The Memoirs of Marie Antoinette, entire
Madame Campan

Part 2 out of 8

with the greatest fluency, and even affected to say that she had lost
German. In fact she attempted in 1787 to learn her mother-tongue, and
took lessons assiduously for six weeks; she was obliged to relinquish
them, finding all the difficulties which a Frenchwoman, who should take
up the study too late, would have to encounter. In the same manner she
gave up English, which I had taught her for some time, and in which she
had made rapid progress. Music was the accomplishment in which the Queen
most delighted. She did not play well on any instrument, but she had
become able to read at sight like a first-rate professor. She attained
this degree of perfection in France, this branch of her education having
been neglected at Vienna as much as the rest. A few days after her
arrival at Versailles, she was introduced to her singing-master, La
Garde, author of the opera of "Egle." She made a distant appointment
with him, needing, as she said, rest after the fatigues of the journey
and the numerous fetes which had taken place at Versailles; but her
motive was her desire to conceal how ignorant she was of the rudiments of
music. She asked M. Campan whether his son, who was a good musician,
could give her lessons secretly for three months. "The Dauphiness,"
added she, smiling, "must be careful of the reputation of the
Archduchess." The lessons were given privately, and at the end of three
months of constant application she sent for M. la Garde, and surprised
him by her skill.

The desire to perfect Marie Antoinette in the study of the French
language was probably the motive which determined Maria Theresa to
provide for her as teachers two French actors: Aufresne, for
pronunciation and declamation, and Sainville, for taste in French
singing; the latter had been an officer in France, and bore a bad
character. The choice gave just umbrage to our Court. The Marquis de
Durfort, at that time ambassador at Vienna, was ordered to make a
representation to the Empress upon her selection. The two actors were
dismissed, and the Princess required that an ecclesiastic should be sent
to her. Several eminent ecclesiastics declined taking upon themselves so
delicate an office; others who were pointed out by Maria Theresa (among
the rest the Abbe Grisel) belonged to parties which sufficed to exclude

The Archbishop of Toulouse one day went to the Duc de Choiseul at the
moment when he was much embarrassed upon the subject of this nomination;
he proposed to him the Abby de Vermond, librarian of the College des
Quatre Nations. The eulogistic manner in which he spoke of his protege
procured the appointment for the latter on that very day; and the
gratitude of the Abbe de Vermond towards the prelate was very fatal to
France, inasmuch as after seventeen years of persevering attempts to
bring him into the ministry, he succeeded at last in getting him named
Comptroller-General and President of the Council.--[Comte de Brienne,
later Archbishop of Sens.]

This Abbe de Vermond directed almost all the Queen's actions. He
established his influence over her at an age when impressions are most
durable; and it was easy to see that he had taken pains only to render
himself beloved by his pupil, and had troubled himself very little with
the care of instructing her. He might have even been accused of having,
by a sharp-sighted though culpable policy, purposely left her in
ignorance. Marie Antoinette spoke the French language with much grace,
but wrote it less perfectly. The Abbe de Vermond revised all the letters
which she sent to Vienna. The insupportable folly with which he boasted
of it displayed the character of a man more flattered at being admitted
into her intimate secrets than anxious to fulfil worthily the high office
of her preceptor.

[The Abbe de Vermond encouraged the impatience of etiquette shown by
Marie Antoinette while she was Dauphiness. When she became Queen he
endeavoured openly to induce her to shake off the restraints she
still respected. If he chanced to enter her apartment at the time
she was preparing to go out, "For whom," he would say, in a tone of
raillery, "is this detachment of warriors which I found in the
court? Is it some general going to inspect his army? Does all this
military display become a young Queen adored by her subjects?" He
would call to her mind the simplicity with which Maria Theresa
lived; the visits she made without guards, or even attendants, to
the Prince d'Esterhazy, to the Comte de Palfi, passing whole days
far from the fatiguing ceremonies of the Court. The Abbe thus
artfully flattered the inclinations of Marie Antoinette, and showed
her how she might disguise, even from herself, her aversion for the
ceremonies observed by the descendants of Louis XIV.-MADAME CAMPAN.]

His pride received its birth at Vienna, where Maria Theresa, as much to
give him authority with the Archduchess as to make herself acquainted
with his character, permitted him to mix every evening with the private
circle of her family, into which the future Dauphiness had been admitted
for some time. Joseph II., the elder Archduchess, and a few noblemen
honoured by the confidence of Maria Theresa, composed the party; and
reflections on the world, on courts, and the duties of princes were the
usual topics of conversation. The Abbe de Vermond, in relating these
particulars, confessed the means which he had made use of to gain
admission into this private circle. The Empress, meeting him at the
Archduchess's, asked him if he had formed any connections in Vienna.
"None, Madame," replied he; "the apartment of the Archduchess and the
hotel of the ambassador of France are the only places which the man
honoured with the care of the Princess's education should frequent."
A month afterwards Maria Theresa, through a habit common enough among
sovereigns, asked him the same question, and received precisely the same
answer. The next day he received an order to join the imperial family
every evening.

It is extremely probable, from the constant and well-known intercourse
between this man and Comte de Mercy, ambassador of the Empire during the
whole reign of Louis XVI., that he was useful to the Court of Vienna, and
that he often caused the Queen to decide on measures, the consequences of
which she did not consider. Not of high birth, imbued with all the
principles of the modern philosophy, and yet holding to the hierarchy of
the Church more tenaciously than any other ecclesiastic; vain, talkative,
and at the same time cunning and abrupt; very ugly and affecting
singularity; treating the most exalted persons as his equals, sometimes
even as his inferiors, the Abbe de Vermond received ministers and bishops
when in his bath; but said at the same time that Cardinal Dubois was a
fool; that a man such as he, having obtained power, ought to make
cardinals, and refuse to be one himself.

Intoxicated with the reception he had met with at the Court of Vienna,
and having till then seen nothing of high life, the Abbe de Vermond
admired no other customs than those of the imperial family; he ridiculed
the etiquette of the House of Bourbon incessantly; the young Dauphiness
was constantly incited by his sarcasms to get rid of it, and it was he
who first induced her to suppress an infinity of practices of which he
could discern neither the prudence nor the political aim. Such is the
faithful portrait of that man whom the evil star of Marie Antoinette had
reserved to guide her first steps upon a stage so conspicuous and so full
of danger as that of the Court of Versailles.

It will be thought, perhaps, that I draw the character of the Abbe de
Vermond too unfavourably; but how can I view with any complacency one
who, after having arrogated to himself the office of confidant and sole
counsellor of the Queen, guided her with so little prudence, and gave us
the mortification of seeing that Princess blend, with qualities which
charmed all that surrounded her, errors alike injurious to her glory and
her happiness?

While M. de Choiseul, satisfied with the person whom M. de Brienne had
presented, despatched him to Vienna with every eulogium calculated to
inspire unbounded confidence, the Marquis de Durfort sent off a
hairdresser and a few French fashions; and then it was thought sufficient
pains had been taken to form the character of a princess destined to
share the throne of France.

The marriage of Monseigneur the Dauphin with the Archduchess was
determined upon during the administration of the Duc de Choiseul.
The Marquis de Durfort, who was to succeed the Baron de Breteuil in the
embassy to Vienna, was appointed proxy for the marriage ceremony; but six
months after the Dauphin's marriage the Duc de Choiseul was disgraced,
and Madame de Marsan and Madame de Guemenee, who grew more powerful
through the Duke's disgrace, conferred that embassy, upon Prince Louis
de Rohan, afterwards cardinal and grand almoner.

Hence it will be seen that the Gazette de France is a sufficient answer
to those libellers who dared to assert that the young Archduchess was
acquainted with the Cardinal de Rohan before the period of her marriage.
A worse selection in itself, or one more disagreeable to Maria Theresa,
than that which sent to her, in quality, of ambassador, a man so
frivolous and so immoral as Prince Louis de Rohan, could not have been
made. He possessed but superficial knowledge upon any subject, and was
totally ignorant of diplomatic affairs. His reputation had gone before
him to Vienna, and his mission opened under the most unfavourable
auspices. In want of money, and the House of Rohan being unable to make
him any considerable advances, he obtained from his Court a patent which
authorised him to borrow the sum of 600,000 livres upon his benefices,
ran in debt above a million, and thought to dazzle the city and Court of
Vienna by the most indecent and ill-judged extravagance. He formed a
suite of eight or ten gentlemen, of names sufficiently high-sounding;
twelve pages equally well born, a crowd of officers and servants, a
company of chamber musicians, etc. But this idle pomp did not last;
embarrassment and distress soon showed themselves; his people, no longer
receiving pay, in order to make money, abused the privileges of
ambassadors, and smuggled

[I have often heard the Queen say that, at Vienna, in the office of
the secretary of the Prince de Rohan, there were sold in one year
more silk stockings than at Lyons and Paris together.--MADAME

with so much effrontery that Maria Theresa, to put a stop to it without
offending the Court of France, was compelled to suppress the privileges
in this respect of all the diplomatic bodies, a step which rendered the
person and conduct of Prince Louis odious in every foreign Court. He
seldom obtained private audiences from the Empress, who did not esteem
him, and who expressed herself without reserve upon his conduct both as a
bishop and as an ambassador. He thought to obtain favour by assisting to
effect the marriage of the Archduchess Elizabeth, the elder sister of
Marie Antoinette, with Louis XV., an affair which was awkwardly
undertaken, and of which Madame du Barry had no difficulty in causing the
failure. I have deemed it my duty to omit no particular of the moral and
political character of a man whose existence was subsequently so
injurious to the reputation of Marie Antoinette.


A superb pavilion had been prepared upon the frontier near Kehl. It
consisted of a vast salon, connected with two apartments, one of which
was assigned to the lords and ladies of the Court of Vienna, and the
other to the suite of the Dauphiness, composed of the Comtesse de
Noailles, her lady of honour; the Duchesse de Cosse, her dame d'atours;
four ladies of the palace; the Comte de Saulx-Tavannes, chevalier
d'honneur; the Comte de Tesse, first equerry; the Bishop of Chartres,
first almoner; the officers of the Body Guard, and the equerries.

When the Dauphiness had been entirely undressed, in order that she might
retain nothing belonging to a foreign Court (an etiquette always observed
on such an occasion), the doors were opened; the young Princess came
forward, looking round for the Comtesse de Noailles; then, rushing into
her arms, she implored her, with tears in her eyes, and with heartfelt
sincerity, to be her guide and support.

While doing justice to the virtues of the Comtesse de Noailles, those
sincerely attached to the Queen have always considered it as one of her
earliest misfortunes not to have found, in the person of her adviser,
a woman indulgent, enlightened, and administering good advice with that
amiability which disposes young persons to follow it. The Comtesse de
Noailles had nothing agreeable in her appearance; her demeanour was stiff
and her mien severe. She was perfect mistress of etiquette; but she
wearied the young Princess with it, without making her sensible of its
importance. It would have been sufficient to represent to the Dauphiness
that in France her dignity depended much upon customs not necessary at
Vienna to secure the respect and love of the good and submissive
Austrians for the imperial family; but the Dauphiness was perpetually
tormented by the remonstrances of the Comtesse de Noailles, and at the
same time was led by the Abbe de Vermond to ridicule both the lessons
upon etiquette and her who gave them. She preferred raillery to
argument, and nicknamed the Comtesse de Noailles Madame l'Etiquette.

The fetes which were given at Versailles on the marriage of the Dauphin
were very splendid. The Dauphiness arrived there at the hour for her
toilet, having slept at La Muette, where Louis XV. had been to receive
her; and where that Prince, blinded by a feeling unworthy of a sovereign
and the father of a family, caused the young Princess, the royal family,
and the ladies of the Court, to sit down to supper with Madame du Barry.

The Dauphiness was hurt at this conduct; she spoke of it openly enough to
those with whom she was intimate, but she knew how to conceal her
dissatisfaction in public, and her behaviour showed no signs of it.

She was received at Versailles in an apartment on the ground floor, under
that of the late Queen, which was not ready for her until six months
after her marriage.

The Dauphiness, then fifteen years of age, beaming with freshness,
appeared to all eyes more than beautiful. Her walk partook at once of
the dignity of the Princesses of her house, and of the grace of the
French; her eyes were mild, her smile amiable. When she went to chapel,
as soon as she had taken the first few steps in the long gallery, she
discerned, all the way to its extremity, those persons whom she ought to
salute with the consideration due to their rank; those on whom she should
bestow an inclination of the head; and lastly, those who were to be
satisfied with a smile, calculated to console them for not being entitled
to greater honours.

