"Journal of the Tower of the Temple, Chapter I." by Cléry,the King's Valet de Chambre; translated by Katherine Prescott Wormeley.
I SERVED the king and his august family five months in the Tower of the Temple; and in spite of the close watching of the municipal officers who were the keepers of it, I was able, either in writing or by other means, to take certain notes on the principal events which took place in the interior of that prison.
In combining these notes in the form of a journal, my intention is more to furnish materials to those who may write the history of the deplorable end of the unfortunate Louis XVI.than to compose memoirs myself; for which I have neither talent nor pretension.
Sole and continual witness of the injurious treatment the king and his family were made to endure, I alone can write it down and affirm the exact truth.
Though attached since the year 1782 to the royal family, and witness, through the nature of my service, of the most disastrous events during the course of the Revolution, it would be going outside of my subject to describe them; they are, [Page 112] for the most part, already collected in different works. I shall begin this journal at the period of August 10, 1792, dreadful day, when a few men overturned a throne of fourteen centuries, put their king in fetters, and precipitated France into an abyss of horrors.
I was on service with the dauphin at that period. From the morning of the 9th the agitation in the minds of all was extreme; groups were forming throughout Paris, and we heard with certainty in the Tuileries that the conspirators had a plan. The tocsin was to ring at midnight in all parts of the city, and the Marseillais, uniting with the inhabitants of the faubourg Saint-Antoine, were to march at once and besiege the château. Detained by my functions in the apartment of the young prince and beside his person, I knew only in part what was happening outside. I shall here relate none but events which I witnessed during that day when so many different scenes took place even in the palace.
On the evening of the 9th at half-past eight o'clock, having put the dauphin to bed, I left the Tuileries to try to learn what was the state of public opinion. The courtyards of the château were filled with about eight thousand National guards from the different sections, placed there to defend the king. I went to the Palais-Royal, of which I found all the exits closed; National guards were there under arms, ready to march to the Tuileries and support the battalions already there; but a populace, excited by factious persons, filled the neighboring streets, and its clamour resounded on all sides.
I re-entered the château towards eleven o'clock through the king's apartments. The persons belonging to the Court, and those on duty were collected there in a state of anxiety. I passed on to the dauphin's apartment, where, an instant later, I heard the tocsin rung and the générale beaten in all quarters on Paris. I remained in the salon until five in the [Page 113] morning with Mme. De Saint-Brice, waiting woman to the young Prince. At six o'clock the king went down into all the courtyards of the château and reviewed the National Guard and the Swiss Guard, who swore to defend him. The queen and her children followed the King. A few seditious voices were heard in the ranks, but they were soon smothered by the shouts, repeated hundreds of times, of "Vive le roi! Vive la nation!"
The attack on the Tuileries not seeming near as yet, I went out a second time and followed the quays as far as the Pont Neuf. I met everywhere collections of armed men whose bad intentions were not doubtful; they carried pikes, pitchforks, axes, and pruning-hooks. The battalion of the Marseillais marched in fine order with cannon, matches lighted; they invited the people to follow them "to aid," they said, "in dislodging the tyrant and proclaiming his dethronement before the National Assembly." Too certain now of what was going to happen, but consulting only my duty, I went ahead of this battalion and re-entered the Tuileries. A numerous body of National guards were pouring out in disorder through the gate of the gardens opposite the Pont-Royal. Distress was painted on the faces of most of them. Several said: "We swore this morning to defend the king, and at the moment when he runs the greatest danger we abandon him!" Others, on the side of the conspirators insulted and threatened their comrades and forced them to go away. The good men let themselves be ruled by the seditious; and this culpable weakness, which, so far, had produced all the evils of the Revolution, was the beginning of the misfortunes of that fatal day.
After many fruitless attempts to re-enter the château, I was recognized by the Swiss Guard of one of the gates, and I succeeded in entering. I went at once to the king's apart- [Page 114] ment, and begged that some one on service would inform His Majesty of what I had seen and heard.
At seven o'clock, anxiety was greatly increased by the baseness of several battalions which successively abandoned the Tuileries. Those of the National Guard who remained at their post, in number about four or five hundred, showed as much fidelity as courage. They were placed, indiscriminately with the Swiss, about the interior of the palace, on the staircases, and at all the exits. These troops had passed the night without food; I hastened, with other servants of the king, to carry them bread and wine, and encourage them not to abandon the royal family. It was then that the king gave the command of the interior of his palace to the Maréchal de Mailly, the Duc du Châtelet, the Comte de Puységur, the Baron de Viomesnil, the Count d'Hervilly, the Marquis du Pajet, etc. The persons of the Court, and those on service were distributed into the different rooms, after swearing to defend till death the person of the king. We were, in all, about three or four hundred, but without other arms than swords and pistols.
