spoke of the Princesse de Tarente, whom she greatly loved and valued, of Madame de la Roche-Aymon and her daughter, of the other persons whom she had left at the palace, and of the Duchesse de Luynes, who was to have passed the night at the Tuileries. Respecting her she said, "Hers was one of the first heads turned by the rage for that mischievous philosophy; but her heart brought her back, and I again found a friend in her."
[During the Reign of Terror I withdrew to the Chateau de Coubertin, near that of Dampierre. The Duchesse de Luynes frequently came to ask me to tell her what the Queen had said about her at the Feuillans. She would say as she went away, "I have often need to request you to repeat those words of the Queen."—MADAME CAMPAN.]
I asked the Queen what the ambassadors from foreign powers had done under existing circumstances. She told me that they could do nothing; and that the wife of the English ambassador had just given her a proof of the personal interest she took in her welfare by sending her linen for her son.
I informed her that, in the pillaging of my house, all my accounts with her had been thrown into the Carrousel, and that every sheet of my month's expenditure was signed by her, sometimes leaving four or five inches of blank paper above her signature, a circumstance which rendered me very uneasy, from an apprehension that an improper use might be made of those signatures. She desired me to demand admission to the committee of general safety, and to make this declaration there. I repaired thither instantly and found a deputy, with whose name I have never become acquainted. After hearing me he said that he would not receive my deposition; that Marie Antoinette was now nothing more than any other Frenchwoman; and that if any of those detached papers bearing her signature should be misapplied, she would have, at a future period, a right to lodge a complaint, and to support her declaration by the facts which I had just related. The Queen then regretted having sent me, and feared that she had, by her very caution, pointed out a method of fabricating forgeries which might be dangerous to her; then again she exclaimed, "My apprehensions are as absurd as the step I made you take. They need nothing more for our ruin; all has been told."
She gave us details of what had taken place subsequently to the King's arrival at the Assembly. They are all well known, and I have no occasion to record them; I will merely mention that she told us, though with much delicacy, that she was not a little hurt at the King's conduct since he had quitted the Tuileries; that his habit of laying no restraint upon his great appetite had prompted him to eat as if he had been at his palace; that those who did not know him as she did, did not feel the piety and the magnanimity of his resignation, all which produced so bad an effect that deputies who were devoted to him had warned him of it; but no change could be effected.
I still see in imagination, and shall always see, that narrow cell at the Feuillans, hung with green paper, that wretched couch whence the dethroned, Queen stretched out her arms to us, saying that our misfortunes, of which she was the cause, increased her own. There, for the last time, I saw the tears, I heard the sobs of her whom high birth, natural endowments, and, above all, goodness of heart, had seemed to destine to adorn any throne, and be the happiness of any people! It is impossible for those who lived with Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette not to be fully convinced, while doing full justice to the King's virtues, that if the Queen had been from the moment of her arrival in France the object of the care and affection of a prince of decision and authority, she would have only added to the glory of his reign.
What affecting things I have heard the Queen say in the affliction caused her by the belief of part of the Court and the whole of the people that she did not love France! How did that opinion shock those who knew her heart and her sentiments! Twice did I see her on the point of going from her apartments in the Tuileries into the gardens, to address the immense throng constantly assembled there to insult her. "Yes," exclaimed she, as she paced her chamber with hurried steps, "I will say to them Frenchmen, they have had the cruelty to persuade you that I do not love France!—I! the mother of a Dauphin who will reign over this noble country!—I! whom Providence has seated upon the most powerful throne of Europe! Of all the daughters of Maria Theresa am I not that one whom fortune has most highly favoured? And ought I not to feel all these advantages? What should I find at Vienna? Nothing but sepulchres! What should I lose in France? Everything which can confer glory!"
I protest I only repeat her own words; the soundness of her judgment soon pointed out to her the dangers of such a proceeding. "I should descend from the throne," said she, "merely, perhaps, to excite a momentary sympathy, which the factious would soon render more injurious than beneficial to me."
Yes, not only did Marie Antoinette love France, but few women took greater pride in the courage of Frenchmen. I could adduce a multitude of proofs of this; I will relate two traits which demonstrate the noblest enthusiasm: The Queen was telling me that, at the coronation of the Emperor Francis II., that Prince, bespeaking the admiration of a French general officer, who was then an emigrant, for the fine appearance of his troops, said to him, "There are the men to beat your sans culottes!" "That remains to be seen, Sire," instantly replied the officer. The Queen added, "I don't know the name of that brave Frenchman, but I will learn it; the King ought to be in possession of it." As she was reading the public papers a few days before the 10th of August, she observed that mention was made of the courage of a young man who died in defending the flag he carried, and shouting, "Vive la Nation!"—"Ah! the fine lad!" said the Queen; "what a happiness it would have been for us if such men had never left off crying, 'Vive de Roi!'"
In all that I have hitherto said of this most unfortunate of women and of queens, those who did not live with her, those who knew her but partially, and especially the majority of foreigners, prejudiced by infamous libels, may imagine I have thought it my duty to sacrifice truth on the altar of gratitude. Fortunately I can invoke unexceptionable witnesses; they will declare whether what I assert that I have seen and heard appears to them either untrue or improbable.
The Queen having been robbed of her purse as she was passing from the Tuileries to the Feuillans, requested my sister to lend her twenty-five louis.
[On being interrogated the Queen declared that these five and twenty louis had been lent to her by my sister; this formed a pretence for arresting her and me, and led to her death.—MADAME CAMPAN.]
I spent part of the day at the Feuillans, and her Majesty told me she would ask Potion to let me be with her in the place which the Assembly should decree for her prison. I then returned home to prepare everything that might be necessary for me to accompany her.
On the same day (11th August), at nine in the evening, I returned to the Feuillans. I found there were orders at all the gates forbidding my being admitted. I claimed a right to enter by virtue of the first permission which had been given to me; I was again refused. I was told that the Queen had as many people as were requisite about her. My sister was with her, as well as one of my companions, who came out of the prisons of the Abbaye on the 11th. I renewed my solicitations on the 12th; my tears and entreaties moved neither the keepers of the gates, nor even a deputy, to whom I addressed myself.
I soon heard of the removal of Louis XVI. and his family to the Temple. I went to Potion accompanied by M. Valadon, for whom I had procured a place in the post-office, and who was devoted to me. He determined to go up to Potion alone; he told him that those who requested to be confined could not be suspected of evil designs, and that no political opinion could afford a ground of objection to these solicitations. Seeing that the well-meaning man did not succeed, I thought to do more in person; but Petion persisted in his refusal, and threatened to send me to La Force. Thinking to give me a kind of consolation, he added I might be certain that all those who were then with Louis XVI. and his family would not stay with them long. And in fact, two or three days afterwards the Princesse de Lamballe, Madame de Tourzel, her daughter, the Queen's first woman, the first woman of the Dauphin and of Madame, M. de Chamilly, and M. de Hue were carried off during the night and transferred to La Force. After the departure of the King and Queen for the Temple, my sister was detained a prisoner in the apartments their Majesties had quitted for twenty-four hours.
From this time I was reduced to the misery of having no further intelligence of my august and unfortunate mistress but through the medium of the newspapers or the National Guard, who did duty at the Temple.
The King and Queen said nothing to me at the Feuillans about the portfolio which had been deposited with me; no doubt they expected to see me again. The minister Roland and the deputies composing the provisional government were very intent on a search for papers belonging to their Majesties. They had the whole of the Tuileries ransacked. The infamous Robespierre bethought himself of M. Campan, the Queen's private secretary, and said that his death was feigned; that he was living unknown in some obscure part of France, and was doubtless the depositary of all the important papers. In a great portfolio belonging to the King there had been found a solitary letter from the Comte d'Artois, which, by its date, and the subjects of which it treated, indicated the existence of a continued correspondence. (This letter appeared among the documents used on the trial of Louis XVI.) A former preceptor of my son's had studied with Robespierre; the latter, meeting him in the street, and knowing the connection which had subsisted between him and the family of M. Campan, required him to say, upon his honour, whether he was certain of the death of the latter. The man replied that M. Campan had died at La Briche in 1791, and that he had seen him interred in the cemetery of Epinay. "well, then," resumed Robespierre, "bring me the certificate of his burial at twelve to-morrow; it is a document for which I have pressing occasion." Upon hearing the deputy's demand I instantly sent for a certificate of M. Campan's burial, and Robespierre received it at nine o'clock the next morning. But I considered that, in thinking of my father-in-law, they were coming very near me, the real depositary of these important papers. I passed days and nights in considering what I could do for the best under such circumstances.