Louis XV. was enchanted with the young Dauphiness; all his conversation
was about her graces, her vivacity, and the aptness of her repartees.
She was yet more successful with the royal family when they beheld her
shorn of the splendour of the diamonds with which she had been adorned
during the first days of her marriage. When clothed in a light dress of
gauze or taffety she was compared to the Venus dei Medici, and the
Atalanta of the Marly Gardens. Poets sang her charms; painters attempted
to copy her features. One artist's fancy led him to place the portrait
of Marie Antoinette in the heart of a full-blown rose. His ingenious
idea was rewarded by Louis XV.

The King continued to talk only of the Dauphiness; and Madame du Barry
ill-naturedly endeavoured to damp his enthusiasm. Whenever Marie
Antoinette was the topic, she pointed out the irregularity of her
features, criticised the 'bons mots' quoted as hers, and rallied the King
upon his prepossession in her favour. Madame du Barry was affronted at
not receiving from the Dauphiness those attentions to which she thought
herself entitled; she did not conceal her vexation from the King; she was
afraid that the grace and cheerfulness of the young Princess would make
the domestic circle of the royal family more agreeable to the old
sovereign, and that he would escape her chains; at the same time, hatred
to the Choiseul party contributed powerfully to excite the enmity of the

The fall of that minister took place in November, 1770, six months after
his long influence in the Council had brought about the alliance with the
House of Austria and the arrival of Marie Antoinette at the Court of
France. The Princess, young, frank, volatile, and inexperienced, found
herself without any other guide than the Abbe de Vermond, in a Court
ruled by the enemy of the minister who had brought her there, and in the
midst of people who hated Austria, and detested any alliance with the
imperial house.

The Duc d'Aiguillon, the Duc de La Vauguyon, the Marechal de Richelieu,
the Rohans, and other considerable families, who had made use of Madame
du Barry to overthrow the Duke, could not flatter themselves,
notwithstanding their powerful intrigues, with a hope of being able to
break off an alliance solemnly announced, and involving such high
political interests. They therefore changed their mode of attack, and it
will be seen how the conduct of the Dauphin served as a basis for their

The Dauphiness continually gave proofs of both sense and feeling.
Sometimes she even suffered herself to be carried away by those
transports of compassionate kindness which are not to be controlled by
the customs which rank establishes.

In consequence of the fire in the Place Louis XV., which occurred at the
time of the nuptial entertainments, the Dauphin and Dauphiness sent
their, whole income for the year to the relief of the unfortunate
families who lost their relatives on that disastrous day.

This was one of those ostentatious acts of generosity which are dictated
by the policy of princes, at least as much as by their compassion; but
the grief of Marie Antoinette was profound, and lasted several days;
nothing could console her for the loss of so many innocent victims; she
spoke of it, weeping, to her ladies, one of whom, thinking, no doubt, to
divert her mind, told her that a great number of thieves had been found
among the bodies, and that their pockets were filled with watches and
other valuables. "They have at least been well punished," added the
person who related these particulars. "Oh, no, no, madame!" replied the
Dauphiness; "they died by the side of honest people."

The Dauphiness had brought from Vienna a considerable number of white
diamonds; the King added to them the gift of the diamonds and pearls of
the late Dauphiness, and also put into her hands a collar of pearls, of a
single row, the smallest of which was as large as a filbert, and which
had been brought into France by Anne of Austria, and appropriated by that
Princess to the use of the Queens and Dauphinesses of France.

The three Princesses, daughters of Louis XV., joined in making her
magnificent presents. Madame Adelaide at the same time gave the young
Princess a key to the private corridors of the Chateau, by means of
which, without any suite, and without being perceived, she could get to
the apartments of her aunts, and see them in private. The Dauphiness,
on receiving the key, told them, with infinite grace, that if they had
meant to make her appreciate the superb presents they were kind enough to
bestow upon her, they should not at the same time have offered her one of
such inestimable value; since to that key she should be indebted for an
intimacy and advice unspeakably precious at her age. She did, indeed,
make use of it very frequently; but Madame Victoire alone permitted her,
so long as she continued Dauphiness, to visit her familiarly. Madame
Adelaide could not overcome her prejudices against Austrian princesses,
and was wearied with the somewhat petulant gaiety of the Dauphiness.
Madame Victoire was concerned at this, feeling that their society and
counsel would have been highly useful to a young person otherwise likely
to meet with none but sycophants. She endeavoured, therefore, to induce
her to take pleasure in the society of the Marquise de Durfort, her lady
of honour and favourite. Several agreeable entertainments took place at
the house of this lady, but the Comtesse de Noailles and the Abbe de
Vermond soon opposed these meetings.

A circumstance which happened in hunting, near the village of Acheres,
in the forest of Fontainebleau, afforded the young Princess an
opportunity of displaying her respect for old age, and her compassion for
misfortune. An aged peasant was wounded by the stag; the Dauphiness
jumped out of her calash, placed the peasant, with his wife and children,
in it, had the family taken back to their cottage, and bestowed upon them
every attention and every necessary assistance. Her heart was always
open to the feelings of compassion, and the recollection of her rank
never restrained her sensibility. Several persons in her service entered
her room one evening, expecting to find nobody there but the officer in
waiting; they perceived the young Princess seated by the side of this
man, who was advanced in years; she had placed near him a bowl full of
water, was stanching the blood which issued from a wound he had received
in his hand with her handkerchief, which she had torn up to bind it, and
was fulfilling towards him all the duties of a pious sister of charity.
The old man, affected even to tears, out of respect allowed his august
mistress to act as she thought proper. He had hurt himself in
endeavouring to move a rather heavy piece of furniture at the Princess's

In the month of July, 1770, an unfortunate occurrence that took place in
a family which the Dauphiness honoured with her favour contributed again
to show not only her sensibility but also the benevolence of her
disposition. One of her women in waiting had a son who was an officer in
the gens d'armes of the guard; this young man thought himself affronted
by a clerk in the War Department, and imprudently sent him a challenge;
he killed his adversary in the forest of Compiegne. The family of the
young man who was killed, being in possession of the challenge, demanded
justice. The King, distressed on account of several duels which had
recently taken place, had unfortunately declared that he would show no
mercy on the first event of that kind which could be proved; the culprit
was therefore arrested. His mother, in the deepest grief, hastened to
throw herself at the feet of the Dauphiness, the Dauphin, and the young
Princesses. After an hour's supplication they obtained from the King the
favour so much desired. On the next day a lady of rank, while
congratulating the Dauphiness, had the malice to add that the mother had
neglected no means of success on the occasion, having solicited not only
the royal family, but even Madame du Barry. The Dauphiness replied that
the fact justified the favourable opinion she had formed of the worthy
woman; that the heart of a mother should hesitate at nothing for the
salvation of her son; and that in her place, if she had thought it would
be serviceable, she would have thrown herself at the feet of Zamor.

[A little Indian who carried the Comtesse du Barry's train. Louis
XV. often amused himself with the little marmoset, and jestingly
made him Governor of Louveciennes; he received an annual income of
3,000 francs.]

Some time after the marriage entertainments the Dauphiness made her entry
into Paris, and was received with transports of joy. After dining in the
King's apartment at the Tuileries, she was forced, by the reiterated
shouts of the multitude, with whom the garden was filled, to present
herself upon the balcony fronting the principal walk. On seeing such a
crowd of heads with their eyes fixed upon her, she exclaimed, "Grand-
Dieu! what a concourse!"--"Madame," said the old Duc de Brissac, the
Governor of Paris, "I may tell you, without fear of offending the
Dauphin, that they are so many lovers." 2 The Dauphin took no umbrage at
either acclamations or marks of homage of which the Dauphiness was the
object. The most mortifying indifference, a coldness which frequently
degenerated into rudeness, were the sole feelings which the young Prince
then manifested towards her. Not all her charms could gain even upon his
senses. This estrangement, which lasted a long time, was said to be the
work of the Duc de La Vauguyon.

The Dauphiness, in fact, had no sincere friends at Court except the Duc
de Choiseul and his party. Will it be credited that the plans laid
against Marie Antoinette went so far as divorce? I have been assured of
it by persons holding high situations at Court, and many circumstances
tend to confirm the opinion. On the journey to Fontainebleau, in the
year of the marriage, the inspectors of public buildings were gained over
to manage so that the apartment intended for the Dauphin, communicating
with that of the Dauphiness, should not be finished, and a room at the
extremity of the building was temporarily assigned to him. The
Dauphiness, aware that this was the result of intrigue, had the courage
to complain of it to Louis XV., who, after severe reprimands, gave orders
so positive that within the week the apartment was ready. Every method
was tried to continue or augment the indifference which the Dauphin long
manifested towards his youthful spouse. She was deeply hurt at it, but
she never suffered herself to utter the slightest complaint on the
subject. Inattention to, even contempt for, the charms which she heard
extolled on all sides, nothing induced her to break silence; and some
tears, which would involuntarily burst from her eyes, were the sole
symptoms of her inward sufferings discoverable by those in her service.

Once only, when tired out with the misplaced remonstrances of an old lady
attached to her person, who wished to dissuade her from riding on
horseback, under the impression that it would prevent her producing heirs
to the crown, "Mademoiselle," said she, "in God's name, leave me in
peace; be assured that I can put no heir in danger."

The Dauphiness found at the Court of Louis XV., besides the three
Princesses, the King's daughters, the Princes also, brothers of the
Dauphin, who were receiving their education, and Clotilde and Elisabeth,
still in the care of Madame de Marsan, governess of the children of
France. The elder of the two latter Princesses, in 1777, married the
Prince of Piedmont, afterwards King of Sardinia. This Princess was in
her infancy, so extremely large that the people nicknamed her 'gros

[Madame Clotilde of France, a sister of the King, was
extraordinarily fat for her height and age. One of her playfellows,
having been indiscreet enough even in her presence to make use of
the nickname given to her, received a severe reprimand from the
Comtesse de Marsan, who hinted to her that she would do well in not
making her appearance again before the Princess. Madame Clotilde
sent for her the next day: "My governess," said she, "has done her
duty, and I will do mine; come and see me as usual, and think no
more of a piece of inadvertence, which I myself have forgotten."
This Princess, so heavy in body, possessed the most agreeable and
playful wit. Her affability and grace rendered her dear to all who
came near her.--NOTE BY THE EDITOR]

The second Princess was the pious Elisabeth, the victim of her respect
and tender attachment for the King, her brother. She was still scarcely
out of her leading-strings at the period of the Dauphin's marriage. The
Dauphiness showed her marked preference. The governess, who sought to
advance the Princess to whom nature had been least favourable, was
offended at the Dauphiness's partiality for Madame Elisabeth, and by her
injudicious complaints weakened the friendship which yet subsisted
between Madame Clotilde and Marie Antoinette. There even arose some
degree of rivalry on the subject of education; and that which the Empress
Maria Theresa bestowed on her daughters was talked of openly and
unfavourably enough. The Abbe de Vermond thought himself affronted,
took a part in the quarrel, and added his complaints and jokes to those
of the Dauphiness on the criticisms of the governess; he even indulged
himself in his turn in reflections on the tuition of Madame Clotilde.
Everything becomes known at Court. Madame de Marsan was informed of all
that had been said in the Dauphiness's circle, and was very angry with
her on account of it.

From that moment a centre of intrigue, or rather gossip, against Marie
Antoinette was established round Madame de Marsan's fireside; her most
trifling actions were there construed ill; her gaiety, and the harmless
amusements in which she sometimes indulged in her own apartments with the
more youthful ladies of her train, and even with the women in her
service, were stigmatised as criminal. Prince Louis de Rohan, sent
through the influence of this clique ambassador to Vienna, was the echo
there of these unmerited comments, and threw himself into a series of
culpable accusations which he proffered under the guise of zeal. He
ceaselessly represented the young Dauphiness as alienating all hearts by
levities unsuitable to the dignity of the French Court. The Princess
frequently received from the Court of Vienna remonstrances, of the origin
of which she could not long remain in ignorance. From this period must
be dated that aversion which she never ceased to manifest for the Prince
de Rohan.

