The Memoirs of Louis XV./XVI, v3
Madame du Hausset, and of an unknown English Girl and the

software or any other related product without express permission.]

This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]


Being Secret Memoirs of Madame du Hausset, Lady's Maid to Madame
de Pompadour, and of an unknown English Girl and the Princess Lamballe




I should consider it great presumption to intrude upon the public
anything respecting myself, were there any other way of establishing the
authenticity of the facts and papers I am about to present. To the
history of my own peculiar situation, amid the great events I record,
which made me the depositary of information and documents so important, I
proceed, therefore, though reluctantly, without further preamble.

I was for many years in the confidential service of the Princesse de
Lamballe, and the most important materials which form my history have
been derived not only from the conversations, but the private papers of
my lamented patroness. It remains for me to show how I became acquainted
with Her Highness, and by what means the papers I allude to came into my

Though, from my birth, and the rank of those who were the cause of it
(had it not been from political motives kept from my knowledge), in point
of interest I ought to have been very independent, I was indebted for my
resources in early life to His Grace the late Duke of Norfolk and Lady
Mary Duncan. By them I was placed for education in the Irish Convent,
Rue du Bacq, Faubourg St. Germain, at Paris, where the immortal Sacchini,
the instructor of the Queen, gave me lessons in music. Pleased with my
progress, the celebrated composer, when one day teaching Marie
Antoinette, so highly overrated to that illustrious lady my infant
natural talents and acquired science in his art, in the presence of her
very shadow, the Princesse de Lamballe, as to excite in Her Majesty an
eager desire for the opportunity of hearing me, which the Princess
volunteered to obtain by going herself to the convent next morning with
Sacchini. It was enjoined upon the composer, as I afterwards learned,
that he was neither to apprise me who Her Highness was, nor to what
motive I was indebted for her visit. To this Sacchini readily agreed,
adding, after disclosing to them my connections and situation, "Your
Majesty will be, perhaps, still more surprised, when I, as an Italian,
and her German master, who is a German, declare that she speaks both
these languages like a native, though born in England; and is as well
disposed to the Catholic faith, and as well versed in it, as if she had
been a member of that Church all her life."

This last observation decided my future good fortune: there was no
interest in the minds of the Queen and Princess paramount to that of
making proselytes to their creed.

The Princess, faithful to her promise, accompanied Sacchini. Whether it
was chance, ability, or good fortune, let me not attempt to conjecture;
but from that moment I became the protege of this ever-regretted angel.
Political circumstances presently facilitated her introduction of me to
the Queen. My combining a readiness in the Italian and German languages,
with my knowledge of English and French, greatly promoted my power of
being useful at that crisis, which, with some claims to their confidence
of a higher order, made this august, lamented, injured pair more like
mothers to me than mistresses, till we were parted by their murder.

The circumstances I have just mentioned show that to mere curiosity, the
characteristic passion of our sex and so often its ruin, I am to ascribe
the introduction, which was only prevented by events unparalleled in
history from proving the most fortunate in my life as it is the most
cherished in my recollection.

It will be seen, in the course of the following pages, how often I was
employed on confidential missions, frequently by myself, and, in some
instances, as the attendant of the Princess. The nature of my situation,
the trust reposed in me, the commissions with which I was honoured, and
the affecting charges of which I was the bearer, flattered my pride and
determined me to make myself an exception to the rule that "no woman can
keep a secret." Few ever knew exactly where I was, what I was doing, and
much less the importance of my occupation. I had passed from England to
France, made two journeys to Italy and Germany, three to the Archduchess
Maria Christiana, Governess of the Low Countries, and returned back to
France, before any of my friends in England were aware of my retreat, or
of my ever having accompanied the Princess. Though my letters were
written and dated at Paris, they were all forwarded to England by way of
Holland or Germany, that no clue should be given for annoyances from idle
curiosity. It is to this discreetness, to this inviolable secrecy,
firmness, and fidelity, which I so early in life displayed to the august
personages who stood in need of such a person, that I owe the unlimited
confidence of my illustrious benefactress, through which I was furnished
with the valuable materials I am now submitting to the public.

I was repeatedly a witness, by the side of the Princesse de Lamballe, of
the appalling scenes of the bonnet rouge, of murders a la lanterne, and
of numberless insults to the unfortunate Royal Family of Louis XVI., when
the Queen was generally selected as the most marked victim of malicious
indignity. Having had the honour of so often beholding this much injured
Queen, and never without remarking how amiable in her manners, how
condescendingly kind in her deportment towards every one about her, how
charitably generous, and withal, how beautiful she was,--I looked upon
her as a model of perfection. But when I found the public feeling so
much at variance with my own, the difference became utterly
unaccountable. I longed for some explanation of the mystery. One day I
was insulted in the Tuileries, because I had alighted from my horse to
walk there without wearing the national ribbon. On this I met the
Princess: the conversation which grew out of my adventure emboldened me
to question her on a theme to me inexplicable.

"What," asked I, "can it be which makes the people so outrageous against
the Queen?"

Her Highness condescended to reply in the complimentary terms which I am
about to relate, but without answering my question.

"My dear friend!" exclaimed she, "for from this moment I beg you will
consider me in that light, never having been blessed with children of my
own, I feel there is no way of acquitting myself of the obligations you
have heaped upon me, by the fidelity with which you have executed the
various commissions entrusted to your charge, but by adopting you as one
of my own family. I am satisfied with you, yes, highly satisfied with
you, on the score of your religious principles; and as soon as the
troubles subside, and we have a little calm after them, my father-in-law
and myself will be present at the ceremony of your confirmation."

The goodness of my benefactress silenced me gratitude would not allow me
to persevere for the moment. But from what I had already seen of Her
Majesty the Queen, I was too much interested to lose sight of my object,
--not, let me be believed, from idle womanish curiosity, but from that
real, strong, personal interest which I, in common with all who ever had
the honour of being in her presence, felt for that much-injured, most
engaging sovereign.

A propitious circumstance unexpectedly occurred, which gave me an
opportunity, without any appearance of officious earnestness, to renew
the attempt to gain the end I had in view.

I was riding in the carriage with the Princesse de Lamballe, when a lady
drove by, who saluted my benefactress with marked attention and respect.
There was something in the manner of the Princess, after receiving the
salute, which impelled me, spite of myself, to ask who the lady was.

"Madame de Genlis," exclaimed Her Highness, with a shudder of disgust,
"that lamb's face with a wolf's heart, and a fog's cunning." Or, to
quote her own Italian phrase which I have here translated, "colla faccia
d'agnello, il cuore dun lupo, a la dritura della volpe."

In the course of these pages the cause of this strong feeling against
Madame de Genlis will be explained. To dwell on it now would only turn
me aside from my narrative. To pursue my story, therefore:

When we arrived at my lodgings (which were then, for private reasons, at
the Irish Convent, where Sacchini and other masters attended to further
me in the accomplishments of the fine arts), "Sing me something," said
the Princess, "'Cantate mi qualche cosa', for I never see that woman "
(meaning Madame de Genlis) "but I feel ill and out of humour. I wish it
may not be the foreboding of some great evil!"

I sang a little rondo, in which Her Highness and the Queen always
delighted, and which they would never set me free without making me sing,
though I had given them twenty before it.

[The rondo I allude to was written by Sarti for the celebrated
Marches!, Lungi da to ben mio, and is the same in which he was so
successful in England, when he introduced it in London in the opera
of Giulo Sabino.]

Her Highness honoured me with even more than usual praise. I kissed the
hand which had so generously applauded my infant talents, and said, "Now,
my dearest Princess, as you are so kind and good-humoured, tell me
something about the Queen!"

She looked at me with her eyes full of tears. For an instant they stood
in their sockets as if petrified: and then, after a pause, "I cannot,"
answered she in Italian, as she usually did, "I cannot refuse you
anything. 'Non posso neyarti niente'. It would take me an age to tell
you the many causes which have conspired against this much-injured Queen!
I fear none who are near her person will escape the threatening storm
that hovers over our heads. The leading causes of the clamour against
her have been, if you must know, Nature; her beauty; her power of
pleasing; her birth; her rank; her marriage; the King himself; her
mother; her imperfect education; and, above all, her unfortunate
partialities for the Abbe Vermond; for the Duchesse de Polignac; for
myself, perhaps; and last, but not least, the thorough, unsuspecting
goodness of her heart!

"But, since you seem to be so much concerned for her exalted, persecuted
Majesty, you shall have a Journal I myself began on my first coming to
France, and which I have continued ever since I have been honoured with
the confidence of Her Majesty, in graciously giving me that unlooked-for
situation at the head of her household, which honour and justice prevent
my renouncing under any difficulties, and which I never will quit but
with my life!"

She wept as she spoke, and her last words were almost choked with sobs.

Seeing her so much affected, I humbly begged pardon for having
unintentionally caused her tears, and begged permission to accompany her
to the Tuileries.

