The Memoirs of Marie Antoinette, entire
Madame Campan

Part 4 out of 8

the powder and perfume of the courtiers of Versailles. This novelty
turned the light heads of the Frenchwomen. Elegant entertainments were
given to Doctor Franklin, who, to the reputation of a man of science,
added the patriotic virtues which invested him with the character of an
apostle of liberty. I was present at one of these entertainments, when
the most beautiful woman out of three hundred was selected to place a
crown of laurels upon the white head of the American philosopher, and two
kisses upon his cheeks. Even in the palace of Versailles Franklin's
medallion was sold under the King's eyes, in the exhibition of Sevres
porcelain. The legend of this medallion was

"Eripuit coelo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis."

The King never declared his opinion upon an enthusiasm which his correct
judgment no doubt led him to blame. The Queen spoke out more plainly
about the part France was taking respecting the independence of the
American colonies, and constantly opposed it. Far was she from
foreseeing that a revolution at--such a distance could excite one in
which a misguided populace would drag her from her palace to a death
equally unjust and cruel. She only saw something ungenerous in the
method which France adopted of checking the power of England.

However, as Queen of France, she enjoyed the sight of a whole people
rendering homage to the prudence, courage, and good qualities of a young
Frenchman; and she shared the enthusiasm inspired by the conduct and
military success of the Marquis de La Fayette. The Queen granted him
several audiences on his first return from America, and, until the 10th
of August, on which day my house was plundered, I preserved some lines
from Gaston and Bayard, in which the friends of M. de La Fayette saw the
exact outline of his character, written by her own hand:

"Why talk of youth,
When all the ripe experience of the old
Dwells with him? In his schemes profound and cool,
He acts with wise precaution, and reserves
For time of action his impetuous fire.
To guard the camp, to scale the leaguered wall,
Or dare the hottest of the fight, are toils
That suit th' impetuous bearing of his youth;
Yet like the gray-hair'd veteran he can shun
The field of peril. Still before my eyes
I place his bright example, for I love
His lofty courage, and his prudent thought.
Gifted like him, a warrior has no age."

[During the American war a general officer in the service of the
United States advanced with a score of men under the English
batteries to reconnoitre their position. His aide-de-camp, struck
by a ball, fell at his side. The officers and orderly dragoons fled
precipitately. The general, though under the fire of the cannon,
approached the wounded man to see whether any help could be afforded
him. Finding the wound had been mortal, he slowly rejoined the
group which had got out of the reach of the cannon. This instance
of courage and humanity took place at the battle of Monmouth.
General Clinton, who commanded the English troops, knew that the
Marquis de La Fayette generally rode a white horse; it was upon a
white horse that the general officer who retired so slowly was
mounted; Clinton desired the gunners not to fire. This noble
forbearance probably saved M. de La Fayette's life, for he it was.
At that time he was but twenty-two years of age.--"Historical
Anecdotes of the Reign of Louis XVI."]

These lines had been applauded and encored at the French theatre;
everybody's head was turned. There was no class of persons that did not
heartily approve of the support given openly by the French Government to
the cause of American independence. The constitution planned for the new
nation was digested at Paris, and while liberty, equality, and the rights
of man were commented upon by the Condorcets, Baillys, Mirabeaus, etc.,
the minister Segur published the King's edict, which, by repealing that
of 1st November, 1750, declared all officers not noble by four
generations incapable of filling the rank of captain, and denied all
military rank to the roturiers, excepting sons of the chevaliers de St.

["M. de Segur," says Chamfort, "having published an ordinance which
prohibited the admission of any other than gentlemen into the
artillery corps, and, on the other hand, none but well-educated
persons being proper for admission, a curious scene took place: the
Abbe Bossat, examiner of the pupils, gave certificates only to
plebeians, while Cherin gave them only to gentlemen. Out of one
hundred pupils, there were not above four or five who were qualified
in both respects."]

The injustice and absurdity of this law was no doubt a secondary cause of
the Revolution. To understand the despair and rage with which this law
inspired the Tiers Etat one should have belonged to that honourable
class. The provinces were full of roturier families, who for ages had
lived as people of property upon their own domains, and paid the taxes.
If these persons had several sons, they would place one in the King's
service, one in the Church, another in the Order of Malta as a chevalier
servant d'armes, and one in the magistracy; while the eldest preserved
the paternal manor, and if he were situated in a country celebrated for
wine, he would, besides selling his own produce, add a kind of commission
trade in the wines of the canton. I have seen an individual of this
justly respected class, who had been long employed in diplomatic
business, and even honoured with the title of minister plenipotentiary,
the son-in-law and nephew of colonels and town mayors, and, on his
mother's side, nephew of a lieutenant-general with a cordon rouge, unable
to introduce his sons as sous-lieutenants into a regiment of foot.

Another decision of the Court, which could not be announced by an edict,
was that all ecclesiastical benefices, from the humblest priory up to the
richest abbey, should in future be appanages of the nobility. Being the
son of a village surgeon, the Abbe de Vermond, who had great influence in
the disposition of benefices, was particularly struck with the justice of
this decree.

During the absence of the Abbe in an excursion he made for his health, I
prevailed on the Queen to write a postscript to the petition of a cure,
one of my friends, who was soliciting a priory near his curacy, with the
intention of retiring to it. I obtained it for him. On the Abbe's
return he told me very harshly that I should act in a manner quite
contrary to the King's wishes if I again obtained such a favour; that the
wealth of the Church was for the future to be invariably devoted to the
support of the poorer nobility; that it was the interest of the State
that it should be so; and a plebeian priest, happy in a good curacy, had
only to remain curate.

Can we be astonished at the part shortly afterwards taken by the deputies
of the Third Estate, when called to the States General?


Elegant entertainments were given to Doctor Franklin
Fashion of wearing a black coat without being in mourning
Favourite of a queen is not, in France, a happy one
History of the man with the iron mask
Of course I shall be either hissed or applauded.
She often carried her economy to a degree of parsimony
Shocking to find so little a man in the son of the Marechal
Simplicity of the Queen's toilet began to be strongly censured
The charge of extravagance
The three ministers, more ambitious than amorous
Well, this is royally ill played!
While the Queen was blamed, she was blindly imitated


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



About the close of the last century several of the Northern sovereigns
took a fancy for travelling. Christian III., King of Denmark, visited
the Court of France in 1763, during the reign of Louis XV. We have seen
the King of Sweden and Joseph II. at Versailles. The Grand Duke of
Russia (afterwards Paul I.), son of Catherine II., and the Princess of
Wurtemberg, his wife, likewise resolved to visit France. They travelled
under the titles of the Comte and Comtesse du Nord. They were presented
on the 20th of May, 1782. The Queen received them with grace and
dignity. On the day of their arrival at Versailles they dined in private
with the King and Queen.

The plain, unassuming appearance of Paul I. pleased Louis XVI. He spoke
to him with more confidence and cheerfulness than he had spoken to Joseph
II. The Comtesse du Nord was not at first so successful with the Queen.
This lady was of a fine height, very fat for her age, with all the German
stiffness, well informed, and perhaps displaying her acquirements with
rather too much confidence. When the Comte and Comtesse du Nord were
presented the Queen was exceedingly nervous. She withdrew into her
closet before she went into the room where she was to dine with the
illustrious travellers, and asked for a glass of water, confessing "she
had just experienced how much more difficult it was to play the part of a
queen in the presence of other sovereigns, or of princes born to become
so, than before courtiers." She soon recovered from her confusion, and
reappeared with ease and confidence. The dinner was tolerably cheerful,
and the conversation very animated.

Brilliant entertainments were given at Court in honour of the King of
Sweden and the Comte du Nord. They were received in private by the King
and Queen, but they were treated with much more ceremony than the
Emperor, and their Majesties always appeared to me to be very, cautious
before these personages. However, the King one day asked the Russian
Grand Duke if it were true that he could not rely on the fidelity of any
one of those who accompanied him. The Prince answered him without
hesitation, and before a considerable number of persons, that he should
be very sorry to have with him even a poodle that was much attached to
him, because his mother would take care to have it thrown into the Seine,
with a stone round its neck, before he should leave Paris. This reply,
which I myself heard, horrified me, whether it depicted the disposition
of Catherine, or only expressed the Prince's prejudice against her.

The Queen gave the Grand Duke a supper at Trianon, and had the gardens
illuminated as they had been for the Emperor. The Cardinal de Rohan very
indiscreetly ventured to introduce himself there without the Queen's
knowledge. Having been treated with the utmost coolness ever since his
return from Vienna, he had not dared to ask her himself for permission to
see the illumination; but he persuaded the porter of Trianon to admit him
as soon as the Queen should have set off for Versailles, and his Eminence
engaged to remain in the porter's lodge until all the carriages should
have left the chateau. He did not keep his word, and while the porter
was busy in the discharge of his duty, the Cardinal, who wore his red
stockings and had merely thrown on a greatcoat, went down into the
garden, and, with an air of mystery, drew up in two different places to
see the royal family and suite pass by.

Her Majesty was highly offended at this piece of boldness, and next day
ordered the porter to be discharged. There was a general feeling of
disgust at the Cardinal's conduct, and of commiseration towards the
porter for the loss of his place. Affected at the misfortune of the
father of a family, I obtained his forgiveness; and since that time I
have often regretted the feeling which induced me to interfere. The
notoriety of the discharge of the porter of Trianon, and the odium that
circumstance would have fixed upon the Cardinal, would have made the
Queen's dislike to him still more publicly known, and would probably have
prevented the scandalous and notorious intrigue of the necklace.

The Queen, who was much prejudiced against the King of Sweden, received
him very coldly.

[Gustavus III., King of Sweden, travelled in France under the title
of Comte d'Haga. Upon his accession to the throne, he managed the
revolution which prostrated the authority of the Senate with equal
skill, coolness, and courage. He was assassinated in 1792, at a
masked ball, by Auckarstrum.--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

All that was said of the private character of that sovereign, his
connection with the Comte de Vergennes, from the time of the Revolution
of Sweden, in 1772, the character of his favourite Armfeldt, and the
prejudices of the monarch himself against the Swedes who were well
received at the Court of Versailles, formed the grounds of this dislike.
He came one day uninvited and unexpected, and requested to dine with the
Queen. The Queen received him in the little closet, and desired me to
send for her clerk of the kitchen, that she might be informed whether
there was a proper dinner to set before Comte d'Haga, and add to it if
necessary. The King of Sweden assured her that there would be enough for
him; and I could not help smiling when I thought of the length of the
menu of the dinner of the King and Queen, not half of which would have
made its appearance had they dined in private. The Queen looked
significantly at me, and I withdrew. In the evening she asked me why I
had seemed so astonished when she ordered me to add to her dinner, saying
that I ought instantly to have seen that she was giving the King of
Sweden a lesson for his presumption. I owned to her that the scene had
appeared to me so much in the bourgeois style, that I involuntarily
thought of the cutlets on the gridiron, and the omelette, which in
families in humble circumstances serve to piece out short commons. She
was highly diverted with my answer, and repeated it to the King, who also
laughed heartily at it.

The peace with England satisfied all classes of society interested in the
national honour. The departure of the English commissary from Dunkirk,
who had been fixed at that place ever since the shameful peace of 1763 as
inspector of our navy, occasioned an ecstasy of joy.

[By the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) it was stipulated that the
fortifications and port of Dunkirk should be destroyed. By the
Treaty of Paris (1763) a commissary was to reside at Dunkirk to see
that no attempt was made to break this treaty. This stipulation was
revoked by the Peace of Versailles, in 1783.--see DYER'S "Modern
Europe," 1st edition, vol. i., pp. 205-438 and 539.]

