Memoirs of Marie Antoinette
Public Domain Books
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 be 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,
[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.]
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." 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.
At ten minutes past ten the carriage stopped. Louis XVI., rising briskly, stepped out into the Place. Three executioners came up; he refused their assistance, and took off his clothes himself. But, perceiving that they were going to bind his hands, he made a movement of indignation, and seemed ready to resist. M. Edgeworth gave him a last look, and said, “Suffer this outrage, as a last resemblance to that God who is about to be your reward.” At these words the King suffered himself to be bound and conducted to the scaffold. All at once Louis hurriedly advanced to address the people. “Frenchmen,” said he, in a firm voice, “I die innocent of the crimes which are imputed to me; I forgive the authors of my death, and I pray that my blood may not fall upon France.” He would have continued, but the drums were instantly ordered to beat: their rolling drowned his voice; the executioners laid hold of him, and M. Edgeworth took his leave in these memorable words: “Son of Saint Louis, ascend to heaven!” As soon as the blood flowed, furious wretches dipped their pikes and handkerchiefs in it, then dispersed throughout Paris, shouting “Vive la Republique! Vive la Nation!” and even went to the gates of the Temple to display brutal and factious joy.
[The body of Louis was, immediately after the execution, removed to the ancient cemetery of the Madeleine. Large quantities of quicklime were thrown into the grave, which occasioned so rapid a decomposition that, when his remains were nought for in 1816, it was with difficulty any part could be recovered. Over the spot where he was interred Napoleon commenced the splendid Temple of Glory, after the battle of Jena; and the superb edifice was completed by the Bourbons, and now forms the Church of the Madeleine, the most beautiful structure in Paris. Louis was executed on the same ground where the Queen, Madame Elisabeth, and so many other noble victims of the Revolution perished; where Robespierre and Danton afterwards suffered; and where the Emperor Alexander and the allied sovereigns took their station, when their victorious troops entered Paris in 1814! The history of modern Europe has not a scene fraught with equally interesting recollections to exhibit. It is now marked by the colossal obelisk of blood-red granite which was brought from Thebes, in Upper Egypt, in 1833, by the French Government.– ALLISON.]
The Royal Prisoners.–Separation of the Dauphin from His Family. –Removal of the Queen.
On the morning of the King’s execution, according to the narrative of Madame Royale, his family rose at six: “The night before, my mother had scarcely strength enough to put my brother to bed; She threw herself, dressed as she was, on her own bed, where we heard her shivering with cold and grief all night long. At a quarter-past six the door opened; we believed that we were sent for to the King, but it was only the officers looking for a prayer-book for him. We did not, however, abandon the hope of seeing him, till shouts of joy from the infuriated populace told us that all was over. In the afternoon my mother asked to see Clery, who probably had some message for her; we hoped that seeing him would occasion a burst of grief which might relieve the state of silent and choking agony in which we saw her.” The request was refused, and the officers who brought the refusal said Clery was in “a frightful state of despair” at not being allowed to see the royal family; shortly afterwards he was dismissed from the Temple.
“We had now a little more freedom,” continues the Princess; “our guards even believed that we were about to be sent out of France; but nothing could calm my mother’s agony; no hope could touch her heart, and life or death became indifferent to her. Fortunately my own affliction increased my illness so seriously that it distracted her thoughts . . . . My mother would go no more to the garden, because she must have passed the door of what had been my father’s room, and that she could not bear. But fearing lest want of air should prove injurious to my brother and me, about the end of February she asked permission to walk on the leads of the Tower, and it was granted.”
The Council of the Commune, becoming aware of the interest which these sad promenades excited, and the sympathy with which they were observed from the neighbouring houses, ordered that the spaces between the battlements should be filled up with shutters, which intercepted the view. But while the rules for the Queen’s captivity were again made more strict, some of the municipal commissioners tried slightly to alleviate it, and by means of M. de Hue, who was at liberty in Paris, and the faithful Turgi, who remained in the Tower, some communications passed between the royal family and their friends. The wife of Tison, who waited on the Queen, suspected and finally denounced these more lenient guardians,–[Toulan, Lepitre, Vincent, Bruno, and others.]–who were executed, the royal prisoners being subjected to a close examination.
“On the 20th of April,” says Madame Royale, “my mother and I had just gone to bed when Hebert arrived with several municipals. We got up hastily, and these men read us a decree of the Commune directing that we should be searched. My poor brother was asleep; they tore him from his bed under the pretext of examining it. My mother took him up, shivering with cold. All they took was a shopkeeper’s card which my mother had happened to keep, a stick of sealing-wax from my aunt, and from me ’une sacre coeur de Jesus’ and a prayer for the welfare of France. The search lasted from half-past ten at night till four o’clock in the morning.”
The next visit of the officials was to Madame Elisabeth alone; they found in her room a hat which the King had worn during his imprisonment, and which she had begged him to give her as a souvenir. They took it from her in spite of her entreaties. “It was suspicious,” said the cruel and contemptible tyrants.
The Dauphin became ill with fever, and it was long before his mother, who watched by him night and day, could obtain medicine or advice for him. When Thierry was at last allowed to see him his treatment relieved the most violent symptoms, but, says Madame Royale, “his health was never reestablished. Want of air and exercise did him great mischief, as well as the kind of life which this poor child led, who at eight years of age passed his days amidst the tears of his friends, and in constant anxiety and agony.”
While the Dauphin’s health was causing his family such alarm, they were deprived of the services of Tison’s wife, who became ill, and finally insane, and was removed to the Hotel Dieu, where her ravings were reported to the Assembly and made the ground of accusations against the royal prisoners.
[This woman, troubled by remorse, lost her reason, threw herself at the feet of the Queen, implored her pardon, and disturbed the Temple for many days with the sight and the noise of her madness. The Princesses, forgetting the denunciations of this unfortunate being, in consideration of her repentance and insanity, watched over her by turns, and deprived themselves of their own food to relieve her.– LAMARTINE, “History of the Girondists,” vol. iii., p.140.]
No woman took her place, and the Princesses themselves made their beds, swept their rooms, and waited upon the Queen.
Far worse punishments than menial work were prepared for them. On 3d July a decree of the Convention ordered that the Dauphin should be separated from his family and “placed in the most secure apartment of the Tower.” As soon as he heard this decree pronounced, says his sister, “he threw himself into my mother’s arms, and with violent cries entreated not to be parted from her. My mother would not let her son go, and she actually defended against the efforts of the officers the bed in which she had placed him. The men threatened to call up the guard and use violence. My mother exclaimed that they had better kill her than tear her child from her. At last they threatened our lives, and my mother’s maternal tenderness forced her to the sacrifice. My aunt and I dressed the child, for my poor mother had no longer strength for anything. Nevertheless, when he was dressed, she took him up in her arms and delivered him herself to the officers, bathing him with her tears, foreseeing that she was never to behold him again. The poor little fellow embraced us all tenderly, and was carried away in a flood of tears. My mother’s horror was extreme when she heard that Simon, a shoemaker by trade, whom she had seen as a municipal officer in the Temple, was the person to whom her child was confided . . . . The officers now no longer remained in my mother’s apartment; they only came three times a day to bring our meals and examine the bolts and bars of our windows; we were locked up together night and day. We often went up to the Tower, because my brother went, too, from the other side. The only pleasure my mother enjoyed was seeing him through a crevice as he passed at a distance. She would watch for hours together to see him as he passed. It was her only hope, her only thought.”
The Queen was soon deprived even of this melancholy consolation. On 1st August, 1793, it was resolved that she should be tried. Robespierre opposed the measure, but Barere roused into action that deep-rooted hatred of the Queen which not even the sacrifice of her life availed to eradicate. “Why do the enemies of the Republic still hope for success?" he asked. “Is it because we have too long forgotten the crimes of the Austrian? The children of Louis the Conspirator are hostages for the Republic . . .but behind them lurks a woman who has been the cause of all the disasters of France.”
At two o’clock on the morning of the following day, the municipal officers “awoke us,” says Madame Royale, “to read to my mother the decree of the Convention, which ordered her removal to the Conciergerie,
[The Conciergerie was originally, as its name implies, the porter’s lodge of the ancient Palace of Justice, and became in time a prison, from the custom of confining there persons who had committed trifling offences about the Court.]
preparatory to her trial. She heard it without visible emotion, and without speaking a single word. My aunt and I immediately asked to be allowed to accompany my mother, but this favour was refused us. All the time my mother was making up a bundle of clothes to take with her, these officers never left her. She was even obliged to dress herself before them, and they asked for her pockets, taking away the trifles they contained. She embraced me, charging me to keep up my spirits and my courage, to take tender care of my aunt, and obey her as a second mother. She then threw herself into my aunt’s arms, and recommended her children to her care; my aunt replied to her in a whisper, and she was then hurried away. In leaving the Temple she struck her head against the wicket, not having stooped low enough.