"No," said she, "you have hitherto conducted yourself with a profound
prudence, which has insured you my confidence. Do not let your curiosity
change your system. You shall have the Journal. But be careful. Read
it only by yourself, and do not show it to any one. On these conditions
you shall have it."

I was in the act of promising, when Her Highness stopped me.

"I want no particular promises. I have sufficient proofs of your
adherence to truth. Only answer me simply in the affirmative."

I said I would certainly obey her injunctions most religiously.

She then left me, and directed that I should walk in a particular part of
the private alleys of the Tuileries, between three and four o'clock in
the afternoon. I did so; and from her own hand I there received her
private Journal.

In the following September of this same year (1792) she was murdered!

Journalising copiously, for the purpose of amassing authentic materials
for the future historian, was always a favourite practice of the French,
and seems to have been particularly in vogue in the age I mention. The
press has sent forth whole libraries of these records since the
Revolution, and it is notorious that Louis XV. left Secret Memoirs,
written by his own hand, of what passed before this convulsion; and had
not the papers of the Tuileries shared in the wreck of royalty, it would
have been seen that Louis XVI. had made some progress in the memoirs of
his time; and even his beautiful and unfortunate Queen had herself made
extensive notes and collections for the record of her own disastrous
career. Hence it must be obvious how one so nearly connected in
situation and suffering with her much-injured mistress, as the Princesse
de Lamballe, would naturally fall into a similar habit had she even no
stronger temptation than fashion and example. But self-communion, by
means of the pen, is invariably the consolation of strong feeling, and
reflecting minds under great calamities, especially when their
intercourse with the world has been checked or poisoned by its malice.

The editor of these pages herself fell into the habit of which she
speaks; and it being usual with her benefactress to converse with all the
unreserve which every honest mind shows when it feels it can confide, her
humble attendant, not to lose facts of such importance, commonly made
notes of what she heard. In any other person's hands the Journal of the
Princess would have been incomplete; especially as it was written in a
rambling manner, and was never intended for publication. But connected
by her confidential conversations with me, and the recital of the events
to which I personally bear testimony, I trust it will be found the basis
of a satisfactory record, which I pledge myself to be a true one.

I do not know, however, that, at my time of life, and after a lapse of
thirty years, I should have been roused to the arrangement of the papers
which I have combined to form this narrative, had I not met with the work
of Madame Campan upon the same subject.

This lady has said much that is true respecting the Queen; but she has
omitted much, and much she has misrepresented: not, I dare say,
purposely, but from ignorance, and being wrongly informed. She was often
absent from the service, and on such occasions must have been compelled
to obtain her knowledge at second-hand. She herself told me, in 1803, at
Rouen, that at a very important epoch the peril of her life forced her
from the seat of action. With the Princesse de Lamballe, who was so much
about the Queen, she never had any particular connexion. The Princess
certainly esteemed her for her devotedness to the Queen; but there was a
natural reserve in the Princess's character, and a mistrust resulting
from circumstances of all those who saw much company, as Madame Campan
did. Hence no intimacy was encouraged. Madame Campan never came to the
Princess without being sent for.

An attempt has been made since the Revolution utterly to destroy faith in
the alleged attachment of Madame Campan to the Queen, by the fact of her
having received the daughters of many of the regicides for education into
her establishment at Rouen. Far be it from me to sanction so unjust a
censure. Although what I mention hurt her character very much in the
estimation of her former friends, and constituted one of the grounds of
the dissolution of her establishment at Rouen, on the restoration of the
Bourbons, and may possibly in some degree have deprived her of such aids
from their adherents as might have made her work unquestionable, yet what
else, let me ask, could have been done by one dependent upon her
exertions for support, and in the power of Napoleon's family and his
emissaries? On the contrary, I would give my public testimony in favour
of the fidelity of her feelings, though in many instances I must withhold
it from the fidelity of her narrative. Her being utterly isolated from
the illustrious individual nearest to the Queen must necessarily leave
much to be desired in her record. During the whole term of the Princesse
de Lamballe's superintendence of the Queen's household, Madame Campan
never had any special communication with my benefactress, excepting once,
about the things which were to go to Brussels, before the journey to
Varennes; and once again, relative to a person of the Queen's household,
who had received the visits of Petion, the Mayor of Paris, at her private
lodgings. This last communication I myself particularly remember,
because on that occasion the Princess, addressing me in her own native
language, Madame Campan, observing it, considered me as an Italian, till,
by a circumstance I shall presently relate, she was undeceived.

I should anticipate the order of events, and incur the necessity of
speaking twice of the same things, were I here to specify the express
errors in the work of Madame Campan. Suffice it now that I observe
generally her want of knowledge of the Princesse de Lamballe; her
omission of many of the most interesting circumstances of the Revolution;
her silence upon important anecdotes of the King, the Queen, and several
members of the first assembly; her mistakes concerning the Princesse de
Lamballe's relations with the Duchesse de Polignac, Comte de Fersan,
Mirabeau, the Cardinal de Rohan, and others; her great miscalculation of
the time when the Queen's confidence in Barnave began, and when that of
the Empress-mother in Rohan ended; her misrepresentation of particulars
relating to Joseph II.; and her blunders concerning the affair of the
necklace, and regarding the libel Madame Lamotte published in England,
with the connivance of Calonne:--all these will be considered, with
numberless other statements equally requiring correction in their turn.
What she has omitted I trust I shall supply; and where she has gone
astray I hope to set her right; that, between the two, the future
biographer of my august benefactresses may be in no want of authentic
materials to do full justice to their honoured memories.

I said in a preceding paragraph that I should relate a circumstance about
Madame Campan, which happened after she had taken me for an Italian and
before she was aware of my being in the service of the Princess.

Madame Campan, though she had seen me not only at the time I mention but
before and after, had always passed me without notice. One Sunday, when
in the gallery of the Tuileries with Madame de Stael, the Queen, with her
usual suite, of which Madame Campan formed one, was going, according to
custom, to hear Mass, Her Majesty perceived me and most graciously
addressed me in German. Madame Campan appeared greatly surprised at
this, but walked on and said nothing. Ever afterwards, however, she
treated me whenever we met with marked civility.

Another edition of Boswell to those who got a nod from Dr. Johnson!

The reader will find in the course of this work that on the 2nd of
August, 1792, from the kindness and humanity of my, august
benefactresses, I was compelled to accept a mission to Italy, devised
merely to send me from the sanguinary scenes of which they foresaw they
and theirs must presently become victims. Early in the following month
the Princesse de Lamballe was murdered. As my history extends beyond the
period I have mentioned, it is fitting I should explain the indisputable
authorities whence I derived such particulars as I did not see.

A person, high in the confidence of the Princess, through the means of
the honest coachman of whom I shall have occasion to speak, supplied me
with regular details of whatever took place, till she herself, with the
rest of the ladies and other attendants, being separated from the Royal
Family, was immured in the prison of La Force. When I returned to Paris
after this dire tempest, Madame Clery and her friend, Madame de Beaumont,
a natural daughter of Louis XV., with Monsieur Chambon of Rheims, who
never left Paris during the time, confirmed the correctness of my papers.
The Madame Clery I mention is the same who assisted her husband in his
faithful attendance upon the Royal Family in the Temple; and this
exemplary man added his testimony to the rest, in the presence of the
Duchesse de Guiche Grammont, at Pyrmont in Germany, when I there met him
in the suite of the late sovereign of France, Louis XVIII., at a concert.
After the 10th of August, I had also a continued correspondence: with
many persons at Paris, who supplied me with thorough accounts of the
succeeding horrors, in letters directed to Sir William Hamilton, at
Naples, and by him forwarded to me. And in addition to all these high
sources, many particular circumstances: have been disclosed to me by
individuals, whose authority, when I have used it, I have generally
affixed to the facts they have enabled me to communicate.

It now only remains for me to mention that I have endeavoured to arrange
everything, derived either from the papers of the Princesse de Lamballe,
or from her remarks, my own observation, or the intelligence of others,
in chronological order. It will readily be seen by the reader where the
Princess herself speaks, as I have invariably set apart my own
recollections and remarks in paragraphs and notes, which are not only
indicated by the heading of each chapter, but by the context of the
passages themselves. I have also begun and ended what the Princess says
with inverted commas. All the earlier part, of the work preceding her
personal introduction proceeds principally from her pen or her lips: I
have done little more than change it from Italian into English, and
embody thoughts and sentiments that were often disjointed and detached.
And throughout, whether she or others speak, I may safely say this work
will be found the most circumstantial, and assuredly the most authentic,
upon the subject of which it treats, of all that have yet been presented
to the public of Great Britain. The press has been prolific in fabulous
writings upon these times, which have been devoured with avidity. I hope
John Bull is not so devoted to gilded foreign fictions as to spurn the
unadorned truth from one of his downright countrywomen: and let me advise
him en passant, not to treat us beauties of native growth with
indifference at home; for we readily find compensation in the regard,
patronage, and admiration of every nation in Europe. I am old now, and
may speak freely.