About the same time the Dauphiness received information of a letter
written by Prince Louis to the Duc d'Aiguillon, in which the ambassador
expressed himself in very free language respecting the intentions of
Maria Theresa with relation to the partition of Poland. This letter of
Prince Louis had been read at the Comtesse du Barry's; the levity of the
ambassador's correspondence wounded the feelings and the dignity of the
Dauphiness at Versailles, while at Vienna the representations which he
made to Maria Theresa against the young Princess terminated in rendering
the motives of his incessant complaints suspected by the Empress.

Maria Theresa at length determined on sending her private secretary,
Baron de Neni, to Versailles, with directions to observe the conduct of
the Dauphiness with attention, and form a just estimate of the opinion of
the Court and of Paris with regard to that Princess. The Baron de Neni,
after having devoted sufficient time and intelligence to the subject,
undeceived his sovereign as to the exaggerations of the French
ambassador; and the Empress had no difficulty in detecting, among the
calumnies which he had conveyed to her under the specious excuse of
anxiety for her august daughter, proofs of the enmity of a, party which
had never approved of the alliance of the House of Bourbon with her own.

At this period the Dauphiness, though unable to obtain any influence over
the heart of her husband, dreading Louis XV., and justly mistrusting
everything connected with Madame du Barry and the Duc d'Aiguillon, had
not deserved the slightest reproach for that sort of levity which hatred
and her misfortunes afterwards construed into crime. The Empress,
convinced of the innocence of Marie Antoinette, directed the Baron de
Neni to solicit the recall of the Prince de Rohan, and to inform the
Minister for Foreign Affairs of all the motives which made her require
it; but the House of Rohan interposed between its protege and the
Austrian envoy, and an evasive answer merely was given.

It was not until two months after the death of Louis XV. that the Court
of Vienna obtained his recall. The avowed grounds for requiring it were,
first, the public gallantries of Prince Louis with some ladies of the
Court and others; secondly, his surliness and haughtiness towards other
foreign ministers, which would have had more serious consequences,
especially with the ministers of England and Denmark, if the Empress
herself had not interfered; thirdly, his contempt for religion in a
country where it was particularly necessary to show respect for it.
He had been seen frequently to dress himself in clothes of different
colours, assuming the hunting uniforms of various noblemen whom he
visited, with so much audacity that one day in particular, during the
Fete-Dieu, he and all his legation, in green uniforms laced with gold,
broke through a procession which impeded them, in order to make their way
to a hunting party at the Prince de Paar's; and fourthly, the immense
debts contracted by him and his people, which were tardily and only in
part discharged.

The succeeding marriages of the Comte de Provence and the Comte d'Artois
with two daughters of the King of Sardinia procured society for the
Dauphiness more suitable to her age, and altered her mode of life.

A pair of tolerably fine eyes drew forth, in favour of the Comtesse de
Provence, upon her arrival at Versailles, the only praises which could
reasonably be bestowed upon her. The Comtesse d'Artois, though not
deformed, was very small; she had a fine complexion; her face, tolerably
pleasing, was not remarkable for anything except the extreme length of
the nose. But being good and generous, she was beloved by those about
her, and even possessed some influence so long as she was the only
Princess who had produced heirs to the crown.

From this time the closest intimacy subsisted between the three young
families. They took their meals together, except on those days when they
dined in public. This manner of living en famille continued until the
Queen sometimes indulged herself in going to dine with the Duchesse de
Polignac, when she was governess; but the evening meetings at supper were
never interrupted; they took place at the house of the Comtesse de
Provence. Madame Elisabeth made one of the party when she had finished
her education, and sometimes Mesdames, the King's aunts, were invited.
The custom, which had no precedent at Court, was the work of Marie
Antoinette, and she maintained it with the utmost perseverance.

The Court of Versailles saw no change in point of etiquette during the
reign of Louis XV. Play took place at the house of the Dauphiness, as
being the first lady of the State. It had, from the death of Queen Maria
Leczinska to the marriage of the Dauphin, been held at the abode of
Madame Adelade. This removal, the result of an order of precedence not
to be violated, was not the less displeasing to Madame Adelaide, who
established a separate party for play in her apartments, and scarcely
ever went to that which not only the Court in general, but also the royal
family, were expected to attend. The full-dress visits to the King on
his 'debotter' were continued. High mass was attended daily. The
airings of the Princesses were nothing more than rapid races in berlins,
during which they were accompanied by Body Guards, equerries, and pages
on horseback. They galloped for some leagues from Versailles. Calashes
were used only in hunting.

The young Princesses were desirous to infuse animation into their circle
of associates by something useful as well as pleasant. They adopted the
plan of learning and performing all the best plays of the French theatre.
The Dauphin was the only spectator. The three Princesses, the two
brothers of the King, and Messieurs Campan, father and son, were the sole
performers, but they endeavoured to keep this amusement as secret as an
affair of State; they dreaded the censure of Mesdames, and they had no
doubt that Louis XV. would forbid such pastimes if he knew of them. They
selected for their performance a cabinet in the entresol which nobody had
occasion to enter.

A kind of proscenium, which could be taken down and shut up in a closet,
formed the whole theatre. The Comte de Provence always knew his part
with imperturbable accuracy; the Comte d'Artois knew his tolerably well,
and recited elegantly; the Princesses acted badly. The Dauphiness
acquitted herself in some characters with discrimination and feeling.
The chief pleasure of this amusement consisted in all the costumes being
elegant and accurate. The Dauphin entered into the spirit of these
diversions, and laughed heartily at the comic characters as they came on
the scene; from these amusements may be dated his discontinuance of the
timid manner of his youth, and his taking pleasure in the society of the

It was not till a long time afterwards that I learnt these particulars,
M. Campan having kept the secret; but an unforeseen event had well-nigh
exposed the whole mystery. One day the Queen desired M. Campan to go
down into her closet to fetch something that she had forgotten; he was
dressed for the character of Crispin, and was rouged. A private
staircase led direct to the entresol through the dressing-room. M.
Campan fancied he heard some noise, and remained still, behind the door,
which was shut. A servant belonging to the wardrobe, who was, in fact,
on the staircase, had also heard some noise, and, either from fear or
curiosity, he suddenly opened the door; the figure of Crispin frightened
him so that he fell down backwards, shouting with his might, "Help!
help!" My father-in-law raised him up, made him recognise his voice,
and laid upon him an injunction of silence as to what he had seen.
He felt himself, however, bound to inform the Dauphiness of what had
happened, and she was afraid that a similar occurrence might betray their
amusements. They were therefore discontinued.

The Princess occupied her time in her own apartment in the study of music
and the parts in plays which she had to learn; the latter exercise, at
least, produced the beneficial effect of strengthening her memory and
familiarising her with the French language.

While Louis XV. reigned, the enemies of Marie Antoinette made no attempt
to change public opinion with regard to her. She was always popular with
the French people in general, and particularly with the inhabitants of
Paris, who went on every opportunity to Versailles, the majority of them
attracted solely by the pleasure of seeing her. The courtiers did not
fully enter into the popular enthusiasm which the Dauphiness had
inspired; the disgrace of the Duc de Choiseul had removed her real
support from her; and the party which had the ascendency at Court since
the exile of that minister was, politically, as much opposed to her
family as to herself. The Dauphiness was therefore surrounded by enemies
at Versailles.

Nevertheless everybody appeared outwardly desirous to please her; for the
age of Louis XV., and the apathetic character of the Dauphin,
sufficiently warned courtiers of the important part reserved for the
Princess during the following reign, in case the Dauphin should become
attached to her.


About the beginning of May, 1774, Louis XV., the strength of whose
constitution had promised a long enough life, was attacked by confluent
smallpox of the worst kind. Mesdames at this juncture inspired the
Dauphiness with a feeling of respect and attachment, of which she gave
them repeated proofs when she ascended the throne. In fact, nothing was
more admirable nor more affecting than the courage with which they braved
that most horrible disease. The air of the palace was infected; more
than fifty persons took the smallpox, in consequence of having merely
loitered in the galleries of Versailles, and ten died of it.

The end of the monarch was approaching. His reign, peaceful in general,
had inherited strength from the power of his predecessor; on the other
hand, his own weakness had been preparing misfortune for whoever should
reign after him. The scene was about to change; hope, ambition, joy,
grief, and all those feelings which variously affected the hearts of the
courtiers, sought in vain to disguise themselves under a calm exterior.
It was easy to detect the different motives which induced them every
moment to repeat to every one the question: "How is the King?" At
length, on the 10th of May, 1774, the mortal career of Louis XV.

[Christopher de Beaumont, Archbishop of Paris, the ardent apostle of
frequent communion, arrived at Paris with the intention of
soliciting, in public, the administration of the sacrament to the
King, and secretly retarding it as much as possible. The ceremony
could not take place without the previous and public expulsion of
the, concubine, according to the canons of the Church and the
Jesuitical party, of which Christopher was the leader. This party,
which had made use of Madame du Barry to suppress the Parliaments,
to support the Duc d'Aiguillon, and ruin the Choiseul faction, could
not willingly consent to disgrace her canonically. The Archbishop
went into the King's bedchamber, and found there Madame Adelaide,
the Duc d'Aumont, the Bishop of Senlis, and Richelieu, in whose
presence he resolved not to say one word about confession for that
day. This reticence so encouraged Louis XV. that, on the Archbishop
withdrawing, he had Madame du Barry called in, and kissed her
beautiful hands again with his wonted affection. On the 2d of May
the King found himself a little better. Madame du Barry had brought
him two confidential physicians, Lorry and Borden, who were enjoined
to conceal the nature of his sickness from him in order to keep off
the priests and save her from a humiliating dismissal. The King's
improvement allowed Madame du Barry to divert him by her usual
playfulness and conversation. But La Martiniere, who was of the
Choiseul party, and to whom they durst not refuse his right of
entry, did not conceal from the King either the nature or the danger
of his sickness. The King then sent for Madame du Barry, and said
to her: "My love, I have got the smallpox, and my illness is very
dangerous on account of my age and other disorders. I ought not to
forget that I am the most Christian King, and the eldest son of the
Church. I am sixty-four; the time is perhaps approaching when we
must separate. I wish to prevent a scene like that of Metz."
(when, in 1744, he had dismissed the Duchesse de Chateauroux.)
"Apprise the Duc d'Aiguillon of what I say, that he may arrange with
you if my sickness grows worse; so that we may part without any
publicity." The Jansenists and the Duc de Choiseurs party publicly
said that M. d'Aiguillon and the Archbishop had resolved to let the
King die without receiving the sacrament rather than disturb Madame
du Barry. Annoyed by their remarks, Beaumont determined to go and
reside at the Lazaristes, his house at Versailles, to avail himself
of the King's last moments, and sacrifice Madame du Barry when the
monarch's condition should become desperate. He arrived on the 3d
of May, but did not see the King. Under existing circumstances, his
object was to humble the enemies of his party and to support the
favourite who had assisted to overcome them.

A contrary zeal animated the Bishop of Carcassonne, who urged that
"the King ought to receive the sacrament; and by expelling the
concubine to give an example of repentance to France and Christian
Europe, which he had scandalised."--" By what right," said Cardinal
de la Roche-Aymon, a complaisant courtier with whom the Bishop was
at daggers drawn, "do you instruct me?"--"There is my authority,"
replied the Bishop, holding up his pectoral cross. "Learn,
monseigneur, to respect it, and do not suffer your King to die
without the sacraments of the Church, of which he is the eldest
son." The Duc d'Aiguillon and the Archbishop, who witnessed the
discussion, put an end to it by asking for the King's orders
relative to Madame du Barry. "She must be taken quietly to your
seat at Ruelle," said the King; "I shall be grateful for the care
Madame d'Aiguillon may take of her."

Madame du Barry saw the King again for a moment on the evening of
the 4th, and promised to return to Court upon his recovery. She was
scarcely gone when the King asked for her. "She is gone," was the
answer. From that moment the disorder gained ground; he thought
himself a dead man, without the possibility of recovery. The 5th
and 6th passed without a word of confession, viaticum, or extreme
unction. The Duc de Fronsac threatened to throw the Cure of
Versailles out of the window if he dared to mention them, but on the
7th, at three in the morning, the King imperatively called for the
Abbe Maudous. Confession lasted seventeen minutes. The Ducs de la
Vrillilere and d'Aiguillon wished to delay the viaticum; but La
Martiniere said to the King: "Sire, I have seen your Majesty in very
trying circumstances; but never admired you as I have done to-day.
No doubt your Majesty will immediately finish what you have so well
begun." The King had his confessor Maudoua called back; this was a
poor priest who had been placed about him for some years before
because he was old and blind. He gave him absolution.