I was thus situated when the order to inform against those who had been denounced as suspected on the 10th of August led to domiciliary visits. My servants were told that the people of the quarter in which I lived were talking much of the search that would be made in my house, and came to apprise me of it. I heard that fifty armed men would make themselves masters of M. Auguies house, where I then was. I had just received this intelligence when M. Gougenot, the King's maitre d'hotel and receiver-general of the taxes, a man much attached to his sovereign, came into my room wrapped in a ridingcloak, under which, with great difficulty, he carried the King's portfolio, which I had entrusted to him. He threw it down at my feet, and said to me, "There is your deposit; I did not receive it from our unfortunate King's own hands; in delivering it to you I have executed my trust." After saying this he was about to withdraw. I stopped him, praying him to consult with me what I ought to do in such a trying emergency. He would not listen to my entreaties, or even hear me describe the course I intended to pursue. I told him my abode was about to be surrounded; I imparted to him what the Queen had said to me about the contents of the portfolio. To all this he answered, "There it is; decide for yourself; I will have no hand in it." Upon that I remained a few seconds thinking, and my conduct was founded upon the following reasons. I spoke aloud, although to myself; I walked about the room with agitated steps; M. Gougenot was thunderstruck. "Yes," said I, "when we can no longer communicate with our King and receive his orders, however attached we may be to him, we can only serve him according to the best of our own judgment. The Queen said to me, 'This portfolio contains scarcely anything but documents of a most dangerous description in the event of a trial taking place, if it should fall into the hands of revolutionary persons.' She mentioned, too, a single document which would, under the same circumstances, be useful. It is my duty to interpret her words, and consider them as orders. She meant to say, 'You will save such a paper, you will destroy the rest if they are likely to be taken from you.' If it were not so, was there any occasion for her to enter into any detail as to what the portfolio contained? The order to keep it was sufficient. Probably it contains, moreover, the letters of that part of the family which has emigrated; there is nothing which may have been foreseen or decided upon that can be useful now; and there can be no political thread which has not been cut by the events of the 10th of August and the imprisonment of the King. My house is about to be surrounded; I cannot conceal anything of such bulk; I might, then, through want of foresight, give up that which would cause the condemnation of the King. Let us open the portfolio, save the document alluded to, and destroy the rest." I took a knife and cut open one side of the portfolio. I saw a great number of envelopes endorsed by the King's own hand. M. Gougenot found there the former seals of the King, such as they were before the Assembly had changed the inscription.
[No doubt it was in order to have the ancient seals ready at a moment's notice, in case of a counter-revolution, that the Queen desired me not to quit the Tuileries. M. Gougenot threw the seals into the river, one from above the Pont Neuf, and the other from near the Pont Royal.—MADAME CAMPAN.]
At this moment we heard a great noise; he agreed to tie up the portfolio, take it again under his cloak, and go to a safe place to execute what I had taken upon me to determine. He made me swear, by all I held most sacred, that I would affirm, under every possible emergency, that the course I was pursuing had not been dictated to me by anybody; and that, whatever might be the result, I would take all the credit or all the blame upon myself. I lifted up my hand and took the oath he required; he went out. Half an hour afterwards a great number of armed men came to my house; they placed sentinels at all the outlets; they broke open secretaires and closets of which they had not the keys; they 'searched the flower-pots and boxes; they examined the cellars; and the commandant repeatedly said, "Look particularly for papers." In the afternoon M. Gougenot returned. He had still the seals of France about him, and he brought me a statement of all that he had burnt.
The portfolio contained twenty letters from Monsieur, eighteen or nineteen from the Comte d'Artois, seventeen from Madame Adelaide, eighteen from Madame Victoire, a great many letters from Comte Alexandre de Lameth, and many from M. de Malesherbes, with documents annexed to them. There were also some from M. de Montmorin and other ex-ministers or ambassadors. Each correspondence had its title written in the King's own hand upon the blank paper which contained it. The most voluminous was that from Mirabeau. It was tied up with a scheme for an escape, which he thought necessary. M. Gougenot, who had skimmed over these letters with more attention than the rest, told me they were of so interesting a nature that the King had no doubt kept them as documents exceedingly valuable for a history of his reign, and that the correspondence with the Princes, which was entirely relative to what was going forward abroad, in concert with the King, would have been fatal to him if it had been seized. After he had finished he placed in my hands the proces-verbal, signed by all the ministers, to which the King attached so much importance, because he had given his opinion against the declaration of war; a copy of the letter written by the King to the Princes, his brothers, inviting them to return to France; an account of the diamonds which the Queen had sent to Brussels (these two documents were in my handwriting); and a receipt for four hundred thousand francs, under the hand of a celebrated banker. This sum was part of the eight hundred thousand francs which the Queen had gradually saved during her reign, out of her pension of three hundred thousand francs per annum, and out of the one hundred thousand francs given by way of present on the birth of the Dauphin.
This receipt, written on a very small piece of paper, was in the cover of an almanac. I agreed with M. Gougenot, who was obliged by his office to reside in Paris, that he should retain the proces-verbal of the Council and the receipt for the four hundred thousand francs, and that we should wait either for orders or for the means of transmitting these documents to the King or Queen; and I set out for Versailles.
The strictness of the precautions taken to guard the illustrious prisoners was daily increased. The idea that I could not inform the King of the course I had adopted of burning his papers, and the fear that I should not be able to transmit to him that which he had pointed out as necessary, tormented me to such a degree that it is wonderful my health endured the strain.
The dreadful trial drew near. Official advocates were granted to the King; the heroic virtue of M. de Malesherbes induced him to brave the most imminent dangers, either to save his master or to perish with him. I hoped also to be able to find some means of informing his Majesty of what I had thought it right to do. I sent a man, on whom I could rely, to Paris, to request M. Gougenot to come to me at Versailles he came immediately. We agreed that he should see M. de Malesherbes without availing himself of any intermediate person for that purpose.
M. Gougenot awaited his return from the Temple at the door of his hotel, and made a sign that he wished to speak to him. A moment afterwards a servant came to introduce him into the magistrates' room. He imparted to M. de Malesherbes what I had thought it right to do with respect to the King's papers, and placed in his hands the proces-verbal of the Council, which his Majesty had preserved in order to serve, if occasion required it, for a ground of his defence. However, that paper is not mentioned in either of the speeches of his advocate; probably it was determined not to make use of it.
I stop at that terrible period which is marked by the assassination of a King whose virtues are well known; but I cannot refrain from relating what he deigned to say in my favour to M. de Malesherbes:
"Let Madame Campan know that she did what I should myself have ordered her to do; I thank her for it; she is one of those whom I regret I have it not in my power to recompense for their fidelity to my person, and for their good services." I did not hear of this until the morning after he had suffered, and I think I should have sunk under my despair if this honourable testimony had not given me some consolation.
SUPPLEMENT TO CHAPTER IX.
MADAME CAMPAN'S narrative breaking off abruptly at the time of the painful end met with by her sister, we have supplemented it by abridged accounts of the chief incidents in the tragedy which overwhelmed the royal house she so faithfully served, taken from contemporary records and the best historical authorities.
The Royal Family in the Temple.