At eight o'clock the danger became pressing. The Legislative Assembly held its meetings in the Riding-school, which looked upon the garden of the Tuileries. The king sent several messages informing it of the position in which he was placed, and inviting it to appoint a deputation which would aid him with advice. The Assembly, although the attack on the château was preparing before its eyes, made no reply.
A few moments later the department of Paris and several municipals entered the château, with Roederer, then prosecutor-general, at their head. Roederer, doubtless in collusion with the conspirators, urged His Majesty eagerly to go with his family to the Assembly; he assured the king that he could no longer rely on the National Guard, and that if he [Page 115] remained in the palace, neither the department nor the municipality of Paris would be answerable for his safety.
The king listened without emotion; he retired to his chamber with the queen, the ministers, and a small number of persons; and, soon after, came out of it to go with his family to the Assembly. He was surrounded by a detachment of the Swiss and the National Guard. Of all the persons on duty, the Princesse de Lamballe and Mme. de Tourzel were the only ones who had permission to follow the royal family. Mme. de Tourzel was obliged, in order that the young prince might not go unattended, to leave her daughter, seventeen years of age, in the Tuileries among the soldiers. It was then nearly nine o'clock.
Forced to remain in the apartments, I waited with terror the results of the king's action; I was near the windows that looked into the garden. It was more than an hour after the royal family had entered the Assembly, when I saw on the terrace of the Feuillants four heads on pikes which were being carried towards the Assembly. That was, I think, the signal for the attack on the château, for, at the same, moment, a terrible fire of cannon and musketry was heard. The balls and the bullets riddled the palace. The king no longer being there, every one thought of his own safety; but all the exits were closed and certain death awaited us. I ran hither and thither; already the apartments and the staircases were heaped with dead; I determined to spring upon the terrace through one of the windows of the queen's apartment. I crossed the parterre rapidly to reach the Pont-Tournant. A number of the Swiss Guard who had preceded me were rallying under the trees. Placed thus, between two fires, I returned upon my steps to reach the new stairway to the terrace on the water-side. I meant to jump upon the quay, but a continual fire from the Pont-Royal prevented me. I [Page 116] went along the same side to the gate of the dauphin's garden; there,some Marseillais who had just massacred several Swiss were stripping the bodies. One of them came to me. "What, citizen," he said, "have you no arms? Take this sword and help us to kill." Another Marseillais snatched the weapon. I was, in fact, without arms and wearing a plain coat; had anything indicated that I was on service in the palace, I should certainly not have escaped.
Several Swiss, being pursued, took refuge in a stable not far off. I myself hid there; the Swiss were soon massacred at my side. Hearing the cries of those unhappy victims, the master of the house, M. le Dreux, rushed in. I profited by that moment to slip into his house. Without knowing me, M. le Dreux and his wife asked me to remain until the danger was over.
I had in my pocket some letters and newspapers addressed to the young prince; also my entrance-card to the Tuileries, on which was written my name and the nature of my service; these papers would have made me known. I had barely time to throw them away before an armed troop searched the house to make sure that no Swiss were hidden there. M. le Dreux told me to pretend to be working at some drawings lying on a large table. After a fruitless search, the men, their hands stained with blood, stopped to coldly relate their murders. I remained in that asylum from ten in the morning till four in the afternoon, having before my eyes the horrors committed on the Place Louis XV. Some men murdered, others cut off the heads of the bodies, women, forgetting all decency, mutilated the bodies, tore off the fragments, and carried them in triumph.
During this interval, Mme. de Rambaut, waiting-woman to the dauphin, who had with difficulty escaped from the massacre at the Tuileries, came to take refuge in the same [Page 117] house; a few signs that we made to each other enjoined silence. The sons of our host, coming in at that moment from the National Assembly, informed us that the king, "suspended from his functions," was closely guarded, with the royal family, in the box of the reporter of the "Logographe," and that it was impossible to approach him.
That being so, I resolved to go to my wife and children, in a country place, five leagues from Paris, where I had had a house for two years; but the barriers were closed, and, moreover, I could not abandon Mme. de Rambaut. We agreed to take the route to Versailles, where she lived; the sons of our host accompanied us. We crossed the bridge, Louis XV., which was covered with naked dead bodies, already putrefying in the great heat, and after many dangers we left Paris through a breach which was not guarded.
On the plain of Grenelle, we were met by peasants on horseback, who shouted at us from a distance, and threatened us with their guns: "Stop, or death!" One of them, taking me for a guard, aimed and was about to shoot me, when another proposed to take us to the municipality of Vaugirard. "There is already a score of them there," he said; "the killing will be all the greater." Reaching the municipality, our host's sons were recognized: the mayor questioned me: "Why, when the country is in danger, are you not where you belong? Why are you leaving Paris? That shows bad intentions." "Yes, yes," cried the populace, "to prison, those aristocrats, to prison!" "It is precisely because I am on my way to where I belong, that you find me on the road to Versailles, where I live; that is my post just as much as this is yours." They questioned Mme. de Rambaut; our host assured them we spoke the truth, and they gave us passports. I ought to render thanks [Page 118] to Providence for not having been taken to the prison of Vaugirard; where they had just put twenty-three of the king's guards, who were afterwards taken to the Abbaye and massacred there, on the 2d of September.
