"Journal of the Tower of the Temple, Chapter II." by Cléry,the King's Valet de Chambre; translated by Katherine Prescott Wormeley.
ON the 26th of September, I learned from a municipal that it was proposed to separate the king from his family, that an apartment was being prepared for him in the great Tower, and that it was then nearly ready. It was not without precaution that I announced to the king this new tyranny; I showed him how much it cost me to distress him. "You could not give me a greater proof of attachment," said His Majesty. "I exact of your zeal that you will hide nothing from me; I expect everything; try to learn the day of this cruel separation and inform me of it."
On the 29th of September, at ten o'clock in the morning, five or six municipals entered the queen's room where the royal family was assembled. One of them, named Charbonnier, read to the king a decree of the council of the Commune which ordered "the removal of paper, pens, ink, pencils, and written papers, whether on the persons of the prisoners or in their rooms; also from the valet de chambre, and all other persons on service in the Tower." Charbonnier added: "If you have need of anything, Cléry will come down and write your requests on a register which will be kept in the council-chamber."
The king and his family, without making the slightest observation, searched their persons and gave up their papers, pencils, pocket-cases, etc. The commissioners then searched the rooms, the closets, and carried off the articles designated [Page 139] in the decree. I learned then, from a member of the deputation, that the king was to be transferred that very evening to the great Tower. I found means to inform the king by means of Madame Élisabeth.
True enough, after supper, as the king was leaving the queen's room to go up to his own, a municipal told him to wait, as the council had something to communicate to him. A quarter of an hour later, the six municipals who, in the morning, had carried away the papers, etc., entered, and read to the king a second decree of the Commune, which ordered his removal to the great Tower. Though already informed of that event, the king was greatly affected on being notified of it; his distressed family tried to read in the eyes of the commissioners to what length their projects went. The king, in bidding them adieu, left them in the utmost alarm and uncertainty, and this separation, forecasting as it did so many other misfortunes, was one of the most cruel moments Their Majesties had yet passed in the Temple. I followed the king to his new prison.
The apartment of the king in the great Tower was not ready; there was only one bed and no other furniture in it. The painters and paperers were still at work, which caused so intolerable a smell that I feared His Majesty would be made ill by it. They intended to give me a room very far from that of the king, but I insisted vehemently on being nearer to him. I passed the first night in a chair beside His Majesty; the next day the king, with great difficulty, obtained for me a room adjoining his own.
After His Majesty had risen, I wished to go into the small tower to dress the young prince. The municipals refused. One of them, named Véron, said: "You are to have no communication in future with the other prisoners, nor your master either; he is never to see his children again." [Page 140]
At nine o'clock the king asked to be taken to his family. "We have no orders for that," replied the commissioners. His Majesty made a few observations, to which they did not reply.
Half an hour later, two municipals entered, followed by a serving-man who brought the king a piece of bread and a bottle of lemonade for his breakfast. The king expressed his desire to dine with his family; they replied that they would inquire the orders of the Commune. "But," said the king, "my valet de chambre can surely go down; he has the care of my son, and nothing prevents him from continuing that service." "That does not depend on us," said the commissioners, and they retired.
I was then in a corner of the room, overcome with distress and filled with heart-rending fears for that august family. On one side, I saw the suffering of my master; on the other, I thought of the young prince, abandoned perhaps to strange hands. The municipals had already talked of separating him from his parents, and what fresh suffering that would cause to the queen!
I was full of these distressing ideas when the king came to me holding in his hand the bread they had brought him; he offered me half, saying: "They seem to have forgotten your breakfast; take this, the rest is enough for me." I refused, he insisted. I could not restrain my tears; the king saw them, and his own flowed.
At ten o'clock other municipals brought the workmen to continue their work in the apartment. One of them said to the king that he had just been present at the breakfast of his family, and they were all in good health. "I thank you," said the king, "and I beg you to give them news of me; tell them that I am well. Can I not," he continued, "have a few books which I left in the queen's room? You would do [Page 141] me a great pleasure if you would send them to me, for I have nothing to read here." His Majesty named the books he wanted. The municipal consented to the king's request; but, not knowing how to read, he proposed that I should go with him to get the books. I congratulated myself on the man's ignorance, and I blessed Providence for giving us that moment of consolation. The king charged me with certain orders, his eyes told me the rest.
I found the queen in her room, with her children and Madame Élisabeth. They were weeping, and their grief increased on seeing me. They asked a thousand questions about the king, to which I could only answer with reserve. The queen, addressing the municipals who accompanied me, eagerly urged her request to be with the king at least a few moments a day, and during meals. No longer complaints and tears, it was cries and sobs of grief. "Well, they shall dine together to-day at least," said a municipal officer, "but as our conduct is subordinate to the decrees of the Commune we must do to-morrow what they prescribe." His colleagues consented.
At the mere idea of being again with the king, a sentiment that was almost joy came to soothe the afflicted family. The queen holding her children in her arms, and Madame Élisabeth, raising her eyes to heaven and thanking God for the unexpected mercy, presented a very touching sight. Some of the municipals could not restrain their tears (the only ones I ever saw them shed in that dreadful place). One of them, the shoemaker Simon, said aloud: "I believe those b . . . of women will make me cry." Then turning to the queen he added: "When you murdered the people on the 10th of August you did not cry."–"The people are greatly deceived about our sentiments," answered the queen.
I then took the books the king asked for and carried them [Page 142] to him; the municipals went with me to inform His Majesty that he might see his family. I said to these commissioners that I supposed I could without a doubt continue to serve the young prince and the princesses; they consented. I thus had an opportunity to inform the queen of what had taken place, also of how much the king had suffered in being parted from her. They served the dinner in the king's room where his family joined him; nothing more was said about the decree of the Commune, and the royal family continued to meet at their meals, and also when walking in the garden.
After dinner they showed the queen the apartment that was being prepared for her in the great Tower, above that of the king. She begged the workmen to finish it quickly, but it was three weeks before it was ready.