The Assembly having, at the instance of the Commune of Paris, decreed that the royal family should be immured in the Temple, they were removed thither from the Feuillans on the 13th of August, 1792, in the charge of Potion, Mayor of Paris, and Santerre, the commandant-general. Twelve Commissioners of the general council were to keep constant watch at the Temple, which had been fortified by earthworks and garrisoned by detachments of the National Guard, no person being allowed to enter without permission from the municipality.
The Temple, formerly the headquarters of the Knights Templars in Paris, consisted of two buildings,—the Palace, facing the Rue de Temple, usually occupied by one of the Princes of the blood; and the Tower, standing behind the Palace.
[Clery gives a more minute description of this singular building: "The small tower of the Temple in which the King was then confined stood with its back against the great tower, without any interior communication, and formed a long square, flanked by two turrets. In one of these turrets there was a narrow staircase that led from the first floor to a gallery on the platform; in the other were small rooms, answering to each story of the tower. The body of the building was four stories high. The first consisted of an antechamber, a dining-room, and a small room in the turret, where there was a library containing from twelve to fifteen hundred volumes. The second story was divided nearly in the same manner. The largest room was the Queen's bedchamber, in which the Dauphin also slept; the second, which was separated from the Queen's by a small antechamber almost without light, was occupied by Madame Royale and Madame Elisabeth. The King's apartments were on the third story. He slept in the great room, and made a study of the turret closet. There was a kitchen separated from the King's chamber by a small dark room, which had been successively occupied by M. de Chamilly and M. de Hue. The fourth story was shut up; and on the ground floor there were kitchens of which no use was made."—"Journal," p. 96.]
The Tower was a square building, with a round tower at each corner and a small turret on one side, usually called the Tourelle. In the narrative of the Duchesse d'Angouleme she says that the soldiers who escorted the royal prisoners wished to take the King alone to the Tower, and his family to the Palace of the Temple, but that on the way Manuel received an order to imprison them all in the Tower, where so little provision had been made for their reception that Madame Elisabeth slept in the kitchen. The royal family were accompanied by the Princesse de Lamballe, Madame de Tourzel and her daughter Pauline, Mesdames de Navarre, de Saint-Brice, Thibaut, and Bazire, MM. de Hug and de Chamilly, and three men-servants—An order from the Commune soon removed these devoted attendants, and M. de Hue alone was permitted to return. "We all passed the day together," says Madame Royale. "My father taught my brother geography; my mother history, and to learn verses by heart; and my aunt gave him lessons in arithmetic. My father fortunately found a library which amused him, and my mother worked tapestry . . . . We went every day to walk in the garden, for the sake of my brother's health, though the King was always insulted by the guard. On the Feast of Saint Louis 'Ca Ira' was sung under the walls of the Temple. Manuel that evening brought my aunt a letter from her aunts at Rome. It was the last the family received from without. My father was no longer called King. He was treated with no kind of respect; the officers always sat in his presence and never took off their hats. They deprived him of his sword and searched his pockets . . . . Petion sent as gaoler the horrible man—[Rocher, a saddler by trade] who had broken open my father's door on the 20th June, 1792, and who had been near assassinating him. This man never left the Tower, and was indefatigable in endeavouring to torment him. One time he would sing the 'Caramgnole,' and a thousand other horrors, before us; again, knowing that my mother disliked the smoke of tobacco, he would puff it in her face, as well as in that of my father, as they happened to pass him. He took care always to be in bed before we went to supper, because he knew that we must pass through his room. My father suffered it all with gentleness, forgiving the man from the bottom of his heart. My mother bore it with a dignity that frequently repressed his insolence." The only occasion, Madame Royale adds, on which the Queen showed any impatience at the conduct of the officials, was when a municipal officer woke the Dauphin suddenly in the night to make certain that he was safe, as though the sight of the peacefully sleeping child would not have been in itself the best assurance.
Clery, the valet de chambre of the Dauphin, having with difficulty obtained permission to resume his duties, entered the Temple on the 24th August, and for eight days shared with M. de Hue the personal attendance; but on the 2d September De Hue was arrested, seals were placed on the little room he had occupied, and Clery passed the night in that of the King. On the following morning Manuel arrived, charged by the Commune to inform the King that De Hue would not be permitted to return, and to offer to send another person. "I thank you," answered the King. "I will manage with the valet de chambre of my son; and if the Council refuse I will serve myself. I am determined to do it." On the 3d September Manual visited the Temple and assured the King that Madame de Lamballe and all the other prisoners who had been removed to La Force were well, and safely guarded. "But at three o'clock," says Madame Royale, "just after dinner, and as the King was sitting down to 'tric trac' with my mother (which he played for the purpose of having an opportunity of saying a few words to her unheard by the keepers), the most horrid shouts were heard. The officer who happened to be on guard in the room behaved well. He shut the door and the window, and even drew the curtains to prevent their seeing anything; but outside the workmen and the gaoler Rocher joined the assassins and increased the tumult. Several officers of the guard and the municipality now arrived, and on my father's asking what was the matter, a young officer replied, 'Well, since you will know, it is the head of Madame de Lamballe that they want to show you.' At these words my mother was overcome with horror; it was the only occasion on which her firmness abandoned her. The municipal officers were very angry with the young man; but the King, with his usual goodness, excused him, saying that it was his own fault, since he had questioned the officer. The noise lasted till five o'clock. We learned that the people had wished to force the door, and that the municipal officers had been enabled to prevent it only by putting a tricoloured scarf across it, and allowing six of the murderers to march round our prison with the head of the Princess, leaving at the door her body, which they would have dragged in also."
Clery was not so fortunate as to escape the frightful spectacle. He had gone down to dine with Tison and his wife, employed as servants in the Temple, and says: "We were hardly seated when a head, on the end of a pike, was presented at the window. Tison's wife gave a great cry; the assassins fancied they recognised the Queen's voice, and responded by savage laughter. Under the idea that his Majesty was still at table, they placed their dreadful trophy where it must be seen. It was the head of the Princesse de Lamballe; although bleeding, it was not disfigured, and her light hair, still in curls, hung about the pike."
At length the immense mob that surrounded the Temple gradually withdrew, "to follow the head of the Princess de Lamballe to the Palais Royal."
[The pike that bore the head was fixed before the Duc d'Orleans's window as he was going to dinner. It is said that he looked at this horrid sight without horror, went into the dining-room, sat down to table, and helped his guests without saying a word. His silence and coolness left it doubtful whether the assassins, in presenting him this bloody trophy, intended to offer him an insult or to pay him homage.—DE MOLLEVILLE'S "Annals of the French Revolution," vol. vii., p. 398.]
Meanwhile the royal family could scarcely believe that for the time their lives were saved. "My aunt and I heard the drums beating to arms all night," says Madame Royale; "my unhappy mother did not even attempt to sleep. We heard her sobs."
In the comparative tranquillity which followed the September massacres, the royal family resumed the regular habits they had adopted on entering the Temple. "The King usually rose at six in the morning," says Clery. "He shaved himself, and I dressed his hair; he then went to his reading-room, which, being very small, the municipal officer on duty remained in the bedchamber with the door open, that he might always keep the King in sight. His Majesty continued praying on his knees for some time, and then read till nine. During that interval, after putting his chamber to rights and preparing the breakfast, I went down to the Queen, who never opened her door till I arrived, in order to prevent the municipal officer from going into her apartment. At nine o'clock the Queen, the children, and Madame Elisabeth went up to the King's chamber to breakfast. At ten the King and his family went down to the Queen's chamber, and there passed the day. He employed himself in educating his son, made him recite passages from Corneille and Racine, gave him lessons in geography, and exercised him in colouring the maps. The Queen, on her part, was employed in the education of her daughter, and these different lessons lasted till eleven o'clock. The remaining time till noon was passed in needlework, knitting, or making tapestry. At one o'clock, when the weather was fine, the royal family were conducted to the garden by four municipal officers and the commander of a legion of the National Guard. As there were a number of workmen in the Temple employed in pulling down houses and building new walls, they only allowed a part of the chestnut-tree walk for the promenade, in which I was allowed to share, and where I also played with the young Prince at ball, quoits, or races. At two we returned to the Tower, where I served the dinner, at which time Santerre regularly came to the Temple, attended by two aides-de-camp. The King sometimes spoke to him,—the Queen never.