[Mathieu, the gaoler, used to say, “I make Madame Veto and her sister and daughter, proud though they are, salute me; for the door is so low they cannot pass without bowing."]
The officers asked whether she had hurt herself. ’No,’ she replied, ’nothing can hurt me now.”
The Last Moments of Marie Antoinette.
We have already seen what changes had been made in the Temple. Marie Antoinette had been separated from her sister, her daughter, and her Son, by virtue of a decree which ordered the trial and exile of the last members of the family of the Bourbons. She had been removed to the Conciergerie, and there, alone in a narrow prison, she was reduced to what was strictly necessary, like the other prisoners. The imprudence of a devoted friend had rendered her situation still more irksome. Michonnis, a member of the municipality, in whom she had excited a warm interest, was desirous of introducing to her a person who, he said, wished to see her out of curiosity. This man, a courageous emigrant, threw to her a carnation, in which was enclosed a slip of very fine paper with these words: “Your friends are ready,"–false hope, and equally dangerous for her who received it, and for him who gave it! Michonnis and the emigrant were detected and forthwith apprehended; and the vigilance exercised in regard to the unfortunate prisoner became from that day more rigorous than ever.
[The Queen was lodged in a room called the council chamber, which was considered as the moat unwholesome apartment in the Conciergerie on account of its dampness and the bad smells by which it was continually affected. Under pretence of giving her a person to wait upon her they placed near her a spy,–a man of a horrible countenance and hollow, sepulchral voice. This wretch, whose name was Barassin, was a robber and murderer by profession. Such was the chosen attendant on the Queen of France! A few days before her trial this wretch was removed and a gendarme placed in her chamber, who watched over her night and day, and from whom she was not separated, even when in bed, but by a ragged curtain. In this melancholy abode Marie Antoinette had no other dress than an old black gown, stockings with holes, which she was forced to mend every day; and she was entirely destitute of shoes.–DU BROCA.]
Gendarmes were to mount guard incessantly at the door of her prison, and they were expressly forbidden to answer anything that she might say to them.
That wretch Hebert, the deputy of Chaumette, and editor of the disgusting paper Pere Duchesne, a writer of the party of which Vincent, Ronsin, Varlet, and Leclerc were the leaders–Hebert had made it his particular business to torment the unfortunate remnant of the dethroned family. He asserted that the family of the tyrant ought not to be better treated than any sans-culotte family; and he had caused a resolution to be passed by which the sort of luxury in which the prisoners in the Temple were maintained was to be suppressed. They were no longer to be allowed either poultry or pastry; they were reduced to one sort of aliment for breakfast, and to soup or broth and a single dish for dinner, to two dishes for supper, and half a bottle of wine apiece. Tallow candles were to be furnished instead of wag, pewter instead of silver plate, and delft ware instead of porcelain. The wood and water carriers alone were permitted to enter their room, and that only accompanied by two commissioners. Their food was to be introduced to them by means of a turning box. The numerous establishment was reduced to a cook and an assistant, two men-servants, and a woman-servant to attend to the linen.
As soon as this resolution was passed, Hebert had repaired to the Temple and inhumanly taken away from the unfortunate prisoners even the most trifling articles to which they attached a high value. Eighty Louis which Madame Elisabeth had in reserve, and which she had received from Madame de Lamballe, were also taken away. No one is more dangerous, more cruel, than the man without acquirements, without education, clothed with a recent authority. If, above all, he possess a base nature, if, like Hebert, who was check-taker at the door of a theatre, and embezzled money out of the receipts, he be destitute of natural morality, and if he leap all at once from the mud of his condition into power, he is as mean as he is atrocious. Such was Hebert in his conduct at the Temple. He did not confine himself to the annoyances which we have mentioned. He and some others conceived the idea of separating the young Prince from his aunt and sister. A shoemaker named Simon and his wife were the instructors to whom it was deemed right to consign him for the purpose of giving him a sans-cullotte education. Simon and his wife were shut up in the Temple, and, becoming prisoners with the unfortunate child, were directed to bring him up in their own way. Their food was better than that of the Princesses, and they shared the table of the municipal commissioners who were on duty. Simon was permitted to go down, accompanied by two commissioners, to the court of the Temple, for the purpose of giving the Dauphin a little exercise.
Hebert conceived the infamous idea of wringing from this boy revelations to criminate his unhappy mother. Whether this wretch imputed to the child false revelations, or abused his, tender age and his condition to extort from him what admissions soever he pleased, he obtained a revolting deposition; and as the youth of the Prince did not admit of his being brought before the tribunal, Hebert appeared and detailed the infamous particulars which he had himself either dictated or invented.
It was on the 14th of October that Marie Antoinette appeared before her judges. Dragged before the sanguinary tribunal by inexorable revolutionary vengeance, she appeared there without any chance of acquittal, for it was not to obtain her acquittal that the Jacobins had brought her before it. It was necessary, however, to make some charges. Fouquier therefore collected the rumours current among the populace ever since the arrival of the Princess in France, and, in the act of accusation, he charged her with having plundered the exchequer, first for her pleasures, and afterwards in order to transmit money to her brother, the Emperor. He insisted on the scenes of the 5th and 6th of October, and on the dinners of the Life Guards, alleging that she had at that period framed a plot, which obliged the people to go to Versailles to frustrate it. He afterwards accused her of having governed her husband, interfered in the choice of ministers, conducted the intrigues with the deputies gained by the Court, prepared the journey to Varennes, provoked the war, and transmitted to the enemy’s generals all our plans of campaign. He further accused her of having prepared a new conspiracy on the 10th of August, of having on that day caused the people to be fired upon, having induced her husband to defend himself by taxing him with cowardice; lastly, of having never ceased to plot and correspond with foreigners since her captivity in the Temple, and of having there treated her young son as King. We here observe how, on the terrible day of long- deferred vengeance, when subjects at length break forth and strike such of their princes as have not deserved the blow, everything is distorted and converted into crime. We see how the profusion and fondness for pleasure, so natural to a young princess, how her attachment to her native country, her influence over her husband, her regrets, always more indiscreet in a woman than a man, nay, even her bolder courage, appeared to their inflamed or malignant imaginations.
It was necessary to produce witnesses. Lecointre, deputy of Versailles, who had seen what had passed on the 5th and 6th of October, Hebert, who had frequently visited the Temple, various clerks in the ministerial offices, and several domestic servants of the old Court were summoned.. Admiral d’Estaing, formerly commandant of the guard of Versailles; Manuel, the ex-procureur of the Commune; Latour-du-Pin, minister of war in 1789; the venerable Bailly, who, it was said, had been, with La Fayette, an accomplice in the journey to Varennes; lastly, Valaze one of the Girondists destined to the scaffold, were taken from their prisons and compelled to give evidence.
No precise fact was elicited. Some had seen the Queen in high spirits when the Life Guards testified their attachment; others had seen her vexed and dejected while being conducted to Paris, or brought back from Varennes; these had been present at splendid festivities which must have cost enormous sums; those had heard it said in the ministerial offices that the Queen was adverse to the sanction of the decrees. An ancient waiting-woman of the Queen had heard the Duc de Coigny say, in 1788, that the Emperor had already received two hundred millions from France to make war upon the Turks.
The cynical Hebert, being brought before the unfortunate Queen, dared at length to prefer the charges wrung from the young Prince. He said that Charles Capet had given Simon an account of the journey to Varennes, and mentioned La Fayette and Bailly as having cooperated in it. He then added that this boy was addicted to odious and very premature vices for his age; that he had been surprised by Simon, who, on questioning him, learned that he derived from his mother the vices in which he indulged. Hebert said that it was no doubt the intention of Marie Antoinette, by weakening thus, early the physical constitution of her son, to secure to herself the means of ruling him in case he should ever ascend the throne. The rumours which had been whispered for twenty years by a malicious Court had given the people a most unfavourable opinion of the morals of the Queen. That audience, however, though wholly Jacobin, was disgusted at the accusations of Hebert.
[Can there be a more infernal invention than that made against the. Queen by Hdbert,-namely, that she had had an improper intimacy with her own son? He made use of this sublime idea of which he boasted in order to prejudice the women against the Queen, and to prevent her execution from exciting pity. It had, however, no other effect than that of disgusting all parties.–PRUDHOMME.]