The Government communicated to the Englishman the order for his departure
before the treaty was made public. But for that precaution the populace
would have probably committed some excess or other, in order to make the
agent of English power feel the effects of the resentment which had
constantly increased during his stay at that port. Those engaged in
trade were the only persons dissatisfied with the treaty of 1783. That
article which provided for, the free admission of English goods
annihilated at one blow the trade of Rouen and the other manufacturing
towns throughout the kingdom. The English swarmed into Paris. A
considerable number of them were presented at Court. The Queen paid them
marked attention; doubtless she wished them to distinguish between the
esteem she felt for their noble nation and the political views of the
Government in the support it had afforded to the Americans. Discontent
was, however, manifested at Court in consequence of the favour bestowed
by the Queen on the English noblemen; these attentions were called
infatuations. This was illiberal; and the Queen justly complained of
such absurd jealousy.

The journey to Fontainebleau and the winter at Paris and at Court were
extremely brilliant. The spring brought back those amusements which the
Queen began to prefer to the splendour of fetes. The most perfect
harmony subsisted between the King and Queen; I never saw but one cloud
between them. It was soon dispelled, and the cause of it is perfectly
unknown to me.

My father-in-law, whose penetration and experience I respected greatly,
recommended me, when he saw me placed in the service of a young queen, to
shun all kinds of confidence. "It procures," said he, "but a very
fleeting, and at the same time dangerous sort of favour; serve with zeal
to the best of your judgment, but never do more than obey. Instead of
setting your wits to work to discover why an order or a commission which
may appear of consequence is given to you, use them to prevent the
possibility of your knowing anything of the matter." I had occasion to
act on this wise advice. One morning at Trianon I went into the Queen's
chamber; there were letters lying upon the bed, and she was weeping
bitterly. Her tears and sobs were occasionally interrupted by
exclamations of "Ah! that I were dead!--wretches! monsters! What have I
done to them?" I offered her orange-flower water and ether. "Leave me,"
said she, "if you love me; it would be better to kill me at once." At
this moment she threw her arm over my shoulder and began weeping afresh.
I saw that some weighty trouble oppressed her heart, and that she wanted
a confidant. I suggested sending for the Duchesse de Polignac; this she
strongly opposed. I renewed my arguments, and her opposition grew
weaker. I disengaged myself from her arms, and ran to the antechamber,
where I knew that an outrider always waited, ready to mount and start at
a moment's warning for Versailles. I ordered him to go full speed, and
tell the Duchesse de Polignac that the Queen was very uneasy, and desired
to see her instantly. The Duchess always had a carriage ready. In less
than ten minutes she was at the Queen's door. I was the only person
there, having been forbidden to send for the other women. Madame de
Polignac came in; the Queen held out her arms to her, the Duchess rushed
towards her. I heard her sobs renewed and withdrew.

A quarter of an hour afterwards the Queen, who had become calmer, rang to
be dressed. I sent her woman in; she put on her gown and retired to her
boudoir with the Duchess. Very soon afterwards the Comte d'Artois
arrived from Compiegne, where he had been with the King. He eagerly
inquired where the Queen was; remained half an hour with her and the
Duchess; and on coming out told me the Queen asked for me. I found her
seated on the couch by the side of her friend; her features had resumed
their usual cheerful and gracious appearance. She held out her hand to
me, and said to the Duchess, "I know I have made her so uncomfortable
this morning that I must set her poor heart at ease." She then added,
"You must have seen, on some fine summer's day, a black cloud suddenly
appear and threaten to pour down upon the country and lay it waste. The
lightest wind drives it away, and the blue sky and serene weather are
restored. This is just the image of what has happened to me this
morning." She afterwards told me that the King would return from
Compiegne after hunting there, and sup with her; that I must send for her
purveyor, to select with him from his bills of fare all such dishes as
the King liked best; that she would have no others served up in the
evening at her table; and that this was a mark of attention that she
wished the King to notice. The Duchesse de Polignac also took me by the
hand, and told me how happy she was that she had been with the Queen at a
moment when she stood in need of a friend. I never knew what could have
created in the Queen so lively and so transient an alarm; but I guessed
from the particular care she took respecting the King that attempts had
been made to irritate him against her; that the malice of her enemies had
been promptly discovered and counteracted by the King's penetration and
attachment; and that the Comte d'Artois had hastened to bring her
intelligence of it.

It was, I think, in the summer of 1787, during one of the Trianon
excursions, that the Queen of Naples--[Caroline, sister of Marie
Antoinette.]--sent the Chevalier de Bressac to her Majesty on a secret
mission relative to a projected marriage between the Hereditary Prince,
her son, and Madame, the King's daughter; in the absence of the lady of
honour he addressed himself to me. Although he said a great deal to me
about the close confidence with which the Queen of Naples honoured him,
and about his letter of credit, I thought he had the air of an
adventurer.--[He afterwards spent several years shut up in the Chateau de
l'Oeuf.]--He had, indeed, private letters for the Queen, and his
mission was not feigned; he talked to me very rashly even before his
admission, and entreated me to do all that lay in my power to dispose the
Queen's mind in favour of his sovereign's wishes; I declined, assuring
him that it did not become me to meddle with State affairs.
He endeavoured, but in vain, to prove to me that the union contemplated
by the Queen of Naples ought not to be looked upon in that light.

I procured M. de Bressac the audience he desired, but without suffering
myself even to seem acquainted with the object of his mission. The Queen
told me what it was; she thought him a person ill-chosen for the
occasion; and yet she thought that the Queen, her sister, had done wisely
in not sending a man worthy to be avowed,--it being impossible that what
she solicited should take place. I had an opportunity on this occasion,
as indeed on many others, of judging to what extent the Queen valued and
loved France and the dignity of our Court. She then told me that Madame,
in marrying her cousin, the Duc d'Angouleme, would not lose her rank as
daughter of the Queen; and that her situation would be far preferable to
that of queen of any other country; and that there was nothing in Europe
to be compared to the Court of France; and that it would be necessary,
in order to avoid exposing a French Princess to feelings of deep regret,
in case she should be married to a foreign prince, to take her from the
palace of Versailles at seven years of age, and send her immediately to
the Court in which she was to dwell; and that at twelve would be too
late; for recollections and comparisons would ruin the happiness of all
the rest of her life. The Queen looked upon the destiny of her sisters
as far beneath her own; and frequently mentioned the mortifications
inflicted by the Court of Spain upon her sister, the Queen of Naples, and
the necessity she was under of imploring the mediation of the King of

She showed me several letters that she had received from the Queen of
Naples relative to her differences with the Court of Madrid respecting
the Minister Acton. She thought him useful to her people, inasmuch as he
was a man of considerable information and great activity. In these
letters she minutely acquainted her Majesty with the nature of the
affronts she had received, and represented Mr. Acton to her as a man whom
malevolence itself could not suppose capable of interesting her otherwise
than by his services. She had had to suffer the impertinences of a
Spaniard named Las Casas, who had been sent to her by the King, her
father-in-law, to persuade her to dismiss Mr. Acton from the business of
the State, and from her intimacy. She complained bitterly to the Queen,
her sister, of the insulting proceedings of this charge d'affaires, whom
she told, in order to convince him of the nature of the feelings which
attached her to Mr. Acton, that she would have portraits and busts of him
executed by the most eminent artists of Italy, and that she would then
send them to the King of Spain, to prove that nothing but the desire to
retain a man of superior capacity had induced her to bestow on him the
favour he enjoyed. This Las Casas dared to answer her that it would be
useless trouble; that the ugliness of a man did not always render him
displeasing; and that the King of Spain had too much experience not to
know that there was no accounting for the caprices of a woman.

This audacious reply filled the Queen of Naples with indignation, and her
emotion caused her to miscarry on the same day. In consequence of the
mediation of Louis XVI. the Queen of Naples obtained complete
satisfaction, and Mr. Acton continued Prime Minister.

Among the characteristics which denoted the goodness of the Queen, her
respect for personal liberty should have a place. I have seen her put up
with the most troublesome importunities from people whose minds were
deranged rather than have them arrested. Her patient kindness was put to
a very disagreeable trial by an ex-councillor of the Bordeaux Parliament,
named Castelnaux; this man declared himself the lover of the Queen, and
was generally known by that appellation. For ten successive years did he
follow the Court in all its excursions. Pale and wan, as people who are
out of their senses usually are, his sinister appearance occasioned the
most uncomfortable sensations. During the two hours that the Queen's
public card parties lasted, he would remain opposite her Majesty. He
placed himself in the same manner before her at chapel, and never failed
to be at the King's dinner or the dinner in public. At the theatre he
invariably seated himself as near the Queen's box as possible. He always
set off for Fontainebleau or St. Cloud the day before the Court, and when
her Majesty arrived at her various residences, the first person she met
on getting out of her carriage was this melancholy madman, who never
spoke to any one. When the Queen stayed at Petit Trianon the passion of
this unhappy man became still more annoying. He would hastily swallow a
morsel at some eating-house, and spend all the rest of the day, even when
it rained, in going round and round the garden, always walking at the
edge of the moat. The Queen frequently met him when she was either alone
or with her children; and yet she would not suffer any violence to be
used to relieve her from this intolerable annoyance. Having one day
given M. de Seze permission to enter Trianon, she sent to desire he would
come to me, and directed me to inform that celebrated advocate of M. de
Castelnaux's derangement, and then to send for him that M. de Seze might
have some conversation with him. He talked to him nearly an hour, and
made considerable impression upon his mind; and at last M. de Castelnaux
requested me to inform the Queen positively that, since his presence was
disagreeable to her, he would retire to his province. The Queen was very
much rejoiced, and desired me to express her full satisfaction to M. de
Seze. Half an hour after M. de Seze was gone the unhappy madman was
announced. He came to tell me that he withdrew his promise, that he had
not sufficient command of himself to give up seeing the Queen as often as
possible. This new determination: was a disagreeable message to take to
her Majesty but how was I affected at hearing her say, "Well, let him
annoy me! but do not let him be deprived of the blessing of freedom."

[On the arrest of the King and Queen at Varennes, this unfortunate
Castelnaux attempted to starve himself to death. The people in
whose house he lived, becoming uneasy at his absence, had the door
of his room forced open, when he was found stretched senseless on
the floor. I do not know what became of him after the 10th of

The direct influence of the Queen on affairs during the earlier years
of the reign was shown only in her exertions to obtain from the King a
revision of the decrees in two celebrated causes. It was contrary to her
principles to interfere in matters of justice, and never did she avail
herself of her influence to bias the tribunals. The Duchesse de Praslin,
through a criminal caprice, carried her enmity to her husband so far as
to disinherit her children in favour of the family of M. de Guemenee.
The Duchesse de Choiseul, who, was warmly interested in this affair, one
day entreated the Queen, in my presence, at least to condescend to ask
the first president when the cause would be called on; the Queen replied
that she could not even do that, for it would manifest an interest which
it was her duty not to show.

If the King had not inspired the Queen with a lively feeling of love,
it is quite certain that she yielded him respect and affection for the
goodness of his disposition and the equity of which he gave so many
proofs throughout his reign. One evening she returned very late; she
came out of the King's closet, and said to M. de Misery and myself,
drying her eyes, which were filled with tears, "You see me weeping, but
do not be uneasy at it: these are the sweetest tears that a wife can
shed; they are caused by the impression which the justice and goodness of
the King have made upon me; he has just complied with my request for a
revision of the proceedings against Messieurs de Bellegarde and de
Monthieu, victims of the Duc d'Aiguillon's hatred to the Duc de Choiseul.
He has been equally just to the Duc de Guines in his affair with Tort.
It is a happy thing for a queen to be able to admire and esteem him who
has admitted her to a participation of his throne; and as to you,
I congratulate you upon your having to live under the sceptre of so
virtuous a sovereign."