"After the meal the royal family came down into the Queen's room, and their Majesties generally played a game of piquet or tric-trac. At four o'clock the King took a little repose, the Princesses round him, each with a book . . . . When the King woke the conversation was resumed, and I gave writing lessons to his son, taking the copies, according to his instructions, from the works of, Montesquieu and other celebrated authors. After the lesson I took the young Prince into Madame Elisabeth's room, where we played at ball, and battledore and shuttlecock. In the evening the family sat round a table, while the Queen read to them from books of history, or other works proper to instruct and amuse the children. Madame Elisabeth took the book in her turn, and in this manner they read till eight o'clock. After that I served the supper of the young Prince, in which the royal family shared, and the King amused the children with charades out of a collection of French papers which he found in the library. After the Dauphin had supped, I undressed him, and the Queen heard him say his prayers. At nine the King went to supper, and afterwards went for a moment to the Queen's chamber, shook hands with her and his sister for the night, kissed his children, and then retired to the turret-room, where he sat reading till midnight. The Queen and the Princesses locked themselves in, and one of the municipal officers remained in the little room which parted their chamber, where he passed the night; the other followed his Majesty. In this manner was the time passed as long as the King remained in the small tower."
But even these harmless pursuits were too often made the means of further insulting and thwarting the unfortunate family. Commissary Le Clerc interrupted the Prince's writing lessons, proposing to substitute Republican works for those from which the King selected his copies. A smith, who was present when the Queen was reading the history of France to her children, denounced her to the Commune for choosing the period when the Connstable de Bourbon took arms against France, and said she wished to inspire her son with unpatriotic feelings; a municipal officer asserted that the multiplication table the Prince was studying would afford a means of "speaking in cipher," so arithmetic had to be abandoned. Much the same occurred even with the needlework, the Queen and Princess finished some chairbacks, which they wished to send to the Duchesse de Tarente; but the officials considered that the patterns were hieroglyphics, intended for carrying on a correspondence, and ordered that none of the Princesses work should leave the Temple. The short daily walk in the garden was also embittered by the rude behaviour of the military and municipal gaolers; sometimes, however, it afforded an opportunity for marks of sympathy to be shown. People would station themselves at the windows of houses overlooking the Temple gardens, and evince by gestures their loyal affection, and some of the sentinels showed, even by tears, that their duty was painful to them.
On the 21st September the National Convention was constituted, Petion being made president and Collot d'Herbois moving the "abolition of royalty" amidst transports of applause. That afternoon a municipal officer attended by gendarmes a cheval, and followed by a crowd of people, arrived at the Temple, and, after a flourish of trumpets, proclaimed the establishment of the French Republic. The man, says Clery, "had the voice of a Stentor." The royal family could distinctly hear the announcement of the King's deposition. "Hebert, so well known under the title of Pere Duchesne, and Destournelles were on guard. They were sitting near the door, and turned to the King with meaning smiles. He had a book in his hand, and went on reading without changing countenance. The Queen showed the same firmness. The proclamation finished, the trumpets sounded afresh. I went to the window; the people took me for Louis XVI. and I was overwhelmed with insults."
After the new decree the prisoners were treated with increased harshness. Pens, paper, ink, and pencils were taken from them. The King and Madame Elisabeth gave up all, but the Queen and her daughter each concealed a pencil. "In the beginning of October," says Madame Royale, "after my father had supped, he was told to stop, that he was not to return to his former apartments, and that he was to be separated from his family. At this dreadful sentence the Queen lost her usual courage. We parted from him with abundance of tears, though we expected to see him again in the morning.
[At nine o'clock, says Clery, the King asked to be taken to his family, but the municipal officers replied that they had "no orders for that." Shortly afterwards a boy brought the King some bread and a decanter of lemonade for his breakfast. The King gave half the bread to Clery, saying, "It seems they have forgotten your breakfast; take this, the rest is enough for me." Clery refused, but the King insisted. "I could not contain my tears," he adds; "the King perceived them, and his own fell also."]
They brought in our breakfast separately from his, however. My mother would take nothing. The officers, alarmed at her silent and concentrated sorrow, allowed us to see the King, but at meal-times only, and on condition that we should not speak low, nor in any foreign language, but loud and in 'good French.' We went down, therefore, with the greatest joy to dine with my father. In the evening, when my brother was in bed, my mother and my aunt alternately sat with him or went with me to sup with my father. In the morning, after breakfast, we remained in the King's apartments while Clery dressed our hair, as he was no longer allowed to come to my mother's room, and this arrangement gave us the pleasure of spending a few moments more with my father."
[When the first deputation from the Council of the Commune visited the Temple, and formally inquired whether the King had any complaint to make, he replied, "No; while he was permitted to remain with his family he was happy."]
The royal prisoners had no comfort except their affection for each other. At that time even common necessaries were denied them. Their small stock of linen had been lent them; by persons of the Court during the time they spent at the Feuillans. The Princesses mended their clothes every day, and after the King had gone to bed Madame Elisabeth mended his. "With much trouble," says Clrry, "I procured some fresh linen for them. But the workwomen having marked it with crowned letters, the Princesses were ordered to pick them out." The room in the great tower to which the King had been removed contained only one bed, and no other article of furniture. A chair was brought on which Clery spent the first night; painters were still at work on the room, and the smell of the paint, he says, was almost unbearable. This room was afterwards furnished by collecting from various parts of the Temple a chest of drawers, a small bureau, a few odd chairs, a chimney-glass, and a bed hung with green damask, which had been used by the captain of the guard to the Comte d'Artois. A room for the Queen was being prepared over that of the King, and she implored the workmen to finish it quickly, but it was not ready for her occupation for some time, and when she was allowed to remove to it the Dauphin was taken from her and placed with his father. When their Majesties met again in the great Tower, says Clery, there was little change in the hours fixed for meals, reading, walking and the education of their children. They were not allowed to have mass said in the Temple, and therefore commissioned Clery to get them the breviary in use in the diocese of Paris. Among the books read by the King while in the Tower were Hume's "History of England" (in the original), Tasso, and the "De Imitatione Christi." The jealous suspicions of the municipal officers led to the most absurd investigations; a draught-board was taken to pieces lest the squares should hide treasonable papers; macaroons were broken in half to see that they did not contain letters; peaches were cut open and the stones cracked; and Clery was compelled to drink the essence of soap prepared for shaving the King, under the pretence that it might contain poison.
In November the King and all the family had feverish colds, and Clery had an attack of rheumatic fever. On the first day of his illness he got up and tried to dress his master, but the King, seeing how ill he was, ordered him to lie down, and himself dressed the Dauphin. The little Prince waited on Clery all day, and in the evening the King contrived to approach his bed, and said, in a low voice, "I should like to take care of you myself, but you know how we are watched. Take courage; tomorrow you shall see my doctor." Madame Elisabeth brought the valet cooling draughts, of which she deprived herself; and after Clery was able to get up, the young Prince one night with great difficulty kept awake till eleven o'clock in order to give him a box of lozenges when he went to make the King's bed.
On 7th December a deputation from the Commune brought an order that the royal family should be deprived of "knives, razors, scissors, penknives, and all other cutting instruments." The King gave up a knife, and took from a morocco case a pair of scissors and a penknife; and the officials then searched the room, taking away the little toilet implements of gold and silver, and afterwards removing the Princesses' working materials. Returning to the King's room, they insisted upon seeing what remained in his pocket-case. "Are these toys which I have in my hand also cutting instruments?" asked the King, showing them a cork-screw, a turn-screw, and a steel for lighting. These also were taken from him. Shortly afterwards Madame Elisabeth was mending the King's coat, and, having no scissors, was compelled to break the thread with her teeth.