During that interval I continued my services towards Their Majesties as well as towards the young prince and the princesses. Their occupations remained the same. The care the king gave to the education of his son was not interrupted; but this abode of the royal family in two separate towers made the watchfulness of the municipals more difficult and rendered them very uneasy. The number of commissioners was increased, and their distrust left me but little means to gain information of what was passing outside. Here are the ways I made use of:–
Under pretext of getting my linen and other necessaries brought to me, I obtained permission for my wife to come once a week to the Temple. She was always accompanied by a lady, a friend of hers, who passed for one of her relatives. No one proved more attachment to the royal family than this lady, by the steps she took and the risks she ran on various occasions. On their arrival, they were taken into the council chamber, but I could only speak to them in pres- [Page 143] ence of the municipals. We were closely watched, and the first visits brought no results; but I managed to make them understand that they must come at one o'clock in the afternoon, the hour of the king's walk, during which time most of the municipals followed the royal family; only one was left in the council chamber, and if he was a kindly man he gave us some liberty, without, however, losing us from sight.
Getting thus a chance to speak without being overheard, I obtained from them news of the persons in whom the royal family took interest, and I heard of what was going on in the Convention. It was my wife who engaged the crier whom I have already mentioned as coming every day near the walls of the Temple and crying the items in the newspapers several times at intervals.
To this information I added what I could pick up from some of the municipals, but especially from a faithful man named Turgy, serving in the king's kitchen, who, out of devotion to His Majesty, had contrived to get himself employed in the Temple with two of his comrades, Marchand and Chrétien. They brought to the Tower the meals of the royal family, prepared in the kitchen of the palace of the Temple; they were also in charge of the business of provisioning, and Turgy, who was thus able to leave the precincts of the Temple two or three times a week, obtained information of what was happening. The difficulty was to convey that information to me. He was forbidden to speak to me except about the service of the table, and always in presence of the municipals. When he wanted to tell me something, he made a sign we had agreed upon, and I made different pretexts to approach him. Sometimes I asked him to do my hair; then Madame Élisabeth, who knew of my relations with Turgy, would speak to the municipals, and so give me time to exchange a few words unob- [Page 144] served; at other times I would make occasions for him to enter my chamber, and he seized the moment to put newspapers and other printed documents into my bed.
When the king or queen desired some particular information from the outside, and the day of my wife's visit was far off, I employed Turgy. If it was not his day for going out I would pretend to be in need of something for the royal family. "It must be for another day," he would answer. "Very good," I then said, with an indifferent air, "the king can wait." By speaking thus I expected to induce the municipals to give him an order to go out. Often they did give it and he brought me the details the king wanted that night or the next morning. We had agreed together as to this system of communicating, but we had to be careful not to employ the same means twice before the same commissioners.
Other obstacles were in the way of my informing the king of what I had learned. I could only speak to His Majesty in the evening at the moment when they changed the guard and as he went to bed. Sometimes I could say a word to him in the mornings when his watchers were not yet in a state to appear. I affected to wait until they were, letting them see, however, that the king was waiting for me. If they let me enter, I immediately opened the curtains of the king's bed, and while I put on his shoes and stockings I was able to speak to him without being heard. More often, however, my hopes miscarried, and the municipals made me wait for the end of their own toilet before they would let me attend to that of his Majesty. Several among them treated me roughly; some ordered me in the morning to take away their flock-beds and obliged me to replace them in the evening; others constantly made insulting remarks to me; but such conduct gave me additional means of being useful to [Page 145] Their Majesties; by showing only gentleness and compliance to the commissioners, I ended by getting their good-will almost in spite of themselves; I inspired them with confidence without their being aware of it; and I thus succeeded in learning from themselves what I wanted to know.
Such was the plan that I was following with great care ever since my entrance to the Temple, when a singular and unexpected event made me fear I should be separated forever from the royal family.
One evening, towards six o'clock,–it was on the 6th of October,–after having accompanied the queen to her apartment, I was going back to the king with the two municipal officers, when a sentinel placed at the door of the large guard-room stopping me by the arm and calling me by name, asked how I was and said, with an air of mystery, that he had something he wished to speak about. "Monsieur," I answered, "speak out loud; I am not permitted to whisper with anyone." "I am told," said the man, "that the king has been put in a dungeon for the last few days, and that you are with him." "You see it is not so," I replied, leaving him. One of the municipals was walking before me, the other followed me; the first stopped and listened to what was said.
The next morning two commissioners waited for me at the door of the queen's room. They took me to the council-chamber, and the municipals who were there assembled, questioned me. I reported the conversation with the sentinel just as it had taken place; the municipal who had listened to it confirmed my account; the other maintained that the sentinel had given me a paper, that it was a letter to the king and he had heard it rustle. I denied the fact, and invited the municipals to search me and make other inquiries. They drew up a procès-verbal of my examination, [Page 146] and I was confronted with the sentinel, who was sentenced to twenty-four hours imprisonment.
I thought the affair ended when, on the 26th of October, while the royal family were dining, a municipal entered, followed by six gendarmes, sabre in hand, a clerk, and a sheriff, both in uniform. I was in terror, thinking they had come to seize the king. The royal family rose; the king asked what was wanted of him; but the municipal, without replying to him, called me into the next room; the gendarmes followed, and the clerk having read to me a warrant of arrest they seized me to take me before the Tribunal. I asked permission to inform the king, and was told that from that moment I should not be allowed to speak to him. "Take nothing but a shirt;" added the municipal, "it will not be long."
I believed I understood him and took nothing but my hat. I passed beside the king and his family who were standing and seemed in consternation at the manner in which I was carried off. The populace collected round the Temple assailed me with insults and demanded my head. An officer of the National Guard said it was necessary to preserve my life until I had revealed secrets of which I was the sole depositary. The same vociferations continued the whole way.
As soon as I reached the Palais-de-Justice I was put in solitary confinement. There I remained six hours, vainly endeavouring to imagine what could be the motives for my arrest. I could only remember that on the morning of the 10th of August, during the attack on the château of the Tuileries, a few persons who were caught there and were trying to get away, asked me to hide in a bureau that belonged to me several precious articles, and even papers by which they might be recognized. I thought that perhaps those papers had been seized and might be my ruin.
At eight o'clock I was taken before judges, who were un- [Page 147] known to me. This was a revolutionary tribunal, established August 10, to make a selection among those who had escaped the fury of the people on that occassion and put them to death. What was my astonishment when I saw on the prisoner's bench the same young man who was suspected of giving me a letter three weeks earlier, and when I recognized in my accuser the municipal officer who had denounced me to the council of the Temple. They questioned me, and witnesses were heard. The municipal renewed his accusation; I retorted that he was not worthy to be a magistrate of the people, because, if he had heard the rustle of a paper and saw the man give me a letter he ought to have had me searched at once, instead of waiting eighteen hours to denounce me to the council of the Temple. After the debate, the jury voted, and on their declaration I was acquitted. The president ordered four of the municipals present to take me back to the Temple; it was then midnight. I arrived at the moment when the king was going to bed, and I was allowed to inform him of my return. The royal family had taken the keenest interest in my fate, and thought I was already condemned.