I have no interest whatever in the work I submit but that of endeavouring
to redeem the character of so many injured victims. Would to Heaven my
memory were less acute, and that I could obliterate from the knowledge of
the world and posterity the names of their infamous destroyers; I mean,
not the executioners who terminated their mortal existence for in their
miserable situation that early martyrdom was an act of grace--but I mean
some, perhaps still living, who with foul cowardice, stabbing like
assassins in the dark, undermined their fair fame, and morally murdered
them, long before their deaths, by daily traducing virtues the slanderers
never possessed, from mere jealousy of the glory they knew themselves
incapable of deserving.

Montesquieu says, "If there be a God, He must be just!" That divine
justice, after centuries, has been fully established on the descendants
of the cruel, sanguinary conquerers of South America and its butchered
harmless Emperor Montezuma and his innocent offspring, who are now
teaching Spain a moral lesson in freeing themselves from its insatiable
thirst for blood and wealth, while God Himself has refused that blessing
to the Spaniards which they denied to the Americans! Oh, France! what
hast thou not already suffered, and what hast thou not yet to suffer,
when to thee, like Spain, it shall visit their descendants even unto the
fourth generation?

To my insignificant losses in so mighty a ruin perhaps I ought not to
allude. I should not presume even to mention that fatal convulsion which
shook all Europe and has since left the nations in that state of agitated
undulation which succeeds a tempest upon the ocean, were it not for the
opportunity it gives me to declare the bounty of my benefactresses. All
my own property went down in the wreck; and the mariner who escapes only
with his life can never recur to the scene of his escape without a
shudder. Many persons are still living, of the first respectability, who
well remember my quitting this country, though very young, on the budding
of a brilliant career. Had those prospects been followed up they would
have placed me beyond the caprice of fickle fortune. But the dazzling
lustre of crown favours and princely patronage outweighed the slow,
though more solid hopes of self-achieved independence. I certainly was
then almost a child, and my vanity, perhaps, of the honour of being
useful to two such illustrious personages got the better of every other
sentiment. But now when I reflect, I look back with consternation on the
many risks I ran, on the many times I stared death in the face with no
fear but that of being obstructed in my efforts to serve, even with my
life, the interests dearest to my heart--that of implicit obedience to
these truly benevolent and generous Princesses, who only wanted the means
to render me as happy and independent as their cruel destiny has since
made me wretched and miserable! Had not death deprived me of their
patronage I should have had no reason to regret any sacrifice I could
have made for them, for through the Princess, Her Majesty, unasked, had
done me the honour to promise me the reversion of a most lucrative as
well as highly respectable post in her employ. In these august
personages I lost my best friends; I lost everything--except the tears,
which bathe the paper as I write tears of gratitude, which will never
cease to flow to the memory of their martyrdom.



"The character of Maria Theresa, the Empress-mother of Marie Antoinette,
is sufficiently known. The same spirit of ambition and enterprise which
had already animated her contentions with France in the latter part of
her career impelled her to wish for its alliance. In addition to other
hopes she had been encouraged to imagine that LOUIS XV. might one day aid
her in recovering the provinces which the King of Prussia had violently
wrested from her ancient dominions. She felt the many advantages to be
derived from a union with her ancient enemy, and she looked for its
accomplishment by the marriage of her daughter.

"Policy, in sovereigns, is paramount to every other consideration. They
regard beauty as a source of profit, like managers of theatres, who, when
a female candidate is offered, ask whether she is young and handsome,--
not whether she has talent. Maria Theresa believed that her daughter's
beauty would prove more powerful over France than her own armies. Like
Catharine II., her envied contemporary, she consulted no ties of nature
in the disposal of her children,--a system more in character where the
knout is the logician than among nations boasting higher civilization:
indeed her rivalry with Catharine even made her grossly neglect their
education. Jealous of the rising power of the North, she saw that it was
the purpose of Russia to counteract her views in Poland and Turkey
through France, and so totally forgot her domestic duties in the desire
to thwart the ascendency of Catharine that she often suffered eight or
ten days to go by without even seeing her children, allowing even the
essential sources of instruction to remain unprovided. Her very caresses
were scarcely given but for display, when the children were admitted to
be shown to some great personage; and if they were overwhelmed with
kindness, it was merely to excite a belief that they were the constant
care and companions of her leisure hours. When they grew up they became
the mere instruments of her ambition. The fate of one of them will show
how their mother's worldliness was rewarded.

"A leading object of Maria Theresa's policy was the attainment of
influence over Italy. For this purpose she first married one of the
Archduchesses to the imbecile Duke of Parma. Her second manoeuvre was to
contrive that Charles III. should seek the Archduchess Josepha for his
younger son, the King of Naples. When everything had been settled, and
the ceremony by proxy had taken place, it was thought proper to sound the
Princess as to how far she felt inclined to aid her mother's designs in
the Court of Naples. 'Scripture says,' was her reply, 'that when a woman
is married she belongs to the country of her husband.'

"'But the policy of State?' exclaimed Maria Theresa.

"'Is that above religion?' cried the Princess.

"This unexpected answer of the Archduchess was so totally opposite to the
views of the Empress that she was for a considerable time undecided
whether she would allow her daughter to depart, till, worn out by
perplexities, she at last consented, but bade the Archduchess, previous
to setting off for this much desired country of her new husband, to go
down to the tombs, and in the vaults of her ancestors offer up to Heaven
a fervent prayer for the departed souls of those she was about to leave.

"Only a few days before that a Princess had been buried in the vaults--I
think Joseph the Second's second wife, who had died of the small-pox.

"The Archduchess Josepha obeyed her Imperial mother's cruel commands,
took leave of all her friends and relatives, as if conscious of the
result, caught the same disease, and in a few days died!

"The Archduchess Carolina was now tutored to become her sister's
substitute, and when deemed adequately qualified was sent to Naples,
where she certainly never forgot she was an Austrian nor the interest of
the Court of Vienna. One circumstance concerning her and her mother
fully illustrates the character of both. On the marriage, the
Archduchess found that Spanish etiquette did not allow the Queen to have
the honour of dining at the same table as the King. She apprised her
mother. Maria Theresa instantly wrote to the Marchese Tenucei, then
Prime Minister at the Court of Naples, to say that, if her daughter, now
Queen of Naples, was to be considered less than the King her husband, she
would send an army to fetch her back to Vienna, and the King might
purchase a Georgian slave, for an Austrian Princess should not be thus
humbled. Maria Theresa need not have given herself all this trouble, for
before, the letter arrived the Queen of Naples had dismissed all the
Ministry, upset the Cabinet of Naples, and turned out even the King
himself from her bedchamber! So much for the overthrow of Spanish
etiquette by Austrian policy. The King of Spain became outrageous at the
influence of Maria Theresa, but there was no alternative.

"The other daughter of the Empress was married, as I have observed
already, to the Duke of Parma for the purpose of promoting the Austrian
strength in Italy against that of France, to which the Court of, Parma,
as well as that of Modena, had been long attached.

"The fourth Archduchess, Marie Antoinette, being the youngest and most
beautiful of the family, was destined for France. There were three older
than Marie Antoinette; but she, being much lovelier than her sisters, was
selected on account of her charms. Her husband was never considered by
the contrivers of the scheme: he was known to have no sway whatever, not
even in the choice of his own wife! But the character of Louis XV. was
recollected, and calculations drawn from it, upon the probable power
which youth and beauty might obtain over such a King and Court.

"It was during the time when Madame de Pompadour directed, not only the
King, but all France with most despotic sway, that the union of the
Archduchess Marie Antoinette with the grandson of Louis XV. was
proposed. The plan received the warmest support of Choiseul, then
Minister, and the ardent co-operation of Pompadour. Indeed it was to
her, the Duc de Choiseul, and the Comte de Mercy, the whole affair may be
ascribed. So highly was she flattered by the attention with which Maria
Theresa distinguished her, in consequence of her zeal, by presents and by
the title 'dear cousin,' which she used in writing to her, that she left
no stone unturned till the proxy of the Dauphin was sent to Vienna, to
marry Marie Antoinette in his name.

"All the interest by which this union was supported could not, however,
subdue a prejudice against it, not only among many of the Court, the
Cabinet, and the nation, but in the Royal Family itself. France has
never looked with complacency upon alliances with the House of Austria:
enemies to this one avowed themselves as soon as it was declared. The
daughters of Louis XV. openly expressed their aversion; but the stronger
influence prevailed, and Marie Antoinette became the Dauphine.

"Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, and afterwards of Sens, suggested the
appointment of the Librarian of the College des Quatre Nations, the Abbe
Vermond, as instructor to the Dauphine in French. The Abbe Vermond was
accordingly despatched by Louis XV. to Vienna. The consequences of this
appointment will be seen in the sequel. Perhaps not the least fatal of
them arose from his gratitude to the Archbishop, who recommended him.
Some years afterwards, in influencing his pupil, when Queen, to help
Brienne to the Ministry, he did her and her kingdom more injury than
their worst foes. Of the Abbe's power over Marie Antoinette there are
various opinions; of his capacity there is but one--he was superficial
and cunning. On his arrival at Vienna he became the tool of Maria
Theresa. While there, he received a salary as the daughter's tutor,
and when he returned to France, a much larger one as the mother's spy.
He was more ambitious to be thought a great man, in his power over his
pupil, than a rich one. He was too Jesuitical to wish to be deemed rich.
He knew that superfluous emoluments would soon have overthrown the
authority he derived from conferring, rather than receiving favours; and
hence he never soared to any higher post. He was generally considered to
be disinterested. How far his private fortunes benefited by his station
has never appeared; nor is it known whether, by the elevation of his
friend and patron to the Ministry in the time of Louis XVI., he gained
anything beyond the gratification of vanity, from having been the cause:
it is probable he did not, for if he had, from the general odium against
that promotion, no doubt it would have been exposed, unless the influence
of the Queen was his protection, as it proved in so many cases where he
grossly erred. From the first he was an evil to Marie Antoinette; and
ultimately habit rendered him a necessary evil.

"The education of the Dauphine was circumscribed; though very free in her
manners, she was very deficient in other respects; and hence it was she
so much avoided all society of females who were better informed than
herself, courting in preference the lively tittle-tattle of the other
sex, who were, in turn, better pleased with the gaieties of youth and
beauty than the more substantial logical witticisms of antiquated Court-
dowagers. To this may be ascribed her ungovernable passion for great
societies, balls, masquerades, and all kinds of public and private
amusements, as well as her subsequent attachment to the Duchesse de
Polignac, who so much encouraged them for the pastime of her friend and
sovereign. Though naturally averse to everything requiring study or
application, Marie Antoinette was very assiduous in preparing herself for
the parts she performed in the various comedies, farces, and cantatas
given at her private theatre; and their acquirement seemed to cost her no
trouble. These innocent diversions became a source of calumny against
her; yet they formed almost the only part of her German education, about
which Maria Theresa had been particular: the Empress-mother deemed them
so valuable to her children that she ordered the celebrated Metastasio to
write some of his most sublime cantatas for the evening recreations of
her sisters and herself. And what can more conduce to elegant literary
knowledge, or be less dangerous to the morals of the young, than domestic
recitation of the finest flights of the intellect? Certain it is that
Marie Antoinette never forgot her idolatry of her master Metastasio; and
it would have been well for her had all concerned in her education done
her equal justice. The Abbe Vermond encouraged these studies; and the
King himself afterwards sanctioned the translation of the works of his
Queen's revered instructor, and their publication at her own expense, in
a superb edition, that she might gratify her fondness the more
conveniently by reciting them in French. When Marie Antoinette herself
became a mother, and oppressed from the change of circumstances, she
regretted much that she had not in early life cultivated her mind more
extensively. 'What a resource,' would she exclaim, is a mind well stored
against human casualties!' She determined to avoid in her own offspring
the error, of which she felt herself the victim, committed by her
Imperial mother, for whose fault, though she suffered, she would invent
excuses. 'The Empress,' she would say, was left a young widow with ten
or twelve children; she had been accustomed, even during the Emperor's
life, to head her vast empire, and she thought it would be unjust to
sacrifice to her own children the welfare of the numerous family which
afterwards devolved upon her exclusive government and protection.'

"Most unfortunately for Marie Antoinette, her great supporter, Madame de
Pompadour, died before the Archduchess came to France. The pilot who was
to steer the young mariner safe into port was no more, when she arrived
at it. The Austrian interest had sunk with its patroness. The
intriguers of the Court no sooner saw the King without an avowed
favourite than they sought to give him one who should further their own
views and crush the Choiseul party, which had been sustained by
Pompadour. The licentious Duc de Richelieu was the pander on this
occasion. The low, vulgar Du Barry was by him introduced to the King,
and Richelieu had the honour of enthroning a successor to Pompadour, and
supplying Louis XV. with the last of his mistresses. Madame de Grammont,
who had been the royal confidante during the interregnum, gave up to the
rising star. The effect of a new power was presently seen in new events.
All the Ministers known to be attached to the Austrian interest were
dismissed; and the time for the arrival of the young bride, the
Archduchess of Austria, who was about to be installed Dauphine of France,
was at hand, and she came to meet scarcely a friend, and many foes--of
whom even her beauty, her gentleness, and her simplicity, were doomed to
swell the phalanx."


"On the marriage night, Louis XV. said gaily to the Dauphin, who was
supping with his usual heartiness, 'Don't overcharge your stomach to-

"'Why, I always sleep best after a hearty supper,' replied the Dauphin,
with the greatest coolness.

"The supper being ended, he accompanied his Dauphine to her chamber, and
at the door, with the greatest politeness, wished her a good night. Next
morning, upon his saying, when he met her at breakfast, that he hoped she
had slept well, Marie Antoinette replied, 'Excellently well, for I had no
one to disturb me!'

"The Princesse de Guemenee, who was then at the head of the household,
on hearing the Dauphine moving very early in her apartment, ventured to
enter it, and, not seeing the Dauphin, exclaimed, 'Bless me! he is risen
as usual!'--'Whom do you mean?' asked Marie Antoinette. The Princess
misconstruing the interrogation, was going to retire, when the Dauphine
said, 'I have heard a great deal of French politeness, but I think I am
married to the most polite of the nation!'--'What, then, he is risen?'--
'No, no, no!' exclaimed the Dauphine, 'there has been no rising; he has
never lain down here. He left me at the door of my apartment with his
hat in his hand, and hastened from me as if embarrassed with my person!'

"After Marie Antoinette became a mother she would often laugh and tell
Louis XVI. of his bridal politeness, and ask him if in the interim
between that and the consummation he had studied his maiden aunts or his
tutor on the subject. On this he would laugh most excessively.

"Scarcely was Marie Antoinette seated in her new country before the
virulence of Court intrigue against her became active. She was beset on
all sides by enemies open and concealed, who never slackened their
persecutions. All the family of Louis XV., consisting of those maiden
aunts of the Dauphin just adverted to (among whom Madame Adelaide was
specially implacable), were incensed at the marriage, not only from their
hatred to Austria, but because it had accomplished the ambition of an
obnoxious favourite to give a wife to the Dauphin of their kingdom. On
the credulous and timid mind of the Prince, then in the leading strings
of this pious sisterhood, they impressed the misfortunes to his country
and to the interest of the Bourbon family, which must spring from the
Austrian influence through the medium of his bride. No means were left
unessayed to steel him against her sway. I remember once to have heard
Her Majesty remark to Louis XVI., in answer to some particular
observations he made, 'These, Sire, are the sentiments of our aunts, I am
sure.' And, indeed, great must have been their ascendency over him in
youth, for up to a late date he entertained a very high respect for their
capacity and judgment. Great indeed must it have been to have prevailed
against all the seducing allurements of a beautiful and fascinating young
bride, whose amiableness, vivacity, and wit became the universal
admiration, and whose graceful manner of address few ever equalled and
none ever surpassed; nay, even so to have prevailed as to form one of the
great sources of his aversion to consummate the marriage! Since the
death of the late Queen, their mother, these four Princesses (who, it was
said, if old maids, were not so from choice) had received and performed
the exclusive honours of the Court. It could not have diminished their
dislike for the young and lovely new-comer to see themselves under the
necessity of abandoning their dignities and giving up their station. So
eager were they to contrive themes of complaint against her, that when
she visited them in the simple attire in which she so much delighted,
'sans ceremonie', unaccompanied by a troop of horse and a squadron of
footguards, they complained to their father, who hinted to Marie
Antoinette that such a relaxation of the royal dignity would be attended
with considerable injury to French manufactures, to trade, and to the
respect due to her rank. 'My State and Court dresses,' replied she,
'shall not be less brilliant than those of any former Dauphine or Queen
of France, if such be the pleasure of the King,--but to my grandpapa I
appeal for some indulgence with respect to my undress private costume of
the morning.

"It was dangerous for one in whose conduct so many prying eyes were
seeking for sources of accusation to gratify herself even by the
overthrow of an absurdity, when that overthrow might incur the stigma of
innovation. The Court of Versailles was jealous of its Spanish
inquisitorial etiquette. It had been strictly wedded to its pageantries
since the time of the great Anne of Austria. The sagacious and prudent
provisions of this illustrious contriver were deemed the ne plus ultra of
royal female policy. A cargo of whalebone was yearly obtained by her to
construct such stays for the Maids of Honour as might adequately conceal
the Court accidents which generally--poor ladies! --befell them in
rotation every nine months.