"What a contrast!" he exclaimed, looking at her tenderly. "You wanted nothing in your pretty house at Montreuil."
"Ah, brother," she answered, "how can I have any regret when I partake your misfortunes?"
The Queen had frequently to take on herself some of the humble duties of a servant. This was especially painful to Louis XVI. when the anniversary of some State festival brought the contrast between past and present with unusual keenness before him.
"Ah, Madame," he once exclaimed, "what an employment for a Queen of France! Could they see that at Vienna! Who would have foreseen that, in uniting your lot to mine, you would have descended so low?"
"And do you esteem as nothing," she replied, "the glory of being the wife of one of the best and most persecuted of men? Are not such misfortunes the noblest honours?"—[Alison's "History of Europe," vol. ii., p. 299.]
Meanwhile the Assembly had decided that the King should be brought to trial. Nearly all parties, except the Girondists, no matter how bitterly opposed to each other, could agree in making him the scapegoat; and the first rumour of the approaching ordeal was conveyed to the Temple by Clery's wife, who, with a friend, had permission occasionally to visit him. "I did not know how to announce this terrible news to the King," he says; "but time was pressing, and he had forbidden my concealing anything from him. In the evening, while undressing him, I gave him an account of all I had learnt, and added that there were only four days to concert some plan of corresponding with the Queen. The arrival of the municipal officer would not allow me to say more. Next morning, when the King rose, I could not get a moment for speaking with him. He went up with his son to breakfast with the Princesses, and I followed. After breakfast he talked long with the Queen, who, by a look full of trouble, made me understand that they were discussing what I had told the King. During the day I found an opportunity of describing to Madame Elisabeth how much it had cost me to augment the King's distresses by informing him of his approaching trial. She reassured me, saying that the King felt this as a mark of attachment on my part, and added, 'That which most troubles him is the fear of being separated from us.' In the evening the King told me how satisfied he was at having had warning that he was to appear before the Convention. 'Continue,' he said, 'to endeavour to find out something as to what they want to do with me. Never fear distressing me. I have agreed with my family not to seem pre-informed, in order not to compromise you.'"
On the 11th December, at five o'clock in the morning, the prisoners heard the generale beaten throughout Paris, and cavalry and cannon entered the Temple gardens. At nine the King and the Dauphin went as usual to breakfast with the Queen. They were allowed to remain together for an hour, but constantly under the eyes of their republican guardians. At last they were obliged to part, doubtful whether they would ever see each other again. The little Prince, who remained with his father, and was ignorant of the new cause for anxiety, begged hard that the King would play at ninepins with him as usual. Twice the Dauphin could not get beyond a certain number. "Each time that I get up to sixteen," he said, with some vexation, "I lose the game." The King did not reply, but Clery fancied the words made a painful impression on him.
At eleven, while the King was giving the Dauphin a reading lesson, two municipal officers entered and said they had come "to take young Louis to his mother." The King inquired why, but was only told that such were the orders of the Council. At one o'clock the Mayor of Paris, Chambon, accompanied by Chaumette, Procureur de la Commune, Santerre, commandant of the National Guard, and others, arrived at the Temple and read a decree to the King, which ordered that "Louis Capet" should be brought before the Convention. "Capet is not my name," he replied, "but that of one of my ancestors. I could have wished," he added, "that you had left my son with me during the last two hours. But this treatment is consistent with all I have experienced here. I follow you, not because I recognise the authority of the Convention, but because I can be compelled to obey it." He then followed the Mayor to a carriage which waited, with a numerous escort, at the gate of the Temple. The family left behind were overwhelmed with grief and apprehension. "It is impossible to describe the anxiety we suffered," says Madame Royale. "My mother used every endeavour with the officer who guarded her to discover what was passing; it was the first time she had condescended to question any of these men. He would tell her nothing."
Trial of the King.—Parting of the Royal Family.—Execution.
The crowd was immense as, on the morning of the 11th December, 1792, Louis XVI. was driven slowly from the Temple to the Convention, escorted by cavalry, infantry, and artillery. Paris looked like an armed camp: all the posts were doubled; the muster-roll of the National Guard was called over every hour; a picket of two hundred men watched in the court of each of the right sections; a reserve with cannon was stationed at the Tuileries, and strong detachments patroled the streets and cleared the road of all loiterers. The trees that lined the boulevards, the doors and windows of the houses, were alive with gazers, and all eyes were fixed on the King. He was much changed since his people last beheld him. The beard he had been compelled to grow after his razors were taken from him covered cheeks, lips, and chin with light-coloured hair, which concealed the melancholy expression of his mouth; he had become thin, and his garments hung loosely on him; but his manner was perfectly collected and calm, and he recognised and named to the Mayor the various quarters through which he passed. On arriving at the Feuillans he was taken to a room to await the orders of the Assembly.
It was about half-past two when the King appeared at the bar. The Mayor and Generaux Santerre and Wittengoff were at his side. Profound silence pervaded the Assembly. All were touched by the King's dignity and the composure of his looks under so great a reverse of fortune. By nature he had been formed rather to endure calamity with patience than to contend against it with energy. The approach of death could not disturb his serenity.
"Louis, you may be seated," said Barere. "Answer the questions that shall be put to you." The King seated himself and listened to the reading of the 'acte enonciatif', article by article. All the faults of the Court were there enumerated and imputed to Louis XVI. personally. He was charged with the interruption of the sittings of the 20th of June, 1789, with the Bed of Justice held on the 23d of the same month, the aristocratic conspiracy thwarted by the insurrection of the 14th of July, the entertainment of the Life Guards, the insults offered to the national cockade, the refusal to sanction the Declaration of Rights, as well as several constitutional articles; lastly, all the facts which indicated a new conspiracy in October, and which were followed by the scenes of the 5th and 6th; the speeches of reconciliation which had succeeded all these scenes, and which promised a change that was not sincere; the false oath taken at the Federation of the 14th of July; the secret practices of Talon and Mirabeau to effect a counter-revolution; the money spent in bribing a great number of deputies; the assemblage of the "knights of the dagger" on the 28th of February, 1791; the flight to Varennes; the fusilade of the Champ de Mars; the silence observed respecting the Treaty of Pilnitz; the delay in the promulgation of the decree which incorporated Avignon with France; the commotions at Nimes, Montauban, Mende, and Jales; the continuance of their pay to the emigrant Life Guards and to the disbanded Constitutional Guard; the insufficiency of the armies assembled on the frontiers; the refusal to sanction the decree for the camp of twenty thousand men; the disarming of the fortresses; the organisation of secret societies in the interior of Paris; the review of the Swiss and the garrison of the palace on the 10th August; the summoning the Mayor to the Tuileries; and lastly, the effusion of blood which had resulted from these military dispositions. After each article the President paused, and said, "What have you to answer?" The King, in a firm voice, denied some of the facts, imputed others to his ministers, and always appealed to the constitution, from which he declared he had never deviated. His answers were very temperate, but on the charge, "You spilt the blood of the people on the 10th of August," he exclaimed, with emphasis, "No, monsieur, no; it was not I."
All the papers on which the act of accusation was founded were then shown to the King, and he disavowed some of them and disputed the existence of the iron chest; this produced a bad impression, and was worse than useless, as the fact had been proved.
[A secret closet which the King had directed to be constructed in a wall in the Tuileries. The door was of iron, whence it was afterwards known by the name of the iron chest. See Thiers, and Scott.]
Throughout the examination the King showed great presence of mind. He was careful in his answers never to implicate any members of the constituent, and legislative Assemblies; many who then sat as his judges trembled lest he should betray them. The Jacobins beheld with dismay the profound impression made on the Convention by the firm but mild demeanour of the sovereign. The most violent of the party proposed that he should be hanged that very night; a laugh as of demons followed the proposal from the benches of the Mountain, but the majority, composed of the Girondists and the neutrals, decided that he should be formally tried.