From Vaugirard to Versailles, patrols of armed men stopped us continually to examine our passports. I took Mme. Rambaut to her parents, and then started to return to my family. A fall I had in jumping from the window of the Tuileries, the fatigue of a tramp of twelve leagues, and my painful reflections on the deplorable events which had just taken place, overcame me to such a degree that I had a very high fever. I was in bed three days, but, impatient to know the fate of the king, I surmounted my illness and returned to Paris.
On arriving there I heard that the royal family, after being kept since the 10th at the Feuillants, had just been taken to the Temple; that the king had chosen to serve him M. de Chamilly, his head valet de chambre, and that M. Huë, usher of the king's bedchamber, was to serve the dauphin. The Princesse de Lamballe, Mme. de Tourzel, and her daughter, Mlle. Pauline de Tourzel, had accompanied the queen. Mmes. Thibaut, Bazire, Navarre, and Saint-Brice, waiting-women, had followed the three princesses and the young prince.
I then lost all hope of continuing my functions towards the dauphin, and I was about to return to the country when, on the sixth day of the king's imprisonment, I was informed that all the persons who were in the Tower with the royal family, had been removed, and, after examination before the Council of the Commune of Paris, were consigned to the prison of La Force, with the sole exception of M. Huë, who was taken back to the Temple to serve the king. Pétion, then mayor of Paris, was charged with the duty of [Page 119] selecting two others. Learning of these arrangements, I resolved to try every possible means to resume my place in the service of the young prince. I went to see Pétion; he told me that as I had belonged to the household of the king, I could not obtain the consent of the Commune. I cited M. Huë, who had just been sent by the council itself, to serve the king. Pétion promised to support a memorial which I gave him, but I told him it was necessary above all, that he should inform the king of this step. Two days later, he wrote to His Majesty as follows:–
"SIRE,– the valet de chambre attached to the prince-royal from infancy asks to be allowed to continue his service with him; as I think the proposal will be agreeable to you, I have acceded to his request," etc.
His Majesty answered in writing that he accepted me for the service of his son, and, in consequence, I was taken to the Temple. There, I was searched; they gave me advice as to the manner in which, they said, I must conduct myself; and the same day, August 26, at eight in the evening, I entered the Tower of the Temple.
It would be difficult for me to describe the impression made upon me by the sight of that august and unfortunate family. The queen was the one who spoke to me. After a few words of kindness, she added: "You will serve my son, and you will arrange with M. Huë in all that concerns us." I was so oppressed with feelings that I could scarcely answer her.
During the supper, the queen and the princesses, who had been a week without their women, asked me if I could comb their hair; I replied that I would do whatever they desired of me. A municipal officer thereupon came up to me, and told me to be more circumspect in my answers. I was frightened at such a beginning. [Page 120]
During the first eight days that I passed in the Temple, I had no communication with the exterior. M. Huë was alone charged with asking for and receiving the things necessary for the royal family; I served conjointly and indiscriminately with him. My service to the king was confined to dressing his hair in the morning and rolling it at night; I noticed that I was watched incessantly by the municipal officers; a mere nothing displeased them; I kept on my guard to avoid any imprudence, which would infallibly have ruined me.
On the 2d of September, there was much disturbance around the Temple. The king and his family went down as usual to walk in the garden; a municipal who followed the king said to one of his colleagues; "We did wrong to consent to let them walk this afternoon." I had noticed all that morning the uneasiness of the commissioners. They now hurried the royal family into the building; but they were scarcely assembled in the queen's room before two municipal officers who were not on duty at the Tower entered. One of them, Matthieu, an ex-capucin friar, said to the king: "You are ignorant of what is going on; the country is in the greatest danger; the enemy has entered Champagne; the King of Prussia is marching on Châlons; you are answerable for all the harm that will come of it. We, our wives and children, may perish, but you first, before us; the people will be avenged."–"I have done all for the people," said the king; "I have nothing to reproach myself with."
This same Matthieu said to M. Huë: "The Council has ordered me to put you under arrest." "Who?" asked the king. "Your valet de chambre." The king wished to know of what crime he was accused, but could learn nothing, which made him very uneasy as to M. Huë's fate; he recommended him earnestly to the two municipal officers. [Page 121] They put the seals on the little room he had occupied, and he went away with them at six o'clock in the evening after having passed twenty days in the Temple. As he went out, Matthieu said to me: "Take care how you behave, or the same thing may happen to you."