The Queen laid before the King all the memorials of the Duc de Guines,
who, during his embassy to England, was involved in difficulties by a
secretary, who speculated in the public funds in London on his own
account, but in such a manner as to throw a suspicion of it on the
ambassador. Messieurs de Vergennes and Turgot, bearing but little good-
will to the Duc de Guines, who was the friend of the Duc de Choiseul,
were not disposed to render the ambassador any service. The Queen
succeeded in fixing the King's particular attention on this affair, and
the innocence of the Duc de Guines triumphed through the equity of Louis

An incessant underhand war was carried on between the friends and
partisans of M. de Choiseul, who were called the Austrians, and those who
sided with Messieurs d'Aiguillon, de Maurepas, and de Vergennes, who, for
the same reason, kept up the intrigues carried on at Court and in Paris
against the Queen. Marie Antoinette, on her part, supported those who
had suffered in this political quarrel, and it was this feeling which led
her to ask for a revision of the proceedings against Messieurs de
Bellegarde and de Monthieu. The first, a colonel and inspector of
artillery, and the second, proprietor of a foundry at St. Etienne, were,
under the Ministry of the Duc d'Aiguillon, condemned to imprisonment for
twenty years and a day for having withdrawn from the arsenals of France,
by order of the Duc de Choiseul, a vast number of muskets, as being of
no value except as old iron, while in point of fact the greater part of
those muskets were immediately embarked and sold to the Americans. It
appears that the Duc de Choiseul imparted to the Queen, as grounds of
defence for the accused, the political views which led him to authorise
that reduction and sale in the manner in which it had been executed. It
rendered the case of Messieurs de Bellegarde and de Monthieu more
unfavourable that the artillery officer who made the reduction in the
capacity of inspector was, through a clandestine marriage, brother-in-law
of the owner of the foundry, the purchaser of the rejected arms. The
innocence of the two prisoners was, nevertheless, made apparent; and they
came to Versailles with their wives and children to throw themselves at
the feet of their benefactress. This affecting scene took place in the
grand gallery, at the entrance to the Queen's apartment. She wished to
restrain the women from kneeling, saying that they had only had justice
done them; and that she ought to be congratulated upon the most
substantial happiness attendant upon her station, that of laying just
appeals before the King.

On every occasion, when the Queen had to speak in public, she used the
most appropriate and elegant language, notwithstanding the difficulty a
foreigner might be expected to experience. She answered all addresses
herself, a custom which she learned at the Court of Maria Theresa. The
Princesses of the House of Bourbon had long ceased to take the trouble of
speaking in such cases. Madame Addlaide blamed the Queen for not doing
as they did, assuring her that it was quite sufficient to mutter a few
words that might sound like an answer, while the addressers, occupied
with what they had themselves been saying, would always take it for
granted that a proper answer had been returned. The Queen saw that
idleness alone dictated such a proceeding, and that as the practice even
of muttering a few words showed the necessity of answering in some way,
it must be more proper to reply simply but clearly, and in the best style
possible. Sometimes indeed, when apprised of the subject of the address,
she would write down her answer in the morning, not to learn it by heart,
but in order to settle the ideas or sentiments she wished to introduce.

The influence of the Comtesse de Polignac increased daily; and her
friends availed themselves of it to effect changes in the Ministry.
The dismissal of M. de Montbarrey, a man without talents or character,
was generally approved of. It was rightly attributed to the Queen. He
had been placed in administration by M. de Maurepas, and maintained by
his aged wife; both, of course, became more inveterate than ever against
the Queen and the Polignac circle.

The appointment of M. de Segur to the place of Minister of War, and of
M. de Castries to that of Minister of Marine, were wholly the work of
that circle. The Queen dreaded making ministers; her favourite often
wept when the men of her circle compelled her to interfere. Men blame
women for meddling in business, and yet in courts it is continually the
men themselves who make use of the influence of the women in matters with
which the latter ought to have nothing to do.

When M. de Segur was presented to the Queen on his new appointment, she
said to me, "You have just seen a minister of my making. I am very glad,
so far as regards the King's service, that he is appointed, for I think
the selection a very good one; but I almost regret the part I have taken
in it. I take a responsibility upon myself. I was fortunate in being
free from any; and in order to relieve myself from this as much as
possible I have just promised M. de Segur, and that upon my word of
honour, not to back any petition, nor to hinder any of his operations by
solicitations on behalf of my proteges."

During the first administration of M. Necker, whose ambition had not then
drawn him into schemes repugnant to his better judgment, and whose views
appeared to the Queen to be very judicious, she indulged in hopes of the
restoration of the finances. Knowing that M. de Maurepas wished to drive
M. Necker to resign, she urged him to have patience until the death of an
old man whom the King kept about him from a fondness for his first
choice, and out of respect for his advanced age. She even went so far as
to tell him that M. de Maurepas was always ill, and that his end could
not be very distant. M. Necker would not wait for that event. The
Queen's prediction was fulfilled. M. de Maurepas ended his days
immediately after a journey to Fontainebleau in 1781.

M. Necker had retired. He had been exasperated by a piece of treachery
in the old minister, for which he could not forgive him. I knew
something of this intrigue at the time; it has since been fully explained
to me by Madame la Marechale de Beauvau. M. Necker saw that his credit
at Court was declining, and fearing lest that circumstance should injure
his financial operations, he requested the King to grant him some favour
which might show the public that he had not lost the confidence of his
sovereign. He concluded his letter by pointing out five requests--such
an office, or such a mark of distinction, or such a badge of honour, and
so on, and handed it to M. de Maurepas. The or's were changed into
and's; and the King was displeased at M. Necker's ambition, and the
assurance with which he displayed it. Madame la Marechale de Beauvau
assured me that the Marechal de Castries saw the minute of M. Necker's
letter, and that he likewise saw the altered copy.

The interest which the Queen took in M. Necker died away during his
retirement, and at last changed into strong prejudice against him. He
wrote too much about the measures he would have pursued, and the benefits
that would have resulted to the State from them. The ministers who
succeeded him thought their operations embarrassed by the care that M.
Necker and his partisans incessantly took to occupy the public with his
plans; his friends were too ardent. The Queen discerned a party spirit
in these combinations, and sided wholly with his enemies.

After those inefficient comptrollers-general, Messieurs Joly de Fleury
and d'Ormesson, it became necessary to resort to a man of more
acknowledged talent, and the Queen's friends, at that time combining with
the Comte d'Artois and with M. de Vergennes, got M. de Calonne appointed.
The Queen was highly displeased, and her close intimacy with the Duchesse
de Polignac began to suffer for this.

Her Majesty, continuing to converse with me upon the difficulties she
had met with in private life, told me that ambitious men without merit
sometimes found means to gain their ends by dint of importunity, and that
she had to blame herself for having procured M. d'Adhemar's appointment
to the London embassy, merely because he teased her into it at the
Duchess's house. She added, however, that it was at a time of perfect
peace with the English; that the Ministry knew the inefficiency of
M. d'Adhemar as well as she did, and that he could do neither harm nor

Often in conversations of unreserved frankness the Queen owned that she
had purchased rather dearly a piece of experience which would make her
carefully watch over the conduct of her daughters-in-law, and that she
would be particularly scrupulous about the qualifications of the ladies
who might attend them; that no consideration of rank or favour should
bias her in so important a choice. She attributed several of her
youthful mistakes to a lady of great levity, whom she found in her palace
on her arrival in France. She also determined to forbid the Princesses
coming under her control the practice of singing with professors, and
said, candidly, and with as much severity as her slanderers could have
done, "I ought to have heard Garat sing, and never to have sung duets
with him."

The indiscreet zeal of Monsieur Augeard contributed to the public belief
that the Queen disposed of all the offices of finance. He had, without
any authority for doing so, required the committee of fermiers-general to
inform him of all vacancies, assuring them that they would be meeting the
wishes of the Queen. The members complied, but not without murmuring.
When the Queen became aware of what her secretary had done, she highly
disapproved of it, caused her resentment to be made known to the fermiers
-general, and abstained from asking for appointments,--making only one
request of the kind, as a marriage portion for one of her attendants, a
young woman of good family.


The Queen did not sufficiently conceal the dissatisfaction she felt at
having been unable to prevent the appointment of M. de Calonne; she even
one day went so far as to say at the Duchess's, in the midst of the
partisans and protectors of that minister, that the finances of France
passed alternately from the hands of an honest man without talent into
those of a skilful knave. M. de Calonne was thus far from acting in
concert with the Queen all the time that he continued in office; and,
while dull verses were circulated about Paris describing the Queen and
her favourite dipping at pleasure into the coffers of the comptroller-
general, the Queen was avoiding all communication with him.

During the long and severe winter of 1783-84 the King gave three millions
of livres for the relief of the indigent. M. de Calonne, who felt the
necessity of making advances to the Queen, caught at this opportunity of
showing her respect and devotion. He offered to place in her hands one
million of the three, to be distributed in her name and under her
direction. His proposal was rejected; the Queen answered that the
charity ought to be wholly distributed in the King's name, and that she
would this year debar herself of even the slightest enjoyments, in order
to contribute all her savings to the relief of the unfortunate.

The moment M. de Calonne left the closet the Queen sent for me:
"Congratulate me, my dear," said she; "I have just escaped a snare,
or at least a matter which eventually might have caused me much regret."
She related the conversation which had taken place word for word to me,
adding, "That man will complete the ruin of the national finances. It is
said that I placed him in his situation. The people are made to believe
that I am extravagant; yet I have refused to suffer a sum of money from
the royal treasury, although destined for the most laudable purpose, even
to pass through my hands."

The Queen, making monthly retrenchments from the expenditure of her privy
purse, and not having spent the gifts customary at the period of her
confinement, was in possession of from five to six hundred thousand
francs, her own savings. She made use of from two to three hundred
thousand francs of this, which her first women sent to M. Lenoir, to the
cures of Paris and Versailles, and to the Soeurs Hospitalieres, and so
distributed them among families in need.

Desirous to implant in the breast of her daughter not only a desire to
succour the unfortunate, but those qualities necessary for the due
discharge of that duty, the Queen incessantly talked to her, though she
was yet very young, about the sufferings of the poor during a season so
inclement. The Princess already had a sum of from eight to ten thousand
francs for charitable purposes, and the Queen made her distribute part of
it herself.

Wishing to give her children yet another lesson of beneficence,
she desired me on New Year's eve to get from Paris, as in other years,
all the fashionable playthings, and have them spread out in her closet.
Then taking her children by the hand, she showed them all the dolls and
mechanical toys which were ranged there, and told them that she had
intended to give them some handsome New Year's gifts, but that the cold
made the poor so wretched that all her money was spent in blankets and
clothes to protect them from the rigour of the season, and in supplying
them with bread; so that this year they would only have the pleasure of
looking at the new playthings. When she returned with her children into
her sitting-room, she said there was still an unavoidable expense to be
incurred; that assuredly many mothers would at that season think as she
did,--that the toyman must lose by it; and therefore she gave him fifty
Louis to repay him for the cost of his journey, and console him for
having sold nothing.

The purchase of St. Cloud, a matter very simple in itself, had, on
account of the prevailing spirit, unfavourable consequences to the Queen.

The palace of Versailles, pulled to pieces in the interior by a variety
of new arrangements, and mutilated in point of uniformity by the removal
of the ambassadors' staircase, and of the peristyle of columns placed at
the end of the marble court, was equally in want of substantial and
ornamental repair. The King therefore desired M. Micque to lay before
him several plans for the repairs of the palace. He consulted me on
certain arrangements analogous to some of those adopted in the Queen's
establishment, and in my presence asked M. Micque how much money would be
wanted for the execution of the whole work, and how many years he would
be in completing it. I forget how many millions were mentioned: M.
Micque replied that six years would be sufficient time if the Treasury
made the necessary periodical advances without any delay. "And how many
years shall you require," said the King, "if the advances are not
punctually made?"--"Ten, Sire," replied the architect. "We must then
reckon upon ten years," said his Majesty, "and put off this great
undertaking until the year 1790; it will occupy the rest of the century."