He nevertheless persisted in supporting them.
[Hebert did not long survive her in whose sufferings he had taken such an infamous part. He was executed on 26th March, 1794.]
The unhappy mother made no reply. Urged a new to explain herself, she said, with extraordinary emotion, “I thought that human nature would excuse me from answering such an imputation, but I appeal from it to the heart of every mother here present.” This noble and simple reply affected all who heard it.
In the depositions of the witnesses, however, all was not so bitter for Marie Antoinette. The brave D’Estaing, whose enemy she had been, would not say anything to inculpate her, and spoke only of the courage which she had shown on the 5th and 6th of October, and of the noble resolution which she had expressed, to die beside her husband rather than fly. Manuel, in spite of his enmity to the Court during the time of the Legislative Assembly, declared that he could not say anything against the accused. When the venerable Bailly was brought forward, who formerly so often predicted to the Court the calamities which its imprudence must produce, he appeared painfully affected; and when he was asked if he knew the wife of Capet, “Yes,” said he, bowing respectfully, “I have known Madame.” He declared that he knew nothing, and maintained that the declarations extorted from the young Prince relative to the journey to Varennes were false. In recompense for his deposition he was assailed with outrageous reproaches, from which he might judge what fate would soon be awarded to himself.
In all the evidence there appeared but two serious facts, attested by Latour-du-Pin and Valaze, who deposed to them because they could not help it. Latour-du-Pin declared that Marie Antoinette had applied to him for an accurate statement of the armies while he was minister of war. Valaze, always cold, but respectful towards misfortune, would not say anything to criminate the accused; yet he could not help declaring that, as a member of the commission of twenty-four, being charged with his colleagues to examine the papers found at the house of Septeuil, treasurer of the civil list, he had seen bonds for various sums signed Antoinette, which was very natural; but he added that he had also seen a letter in which the minister requested the King to transmit to the Queen the copy of the plan of campaign which he had in his hands. The most unfavourable construction was immediately put upon these two facts, the application for a statement of the armies, and the communication of the plan of campaign; and it was concluded that they could not be wanted for any other purpose than to be sent to the enemy, for it was not supposed that a young princess should turn her attention, merely for her own satisfaction, to matters of administration and military, plans. After these depositions, several others were received respecting the expenses of the Court, the influence of the Queen in public affairs, the scene of the 10th of August, and what had passed in the Temple; and the most vague rumours and most trivial circumstances were eagerly caught at as proofs.
Marie Antoinette frequently repeated, with presence of mind and firmness, that there was no precise fact against her;
[At first the Queen, consulting only her own sense of dignity, had resolved on her trial to make no other reply to the questions of her judges than “Assassinate me as you have already assassinated my husband!” Afterwards, however, she determined to follow the example of the King, exert herself in her defence, and leave her judges without any excuse or pretest for putting her to death.–WEBER’S “Memoirs of Marie Antoinette."]
that, besides, though the wife of Louis XVI., she was not answerable for any of the acts of his reign. Fouquier nevertheless declared her to be sufficiently convicted; Chaveau-Lagarde made unavailing efforts to defend her; and the unfortunate Queen was condemned to suffer the same fate as her husband.
Conveyed back to the Conciergerie, she there passed in tolerable composure the night preceding her execution, and, on the morning of the following day, the 16th of October,
[The Queen, after having written and prayed, slept soundly for some hours. On her waking, Bault’s daughter dressed her and adjusted her hair with more neatness than on other days. Marie Antoinette wore a white gown, a white handkerchief covered her shoulders, a white cap her hair; a black ribbon bound this cap round her temples .... The cries, the looks, the laughter, the jests of the people overwhelmed her with humiliation; her colour, changing continually from purple to paleness, betrayed her agitation .... On reaching the scaffold she inadvertently trod on the executioner’s foot. “Pardon me,” she said, courteously. She knelt for an instant and uttered a half- audible prayer; then rising and glancing towards the towers of the Temple, “Adieu, once again, my children,” she said; “I go to rejoin your father."–LAMARTINE.]
she was conducted, amidst a great concourse of the populace, to the fatal spot where, ten months before, Louis XVI. had perished. She listened with calmness to the exhortations of the ecclesiastic who accompanied her, and cast an indifferent look at the people who had so often applauded her beauty and her grace, and who now as warmly applauded her execution. On reaching the foot of the scaffold she perceived the Tuileries, and appeared to be moved; but she hastened to ascend the fatal ladder, and gave herself up with courage to the executioner.
[Sorrow had blanched the Queen’s once beautiful hair; but her features and air still commanded the admiration of all who beheld her; her cheeks, pale and emaciated, were occasionally tinged with a vivid colour at the mention of those she had lost. When led out to execution, she was dressed in white; she had cut off her hair with her own hands. Placed in a tumbrel, with her arms tied behind her, she was taken by a circuitous route to the Place de la Revolution, and she ascended the scaffold with a firm and dignified step, as if she had been about to take her place on a throne by the side of her husband.-LACRETELLE.]
The infamous wretch exhibited her head to the people, as he was accustomed to do when he had sacrificed an illustrious victim.
The Last Separation.–Execution of Madame Elisabeth. –Death of the Dauphin.
The two Princesses left in the Temple were now almost inconsolable; they spent days and nights in tears, whose only alleviation was that they were shed together. “The company of my aunt, whom I loved so tenderly,” said Madame Royale, “was a great comfort to me. But alas! all that I loved was perishing around me, and I was soon to lose her also . . . . In the beginning of September I had an illness caused solely by my anxiety about my mother; I never heard a drum beat that I did not expect another 3d of September."–[when the head of the Princesse de Lamballe was carried to the Temple.]
In the course of the month the rigour of their captivity was much increased. The Commune ordered that they should only have one room; that Tison (who had done the heaviest of the household work for them, and since the kindness they showed to his insane wife had occasionally given them tidings of the Dauphin) should be imprisoned in the turret; that they should be supplied with only the barest necessaries; and that no one should enter their room save to carry water and firewood. Their quantity of firing was reduced, and they were not allowed candles. They were also forbidden to go on the leads, and their large sheets were taken away, “lest–notwithstanding the gratings!–they should escape from the windows.”
On 8th October, 1793, Madame Royale was ordered to go downstairs, that she might be interrogated by some municipal officers. “My aunt, who was greatly affected, would have followed, but they stopped her. She asked whether I should be permitted to come up again; Chaumette assured her that I should. ’You may trust,’ said he, ’the word of an honest republican. She shall return.’ I soon found myself in my brother’s room, whom I embraced tenderly; but we were torn asunder, and I was obliged to go into another room.–[This was the last time the brother and sister met] . . . Chaumette then questioned me about a thousand shocking things of which they accused my mother and aunt; I was so indignant at hearing such horrors that, terrified as I was, I could not help exclaiming that they were infamous falsehoods.
“But in spite of my tears they still pressed their questions. There were some things which I did not comprehend, but of which I understood enough to make me weep with indignation and horror . . . . They then asked me about Varennes, and other things. I answered as well as I could without implicating anybody. I had always heard my parents say that it were better to die than to implicate anybody.” When the examination was over the Princess begged to be allowed to join her mother, but Chaumette said he could not obtain permission for her to do so. She was then cautioned to say nothing about her examination to her aunt, who was next to appear before them. Madame Elisabeth, her niece declares, “replied with still more contempt to their shocking questions.”
The only intimation of the Queen’s fate which her daughter and her sister-in-law were allowed to receive was through hearing her sentence cried by the newsman. But “we could not persuade ourselves that she was dead,” writes Madame Royale. “A hope, so natural to the unfortunate, persuaded us that she must have been saved. For eighteen months I remained in this cruel suspense. We learnt also by the cries of the newsman the death of the Duc d’Orleans.
[The Duo d’Orleans, the early and interested propagator of the Revolution, was its next victim. Billaud Varennes said in the Convention: “The time has come when all the conspirators should be known and struck. I demand that we no longer pass over in silence a man whom we seem to have forgotten, despite the numerous facts against him. I demand that D’ORLEANS be sent to the Revolutionary Tribunal.” The Convention, once his hireling adulators, unanimously supported the proposal. In vain he alleged his having been accessory to the disorders of 5th October, his support of the revolt on 10th August, 1792, his vote against the King on 17th January, 1793. His condemnation was pronounced. He then asked only for a delay of twenty-four hours, and had a repast carefully prepared, on which he feasted with avidity. When led out for execution he gazed with a smile on the Palais Royal, the scene of his former orgies. He was detained for a quarter of an hour before that palace by the order of Robespierre, who had asked his daughter’s hand, and promised in return to excite a tumult in which the Duke’s life should be saved. Depraved though he was, he would not consent to such a sacrifice, and he met his fate with stoical fortitude.– ALLISON, vol. iii., p. 172.]