After the examination Santerre took the King by the arm and led him back to the waiting-room of the Convention, accompanied by Chambon and Chaumette. Mental agitation and the length of the proceedings had exhausted him, and he staggered from weakness. Chaumette inquired if he wished for refreshment, but the King refused it. A moment after, seeing a grenadier of the escort offer the Procureur de la Commune half a small loaf, Louis XVI. approached and asked him, in a whisper, for a piece.
"Ask aloud for what you want," said Chaumette, retreating as though he feared being suspected of pity.
"I asked for a piece of your bread," replied the King.
"Divide it with me," said Chaumette. "It is a Spartan breakfast. If I had a root I would give you half."—[Lamartine's "History of the Girondists," edit. 1870, vol. ii., p. 313.]
Soon after six in the evening the King returned to the Temple. "He seemed tired," says Clery, simply, "and his first wish was to be led to his family. The officers refused, on the plea that they had no orders. He insisted that at least they should be informed of his return, and this was promised him. The King ordered me to ask for his supper at half-past eight. The intervening hours he employed in his usual reading, surrounded by four municipals. When I announced that supper was served, the King asked the commissaries if his family could not come down. They made no reply. 'But at least,' the King said, 'my son will pass the night in my room, his bed being here?' The same silence. After supper the King again urged his wish to see his family. They answered that they must await the decision of the Convention. While I was undressing him the King said, 'I was far from expecting all the questions they put to me.' He lay down with perfect calmness. The order for my removal during the night was not executed." On the King's return to the Temple being known, "my mother asked to see him instantly," writes Madame Royale. "She made the same request even to Chambon, but received no answer. My brother passed the night with her; and as he had no bed, she gave him hers, and sat up all the night in such deep affliction that we were afraid to leave her; but she compelled my aunt and me to go to bed. Next day she again asked to see my father, and to read the newspapers, that she might learn the course of the trial. She entreated that if she was to be denied this indulgence, his children, at least, might see him. Her requests were referred to the Commune. The newspapers were refused; but my brother and I were to be allowed to see my father on condition of being entirely separated from my mother. My father replied that, great as his happiness was in seeing his children, the important business which then occupied him would not allow of his attending altogether to his son, and that his daughter could not leave her mother."
[During their last interview Madame Elisabeth had given Clery one of her handkerchiefs, saying, "You shall keep it so long as my brother continues well; if he becomes ill, send it to me among my nephew's things."]
The Assembly having, after a violent debate, resolved that Louis XVI. should have the aid of counsel, a deputation was sent to the Temple to ask whom he would choose. The King named Messieurs Target and Tronchet. The former refused his services on the ground that he had discontinued practice since 1785; the latter complied at once with the King's request; and while the Assembly was considering whom to, nominate in Target's place, the President received a letter from the venerable Malesherbes, then seventy years old, and "the most respected magistrate in France," in the course of which he said: "I have been twice called to be counsel for him who was my master, in times when that duty was coveted by every one. I owe him the same service now that it is a duty which many people deem dangerous. If I knew any possible means of acquainting him with my desires, I should not take the liberty of addressing myself to you."
[Christian Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, an eminent French statesman, son of the Chancellor of France, was born at Paris in 1721. In 1750 he succeeded his father as President of the Court of Aids, and was also made superintendent of the press. On the banishment of the Parliaments and the suppression of the Court of Aids, Malesherbes was exiled to his country-seat. In 1775 he was appointed Minister of State. On the decree of the Convention for the King's trial, he emerged from his retreat to become the voluntary advocate of his sovereign. Malesherbes was guillotined in 1794, and almost his whole family were extirpated by their merciless persecutors.]
Other citizens made similar proposals, but the King, being made acquainted with them by a deputation from the Commune, while expressing his gratitude for all the offers, accepted only that of Malesherbes.
[The Citoyenne Olympia Degonges, calling herself a free and loyal Republican without spot or blame, and declaring that the cold and selfish cruelty of Target had inflamed her heroism and roused her sensibility, asked permission to assist M, de Malesherbes in defending the King. The Assembly passed to the order of the day on this request.—BERTRAND DE MOLLEVILLE, "Annals," edit. 1802, vol, viii., p. 254.]
On 14th December M. Tronchet was allowed to confer with the King, and later in the same day M. de Malesherbes was admitted to the Tower. "The King ran up to this worthy old man, whom he clasped in his arms," said Clery, "and the former minister melted into tears at the sight of his master."
[According to M. de Hue, "The first time M. de Malesherbes entered the Temple, the King clasped him in his arms and said, 'Ah, is it you, my friend? You fear not to endanger your own life to save mine; but all will be useless. They will bring me to the scaffold. No matter; I shall gain my cause if I leave an unspotted memory behind me.'"]
Another deputation brought the King the Act of Accusation and the documents relating to it, numbering more than a hundred, and taking from four o'clock till midnight to read. During this long process the King had refreshments served to the deputies, taking nothing himself till they had left, but considerately reproving Clery for not having supped. From the 14th to the 26th December the King saw his counsel and their colleague M. de Size every day. At this time a means of communication between the royal family and the King was devised: a man named Turgi, who had been in the royal kitchen, and who contrived to obtain employment in the Temple, when conveying the meals of the royal family to their apartments, or articles he had purchased for them, managed to give Madame Elisabeth news of the King. Next day, the Princess, when Turgi was removing the dinner, slipped into his hand a bit of paper on which she had pricked with a pin a request for a word from her brother's own hand. Turgi gave this paper to Clery, who conveyed it to the King the same evening; and he, being allowed writing materials while preparing his defence, wrote Madame Elisabeth a short note. An answer was conveyed in a ball of cotton, which Turgi threw under Clery's bed while passing the door of his room. Letters were also passed between the Princess's room and that of Clery, who lodged beneath her, by means of a string let down and drawn up at night. This communication with his family was a great comfort to the King, who, nevertheless, constantly cautioned his faithful servant. "Take care," he would say kindly, "you expose yourself too much."
[The King's natural benevolence was constantly shown while in the Temple. His own dreadful position never prevented him from sympathy with the smaller troubles of others. A servant in the Temple named Marchand, the father of a family, was robbed of two hundred francs,—his wages for two months. The King observed his distress, asked its cause, and gave Clery the amount to be handed to Marchand, with a caution not to speak of it to any one, and, above all, not to thank the King, lest it should injure him with his employers.]
During his separation from his family the King refused to go into the garden. When it was proposed to him he said, "I cannot make up my mind to go out alone; the walk was agreeable to me only when I shared it with my family." But he did not allow himself to dwell on painful reflections. He talked freely to the municipals on guard, and surprised them by his varied and practical knowledge of their trades, and his interest in their domestic affairs. On the 19th December the King's breakfast was served as usual; but, being a fast-day, he refused to take anything. At dinner-time the King said to Clery, "Fourteen years ago you were up earlier than you were to-day; it is the day my daughter was born—today, her birthday," he repeated, with tears, "and to be prevented from seeing her!" Madame Royale had wished for a calendar; the King ordered Clery to buy her the "Almanac of the Republic," which had replaced the "Court Almanac," and ran through it, marking with a pencil many names.
"On Christmas Day," Says Clery, "the King wrote his will."
[Madame Royale says: "On the 26th December, St. Stephen's Day, my father made his will, because he expected to be assassinated that day on his way to the bar of the Convention. He went thither, nevertheless, with his usual calmness."—"Royal Memoirs," p. 196.]
On the 26th December, 1792, the King appeared a second time before the Convention. M. de Seze, labouring night and day, had completed his defence. The King insisted on excluding from it all that was too rhetorical, and confining it to the mere discussion of essential points.
[When the pathetic peroration of M, de Seze was read to the King, the evening before it was delivered to the Assembly, "I have to request of you," he said, "to make a painful sacrifice; strike out of your pleading the peroration. It is enough for me to appear before such judges, and show my entire innocence; I will not move their feelings."—LACRETELLE.]