The King afterwards talked of the depreciation of property which took
place at Versailles whilst the Regent removed the Court of Louis XV. to
the Tuileries, and said that he must consider how to prevent that
inconvenience; it was the desire to do this that promoted the purchase of
St. Cloud. The Queen first thought of it one day when she was riding out
with the Duchesse de Polignac and the Comtesse Diane; she mentioned it to
the King, who was much pleased with the thought,--the purchase confirming
him in the intention, which he had entertained for ten years, of quitting

The King determined that the ministers, public officers, pages, and a
considerable part of his stabling should remain at Versailles. Messieurs
de Breteuil and de Calonne were instructed to treat with the Duc
d'Orleans for the purchase of St. Cloud; at first they hoped to be able
to conclude the business by a mere exchange. The value of the Chateau de
Choisy, de la Muette, and a forest was equivalent to the sum demanded by
the House of Orleans; and in the exchange which the Queen expected she
only saw a saving to be made instead of an increase of expense. By this
arrangement the government of Choisy, in the hands of the Duc de Coigny,
and that of La Muette, in the hands of the Marechal de Soubise, would be
suppressed. At the same time the two concierges, and all the servants
employed in these two royal houses, would be reduced; but while the
treaty was going forward Messieurs de Breteuil and de Calonne gave up the
point of exchange, and some millions in cash were substituted for Choisy
and La Muette.

The Queen advised the King to give her St. Cloud, as a means of avoiding
the establishment of a governor; her plan being to have merely a
concierge there, by which means the governor's expenses would be saved.
The King agreed, and St. Cloud was purchased for the Queen. She provided
the same liveries for the porters at the gates and servants at the
chateau as for those at Trianon. The concierge at the latter place had
put up some regulations for the household, headed, "By order of the
Queen." The same thing was done at St. Cloud. The Queen's livery at the
door of a palace where it was expected none but that of the King would be
seen, and the words "By order of the Queen" at the head of the printed
papers pasted near the iron gates, caused a great sensation, and produced
a very unfortunate effect, not only among the common people, but also.
among persons of a superior class. They saw in it an attack upon the
customs of monarchy, and customs are nearly equal to laws. The Queen
heard of this, but she thought that her dignity would be compromised if
she made any change in the form of these regulations, though they might
have been altogether superseded without inconvenience. "My name is not
out of place," said she, "in gardens belonging to myself; I may give
orders there without infringing on the rights of the State." This was
her only answer to the representations which a few faithful servants
ventured to make on the subject. The discontent of the Parisians on this
occasion probably induced M. d'Espremenil, upon the first troubles about
the Parliament, to say that it was impolitic and immoral to see palaces
belonging to a Queen of France.

[The Queen never forgot this affront of M. d'Espremenil's; she said
that as it was offered at a time when social order had not yet been
disturbed, she had felt the severest mortification at it. Shortly
before the downfall of the throne M. Espremenil, having openly
espoused the King's side, was insulted in the gardens of the
Tuileries by the Jacobins, and so ill-treated that he was carried
home very ill. Somebody recommended the Queen, on account of the
royalist principles he then professed, to send and inquire for him.
She replied that she was truly grieved at what had happened to M.
d'Espremenil, but that mere policy should never induce her to show
any particular solicitude about the man who had been the first to
make so insulting an attack upon her character.--MADAME CAMPAN]

The Queen was very much dissatisfied with the manner in which M. de
Calonne had managed this matter. The Abbe de Vermond, the most active
and persevering of that minister's enemies, saw with delight that the
expedients of those from whom alone new resources might be expected were
gradually becoming exhausted, because the period when the Archbishop of
Toulouse would be placed over the finances was thereby hastened.

The royal navy had resumed an imposing attitude during the war for the
independence of America; glorious peace with England had compensated for
the former attacks of our enemies upon the fame of France; and the throne
was surrounded by numerous heirs. The sole ground of uneasiness was in
the finances, but that uneasiness related only to the manner in which
they were administered. In a word, France felt confident in its own
strength and resources, when two events, which seem scarcely worthy of a
place in history, but which have, nevertheless, an important one in that
of the French Revolution, introduced a spirit of ridicule and contempt,
not only against the highest ranks, but even against the most august
personages. I allude to a comedy and a great swindling transaction.

Beaumarchais had long possessed a reputation in certain circles in Paris
for his wit and musical talents, and at the theatres for dramas more or
less indifferent, when his "Barbier de Seville" procured him a higher
position among dramatic writers. His "Memoirs" against M. Goesman had
amused Paris by the ridicule they threw upon a Parliament which was
disliked; and his admission to an intimacy with M. de Maurepas procured
him a degree of influence over important affairs. He then became
ambitious of influencing public opinion by a kind of drama, in which
established manners and customs should be held up to popular derision and
the ridicule of the new philosophers. After several years of prosperity
the minds of the French had become more generally critical; and when
Beaumarchais had finished his monstrous but diverting "Mariage de
Figaro," all people of any consequence were eager for the gratification
of hearing it read, the censors having decided that it should not be
performed. These readings of "Figaro" grew so numerous that people were
daily heard to say, "I have been (or I am going to be) at the reading of
Beaumarchais's play." The desire to see it performed became universal;
an expression that he had the art to use compelled, as it were, the
approbation of the nobility, or of persons in power, who aimed at ranking
among the magnanimous; he made his "Figaro" say that "none but little
minds dreaded little books." The Baron de Breteuil, and all the men of
Madame de Polignac's circle, entered the lists as the warmest protectors
of the comedy. Solicitations to the King became so pressing that his
Majesty determined to judge for himself of a work which so much engrossed
public attention, and desired me to ask M. Le Noir, lieutenant of police,
for the manuscript of the "Mariage de Figaro." One morning I received a
note from the Queen ordering me to be with her at three o'clock, and not
to come without having dined, for she should detain me some time. When I
got to the Queen's inner closet I found her alone with the King; a chair
and a small table were ready placed opposite to them, and upon the
table lay an enormous manuscript in several books. The King said to me,
"There is Beaumarchais's comedy; you must read it to us. You will find
several parts troublesome on account of the erasures and references. I
have already run it over, but I wish the Queen to be acquainted with the
work. You will not mention this reading to any one."

I began. The King frequently interrupted me by praise or censure, which
was always just. He frequently exclaimed, "That's in bad taste; this man
continually brings the Italian concetti on the stage." At that soliloquy
of Figaro in which he attacks various points of government, and
especially at the tirade against State prisons, the King rose up and
said, indignantly:

"That's detestable; that shall never be played; the Bastille must be
destroyed before the license to act this play can be any other than an
act of the most dangerous inconsistency. This man scoffs at everything
that should be respected in a government."

"It will not be played, then?" said the Queen.

"No, certainly," replied Louis XVI.; "you may rely upon that."

Still it was constantly reported that "Figaro" was about to be performed;
there were even wagers laid upon the subject; I never should have laid
any myself, fancying that I was better informed as to the probability
than anybody else; if I had, however, I should have been completely
deceived. The protectors of Beaumarchais, feeling certain that they
would succeed in their scheme of making his work public in spite of the
King's prohibition, distributed the parts in the "Mariage de Figaro"
among the actors of the Theatre Francais. Beaumarchais had made them
enter into the spirit of his characters, and they determined to enjoy at
least one performance of this so-called chef d'oeuvre. The first
gentlemen of the chamber agreed that M. de la Ferte should lend the
theatre of the Hotel des Menus Plaisirs, at Paris, which was used for
rehearsals of the opera; tickets were distributed to a vast number of
leaders of society, and the day for the performance was fixed. The King
heard of all this only on the very morning, and signed a 'lettre de
cachet,'--[A 'lettre de cachet' was any written order proceeding from the
King. The term was not confined merely to orders for arrest.]--which
prohibited the performance. When the messenger who brought the order
arrived, he found a part of the theatre already filled with spectators,
and the streets leading to the Hotel des Menus Plaisirs filled with
carriages; the piece was not performed. This prohibition of the King's
was looked upon as an attack on public liberty.

The disappointment produced such discontent that the words oppression and
tyranny were uttered with no less passion and bitterness at that time
than during the days which immediately preceded the downfall of the
throne. Beaumarchais was so far put off his guard by rage as to exclaim,
"Well, gentlemen, he won't suffer it to be played here; but I swear it
shall be played,--perhaps in the very choir of Notre-Dame!" There was
something prophetic in these words. It was generally insinuated shortly
afterwards that Beaumarchais had determined to suppress all those parts
of his work which could be obnoxious to the Government; and on pretence
of judging of the sacrifices made by the author, M. de Vaudreuil obtained
permission to have this far-famed "Mariage de Figaro" performed at his
country house. M. Campan was asked there; he had frequently heard the
work read, and did not now find the alterations that had been announced;
this he observed to several persons belonging to the Court, who
maintained that the author had made all the sacrifices required. M.
Campan was so astonished at these persistent assertions of an obvious
falsehood that he replied by a quotation from Beaumarchais himself, and
assuming the tone of Basilio in the "Barbier de Seville," he said,
"Faith, gentlemen, I don't know who is deceived here; everybody is in the
secret." They then came to the point, and begged him to tell the Queen
positively that all which had been pronounced reprehensible in M. de
Beaumarchais's play had been cut out. My father-in-law contented himself
with replying that his situation at Court would not allow of his giving
an opinion unless the Queen should first speak of the piece to him.
The Queen said nothing to him about the matter. Shortly, afterwards
permission to perform this play was at length obtained. The Queen
thought the people of Paris would be finely tricked when they saw merely
an ill-conceived piece, devoid of interest, as it must appear when
deprived of its Satire.

["The King," says Grimm, "made sure that the public would judge
unfavourably of the work." He said to the Marquis de Montesquiou,
who was going to see the first representation, 'Well, what do you
augur of its success?'--'Sire, I hope the piece will fail.'--'And so
do I,' replied the King.

"There is something still more ridiculous than my piece," said
Beaumarchais himself; "that is, its success." Mademoiselle Arnould
foresaw it the first day, and exclaimed, "It is a production that
will fail fifty nights successively." There was as crowded an
audience on the seventy-second night as on the first. The following
is extracted from Grimm's 'Correspondence.'

"Answer of M. de Beaumarchais to -----, who requested the use of his
private box for some ladies desirous of seeing 'Figaro' without
being themselves seen.

"I have no respect for women who indulge themselves in seeing any
play which they think indecorous, provided they can do so in secret.
I lend myself to no such acts. I have given my piece to the public,
to amuse, and not to instruct, not to give any compounding prudes
the pleasure of going to admire it in a private box, and balancing
their account with conscience by censuring it in company. To
indulge in the pleasure of vice and assume the credit of virtue is
the hypocrisy of the age. My piece is not of a doubtful nature; it
must be patronised in good earnest, or avoided altogether;
therefore, with all respect to you, I shall keep my box." This
letter was circulated all over Paris for a week.]

Under the persuasion that there was not a passage left capable of
malicious or dangerous application, Monsieur attended the first
performance in a public box. The mad enthusiasm of the public in favour
of the piece and Monsieur's just displeasure are well known. The author
was sent to prison soon afterwards, though his work was extolled to the
skies, and though the Court durst not suspend its performance.

The Queen testified her displeasure against all who had assisted the
author of the "Mariage de Figaro" to deceive the King into giving his
consent that it should be represented. Her reproaches were more
particularly directed against M. de Vaudreuil for having had it performed
at his house. The violent and domineering disposition of her favourite's
friend at last became disagreeable to her.

One evening, on the Queen's return from the Duchess's, she desired her
'valet de chambre' to bring her billiard cue into her closet, and ordered
me to open the box that contained it. I took out the cue, broken in two.
It was of ivory, and formed of one single elephant's tooth; the butt was
of gold and very tastefully wrought. "There," said she, "that is the way
M. de Vaudreuil has treated a thing I valued highly. I had laid it upon
the couch while I was talking to the Duchess in the salon; he had the
assurance to make use of it, and in a fit of passion about a blocked
ball, he struck the cue so violently against the table that he broke it
in two. The noise brought me back into the billiard-room; I did not say
a word to him, but my looks showed him how angry I was. He is the more
provoked at the accident, as he aspires to the post of Governor to the
Dauphin. I never thought of him for the place. It is quite enough to
have consulted my heart only in the choice of a governess; and I will not
suffer that of a Governor to the Dauphin to be at all affected by the
influence of my friends. I should be responsible for it to the nation.
The poor man does not know that my determination is taken; for I have
never expressed it to the Duchess. Therefore, judge of the sort of an
evening he must have passed!"