The formal renunciation desired by the Choiseul party, in order to
humble and annihilate Madame du Barry with solemnity, was no more
mentioned. The grand almoner, in concert with the Archbishop,
composed this formula, pronounced in presence of the viaticum:
"Although the King owes an account of his conduct to none but God,
he declares his repentance at having scandalised his subjects, and
is desirous to live solely for the maintenance of religion and the
happiness of his people."

On the 8th and 9th the disorder grew worse; and the King beheld the
whole surface of his body coming off piecemeal and corrupted.
Deserted by his friends and by that crowd of courtiers which had so
long cringed before him, his only consolation was the piety of his
daughters.--SOULAVIE, "Historical and Political Memoirs," vol. i.]

The Comtesse du Barry had, a few days previously, withdrawn to Ruelle, to
the Duc d'Aiguillon's. Twelve or fifteen persons belonging to the Court
thought it their duty to visit her there; their liveries were observed,
and these visits were for a long time grounds for disfavour. More than
six years after the King's death one of these persons being spoken of in
the circle of the royal family, I heard it remarked, "That was one of the
fifteen Ruelle carriages."

The whole Court went to the Chateau; the oiel-de boeuf was filled with
courtiers, and the palace with the inquisitive. The Dauphin had settled
that he would depart with the royal family the moment the King should
breathe his last sigh. But on such an occasion decency forbade that
positive orders for departure should be passed from mouth to mouth. The
heads of the stables, therefore, agreed with the people who were in the
King's room, that the latter should place a lighted taper near a window,
and that at the instant of the King's decease one of them should
extinguish it.

The taper was extinguished. On this signal the Body Guards, pages, and
equerries mounted on horseback, and all was ready for setting off. The
Dauphin was with the Dauphiness. They were expecting together the
intelligence of the death of Louis XV. A dreadful noise, absolutely like
thunder, was heard in the outer apartment; it was the crowd of courtiers
who were deserting the dead sovereign's antechamber, to come and do
homage to the new power of Louis XVI. This extraordinary tumult informed
Marie Antoinette and her husband that they were called to the throne;
and, by a spontaneous movement, which deeply affected those around them,
they threw themselves on their knees; both, pouring forth a flood of
tears, exclaimed: "O God! guide us, protect us; we are too young to

The Comtesse de Noailles entered, and was the first to salute Marie
Antoinette as Queen of France. She requested their Majesties to
condescend to quit the inner apartments for the grand salon, to receive
the Princes and all the great officers, who were desirous to do homage to
their new sovereigns. Marie Antoinette received these first visits
leaning upon her husband, with her handkerchief held to her eyes; the
carriages drove up, the guards and equerries were on horseback. The
Chateau was deserted; every one hastened to fly from contagion, which
there was no longer any inducement to brave.

On leaving the chamber of Louis XV., the Duc de Villequier, first
gentleman of the bedchamber for the year, ordered M. Andouille, the
King's chief surgeon, to open the body and embalm it. The chief surgeon
would inevitably have died in consequence. "I am ready," replied
Andouille; "but while I operate you shall hold the head; your office
imposes this duty upon you." The Duke went off without saying a word,
and the corpse was neither opened nor embalmed. A few under-servants and
workmen continued with the pestiferous remains, and paid the last duty to
their master; the surgeons directed that spirits of wine should be poured
into the coffin.

The entire Court set off for Choisy at four o'clock; Mesdames the King's
aunts in their private carriage, and the Princesses under tuition with
the Comtesse de Marsan and the under-governesses. The King, the Queen,
Monsieur, the King's brother, Madame, and the Comte and Comtesse d'Artois
went in the same carriage. The solemn scene that had just passed before
their eyes, the multiplied ideas offered to their imaginations by that
which was just opening, had naturally inclined them to grief and
reflection; but, by the Queen's own confession, this inclination, little
suited to their age, wholly left them before they had gone half their
journey; a word, drolly mangled by the Comtesse d'Artois, occasioned a
general burst of laughter; and from that moment they dried their tears.

The communication between Choisy and Paris was incessant; never was a
Court seen in greater agitation. What influence will the royal aunts
have,--and the Queen? What fate is reserved for the Comtesse du Barry?
Whom will the young King choose for his ministers? All these questions
were answered in a few days. It was determined that the King's youth
required a confidential person near him; and that there should be a prime
minister. All eyes were turned upon De Machault and De Maurepas, both of
them much advanced in years. The first had retired to his estate near
Paris; and the second to Pont Chartrain, to which place he had long been
exiled. The letter recalling M. de Machault was written, when Madame
Adelaide obtained the preference of that important appointment for M. de
Maurepas. The page to whose care the first letter had been actually
consigned was recalled.

The Duc d'Aiguillon had been too openly known as the private friend of
the King's mistress; he was dismissed. M. de Vergennes, at that time
ambassador of France at Stockholm, was appointed Minister for Foreign
Affairs; Comte du Muy, the intimate friend of the Dauphin, the father of
Louis XVI.[?? D.W.], obtained the War Department. The Abbe Terray in
vain said, and wrote, that he had boldly done all possible injury to the
creditors of the State during the reign of the late King; that order was
restored in the finances; that nothing but what was beneficial to all
parties remained to be done; and that the new Court was about to enjoy
the advantages of the regenerating part of his plan of finance; all these
reasons, set forth in five or six memorials, which he sent in succession
to the King and Queen, did not avail to keep him in office. His talents
were admitted, but the odium which his operations had necessarily brought
upon his character, combined with the immorality of his private life,
forbade his further stay at Court; he was succeeded by M. de Clugny. De
Maupeou, the chancellor, was exiled; this caused universal joy. Lastly,
the reassembling of the Parliaments produced the strongest sensation;
Paris was in a delirium of joy, and not more than one person in a hundred
foresaw that the spirit of the ancient magistracy would be still the
same; and that in a short time it would make new attempts upon the royal
authority. Madame du Barry had been exiled to Pont-aux-Dames. This was
a measure rather of necessity than of severity; a short period of
compulsory retreat was requisite in order completely to break off her
connections with State affairs. The possession of Louveciennes and a
considerable pension were continued to her.

[The Comtesse du Barry never forgot the mild treatment she
experienced from the Court of Louis XVI.; during the most violent
convulsions of the Revolution she signified to the Queen that there
was no one in France more grieved at the sufferings of her sovereign
than herself; that the honour she had for years enjoyed, of living
near the throne, and the unbounded kindness of the King and Queen,
had so sincerely attached her to the cause of royalty that she
entreated the Queen to honour her by disposing of all she possessed.
Though they did not accept her offer, their Majesties were affected
at her gratitude. The Comtesse du Barry was, as is well known, one
of the victims of the Revolution. She betrayed at the last great
weakness, and the most ardent desire to live. She was the only
woman who wept upon the scaffold and implored for mercy. Her beauty
and tears made an impression on the populace, and the execution was
hurried to a conclusion.--MADAME CAMPAN.]

Everybody expected the recall of M. de Choiseul; the regret occasioned
by his absence among the numerous friends whom he had left at Court,
the attachment of the young Princess who was indebted to him for her
elevation to the throne of France, and all concurring circumstances,
seemed to foretell his return; the Queen earnestly entreated it of the
King, but she met with an insurmountable and unforeseen obstacle. The
King, it is said, had imbibed the strongest prejudices against that
minister, from secret memoranda penned by his father, and which had been
committed to the care of the Duc de La Vauguyon, with an injunction to
place them in his hands as soon as he should be old enough to study the
art of reigning. It was by these memoranda that the esteem which he had
conceived for the Marechal du Muy was inspired, and we may add that
Madame Adelaide, who at this early period powerfully influenced the
decisions of the young monarch, confirmed the impressions they had made.

The Queen conversed with M. Campan on the regret she felt at having been
unable to procure the recall of M. de Choiseul, and disclosed the cause
of it to him. The Abbe de Vermond, who, down to the time of the death of
Louis XV., had been on terms of the strictest friendship with M. Campan,
called upon him on the second day after the arrival of the Court at
Choisy, and, assuming a serious air, said, "Monsieur, the Queen was
indiscreet enough yesterday to speak to you of a minister to whom she
must of course be attached, and whom his friends ardently desire to have
near her; you are aware that we must give up all expectation of seeing
the Duke at Court; you know the reasons why; but you do not know that the
young Queen, having mentioned the conversation in question to me, it was
my duty, both as her preceptor and her friend, to remonstrate severely
with her on her indiscretion in communicating to you those particulars of
which you are in possession. I am now come to tell you that if you
continue to avail yourself of the good nature of your mistress to
initiate yourself in secrets of State, you will have me for your most
inveterate enemy. The Queen should find here no other confidant than
myself respecting things that ought to remain secret." M. Campan
answered that he did not covet the important and dangerous character at
the new Court which the Abbe wished to appropriate; and that he should
confine himself to the duties of his office, being sufficiently satisfied
with the continued kindness with which the Queen honoured him.
Notwithstanding this, however, he informed the Queen, on the very same
evening, of the injunction he had received. She owned that she had
mentioned their conversation to the Abbe; that he had indeed seriously
scolded her, in order to make her feel the necessity of being secret in
concerns of State; and she added, "The Abbe cannot like you, my dear
Campan; he did not expect that I should, on my arrival in France, find in
my household a man who would suit me so exactly as you have done. I know
that he has taken umbrage at it; that is enough. I know, too, that you
are incapable of attempting anything to injure him in my esteem; an
attempt which would besides be vain, for I have been too long attached to
him. As to yourself, be easy on the score of the Abbe's hostility, which
shall not in any way hurt you."

The Abbe de Vermond having made himself master of the office of sole
confidant to the Queen, was nevertheless agitated whenever he saw the
young King; he could not be ignorant that the Abbe had been promoted by
the Duc de Choiseul, and was believed to favour the Encyclopedists,
against whom Louis XVI. entertained a secret prejudice, although he
suffered them to gain so great an ascendency during his reign. The Abbe
had, moreover, observed that the King had never, while Dauphin, addressed
a single word to him; and that he very frequently only answered him with
a shrug of the shoulders. He therefore determined on writing to Louis
XVI., and intimating that he owed his situation at Court solely to the
confidence with which the late King had honoured him; and that as habits
contracted during the Queen's education placed him continually in the
closest intimacy with her, he could not enjoy the honour of remaining
near her Majesty without the King's consent. Louis XVI. sent back his
letter, after writing upon it these words: "I approve the Abbe de Vermond
continuing in his office about the Queen."


At the period of his grandfather's death, Louis XVI. began to be
exceedingly attached to the Queen. The first period of so deep a
mourning not admitting of indulgence in the diversion of hunting, he
proposed to her walks in the gardens of Choisy; they went out like
husband and wife, the young King giving his arm to the Queen, and
accompanied by a very small suite. The influence of this example had
such an effect upon the courtiers that the next day several couples, who
had long, and for good reasons, been disunited, were seen walking upon
the terrace with the same apparent conjugal intimacy. Thus they spent
whole hours, braving the intolerable wearisomeness of their protracted
tete-a-tetes, out of mere obsequious imitation.

The devotion of Mesdames to the King their father throughout his dreadful
malady had produced that effect upon their health which was generally
apprehended. On the fourth day after their arrival at Choisy they were
attacked by pains in the head and chest, which left no doubt as to the
danger of their situation. It became necessary instantly to send away
the young royal family; and the Chateau de la Muette, in the Bois de
Boulogne, was selected for their reception. Their arrival at that
residence, which was very near Paris, drew so great a concourse of people
into its neighbourhood, that even at daybreak the crowd had begun to
assemble round the gates. Shouts of "Vive le Roi!" were scarcely
interrupted for a moment between six o'clock in the morning and sunset.
The unpopularity the late King, had drawn upon himself during his latter
years, and the hopes to which a new reign gives birth, occasioned these
transports of joy.