At half-past nine in the morning the whole armed force was in motion to conduct him from the Temple to the Feuillans, with the same precautions and in the same order as had been observed on the former occasion. Riding in the carriage of the Mayor, he conversed, on the way, with the same composure as usual, and talked of Seneca, of Livy, of the hospitals. Arrived at the Feuillans, he showed great anxiety for his defenders; he seated himself beside them in the Assembly, surveyed with great composure the benches where his accusers and his judges sat, seemed to examine their faces with the view of discovering the impression produced by the pleading of M. de Seze, and more than once conversed smilingly with Tronchet and Malesherbes. The Assembly received his defence in sullen silence, but without any tokens of disapprobation.
Being afterwards conducted to an adjoining room with his counsel, the King showed great anxiety about M. de Seze, who seemed fatigued by the long defence. While riding back to the Temple he conversed with his companions with the same serenity as he had shown on leaving it.
No sooner had the King left the hall of the Convention than a violent tumult arose there. Some were for opening the discussion. Others, complaining of the delays which postponed the decision of this process, demanded the vote immediately, remarking that in every court, after the accused had been heard, the judges proceed to give their opinion. Lanjuinais had from the commencement of the proceedings felt an indignation which his impetuous disposition no longer suffered him to repress. He darted to the tribune, and, amidst the cries excited by his presence, demanded the annulling of the proceedings altogether. He exclaimed that the days of ferocious men were gone by, that the Assembly ought not to be so dishonoured as to be made to sit in judgment on Louis XVI., that no authority in France had that right, and the Assembly in particular had no claim to it; that if it resolved to act as a political body, it could do no more than take measures of safety against the ci-devant King; but that if it was acting as a court of justice it was overstepping all principles, for it was subjecting the vanquished to be tried by the conquerors, since most of the present members had declared themselves the conspirators of the 10th of August. At the word "conspirators" a tremendous uproar arose on all aides. Cries of "Order!"—"To the Abbaye!"—"Down with the Tribune!" were heard. Lanjuinais strove in vain to justify the word "conspirators," saying that he meant it to be taken in a favourable sense, and that the 10th of August was a glorious conspiracy. He concluded by declaring that he would rather die a thousand deaths than condemn, contrary to all laws, even the most execrable of tyrants.
A great number of speakers followed, and the confusion continually increased. The members, determined not to hear any more, mingled together, formed groups, abused and threatened one another. After a tempest of an hour's duration, tranquillity was at last restored; and the Assembly, adopting the opinion of those who demanded the discussion on the trial of Louis XVI., declared that it was opened, and that it should be continued, to the exclusion of all other business, till sentence should be passed.
The discussion was accordingly resumed on the 27th, and there was a constant succession of speakers from the 28th to the 31st. Vergniaud at length ascended the tribune for the first time, and an extraordinary eagerness was manifested to hear the Girondists express their sentiments by the lips of their greatest orator.
The speech of Vergniaud produced a deep impression on all his hearers. Robespierre was thunderstruck by his earnest and, persuasive eloquence. Vergniaud, however, had but shaken, not convinced, the Assembly, which wavered between the two parties. Several members were successively heard, for and against the appeal to the people. Brissot, Gensonne, Petion, supported it in their turn. One speaker at length had a decisive influence on the question. Barere, by his suppleness, and his cold and evasive eloquence, was the model and oracle of the centre. He spoke at great length on the trial, reviewed it in all its bearings—of facts, of laws, and of policy—and furnished all those weak minds, who only wanted specious reasons for yielding, with motives for the condemnation of the King. From that moment the unfortunate King was condemned. The discussion lasted till the 7th, and nobody would listen any longer to the continual repetition of the same facts and arguments. It was therefore declared to be closed without opposition, but the proposal of a fresh adjournment excited a commotion among the most violent, and ended in a decree which fixed the 14th of January for putting the questions to the vote.
Meantime the King did not allow the torturing suspense to disturb his outward composure, or lessen his kindness to those around him. On the morning after his second appearance at the bar of the Convention, the commissary Vincent, who had undertaken secretly to convey to the Queen a copy of the King's printed defence, asked for something which had belonged to him, to treasure as a relic; the King took off his neck handkerchief and gave it him; his gloves he bestowed on another municipal, who had made the same request. "On January 1st," says Clery, "I approached the King's bed and asked permission to offer him my warmest prayers for the end of his misfortunes. 'I accept your good wishes with affection,' he replied, extending his hand to me. As soon as he had risen, he requested a municipal to go and inquire for his family, and present them his good wishes for the new year. The officers were moved by the tone in which these words, so heartrending considering the position of the King, were pronounced . . . . The correspondence between their Majesties went on constantly. The King being informed that Madame Royale was ill, was very uneasy for some days. The Queen, after begging earnestly, obtained permission for M. Brunnier, the medical attendant of the royal children, to come to the Temple. This seemed to quiet him."
The nearer the moment which was to decide the King's fate approached, the greater became the agitation in, Paris. "A report was circulated that the atrocities of September were to be repeated there, and the prisoners and their relatives beset the deputies with supplications that they would snatch them from destruction. The Jacobins, on their part, alleged that conspiracies were hatching in all quarters to save Louis XVI. from punishment, and to restore royalty. Their anger, excited by delays and obstacles, assumed a more threatening aspect; and the two parties thus alarmed one another by supposing that each harboured sinister designs."
On the 14th of January the Convention called for the order of the day, being the final judgment of Louis XVI.
"The sitting of the Convention which concluded the trial," says Hazlitt, "lasted seventy-two hours. It might naturally be supposed that silence, restraint, a sort of religious awe, would have pervaded the scene. On the contrary, everything bore the marks of gaiety, dissipation, and the most grotesque confusion. The farther end of the hall was converted into boxes, where ladies, in a studied deshabille, swallowed ices, oranges, liqueurs, and received the salutations of the members who went and came, as on ordinary occasions. Here the doorkeepers on the Mountain side opened and shut the boxes reserved for the mistresses of the Duc d'Orleans; and there, though every sound of approbation or disapprobation was strictly forbidden, you heard the long and indignant 'Ha, ha's!' of the mother-duchess, the patroness of the bands of female Jacobins, whenever her ears were not loudly greeted with the welcome sounds of death. The upper gallery, reserved for the people, was during the whole trial constantly full of strangers of every description, drinking wine as in a tavern.
"Bets were made as to the issue of the trial in all the neighbouring coffee-houses. Ennui, impatience, disgust sat on almost every countenance. The figures passing and repassing, rendered more ghastly by the pallid lights, and who in a slow, sepulchral voice pronounced only the word—Death; others calculating if they should have time to go to dinner before they gave their verdict; women pricking cards with pins in order to count the votes; some of the deputies fallen asleep, and only waking up to give their sentence,—all this had the appearance rather of a hideous dream than of a reality."
The Duc d'Orleans, when called on to give his vote for the death of his King and relation, walked with a faltering step, and a face paler than death itself, to the appointed place, and there read these words: "Exclusively governed by my duty, and convinced that all those who have resisted the sovereignty of the people deserve death, my vote is for death!" Important as the accession of the first Prince of the blood was to the Terrorist faction, his conduct in this instance was too obviously selfish and atrocious not to excite a general feeling of indignation; the agitation of the Assembly became extreme; it seemed as if by this single vote the fate of the monarch was irrevocably sealed.
The President having examined the register, the result of the scrutiny was proclaimed as follows:
Against an appeal to the people........... 480 For an appeal to the people............... 283
Majority for final judgment............... 197
The President having announced that he was about to declare the result of the scrutiny, a profound silence ensued, and he then gave in the following declaration: that, out of 719 votes, 366 were for DEATH, 319 were for imprisonment during the war, two for perpetual imprisonment, eight for a suspension of the execution of the sentence of death until after the expulsion of the family of the Bourbons, twenty-three were for not putting him to death until the French territory was invaded by any foreign power, and one was for a sentence of death, but with power of commutation of the punishment.