Shortly after the public mind had been thrown into agitation by the
performance of the "Mariage de Figaro," an obscure plot, contrived by
swindlers, and matured in a corrupted society, attacked the Queen's
character in a vital point and assailed the majesty of the throne.

I am about to speak of the notorious affair of the necklace purchased, as
it was said, for the Queen by Cardinal de Rohan. I will narrate all that
has come to my knowledge relating to this business; the most minute
particulars will prove how little reason the Queen had to apprehend the
blow by which she was threatened, and which must be attributed to a
fatality that human prudence could not have foreseen, but from which, to
say the truth, she might have extricated herself with more skill.

I have already said that in 1774 the Queen purchased jewels of Boehmer to
the value of three hundred and sixty thousand franca, that she paid for
them herself out of her own private funds, and that it required several
years to enable her to complete the payment. The King afterwards
presented her with a set of rubies and diamonds of a fine water, and
subsequently with a pair of bracelets worth two hundred thousand francs.
The Queen, after having her diamonds reset in new patterns, told Boehmer
that she found her jewel case rich enough, and was not desirous of making
any addition to it.

[Except on those days when the assemblies at Court were particularly
attended, such as the 1st of January and the 2d of February, devoted
to the procession of the Order of the Holy Ghost, and on the
festivals of Easter, Whitsuntide, and Christmas, the Queen no longer
wore any dresses but muslin or white Florentine taffety. Her head-
dress was merely a hat; the plainest were preferred; and her
diamonds never quitted their caskets but for the dresses of
ceremony, confined to the days I have mentioned. Before the Queen
was five and twenty she began to apprehend that she might be induced
to make too frequent use of flowers and of ornaments, which at that
time were exclusively reserved for youth. Madame Bertin having
brought a wreath for the head and neck, composed of roses, the Queen
feared that the brightness of the flowers might be disadvantageous
to her complexion. She was unquestionably too severe upon herself,
her beauty having as yet experienced no alteration; it is easy to
conceive the concert of praise and compliment that replied to the
doubt she had expressed. The Queen, approaching me, said, "I charge
you, from this day, to give me notice when flowers shall cease to
become me."--"I shall do no such thing," I replied, immediately;
"I have not read 'Gil Bias' without profiting in some degree from
it, and I find your Majesty's order too much like that given him by
the Archbishop of Granada, to warn him of the moment when he should
begin to fall off in the composition of his homilies."--"Go," said
the Queen; "You are less sincere than Gil Blas; and I world have
been more amenable than the Archbishop."--MADAME CAMPAN.]

Still, this jeweller busied himself for some years in forming a
collection of the finest diamonds circulating in the trade, in order to
compose a necklace of several rows, which he hoped to induce her Majesty
to purchase; he brought it to M. Campan, requesting him to mention it to
the Queen, that she might ask to see it, and thus be induced to wish to
possess it. This M. Campan refused to do, telling him that he should be
stepping out of the line of his duty were he to propose to the Queen an
expense of sixteen hundred thousand francs, and that he believed neither
the lady of honour nor the tirewoman would take upon herself to execute
such a commission. Boehmer persuaded the King's first gentleman for the
year to show this superb necklace to his Majesty, who admired it so much
that he himself wished to see the Queen adorned with it, and sent the
case to her; but she assured him she should much regret incurring so
great an expense for such an article, that she had already very beautiful
diamonds, that jewels of that description were now worn at Court not more
than four or five times a year, that the necklace must be returned, and
that the money would be much better employed in building a man-of-war.

[Messieurs Boehmer and Bassange, jewellers to the Crown, were
proprietors of a superb diamond necklace, which had, as it was said,
been intended for the Comtesse du Barry. Being under the necessity
of selling it, they offered it, during the last war, to the king and
Queen; but their Majesties made the following prudent answer: "We
stand more in need of ships than of jewels."--"Secret Correspondence
of the Court of Louis XVI."]

Boehmer, in sad tribulation at finding his expectations delusive,
endeavoured for some time, it is said, to dispose of his necklace among
the various Courts of Europe.

A year after his fruitless attempts, Boehmer again caused his diamond
necklace to be offered to the King, proposing that it should be paid for
partly by instalments, and partly in life annuities; this proposal was
represented as highly advantageous, and the King, in my presence,
mentioned the matter once more to the Queen. I remember the Queen told
him that, if the bargain really was not bad, he might make it, and keep
the necklace until the marriage of one of his children; but that, for her
part, she would never wear it, being unwilling that the world should have
to reproach her with having coveted so expensive an article. The King
replied that their children were too young to justify such an expense,
which would be greatly increased by the number of years the diamonds
would remain useless, and that he would finally decline the offer.
Boehmer complained to everybody of his misfortune, and all reasonable
people blamed him for having collected diamonds to so considerable an
amount without any positive order for them. This man had purchased the
office of jeweller to the Crown, which gave him some rights of entry at
Court. After several months spent in ineffectual attempts to carry his
point, and in idle complaints, he obtained an audience of the Queen, who
had with her the young Princess, her daughter; her Majesty did not know
for what purpose Boehmer sought this audience, and had not the slightest
idea that it was to speak to her again about an article twice refused by
herself and the King.

Boehmer threw himself upon his knees, clasped his hands, burst into
tears, and exclaimed, "Madame, I am ruined and disgraced if you do not
purchase my necklace. I cannot outlive so many misfortunes. When I go
hence I shall throw myself into the river."

"Rise, Boehmer," said the Queen, in a tone sufficiently severe to recall
him to himself; "I do not like these rhapsodies; honest men have no
occasion to fall on their knees to make their requests. If you were to
destroy yourself I should regret you as a madman in whom I had taken an
interest, but I should not be in any way responsible for that misfortune.
Not only have I never ordered the article which causes your present
despair, but whenever you have talked to me about fine collections of
jewels I have told you that I should not add four diamonds to those which
I already possessed. I told you myself that I declined taking the
necklace; the King wished to give it to me, but I refused him also; never
mention it to me again. Divide it and try to sell it piecemeal, and do
not drown yourself. I am very angry with you for acting this scene of
despair in my presence and before this child. Let me never see you
behave thus again. Go." Baehmer withdrew, overwhelmed with confusion,
and nothing further was then heard of him.

When Madame Sophie was born the Queen told me M. de Saint-James, a rich
financier, had apprised her that Boehmer was still intent upon the sale
of his necklace, and that she ought, for her own satisfaction, to
endeavour to learn what the man had done with it; she desired me the
first time I should meet him to speak to him about it, as if from the
interest I took in his welfare. I spoke to him about his necklace, and
he told me he had been very fortunate, having sold it at Constantinople
for the favourite sultana. I communicated this answer to the Queen, who
was delighted with it, but could not comprehend how the Sultan came to
purchase his diamonds in Paris.

The Queen long avoided seeing Boehmer, being fearful of his rash
character; and her valet de chambre, who had the care of her jewels, made
the necessary repairs to her ornaments unassisted. On the baptism of the
Duc d'Angouleme, in 1785, the King gave him a diamond epaulet and
buckles, and directed Baehmer to deliver them to the Queen. Boehmer
presented them on her return from mass, and at the same time gave into
her hands a letter in the form of a petition. In this paper he told the
Queen that he was happy to see her "in possession of the finest diamonds
known in Europe," and entreated her not to forget him. The Queen read
Boehmer's address to her aloud, and saw nothing in it but a proof of
mental aberration; she lighted the paper at a wax taper standing near
her, as she had some letters to seal, saying, "It is not worth keeping."
She afterwards much regretted the loss of this enigmatical memorial.
After having burnt the paper, her Majesty said to me, "That man is born
to be my torment; he has always some mad scheme in his head; remember,
the first time you see him, to tell him that I do not like diamonds now,
and that I will buy no more so long as I live; that if I had any money to
spare I would rather add to my property at St. Cloud by the purchase of
the land surrounding it; now, mind you enter into all these particulars
and impress them well upon him." I asked her whether she wished me to
send for him; she replied in the negative, adding that it would be
sufficient to avail myself of the first opportunity afforded by meeting
him; and that the slightest advance towards such a man would be

On the 1st of August I left Versailles for my country house at Crespy; on
the 3d came Boehmer, extremely uneasy at not having received any answer
from the Queen, to ask me whether I had any commission from her to him; I
replied that she had entrusted me with none; that she had no commands for
him, and I faithfully repeated all she had desired me to say to him.

"But," said Boehmer, "the answer to the letter I presented to her,--to
whom must I apply for that?"

"To nobody," answered I; "her Majesty burnt your memorial without even
comprehending its meaning."

"Ah! madame," exclaimed he, "that is impossible; the Queen knows that she
has money to pay me!"

"Money, M. Boehmer? Your last accounts against the Queen were discharged
long ago."

"Madame, you are not in the secret. A man who is ruined for want of
payment of fifteen hundred thousand francs cannot be said to be

"Have you lost your senses?" said I. "For what can the Queen owe you so
extravagant a sum?"

"For my necklace, madame," replied Boehmer, coolly.

"What!" I exclaimed, "that necklace again, which you have teased the
Queen about so many years! Did you not tell me you had sold it at

"The Queen desired me to give that answer to all who should speak to me
on the subject," said the wretched dupe. He then told me that the Queen
wished to have the necklace, and had had it purchased for her by
Monseigneur, the Cardinal de Rohan.

"You are deceived," I exclaimed; "the Queen has not once spoken to the
Cardinal since his return from Vienna; there is not a man at her Court
less favourably looked upon."

"You are deceived yourself, madame," said Boehmer; "she sees him so much
in private that it was to his Eminence she gave thirty thousand francs,
which were paid me as an instalment; she took them, in his presence, out
of the little secretaire of Sevres porcelain next the fireplace in her

"And the Cardinal told you all this?"

"Yes, madame, himself."

"What a detestable plot!" cried I.

"Indeed, to say the truth, madame, I begin to be much alarmed, for his
Eminence assured me that the Queen would wear the necklace on Whit-
Sunday, but I did not see it upon her, and it was that which induced me
to write to her Majesty."

He then asked me what he ought to do. I advised him to go on to
Versailles, instead of returning to Paris, whence he had just arrived;
to obtain an immediate audience from the Baron de Breteuil, who, as head
of the King's household, was the minister of the department to which
Boehmer belonged, and to be circumspect; and I added that he appeared to
me extremely culpable,--not as a diamond merchant, but because being a
sworn officer it was unpardonable of him to have acted without the direct
orders of the King, the Queen, or the Minister. He answered, that he had
not acted without direct orders; that he had in his possession all the
notes signed by the Queen, and that he had even been obliged to show them
to several bankers in order to induce them to extend the time for his
payments. I urged his departure for Versailles, and he assured me he
would go there immediately. Instead of following my advice, he went to
the Cardinal, and it was of this visit of Boehmer's that his Eminence
made a memorandum, found in a drawer overlooked by the Abbe Georgel when
he burnt, by order of the Cardinal, all the papers which the latter had
at Paris. The memorandum was thus worded: "On this day, 3d August,
Boehmer went to Madame Campan's country house, and she told him that the
Queen had never had his necklace, and that he had been deceived."

When Boehmer was gone, I wanted to follow him, and go to the Queen; my
father-in-law prevented me, and ordered me to leave the minister to
elucidate such an important affair, observing that it was an infernal
plot; that I had given Boehmer the best advice, and had nothing more to
do with the business. Boehmer never said one word to me about the woman
De Lamotte, and her name was mentioned for the first time by the Cardinal
in his answers to the interrogatories put to him before the King. After
seeing the Cardinal, Boehmer went to Trianon, and sent a message to the
Queen, purporting that I had advised him to come and speak to her. His
very words were repeated to her Majesty, who said, "He is mad; I have
nothing to say to him, and will not see him." Two or three days
afterwards the Queen sent for me to Petit Trianon, to rehearse with me
the part of Rosina, which she was to perform in the "Barbier de Seville."
I was alone with her, sitting upon her couch; no mention was made of
anything but the part. After we had spent an hour in the rehearsal, her
Majesty asked me why I had sent Boehmer to her; saying he had been in my
name to speak to her, and that she would not see him. It was in this
manner I learnt that he had not followed my advice in the slightest
degree. The change of my countenance, when I heard the man's name, was
very perceptible; the Queen perceived it, and questioned me. I entreated
her to see him, and assured her it was of the utmost importance for her
peace of mind; that there was a plot going on, of which she was not
aware; and that it was a serious one, since engagements signed by herself
were shown about to people who had lent Boehmer money. Her surprise and
vexation were great. She desired me to remain at Trianon, and sent off a
courier to Paris, ordering Boehmer to come to her upon some pretext which
has escaped my recollection. He came next morning; in fact it was the
day on which the play was performed, and that was the last amusement the
Queen allowed herself at that retreat.