It was at this time that the queen came to live in the apartment prepared for her in the great Tower; but that day so earnestly desired, and which seemed to promise Their Majesties some consolation, was marked, on the part of the municipal officers, with a fresh proof of animosity against the queen. Since her arrival at the Temple they saw her devoting her existence to the care of her son and finding some relief to her troubles in his affection and his caresses; they now separated the two without warning her; her distress was extreme. The young prince being placed with his father, I had sole charge of his service. With what tenderness the queen begged me to watch incessantly over his life. [Page 148]
The events of which I shall henceforth have to speak having happened in a different locality from that I have already described, I think I ought to make known the new habitation of Their Majesties.
The great Tower, about one hundred and fifty feet high, had four storeys, all vaulted and supported up the middle from base to roof by a huge shaft [what was called the little tower flanked it, but without communication, on one side]. The interior is about thirty feet square.
The second and third floors allotted to the king and queen, being, like the other floors, of one room each, were divided by board partitions into four rooms. The ground-floor was used by the municipals, the floor above was the guardroom, the next was that of the king.
The first room of his floor (divided as above stated) was an antechamber from which three doors led into the other three rooms. Opposite to the entrance was the king's bedroom, in which a bed was now placed for the dauphin; my room was on the left, so was the dining-room, which was separated from the antechamber by a glass partition. In the king's room was a chimney; a great stove in the antechamber heated the other rooms. Each of these rooms was lighted by a window; but thick iron bars and shutters on the outside prevented the air from circulating freely. The embrasures of these windows were nine feet deep.
The floors of the great tower communicated by a staircase placed in one of the tourelles at the corner of it. This staircase went up to the battlements, and wickets were placed upon it at intervals, to the number of seven. From this staircase each floor was entered through two doors, one of oak, very thick and studded with nails, the other of iron. The other tourelle, opening into the king's chamber, was made into a reading-room; on the floor above, it was turned [Page 149] into a privy, and above that the firewood was stored in it and during the day the flock beds of the municipals who guarded the king at night were placed there.
The four rooms on the king's floor had canvas ceilings; the partitions were covered with paper; that of the antechamber represented the interior of a prison, and on one of the panels hung, in very large type, "The Declaration of the Rights of Man" framed in a border of the three colours. A washstand, a small bureau, four covered chairs, one arm-chair, four straw chairs, a mirror on the fireplace, and a bed of green damask composed the furniture; these articles, together with those used in the other chambers were taken from the palace of the Temple. The king's bed was the one used by the captain of the guards of the Comte d'Artois.
The Duc d'Angoulême, in his capacity of grand-prior of France, was proprietor of the palace of the Temple. The Comte d'Artois had furnished it and made it his residence whenever he came to Paris. The Tower, separated from the palace by about two hundred feet and standing in the middle of the garden, was the storehouse of the archives of the Knights of Malta.
The queen lodged on the third floor, above the king, the distribution of the rooms being nearly the same as that of the king's apartment. The bedroom of the queen and Madame Royale was over that of the king and dauphin; Madame Élisabeth occupied the room above mine; the municipal sat in the antechamber all day and slept there. Tison and his wife lodged in the room above the dining-room of the king's apartment.
The upper (fourth) floor was unoccupied; a gallery ran round the inside of the battlements and was sometimes used as a promenade; but blinds had been placed between the battlements to prevent the royal family from seeing and being seen. [Page 150]
After the reunion of Their Majesties in the great Tower there was little change in the hours of meals, readings, walks, or in the time given by the king and queen to the education of their children. After the king rose, he read the service of the Knights of the Saint-Esprit, and as they had refused to allow mass to be said in the Temple, even on feast-days, he ordered me to buy for him the breviary that was used by the diocese of Paris. Louis XVI. was truly religious, but his pure and enlightened religion never caused him to neglect his other duties. Books of travel, the works of Montesquieu, those of the Comte de Buffon, "The Spectacle of Nature" by Pluche, Hume's History of England, the Imitation of Jesus Christ in Latin, Tasso in Italian, the drama of our different schools, were his habitual reading from the time he entered the Temple. He always gave four hours a day to Latin authors.
Madame Élisabeth and the queen desiring to have the same books of devotion as those of the king, His Majesty ordered me to obtain permission to buy them. How often have I seen Madame Élisabeth on her knees at her bedside praying fervently!
At nine o'clock they came to fetch the king and his son to breakfast in the queen's room; I accompanied them. I then did the hair of the three princesses, and, by order of the queen, I showed Madame Royale how to dress hair. During this time the king played chess or dominoes with the queen or with Madame Élisabeth.
After dinner the young prince and his sister played in the antechamber at battledore and shuttlecock, at Siam, or other games. Madame Élisabeth was always present, sitting near a table, with a book in her band. I remained in the room, sometimes reading; and I then sat down, to obey the orders of the princess. This dispersal of the royal family [Page 151] often made the municipals very uneasy; unwilling to leave the king and queen alone, they were still more unwilling to separate from one another, so much did each distrust his fellow. This was the moment that Madame Élisabeth snatched to ask me questions or give me orders. I listened to her and answered without turning my eyes from the book which I held in my hand, so as not to be detected by the municipals. The dauphin and Madame Royale, in collusion with their aunt, facilitated these conversations by their noisy games, and often warned her by certain signs of the entrance of the municipals into the room. I was distrustful above all of Tison, suspected by the Commissioners themselves, whom he had more than once denounced; it was in vain that the king and queen treated him kindly; nothing could conquer his natural malignity.
In the evening, at bed-time, the municipals placed their beds in the antechamber so as to barricade the room in which His Majesty slept They then locked the door leading from my room into that of the king and took away the key. I was obliged therefore to pass through the antechamber whenever His Majesty called me during the night, bear the ill-humour of the commissioners, and wait till one of them chose to get up and let me pass.