The king called me a moment after, and gave me some papers which M. Huë had returned to him; they were accounts of expenditures. The uneasy air of the municipals, the clamour of the people in the neighbourhood of the Tower, agitated his heart cruelly. After he had gone to bed, he told me to pass the night beside him; I placed a bed beside that of His Majesty.
On the 3d of September, while I was dressing the king, he asked me if I had heard anything of M. Huë, and if I knew any news of Paris. I answered that during the night I had heard a municipal say that the people were attacking the prisons, and that I would try to get more information. "Take care not to compromise yourself," said the king, "for then we should be left alone, and I fear their intention is to surround us with strangers."
At eleven o'clock that morning, the king being with his family in the queen's room, a municipal told me to go into that of the king, where I should find Manuel and several members of the Commune. Manuel asked me what the king had said about M. Huë's removal. I answered that His Majesty was uneasy at it. "Nothing will happen to him," he said, "but I am ordered to inform the king that he will not return, and that the Council will put some one in his place. You can warn the king of this." I begged him to excuse me from doing so; I added that the king desired to see him in regard to many things, of which the royal family was in the greatest need. Manuel, with difficulty, made up his mind to go into the room where His Majesty was; he [Page 122] then told him of the decision of the Council, in relation to M. Huë, and warned him that another person would be sent. "I thank you," replied the king, "but I shall use the services of my son's valet de chambre, and if the Council opposes it, I shall serve myself. I am resolved on this." Manuel said he would speak of it to the Council, and retired. I asked him, as I showed him out, if the disturbances in Paris continued. He made me fear by his answers that the people would attack the Temple. "You are charged with a difficult duty," he added. "I exhort you to courage."
At one o'clock the king and his family expressed a wish to take their walk; it was refused. During dinner the noise of drums and the shouts of the populace were heard. The royal family left the dinner table in a state of anxiety, and again collected in the queen's room. I went down to dine with Tison and his wife, who were employed as servants in the Tower.
We were hardly seated before a head at the end of a pike was presented at the window. Tison's wife screamed loudly; the murderers thought it was the queen's voice, and we heard the frantic laughs of those barbarians. Thinking that Her Majesty was still at table, they had raised the victim's head so that it could not escape her sight; it was that of the Princesse de Lamballe. Though bloody, it was not disfigured; her blond hair, still curling, floated around the pike.
I ran at once to the king. Terror had so changed my face that the queen noticed it; it was important to hide the cause from her; I meant to warn the king and Madame Élisabeth; but the two municipals were present. "Why do you not go to dinner?" asked the queen. "Madame," I answered, "I do not feel well." At that moment a municipal entered the room and spoke mysteriously with his colleagues. The king asked if his family were in safety. "There is a
The Princesse dee Lamballe
[Page 123] rumour going," they replied, "that you and your family are no longer in the Tower; the people want you to appear at the window, but we shall not allow it; the people ought to show more confidence in their magistrates."
The cries and shouts outside increased; we heard, very distinctly, insults addressed to the queen. Another municipal came in, followed by four men deputed by the people to make sure that the king and his family were in the Tower. One of them, in the uniform of the National Guard, wearing two epaulets and carrying a large sabre, insisted that the prisoners should show themselves at the window. The municipals opposed it. The man then said to the queen in the coarsest tone: "They want to prevent your seeing the Lamballe's head, which has been brought here to show you how the people avenge themselves on tyrants; I advise you to appear." The queen fainted; I ran to her support; Madame Élisabeth helped me to place her in an arm-chair; her children burst into tears and tried by their caresses to bring her to. The man did not go away; the king said to him firmly: "We expect everything, monsieur; but you might have refrained from telling the queen of that dreadful thing." The man then went out with his comrades; their object was accomplished.
The queen, recovering her senses, wept with her children, and passed with the family into the room of Madame Élisabeth, where less was heard of the clamours of the populace. I remained a moment in the queen's room, and, looking out of the window through the blinds, I saw the head of Madame de Lamballe a second time; the man who carried it had mounted a pile of rubbish, fallen from the houses they were demolishing to isolate the Tower; another man beside him carried the bloody heart of the unfortunate princess. They wanted to force in the door of the Tower; a municipal, [Page 124] named Daujeon, harangued them, and I very distinctly heard them say: "The head of Antoinette does not belong to you; the department has rights; France confided the keeping of these great criminals to the city of Paris; it is for you to help us to keep them until national justice avenges the people." It was only after one hour's resistance that he succeeded in making them go away.