The Queen made him enter her closet, and asked him by what fatality it
was that she was still doomed to hear of his foolish pretence of selling
her an article which she had steadily refused for several years. He
replied that he was compelled, being unable to pacify his creditors any
longer. "What are your creditors to me?" said her Majesty. Boehmer
then regularly related to her all that he had been made to believe had
passed between the Queen and himself through the intervention of the
Cardinal. She was equally incensed and surprised at each thing she
heard. In vain did she speak; the jeweller, equally importunate and
dangerous, repeated incessantly, "Madame, there is no longer time for
feigning; condescend to confess that you have my necklace, and let some
assistance be given to me, or my bankruptcy will soon bring the whole to

It is easy to imagine how the Queen must have suffered. On Boehmer's
going away, I found her in an alarming condition; the idea that any one
could have believed that such a man as the Cardinal possessed her full
confidence; that she should have employed him to deal with a tradesman
without the King's knowledge, for a thing which she had refused to accept
from the King himself, drove her to desperation. She sent first for the
Abbe de Vermond, and then for the Baron de Breteuil. Their hatred and
contempt for the Cardinal made them too easily forget that the lowest
faults do not prevent the higher orders of the empire from being defended
by those to whom they have the honour to belong; that a Rohan, a Prince
of the Church, however culpable he might be, would be sure to have a
considerable party which would naturally be joined by all the
discontented persons of the Court, and all the frondeurs of Paris.
They too easily believed that he would be stripped of all the advantages
of his rank and order, and given up to the disgrace due to his irregular
conduct; they deceived themselves.

I saw the Queen after the departure of the Baron and the Abbe; her
agitation made me shudder. "Fraud must be unmasked," said she; "when the
Roman purple and the title of Prince cover a mere money-seeker, a cheat
who dares to compromise the wife of his sovereign, France and all Europe
should know it." It is evident that from that moment the fatal plan was
decided on. The Queen perceived my alarm; I did not conceal it from her.
I knew too well that she had many enemies not to be apprehensive on
seeing her attract the attention of the whole world to an intrigue that
they would try to complicate still more. I entreated her to seek the
most prudent and moderate advice. She silenced me by desiring me to make
myself easy, and to rest satisfied that no imprudence would be committed.

On the following Sunday, the 15th of August, being the Assumption, at
twelve o'clock, at the very moment when the Cardinal, dressed in his
pontifical garments, was about to proceed to the chapel, he was sent for
into the King's closet, where the Queen then was.

The King said to him, "You have purchased diamonds of Boehmer?"

"Yes, Sire."

"What have you done with them?"

"I thought they had been delivered to the Queen."

"Who commissioned you?"

"A lady, called the Comtesse de Lamotte-Valois, who handed me a letter
from the Queen; and I thought I was gratifying her Majesty by taking this
business on myself."

The Queen here interrupted him and said, "How, monsieur, could you
believe that I should select you, to whom I have not spoken for eight
years, to negotiate anything for me, and especially through the mediation
of a woman whom I do not even know?"

"I see plainly," said the Cardinal, "that I have been duped. I will pay
for the necklace; my desire to please your Majesty blinded me; I
suspected no trick in the affair, and I am sorry for it."

He then took out of his pocket-book a letter from the Queen to Madame de
Lamotte, giving him this commission. The King took it, and, holding it
towards the Cardinal, said:

"This is neither written nor signed by the Queen. How could a Prince of
the House of Rohan, and a Grand Almoner of France, ever think that the
Queen would sign Marie Antoinette de France? Everybody knows that queens
sign only by their baptismal names. But, monsieur," pursued the King,
handing him a copy of his letter to Baehmer, "have you ever written such
a letter as this?"

Having glanced over it, the Cardinal said, "I do not remember having
written it."

"But what if the original, signed by yourself, were shown to you?"

"If the letter be signed by myself it is genuine."

He was extremely confused, and repeated several times, "I have been
deceived, Sire; I will pay for the necklace. I ask pardon of your

"Then explain to me," resumed the King, "the whole of this enigma. I do
not wish to find you guilty; I had rather you would justify yourself.
Account for all the manoeuvres with Baehmer, these assurances and these

The Cardinal then, turning pale, and leaning against the table, said,
"Sire, I am too much confused to answer your Majesty in a way--"

"Compose yourself, Cardinal, and go into my cabinet; you will there find
paper, pens, and ink,--write what you have to say to me."

The Cardinal went into the King's cabinet, and returned a quarter of an
hour afterwards with a document as confused as his verbal answers had
been. The King then said, "Withdraw, monsieur." The Cardinal left the
King's chamber, with the Baron de Breteuil, who gave him in custody to a
lieutenant of the Body Guard, with orders to take him to his apartment.
M. d'Agoult, aide-major of the Body Guard, afterwards took him into
custody, and conducted him to his hotel, and thence to the Bastille. But
while the Cardinal had with him only the young lieutenant of the Body
Guard, who was much embarrassed at having such an order to execute, his
Eminence met his heyduc at the door of the Salon of Hercules; he spoke to
him in German and then asked the lieutenant if he could lend him a
pencil; the officer gave him that which he carried about him, and the
Cardinal wrote to the Abbe Georgel, his grand vicar and friend, instantly
to burn all Madame de Lamotte's correspondence, and all his other

[The Abbe Georgel thus relates the circumstance: The Cardinal, at
that trying moment, gave an astonishing proof of his presence of
mind; notwithstanding the escort which surrounded him, favoured by
the attendant crowd, he stopped, and stooping down with his face
towards the wall, as if to fasten his buckle, snatched out his
pencil and hastily wrote a few words upon a scrap of paper placed
under his hand in his square red cap. He rose again and proceeded.
on entering his house, his people formed a lane; he slipped this
paper, unperceived, into the hand of a confidential valet de
chambre, who waited for him at the door of his apartment." This
story is scarcely credible; it is not at the moment of a prisoner's
arrest, when an inquisitive crowd surrounds and watches him, that he
can stop and write secret messages. However, the valet de chambre
posts off to Paris. He arrives at the palace of the Cardinal
between twelve and one o'clock; and his horse falls dead in the
stable. "I was in my apartment," said the Abbe Georgel, "the valet
de chambre entered wildly, with a deadly paleness on his
countenance, and exclaimed, 'All is lost; the Prince is arrested.'
He instantly fell, fainting, and dropped the note of which he was
the bearer." The portfolio containing the papers which might
compromise the Cardinal was immediately placed beyond the reach of
all search. Madame de Lamotte also was foolishly allowed sufficient
time after she heard of the arrest of the Cardinal to burn all the
letters she had received from him. Assisted by Beugnot, she
completed this at three the same morning that she was: arrested at
four.--See "Memoirs of Comte de Beugnot," vol i., p. 74.]

This commission was executed before M. de Crosne, lieutenant of police,
had received an order from the Baron de Breteuil to put seals upon the
Cardinal's papers. The destruction of all his Eminence's correspondence,
and particularly that with Madame de Lamotte, threw an impenetrable cloud
over the whole affair.

From that moment all proofs of this intrigue disappeared. Madame de
Lamotte was apprehended at Bar-sur-Aube; her husband had already gone to
England. From the beginning of this fatal affair all the proceedings of
the Court appear to have been prompted by imprudence and want of
foresight; the obscurity resulting left free scope for the fables of
which the voluminous memorials written on one side and the other
consisted. The Queen so little imagined what could have given rise to
the intrigue, of which she was about to become the victim, that, at the
moment when the King was interrogating the Cardinal, a terrific idea
entered her mind. With that rapidity of thought caused by personal
interest and extreme agitation, she fancied that, if a design to ruin her
in the eyes of the King and the French people were the concealed motive
of this intrigue, the Cardinal would, perhaps, affirm that she had the
necklace; that he had been honoured with her confidence for this
purchase, made without the King's knowledge; and point out some secret
place in her apartment, where he might have got some villain to hide it.
Want of money and the meanest swindling were the sole motives for this
criminal affair. The necklace had already been taken to pieces and sold,
partly in London, partly in Holland, and the rest in Paris.

The moment the Cardinal's arrest was known a universal clamour arose.
Every memorial that appeared during the trial increased the outcry.
On this occasion the clergy took that course which a little wisdom and
the least knowledge of the spirit of such a body ought to have foreseen.
The Rohans and the House of Conde, as well as the clergy, made their
complaints heard everywhere. The King consented to having a legal
judgment, and early in September he addressed letters-patent to the
Parliament, in which he said that he was "filled with the most just
indignation on seeing the means which, by the confession of his Eminence
the Cardinal, had been employed in order to inculpate his most dear
spouse and companion."

Fatal moment! in which the Queen found herself, in consequence of this
highly impolitic step, on trial with a subject, who ought to have been
dealt with by the power of the King alone. The Princes and Princesses of
the House of Conde, and of the Houses of Rohan, Soubise, and Guemenee,
put on mourning, and were seen ranged in the way of the members of the
Grand Chamber to salute them as they proceeded to the palace, on the days
of the Cardinal's trial; and Princes of the blood openly canvassed
against the Queen of France.

The Pope wished to claim, on behalf of the Cardinal de Rohan, the right
belonging to his ecclesiastical rank, and demanded that he should be
judged at Rome. The Cardinal de Bernis, ambassador from France to his
Holiness, formerly Minister for Foreign Affairs, blending the wisdom of
an old diplomatist with the principles of a Prince of the Church, wished
that this scandalous affair should be hushed up. The King's aunts, who
were on very intimate terms with the ambassador, adopted his opinion, and
the conduct of the King and Queen was equally and loudly censured in the
apartments of Versailles and in the hotels and coffee-houses of Paris.

Madame, the King's sister-in-law, had been the sole protectress of De
Lamotte, and had confined her patronage to granting her a pension of
twelve to fifteen hundred francs. Her brother was in the navy, but the
Marquis de Chabert, to whom he had been recommended, could never train a
good officer. The Queen in vain endeavoured to call to mind the features
of this person, of whom she had often heard as an intriguing woman, who
came frequently on Sundays to the gallery of Versailles. At the time
when all France was engrossed by the persecution against the Cardinal,
the portrait of the Comtesse de Lamotte Valois was publicly sold. Her
Majesty desired me one day, when I was going to Paris, to buy her the
engraving, which was said to be a tolerable likeness, that she might
ascertain whether she could recognise in it any person whom she might
have seen in the gallery.

[The public, with the exception of the lowest class, were admitted
into the gallery and larger apartments of Versailles, as they were
into the park.--MADAME CAMPAN.]

The woman De Lamotte's father was a peasant at Auteuil, though he called
himself Valois. Madame de Boulainvilliers once saw from her terrace two
pretty little peasant girls, each labouring under a heavy bundle of
sticks. The priest of the village, who was walking with her, told her
that the children possessed some curious papers, and that he had no doubt
they were descendants of a Valois, an illegitimate son of one of the
princes of that name.

The family of Valois had long ceased to appear in the world. Hereditary
vices had gradually plunged them into the deepest misery. I have heard
that the last Valois then known occupied the estate called Gros Bois;
that as he seldom came to Court, Louis XIII. asked him what he was about
that he remained so constantly in the country; and that this M. de Valois
merely answered, "Sire, I only do there what I ought." It was shortly
afterwards discovered that he was coining.