It was the only piece of news that reached us during the whole winter.”
The severity with which the prisoners were treated was carried into every detail of their life. The officers who guarded them took away their chessmen and cards because some of them were named kings and queens, and all the books with coats of arms on them; they refused to get ointment for a gathering on Madame Elisabeth’s arm; they, would not allow her to make a herb-tea which she thought would strengthen her niece; they declined to supply fish or eggs on fast-days or during Lent, bringing only coarse fat meat, and brutally replying to all remonstances, “None but fools believe in that stuff nowadays.” Madame Elisabeth never made the officials another request, but reserved some of the bread and cafe- au-fait from her breakfast for her second meal. The time during which she could be thus tormented was growing short.
On 9th May, 1794, as the Princesses were going to bed, the outside bolts of the door were unfastened and a loud knocking was heard. “When my aunt was dressed,” says Madame Royale, “she opened the door, and they said to her, ’Citoyenne, come down.’–’And my niece?’–’We shall take care of her afterwards.’ She embraced me, and to calm my agitation promised to return. ’No, citoyenne,’ said the men, ’bring your bonnet; you shall not return.’ They overwhelmed her with abuse, but she bore it patiently, embracing me, and exhorting me to trust in Heaven, and never to forget the last commands of my father and mother.”
Madame Elisabeth was then taken to the Conciergerie, where she was interrogated by the vice-president at midnight,’ and then allowed to take some hours rest on the bed on which Marie Antoinette had slept for the last time. In the morning she was brought before the tribunal, with twenty-four other prisoners, of varying ages and both sexes, some of whom had once been frequently seen at Court.
“Of what has Elisabeth to complain?” Fouquier-Tinville satirically asked. “At the foot of the guillotine, surrounded by faithful nobility, she may imagine herself again at Versailles.”
“You call my brother a tyrant,” the Princess replied to her accuser; “if he had been what you say, you would not be where you are, nor I before you!”
She was sentenced to death, and showed neither surprise nor grief. “I am ready to die,” she said, “happy in the prospect of rejoining in a better world those whom I loved on earth.”
On being taken to the room where those condemned to suffer at the same time as herself were assembled, she spoke to them with so much piety and resignation that they were encouraged by her example to show calmness and courage like her own. The women, on leaving the cart, begged to embrace her, and she said some words of comfort to each in turn as they mounted the scaffold, which she was not allowed to ascend till all her companions had been executed before her eyes.
[Madame Elisabeth was one of those rare personages only seen at distant intervals during the course of ages; she set an example of steadfast piety in the palace of kings, she lived amid her family the favourite of all and the admiration of the world .... When I went to Versailles Madame Elisabeth was twenty-two years of age. Her plump figure and pretty pink colour must have attracted notice, and her air of calmness and contentment even more than her beauty. She was fond of billiards, and her elegance and courage in riding were remarkable. But she never allowed these amusements to interfere with her religious observances. At that time her wish to take the veil at St. Cyr was much talked of, but the King was too fond of his sister to endure the separation. There were also rumours of a marriage between Madame Elisabeth and the Emperor Joseph. The Queen was sincerely attached to her brother, and loved her sister-in-law most tenderly; she ardently desired this marriage as a means of raising the Princess to one of the first thrones in Europe, and as a possible means of turning the Emperor from his innovations. She had been very carefully educated, had talent in music and painting, spoke Italian and a little Latin, and understood mathematics.... Her last moments were worthy of her courage and virtue.–D’HEZECQUES’s “Recollections,” pp. 72-75.]
“It is impossible to imagine my distress at finding myself separated from my aunt,” says Madame Royale. “Since I had been able to appreciate her merits, I saw in her nothing but religion, gentleness, meekness, modesty, and a devoted attachment to her family; she sacrificed her life for them, since nothing could persuade her to leave the King and Queen. I never can be sufficiently grateful to her for her goodness to me, which ended only with her life. She looked on me as her child, and I honoured and loved her as a second mother. I was thought to be very like her in countenance, and I feel conscious that I have something of her character. Would to God I might imitate her virtues, and hope that I may hereafter deserve to meet her, as well as my dear parents, in the bosom of our Creator, where I cannot doubt that they enjoy the reward of their virtuous lives and meritorious deaths.”
Madame Royale vainly begged to be allowed to rejoin her mother or her aunt, or at least to know their fate. The municipal officers would tell her nothing, and rudely refused her request to have a woman placed with her. “I asked nothing but what seemed indispensable, though it was often harshly refused,” she says. “But I at least could keep myself clean. I had soap and water, and carefully swept out my room every day. I had no light, but in the long days I did not feel this privation much . . . . I had some religious works and travels, which I had read over and over. I had also some knitting, ’qui m’ennuyait beaucoup’.” Once, she believes, Robespierre visited her prison:
[It has been said that Robespierre vainly tried to obtain the hand of Mademoiselle d’Orleans. It was also rumoured that Madame Royale herself owed her life to his matrimonial ambition.]
“The officers showed him great respect; the people in the Tower did not know him, or at least would not tell me who he was. He stared insolently at me, glanced at my books, and, after joining the municipal officers in a search, retired.”
[On another occasion “three men in scarfs,” who entered the Princess’s room, told her that they did not see why she should wish to be released, as she seemed very comfortable! “It is dreadful,’ I replied, ’to be separated for more than a year from one’s mother, without even hearing what has become of her or of my aunt.’–’You are not ill?’–’No, monsieur, but the cruellest illness is that of the heart’–’ We can do nothing for you. Be patient, and submit to the justice and goodness of the French people: I had nothing more to say."–DUCHESSE D’ANGOULEME, “Royal Memoirs,” p. 273.]
When Laurent was appointed by the Convention to the charge of the young prisoners, Madame Royale was treated with more consideration. “He was always courteous,” she says; he restored her tinderbox, gave her fresh books, and allowed her candles and as much firewood as she wanted, “which pleased me greatly.” This simple expression of relief gives a clearer idea of what the delicate girl must have suffered than a volume of complaints.
But however hard Madame Royale’s lot might be, that of the Dauphin was infinitely harder. Though only eight years old when he entered the Temple, he was by nature and education extremely precocious; “his memory retained everything, and his sensitiveness comprehended everything.” His features “recalled the somewhat effeminate look of Louis XV., and the Austrian hauteur of Maria Theresa; his blue eyes, aquiline nose, elevated nostrils, well-defined mouth, pouting lips, chestnut hair parted in the middle and falling in thick curls on his shoulders, resembled his mother before her years of tears and torture. All the beauty of his race, by both descents, seemed to reappear in him."–[Lamartine]– For some time the care of his parents preserved his health and cheerfulness even in the Temple; but his constitution was weakened by the fever recorded by his sister, and his gaolers were determined that he should never regain strength.
“What does the Convention intend to do with him?” asked Simon, when the innocent victim was placed in his clutches. “Transport him?”
“Why, get rid of him.”
For such a purpose they could not have chosen their instruments better. “Simon and his wife, cut off all those fair locks that had been his youthful glory and his mother’s pride. This worthy pair stripped him of the mourning he wore for his father; and as they did so, they called it ’playing at the game of the spoiled king.’ They alternately induced him to commit excesses, and then half starved him. They beat him mercilessly; nor was the treatment by night less brutal than that by day. As soon as the weary boy had sunk into his first profound sleep, they would loudly call him by name, ’Capet! Capet!’ Startled, nervous, bathed in perspiration, or sometimes trembling with cold, he would spring up, rush through the dark, and present himself at Simon’s bedside, murmuring, tremblingly, ’I am here, citizen.’–’Come nearer; let me feel you.’ He would approach the bed as he was ordered, although he knew the treatment that awaited him. Simon would buffet him on the head, or kick him away, adding the remark, ’Get to bed again, wolfs cub; I only wanted to know that you were safe.’ On one of these occasions, when the child had fallen half stunned upon his own miserable couch, and lay there groaning and faint with pain, Simon roared out with a laugh, ’Suppose you were king, Capet, what would you do to me?’ The child thought of his father’s dying words, and said, ’I would forgive you.’"–[THIERS]
The change in the young Prince’s mode of life, and the cruelties and caprices to which he was subjected, soon made him fall ill, says his sister. “Simon forced him to eat to excess, and to drink large quantities of wine, which he detested . . . . He grew extremely fat without increasing in height or strength.” His aunt and sister, deprived of the pleasure of tending him, had the pain of hearing his childish voice raised in the abominable songs his gaolers taught him. The brutality of Simon “depraved at once the body and soul of his pupil. He called him the young wolf of the Temple. He treated him as the young of wild animals are treated when taken from the mother and reduced to captivity,–at once intimidated by blows and enervated by taming. He punished for sensibility; he rewarded meanness; he encouraged vice; he made the child wait on him at table, sometimes striking him on the face with a knotted towel, sometimes raising the poker and threatening to strike him with it.”