"But Marie Antoinette could not sacrifice her predilection for a
simplicity quite English, to prudential considerations. Indeed, she was
too young to conceive it even desirable. So much did she delight in
being unshackled by finery that she would hurry from Court to fling off
her royal robes and ornaments, exclaiming, when freed from them, 'Thank
Heaven, I am out of harness!'

"But she had natural advantages, which gave her enemies a pretext for
ascribing this antipathy to the established fashion to mere vanity. It
is not impossible that she might have derived some pleasure from
displaying a figure so beautiful, with no adornment except its native
gracefulness; but how great must have been the chagrin of the Princesses,
of many of the Court ladies, indeed, of all in any way ungainly or
deformed, when called to exhibit themselves by the side of a bewitching
person like hers, unaided by the whalebone and horse-hair paddings with
which they had hitherto been made up, and which placed the best form on a
level with the worst? The prudes who practised illicitly, and felt the
convenience of a guise which so well concealed the effect of their
frailties, were neither the least formidable nor the least numerous of
the enemies created by this revolution of costume; and the Dauphine was
voted by common consent--for what greater crime could there be in France?
--the heretic Martin Luther of female fashions! The four Princesses, her
aunts, were as bitter against the disrespect with which the Dauphine
treated the armour, which they called dress, as if they themselves had
benefited by the immunities it could, confer.

"Indeed, most of the old Court ladies embattled themselves against Marie
Antoinette's encroachments upon their habits. The leader of them was a
real medallion, whose costume, character, and notions spoke a genealogy
perfectly antediluvian; who even to the latter days of Louis XV., amid a
Court so irregular, persisted in her precision. So systematic a
supporter of the antique could be no other than the declared foe of any
change, and, of course, deemed the desertion of large sack gowns,
monstrous Court hoops, and the old notions of appendages attached to
them, for tight waists and short petticoats, an awful demonstration of
the depravity of the time!--[The editor needs scarcely add, that the
allusion of the Princess is to Madame de Noailles.]

"This lady had been first lady to the sole Queen of Louis XV. She was
retained in the same station for Marie Antoinette. Her motions were
regulated like clock-work. So methodical was she in all her operations
of mind and body, that, from the beginning of the year to its end, she
never deviated a moment. Every hour had its peculiar occupation. Her
element was etiquette, but the etiquette of ages before the flood. She
had her rules even for the width of petticoats, that the Queens and
Princesses might have no temptation to straddle over a rivulet, or
crossing, of unroyal size.

"The Queen of Louis XV. having been totally subservient in her movements
night and day to the wishes of the Comtesse de Noailles, it will be
readily conceived how great a shock this lady must have sustained on
being informed one morning that the Dauphine had actually risen in the
night, and her ladyship not by to witness a ceremony from which most
ladies would have felt no little pleasure in being spared, but which, on
this occasion, admitted of no delay! Notwithstanding the Dauphine
excused herself by the assurance of the urgency allowing no time to call
the Countess, she nearly fainted at not having been present at that,
which others sometimes faint at, if too near! This unaccustomed
watchfulness so annoyed Marie Antoinette, that, determined to laugh her
out of it, she ordered an immense bottle of hartshorn to be placed upon
her toilet. Being asked what use was to be made of the hartshorn, she
said it was to prevent her first Lady of Honour from falling into
hysterics when the calls of nature were uncivil enough to exclude her
from being of the party. This, as may be presumed, had its desired
effect, and Marie Antoinette was ever afterwards allowed free access at
least to one of her apartments, and leave to perform that in private
which few individuals except Princesses do with parade and publicity.

"These things, however, planted the seeds of rancour against Marie
Antoinette, which Madame de Noailles carried with her to the grave.
It will be seen that she declared against her at a crisis of great
importance. The laughable title of Madame Etiquette, which the Dauphine
gave her, clung to her through life; though conferred only in merriment,
it never was forgiven.

"The Dauphine seemed to be under a sort of fatality with regard to all
those who had any power of doing her mischief either with her husband or
the Court. The Duc de Vauguyon, the Dauphin's tutor, who both from
principle and interest hated everything Austrian, and anything whatever
which threatened to lessen his despotic influence so long exercised over
the mind of his pupil, which he foresaw would be endangered were the
Prince once out of his leading-strings and swayed by a young wife, made
use of all the influence which old courtiers can command over the minds
they have formed (more generally for their own ends than those of
uprightness) to poison that of the young Prince against his bride.

"Never were there more intrigues among the female slaves in the Seraglio
of Constantinople for the Grand Signior's handkerchief than were
continually harassing one party against the other at the Court of
Versailles. The Dauphine was even attacked through her own tutor, the
Abbe Vermond. A cabal was got up between the Abbe and Madame Marsan,
instructress of the sisters of Louis XVI. (the Princesses Clotilde and
Elizabeth) upon the subject of education. Nothing grew out of this
affair excepting a new stimulus to the party spirit against the Austrian
influence, or, in other words, the Austrian Princess; and such was
probably its purpose. Of course every trifle becomes Court tattle. This
was made a mighty business of, for want of a worse. The royal aunts
naturally took the part of Madame Marsan. They maintained that their
royal nieces, the French Princesses, were much better educated than the
German Archduchesses had been by the Austrian Empress. They attempted to
found their assertion upon the embonpoint of the French Princesses. They
said that their nieces, by the exercise of religious principles, obtained
the advantage of solid flesh, while the Austrian Archduchesses, by
wasting themselves in idleness and profane pursuits, grew thin and
meagre, and were equally exhausted in their minds and bodies! At this
the Abbe Vermond, as the tutor of Marie Antoinette, felt himself highly
offended, and called on Comte de Mercy, then the Imperial Ambassador, to
apprise him of the insult the Empire had received over the shoulders of
the Dauphine's tutor. The Ambassador gravely replied that he should
certainly send off a courier immediately to Vienna to inform the Empress
that the only fault the French Court could find with Marie Antoinette was
her being not so unwieldy as their own Princesses, and bringing charms
with her to a bridegroom, on whom even charms so transcendent could make
no impression! Thus the matter was laughed off, but it left, ridiculous
as it was, new bitter enemies to the cause of the illustrious stranger.

"The new favourite, Madame du Barry, whose sway was now supreme, was of
course joined by the whole vitiated intriguing Court of Versailles. The
King's favourite is always that of his parasites, however degraded. The
politics of the De Pompadour party were still feared, though De Pompadour
herself was no more, for Choiseul had friends who were still active in
his behalf. The power which had been raised to crush the power that was
still struggling formed a rallying point for those who hated Austria,
which the deposed Ministry had supported; and even the King's daughters,
much as they abhorred the vulgarity of Du Barry, were led, by dislike for
the Dauphine, to pay their devotions to their father's mistress. The
influence of the rising sun, Marie Antoinette, whose beauteous rays of
blooming youth warmed every heart in her favour, was feared by the new
favourite as well as by the old maidens. Louis XV. had already expressed
a sufficient interest for the friendless royal stranger to awaken the
jealousy of Du Barry, and she was as little disposed to share the King's
affections with another, as his daughters were to welcome a future Queen
from Austria in their palace. Mortified at the attachment the King daily
evinced, she strained every nerve to raise a party to destroy his
predilections. She called to her aid the strength of ridicule, than
which no weapon is more false or deadly. She laughed at qualities she
could not comprehend, and underrated what she could not imitate. The Duc
de Richelieu, who had been instrumental to her good fortune, and for whom
(remembering the old adage: when one hand washes the other both are made
clean) she procured the command of the army--this Duke, the triumphant
general of Mahon and one of the most distinguished noblemen of France,
did not blush to become the secret agent of a depraved meretrix in the
conspiracy to blacken the character of her victim! The Princesses, of
course, joined the jealous Phryne against their niece, the daughter of
the Caesars, whose only faults were those of nature, for at that time she
could have no other excepting those personal perfections which were the
main source of all their malice. By one considered as an usurper, by the
others as an intruder, both were in consequence industrious in the quiet
work of ruin by whispers and detraction.

"To an impolitic act of the Dauphine herself may be in part ascribed the
unwonted virulence of the jealousy and resentment of Du Barry. The old
dotard, Louis XV., was so indelicate as to have her present at the first
supper of the Dauphine at Versailles. Madame la Marechale de Beaumont,
the Duchesse de Choiseul, and the Duchesse de Grammont were there also;
but upon the favourite taking her seat at table they expressed themselves
very freely to Louis XV. respecting the insult they conceived offered to
the young Dauphine, left the royal party, and never appeared again at
Court till after the King's death. In consequence of this scene, Marie
Antoinette, at the instigation of the Abbe Vermond, wrote to her mother,
the Empress, complaining of the slight put upon her rank, birth, and
dignity, and requesting the Empress would signify her displeasure to the
Court of France, as she had done to that of Spain on a similar occasion
in favour of her sister, the Queen of Naples.