A fashionable jeweller made a fortune by the sale of mourning snuff-
boxes, whereon the portrait of the young Queen, in a black frame of
shagreen, gave rise to the pun: "Consolation in chagrin." All the
fashions, and every article of dress, received names expressing the
spirit of the moment. Symbols of abundance were everywhere represented,
and the head-dresses of the ladies were surrounded by ears of wheat.
Poets sang of the new monarch; all hearts, or rather all heads, in France
were filled with enthusiasm. Never did the commencement of any reign
excite more unanimous testimonials of love and attachment. It must be
observed, however, that, amidst all this intoxication, the anti-Austrian
party never lost sight of the young Queen, but kept on the watch, with
the malicious desire to injure her through such errors as might arise
from her youth and inexperience.

Their Majesties had to receive at La Muette the condolences of the ladies
who had been presented at Court, who all felt themselves called on to pay
homage to the new sovereigns. Old and young hastened to present
themselves on the day of general reception; little black bonnets with
great wings, shaking heads, low curtsies, keeping time with the motions
of the head, made, it must be admitted, a few venerable dowagers appear
somewhat ridiculous; but the Queen, who possessed a great deal of
dignity, and a high respect for decorum, was not guilty of the grave
fault of losing the state she was bound to preserve. An indiscreet piece
of drollery of one of the ladies of the palace, however, procured her the
imputation of doing so. The Marquise de Clermont-Tonnerre, whose office
required that she should continue standing behind the Queen, fatigued by
the length of the ceremony, seated herself on the floor, concealed behind
the fence formed by the hoops of the Queen and the ladies of the palace.
Thus seated, and wishing to attract attention and to appear lively, she
twitched the dresses of those ladies, and played a thousand other tricks.
The contrast of these childish pranks with the solemnity which reigned
over the rest of the Queen's chamber disconcerted her Majesty: she
several times placed her fan before her face to hide an involuntary
smile, and the severe old ladies pronounced that the young Queen had
decided all those respectable persons who were pressing forward to pay
their homage to her; that she liked none but the young; that she was
deficient in decorum; and that not one of them would attend her Court
again. The epithet 'moqueuse' was applied to her; and there is no
epithet less favourably received in the world.

The next day a very ill-natured song was circulated; the stamp of the
party to which it was attributable might easily be seen upon it. I
remember only the following chorus:

"Little Queen, you must not be
So saucy, with your twenty years;
Your ill-used courtiers soon will see
You pass, once more, the barriers.
Fal lal lal, fal lal la."

The errors of the great, or those which ill-nature chooses to impute to
them, circulate in the world with the greatest rapidity, and become
historical traditions, which every one delights to repeat.

More than fifteen years after this occurrence I heard some old ladies in
the most retired part of Auvergne relating all the particulars of the day
of public condolence for the late King, on which, as they said, the Queen
had laughed in the faces of the sexagenarian duchesses and princesses who
had thought it their duty to appear on the occasion.

The King and the Princes, his brothers, determined to avail themselves of
the advantages held out by inoculation, as a safeguard against the
illness under which their grandfather had just fallen; but the utility of
this new discovery not being then generally acknowledged in France, many
persons were greatly alarmed at the step; those who blamed it openly
threw all the responsibility of it upon the Queen, who alone, they said,
could have ventured to give such rash advice, inoculation being at this
time established in the Northern Courts. The operation upon the King and
his brothers, performed by Doctor Jauberthou, was fortunately quite

When the convalescence of the Princes was perfectly established, the
excursions to Marly became cheerful enough. Parties on horseback and in
calashes were formed continually. The Queen was desirous to afford
herself one very innocent gratification; she had never seen the day
break; and having now no other consent than that of the King to seek,
she intimated her wish to him. He agreed that she should go, at three
o'clock in the morning, to the eminences of the gardens of Marly; and,
unfortunately, little disposed to partake in her amusements, he himself
went to bed. Foreseeing some inconveniences possible in this nocturnal
party, the Queen determined on having a number of people with her; and
even ordered her waiting women to accompany her. All precautions were
ineffectual to prevent the effects of calumny, which thenceforward sought
to diminish the general attachment that she had inspired. A few days
afterwards, the most wicked libel that appeared during the earlier years
of her reign was circulated in Paris. The blackest colours were employed
to paint an enjoyment so harmless that there is scarcely a young woman
living in the country who has not endeavoured to procure it for herself.
The verses which appeared on this occasion were entitled "Sunrise."

The Duc d'Orleans, then Duc de Chartres, was among those who accompanied
the young Queen in her nocturnal ramble: he appeared very attentive to
her at this epoch; but it was the only moment of his life in which there
was any advance towards intimacy between the Queen and himself. The King
disliked the character of the Duc de Chartres, and the Queen always
excluded him from her private society. It is therefore without the
slightest foundation that some writers have attributed to feelings of
jealousy or wounded self-love the hatred which he displayed towards the
Queen during the latter years of their existence.

It was on this first journey to Marly that Boehmer, the jeweller,
appeared at Court,--a man whose stupidity and avarice afterwards fatally
affected the happiness and reputation of Marie Antoinette. This person
had, at great expense, collected six pear-formed diamonds of a prodigious
size; they were perfectly matched and of the finest water. The earrings
which they composed had, before the death of Louis XV., been destined for
the Comtesse du Barry.

Boehmer; by the recommendation of several persons about the Court, came
to offer these jewels to the Queen. He asked four hundred thousand
francs for them. The young Princess could not withstand her wish to
purchase them; and the King having just raised the Queen's income, which,
under the former reign, had been but two hundred thousand livres, to one
hundred thousand crowns a year, she wished to make the purchase out of
her own purse, and not burthen the royal treasury with the payment. She
proposed to Boehmer to take off the two buttons which formed the tops of
the clusters, as they could be replaced by two of her own diamonds. He
consented, and then reduced the price of the earrings to three hundred
and sixty thousand francs; the payment for which was to be made by
instalments, and was discharged in the course of four or five years by
the Queen's first femme de chambre, deputed to manage the funds of her
privy purse. I have omitted no details as to the manner in which the
Queen first became possessed of these jewels, deeming them very needful
to place in its true light the too famous circumstance of the necklace,
which happened near the end of her reign.

It was also on this first journey to Marly that the Duchesse de Chartres,
afterwards Duchesse d'Orleans, introduced into the Queen's household
Mademoiselle Bertin, a milliner who became celebrated at that time for
the total change she effected in the dress of the French ladies.

It may be said that the mere admission of a milliner into the house of
the Queen was followed by evil consequences to her Majesty. The skill of
the milliner, who was received into the household, in spite of the custom
which kept persons of her description out of it, afforded her the
opportunity of introducing some new fashion every day. Up to this time
the Queen had shown very plain taste in dress; she now began to make it a
principal occupation; and she was of course imitated by other women.

All wished instantly to have the same dress as the Queen, and to wear the
feathers and flowers to which her beauty, then in its brilliancy,
lent an indescribable charm. The expenditure of the younger ladies was
necessarily much increased; mothers and husbands murmured at it; some few
giddy women contracted debts; unpleasant domestic scenes occurred;
in many families coldness or quarrels arose; and the general report
was,--that the Queen would be the ruin of all the French ladies.

Fashion continued its fluctuating progress; and head-dresses, with their
superstructures of gauze, flowers, and feathers, became so lofty that the
women could not find carriages high enough to admit them; and they were
often seen either stooping, or holding their heads out of the windows.
Others knelt down in order to manage these elevated objects of ridicule
with less danger.

[If the use of these extravagant feathers and head-dresses had
continued, say the memoirs of that period very seriously, it would
have effected a revolution in architecture. It would have been
found necessary to raise the doors and ceilings of the boxes at the
theatre, and particularly the bodies of carriages. It was not
without mortification that the King observed the Queen's adoption of
this style of dress: she was never so lovely in his eyes as when
unadorned by art. One day Carlin, performing at Court as harlequin,
stuck in his hat, instead of the rabbit's tail, its prescribed
ornament, a peacock's feather of excessive length. This new
appendage, which repeatedly got entangled among the scenery, gave
him an opportunity for a great deal of buffoonery. There was some
inclination to punish him; but it was presumed that he had not
assumed the feather without authority.-NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

Innumerable caricatures, exhibited in all directions, and some of which
artfully gave the features of the Queen, attacked the extravagance of
fashion, but with very little effect. It changed only, as is always the
case, through the influence of inconstancy and time.

The Queen's toilet was a masterpiece of etiquette; everything was done in
a prescribed form. Both the dame d'honneur and the dame d'atours usually
attended and officiated, assisted by the first femme de chambre and two
ordinary women. The dame d'atours put on the petticoat, and handed the
gown to the Queen. The dame d'honneur poured out the water for her hands
and put on her linen. When a princess of the royal family happened to be
present while the Queen was dressing, the dame d'honneur yielded to her
the latter act of office, but still did not yield it directly to the
Princesses of the blood; in such a case the dame d'honneur was accustomed
to present the linen to the first femme de chambre, who, in her turn,
handed it to the Princess of the blood. Each of these ladies observed
these rules scrupulously as affecting her rights. One winter's day it
happened that the Queen, who was entirely undressed, was just going to
put on her shift; I held it ready unfolded for her; the dame d'honneur
came in, slipped off her gloves, and took it. A scratching was heard at
the door; it was opened, and in came the Duchesse d'Orleans: her gloves
were taken off, and she came forward to take the garment; but as it would
have been wrong in the dame d'honneur to hand it to her she gave it to
me, and I handed it to the Princess. More scratching it was Madame la
Comtesse de Provence; the Duchesse d'Orleans handed her the linen. All
this while the Queen kept her arms crossed upon her bosom, and appeared
to feel cold; Madame observed her uncomfortable situation, and, merely
laying down her handkerchief without taking off her gloves, she put on
the linen, and in doing so knocked the Queen's cap off. The Queen
laughed to conceal her impatience, but not until she had muttered several
times, "How disagreeable! how tiresome!"

All this etiquette, however inconvenient, was suitable to the royal
dignity, which expects to find servants in all classes of persons,
beginning even with the brothers and sisters of the monarch.

Speaking here of etiquette, I do not allude to majestic state, appointed
for days of ceremony in all Courts. I mean those minute ceremonies that
were pursued towards our Kings in their inmost privacies, in their hours
of pleasure, in those of pain, and even during the most revolting of
human infirmities.

These servile rules were drawn up into a kind of code; they offered to a
Richelieu, a La Rochefoucauld and a Duras, in the exercise of their
domestic functions, opportunities of intimacy useful to their interests;
and their vanity was flattered by customs which converted the right to
give a glass of water, to put on a dress, and to remove a basin, into
honourable prerogatives.

Princes thus accustomed to be treated as divinities naturally ended by
believing that they were of a distinct nature, of a purer essence than
the rest of mankind.

This sort of etiquette, which led our Princes to be treated in private as
idols, made them in public martyrs to decorum. Marie Antoinette found in
the Chateau of Versailles a multitude of established customs which
appeared to her insupportable.

The ladies-in-waiting, who were all obliged to be sworn, and to wear full
Court dresses, were alone entitled to remain in the room, and to attend
in conjunction with the dame d'honneur and the tirewoman. The Queen
abolished all this formality. When her head was dressed, she curtsied to
all the ladies who were in her chamber, and, followed only by her own
women, went into her closet, where Mademoiselle Bertin, who could not be
admitted into the chamber, used to await her. It was in this inner
closet that she produced her new and numerous dresses. The Queen was
also desirous of being served by the most fashionable hairdresser in
Paris. Now the custom which forbade all persons in inferior offices,
employed by royalty, to exert their talents for the public, was no doubt
intended to cut off all communication between the privacy of princes and
society at large; the latter being always extremely curious respecting
the most trifling particulars relative to the private life of the former.
The Queen, fearing that the taste of the hairdresser would suffer if he
should discontinue the general practice of his art, ordered him to attend
as usual certain ladies of the Court and of Paris; and this multiplied
the opportunities of learning details respecting the household, and very
often of misrepresenting them.

One of the customs most disagreeable to the Queen was that of dining
every day in public. Maria Leczinska had always submitted to this
wearisome practice; Marie Antoinette followed it as long as she was
Dauphiness. The Dauphin dined with her, and each branch of the family
had its public dinner daily. The ushers suffered all decently dressed
people to enter; the sight was the delight of persons from the country.
At the dinner-hour there were none to be met upon the stairs but honest
folks, who, after having seen the Dauphiness take her soup, went to see
the Princes eat their 'bouilli', and then ran themselves out of breath to
behold Mesdames at their dessert.