Neither the Queen herself nor any one near her ever had the slightest
connection with the woman De Lamotte; and during her prosecution she
could point out but one of the Queen's servants, named Desclos, a valet
of the Queen's bedchamber, to whom she pre tended she had delivered
Boehmer's necklace. This Desclos was a very honest man; upon being
confronted with the woman De Lamotte, it was proved that she had never
seen him but once, which was at the house of the wife of a surgeon-
accoucheur at Versailles, the only person she visited at Court; and that
she had not given him the necklace. Madame de Lamotte married a private
in Monsieur's body-guard; she lodged at Versailles at the Belle Image, a
very inferior furnished house; and it is inconceivable how so obscure a
person could succeed in making herself believed to be a friend of the
Queen, who, though so extremely affable, seldom granted audiences, and
only to titled persons.

The trial of the Cardinal is too generally known to require me to repeat
its details here. The point most embarrassing to him was the interview
he had in February, 1785, with M. de Saint-James, to whom he confided the
particulars of the Queen's pretended commission, and showed the contract
approved and signed Marie Antoinette de France. The memorandum found in
a drawer of the Cardinal's bureau, in which he had himself written what
Baehmer told him after having seen me at my country house, was likewise
an unfortunate document for his Eminence.

I offered to the King to go and declare that Baehmer had told me that the
Cardinal assured him he had received from the Queen's own hand the thirty
thousand francs given on account upon the bargain being concluded, and
that his Eminence had seen her Majesty take that sum in bills from the
porcelain secretaire in her boudoir. The King declined my offer, and
said to me, "Were you alone when Boehmer told you this?" I answered that
I was alone with him in my garden. "Well," resumed he, "the man would
deny the fact; he is now sure of being paid his sixteen hundred thousand
francs, which the Cardinal's family will find it necessary to make good
to him; we can no longer rely upon his sincerity; it would look as if you
were sent by the Queen, and that would not be proper."

[The guilty woman no sooner knew that all was about to be discovered
than she sent for the jewellers, and told them the Cardinal had
perceived that the agreement, which he believed to have been signed
by the Queen, was a false and forged document. "However," added
she, "the Cardinal possesses a considerable fortune, and he can very
well pay you." These words reveal the whole secret. The Countess
had taken the necklace to herself, and flattered herself that M. de
Rohan, seeing himself deceived and cruelly imposed upon, would
determine to pay and make the beat terms he could, rather than
suffer a matter of this nature to become public.-"Secret
Correspondence of the Court of Louis XVI."]

The procureur general's information was severe on the Cardinal. The
Houses of Conde and Rohan and the majority of the nobility saw in this
affair only an attack on the Prince's rank, the clergy only a blow aimed
at the privileges of a cardinal. The clergy demanded that the
unfortunate business of the Prince Cardinal de Rohan should be submitted
to ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and the Archbishop of Narbonne, then
President of the Convocation, made representations upon the subject to
the King; the bishops wrote to his Majesty to remind him that a private
ecclesiastic implicated in the affair then pending would have a right to
claim his constitutional judges, and that this right was refused to a
cardinal, his superior in the hierarchical order. In short, the clergy
and the greater part of the nobility were at that time outrageous against
authority, and chiefly against the Queen.

The procureur-general's conclusions, and those of a part of the heads of
the magistracy, were as severe towards the Cardinal as the information
had been; yet he was fully acquitted by a majority of three voices; the
woman De Lamotte was condemned to be whipped, branded, and imprisoned;
and her husband, for contumacy, was condemned to the galleys for life.

[The following extract is from the "Memoirs" of the Abbe Georgel:
"The sittings were long and multiplied; it was necessary to read the
whole proceedings; more than fifty judges sat; a master of requests;
a friend of the Prince, wrote down all that was said there, and sent
it to his advisers, who found means to inform the Cardinal of it,
and to add the plan of conduct he ought to pursue." D'Epremesnil,
and other young counsellors, showed upon that occasion but too much
audacity in braving the Court, too much eagerness in seizing an
opportunity of attacking it. They were the first to shake that
authority which their functions made it a duty in them to respect.-

M. Pierre de Laurencel, the procureur general's substitute, sent the
Queen a list of the names of the members of the Grand Chamber, with the
means made use of by the friends of the Cardinal to gain their votes
during the trial. I had this list to keep among the papers which the
Queen deposited in the house of M. Campan, my father-in-law, and which,
at his death, she ordered me to preserve. I burnt this statement, but I
remember ladies performed a part not very creditable to their principles;
it was by them, in consideration of large sums which they received, that
some of the oldest and most respected members were won over. I did not
see a single name amongst the whole Parliament that was gained directly.

The belief confirmed by time is, that the Cardinal was completely duped
by the woman De Lamotte and Cagliostro. The King may have been in error
in thinking him an accomplice in this miserable and criminal scheme, but
I have faithfully repeated his Majesty's judgment about it.

However, the generally received opinion that the Baron de Breteuil's
hatred for the Cardinal was the cause of the scandal and the unfortunate
result of this affair contributed to the disgrace of the former still
more than his refusal to give his granddaughter in marriage to the son of
the Duc de Polignac. The Abbe de Vermond threw the whole blame of the
imprudence and impolicy of the affair of the Cardinal de Rohan upon the
minister, and ceased to be the friend and supporter of the Baron de
Breteuil with the Queen.

In the early part of the year 1786, the Cardinal, as has been said,
was fully acquitted, and came out of the Bastille, while Madame de
Lamotte was condemned to be whipped, branded, and imprisoned. The Court,
persisting in the erroneous views which had hitherto guided its measures,
conceived that the Cardinal and the woman De Lamotte were equally
culpable and unequally punished, and sought to restore the balance of
justice by exiling the Cardinal to La Chaise-Dieu, and suffering Madame
de Lamotte to escape a few days after she entered l'Hopital. This new
error confirmed the Parisians in the idea that the wretch De Lamotte, who
had never been able to make her way so far as to the room appropriated to
the Queen's women, had really interested the Queen herself.

[Further particulars will be found in the "Memoirs of the Comte de
Beugnot" (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1871), as he knew Madame de
Lamotte from the days of her early childhood (when the three
children, the Baron de Valois, who died captain of a frigate, and
the two Mademoiselles de Saint-Remi, the last descendants of the
Baron de Saint-Remi, a natural son of Henri II., were almost
starving) to the time of her temporary prosperity. In fact, he was
with her when she burnt the correspondence of the Cardinal, in the
interval the Court foolishly allowed between his arrest and her
capture, and De Beugnot believed he had met at her house, at the
moment of their return from their successful trick, the whole party
engaged in deluding the Cardinal. It is worth noting that he was
then struck by the face of Mademoiselle d'Oliva, who had just
personated the Queen in presenting a rose to the Cardinal. It may
also be cited as a pleasing quality of Madame de Lamotte that she,
"in her ordinary conversation, used the words stupid and honest as
synonymous."--See "Beugnot," vol. i., p. 60.]


The Abbe de Vermond could not repress his exultation when he succeeded in
getting the Archbishop of Sens appointed head of the council of finance.
I have more than once heard him say that seventeen years of patience were
not too long a term for success in a Court; that he spent all that time
in gaining the end he had in view; but that at length the Archbishop was
where he ought to be for the good of the State. The Abbe, from this
time, in the Queen's private circle no longer concealed his credit and
influence; nothing could equal the confidence with which he displayed the
extent of his pretensions. He requested the Queen to order that the
apartments appropriated to him should be enlarged, telling her that,
being obliged to give audiences to bishops, cardinals, and ministers, he
required a residence suitable to his present circumstances. The Queen
continued to treat him as she did before the Archbishop's arrival at
Court; but the household showed him increased consideration: the word
"Monsieur" preceded that of Abbe; and from that moment not only the
livery servants, but also the people of the antechambers rose when
Monsieur l'Abbe was passing, though there never was, to my knowledge,
any order given to that effect.

The Queen was obliged, on account of the King's disposition and the very
limited confidence he placed in the Archbishop of Sens, to take a part in
public affairs. While M. de Maurepas lived she kept out of that danger,
as may be seen by the censure which the Baron de Besenval passes on her
in his memoirs for not availing herself of the conciliation he had
promoted between the Queen and that minister, who counteracted the
ascendency which the Queen and her intimate friends might otherwise have
gained over the King's mind.

The Queen has often assured me that she never interfered respecting the
interests of Austria but once; and that was only to claim the execution
of the treaty of alliance at the time when Joseph II. was at war with
Prussia and Turkey; that, she then demanded that an army of twenty-four
thousand men should be sent to him instead of fifteen millions, an
alternative which had been left to option in the treaty, in case the
Emperor should have a just war to maintain; that she could not obtain her
object, and M. de Vergennes, in an interview which she had with him upon
the subject, put an end to her importunities by observing that he was
answering the mother of the Dauphin and not the sister of the Emperor.
The fifteen millions were sent. There was no want of money at Vienna,
and the value of a French army was fully appreciated.

"But how," said the Queen, "could they be so wicked as to send off those
fifteen millions from the general post-office, diligently publishing,
even to the street porters, that they were loading carriages with money
that I was sending to my brother!--whereas it is certain that the money
would equally have been sent if I had belonged to another house; and,
besides, it was sent contrary to my inclination."

[This was not the first time the Queen had become unpopular in
consequence of financial support afforded by France to her brother.
The Emperor Joseph II, made, in November, 1783, and in May, 1784,
startling claims on the republic of the United Provinces; he
demanded the opening of the Scheldt, the cession of Maeatricht with
its dependencies, of the country beyond the Meuse, the county of
Vroenhoven, and a sum of seventy millions of florins. The first gun
was fired by the Emperor on the Scheldt 6th November, 1784. Peace
was concluded 8th November, 1785, through the mediation of France.
The singular part was the indemnification granted to the Emperor:
this was a sum of ten millions of Dutch florins; the articles 15,
16, and 17 of the treaty stipulated the quotas of it. Holland paid
five millions and a half, and France, under the direction of M. de
Vergennes, four millions and a half of florins, that is to say, nine
millions and forty-five thousand francs, according to M. Soulavie.
M. de augur, in his "Policy of Cabinets" (vol. iii.), says relative
to this affair:

"M. de Vergennes has been much blamed for having terminated, by a
sacrifice of seven millions, the contest that existed between the
United Provinces and the Emperor. In that age of philosophy men
were still very uncivilised; in that age of commerce they made very
erroneous calculations; and those who accused the Queen of sending
the gold of France to her brother would have been better pleased if,
to support a republic devoid of energy, the blood of two hundred
thousand men, and three or four hundred millions of francs, had been
sacrificed, and at the same time the risk run of losing the
advantage of peace dictated to England." MADAME CAMPAN.]

When the Comte de Moustier set out on his mission to the United States,
after having had his public audience of leave he came and asked me to
procure him a private one. I could not succeed even with the strongest
solicitations; the Queen desired me to wish him a good voyage, but added
that none but ministers could have anything to say to him in private,
since he was going to a country where the names of King and Queen must be

Marie Antoinette had then no direct influence over State affairs until
after the deaths of M. de Maurepas and M. de Vergennes, and the
retirement of M. de Calonne. She frequently regretted her new situation,
and looked upon it as a misfortune which she could not avoid. One day,
while I was assisting her to tie up a number of memorials and reports,
which some of the ministers had handed to her to be given to the King,
"Ah!" said she, sighing, "there is an end of all happiness for me, since
they have made an intriguer of me." I exclaimed at the word.

"Yes," resumed, the Queen, "that is the right term; every woman who
meddles with affairs above her understanding or out of her line of duty
is an intriguer and nothing else; you will remember, however, that it is
not my own fault, and that it is with regret I give myself such a title;
Queens of France are happy only so long as they meddle with nothing, and
merely preserve influence sufficient to advance their friends and reward
a few zealous servants. Do you know what happened to me lately? One day
since I began to attend private committees at the King's, while crossing
the oiel-de-boeuf, I heard one of the musicians of the chapel say so loud
that I lost not a single word, 'A Queen who does her duty will remain in
her apartment to knit.' I said within myself, 'Poor wretch, thou art
right; but thou knowest not my situation; I yield to necessity and my
evil destiny.'"