On the evening of the same day one of the commissioners told me that the populace had attempted to enter with the deputation, and to carry into the tower the naked and bloody corpse of Madame de Lamballe, which they had dragged from the prison of La Force to the Temple; he said that the municipals, after struggling for some time with the mob, finally opposed them by tying a tri-colour ribbon across the principal entrance to the Tower; that they had vainly requested the help of the Commune of Paris, of General Santerre, and of the National Assembly, to stop designs which were not concealed, and that for six hours it was uncertain whether the royal family would or would not be massacred. The truth is the factious were not yet all-powerful; the leaders, though agreed as to the regicide, were not agreed as to the method of executing it, and perhaps the Assembly desired that other hands than its own should be the instrument of the conspiracy. A circumstance sufficiently remarkable is that the municipal made me pay him forty sous which the tri-colour ribbon had cost him.
By eight o'clock that evening all was quiet in the neighbourhood of the Tower, but the same tranquillity was very far from reigning in Paris, where the massacres continued for four or five days. I had an opportunity while undressing the king to tell him what I had seen and give him the details I had heard. He asked me which were the municipals who had shown the greatest firmness in defending the
The Tower of the Temple
[Page 125] lives of his family. I told him of Daujeon, who had checked the impetuosity of the people, though he was far from being in favour of the king. That municipal did not return to the Tower until four months later, but the king remembered his conduct and thanked him then.
The scenes of horror of which I have just spoken were followed by some tranquillity, so that the royal family continued the uniform system of life which they had adopted on entering the Temple. That the reader may follow its details easily, I think I ought to place here a description of the small tower in which the king was then confined.
It backed upon the large Tower, without any interior communication between the two, and it formed an oblong square flanked by two small, corner towers [tourelles ]. In one of these small towers was a little staircase that started from the second floor and led up to a gallery along the eaves; in the other were little cabinets which were alike on each floor of the tower.
The building had four floors. The first was composed of an antechamber, a dining-room, and a cabinet made in one of the tourelles, in which was a library of some twelve to fifteen hundred volumes.
The second floor was divided in about the same manner. The largest room was made the bed-chamber of the queen and the dauphin; the second room, separated from the first by a small and dark antechamber, was the bedroom of Madame Élisabeth and Madame Royale. It was necessary to cross this room to enter the cabinet made in the tourelle, and that cabinet, which served as a privy to the entire main building, was common to the royal family, the municipal officers, and the soldiers.
The king lived on the third floor, and slept in the large room. The cabinet made in the tourelle was used by him [Page 126] as a reading-room. On one side was a kitchen, separated from the king's bedchamber by a small dark room, occupied at first by MM. de Chamilly and Huë and now sealed up. The fourth floor was closed and locked. On the ground-floor were kitchens of which no use was made.
The king rose usually at six in the morning; he shaved himself, and I arranged his hair and dressed him. He went at once into his reading-room. That room being very small the municipal guarding the king sat in the bedroom, the door being half-open in order that he might not lose sight of the person of the king. His Majesty prayed on his knees for five or six minutes, and then read till nine o'clock. During that time, and after having done his room and prepared the table for breakfast, I went down to the queen. She never opened her door until I came, so as to prevent the municipal from entering her bedroom. I then dressed the young prince and arranged the queen's hair; after which I went to perform the same service for Madame Élisabeth and Madame Royale. This moment of their toilet was one of those in which I could tell the Queen and the princess what I heard and what I knew. A sign told them I had something to say, and one of them would then talk to the municipal officer to distract his attention.
At nine o'clock the queen, her children and Madame Élisabeth went up to the king's room to breakfast; after having served them I did the bedrooms of the queen and the princesses; Tison and his wife helped me only in that sort of work. It was not for service only that they had been placed where they were; a more important role was confided to them, namely: to observe all that might escape the vigilance of the municipals, and also to denounce the municipals themselves. Crimes to be committed no doubt entered the plan of those who selected them, for the Tison woman, who [Page 127] seemed then of a rather gentle nature and who trembled before her husband, afterwards revealed herself by an infamous denunciation of the queen, which was followed by a fit of insanity. Tison himself, formerly a clerk in the customs, was an old man, hard and malignant by nature, incapable of an emotion of pity, and destitute of all feelings of humanity. Beside those who were the virtuous of the earth the conspirators had chosen to place those that were vilest.
At ten o'clock the king came down with his family into the queen's room and passed the day there. He occupied himself with the education of his son, made him recite passages from Corneille and Racine, gave him lessons in geography, and taught him to colour maps. The precocious intelligence of the young prince responded perfectly to the tender care of the king. His memory was so good that on a map covered with a sheet of paper he could point out the departments, districts, towns, and the course of the rivers; it was the new geography of France that the king was teaching him. The queen, on her side, was occupied with the education of her daughter, and these different lessons lasted till eleven o'clock. The rest of the morning she spent in sewing, knitting, and doing tapestry. At midday the three princesses went into Madame Élisabeth's room to change their morning gowns; no municipal went with them.