[Simon left the Temple to become a municipal officer. He was involved in the overthrow of Robespierre, and guillotined the day after him, 29th July, 1794.]
Yet when Simon was removed the poor young Prince’s condition became even worse. His horrible loneliness induced an apathetic stupor to which any suffering would have been preferable. “He passed his days without any kind of occupation; they did not allow him light in the evening. His keepers never approached him but to give him food;” and on the rare occasions when they took him to the platform of the Tower, he was unable or unwilling to move about. When, in November, 1794, a commissary named Gomin arrived at the Temple, disposed to treat the little prisoner with kindness, it was too late. “He took extreme care of my brother,” says Madame Royale. “For a long time the unhappy child had been shut up in darkness, and he was dying of fright. He was very grateful for the attentions of Gomin, and became much attached to him.” But his physical condition was alarming, and, owing to Gomin’s representations, a commission was instituted to examine him. “The commissioners appointed were Harmond, Mathieu, and Reverchon, who visited ’Louis Charles,’ as he was now called, in the month of February, 1795. They found the young Prince seated at a square deal table, at which he was playing with some dirty cards, making card houses and the like,–the materials having been furnished him, probably, that they might figure in the report as evidences of indulgence. He did not look up from the table as the commissioners entered. He was in a slate-coloured dress, bareheaded; the room was reported as clean, the bed in good condition, the linen fresh; his clothes were also reported as new; but, in spite of all these assertions, it is well known that his bed had not been made for months, that he had not left his room, nor was permitted to leave it, for any purpose whatever, that it was consequently uninhabitable, and that he was covered with vermin and with sores. The swellings at his knees alone were sufficient to disable him from walking. One of the commissioners approached the young Prince respectfully. The latter did not raise his head. Harmond in a kind voice begged him to speak to them. The eyes of the boy remained fixed on the table before him. They told him of the kindly intentions of the Government, of their hopes that he would yet be happy, and their desire that he would speak unreservedly to the medical man that was to visit him. He seemed to listen with profound attention, but not a single word passed his lips. It was an heroic principle that impelled that poor young heart to maintain the silence of a mute in presence of these men. He remembered too well the days when three other commissaries waited on him, regaled him with pastry and wine, and obtained from him that hellish accusation against the mother that he loved. He had learnt by some means the import of the act, so far as it was an injury to his mother. He now dreaded seeing again three commissaries, hearing again kind words, and being treated again with fine promises. Dumb as death itself he sat before them, and remained motionless as stone, and as mute.” [THIERS]
His disease now made rapid progress, and Gomin and Lasne, superintendents of the Temple, thinking it necessary to inform the Government of the melancholy condition of their prisoner, wrote on the register: “Little Capet is unwell.” No notice was taken of this account, which was renewed next day in more urgent terms: “Little Capet is dangerously ill.” Still there was no word from beyond the walls. “We must knock harder,” said the keepers to each other, and they added, “It is feared he will not live,” to the words “dangerously ill.” At length, on Wednesday, 6th May, 1795, three days after the first report, the authorities appointed M. Desault to give the invalid the assistance of his art. After having written down his name on the register he was admitted to see the Prince. He made a long and very attentive examination of the unfortunate child, asked him many questions without being able to obtain an answer, and contented himself with prescribing a decoction of hops, to be taken by spoonfuls every half-hour, from six o’clock in the morning till eight in the evening. On the first day the Prince steadily refused to take it. In vain Gomin several times drank off a glass of the potion in his presence; his example proved as ineffectual as his words. Next day Lasne renewed his solicitations. “Monsieur knows very well that I desire nothing but the good of his health, and he distresses me deeply by thus refusing to take what might contribute to it. I entreat him as a favour not to give me this cause of grief.” And as Lasne, while speaking, began to taste the potion in a glass, the child took what he offered him out of his hands. “You have, then, taken an oath that I should drink it,” said he, firmly; “well, give it me, I will drink it.” From that moment he conformed with docility to whatever was required of him, but the policy of the Commune had attained its object; help had been withheld till it was almost a mockery to supply it.
The Prince’s weakness was excessive; his keepers could scarcely drag him to the, top of the Tower; walking hurt his tender feet, and at every step he stopped to press the arm of Lasne with both hands upon his breast. At last he suffered so much that it was no longer possible for him to walk, and his keeper carried him about, sometimes on the platform, and sometimes in the little tower, where the royal family had lived at first. But the slight improvement to his health occasioned by the change of air scarcely compensated for the pain which his fatigue gave him. On the battlement of the platform nearest the left turret, the rain had, by perseverance through ages, hollowed out a kind of basin. The water that fell remained there for several days; and as, during the spring of 1795, storms were of frequent occurrence, this little sheet of water was kept constantly supplied. Whenever the child was brought out upon the platform, he saw a little troop of sparrows, which used to come to drink and bathe in this reservoir. At first they flew away at his approach, but from being accustomed to see him walking quietly there every day, they at last grew more familiar, and did not spread their wings for flight till he came up close to them. They were always the same, he knew them by sight, and perhaps like himself they were inhabitants of that ancient pile. He called them his birds; and his first action, when the door into the terrace was opened, was to look towards that side,–and the sparrows were always there. He delighted in their chirping, and he must have envied them their wings.
Though so little could be done to alleviate his sufferings, a moral improvement was taking place in him. He was touched by the lively interest displayed by his physician, who never failed to visit him at nine o’clock every morning. He seemed pleased with the attention paid him, and ended by placing entire confidence in M. Desault. Gratitude loosened his tongue; brutality and insult had failed to extort a murmur, but kind treatment restored his speech he had no words for anger, but he found them to express his thanks. M. Desault prolonged his visits as long as the officers of the municipality would permit. When they announced the close of the visit, the child, unwilling to beg them to allow a longer time, held back M. Desault by the skirt of his coat. Suddenly M. Desault’s visits ceased. Several days passed and nothing was heard of him. The keepers wondered at his absence, and the poor little invalid was much distressed at it. The commissary on duty (M. Benoist) suggested that it would be proper to send to the physician’s house to make inquiries as to the cause of so long an absence. Gomin and Larne had not yet ventured to follow this advice, when next day M. Benoist was relieved by M. Bidault, who, hearing M. Desault’s name mentioned as he came in, immediately said, “You must not expect to see him any more; he died yesterday.”
M. Pelletan, head surgeon of the Grand Hospice de l’Humanite, was next directed to attend the prisoner, and in June he found him in so alarming a state that he at once asked for a coadjutor, fearing to undertake the responsibility alone. The physician–sent for form’s sake to attend the dying child, as an advocate is given by law to a criminal condemned beforehand–blamed the officers of the municipality for not having removed the blind, which obstructed the light, and the numerous bolts, the noise of which never failed to remind the victim of his captivity. That sound, which always caused him an involuntary shudder, disturbed him in the last mournful scene of his unparalleled tortures. M. Pelletan said authoritatively to the municipal on duty, “If you will not take these bolts and casings away at once, at least you can make no objection to our carrying the child into another room, for I suppose we are sent here to take charge of him.” The Prince, being disturbed by these words, spoken as they were with great animation, made a sign to the physician to come nearer. “Speak lower, I beg of you,” said he; “I am afraid they will hear you up-stairs, and I should be very sorry for them to know that I am ill, as it would give them much uneasiness.”