Very ancient usage, too, required that the Queens of France should appear
in public surrounded only by women; even at meal-times no persons of the
other sex attended to serve at table; and although the King ate publicly
with the Queen, yet he himself was served by women with everything which
was presented to him directly at table. The dame d'honneur, kneeling,
for her own accommodation, upon a low stool, with a napkin upon her arm,
and four women in full dress, presented the plates to the King and Queen.
The dame d'honneur handed them drink. This service had formerly been the
right of the maids of honour. The Queen, upon her accession to the
throne, abolished the usage altogether. She also freed herself from the
necessity of being followed in the Palace of Versailles by two of her
women in Court dresses, during those hours of the day when the ladies-in-
waiting were not with her. From that time she was accompanied only by a
single valet de chambre and two footmen. All the changes made by Marie
Antoinette were of the same description; a disposition gradually to
substitute the simple customs of Vienna for those of Versailles was more
injurious to her than she could possibly have imagined.

When the King slept in the Queen's apartment he always rose before her;
the exact hour was communicated to the head femme de chambre, who
entered, preceded by a servant of the bedchamber bearing a taper; she
crossed the room and unbolted the door which separated the Queen's
apartment from that of the King. She there found the first valet de
chambre for the quarter, and a servant of the chamber. They entered,
opened the bed curtains on the King's side, and presented him slippers
generally, as well as the dressing-gown, which he put on, of gold or
silver stuff. The first valet de chambre took down a short sword which
was always laid within the railing on the King's side. When the King
slept with the Queen, this sword was brought upon the armchair
appropriated to the King, and which was placed near the Queen's bed,
within the gilt railing which surrounded the bed. The first femme de
chambre conducted the King to the door, bolted it again, and, leaving the
Queen's chamber, did not return until the hour appointed by her Majesty
the evening before. At night the Queen went to bed before the King; the
first femme de chambre remained seated at the foot of her bed until the
arrival of his Majesty, in order, as in the morning, to see the King's
attendants out and bolt the door after them. The Queen awoke habitually
at eight o'clock, and breakfasted at nine, frequently in bed, and
sometimes after she had risen, at a table placed opposite her couch.

In order to describe the Queen's private service intelligibly, it must be
recollected that service of every kind was honour, and had not any other
denomination. To do the honours of the service was to present the
service to a person of superior rank, who happened to arrive at the
moment it was about to be performed. Thus, supposing the Queen asked for
a glass of water, the servant of the chamber handed to the first woman a
silver gilt waiter, upon which were placed a covered goblet and a small
decanter; but should the lady of honour come in, the first woman was
obliged to present the waiter to her, and if Madame or the Comtesse
d'Artois came in at the moment, the waiter went again from the lady of
honour into the hands of the Princess before it reached the Queen. It
must be observed, however, that if a princess of the blood instead of a
princess of the family entered, the service went directly from the first
woman to the princess of the blood, the lady of honour being excused from
transferring to any but princesses of the royal family. Nothing was
presented directly to the Queen; her handkerchief or her gloves were
placed upon a long salver of gold or silver gilt, which was placed as a
piece of furniture of ceremony upon a side-table, and was called a
gantiere. The first woman presented to her in this manner all that she
asked for, unless the tirewoman, the lady of honour, or a princess were
present, and then the gradation pointed out in the instance of the glass
of water was always observed.

Whether the Queen breakfasted in bed or up, those entitled to the petites
entrees were equally admitted; this privilege belonged of right to her
chief physician, chief surgeon, physician in ordinary, reader, closet
secretary, the King's four first valets de chambre and their
reversioners, and the King's chief physicians and surgeons. There were
frequently from ten to twelve persons at this first entree. The lady of
honour or the superintendent, if present, placed the breakfast equipage
upon the bed; the Princesse de Lamballe frequently performed that office.

As soon as the Queen rose, the wardrobe woman was admitted to take away
the pillows and prepare the bed to be made by some of the valets de
chambre. She undrew the curtains, and the bed was not generally made
until the Queen was gone to mass. Generally, excepting at St. Cloud,
where the Queen bathed in an apartment below her own, a slipper bath was
rolled into her room, and her bathers brought everything that was
necessary for the bath. The Queen bathed in a large gown of English
flannel buttoned down to the bottom;. its sleeves throughout, as well as
the collar, were lined with linen. When she came out of the bath the
first woman held up a cloth to conceal her entirely from the sight of her
women, and then threw it over her shoulders. The bathers wrapped her in
it and dried her completely. She then put on a long and wide open
chemise, entirely trimmed with lace, and afterwards a white taffety bed-
gown. The wardrobe woman warmed the bed; the slippers were of dimity,
trimmed with lace. Thus dressed, the Queen went to bed again, and the
bathers and servants of the chamber took away the bathing apparatus. The
Queen, replaced in bed, took a book or her tapestry work. On her bathing
mornings she breakfasted in the bath. The tray was placed on the cover
of the bath. These minute details are given here only to do justice to
the Queen's scrupulous modesty. Her temperance was equally remarkable;
she breakfasted on coffee or chocolate; at dinner ate nothing but white
meat, drank water only, and supped on broth, a wing of a fowl, and small
biscuits, which she soaked in a glass of water.

The tirewoman had under her order a principal under-tirewoman, charged
with the care and preservation of all the Queen's dresses; two women to
fold and press such articles as required it; two valets, and a porter of
the wardrobe. The latter brought every morning into the Queen's
apartments baskets covered with taffety, containing all that she was to
wear during the day, and large cloths of green taffety covering the robes
and the full dresses. The valet of the wardrobe on duty presented every
morning a large book to the first femme de chambre, containing patterns
of the gowns, full dresses, undresses, etc. Every pattern was marked, to
show to which sort it belonged. The first femme de chambre presented
this book to the Queen on her awaking, with a pincushion; her Majesty
stuck pins in those articles which she chose for the day,--one for the
dress, one for the afternoon-undress, and one for the full evening dress
for card or supper parties in the private apartments. The book was then
taken back to the wardrobe, and all that was wanted for the day was soon
after brought in in large taffety wrappers. The wardrobe woman, who had
the care of the linen, in her turn brought in a covered basket containing
two or three chemises and handkerchiefs. The morning basket was called
pret du jour. In the evening she brought in one containing the nightgown
and nightcap, and the stockings for the next morning; this basket was
called pret de la nuit. They were in the department of the lady of
honour, the tirewoman having nothing to do with the linen. Nothing was
put in order or taken care of by the Queen's women. As soon as the
toilet was over, the valets and porter belonging to the wardrobe were
called in, and they carried all away in a heap, in the taffety wrappers,
to the tirewoman's wardrobe, where all were folded up again, hung up,
examined, and cleaned with so much regularity and care that even the
cast-off clothes scarcely looked as if they had been worn. The
tirewoman's wardrobe consisted of three large rooms surrounded with
closets, some furnished with drawers and others with shelves; there were
also large tables in each of these rooms, on which the gowns and dresses
were spread out and folded up.

For the winter the Queen had generally twelve full dresses, twelve
undresses called fancy dresses, and twelve rich hoop petticoats for the
card and supper parties in the smaller apartments.

She had as many for the summer; those for the spring served likewise for
the autumn. All these dresses were discarded at the end of each season,
unless, indeed, she retained some that she particularly liked. I am not
speaking of muslin or cambric gowns, or others of the same kind--they
were lately introduced; but such as these were not renewed at each
returning season, they were kept several years. The chief women were
charged with the care and examination of the diamonds; this important
duty was formerly confided to the tirewoman, but for many years had been
included in the business of the first femmes de chambre.

The public toilet took place at noon. The toilet-table was drawn forward
into the middle of the room. This piece of furniture was generally the
richest and most ornamented of all in the apartment of the Princesses.
The Queen used it in the same manner and place for undressing herself in
the evening. She went to bed in corsets trimmed with ribbon, and sleeves
trimmed with lace, and wore a large neck handkerchief. The Queen's
combing cloth was presented by her first woman if she was alone at the
commencement of the toilet; or, as well as the other articles, by the
ladies of honour if they were come. At noon the women who had been in
attendance four and twenty hours were relieved by two women in full
dress; the first woman went also to dress herself. The grandee entrees
were admitted during the toilet; sofas were placed in circles for the
superintendent, the ladies of honour, and tirewomen, and the governess of
the children of France when she came there; the duties of the ladies of
the bedchamber, having nothing to do with any kind of domestic or private
functions, did not begin until the hour of going out to mass; they waited
in the great closet, and entered when the toilet was over. The Princes
of the blood, captains of the Guards, and all great officers having the
entry paid their court at the hour of the toilet. The Queen saluted by
nodding her head or bending her body, or leaning upon her toilet-table as
if moving to rise; the last mode of salutation was for the Princes of the
blood. The King's brothers also came very generally to pay their
respects to her Majesty while her hair was being dressed. In the earlier
years of the reign the first part of the dressing was performed in the
bedchamber and according to the laws of etiquette; that is to say, the
lady of honour put on the chemise and poured out the water for the hands,
the tirewoman put on the skirt of the gown or full dress, adjusted the
handkerchief, and tied on the necklace. But when the young Queen became
more seriously devoted to fashion, and the head-dress attained so
extravagant a height that it became necessary to put on the chemise from
below,--when, in short, she determined to have her milliner, Mademoiselle
Benin, with her whilst she was dressing, whom the ladies would have
refused to admit to any share in the honour of attending on the Queen,
the dressing in the bedchamber was discontinued, and the Queen, leaving
her toilet, withdrew into her closet to dress.

On returning into her chamber, the Queen, standing about the middle of
it, surrounded by the superintendent, the ladies of honour and tirewomen,
her ladies of the palace, the chevalier d'honneur, the chief equerry, her
clergy ready to attend her to mass, and the Princesses of the royal
family who happened to come, accompanied by all their chief attendants
and ladies, passed in order into the gallery as in going to mass. The
Queen's signatures were generally given at the moment of entry into the
chamber. The secretary for orders presented the pen. Presentations of
colonels on taking leave were usually made at this time. Those of
ladies, and, such as had a right to the tabouret, or sitting in the royal
presence, were made on Sunday evenings before card-playing began, on
their coming in from paying their respects. Ambassadors were introduced
to the Queen on Tuesday mornings, accompanied by the introducer of
ambassadors on duty, and by M. de Sequeville, the secretary for the
ambassadors. The introducer in waiting usually came to the Queen at her
toilet to apprise her of the presentations of foreigners which would be
made. The usher of the chamber, stationed at the entrance, opened the
folding doors to none but the Princes and Princesses of the royal family,
and announced them aloud. Quitting his post, he came forward to name to
the lady of honour the persons who came to be presented, or who came to
take leave; that lady again named them to the Queen at the moment they
saluted her; if she and the tirewoman were absent, the first woman took
the place and did that duty. The ladies of the bedchamber, chosen solely
as companions for the Queen, had no domestic duties to fulfil, however
opinion might dignify such offices. The King's letter in appointing
them, among other instructions of etiquette, ran thus: "having chosen you
to bear the Queen company." There were hardly any emoluments accruing
from this place.

The Queen heard mass with the King in the tribune, facing the grand altar
and the choir, with the exception of the days of high ceremony, when
their chairs were placed below upon velvet carpets fringed with gold.
These days were marked by the name of grand chapel day.

The Queen named the collector beforehand, and informed her of it through
her lady of honour, who was besides desired to send the purse to her.
The collectors were almost always chosen from among those who had been
recently presented. After returning from mass the Queen dined every
Sunday with the King only, in public in the cabinet of the nobility, a
room leading to her chamber. Titled ladies having the honours sat during
the dinner upon folding-chairs placed on each side of the table. Ladies
without titles stood round the table; the captain of the Guards and the
first gentleman of the chamber were behind the King's chair; behind that
of the Queen were her first maitre d'hotel, her chevalier d'honneur, and
the chief equerry. The Queen's maitre d'hotel was furnished with a large
staff, six or seven feet in length, ornamented with golden fleurs-de-lis,
and surmounted by fleurs-de-lis in the form of a crown. He entered the
room with this badge of his office to announce that the Queen was served.
The comptroller put into his hands the card of the dinner; in the absence
of the maitre d'hotel he presented it to the Queen himself, otherwise he
only did him the honours of the service. The maitre d'hotel did not
leave his place, he merely gave the orders for serving up and removing;
the comptroller and gentlemen serving placed the various dishes upon the
table, receiving them from the inferior servants.