At one o'clock, if the weather was fine, the royal family were taken down into the garden; four municipal officers and a captain of the National Guard accompanied them. As there were quantities of workmen about the Temple, employed in pulling down houses and building new walls, the royal family were allowed to walk only in the horse-chestnut alley. I was permitted to share these walks, during which I made the young prince play either at quoits, or football, or running, or other games of exercise. [Page 128]
At two o'clock they returned to the Tower, where I served the dinner; and every day at the same hour Santerre, a brewer, general-commanding the National Guard of Paris, came to the Temple, accompanied by two aides-de-camp. He searched the different rooms. Sometimes the king spoke to him; the queen never. After the meal, the royal family returned to the queen's room where Their Majesties usually played games at piquet or backgammon. It was during that time that I dined.
At four o'clock the king took a short rest; the princesses sat by him, each with a book in her hand; the deepest silence reigned during that nap. What a spectacle! a king pursued by hatred and calumny, fallen from a throne to a prison, yet sustained by his conscience and sleeping peacefully the sleep of the just! his wife, his sister, his children contemplating with respect those august features, the serenity of which seemed increased by troubles, so that even then there could be read upon them the peace he enjoys to-day! No, that sight will never be effaced from my memory.
When the king awoke, conversation was resumed. He made me sit beside him. I gave, under his eyes, writing-lessons to the young prince; and I copied out, under his selection, passages from the works of Montesquieu and other celebrated authors. After this lesson, I took the little prince into Madame Élisabeth's chamber, where I made him play ball or battledore and shuttlecock.
At the close of the day the royal family sat round a table; the queen read aloud books of history or other well-chosen works suitable to instruct and amuse her children; sometimes unexpected scenes corresponding to her own situation occurred and gave rise to painful thoughts. Madame Élisabeth read also in turn, and the reading lasted till eight o'clock. I then served the supper of the young prince in [Page 129] Madame Élisabeth's bedroom; the royal family were present; the king took pleasure in amusing his children by making them guess the answers to conundrums taken from a file of the "Mercure de France" which he had found in the library.
After the dauphin's supper, I undressed him; it was the queen who heard him say his prayers; he said one especially for the Princesse de Lamballe; and by another he asked God to protect the life of Mme. de Tourzel, his governess. If the municipals were very near, the little prince himself took the precaution to say these last two prayers in a low voice. I then made him go into the cabinet, and if I had anything to tell the queen, I seized that moment. I told her what the newspapers contained, for none were allowed to enter the Tower; but a street-crier, sent expressly, came every evening at seven o'clock and stood near the wall on the rotunda side within the Temple inclosure, where he cried, with several pauses, a summary of what was taking place in the National Assembly, the commune, and the armies. I stationed myself in the king's cabinet to listen; and there, in the silence, it was easy to remember what I heard.
At nine o'clock the king supped. The queen and Madame Élisabeth took turns to remain with the dauphin during this meal; I carried to them what they desired for supper; that was another opportunity to speak without witnesses.
After supper the king went up for a moment into the queen's room, gave her his hand in sign of adieu, also to his sister, and kissed his children; then he went to his own room, retired into his cabinet and read there till midnight. The queen and the princesses closed the doors of their rooms; one of the municipals remained all night in the little room between their two chambers; the other followed the king. [Page 130]
I then placed my bed beside that of the king; but His Majesty waited, before going to bed, till the municipals were changed and the new one came up, in order to know which one it was, and if he was one the king did not know, he always told me to ask his name. The municipals were relieved at eleven in the morning, at five in the afternoon, and at midnight. The above manner of life lasted the whole time that the king was in the little tower, that is to say, until September 30.
I now resume the course of events. September 4th Pétion's secretary came to the Tower to remit to the king a sum of two thousand francs in assignats; he exacted from the king a receipt. His Majesty requested him to pay M. Huë five hundred and twenty-six francs, which he had advanced in his service; the secretary promised that he would. That sum of two thousand francs was all that was ever paid, although the Legislative Assembly voted five hundred thousand francs for the expenses of the king in the Tower of the Temple; but this was before it perceived the real intentions of its leaders, or dared to share them.
Two days later, Madame Élisabeth made me collect a number of little articles belonging to the Princesse de Lamballe which she had left in the Tower when suddenly taken away from it. I made a package and addressed it, with a letter, to the princess's waiting-woman. I heard later that neither package nor letter reached her.
At this period, the character of most of the municipals chosen to come to the Temple shows what manner of men had been used by the leaders for the revolution of August 10, and for the massacres of the 2d of September.
A municipal named James, a teacher of the English language, chose, one day, to follow the king into his little reading-room, and sit beside him. The king told him in a [Page 131] mild way that his colleagues always left him alone there; that, the door remaining open, he could not escape his sight, and that the room was so small two persons could not remain in it. James insisted in a harsh and vulgar way, and the king was forced to yield; he gave up his reading for that day, and returned to his chamber, where the same municipal continued to torment him with the same tyrannical surveillance.