At first the change to a cheerful and airy room revived the Prince and gave him evident pleasure, but the improvement did not last. Next day M. Pelletan learned that the Government had acceded to his request for a colleague. M. Dumangin, head physician of the Hospice de l’Unite, made his appearance at his house on the morning of Sunday, 7th June, with the official despatch sent him by the committee of public safety. They repaired together immediately to the Tower. On their arrival they heard that the child, whose weakness was excessive, had had a fainting fit, which had occasioned fears to be entertained that his end was approaching. He had revived a little, however, when the physicians went up at about nine o’clock. Unable to contend with increasing exhaustion, they perceived there was no longer any hope of prolonging an existence worn out by so much suffering, and that all their art could effect would be to soften the last stage of this lamentable disease. While standing by the Prince’s bed, Gomin noticed that he was quietly crying, and asked him. kindly what was the matter. “I am always alone,” he said. “My dear mother remains in the other tower.” Night came,–his last night,– which the regulations of the prison condemned him to pass once more in solitude, with suffering, his old companion, only at his side. This time, however, death, too, stood at his pillow. When Gomin went up to the child’s room on the morning of 8th June, he said, seeing him calm, motionless, and mute:
“I hope you are not in pain just now?”
“Oh, yes, I am still in pain, but not nearly so much,–the music is so beautiful!”
Now there was no music to be heard, either in the Tower or anywhere near.
Gomin, astonished, said to him, “From what direction do you hear this music?”
“Have you heard it long?”
“Since you knelt down. Do you not hear it? Listen! Listen!” And the child, with a nervous motion, raised his faltering hand, as he opened his large eyes illuminated by delight. His poor keeper, unwilling to destroy this last sweet illusion, appeared to listen also.
After a few minutes of attention the child again started, and cried out, in intense rapture, “Amongst all the voices I have distinguished that of my mother!”
These were almost his last words. At a quarter past two he died, Lasne only being in the room. at the time. Lasne acquainted Gomin and Damont, the commissary on duty, with the event, and they repaired to the chamber of death. The poor little royal corpse was carried from the room into that where he had suffered so long,–where for two years he had never ceased to suffer. From this apartment the father had gone to the scaffold, and thence the son must pass to the burial-ground. The remains were laid out on the bed, and the doors of the apartment were set open,– doors which had remained closed ever since the Revolution had seized on a child, then full of vigour and grace and life and health!
At eight o’clock next morning (9th June) four members of the committee of general safety came to the Tower to make sure that the Prince was really dead. When they were admitted to the death-chamber by Lasne and Damont they affected the greatest indifference. “The event is not of the least importance,” they repeated, several times over; “the police commissary of the section will come and receive the declaration of the decease; he will acknowledge it, and proceed to the interment without any ceremony; and the committee will give the necessary directions.” As they withdrew, some officers of the Temple guard asked to see the remains of little Capet. Damont having observed that the guard would not permit the bier to pass without its being opened, the deputies decided that the officers and non-commissioned officers of the guard going off duty, together with those coming on, should be all invited to assure themselves of the child’s death. All having assembled in the room where the body lay, he asked them if they recognised it as that of the ex-Dauphin, son of the last King of France. Those who had seen the young Prince at the Tuileries, or at the Temple (and most of them had), bore witness to its being the body of Louis XVII. When they were come down into the council- room, Darlot drew up the minutes of this attestation, which was signed by a score of persons. These minutes were inserted in the journal of the Temple tower, which was afterwards deposited in the office of the Minister of the Interior.
During this visit the surgeons entrusted with the autopsy arrived at the outer gate of the Temple. These were Dumangin, head physician of the Hospice de l’Unite; Pelletan, head surgeon of the Grand Hospice de l’Humanite; Jeanroy, professor in the medical schools of Paris; and Laasus, professor of legal medicine at the Ecole de Sante of Paris. The last two were selected by Dumangin and Pelletan because of the former connection of M. Lassus with Mesdames de France, and of M. Jeanroy with the House of Lorraine, which gave a peculiar weight to their signatures. Gomin received them in the council-room, and detained them until the National Guard, descending from the second floor, entered to sign the minutes prepared by Darlot. This done, Lasne, Darlot, and Bouquet went up again with the surgeons, and introduced them into the apartment of Louis XVII., whom they at first examined as he lay on his death-bed; but M. Jeanroy observing that the dim light of this room was but little favourable to the accomplishment of their mission, the commissaries prepared a table in the first room, near the window, on which the corpse was laid, and the surgeons began their melancholy operation.
At seven o’clock the police commissary ordered the body to be taken up, and that they should proceed to the cemetery. It was the season of the longest days, and therefore the interment did not take place in secrecy and at night, as some misinformed narrators have said or written; it took place in broad daylight, and attracted a great concourse of people before the gates of the Temple palace. One of the municipals wished to have the coffin carried out secretly by the door opening into the chapel enclosure; but M. Duaser, police commiasary, who was specially entrusted with the arrangement of the ceremony, opposed this indecorous measure, and the procession passed out through the great gate. The crowd that was pressing round was kept back, and compelled to keep a line, by a tricoloured ribbon, held at short distances by gendarmes. Compassion and sorrow were impressed on every countenance.
A small detachment of the troops of the line from the garrison of Paris, sent by the authorities, was waiting to serve as an escort. The bier, still covered with the pall, was carried on a litter on the shoulders of four men, who relieved each other two at a time; it was preceded by six or eight men, headed by a sergeant. The procession was accompanied a long way by the crowd, and a great number of persona followed it even to the cemetery. The name of “Little Capet,” and the more popular title of Dauphin, spread from lip to lip, with exclamations of pity and compassion. The funeral entered the cemetery of Ste. Marguerite, not by the church, as some accounts assert, but by the old gate of the cemetery. The interment was made in the corner, on the left, at a distance of eight or nine feet from the enclosure wall, and at an equal distance from a small house, which subsequently served as a school. The grave was filled up,–no mound marked its place, and not even a trace remained of the interment! Not till then did the commissaries of police and the municipality withdraw, and enter the house opposite the church to draw up the declaration of interment. It was nearly nine o’clock, and still daylight.
Release of Madame Royale.–Her Marriage to the Duc d’Angouleme. –Return to France.–Death.
The last person to hear of the sad events in the Temple was the one for whom they had the deepest and most painful interest. After her brother’s death the captivity of Madame Royale was much lightened. She was allowed to walk in the Temple gardens, and to receive visits from some ladies of the old Court, and from Madame de Chantereine, who at last, after several times evading her questions, ventured cautiously to tell her of the deaths of her mother, aunt, and brother. Madame Royale wept bitterly, but had much difficulty in expressing her feelings. “She spoke so confusedly,” says Madame de la Ramiere in a letter to Madame de Verneuil, “that it was difficult to understand her. It took her more than a month’s reading aloud, with careful study of pronunciation, to make herself intelligible,–so much had she lost the power of expression." She was dressed with plainness amounting to poverty, and her hands were disfigured by exposure to cold and by the menial work she had been so long accustomed to do for herself, and which it was difficult to persuade her to leave off. When urged to accept the services of an attendant, she replied, with a sad prevision of the vicissitudes of her future life, that she did not like to form a habit which she might have again to abandon. She suffered herself, however, to be persuaded gradually to modify her recluse and ascetic habits. It was well she did so, as a preparation for the great changes about to follow.
Nine days after the death of her brother, the city of Orleans interceded for the daughter of Louis XVI., and sent deputies to the Convention to pray for her deliverance and restoration to her family. Names followed this example; and Charette, on the part of the Vendeans, demanded, as a condition of the pacification of La Vendee, that the Princess should be allowed to join her relations. At length the Convention decreed that Madame Royale should be exchanged with Austria for the representatives and ministers whom Dumouriez had given up to the Prince of Cobourg,– Drouet, Semonville, Maret, and other prisoners of importance. At midnight on 19th December, 1795, which was her birthday, the Princess was released from prison, the Minister of the Interior, M. Benezech, to avoid attracting public attention and possible disturbance, conducting her on foot from the Temple to a neighbouring street, where his carriage awaited her. She made it her particular request that Gomin, who had been so devoted to her brother, should be the commissary appointed to accompany her to the frontier; Madame de Soucy, formerly under-governess to the children of France, was also in attendance; and the Princess took with her a dog named Coco, which had belonged to Louis XVI.
[The mention of the little dog taken from the Temple by Madame Royale reminds me how fond all the family were of these creatures. Each Princess kept a different kind. Mesdames had beautiful spaniels; little grayhounds were preferred by Madame Elisabeth. Louis XVI. was the only one of all his family who had no dogs in his room. I remember one day waiting in the great gallery for the King’s retiring, when he entered with all his family and the whole pack, who were escorting him. All at once all the dogs began to bark, one louder than another, and ran away, passing like ghosts along those great dark rooms, which rang with their hoarse cries. The Princesses shouting, calling them, running everywhere after them, completed a ridiculous spectacle, which made those august persons very merry.–D’HEZECQUES, p. 49.]