"This letter, which was intercepted, got to the knowledge of the Court
and excited some clamour. To say the worst, it could only be looked upon
as an ebullition of the folly of youth. But insignificant as such
matters were in fact, malignity converted them into the locust, which
destroyed the fruit she was sent to cultivate.

"Maria Theresa, old fox that she was, too true to her system to retract
the policy, which formerly, laid her open to the criticism of all the
civilised Courts of Europe for opening the correspondence with De
Pompadour, to whose influence she owed her daughter's footing in France--
a correspondence whereby she degraded the dignity of her sex and the
honour of her crown--and at the same time suspecting that it was not her
daughter, but Vermond, from private motives, who complained, wrote the
following laconic reply to the remonstrance:

"'Where the sovereign himself presides, no guest can be exceptionable.'

"Such sentiments are very much in contradiction with the character of
Maria Theresa. She was always solicitous to impress the world with her
high notion of moral rectitude. Certainly, such advice, however politic,
ought not to have proceeded from a mother so religious as Maria Theresa
wished herself to be thought; especially to a young Princess who, though
enthusiastically fond of admiration, at least had discretion to see and
feel the impropriety of her being degraded to the level of a female like
Du Barry, and, withal, courage to avow it. This, of itself, was quite
enough to shake the virtue of Marie Antoinette; or, at least, Maria
Theresa's letter was of a cast to make her callous to the observance of
all its scruples. And in that vitiated, depraved Court, she too soon,
unfortunately, took the hint of her maternal counsellor in not only
tolerating, but imitating, the object she despised. Being one day told
that Du Barry was the person who most contributed to amuse Louis XV.,
'Then,' said she, innocently, 'I declare myself her rival; for I will try
who can best amuse my grandpapa for the future. I will exert all my
powers to please and divert him, and then we shall see who can best

"Du Barry was by when this was said, and she never forgave it. To this,
and to the letter, her rancour may principally be ascribed. To all those
of the Court party who owed their places and preferments to her exclusive
influence, and who held them subject to her caprice, she, of course,
communicated the venom.

"Meanwhile, the Dauphin saw Marie Antoinette mimicking the monkey tricks
with which this low Sultana amused her dotard, without being aware of the
cause. He was not pleased; and this circumstance, coupled with his
natural coolness and indifference for a union he had been taught to deem
impolitic and dangerous to the interests of France, created in his
virtuous mind that sort of disgust which remained so long an enigma to
the Court and all the kingdom, excepting his royal aunts, who did the
best they could to confirm it into so decided an aversion as might induce
him to impel his grandfather to annul the marriage and send the Dauphine
back to Vienna."

"After the Dauphin's marriage, the Comte d'Artois and his brother
Monsieur--[Afterwards Louis XVIII., and the former the present Charles
X.]--returned from their travels to Versailles. The former was
delighted with the young Dauphine, and, seeing her so decidedly neglected
by her husband, endeavoured to console her by a marked attention, but for
which she would have been totally isolated, for, excepting the old King,
who became more and more enraptured with the grace, beauty, and vivacity
of his young granddaughter, not another individual in the Royal Family
was really interested in her favour. The kindness of a personage so
important was of too much weight not to awaken calumny. It was, of
course, endeavoured to be turned against her. Possibilities, and even
probabilities, conspired to give a pretext for the scandal which already
began to be whispered about the Dauphine and D'Artois. It would have
been no wonder had a reciprocal attachment arisen between a virgin wife,
so long neglected by her husband, and one whose congeniality of character
pointed him out as a more desirable partner than the Dauphin. But there
is abundant evidence of the perfect innocence of their intercourse. Du
Barry was most earnest in endeavouring, from first to last, to establish
its impurity, because the Dauphine induced the gay young Prince to join
in all her girlish schemes to tease and circumvent the favourite. But
when this young Prince and his brother were married to the two Princesses
of Piedmont, the intimacy between their brides and the Dauphine proved
there could have been no doubt that Du Barry had invented a calumny, and
that no feeling existed but one altogether sisterly. The three stranger
Princesses were indeed inseparable; and these marriages, with that of the
French Princess, Clotilde, to the Prince of Piedmont, created
considerable changes in the coteries of Court.

"The machinations against Marie Antoinette could not be concealed from
the Empress-mother. An extraordinary Ambassador was consequently sent
from Vienna to complain of them to the Court of Versailles, with
directions that the remonstrance should be supported and backed by the
Comte de Mercy, then Austrian Ambassador at the Court of France. Louis
XV. was the only person to whom the communication was news. This old
dilettanti of the sex was so much engaged between his seraglio of the
Parc-aux-cerfs and Du Barry that he knew less of what was passing in his
palace than those at Constantinople. On being informed by the Austrian
Ambassador, he sent an Ambassador of his own to Vienna to assure the
Empress that he was perfectly satisfied of the innocent conduct of his
newly acquired granddaughter.

"Among the intrigues within intrigues of the time I mention, there was
one which shows that perhaps Du Barry's distrust of the constancy of her
paramour, and apprehension from the effect on him of the charms of the
Dauphine, in whom he became daily more interested, were not utterly
without foundation. In this instance even her friend, the Duc de
Richelieu, that notorious seducer, by lending himself to the secret
purposes of the King, became a traitor to the cause of the King's
favourite, to which he had sworn allegiance, and which he had supported
by defaming her whom he now became anxious to make his Queen.

"It has already been said, that the famous Duchesse de Grammont was one
of the confidential friends of Louis XV. before he took Du Barry under
his especial protection. Of course, there can be no difficulty in
conceiving how likely a person she would be, to aid any purpose of the
King which should displace the favourite, by whom she herself had been
obliged to retire, by ties of a higher order, to which she might prove

"Louis XV. actually flattered himself with the hope of obtaining
advantages from the Dauphin's coolness towards the Dauphine. He
encouraged it, and even threw many obstacles in the way of the
consummation of the marriage. The apartments of the young couple were
placed at opposite ends of the palace, so that the Dauphin could not
approach that of his Dauphine without a publicity which his bashfulness
could not brook.

"Louis XV. now began to act upon his secret passion to supplant his
grandson, and make the Dauphine his own Queen, by endeavouring to secure
her affections to himself. His attentions were backed by gifts of
diamonds, pearls, and other valuables, and it was at this period that
Boehmer, the jeweller, first received the order for that famous necklace,
which subsequently produced such dreadful consequences, and which was
originally meant as a kingly present to the intended Queen, though
afterwards destined for Du Barry, had not the King died before the
completion of the bargain for it.

"The Queen herself one day told me, 'Heaven knows if ever I should have
had the blessing of being a mother had I not one evening surprised the
Dauphin, when the subject was adverted to, in the expression of a sort of
regret at our being placed so far asunder from each other. Indeed, he
never honoured me with any proof of his affection so explicit as that you
have just witnessed'--for the King had that moment kissed her, as he left
the apartment--'from the time of our marriage till the consummation.
The most I ever received from him was a squeeze of the hand in secret.
His extreme modesty, and perhaps his utter ignorance of the intercourse
with woman, dreaded the exposure of crossing the palace to my bedchamber;
and no doubt the accomplishment would have occurred sooner, could it have
been effectuated in privacy. The hint he gave emboldened me with
courage, when he next left me, as usual, at the door of my apartment,
to mention it to the Duchesse de Grammont, then the confidential friend
of Louis XV., who laughed me almost out of countenance; saying, in her
gay manner of expressing herself, "If I were as young and as beautiful a
wife as you are I should certainly not trouble myself to remove the
obstacle by going to him while there were others of superior rank ready
to supply his place." Before she quitted me, however, she said: "Well,
child, make yourself easy: you shall no longer be separated from the
object of your wishes: I will mention it to the King, your grandpapa, and
he will soon order your husband's apartment to be changed for one nearer
your own." And the change shortly afterwards took place.

"'Here,' continued the Queen, 'I accuse myself of a want of that courage
which every virtuous wife ought to exercise in not having complained of
the visible neglect shown me long, long before I did; for this, perhaps,
would have spared both of us the many bitter pangs originating in the
seeming coldness, whence have arisen all the scandalous stories against
my character--which have often interrupted the full enjoyment I should
have felt had they not made me tremble for the security of that
attachment, of which I had so many proofs, and which formed my only
consolation amid all the malice that for yearn had been endeavouring to
deprive me of it! So far as regards my husband's estimation, thank fate,
I have defied their wickedness! Would to Heaven I could have been
equally secure in the estimation of my people--the object nearest to my
heart, after the King and my dear children!'"

[The Dauphine could not understand the first allusion of the
Duchess; but it is evident that the vile intriguer took this
opportunity of sounding her upon what she was commissioned to carry
on in favour of Louis XV., and it is equally apparent that when she
heard Marie Antoinette express herself decidedly in favour of her
young husband, and distinctly saw how utterly groundless were the
hopes of his secret rival, she was led thereby to abandon her wicked
project; and perhaps the change of apartments was the best mask that
could have been devised to hide the villany.]