One day, when the king rose, he mistook the municipal on guard for the one of the night before, and he said with interest that he was sorry they had forgotten to relieve him; the municipal answered this impulse of kind feeling on the part of the king with insults. "I come here," he said, "to keep watch on your conduct, and not for you to take notice of mine." Then coming close up to the king, his hat on his head, he added: "No one, and you less than any one, has the right to meddle with me." He was insolent for the rest of the day. I heard afterwards that his name was Meunier.
Another commissioner, named Le Clerc, a doctor by profession, was in the queen's room while I was giving a writing lesson to the dauphin. He affected to interrupt our work, with a dissertation on the republican education that ought to be given to the young prince; he wished to have the most revolutionary works substituted for the books the child read.
A fourth was present when the queen was reading to her children a volume of the history of France, at the period when the Connétable de Bourbon took arms against his country; he declared that the queen wished by that example to inspire her son with feelings of vengeance against France, and he made a formal denunciation to the Council. I warned the queen, who, after that, chose her [Page 132] subjects in a way that prevented any one from calumniating her intentions.
A man named Simon, a shoemaker and a municipal officer, was one of six commissioners charged with the duty of inspecting the works and expenditures of the Temple; but he was the only one who, under pretence of properly fulfilling his office, never quitted the Tower. This man affected the lowest insolence whenever he was in presence of the royal family; often he would say to me, "Cléry, ask Capet if he wants anything, for I can't take the trouble to come up a second time." I was forced to answer, "He wants nothing." It was this Simon who, at a later period, was put in charge of the young Louis, and who, by a well-calculated barbarity, made that interesting child so wretched. There is reason to think that he was the tool of those who shortened the prince's life.
To teach the young prince how to reckon, I made, by order of the queen, a multiplication-table. A municipal declared that she was showing her son how to talk in cipher, and they made her renounce the lessons in arithmetic.
The same thing happened in regard to the tapestry at which the queen and the princesses worked when they were first imprisoned. Several chair-backs being finished, the queen directed me to have them sent to the Duchesse de Sérent. The municipals, from whom I asked permission, thought the designs represented hieroglyphics, destined to open correspondence with the outside; consequently they obtained a decree by which it was forbidden to allow any work done by the princesses, to leave the Tower.
Some of the commissioners never spoke of the king and queen, the prince and the princesses, without adding the most insulting epithets to their names. A municipal, [Page 133] named Turlot, said one day before me, "If the executioner does n't guillotine that s . . . family, I'll do it myself."
The king and his family, when going to walk, had to pass before a great many sentinels, some of whom, even at this time, were posted in the interior of the little tower. They presented arms to the municipals and officers of the National Guard, who accompanied the king, but when the king passed them, they grounded their muskets, or pointedly reversed them. One of the sentinels, posted inside the tower, wrote one day on the door of the king's chamber: "The guillotine is permanent, and is awaiting the tyrant, Louis XVI." The king read the words; I made a motion to efface them, but His Majesty opposed it.
One of the two porters of the Tower, named Rocher, a horrible object, dressed as a Sapeur, with long moustaches, a black fur cap on his head, a large sabre and a belt from which hung a bunch of big keys, presented himself at the door whenever the king wished to go out; he would never open it till the king was close beside it, and then, under pretence of choosing the right key from his enormous bunch, which he rattled with a frightful noise, he kept the royal family waiting, and drew back the bolt with a crash. Then he would hurry down the stairs, and stand by the last door, a long pipe in his mouth, and as each member of the royal family passed him he would puff the smoke in their faces, especially those of the princesses. Some of the National guards, who were amused by such insolence, would gather near him, and laugh loudly at each puff of smoke, permitting themselves to say the coarsest things; some, to enjoy the spectacle more at their ease, would even bring chairs from the guard-room, and, sitting down, obstructed the passage, already very narrow. [Page 134]
During the promenade of the family the artillery-men assembled to dance and sing songs,–always revolutionary, and sometimes obscene.
When the royal family returned to the Tower they were forced to endure the same insults; often the walls were covered with the most indecent apostrophes, written in such large letters that they could not escape their eye, such as: "Madame Veto shall dance;" "We will put the fat pig on diet;" "Down with the Cordon rouge;" "Strangle the cubs;" etc. Once they drew a gibbet on which dangled a figure, and beneath it was written: "Louis taking an air bath." At another time it was a guillotine with these words: "Louis spitting into the basket.
Thus the little walk in the garden granted to the royal family became a torture. The king and queen might have escaped it by remaining in the Tower, but their children, the objects of their tenderness, needed the air; it was for them that Their Majesties endured daily without complaint these innumerable outrages.
Nevertheless, some signs of fidelity or pity came at times to soften the horror of these persecutions, and were all the more remarked because so rare.