She was frequently recognised on her way through France, and always with marks of pleasure and respect.
It might have been supposed that the Princess would rejoice to leave behind her the country which had been the scene of so many horrors and such bitter suffering. But it was her birthplace, and it held the graves of all she loved; and as she crossed the frontier she said to those around her, “I leave France with regret, for I shall never cease to consider it my country.” She arrived in Vienna on 9th January, 1796, and her first care was to attend a memorial service for her murdered relatives. After many weeks of close retirement she occasionally began to appear in public, and people looked with interest at the pale, grave, slender girl of seventeen, dressed in the deepest mourning, over whose young head such terrible storms had swept. The Emperor wished her to marry the Archduke Charles of Austria, but her father and mother had, even in the cradle, destined her hand for her cousin, the Duc d’Angouleme, son of the Comte d’Artois, and the memory of their lightest wish was law to her.
Her quiet determination entailed anger and opposition amounting to persecution. Every effort was made to alienate her from her French relations. She was urged to claim Provence, which had become her own if Louis XVIII. was to be considered King of France. A pressure of opinion was brought to bear upon her which might well have overawed so young a girl. “I was sent for to the Emperor’s cabinet,” she writes, “where I found the imperial family assembled. The ministers and chief imperial counsellors were also present . . . . When the Emperor invited me to express my opinion, I answered that to be able to treat fittingly of such interests I thought, I ought to be surrounded not only by my mother’s relatives, but also by those of my father . . . . Besides, I said, I was above all things French, and in entire subjection to the laws of France, which had rendered me alternately the subject of the King my father, the King my brother, and the King my uncle, and that I would yield obedience to the latter, whatever might be his commands. This declaration appeared very much to dissatisfy all who were present, and when they observed that I was not to be shaken, they declared that my right being independent of my will, my resistance would not be the slightest obstacle to the measures they might deem it necessary to adopt for the preservation of my interests.”
In their anxiety to make a German princess of Marie Therese, her imperial relations suppressed her French title as much as possible. When, with some difficulty, the Duc de Grammont succeeded in obtaining an audience of her, and used the familiar form of address, she smiled faintly, and bade him beware. “Call me Madame de Bretagne, or de Bourgogne, or de Lorraine,” she said, “for here I am so identified with these provinces –[which the Emperor wished her to claim from her uncle Louis XVIII.]– that I shall end in believing in my own transformation.” After these discussions she was so closely watched, and so many restraints were imposed upon her, that she was scarcely less a prisoner than in the old days of the Temple, though her cage was this time gilded. Rescue, however, was at hand.
In 1798 Louis XVIII. accepted a refuge offered to him at Mittau by the Czar Paul, who had promised that he would grant his guest’s first request, whatever it might be. Louis begged the Czar to use his influence with the Court of Vienna to allow his niece to join him. “Monsieur, my brother,” was Paul’s answer, “Madame Royale shall be restored to you, or I shall cease to be Paul I.” Next morning the Czar despatched a courier to Vienna with a demand for the Princess, so energetically worded that refusal must have been followed by war. Accordingly, in May, 1799, Madame Royale was allowed to leave the capital which she had found so uncongenial an asylum.
In the old ducal castle of Mittau, the capital of Courland, Louis XVIII. and his wife, with their nephews, the Ducs d’Angouleme
[The Duc d’Angonleme was quiet and reserved. He loved hunting as means of killing time; was given to early hours and innocent pleasures. He was a gentleman, and brave as became one. He had not the “gentlemanly vices” of his brother, and was all the better for it. He was ill educated, but had natural good sense, and would have passed for having more than that had he cared to put forth pretensions. Of all his family he was the one most ill spoken of, and least deserving of it.–DOCTOR DORAN.]
and de Berri, were awaiting her, attended by the Abbe Edgeworth, as chief ecclesiastic, and a little Court of refugee nobles and officers. With them were two men of humbler position, who must have been even more welcome to Madame Royale,–De Malden, who had acted as courier to Louis XVI. during the flight to Varennes, and Turgi, who had waited on the Princesses in the Temple. It was a sad meeting, though so long anxiously desired, and it was followed on 10th June, 1799, by an equally sad wedding,–exiles, pensioners on the bounty of the Russian monarch, fulfilling an engagement founded, not on personal preference, but on family policy and reverence for the wishes of the dead, the bride and bridegroom had small cause for rejoicing. During the eighteen months of tranquil seclusion which followed her marriage, the favourite occupation of the Duchess was visiting and relieving the poor. In January, 1801, the Czar Paul, in compliance with the demand of Napoleon, who was just then the object of his capricious enthusiasm, ordered the French royal family to leave Mittau. Their wanderings commenced on the 21st, a day of bitter memories; and the young Duchess led the King to his carriage through a crowd of men, women, and children, whose tears and blessings attended them on their way.
[The Queen was too ill to travel. The Duc d’Angouleme took another route to join a body of French gentlemen in arms for the Legitimist cause.]
The exiles asked permission from the King of Prussia to settle in his dominions, and while awaiting his answer at Munich they were painfully surprised by the entrance of five old soldiers of noble birth, part of the body-guard they had left behind at Mittau, relying on the protection of Paul. The “mad Czar” had decreed their immediate expulsion, and, penniless and almost starving, they made their way to Louis XVIII. All the money the royal family possessed was bestowed on these faithful servants, who came to them in detachments for relief, and then the Duchess offered her diamonds to the Danish consul for an advance of two thousand ducats, saying she pledged her property “that in our common distress it may be rendered of real use to my uncle, his faithful servants, and myself.” The Duchess’s consistent and unselfish kindness procured her from the King, and those about him who knew her best, the name of “our angel.”
Warsaw was for a brief time the resting-place of the wanderers, but there they were disturbed in 1803 by Napoleon’s attempt to threaten and bribe Louis XVIII. into abdication. It was suggested that refusal might bring upon them expulsion from Prussia. “We are accustomed to suffering,” was the King’s answer, “and we do not dread poverty. I would, trusting in God, seek another asylum.” In 1808, after many changes of scene, this asylum was sought in England, Gosfield Hall, Essex, being placed at their disposal by the Marquis of Buckingham. From Gosfield, the King moved to Hartwell Hall, a fine old Elizabethan mansion rented from Sir George Lee for L 500 a year. A yearly grant of L 24,000 was made to the exiled family by the British Government, out of which a hundred and forty persons were supported, the royal dinner-party generally numbering two dozen.
At Hartwell, as in her other homes, the Duchess was most popular amongst the poor. In general society she was cold and reserved, and she disliked the notice of strangers. In March, 1814, the royalist successes at Bordeaux paved the way for the restoration of royalty in France, and amidst general sympathy and congratulation, with the Prince Regent himself to wish them good fortune, the King, the Duchess, and their suite left Hartwell in April, 1814. The return to France was as triumphant as a somewhat half-hearted and doubtful enthusiasm could make it, and most of such cordiality as there was fell to the share of the Duchess. As she passed to Notre-Dame in May, 1814, on entering Paris, she was vociferously greeted. The feeling of loyalty, however, was not much longer-lived than the applause by which it was expressed; the Duchess had scarcely effected one of the strongest wishes of her heart,–the identification of what remained of her parents’ bodies, and the magnificent ceremony with which they were removed from the cemetery of the Madeleine to the Abbey of St. Denis,–when the escape of Napoleon from Elba in February,1815, scattered the royal family and their followers like chaff before the wind. The Duc d’Angouleme, compelled to capitulate at Toulouse, sailed from Cette in a Swedish vessel. The Comte d’Artois, the Duc de Berri, and the Prince de Conde withdrew beyond the frontier. The King fled from the capital. The Duchesse d’Angouleme, then at Bordeaux celebrating the anniversary of the Proclamation of Louis XVIII., alone of all her family made any stand against the general panic. Day after day she mounted her horse and reviewed the National Guard. She made personal and even passionate appeals to the officers and men, standing firm, and prevailing on a handful of soldiers to remain by her, even when the imperialist troops were on the other side of the river and their cannon were directed against the square where the Duchess was reviewing her scanty followers.
["It was the Duchesse d’Angouleme who saved you,” said the gallant General Clauzel, after these events, to a royalist volunteer; “I could not bring myself to order such a woman to be fired upon, at the moment when she was providing material for the noblest page in her history."–"Fillia Dolorosa,” vol. vii., p. 131.]