"The present period appears to have been one of the happiest in the life
of Marie Antoinette. Her intimate society consisted of the King's
brothers, and their Princesses, with the King's saint-like sister
Elizabeth; and they lived entirely together, excepting when the Dauphine
dined in public. These ties seemed to be drawn daily closer for some
time, till the subsequent intimacy with the Polignacs. Even when the
Comtesse d'Artois lay-in, the Dauphine, then become Queen, transferred
her parties to the apartments of that Princess, rather than lose the
gratification of her society.

"During all this time, however, Du Barry, the Duc d'Aiguillon, and the
aunts-Princesses, took special care to keep themselves between her and
any tenderness on the part of the husband Dauphin, and, from different
motives uniting in one end, tried every means to get the object of their
hatred sent back to Vienna."


"The Empress-mother was thoroughly aware of all that was going on. Her
anxiety, not only about her daughter, but her State policy, which it may
be apprehended was in her mind the stronger motive of the two, encouraged
the machinations of an individual who must now appear upon the stage of
action, and to whose arts may be ascribed the worst of the sufferings of
Marie Antoinette.

"I allude to the Cardinal Prince de Rohan.

"At this time he was Ambassador at the Court of Vienna. The reliance the
Empress placed on him favoured his criminal machinations against her
daughter's reputation. He was the cause of her sending spies to watch
the conduct of the Dauphine, besides a list of persons proper for her to
cultivate, as well as of those it was deemed desirable for her to exclude
from her confidence.

"As the Empress knew all those who, though high in office in Versailles,
secretly received pensions from Vienna, she could, of course, tell,
without much expense of sagacity, who were in the Austrian interest. The
Dauphine was warned that she was surrounded by persons who were not her

"The conduct of Maria Theresa towards her daughter, the Queen of Naples,
will sufficiently explain how much the Empress must have been chagrined
at the absolute indifference of Marie Antoinette to the State policy
which was intended to have been served in sending her to France. A less
fitting instrument for the purpose could not have been selected by the
mother. Marie Antoinette had much less of the politician about her than
either of her surviving sisters; and so much was she addicted to
amusement, that she never even thought of entering into State affairs
till forced by the King's neglect of his most essential prerogatives,
and called upon by the Ministers themselves to screen them from
responsibility. Indeed, the latter cause prevailed upon her to take her
seat in the Cabinet Council (though she took it with great reluctance)
long before she was impelled thither by events and her consciousness of
its necessity. She would often exclaim to me: 'How happy I was during
the lifetime of Louis XV.! No cares to disturb my peaceful slumbers! No
responsibility to agitate my mind! No fears of erring, of partiality, of
injustice, to break in upon my enjoyments! All, all happiness, my dear
Princess, vanishes from the bosom of a woman if she once deviate from the
prescribed domestic character of her sex! Nothing was ever framed more
wise than the Salique Laws, which in France and many parts of Germany
exclude women from reigning, for few of us have that masculine capacity
so necessary to conduct with impartiality and justice the affairs of

"To this feeling of the impropriety of feminine interference in masculine
duties, coupled with her attachment to France, both from principle and
feeling, may be ascribed the neglect of her German connexions, which led
to many mortifying reproaches, and the still more galling espionage to
which she was subjected in her own palace by her mother. These are,
however, so many proofs of the falsehood of the allegations by which she
suffered so deeply afterwards, of having sacrificed the interests of her
husband's kingdom to her predilection for her mother's empire.

"The subtle Rohan designed to turn the anxiety of Maria Theresa about the
Dauphine to account, and he was also aware that the ambition of the
Empress was paramount in Maria Theresa's bosom to the love for her child.
He was about to play a deep and more than double game. By increasing the
mother's jealousy of the daughter, and at the same time enhancing the
importance of the advantages afforded by her situation, to forward the
interests of the mother, he, no doubt, hoped to get both within his
power: for who can tell what wild expectation might not have animated
such a mind as Rohan's at the prospect of governing not only the Court of
France but that of Austria?--the Court of France, through a secret
influence of his own dictation thrown around the Dauphine by the mother's
alarm; and that of Austria, through a way he pointed out, in which the
object that was most longed for by the mother's ambition seemed most
likely to be achieved! While he endeavoured to make Maria Theresa beset
her daughter with the spies I have mentioned, and which were generally of
his own selection, he at the same time endeavoured to strengthen her
impression of how important it was to her schemes to insure the
daughter's co-operation. Conscious of the eagerness of Maria Theresa for
the recovery of the rich province which Frederick the Great of Prussia
had wrested from her ancient dominions, he pressed upon her credulity the
assurance that the influence of which the Dauphine was capable over Louis
XV., by the youthful beauty's charms acting upon the dotard's admiration,
would readily induce that monarch to give such aid to Austria as must
insure the restoration of what it lost. Silesia, it has been before
observed, was always a topic by means of which the weak side of Maria
Theresa could be attacked with success. There is generally some peculiar
frailty in the ambitious, through which the artful can throw them off
their guard. The weak and tyrannical Philip II., whenever the recovery
of Holland and the Low Countries was proposed to him, was always ready to
rush headlong into any scheme for its accomplishment; the bloody Queen
Mary, his wife, declared that at her death the loss of Calais would be
found engraven on her heart; and to Maria Theresa, Silesia was the
Holland and the Calais for which her wounded pride was thirsting.

"But Maria Theresa was wary, even in the midst of the credulity of her
ambition. The Baron de Neni was sent by her privately to Versailles to
examine, personally, whether there was anything in Marie Antoinette's
conduct requiring the extreme vigilance which had been represented as
indispensable. The report of the Baron de Neni to his royal mistress was
such as to convince her she had been misled and her daughter
misrepresented by Rohan. The Empress instantly forbade him her presence.

"The Cardinal upon this, unknown to the Court of Vienna, and indeed, to
every one, except his factotum, principal agent, and secretary, the Abbe
Georgel, left the Austrian capital, and came to Versailles, covering his
disgrace by pretended leave of absence. On seeing Marie Antoinette he
fell enthusiastically in love with her. To gain her confidence he
disclosed the conduct which had been observed towards her by the Empress,
and, in confirmation of the correctness of his disclosure, admitted that
he had himself chosen the spies which had been set on her. Indignant at
such meanness in her mother, and despising the prelate, who could be base
enough to commit a deed equally corrupt and uncalled for, and even thus
wantonly betrayed when committed, the Dauphine suddenly withdrew from his
presence, and gave orders that he should never be admitted to any of her

"But his imagination was too much heated by a guilty passion of the
blackest hue to recede; and his nature too presumptuous and fertile in
expedients to be disconcerted. He soon found means to conciliate both
mother and daughter; and both by pretending to manage with the one the
self-same plot which, with the other, he was recommending himself by
pretending to overthrow. To elude detection he interrupted the regular
correspondence between the Empress and the Dauphine, and created a
coolness by preventing the communications which would have unmasked him,
that gave additional security to the success of his deception.

"By the most diabolical arts he obtained an interview with the Dauphine,
in which he regained her confidence. He made her believe that he had
been commissioned by her mother, as she had shown so little interest for
the house of Austria, to settle a marriage for her sister, the
Archduchess Elizabeth, with Louis XV. The Dauphine was deeply affected
at the statement. She could not conceal her agitation. She
involuntarily confessed how much she should deplore such an alliance.
The Cardinal instantly perceived his advantage, and was too subtle to let
it pass. He declared that, as it was to him the negotiation had been
confided, if the Dauphine would keep her own counsel, never communicate
their conversation to the Empress, but leave the whole matter to his
management and only assure him that he was forgiven, he would pledge
himself to arrange things to her satisfaction. The Dauphine, not wishing
to see another raised to the throne over her head and to her scorn, under
the assurance that no one knew of the intention or could prevent it but
the Cardinal, promised him her faith and favour; and thus rashly fell
into the springs of this wily intriguer.

"Exulting to find Marie Antoinette in his power, the Cardinal left
Versailles as privately as he arrived there, for Vienna. His next object
was to ensnare the Empress, as he had done her daughter; and by a
singular caprice, fortune, during his absence, had been preparing for him
the means.