On the 7th of October, at six in the evening, I was made to go down to the council-chamber, where I found some twenty of the municipals assembled, presided over by Manuel, who, from being a prosecutor for the Commune of Paris had risen to be a member of the National Convention. His presence surprised me and made me anxious. They ordered me to take from the king, that very evening, the orders with which he was still decorated, such as those of Saint-Louis and the Golden Fleece; His Majesty no longer wore that of the Holy-Spirit, which had been suppressed by the first Assembly. [Page 152]
I represented that I could not obey; that it was not my place to make known to the king the decrees of the council. I made this answer in order to gain time to warn His Majesty, and I then saw by the embarrassment of the municipals that they were acting this time, at least, without being authorized by any decree, either of the Commune or the Convention. The commissioners refused at first to go up to the king; but Manuel induced them to do so by offering to accompany them. The king was seated, reading; Manuel addressed him, and the conversation that ensued was as remarkable for the indecent familiarity of Manuel as for the calmness and moderation of the king.
"How are you?" asked Manuel; "have you all that is necessary?"–"I am content with what I have," replied His Majesty.–"You are informed no doubt of the victories of our armies, of the taking of Spire, and of Nice, and the conquest of Savoie?"–"I heard them mentioned a few days ago by one of those messieurs, who was reading an evening journal"–"What! do not you see the newspapers which are now so interesting?"–"I receive none."–"Messieurs," said Manuel, addressing the municipals "give all the newspapers to monsieur (pointing to the king); it is well that he should be informed of our successes." Then, addressing His Majesty again, "Democratic principles are propagating themselves; you know, of course, that the people have abolished royalty and adopted a republican government?"–"I have heard it said, and I hope that Frenchmen will find the happiness that I always wished to give them."–"Do you also know that the National Assembly has suppressed all orders of knighthood? They ought to have told you to take off those decorations. Relegated to the class of other citizens you must be treated in the same manner as they. As for the rest, ask for what is necessary and they will hasten to [Page 153] procure it."–"I thank you," said the king, "I have need of nothing;" and he resumed his reading. Manuel had hoped to discover regrets or provoke impatience; he found a great resignation and an unalterable serenity.
The deputation retired; one of the municipals told me to follow it to the council-room, where I was again ordered to remove from the king his decorations. Manuel added: "You will do well to send to the Convention the crosses and ribbons. I ought to warn you," he continued, "that the imprisonment of Louis XVI., may last long, and if your intention is not to remain here, you had better say so now. It is intended, in order to make the surveillance easier, to lessen the number of persons employed in the Tower. If you remain with the cidevant king you will be absolutely alone, and your work will become much heavier. Wood and water for one week will be brought to you; but you will have to clean the apartment and do all the other work." I replied that being determined not to leave the king I would submit to everything. They then took me back to the apartment of His Majesty, who said to me: "You heard what was said; you will take my decorations off my coats this evening."
The next day, when dressing the king, I told him I had locked up the crosses and the cordons, though Manuel had told me it was proper to send them to the Convention. "You did right," said His Majesty.
The tale has been spread that Manuel came to the Temple in the month of September to request His Majesty to write to the King of Prussia at the time of his entrance into Champagne. I can assure every one that Manuel appeared in the Temple only twice during the time that I was there, on the 3d of September and the 7th of October; that each time he was accompanied by a large number of municipals, and that he never spoke to the king in private. [Page 154]
On the 9th of October, they brought to the king the journal of the debates in the Convention; but a few days later, a municipal, named Michel, a perfumer, obtained an order which again forbade the entrance of all public prints to the Tower; he called me into the council-chamber and asked me by whose order journals were sent to my address. It was true that, without being myself informed how or why, four newspapers were daily brought to the Tower, bearing this printed address: "To the valet de chambre of Louis XVI., in the Tower of the Temple." I have always been ignorant, and still am, of the name of the person who paid the subscription. Michel wanted to force me to point it out to him, and he made me write to editors and publishers and get an explanation from them; but their answers, if they made any, were not communicated to me.
This rule of not permitting newspapers to enter the Tower had exceptions, however, when they gave an opportunity for fresh outrage. If they contained insulting remarks about the king or queen, atrocious threats, infamous calumnies, certain of the municipals had the deliberate wickedness to leave them on the mantel or the washstand in the king's room, in order that they might fall into his hands.
Once he read in one of those sheets the speech of an artillery-man who demanded "the head of the tyrant, Louis XVI., that he might load his cannon with it and send it to the enemy." Another paper, speaking of Madame Élisabeth and seeking to destroy the admiration which her devotion to the king and queen inspired in the public mind, tried to destroy her virtue by the most absurd calumnies. A third said they ought to strangle the two little wolflings in the Tower, meaning thereby the dauphin and Madame Royale.
The king was not affected by such articles, except on [Page 155] account of the people. "The French," he said, "are most unfortunate in letting themselves be thus deceived." I took care to abstract those journals if I chanced to be the first to see them; but they were often laid there when my duties took me out of his room, and there were very few of these articles, written for the purpose of outraging the royal family, either to provoke to regicide or to prepare the people to let it be committed, which were not read by the king. Those who know the insolent writings published in those days can alone form an idea of this intolerable form of torture.
The influence of those sanguinary writings could be seen in the conduct of most of the municipal officers, who, until then, had not shown themselves so harsh or so malignant.
One day, after dinner, I wrote a memorial of expenditures in the council-chamber and locked it up in a desk of which they had given me the key. I had hardly left the room before Marino, a municipal officer, said to his colleagues (though he was not on duty) that the desk must be opened and examined to prove whether or not I was in correspondence with the enemies of the people. "I know him well," he added, "and I know that he receives letters for the king." Then accusing his colleagues of connivance, he loaded them with insults, threatened to denounce them as accomplices, and went off to execute that purpose. The others immediately drew up a procès-verbal of all the papers contained in my desk and sent it to the Commune before whom Marino had already made his denunciation.
This same man declared, another day, that a back-gammon-board, which I had had mended with the consent of his colleagues, contained a correspondence; he took it entirely apart and finding nothing he had it glued together again in his presence. [Page 156]
One Thursday, my wife and her friend having come to the Temple as usual, I talked with them in the council-chamber; the royal family, who were walking in the garden, saw us, and the queen and Madame Élisabeth gave us a little nod. That motion, one of simple interest, was noticed by Marino; nothing more was needed to make him arrest my wife and her friend the moment they left the council-chamber. They were questioned separately; they asked my wife who the lady was who accompanied her. "My sister," she replied. The other, being asked the same question, said she was her cousin. This contradiction served as the matter of a long procès-verbal and the gravest suspicions,–Marino declaring that the lady was a page of the queen disguised. At last, after three hours of the most painful and insulting examination, they were set at liberty.