The Prince nearest to the crown presented water to wash the King's hands
at the moment he placed himself at table, and a princess did the same
service to the Queen.

The table service was formerly performed for the Queen by the lady of
honour and four women in full dress; this part of the women's service was
transferred to them on the suppression of the office of maids of honour.
The Queen put an end to this etiquette in the first year of her reign.
When the dinner was over the Queen returned without the King to her
apartment with her women, and took off her hoop and train.

This unfortunate Princess, against whom the opinions of the French people
were at length so much excited, possessed qualities which deserved to
obtain the greatest popularity. None could doubt this who, like myself,
had heard her with delight describe the patriarchal manners of the House
of Lorraine. She was accustomed to say that, by transplanting their
manners into Austria, the Princes of that house had laid the foundation
of the unassailable popularity enjoyed by the imperial family. She
frequently related to me the interesting manner in which the Ducs de
Lorraine levied the taxes. "The sovereign Prince," said she, "went to
church; after the sermon he rose, waved his hat in the air, to show that
he was about to speak, and then mentioned the sum whereof he stood in
need. Such was the zeal of the good Lorrainers that men have been known
to take away linen or household utensils without the knowledge of their
wives, and sell them to add the value to their contribution. It
sometimes happened, too, that the Prince received more money than he had
asked for, in which case he restored the surplus."

All who were acquainted with the Queen's private qualities knew that she
equally deserved attachment and esteem. Kind and patient to excess in
her relations with her household, she indulgently considered all around
her, and interested herself in their fortunes and in their pleasures.,
She had, among her women, young girls from the Maison de St. Cyr, all
well born; the Queen forbade them the play when the performances were not
suitable; sometimes, when old plays were to be represented, if she found
she could not with certainty trust to her memory, she would take the
trouble to read them in the morning, to enable her to decide whether the
girls should or should not go to see them,--rightly considering herself
bound to watch over their morals and conduct.


Carried the idea of the prerogative of rank to a high pitch
Common and blamable practice of indulgence
Dignified tone which alone secures the respect due to power
Etiquette still existed at Court, dignity alone was wanting
Happiness does not dwell in palaces
His seraglio in the Parc-aux-Cerfs
I love the conveniences of life too well
Leave me in peace; be assured that I can put no heir in danger
Most intriguing little Carmelite in the kingdom
Princes thus accustomed to be treated as divinities
Princess at 12 years was not mistress of the whole alphabet
Taken pains only to render himself beloved by his pupil
The Jesuits were suppressed
The King delighted to manage the most disgraceful points
To be formally mistress, a husband had to be found
Ventured to give such rash advice: inoculation
Was but one brilliant action that she could perform


Being the Historic Memoirs of Madam Campan,
First Lady in Waiting to the Queen



During the first few months of his reign Louis XVI. dwelt at La Muette,
Marly, and Compiegne. When settled at Versailles he occupied himself
with a general examination of his grandfather's papers. He had promised
the Queen to communicate to her all that he might discover relative to
the history of the man with the iron mask, who, he thought, had become so
inexhaustible a source of conjecture only in consequence of the interest
which the pen of a celebrated writer had excited respecting the detention
of a prisoner of State, who was merely a man of whimsical tastes and

I was with the Queen when the King, having finished his researches,
informed her that he had not found anything among the secret papers
elucidating the existence of this prisoner; that he had conversed on the
matter with M. de Maurepas, whose age made him contemporary with the
epoch during which the story must have been known to the ministers;
and that M. de Maurepas had assured him he was merely a prisoner of a
very dangerous character, in consequence of his disposition for intrigue.
He was a subject of the Duke of Mantua, and was enticed to the frontier,
arrested there, and kept prisoner, first at Pignerol, and afterwards in
the Bastille. This transfer took place in consequence of the appointment
of the governor of the former place to the government of the latter.
It was for fear the prisoner should profit by the inexperience of a new
governor that he was sent with the Governor of Pignerol to the Bastille.

Such was, in fact, the truth about the man on whom people have been
pleased to fix an iron mask. And thus was it related in writing, and
published by M. ----- twenty years ago. He had searched the archives of
the Foreign Office, and laid the real story before the public; but the
public, prepossessed in favour of a marvellous version, would not
acknowledge the authenticity of his account. Every man relied upon the
authority of Voltaire; and it was believed that a natural or a twin
brother of Louis XIV. lived many years in prison with a mask over his
face. The story of this mask, perhaps, had its origin in the old custom,
among both men and women in Italy, of wearing a velvet mask when they
exposed themselves to the sun. It is possible that the Italian captive
may have sometimes shown himself upon the terrace of his prison with his
face thus covered. As to the silver plate which this celebrated prisoner
is said to have thrown from his window, it is known that such a
circumstance did happen, but it happened at Valzin, in the time of
Cardinal Richelieu. This anecdote has been mixed up with the inventions
respecting the Piedmontese prisoner.

In this survey of the papers of Louis XV. by his grandson some very
curious particulars relative to his private treasury were found. Shares
in various financial companies afforded him a revenue, and had in course
of time produced him a capital of some amount, which he applied to his
secret expenses. The King collected his vouchers of title to these
shares, and made a present of them to M. Thierry de Ville d'Avray, his
chief valet de chambre.

The Queen was desirous to secure the comfort of Mesdames, the daughters
of Louis XV., who were held in the highest respect. About this period
she contributed to furnish them with a revenue sufficient to provide them
an easy, pleasant existence: The King gave them the Chateau of Bellevue;
and added to the produce of it, which was given up to them, the expenses
of their table and equipage, and payment of all the charges of their
household, the number of which was even increased. During the lifetime
of Louis XV., who was a very selfish prince, his daughters, although they
had attained forty years of age, had no other place of residence than
their apartments in the Chateau of Versailles; no other walks than such
as they could take in the large park of that palace; and no other means
of gratifying their taste for the cultivation of plants but by having
boxes and vases, filled with them, in their balconies or their closets.
They had, therefore, reason to be much pleased with the conduct of Marie
Antoinette, who had the greatest influence in the King's kindness towards
his aunts.

Paris did not cease, during the first years of the reign, to give proofs
of pleasure whenever the Queen appeared at any of the plays of the
capital. At the representation of "Iphigenia in Aulis," the actor who
sang the words, "Let us sing, let us celebrate our Queen!" which were
repeated by the chorus, directed by a respectful movement the eyes of the
whole assembly upon her Majesty. Reiterated cries of 'Bis'! and clapping
of hands, were followed by such a burst of enthusiasm that many of the
audience added their voices to those of the actors in order to celebrate,
it might too truly be said, another Iphigenia. The Queen, deeply
affected, covered her eyes with her handkerchief; and this proof of
sensibility raised the public enthusiasm to a still higher pitch.

The King gave Marie Antoinette Petit Trianon.

[The Chateau of Petit Trianon, which was built for Louis XV., was
not remarkably handsome as a building. The luxuriance of the
hothouses rendered the place agreeable to that Prince. He spent a
few days there several times in the year. It was when he was
setting off from Versailles for Petit Trianon that he was struck in
the side by the knife of Damiens, and it was there that he was
attacked by the smallpox, of which he died on the 10th of May,

Henceforward she amused herself with improving the gardens, without
allowing any addition to the building, or any change in the furniture,
which was very shabby, and remained, in 1789, in the same state as during
the reign of Louis XV. Everything there, without exception, was
preserved; and the Queen slept in a faded bed, which had been used by the
Comtesse du Barry. The charge of extravagance, generally made against
the Queen, is the most unaccountable of all the popular errors respecting
her character. She had exactly the contrary failing; and I could prove
that she often carried her economy to a degree of parsimony actually
blamable, especially in a sovereign. She took a great liking for
Trianon, and used to go there alone, followed by a valet; but she found
attendants ready to receive her,--a concierge and his wife, who served
her as femme de chambre, women of the wardrobe, footmen, etc.

When she first took possession of Petit Trianon, it was reported that she
changed the name of the seat which the King had given her, and called it
Little Vienna, or Little Schoenbrunn. A person who belonged to the
Court, and was silly enough to give this report credit, wishing to visit
Petit Trianon with a party, wrote to M. Campan, requesting the Queen's
permission to do so. In his note he called Trianon Little Vienna.
Similar requests were usually laid before the Queen just as they were
made: she chose to give the permissions to see her gardens herself,
liking to grant these little favours. When she came to the words I have
quoted she was very, much offended, and exclaimed, angrily, that there
were too many, fools ready, to aid the malicious; that she had been told
of the report circulated, which pretended that she had thought of nothing
but her own country, and that she kept an Austrian heart, while the
interests of France alone ought to engage her. She refused the request
so awkwardly made, and desired M. Campan to reply, that Trianon was not
to be seen for some time, and that the Queen was astonished that any man
in good society should believe she would do so ill-judged a thing as to
change the French names of her palaces to foreign ones.

Before the Emperor Joseph II's first visit to France the Queen received a
visit from the Archduke Maximilian in 1775. A stupid act of the
ambassador, seconded on the part of the Queen by the Abbe de Vermond,
gave rise at that period to a discussion which offended the Princes of
the blood and the chief nobility of the kingdom. Travelling incognito,
the young Prince claimed that the first visit was not due from him to the
Princes of the blood; and the Queen supported his pretension.

From the time of the Regency, and on account of the residence of the
family of Orleans in the bosom of the capital, Paris had preserved a
remarkable degree of attachment and respect for that branch of the royal
house; and although the crown was becoming more and more remote from the
Princes of the House of Orleans, they had the advantage (a great one with
the Parisians) of being the descendants of Henri IV. An affront to that
popular family was a serious ground of dislike to the Queen. It was at
this period that the circles of the city, and even of the Court,
expressed themselves bitterly about her levity, and her partiality for
the House of Austria. The Prince for whom the Queen had embarked in an
important family quarrel--and a quarrel involving national prerogatives--
was, besides, little calculated to inspire interest. Still young,
uninformed, and deficient in natural talent, he was always making

He went to the Jardin du Roi; M. de Buffon, who received him there,
offered him a copy of his works; the Prince declined accepting the book,
saying to M. de Buffon, in the most polite manner possible, "I should be
very sorry to deprive you of it."

[Joseph II, on his visit to France, also went to see M. de Buffon,
and said to that celebrated man, "I am come to fetch the copy of
your works which my brother forgot."--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

It may be supposed that the Parisians were much entertained with this

The Queen was exceedingly mortified at the mistakes made by her brother;
but what hurt her most was being accused of preserving an Austrian heart.
Marie Antoinette had more than once to endure that imputation during the
long course of her misfortunes. Habit did not stop the tears such
injustice caused; but the first time she was suspected of not loving
France, she gave way to her indignation. All that she could say on the
subject was useless; by seconding the pretensions of the Archduke she had
put arms into her enemies' hands; they were labouring to deprive her of
the love of the people, and endeavoured, by all possible means, to spread
a belief that the Queen sighed for Germany, and preferred that country to

Marie Antoinette had none but herself to rely on for preserving the
fickle smiles of the Court and the public. The King, too indifferent to
serve her as a guide, as yet had conceived no love for her,
notwithstanding the intimacy that grew between them at Choisy. In his
closet Louis XVI. was immersed in deep study. At the Council he was
busied with the welfare of his people; hunting and mechanical occupations
engrossed his leisure moments, and he never thought on the subject of an

The coronation took place at Rheims, with all the accustomed pomp. At
this period the people's love for Louis XVI. burst forth in transports
not to be mistaken for party demonstrations or idle curiosity. He
replied to this enthusiasm by marks of confidence, worthy of a people
happy in being governed by a good King; he took a pleasure in repeatedly
walking without guards, in the midst of the crowd which pressed around
him, and called down blessings on his head. I remarked the impression
made at this time by an observation of Louis XVI. On the day of his
coronation he put his hand up to his head, at the moment of the crown
being placed upon it, and said, "It pinches me." Henri III. had
exclaimed, "It pricks me." Those who were near the King were struck with
the similarity between these two exclamations, though not of a class
likely to be blinded by the superstitious fears of ignorance.

While the Queen, neglected as she was, could not even hope for the
happiness of being a mother, she had the mortification of seeing the
Comtesse d'Artois give birth to the Duc d'Angouleme.