A sentinel mounted guard one day at the queen's door; he belonged to the faubourgs, and was clean in dress, which was that of a peasant. I was alone in the first room reading. He looked at me attentively and seemed much moved. I rose and passed before him. He presented arms and said in a trembling voice, "You cannot go out." "Why not?" "My orders are to keep you within sight." "You mistake me," I said. "What! monsieur, are you not the king?" "Then you do not know him?" "I have never seen him, and I would like to see him away from here." "Speak low;" I said, "I shall enter that room and leave the door [Page 135] half open; look in and you will see the king; he is sitting by the window with a book in his hand." I told the queen of the sentry's desire, and the king, whom she informed, had the kindness to go from one room to the other and walk before him. I then went back to the sentry. "Ah! monsieur," he said, "how good the king is! how he loves his children!" He was so moved that he could hardly speak. "No, he continued, striking his chest, "I cannot believe he has done us all that harm." I feared that his extreme agitation would compromise him, and I left him.
Another sentry, posted at the end of the alley where the royal family took their walk, still very young and with an interesting face, expressed by his looks the desire to give us some information. Madame Élisabeth, on the second turn of their walk, went near him to see if he would speak to her. Whether from fear or respect he did not dare to do so; but tears fell from his eyes, and he made a sign to indicate that he had laid a paper near him in a rubbish heap. I began to look for it, under pretence of finding quoits for the dauphin. But the municipal officers stopped me, and forbade me to go near the sentinels in future. I have never known the intentions of that young man.
This hour for their walk brought another kind of spectacle to the royal family which often rent their hearts. A number of faithful subjects daily profited by that brief hour to see their king and queen by placing themselves at the windows of houses which look into the garden of the Temple. It was impossible to be mistaken as to their sentiments and their prayers. Once I was sure I recognized the Marquise de Tourzel. I judged especially by the extreme attention with which she watched the movements of the little prince when he left his parents' side. I said this to Madame Élisabeth, who believed her a victim of September 2d. The tears [Page 136] came into her eyes on hearing the name. "Oh!" she said, "can she be living still!"
The next day I found means to get information. The Marquise de Tourzel was living on one of her estates. I also learned that the Princesse de Tarente and the Marquise de la Roche-Aymon, who were at the Tuileries on the 10th of August, had escaped the massacre. The safety of these persons, whose devotion was manifested on so many occasions, gave some moments of consolation to the royal family; but they heard soon after the awful news that the prisoners of the upper court of Orléans had all been massacred at Versailles on the 9th.
September 29, at nine in the evening, a man named Lubin, a municipal, arrived, surrounded by gendarmes on horseback and a numerous populace, to make a proclamation in front of the Tower. The trumpets sounded, and great silence succeeded. Lubin had the voice of Stentor. The royal family could hear distinctly the proclamation of the abolition of royalty, and the establishment of a republic. Hébert, so well-known under the name of Père Duchesne, and Destournelles, afterwards minister of public taxation, happened to be on guard that day over the royal family; they were seated at the moment near the door, and they stared at the king, smiling treacherously. The king noticed them; he had a book in his hand and continued to read; no change appeared upon his face. The queen showed equal firmness; not a word, not a motion that could add to the enjoyment of those two men. The proclamation ended, the trumpets sounded again. I went to the window; instantly all eyes turned to me; they took me for Louis XVI.; I was loaded with insults. The gendarmes made threatening motions towards me with their sabres, and I was obliged to retire in order to stop the tumult. [Page 137]
The same evening I informed the king that his son had need of curtains and covering for his bed, as the cold was beginning to be felt. The king told me to write the request and he would sign it. I used the same expressions I had hitherto employed: "The king requests for his son, etc." "You are very daring," said Destournelles, "to use a title abolished by the will of the people, as you have just heard." I replied that I had heard a proclamation, but I did not know its object. "It is," he said, "the abolition of royalty, and you can tell monsieur (pointing to the king) to cease to take a title the people no longer recognize." "I cannot," I said to him, "change this note, because it is already signed; the king would ask me the reason, and it is not for me to tell it to him." "You can do as you choose," he replied, "but I shall not certify your request." The next day Madame Élisabeth ordered me to write in future for such purposes as follows: "It is necessary for the service of Louis XVI.–or Marie-Antoinette–or Louis-Charles–or Marie-Thérèse–or Marie-Élisabeth."
Up to that time I had been forced to repeat these requests often. The small amount of linen the king and queen had was lent to them by persons of the Court during the time they were at the Feuillants. They could get none from the château of the Tuileries, where, on the 10th of August, everything had been pillaged. The royal family lacked clothing of every kind, and the princesses mended what they had daily. Often Madame Élisabeth was obliged to wait until the king went to bed, in order to darn his clothes. I obtained at last, after many requests, that a small amount of new linen should be made for them. Unfortunately, the work-people marked it with crowned letters, and the municipals insisted that the princesses should pick out the crowns; they were forced to obey.
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