They were allowed to return to the Temple, but we re-doubled our prudence and precautions. I often managed, in our short interviews, to give them notes which Madame Élisabeth had contrived to secrete from the searches of the municipals; these notes usually related to information desired by Their Majesties. Luckily, I had not given any on that occasion; had one of those notes been found upon them we should all three have run the greatest danger.
Other municipals made themselves remarkable by ridiculous actions. One broke up all the macaroons to see if they contained writings; another, for the same purpose, ordered the peaches cut in two before him, and their stones cracked. A third forced me one day to drink some essence of soap with which the king shaved himself, affecting to fear there was poison in it. After each meal Madame Élisabeth used to give me a little knife with a gold blade to clean; often the commissioners would snatch it from my hands to see if a note had been slipped into the sheath. [Page 157]
Madame Élisabeth ordered me one day to send back to the Duchesse de Sérent a book of devotions; the municipals cut off the margins of every page, fearing she had written something on them with invisible ink.
One of them forbade me one day to go up into the queen's room to do her hair. Her Majesty was forced to come down into the king's room, and bring with her all that was required for her toilet.
Another wanted to follow her when, according to her custom, she went into Madame Élisabeth's room to change her morning dress. I represented to him the indecency of that proceeding. He insisted; Her Majesty then left the room and renounced dressing herself.
When I received the linen from the wash, the municipals made me unfold every piece and examine it in broad daylight. The washerwoman's book and all other papers were held to the fire to see if there was secret writing on them. The linen the king and the princesses took off was subjected to the same examination.
Some municipals, however, did not take part in the harshness of their colleagues; but most of these, becoming suspected by the Committee of Public Safety, died victims of their humanity; those who still live have languished long in prison.
A young man named Toulan, whom I thought, from his talk, to be one of the worst enemies of the royal family, came one day close to me and said, with mystery, "I cannot speak to the queen to-day on account of my comrades; tell her that the commission she gave me is done, and that in a few days I shall be on duty, and then I will bring her the answer." Astonished to hear him speak thus, and fearing that he was laying a trap, I replied, "Monsieur, you are mistaken in addressing yourself to me for such commissions." [Page 158] "No, I am not mistaken," he replied, grasping my hand as he left me. I related the conversation to the queen. "You can trust Toulan," she said. This young man was afterwards implicated in the queen's trial, with nine other municipal officers accused of wishing to favour the escape of the queen from the Temple. Toulan perished in the last executions.
Their Majesties, shut up in the Tower for three months, had so far seen none but the municipal officers, when, on the 1st of November, a deputation from the National Convention was announced to them. It was composed of Drouet, post-master at Varennes, Chabot, an ex-capuchin, Dubois-Crancé, Duprat, and two others whose names I forget. This deputation asked the king how he was treated and whether they gave him all necessary things. "I complain of nothing," answered His Majesty. "I merely request that the commissioners will remit to my valet de chambre, or deposit with the council, the sum of two thousand francs for small current expenses; also, that we may receive linen and other clothing of which we are greatly in need." The deputies promised all this, but nothing was sent.
Some days later the king had quite a considerable swelling of his face; I asked urgently that his dentist, M. Dubois, might be sent for. They deliberated three days, and then refused the request. Fever set in, and then, at last, they permitted His Majesty to consult his head physician, M. le Monnier. It would be difficult to picture the distress of that respectable old man when he saw his master.
The queen and her children almost never left the king during the day; they nursed him with me, and often helped me in making his bed. I passed the nights alone beside him. M. le Monnier came twice a day, accompanied by a large number of municipals. His person was searched, and he was not allowed to speak except in a loud voice. One day [Page 159] when the king had taken medicine, M. le Monnier asked to be allowed to remain a few hours. As he remained standing,–the municipals being seated with their hats on their heads,–the king asked him to take a seat; he refused, out of respect, and the commissioners murmured loudly.
The king's illness lasted ten days. A few days later the young prince, who slept in His Majesty's room, the municipals refusing to transfer him to that of the queen, had fever. The queen felt all the more anxiety because she could not obtain permission, though she urged it eagerly, to stay during the night with her son. She gave him the most tender care during the hours she was allowed to be with him. The same illness was communicated to the queen, to Madame Royale, and to Madame Élisabeth. M. le Monnier obtained permission to continue his visits.
I fell ill in my turn. The room I occupied was damp and without a chimney; the shutter of the window intercepted what little air there was. I was attacked by rheumatic fever with severe pains in the side which forced me to keep my bed. The first day I rose to dress the king, but His Majesty, seeing my state, refused my care, ordered me to go to bed, and himself dressed his son.
During that first day the dauphin hardly left me; that august child gave me drink; in the evening, the king took advantage of a moment when he seemed to be less watched, to enter my room; he gave me a glass of some drink, and said, with a kindness that made me shed tears: "I should like to take care of you myself, but you know how we are watched; take courage; to-morrow you shall see my doctor." At supper-time, the royal family came into my room and Madame Élisabeth gave me, without the municipals observing it, a bottle containing syrup of squills; the princess, although she had a heavy cold, deprived herself of that [Page 160] remedy for me. I wanted to refuse it, but she insisted. After supper, the queen undressed the dauphin and put him to bed; and Madame Élisabeth rolled the king's hair.
The next morning M. le Monnier ordered me to be bled; but the consent of the Commune had to be obtained to the entrance of a surgeon. They talked of transferring me to the palace of the Temple. Fearing that I should never get back into the Tower if I once went out of it, I pretended to feel much better. That evening new municipals arrived and there was no further question of transferring me.
Turgy asked to pass the night with me. The request was granted, also to his two comrades who took turns in sitting up with me. I was six days in bed, and each day the royal family came to see me; Madame Élisabeth often brought me things she used for herself. So much kindness restored a portion of my strength, for instead of the feeling of my sufferings, I had that of gratitude and admiration. Who would not have been touched to see that august family suspend, as it were, the thought of its great misfortunes, to busy itself with those of its servant?
I ought not to forget here a trait of the dauphin which proves the goodness of his heart and how much he profited by the examples of virtue he had always before his eyes.