Custom required that the royal family and the whole Court should be
present at the accouchement of the Princesses; the Queen was therefore
obliged to stay a whole day in her sister-in-law's chamber. The moment
the Comtesse d'Artois was informed a prince was born, she put her hand to
her forehead and exclaimed with energy, "My God, how happy I am!" The
Queen felt very differently at this involuntary and natural exclamation.
Nevertheless, her behaviour was perfect. She bestowed all possible marks
of tenderness upon the young mother, and would not leave her until she
was again put into bed; she afterwards passed along the staircase, and
through the hall of the guards, with a calm demeanour, in the midst of an
immense crowd. The poissardes, who had assumed a right of speaking to
sovereigns in their own vulgar language, followed her to the very doors
of her apartments, calling out to her with gross expressions, that she
ought to produce heirs. The Queen reached her inner room, hurried and
agitated; he shut herself up to weep with me alone, not from jealousy of
her sister-in-law's happiness,--of that he was incapable,--but from
sorrow at her own situation.

Deprived of the happiness of giving an heir to the crown, the Queen
endeavoured to interest herself in the children of the people of her
household. She had long been desirous to bring up one of them herself,
and to make it the constant object of her care. A little village boy,
four or five years old, full of health, with a pleasing countenance,
remarkably large blue eyes, and fine light hair, got under the feet of
the Queen's horses, when she was taking an airing in a calash, through
the hamlet of St. Michel, near Louveciennes. The coachman and postilions
stopped the horses, and the child was rescued without the slightest
injury. Its grandmother rushed out of the door of her cottage to take
it; but the Queen, standing up in her calash and extending her arms,
called out that the child was hers, and that destiny had given it to her,
to console her, no doubt, until she should have the happiness of having
one herself. "Is his mother alive?" asked the Queen. "No, Madame; my
daughter died last winter, and left five small children upon my hands."
"I will take this one, and provide for all the rest; do you consent?"
"Ah, Madame, they are too fortunate," replied the cottager; "but Jacques
is a bad boy. I hope he will stay with you!" The Queen, taking little
Jacques upon her knee, said that she would make him used to her, and gave
orders to proceed. It was necessary, however, to shorten the drive, so
violently did Jacques scream, and kick the Queen and her ladies.

The arrival of her Majesty at her apartments at Versailles, holding the
little rustic by the hand, astonished the whole household; he cried out
with intolerable shrillness that he wanted his grandmother, his brother
Louis, and his sister Marianne; nothing could calm him. He was taken
away by the wife of a servant, who was appointed to attend him as nurse.
The other children were put to school. Little Jacques, whose family name
was Armand, came back to the Queen two days afterwards; a white frock
trimmed with lace, a rose-coloured sash with silver fringe, and a hat
decorated with feathers, were now substituted for the woollen cap, the
little red frock, and the wooden shoes. The child was really very
beautiful. The Queen was enchanted with him; he was brought to her every
morning at nine o'clock; he breakfasted and dined with her, and often
even with the King. She liked to call him my child,

[This little unfortunate was nearly twenty in 1792; the fury of the
people and the fear of being thought a favourite of the Queen's had
made him the most sanguinary terrorist of Versailles. He was killed
at the battle of Jemappes.]

and lavished caresses upon him, still maintaining a deep silence
respecting the regrets which constantly occupied her heart.

This child remained with the Queen until the time when Madame was old
enough to come home to her august mother, who had particularly taken upon
herself the care of her education.

The Queen talked incessantly of the qualities which she admired in Louis
XVI., and gladly attributed to herself the slightest favourable change in
his manner; perhaps she displayed too unreservedly the joy she felt, and
the share she appropriated in the improvement. One day Louis XVI.
saluted her ladies with more kindness than usual, and the Queen
laughingly said to them, "Now confess, ladies, that for one so badly
taught as a child, the King has saluted you with very good grace!"

The Queen hated M. de La Vauguyon; she accused him alone of those points
in the habits, and even the sentiments, of the King which hurt her.
A former first woman of the bedchamber to Queen Maria Leczinska had
continued in office near the young Queen. She was one of those people
who are fortunate enough to spend their lives in the service of kings
without knowing anything of what is passing at Court. She was a great
devotee; the Abbe Grisel, an ex-Jesuit, was her director. Being rich
from her savings and an income of 50,000 livres, she kept a very good
table; in her apartment, at the Grand Commun, the most distinguished
persons who still adhered to the Order of Jesuits often assembled. The
Duc de La Vauguyon was intimate with her; their chairs at the Eglise des
Reollets were placed near each other; at high mass and at vespers they
sang the "Gloria in Excelsis" and the "Magnificat" together; and the
pious virgin, seeing in him only one of God's elect, little imagined him
to be the declared enemy of a Princess whom she served and revered.
On the day of his death she ran in tears to relate to the Queen the
piety, humility, and repentance of the last moments of the Duc de La
Vauguyon. He had called his people together, she said, to ask their
pardon. "For what?" replied the Queen, sharply; "he has placed and
pensioned off all his servants; it was of the King and his brothers that
the holy man you bewail should have asked pardon, for having paid so
little attention to the education of princes on whom the fate and
happiness of twenty-five millions of men depend. Luckily," added she,
"the King and his brothers, still young, have incessantly laboured to
repair the errors of their preceptor."

The progress of time, and the confidence with which the King and the
Princes, his brothers, were inspired by the change in their situation
since the death of Louis XV., had developed their characters. I will
endeavour to depict them.

The features of Louis XVI. were noble enough, though somewhat melancholy
in expression; his walk was heavy and unmajestic; his person greatly
neglected; his hair, whatever might be the skill of his hairdresser,
was soon in disorder. His voice, without being harsh, was not agreeable;
if he grew animated in speaking he often got above his natural pitch,
and became shrill. The Abbe de Radonvilliers, his preceptor, one of the
Forty of the French Academy, a learned and amiable man, had given him and
Monsieur a taste for study. The King had continued to instruct himself;
he knew the English language perfectly; I have often heard him translate
some of the most difficult passages in Milton's poems. He was a skilful
geographer, and was fond of drawing and colouring maps; he was well
versed in history, but had not perhaps sufficiently studied the spirit of
it. He appreciated dramatic beauties, and judged them accurately. At
Choisy, one day, several ladies expressed their dissatisfaction because
the French actors were going to perform one of Moliere's pieces. The
King inquired why they disapproved of the choice. One of them answered
that everybody must admit that Moliere had very bad taste; the King
replied that many things might be found in Moliere contrary to fashion,
but that it appeared to him difficult to point out any in bad taste?

[The King, having purchased the Chateau of Rambouillet from the Duc
de Penthievre, amused himself with embellishing it. I have seen a
register entirely in his own handwriting, which proves that he
possessed a great variety of information on the minutiae of various
branches of knowledge. In his accounts he would not omit an outlay
of a franc. His figures and letters, when he wished to write
legibly, were small and very neat, but in general he wrote very ill.
He was so sparing of paper that he divided a sheet into eight, six,
or four pieces, according to the length of what he had to write.
Towards the close of the page he compressed the letters, and avoided
interlineations. The last words were close to the edge of the
paper; he seemed to regret being obliged to begin another page. He
was methodical and analytical; he divided what he wrote into
chapters and sections. He had extracted from the works of Nicole
and Fenelon, his favourite authors, three or four hundred concise
and sententious phrases; these he had classed according to subject,
and formed a work of them in the style of Montesquieu. To this
treatise he had given the following general title: "Of Moderate
Monarchy" (De la Monarchie temperee), with chapters entitled, "Of
the Person of the Prince;" "Of the Authority of Bodies in the
State;" "Of the Character of the Executive Functions of the
Monarchy." Had he been able to carry into effect all the grand
precepts he had observed in Fenelon, Louis XVI. would have been an
accomplished monarch, and France a powerful kingdom. The King used
to accept the speeches his ministers presented to him to deliver on
important occasions; but he corrected and modified them; struck out
some parts, and added others; and sometimes consulted the Queen on
the subject. The phrase of the minister erased by the King was
frequently unsuitable, and dictated by the minister's private
feelings; but the King's was always the natural expression. He
himself composed, three times or oftener, his famous answers to the
Parliament which he banished. But in his letters he was negligent,
and always incorrect. Simplicity was the characteristic of the
King's style; the figurative style of M. Necker did not please him;
the sarcasms of Maurepas were disagreeable to him. Unfortunate
Prince! he would predict, in his observations, that if such a
calamity should happen, the monarchy would be ruined; and the next
day he would consent in Council to the very measure which he had
condemned the day before, and which brought him nearer the brink of
the precipice.--SOULAVIE, "Historical and Political Memoirs of the
Reign of Louis XVI.," vol. ii.]

This Prince combined with his attainments the attributes of a good
husband, a tender father, and an indulgent master.

Unfortunately he showed too much predilection for the mechanical arts;
masonry and lock-making so delighted him that he admitted into his
private apartment a common locksmith, with whom he made keys and locks;
and his hands, blackened by that sort of work, were often, in my
presence, the subject of remonstrances and even sharp reproaches from
the Queen, who would have chosen other amusements for her husband.?

[Louis XVI. saw that the art of lock-making was capable of
application to a higher study, He was an excellent geographer. The
most valuable and complete instrument for the study of that science
was begun by his orders and under his direction. It was an immense
globe of copper, which was long preserved, though unfinished, in the
Mazarine library. Louis XVI. invented and had executed under his
own eyes the ingenious mechanism required for this globe.--NOTE BY

Austere and rigid with regard to himself alone, the King observed the
laws of the Church with scrupulous exactness. He fasted and abstained
throughout the whole of Lent. He thought it right that the queen should
not observe these customs with the same strictness. Though sincerely
pious, the spirit of the age had disposed his mind to toleration.
Turgot, Malesherbes, and Necker judged that this Prince, modest and
simple in his habits, would willingly sacrifice the royal prerogative to
the solid greatness of his people. His heart, in truth, disposed him
towards reforms; but his prejudices and fears, and the clamours of pious
and privileged persons, intimidated him, and made him abandon plans which
his love for the people had suggested.


[During his stay at Avignon, Monsieur, afterwards Louis XVIII,
lodged with the Duc de Crillon; he refused the town-guard which was
offered him, saying, "A son of France, under the roof of a Crillon,
needs no guard."--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

had more dignity of demeanour than the King; but his corpulence rendered
his gait inelegant. He was fond of pageantry and magnificence. He
cultivated the belles lettres, and under assumed names often contributed
verses to the Mercury and other papers.

His wonderful memory was the handmaid of his wit, furnishing him with the
happiest quotations. He knew by heart a varied repertoire, from the
finest passages of the Latin classics to the Latin of all the prayers,
from the works of Racine to the vaudeville of "Rose et Colas."

The Comte d'Artoisi had an agreeable countenance, was well made, skilful
in bodily exercises, lively, impetuous, fond of pleasure, and very
particular in his dress. Some happy observations made by him were
repeated with approval, and gave a favourable idea of his heart. The
Parisians liked the open and frank character of this Prince, which they
considered national, and showed real affection for him.

The dominion that the Queen gained over the King's mind, the charms of a
society in which Monsieur displayed his wit, and to which the Comte
d'Artois--[Afterwards Charles X.]-- gave life by the vivacity of youth,
gradually softened that ruggedness of manner in Louis XVI. which a
better-conducted education might have prevented. Still, this defect
often showed itself, and, in spite of his extreme simplicity, the King
inspired those who had occasion to speak to him with diffidence.
Courtiers, submissive in the presence of their sovereign, are only the
more ready to caricature him; with little good breeding, they called
those answers they so much dreaded, Les coups de boutoir du Roi.--[The
literal meaning of the phrase "coup de boutoir," is a thrust from the
snout of a boar.]

Methodical in all his habits, the King always went to bed at eleven
precisely. One evening the Queen was going with her usual circle to a
party, either at the Duc de Duras's or the Princesse de Glumenee's.
The hand of the clock was slily put forward to hasten the King's
departure by a few minutes; he thought bed-time was come, retired, and
found none of his attendants ready to wait on him. This joke became
known in all the drawing-rooms of Versailles, and was disapproved of
there. Kings have no privacy. Queens have no boudoirs. If those who
are in immediate attendance upon sovereigns be not themselves disposed to
transmit their private habits to posterity, the meanest valet will relate
what he has seen or heard; his gossip circulates rapidly, and forms
public opinion, which at length ascribes to the most august persons
characters which, however untrue they may be, are almost always


Back to Full Books