"The Abbe Georgel, his secretary, by underhand manoeuvres, to which he
was accustomed, had obtained access to all the secret State
correspondence, in which the Empress had expressed herself fully to the
Comte de Mercy relative to the views of Russia and Prussia upon Poland,
whereby her own plans were much thwarted. The acquirement of copies of
these documents naturally gave the Cardinal free access to the Court and
a ready introduction once more to the Empress. She was too much
committed by his possession of such weapons not to be most happy to make
her peace with him; and he was too sagacious not to make the best use of
his opportunity. To regain her confidence, he betrayed some of the
subaltern agents, through whose treachery he had procured his evidences,
and, in farther confirmation of his resources, showed the Empress several
dispatches from her own Ministers to the Courts of Russia and Prussia.
He had long, he said, been in possession of similar views of
aggrandisement, upon which these Courts were about to act; and had, for a
while, even incurred Her Imperial Majesty's displeasure, merely because
he was not in a situation fully to explain; but that he had now thought
of the means to crush their schemes before they could be put in practice.
He apprised her of his being aware that Her Imperial Majesty's Ministers
were actively carrying on a correspondence with Russia, with a view of
joining her in checking the French co-operation with the Grand Signior;
and warned her that if this design were secretly pursued, it would defeat
the very views she had in sharing in the spoliation of Poland; and if
openly, it would be deemed an avowal of hostilities against the Court of
France, whose political system would certainly impel it to resist any
attack upon the divan of Constantinople, that the balance of power in
Europe might be maintained against the formidable ambition of Catherine,
whose gigantic hopes had been already too much realised.

"Maria Theresa was no less astonished at these disclosures of the
Cardinal than the Dauphine had been at his communication concerning her.
She plainly saw that all her plans were known, and might be defeated from
their detection.

"The Cardinal, having succeeded in alarming the Empress, took from his
pocket a fabulous correspondence, hatched by his secretary, the Abbe
Georgel. 'There, Madame,' said he, 'this will convince Your Majesty that
the warm interest I have taken in your Imperial house has carried me
farther than I was justified in having gone; but seeing the sterility of
the Dauphine, or, as it is reported by some of the Court, the total
disgust the Dauphin has to consummate the marriage, the coldness of your
daughter towards the interest of your Court, and the prospect of a race
from the Comtesse d'Artois, for the consequences of which there is no
answering, I have, unknown to Your Imperial Majesty, taken upon myself to
propose to LOUIS XV. a marriage with the Archduchess Elizabeth, who, on
becoming Queen of France, will immediately have it in her power to
forward the Austrian interest; for LOUIS XV., as the first proof of his
affection to his young bride, will at once secure to your Empire the aid
you stand so much in need of against the ambition of these two rising
States. The recovery of Your Imperial Majesty's ancient dominions may
then be looked upon as accomplished from the influence of the French

"The bait was swallowed. Maria Theresa was so overjoyed at this scheme
that she totally forgot all former animosity against the Cardinal. She
was encouraged to ascribe the silence of Marie Antoinette (whose letters
had been intercepted by the Cardinal himself) to her resentment of this
project concerning her sister; and the deluded Empress, availing herself
of the pretended zeal of the Cardinal for the interest of her family,
gave him full powers to return to France and secretly negotiate the
alliance for her daughter Elizabeth, which was by no means to be
disclosed to the Dauphine till the King's proxy should be appointed to
perform the ceremony at Vienna. This was all the Cardinal wished for.

"Meanwhile, in order to obtain a still greater ascendency over the Court
of France, he had expended immense sums to bribe secretaries and
Ministers; and couriers were even stopped to have copies taken of all the
correspondence to and from Austria.

"At the same crisis the Empress was informed by Prince Kaunitz that the
Cardinal and his suite at the palace of the French Ambassador carried on
such an immense and barefaced traffic of French manufactures of every
description that Maria Theresa thought proper, in order to prevent future
abuse, to abolish the privilege which gave to Ministers and Ambassadors
an opportunity of defrauding the revenue. Though this law was levelled
exclusively at the Cardinal, it was thought convenient under the
circumstances to avoid irritating him, and it was consequently made
general. But, the Comte de Mercy now obtaining some clue to his
duplicity, an intimation was given to the Court at Versailles, to which
the King replied, 'If the Empress be dissatisfied with the French
Ambassador, he shall be recalled.' But though completely unmasked, none
dared publicly to accuse him, each party fearing a discovery of its own
intrigue. His official recall did not in consequence take place for some
time; and the Cardinal, not thinking it prudent to go back till Louis XV.
should be no more, lest some unforeseen discovery of his project for
supplying her royal paramour with a Queen should rouse Du Barry to get
his Cardinalship sent to the Bastille for life, remained fixed in his
post, waiting for events.

"At length Louis XV. expired, and the Cardinal returned to Versailles.
He contrived to obtain a private audience of the young Queen. He
presumed upon her former facility in listening to him, and was about to
betray the last confidence of Maria Theresa; but the Queen, shocked at
the knowledge which she had obtained of his having been equally
treacherous to her and to her mother, in disgust and alarm left the room
without receiving a letter he had brought her from Maria Theresa, and
without deigning to address a single word to him. In the heat of her
passion and resentment, she was nearly exposing all she knew of his
infamies to the King, when the coolheaded Princesse Elizabeth opposed
her, from the seeming imprudence of such an abrupt discovery; alleging
that it might cause an open rupture between the two Courts, as it had
already been the source of a reserve and coolness, which had not yet been
explained. The Queen was determined never more to commit herself by
seeing the Cardinal. She accordingly sent for her mother's letter, which
he himself delivered into the hands of her confidential messenger, who
advised the Queen not to betray the Cardinal to the King, lest, in so
doing, she should never be able to guard herself against the domestic
spies, by whom, perhaps, she was even yet surrounded! The Cardinal,
conceiving, from the impunity of his conduct, that he still held the
Queen in check, through the influence of her fears of his disclosing her
weakness upon the subject of the obstruction she threw in the way of her
sister's marriage, did not resign the hope of converting that ascendency
to his future profit.

"The fatal silence to which Her Majesty was thus unfortunately advised I
regret from the bottom of my soul! All the successive vile plots of the
Cardinal against the peace and reputation of the Queen may be attributed
to this ill-judged prudence! Though it resulted from an honest desire of
screening Her Majesty from the resentment or revenge to which she might
have subjected herself from this villain, who had already injured her in
her own estimation for having been credulous enough to have listened to
him, yet from this circumstance it is that the Prince de Rohan built the
foundation of all the after frauds and machinations with which he
blackened the character and destroyed the comfort of his illustrious
victim. It is obvious that a mere exclusion from Court was too mild a
punishment for such offences, and it was but too natural that such a mind
as his, driven from the royal presence, and, of course, from all the
noble societies to which it led (the anti-Court party excepted), should
brood over the means of inveigling the Queen into a consent for his
reappearance before her and the gay world, which was his only element,
and if her favour should prove unattainable to revenge himself by her

"On the Cardinal's return to France, all his numerous and powerful
friends beset the King and Queen to allow of his restoration to his
embassy; but though on his arrival at Versailles, finding the Court had
removed to Compiegne, he had a short audience there of the King, all
efforts in his favour were thrown away. Equally unsuccessful was every
intercession with the Empress-mother. She had become thoroughly awakened
to his worthlessness, and she declared she would never more even receive
him in her dominions as a visitor. The Cardinal, being apprised of this
by some of his intimates, was at last persuaded to give up the idea of
further importunity; and, pocketing his disgrace, retired with his hey
dukes and his secretary, the Abbe Georgel, to whom may be attributed all
the artful intrigues of his disgraceful diplomacy.

"It is evident that Rohan had no idea, during all his schemes to supplant
the Dauphine by marrying her sister to the King, that the secret hope of
Louis XV. had been to divorce the Dauphin and marry the slighted bride
himself. Perhaps it is fortunate that Rohan did not know this. A brain
so fertile in mischief as his might have converted such a circumstance to
baneful uses. But the death of Louis XV. put an end to all the then
existing schemes for a change in her position. It was to her a real,
though but a momentary triumph. From the hour of her arrival she had a
powerful party to cope with; and the fact of her being an Austrian,
independent of the jealousy created by her charms, was, in itself, a
spell to conjure up armies, against which she stood alone, isolated in
the face of embattled myriads! But she now reared her head, and her foes
trembled in her presence. Yet she could not guard against the moles busy
in the earth secretly to undermine her. Nay, had not Louis XV. died at
the moment he did, there is scarcely a doubt, from the number and the
quality of the hostile influences working on the credulity of the young
Dauphin, that Marie Antoinette would have been very harshly dealt with,
--even the more so from the partiality of the dotard who believed himself
to be reigning. But she has been preserved from her enemies to become
their sovereign; and if her crowned brow has erewhile been stung by
thorns in its coronal, let me not despair of their being hereafter
smothered in yet unblown roses."


Embonpoint of the French Princesses
Few individuals except Princesses do with parade and publicity
Frailty in the ambitious, through which the artful can act
Laughed at qualities she could not comprehend
Mind well stored against human casualties
Policy, in sovereigns, is paramount to every other
Quiet work of ruin by whispers and detraction
Ridicule, than which no weapon is more false or deadly
Salique Laws
Thank Heaven, I am out of harness
Traducing virtues the slanderers never possessed
Underrated what she could not imitate
Where the knout is the logician


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