One night, after putting him to bed, I retired to make way for the queen and the princesses, who always came to kiss him for good-night in his bed. Madame Élisabeth, with whom the close watchfulness of the municipals had that day prevented me from speaking, took advantage of that moment to give him a little box of ipecacuanha tablets, telling him to give them to me when I returned. The princesses went up to their rooms, the king passed into his cabinet, and I went to supper. I returned about eleven o'clock to prepare the king's bed; I was alone; the little prince called me in a low [Page 161] voice. Much surprised at finding him awake and fearing he was ill, I went to him. "My aunt gave me this little box for you," he said, "and I would not go to sleep without giving it to you; it was high time you came, for my eyes have shut up several times." Mine filled with tears; he saw them and kissed me, and in two minutes more he was sound asleep.
To this sensibility the young prince added many graces and the lovability of his age. Often by his naïveté, the gaiety of his nature, and his little rogueries he made his parents forget for a moment their cruel situation. But he felt it himself; although so young, he knew he was in a prison and watched by enemies. His behaviour and his talk acquired that reserve which instinct, in presence of a danger inspires perhaps at any age. Never did I hear him mention the Tuileries, or Versailles, or any subject that might remind the queen or the king of painful memories. When he saw some municipal kinder than his colleagues on guard, he would run to his mother and say with an expression of great satisfaction: "Mamma, it is Monsieur Such-a-one to-day."
Once he fixed his eyes so long on a municipal, seeming to recognize him, that the man asked where he had seen him. The little prince refused for sometime to answer; at last, leaning towards the queen, he said to her in a whisper, "It is was when we went to Varennes."
Here is still another proof of his sensitive feelings. A mason was employed in making holes in the wall of the antechamber so as to put enormous bolts to the door. While the man ate his breakfast the little prince amused himself with his tools: the king took the hammer and chisel from his son's hand and showed him how to use them. The mason, touched at seeing the king work, said to His Majesty: [Page 162] "When you get out of here you can say that you worked yourself at your prison."–"Ah!" said the king, "when and how shall I get out?" The little prince burst into tears; the king let fall the hammer and chisel and went back to his room, where he walked up and down with hasty strides.
December 2d, the municipality of the 10th of August was replaced by another, under the title of Provisional Municipality. Many of the former members were re-elected. I thought, at first, that the new set were better than the old, and I hoped for some favorable changes in the system of the prison. I was mistaken. Many of the new commissioners gave me reason to regret their predecessors; the latter were coarser, it is true, but it was easy to take advantage of their natural indiscretion to find out all they knew. I had to study the commissioners of the new municipality to judge of their conduct and their character; their malignity was much more premeditated.
Until this time only one municipal was constantly on guard over the king, and one over the queen. The new municipality ordered two, and henceforth it was much more difficult for me to speak with the king and the princesses. On the other hand, the council, which until then had been held in one of the halls of the Temple palace, was transferred to a room on the ground-floor of the Tower. The new municipals wished to surpass the former ones in zeal, and this zeal was emulation of tyranny.
December 7, a municipal, at the head of a deputation from the Commune, came to read to the king a decree which ordered him to take from the prisoners "knives, razors, scissors, penknives, and all other sharp instruments of which prisoners presumed criminal are deprived; and to make a most minute search of their persons and of their apartments."
During the reading the municipal's voice shook, and it [Page 163] was easy to see the violence he was putting upon himself; and he afterwards proved by his conduct that he had allowed himself to be sent to the Temple solely to endeavor to be useful to the royal family. The king took from his pockets a knife and a little case of red morocco, from which he drew scissors and a penknife. The municipals made the most careful search through the apartments, taking razors, a ruler for rolling hair, a toilet-knife, little instruments for cleaning the teeth, and other articles in gold and silver. The same search was made in my room, and I was ordered to give up whatever was on my person.
The municipals then went up to the queen: they read the same decree to the three princesses and took away from them even the little articles that were necessary for their work.
An hour later, I was made to go down into the council-chamber, and they asked me if I knew what articles remained in the red morocco case the king had put back into his pocket. "I order you," said a municipal named Sermaize, "to take that case away from him to-night." "It is not my place," I said, "to execute the decrees of the Convention, nor to search the king's pockets." "Cléry is right," said another municipal; "it was your place," addressing Sermaize, "to make that search."
They then drew up a procès-verbal of all the articles taken from the royal family, and sorted them into packets, which they sealed up; they next ordered me to sign my name at the bottom of a decree which enjoined me to report to the council if I discovered on the king or the princesses, or in their apartments, any sharp instruments; these different documents were sent to the Commune.
On looking through the registers of the Temple it will be seen that I was often forced to sign decrees of which I was very far from approving either the object or the wording. I [Page 164] never signed anything, never said anything, never did anything except by the special order of the king or of the queen. A refusal on my part would have caused my separation from Their Majesties, to whom I had consecrated my existence; my signature at the foot of certain decrees had no other meaning than to admit that those documents had been read to me.
This Semaize of whom I have just spoken took me back to the apartment of His Majesty. The king was sitting near the fireplace, tongs in hand. Sermaize asked him, in the name of the council, to show what remained in the red morocco case. The king drew it from his pocket; in it was a screw-driver, a corkscrew, and a flint. Sermaize took possession of them. "Are not these tongs which I have in my hand sharp instruments?" said the king, turning his back upon him.
At dinner-time an argument arose among the commissioners. Some were opposed to the use by the royal family of knives and forks; others consented to allow forks; at last it was decided to make no change; but to take away the knives and forks at the conclusion of each meal.
This deprivation of their little articles was all the more trying to the queen and the princesses because it obliged them to give up various kinds of work which until then had served to occupy and amuse those long days in prison. One day, when Madame Élisabeth was mending the king's clothes, she broke off the thread with her teeth, having no scissors. "What a contrast!" said the king, looking at her fixedly and tenderly; "you lacked for nothing in your pretty house at Montreuil." "Ah! brother," she replied, "can I have regrets when I share your sorrow?" 1 [Page 165]
Day after day brought new decrees each of which was a fresh tyranny. The roughness and harshness of the municipals towards me was greater than ever. The three men from the kitchen were forbidden to speak to me; this, and other things made me fear some fresh catastrophe. The queen and Madame Élisabeth, struck by the same presentiment, asked me constantly for news, which I could not give them.