This situation was the more painful to the Queen inasmuch as Louis XVI.
had long accustomed himself to say nothing to her respecting State
affairs; and when, towards the close of his reign, she was obliged to
interfere in the most important matters, the same habit in the King
frequently kept from her particulars which it was necessary she should
have known. Obtaining, therefore, only insufficient information, and
guided by persons more ambitious than skilful, the Queen could not be
useful in important affairs; yet, at the same time, her ostensible
interference drew upon her, from all parties and all classes of society,
an unpopularity the rapid progress of which alarmed all those who were
sincerely attached to her.

Carried away by the eloquence of the Archbishop of Sens, and encouraged
in the confidence she placed in that minister by the incessant eulogies
of the Abbe de Vermond on his abilities, the Queen unfortunately followed
up her first mistake of bringing him into office in 1787 by supporting
him at the time of his disgrace, which was obtained by the despair of a
whole nation. She thought it was due to her dignity to give him some
marked proof of her regard at the moment of his departure; misled by her
feelings, she sent him her portrait enriched with jewelry, and a brevet
for the situation of lady of the palace for Madame de Canisy, his niece,
observing that it was necessary to indemnify a minister sacrificed to the
intrigues of the Court and a factious spirit of the nation; that
otherwise none would be found willing to devote themselves to the
interests of the sovereign.

On the day of the Archbishop's departure the public joy was universal,
both at Court and at Paris there were bonfires; the attorneys' clerks
burnt the Archbishop in effigy, and on the evening of his disgrace more
than a hundred couriers were sent out from Versailles to spread the happy
tidings among the country seats. I have seen the Queen shed bitter tears
at the recollection of the errors she committed at this period, when
subsequently, a short time before her death, the Archbishop had the
audacity to say, in a speech which was printed, that the sole object of
one part of his operations, during his administration, was the salutary
crisis which the Revolution had produced.

The benevolence and generosity shown by the King and Queen during the
severe winter of 1788, when the Seine was frozen over and the cold was
more intense than it had been for eighty years, procured them some
fleeting popularity. The gratitude of the Parisians for the succour
their Majesties poured forth was lively if not lasting. The snow was so
abundant that since that period there has never been seen such a
prodigious quantity in France. In different parts of Paris pyramids and
obelisks of snow were erected with inscriptions expressive of the
gratitude of the people. The pyramid in the Rue d'Angiviller was
supported on a base six feet high by twelve broad; it rose to the height
of fifteen feet, and was terminated by a globe. Four blocks of stone,
placed at the angles, corresponded with the obelisk, and gave it an
elegant appearance. Several inscriptions, in honour of the King and
Queen, were affixed to it. I went to see this singular monument, and
recollect the following inscription


"Lovely and good, to tender pity true,
Queen of a virtuous King, this trophy view;
Cold ice and snow sustain its fragile form,
But ev'ry grateful heart to thee is warm.
Oh, may this tribute in your hearts excite,
Illustrious pair, more pure and real delight,
Whilst thus your virtues are sincerely prais'd,
Than pompous domes by servile flatt'ry rais'd."

The theatres generally rang with praises of the beneficence of the
sovereigns: "La Partie de Chasse de Henri IV." was represented for the
benefit of the poor. The receipts were very considerable.

When the fruitless measure of the Assembly of the Notables, and the
rebellious spirit in the parliaments,

[The Assembly of the Notables, as may be seen in "Weber's
Memoirs," vol. i., overthrew the plans and caused the downfall
of M. de Calonne. A prince of the blood presided over each of the
meetings of that assembly. Monsieur, afterwards Louis XVIII.,
presided over the first meeting.

"Monsieur," says a contemporary, "gained great reputation at the
Assembly of the Notables in 1787. He did not miss attending his
meeting a single day, and he displayed truly patriotic virtues.
His care in discussing the weighty matters of administration, in
throwing light upon them, and in defending the interests and the
cause of the people, was such as even to inspire the King with some
degree of jealousy. Monsieur openly said that a respectful
resistance to the orders of the monarch was not blamable, and that
authority might be met by argument, and forced to receive
information without any offence whatever."--NOTE BY THE EDITOR.]

had created the necessity for States General, it was long discussed in
council whether they should be assembled at Versailles or at forty or
sixty leagues from the capital; the Queen was for the latter course, and
insisted to the King that they ought to be far away from the immense
population of Paris. She feared that the people would influence the
deliberations of the deputies; several memorials were presented to the
King upon that question; but M. Necker prevailed, and Versailles was the
place fixed upon.

The day on which the King announced that he gave his consent to the
convocation of the States General, the Queen left the public dinner,
and placed herself in the recess of the first window of her bedchamber,
with her face towards the garden. Her chief butler followed her, to
present her coffee, which she usually took standing, as she was about to
leave the table. She beckoned to me to come close to her. The King was
engaged in conversation with some one in his room. When the attendant
had served her he retired; and she addressed me, with the cup still in
her hand: "Great Heavens! what fatal news goes forth this day! The King
assents to the convocation of the States General." Then she added,
raising her eyes to heaven, "I dread it; this important event is a first
fatal signal of discord in France." She cast her eyes down, they were
filled with tears. She could not take the remainder of her coffee, but
handed me the cup, and went to join the King. In the evening, when she
was alone with me, she spoke only of this momentous decision. "It is the
Parliament," said she, "that has compelled the King to have recourse to a
measure long considered fatal to the repose of the kingdom. These
gentlemen wish to restrain the power of the King; but they give a great
shock to the authority of which they make so bad a use, and they will
bring on their own destruction."

The double representation granted to the Tiers Etat was now the chief
topic of conversation. The Queen favoured this plan, to which the King
had agreed; she thought the hope of obtaining ecclesiastical favours
would secure the clergy of the second order, and that M. Necker was sure
to have the same degree of influence over the lawyers, and other people
of that class comprised in the Tiers Dat. The Comte d'Artois, holding
the contrary opinion, presented a memorial in the names of himself and
several princes of the blood to the King against the double
representation. The Queen was displeased with him for this; her
confidential advisers infused into her apprehensions that the Prince was
made the tool of a party; but his conduct was approved of by Madame de
Polignac's circle, which the Queen thenceforward only frequented to avoid
the appearance of a change in her habits. She almost always returned
unhappy; she was treated with the profound respect due to a queen, but
the devotion of friendship had vanished, to make way for the coldness of
etiquette, which wounded her deeply. The alienation between her and the
Comte Artois was also very painful to her, for she had loved him almost
as tenderly as if he had been her own brother.

The opening of the States General took place on the 4th of May, 1789.
The Queen on that occasion appeared for the last time in her life in
regal magnificence. During the procession some low women, seeing the
Queen pass, cried out "Vive le Duc d' Orleans!" in so threatening a
manner that she nearly fainted. She was obliged to be supported, and
those about her were afraid it would be necessary to stop the procession.
The Queen, however, recovered herself, and much regretted that she had
not been able to command more presence of mind.

The rapidly increasing distrust of the King and Queen shown by the
populace was greatly attributable to incessant corruption by English
gold, and the projects, either of revenge or of ambition, of the Duc
d'Orleans. Let it not be thought that this accusation is founded on what
has been so often repeated by the heads of the French Government since
the Revolution. Twice between the 14th of July and the 6th of October,
1789, the day on which the Court was dragged to Paris, the Queen
prevented me from making little excursions thither of business or
pleasure, saying to me, "Do not go on such a day to Paris; the English
have been scattering gold, we shall have some disturbance." The repeated
visits of the Duc d'Orleans to England had excited the Anglomania to such
a pitch that Paris was no longer distinguishable from London. The
French, formerly imitated by the whole of Europe, became on a sudden a
nation of imitators, without considering the evils that arts and
manufactures must suffer in consequence of the change. Since the treaty
of commerce made with England at the peace of 1783, not merely equipages,
but everything, even to ribands and common earthenware, were of English
make. If this predominance of English fashions had been confined to
filling our drawing-rooms with young men in English frock-coats, instead
of the French dress, good taste and commerce might alone have suffered;
but the principles of English government had taken possession of these
young heads. Constitution, Upper House, Lower House, national guarantee,
balance of power, Magna Charta, Law of Habeas Corpus,--all these words
were incessantly repeated, and seldom understood; but they were of
fundamental importance to a party which was then forming.

The first sitting of the States took place on the following day. The
King delivered his speech with firmness and dignity; the Queen told me
that he had taken great pains about it, and had repeated it frequently.
His Majesty gave public marks of attachment and respect for the Queen,
who was applauded; but it was easy to see that this applause was in fact
rendered to the King alone.

It was evident, during the first sittings, that Mirabeau would be very
dangerous to the Government. It affirmed that at this period he
communicated to the King, and still more fully to the Queen, part of his
schemes for abandoning them. He brandished the weapons afforded him by
his eloquence and audacity, in order to make terms with the party he
meant to attack. This man played the game of revolution to make his own
fortune. The Queen told me that he asked for an embassy, and, if my
memory does not deceive me, it was that of Constantinople. He was
refused with well-deserved contempt, though policy would doubtless have
concealed it, could the future have been foreseen.

The enthusiasm prevailing at the opening of this assembly, and the
debates between the Tiers Etat, the nobility, and even the clergy, daily
increased the alarm of their Majesties, and all who were attached to the
cause of monarchy. The Queen went to bed late, or rather she began to be
unable to rest. One evening, about the end of May, she was sitting in
her room, relating several remarkable occurrences of the day; four wax
candles were placed upon her toilet-table; the first went out of itself;
I relighted it; shortly afterwards the second, and then the third went
out also; upon which the Queen, squeezing my hand in terror, said to me:
"Misfortune makes us superstitious; if the fourth taper should go out
like the rest, nothing can prevent my looking upon it as a sinister
omen." The fourth taper went out. It was remarked to the Queen that the
four tapers had probably been run in the same mould, and that a defect in
the wick had naturally occurred at the same point in each, since the
candles had all gone out in the order in which they had been lighted.

The deputies of the Tiers Etat arrived at Versailles full of the
strongest prejudices against the Court. They believed that the King
indulged in the pleasures of the table to a shameful excess; and that the
Queen was draining the treasury of the State in order to satisfy the most
unbridled luxury. They almost all determined to see Petit Trianon. The
extreme plainness of the retreat in question not answering the ideas they
had formed, some of them insisted upon seeing the very smallest closets,
saying that the richly furnished apartments were concealed from them.
They particularised one which, according to them, was ornamented with
diamonds, and with wreathed columns studded with sapphires and rubies.
The Queen could not get these foolish ideas out of her mind, and spoke to
the King on the subject. From the description given of this room by the
deputies to the keepers of Trianon, the King concluded that they were
looking for the scene enriched with paste ornaments, made in the reign of
Louis XV. for the theatre of Fontainebleau.

The King supposed that his Body Guards, on their return to the country,
after their quarterly duty at Court, related what they had seen, and that
their exaggerated accounts, being repeated, became at last totally
perverted. This idea of the King, after the search for the diamond
chamber, suggested to the Queen that the report of the King's propensity
for drinking also sprang from the guards who accompanied his carriage
when he hunted at Rambouillet. The King, who disliked sleeping out of
his usual bed, was accustomed to leave that hunting-seat after supper;
he generally slept soundly in his carriage, and awoke only on his arrival
at the courtyard of his palace; he used to get down from his carriage in
the midst of his Body Guards, staggering, as a man half awake will do,
which was mistaken for intoxication.

The majority of the deputies who came imbued with prejudices produced by
error or malevolence, went to lodge with the most humble private
individuals of Versailles, whose inconsiderate conversation contributed
not a little to nourish such mistakes. Everything, in short, tended to
render the deputies subservient to the schemes of the leaders of the

Shortly after the opening of the States General the first Dauphin died.
That young Prince suffered from the rickets, which in a few months curved
his spine, and rendered his legs so weak that he could not walk without
being supported like a feeble old man.


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