With pain and difficulty she was convinced that resistance was vain; Napoleon’s banner soon floated over Bordeaux; the Duchess issued a farewell proclamation to her “brave Bordelais,” and on the 1st April, 1815, she started for Pouillac, whence she embarked for Spain. During a brief visit to England she heard that the reign of a hundred days was over, and the 27th of July, 1815, saw her second triumphal return to the Tuileries. She did not take up her abode there with any wish for State ceremonies or Court gaieties. Her life was as secluded as her position would allow. Her favourite retreat was the Pavilion, which had been inhabited by her mother, and in her little oratory she collected relics of her family, over which on the anniversaries of their deaths she wept and prayed. In her daily drives through Paris she scrupulously avoided the spot on which they had suffered; and the memory of the past seemed to rule all her sad and self-denying life, both in what she did and what she refrained from doing.
[She was so methodical and economical, though liberal in her charities, that one of her regular evening occupations was to tear off the seals from the letters she had received during the day, in order that the wax might be melted down and sold; the produce made one poor family “passing rich with forty pounds a year."–See “Filia Dolorosa,” vol. ii., p. 239.]
Her somewhat austere goodness was not of a nature to make her popular. The few who really understood her loved her, but the majority of her pleasure-seeking subjects regarded her either with ridicule or dread. She is said to have taken no part in politics, and to have exerted no influence in public affairs, but her sympathies were well known, and “the very word liberty made her shudder;” like Madame Roland, she had seen “so many crimes perpetrated under that name.”
The claims of three pretended Dauphins–Hervagault, the son of the tailor of St. Lo; Bruneau, son of the shoemaker of Vergin; and Naundorf or Norndorff, the watchmaker somewhat troubled her peace, but never for a moment obtained her sanction. Of the many other pseudo-Dauphins (said to number a dozen and a half) not even the names remain. In February,1820, a fresh tragedy befell the royal family in the assassination of the Duc de Berri, brother-in-law of the Duchesse d’Angouleme, as he was seeing his wife into her carriage at the door of the Opera-house. He was carried into the theatre, and there the dying Prince and his wife were joined by the Duchess, who remained till he breathed his last, and was present when he, too, was laid in the Abbey of St. Denis. She was present also when his son, the Duc de Bordeaux, was born, and hoped that she saw in him a guarantee for the stability of royalty in France. In September, 1824, she stood by the death-bed of Louis XVIII., and thenceforward her chief occupation was directing the education of the little Duc de Bordeaux, who generally resided with her at Villeneuve l’Etang, her country house near St. Cloud. Thence she went in July, 1830, to the Baths of Vichy, stopping at Dijon on her way to Paris, and visiting the theatre on the evening of the 27th. She was received with “a roar of execrations and seditious cries,” and knew only too well what they signified. She instantly left the theatre and proceeded to Tonnere, where she received news of the rising in Paris, and, quitting the town by night, was driven to Joigny with three attendants. Soon after leaving that place it was thought more prudent that the party should separate and proceed on foot, and the Duchess and M. de Foucigny, disguised as peasants, entered Versailles arm-in-arm, to obtain tidings of the King. The Duchess found him at Rambouillet with her husband, the Dauphin, and the King met her with a request for “pardon,” being fully conscious, too late, that his unwise decrees and his headlong flight had destroyed the last hopes of his family. The act of abdication followed, by which the prospect of royalty passed from the Dauphin and his wife, as well as from Charles X.–Henri V. being proclaimed King, and the Duc d’Orleans (who refused to take the boy monarch under his personal protection) lieutenant-general of the kingdom.
Then began the Duchess’s third expatriation. At Cherbourg the royal family, accompanied by the little King without a kingdom, embarked in the ’Great Britain’, which stood out to sea. The Duchess, remaining on deck for a last look at the coast of France, noticed a brig which kept, she thought, suspiciously near them.
“Who commands that vessel?” she inquired.
And what are his orders?”
“To fire into and sink the vessels in which we sail, should any attempt be made to return to France.”
Such was the farewell of their subjects to the House of Bourbon. The fugitives landed at Weymouth; the Duchesse d’Angouleme under the title of Comtesse de Marne, the Duchesse de Berri as Comtesse de Rosny, and her son, Henri de Bordeaux, as Comte de Chambord, the title he retained till his death, originally taken from the estate presented to him in infancy by his enthusiastic people. Holyrood, with its royal and gloomy associations, was their appointed dwelling. The Duc and Duchesse d’Angouleme, and the daughter of the Duc de Berri, travelled thither by land, the King and the young Comte de Chambord by sea. “I prefer my route to that of my sister,” observed the latter, “because I shall see the coast of France again, and she will not.”
The French Government soon complained that at Holyrood the exiles were still too near their native land, and accordingly, in 1832, Charles X., with his son and grandson, left Scotland for Hamburg, while the Duchesse d’Angouleme and her niece repaired to Vienna. The family were reunited at Prague in 1833, where the birthday of the Comte de Chambord was celebrated with some pomp and rejoicing, many Legitimists flocking thither to congratulate him on attaining the age of thirteen, which the old law of monarchical France had fixed as the majority of her princes. Three years later the wanderings of the unfortunate family recommenced; the Emperor Francis II. was dead, and his successor, Ferdinand, must visit Prague to be crowned, and Charles X. feared that the presence of a discrowned monarch might be embarrassing on such an occasion. Illness and sorrow attended the exiles on their new journey, and a few months after they were established in the Chateau of Graffenburg at Goritz, Charles X. died of cholera, in his eightieth year. At Goritz, also, on the 31st May, 1844, the Duchesse d’Angouleme, who had sat beside so many death-beds, watched over that of her husband. Theirs had not been a marriage of affection in youth, but they respected each other’s virtues, and to a great extent shared each other’s tastes; banishment and suffering had united them very closely, and of late years they had been almost inseparable,–walking, riding, and reading together. When the Duchesse d’Angouleme had seen her husband laid by his father’s side in the vault of the Franciscan convent, she, accompanied by her nephew and niece, removed to Frohsdorf, where they spent seven tranquil years. Here she was addressed as “Queen” by her household for the first time in her life, but she herself always recognised Henri, Comte de Chambord, as her sovereign. The Duchess lived to see the overthrow of Louis Philippe, the usurper of the inheritance of her family. Her last attempt to exert herself was a characteristic one. She tried to rise from a sick-bed in order to attend the memorial service held for her mother, Marie Antoinette, on the 16th October, the anniversary of her execution. But her strength was not equal to the task; on the 19th she expired, with her hand in that of the Comte de Chambord, and on 28th October, 1851, Marie Therese Charlotte, Duchesse d’Angouleme, was buried in the Franciscan convent.
The Ceremony of Expiation.
“In the spring of 1814 a ceremony took place in Paris at which I was present because there was nothing in it that could be mortifying to a French heart. The death of Louis XVI. had long been admitted to be one of the most serious misfortunes of the Revolution. The Emperor Napoleon never spoke of that sovereign but in terms of the highest respect, and always prefixed the epithet unfortunate to his name. The ceremony to which I allude was proposed by the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia. It consisted of a kind of expiation and purification of the spot on which Louis XVI. and his Queen were beheaded. I went to see the ceremony, and I had a place at a window in the Hotel of Madame de Remusat, next to the Hotel de Crillon, and what was termed the Hotel de Courlande.
“The expiation took place on the 10th of April. The weather was extremely fine and warm for the season. The Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia, accompanied by Prince Schwartzenberg, took their station at the entrance of the Rue Royale; the King of Prussia being on the right of the Emperor Alexander, and Prince Schwartzenberg on his left. There was a long parade, during which the Russian, Prussian and Austrian military bands vied with each other in playing the air, ’Vive Henri IV.!’ The cavalry defiled past, and then withdrew into the Champs Elysees; but the infantry ranged themselves round an altar which was raised in the middle of the Place, and which was elevated on a platform having twelve or fifteen steps. The Emperor of Russia alighted from his horse, and, followed by the King of Prussia, the Grand Duke Constantine, Lord Cathcart, and Prince Schwartzenberg, advanced to the altar. When the Emperor had nearly reached the altar the “Te Deum” commenced. At the moment of the benediction, the sovereigns and persons who accompanied them, as well as the twenty-five thousand troops who covered the Place, all knelt down. The Greek priest presented the cross to the Emperor Alexander, who kissed it; his example was followed by the individuals who accompanied him, though they were not of the Greek faith. On rising, the Grand Duke Constantine took off his hat, and immediately salvoes of artillery were heard.”