At last, on Thursday, my wife and her friend arrived. I was taken down to the council-chamber. She talked, as usual, in a loud voice to disarm the suspicions of our new jailers; and while she was giving me details of our domestic affairs her friend said: "Next Tuesday, they take the king to the Convention; his trial will begin; he may get counsel; all this is certain."
I did not know how to announce this dreadful news to the king; I wanted to inform the queen or Madame Élisabeth of it first; but I was in great alarm; time was passing, and the king had forbidden me to conceal anything from him. That night, as I undressed him, I told him what I had heard; I made him foresee that they would certainly during his trial separate him from his family; and I added that there were but four days in which to concert with the queen some method of communication between them. I assured him that I was determined to undertake everything that would facilitate that object. The entrance of a municipal did not allow me to say more and prevented His Majesty from replying to me.
The next day, when he rose, I could not find a chance to speak to him. He went up with his son to breakfast [Page 166] with the princess and I followed him. After breakfast he talked some time with the queen and I saw by her look of sorrow that he was telling her what I had said to him. I found, in the course of the day, an opportunity to talk with Madame Élisabeth; I explained to her how much it had cost me to inform the king of his coming trial and thus increase his troubles. She reassured me, saying that the king was much touched by that mark of my attachment. "What troubles him most," she added, "is the fear of being separated from us; try to get more information."
That evening the king told me how glad he was to have heard in advance that he was to appear before the Convention. "Continue," he said, "to try to discover what they mean to do with me; do not fear to distress me. I have agreed with my family not to seem informed, in order not to compromise you."
The nearer the day of the trial approached, the more distrust was shown to me; the municipals would not reply to any of my questions. I had already employed, in vain, various pretexts to go down into the council-chamber, where I might have picked up some new details to communicate to the king, when the commission appointed to audit the expenses of the royal family came to the Temple. They were obliged them to let me go down to give information, and I heard from a well-intended municipal that the separation of the king from his family, though decreed by the Commune, was not yet decided in the National Assembly. That same day Turgy brought me a newspaper in which I found the decree, which ordered that the king be brought before the bar of the Convention; he also gave me a memorial on the king's trial, published by M. Necker. I had no other means of conveying the paper and memorial to the king than to place them under one of the articles of [Page 167] furniture in the privy, telling the king and the princesses that they were there.
December 11, 1972, at five o'clock in the morning, we heard the générale beaten throughout Paris, and cavalry and cannon were brought into the garden of the Temple. This uproar would have cruelly alarmed the royal family if they had not already known its cause. Nevertheless, they feigned to be ignorant of it, and asked an explanation of the commissioners on duty, who refused to reply.
At nine o'clock the king and the dauphin went up to breakfast in the queen's apartment. Their Majesties remained about an hour together; always under the gaze of the municipals. This continual torture for all the family of never being able to show any emotion, any effusion of feeling at a moment when so many fears agitated them, was one of the most refined cruelties of their tyrants and the one in which those tyrants took most delight. The time came to separate. The king quitted the queen, Madame Élisabeth, and his daughter; their looks expressed what they could not say. The dauphin went down, as usual, with the king.
The little prince, who often persuaded his father to play a game of Siam with him, was so urgent that day that the king, in spite of his situation, could not refuse. The dauphin lost all the games, and twice could not go higher than sixteen. "Every time I get to that point Seize I lose the game," he said with some vexation. The king made no reply; but I thought I saw that the sound of that word made a certain impression on him.
At eleven o'clock, while the king was giving his son a reading-lesson, two municipals entered and told His Majesty that they had come to fetch young Louis and take him to his mother. The king wished to know the reason of this [Page 168] removal; the commissioners replied that they executed the orders of the council of the Commune. His Majesty kissed his son tenderly, and charged me to go with him. When I returned to the king, I told him I had left the young prince in his mother's arms, and that seemed to tranquillize His Majesty. One of the commissioners entered to inform him that Chambon, mayor of Paris, was in the council-chamber and was coming up to see him. "What does he want of me?" asked the king. "I do not know," replied the municipal.
His Majesty walked hastily up and down his room for some moments; then he seated himself in an arm-chair close to the head of his bed; the door was half closed and the municipal dared not enter, to avoid, as he told me, questions. Half an hour passed thus in the deepest silence. The commissioner became uneasy at not hearing the king; he entered softly, and found him with his head on one of his hands, apparently deeply absorbed. "What do you want?" asked the king, in a loud voice. "I feared you were ill," replied the municipal. "I am obliged to you," said the king, in a tone of the keenest sorrow, "but the manner in which my son has been taken from me is infinitely painful to me." The municipal said nothing and withdrew.
The mayor did not appear for an hour. He was accompanied by Chaumette, public prosecutor of the Commune, Colombeau, secretary, several municipal officers, and Santerre, commander of the National Guard, who brought his aides-de-camp with him.
The mayor told the king that he had come to fetch him to take him before the Convention, in virtue of a decree which the secretary of the Commune would read to him. This decree stated that "Louis Capet would be arraigned before the bar of the National Convention." "Capet is not my [Page 169] name," said the king; "it is the name of one of my ancestors. I could have wished, monsieur," he added, "that the commissioners had left me my son during the two hours I have passed in waiting for you. This treatment is but the sequel of all that I have borne here for the past four months; I shall now follow you, not to obey the Convention, but because my enemies have the power to force me." I gave His Majesty his overcoat and his hat, and he followed the mayor of Paris. A numerous escort awaited him at the gate of the Temple.
Left alone in the room with a municipal I learned from him that the king would never see his family again, but that the mayor was to consult with some of the deputies about the separation. I asked the commissioner to take me to the dauphin, who was with the queen, which he did. I did not leave the little prince until six o'clock, when the king returned from the Convention. The municipals informed the queen of the king's departure for the Assembly, but they would not enter into any details. The princesses and the dauphin went down as usual to dine in the king's room, and returned to their own immediately.
After dinner a single municipal remained in the queen's room; he was a young man about twenty-four years of age, belonging to the section of the Temple; he was on guard at the Tower for the first time, and seemed to be less suspicious and more civil than most of his colleagues. The queen began a conversation with him, asked him about his profession, his parents, etc. Madame Élisabeth seized the moment to pass into her own room, and made me a sign to follow her.
Once there, I told her that the Commune had decreed the separation of the king from his family, that I feared it would take place that very evening, for although the Convention [Page 170] had not determined on it, the mayor had gone there to make the request, which would, no doubt, be granted.