After this enumeration the President took off his hat, and, lowering his voice, said: "In consequence of this expression of opinion I declare that the punishment pronounced by the National Convention against Louis Capet is DEATH!"
Previous to the passing of the sentence the President announced on the part of the Foreign Minister the receipt of a letter from the Spanish Minister relative to that sentence. The Convention, however, refused to hear it. [It will be remembered that a similar remonstrance was forwarded by the English Government.]
M. de Malesherbes, according to his promise to the King, went to the Temple at nine o'clock on the morning of the 17th.
[Louis was fully prepared for his fate. During the calling of the votes he asked M. de Malesherbes, "Have you not met near the Temple the White Lady?"—"What do you mean?" replied he. "Do you not know," resumed the King with a smile, "that when a prince of our house is about to die, a female dressed in white is seen wandering about the palace? My friends," added he to his defenders, "I am about to depart before you for the land of the just, but there, at least, we shall be reunited." In fact, his Majesty's only apprehension seemed to be for his family.—ALISON.]
"All is lost," he said to Clery. "The King is condemned." The King, who saw him arrive, rose to receive him.
[When M. de Malesherbes went to the Temple to announce the result of the vote, he found Louis with his forehead resting on his hands, and absorbed in a deep reverie. Without inquiring concerning his fate, he said: "For two hours I have been considering whether, during my whole reign, I have voluntarily given any cause of complaint to my subjects; and with perfect sincerity I declare that I deserve no reproach at their hands, and that I have never formed a wish but for their happiness." LACRETELLE.]
M. de Malesherbes, choked by sobs, threw himself at his feet. The King raised him up and affectionately embraced him. When he could control his voice, De Malesherbes informed the King of the decree sentencing him to death; he made no movement of surprise or emotion, but seemed only affected by the distress of his advocate, whom he tried to comfort.
On the 20th of January, at two in the afternoon, Louis XVI. was awaiting his advocates, when he heard the approach of a numerous party. He stopped with dignity at the door of his apartment, apparently unmoved: Garat then told him sorrowfully that he was commissioned to communicate to him the decrees of the Convention. Grouvelle, secretary of the Executive Council, read them to him. The first declared Louis XVI. guilty of treason against the general safety of the State; the second condemned him to death; the third rejected any appeal to the people; and the fourth and last ordered his execution in twenty-four hours. Louis, looking calmly round, took the paper from Grouvelle, and read Garat a letter, in which he demanded from the Convention three days to prepare for death, a confessor to assist him in his last moments, liberty to see his family, and permission for them to leave France. Garat took the letter, promising to submit it immediately to the Convention.
Louis XVI. then went back into his room with great composure, ordered his dinner, and ate as usual. There were no knives on the table, and his attendants refused to let him have any. "Do they think me so cowardly," he exclaimed, "as to lay violent hands on myself? I am innocent, and I am not afraid to die."
The Convention refused the delay, but granted some other demands which he had made. Garat sent for Edgeworth de Firmont, the ecclesiastic whom Louis XVI. had chosen, and took him in his own carriage to the Temple. M. Edgeworth, on being ushered into the presence of the King, would have thrown himself at his feet, but Louis instantly raised him, and both shed tears of emotion. He then, with eager curiosity, asked various questions concerning the clergy of France, several bishops, and particularly the Archbishop of Paris, requesting him to assure the latter that he died faithfully attached to his communion.—The clock having struck eight, he rose, begged M. Edgeworth to wait, and retired with emotion, saying that he was going to see his family. The municipal officers, unwilling to lose sight of the King, even while with his family, had decided that he should see them in the dining-room, which had a glass door, through which they could watch all his motions without hearing what he said. At half-past eight the door opened. The Queen, holding the Dauphin by the hand, Madame Elisabeth, and Madame Royale rushed sobbing into the arms of Louis XVI. The door was closed, and the municipal officers, Clery, and M. Edgeworth placed themselves behind it. During the first moments, it was but a scene of confusion and despair. Cries and lamentations prevented those who were on the watch from distinguishing anything. At length the conversation became more calm, and the Princesses, still holding the King clasped in their arms, spoke with him in a low tone. "He related his trial to my mother," says Madame Royale, "apologising for the wretches who had condemned him. He told her that he would not consent to any attempt to save him, which might excite disturbance in the country. He then gave my brother some religious advice, and desired him, above all, to forgive those who caused his death; and he gave us his blessing. My mother was very desirous that the whole family should pass the night with my father, but he opposed this, observing to her that he much needed some hours of repose and quiet." After a long conversation, interrupted by silence and grief, the King put an end to the painful meeting, agreeing to see his family again at eight the next morning. "Do you promise that you will?" earnestly inquired the Princesses. "Yes, yes," sorrowfully replied the King.
["But when we were gone," says his daughter, "he requested that we might not be permitted to return, as our presence afflicted him too much."]
At this moment the Queen held him by one arm, Madame Elisabeth by the other, while Madame Royale clasped him round the waist, and the Dauphin stood before him, with one hand in that of his mother. At the moment of retiring Madame Royale fainted; she was carried away, and the King returned to M. Edgeworth deeply depressed by this painful interview. The King retired to rest about midnight; M. Edgeworth threw himself upon a bed, and Clery took his place near the pillow of his master.
Next morning, the 21st of January, at five, the King awoke, called Clery, and dressed with great calmness. He congratulated himself on having recovered his strength by sleep. Clery kindled a fire, and moved a chest of drawers, out of which he formed an altar. M. Edgeworth put on his pontifical robes, and began to celebrate mass. Clery waited on him, and the King listened, kneeling with the greatest devotion. He then received the communion from the hands of M. Edgeworth, and after mass rose with new vigour, and awaited with composure the moment for going to the scaffold. He asked for scissors that Clery might cut his hair; but the Commune refused to trust him with a pair.
At this moment the drums were beating in the capital. All who belonged to the armed sections repaired to their company with complete submission. It was reported that four or five hundred devoted men, were to make a dash upon the carriage, and rescue the King. The Convention, the Commune, the Executive Council, and the Jacobins were sitting. At eight in the morning, Santerre, with a deputation from the Commune, the department, and the criminal tribunal, repaired to the Temple. Louis XVI., on hearing them arrive, rose and prepared to depart. He desired Clery to transmit his last farewell to his wife, his sister, and his children; he gave him a sealed packet, hair, and various trinkets, with directions to deliver these articles to them.
[In the course of the morning the King said to me: "You will give this seal to my son and this ring to the Queen, and assure her that it is with pain I part with it. This little packet contains the hair of all my family; you will give her that, too. Tell the Queen, my dear sister, and my children, that, although I promised to see them again this morning, I have resolved to spare them the pang of so cruel a separation. Tell them how much it costs me to go away without receiving their embraces once more!" He wiped away some tears, and then added, in the most mournful accents, "I charge you to bear them my last farewell."—CLERY.]
He then clasped his hand and thanked him for his services. After this he addressed himself to one of the municipal officers, requesting him to transmit his last will to the Commune. This officer, who had formerly been a priest, and was named Jacques Roux, brutally replied that his business was to conduct him to execution, and not to perform his commissions. Another person took charge of it, and Louis, turning towards the party, gave with firmness the signal for starting.
Officers of gendarmerie were placed on the front seat of the carriage. The King and M. Edgeworth occupied the back. During the ride, which was rather long, the King read in M. Edgeworth's breviary the prayers for persons at the point of death; the two gendarmes were astonished at his piety and tranquil resignation. The vehicle advanced slowly, and amidst universal silence. At the Place de la Revolution an extensive space had been left vacant about the scaffold. Around this space were planted cannon; the most violent of the Federalists were stationed about the scaffold; and the vile rabble, always ready to insult genius, virtue, and misfortune, when a signal is given it to do so, crowded behind the ranks of the Federalists, and alone manifested some outward tokens of satisfaction.