"The queen and I," answered Madame Élisabeth, "expect the worst; we make ourselves no illusions as to the fate they are preparing for the king. He will die a victim to his kindness and love for his people, for whose happiness he has never ceased to work since he ascended the throne. How cruelly that people is deceived! The king's religion and his great confidence in Providence will sustain him in this cruel adversity. "And now, Cléry," added the virtuous princess, her eyes filling with tears, "you will be alone with my brother; redouble, if possible, your care of him, and neglect no means of making news of him reach us; but for any other purpose do not expose yourself, for if you do we shall be left with no one in whom we can trust." I assured Madam Élisabeth of my devotion to the king, and we agreed upon the means to employ to keep up a correspondence.
Turgy was the only one whom I could put into the secret; but I could seldom speak to him, and then with precaution. It was agreed that I should continue to take care of the linen and clothes of the dauphin; that every two days I should send him what was necessary, and that I should use that opportunity to convey to them news of what was happening with the king. This suggested to Madame Élisabeth the idea of giving me one of her handkerchiefs. "Keep it," she said, "as long as my brother is well; if he should be ill send it to me in my nephew's linen." The manner of folding was to indicate the sort of illness.
The grief of the princess in speaking to me of the king, her indifference as to her personal situation, the value she deigned to set on my poor services to His Majesty affected me deeply. "Have you heard anything said of the queen?" she asked with a species of terror. "Alas! what can they [Page 171] bring against her?" "No, Madame," I replied, "but what can they bring against the king?" "Oh, nothing, nothing," she said, "but perhaps they regard the king as a victim necessary to their safety. The queen, on the contrary, and her children cannot be obstacles to their ambition." I took the liberty of remarking that probable the king would be sentenced only to transportation; that I had heard it spoken of, and that Spain, being the only country that had not declared war, it was likely that the king and his family would be taken there. "I have no hope," she said, "that the king will be saved."
I thought I ought to add that the foreign Powers were consulting as to the means of drawing the king out of prison; that Monsieur and the Comte d'Artois were again assembling the émigrés around them, and would unite them with the Austrian and Prussian troops; that Spain and England would take steps; that all Europe was interested in preventing the death of the king, and therefore that the Convention would have to reflect very seriously before deciding his fate.
This conversation lasted an hour, and then Madame Élisabeth (to whom I had never spoken at such length), fearing the entrance of the new municipals, left me to return to the queen's apartment. Tison and his wife, who watched me incessantly, remarked that I had stayed a long time with Madame Élisabeth, and they were afraid that the commissioner would notice it. I told them that the princess had been talking to me about her nephew, who would probably be in future with his mother.
At six o'clock the commissioners sent for me into the council-room. They read me a decree of the Commune which ordered me to have no further communication with the three princesses and the little prince, because I was to serve the king only. It was also decreed, in order to put the [Page 172] king into more solitary confinement, that I should no longer sleep in his apartment, but in the small tower, and be conducted to the king at such times only as he had need of me.
At half-past six o'clock the king returned from the Convention. He seemed fatigued, and his first desire was to be taken to his family. The request was refused under pretext of having no orders; he insisted that the queen should at least be told of his return, and this was promised to him. He ordered me to ask for his supper at half-past eight o'clock; and he employed the interval in his usual reading, surrounded by four municipals.
At half-past eight I went to inform His Majesty that his supper was served; he asked the commissioners if his family were not coming down; they made him no answer. "But at least," said the king, " my son will pass the night with me, his bed and clothes being here." Same silence. After supper the king again insisted on his desire to see his family. They answered that he must await the decision of the Convention. I then gave out what was necessary for the young prince's bedtime.
That evening, while I was undressing the king, he said: "I was very far from expecting the questions that were put to me." He went to bed tranquilly. The decrees of the Commune relating to my removal during the night was not executed; it would have been too troublesome to the municipals to have fetched me every time the king needed me.
The next day, 12th, the king no sooner saw the municipals than he asked if a decision had been made on his request to see his family. They told him they were still awaiting orders. The king commanded me to have the young prince's bed taken up to the queen's room, where he had passed the night on one of her mattresses. I begged His Majesty to [Page 173] wait for the decision of the Convention. "I do not expect any justice, any consideration," replied the king, "but I will wait."
The same day a deputation of four members of the Convention brought to the king a decree authorizing him to obtain counsel. He declared that he chose M. Target, and failing him, M. Tronchet, or both of them if the National Convention consented. The deputies made the king sign his request, and signed it themselves after him. The king added that it would be necessary to furnish him with paper, pens, and ink.
On the 13th, in the morning, the same deputation returned and told the king that M. Target refused to be his counsel; that M. Tronchet had been sent for and would doubtless appear during the day. They also read to him several letters addressed to the Convention by MM. Sourdat, Huet-Guillaume, and Lamoignon de Malesherbes, formerly president of the cour des aides and afterwards minister of the king's house. Malesherbes' letter was as follows:–
Paris, December 11, 1792
CITIZEN PRESIDENT,–I do not know whether the Convention will give Louis XVI. counsel to defend him, or whether it will leave the selection to him. In the latter case, I desire that Louis XVI. should know that if he chooses me for that function I am ready to devote myself to it. I do not ask you to lay my offer before the Convention, because I am far from thinking myself of enough importance to occupy its time; but I have twice been called to the counsel of him who was once my master, in days when every one was ambitious of that function; I owe him the same service when that function is one which many persons would think dangerous. If I knew any possible means of letting him know my in- [Page 174] clinations, I would not take the liberty of addressing you. I think that in the position you occupy, you will have better means than any one to convey to him this suggestion. I am, with respect, etc,
LAMOIGNON DE MALESHERBES
His Majesty replied as follows to the deputation: "I am sensible of the offers that so many persons have made, asking to serve me as counsel, and I beg you to express to them my gratitude. I accept M. de Malesherbes as my counsel; if M. Tronchet cannot lend me his services, I will consult M. de Malesherbes and choose some one to fill his place."
1 Madame Élisabeth was always notable and clever at work of all kinds. One of her ladies, watching her one day, said what a pity it was that such [Page 165] a faculty was wasted on one who did not need it. "Ah" exclaimed Madame Élisabeth, "it is good to do everything as well as one can; and, besides, who knows? I may have to get my living in this way." –TR.
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