"Narrative of Marie-Thérèse de France, Duchesse d'Angoulême." by The Duchesse d'Angoulême; translated by Katherine Prescott Wormeley.
[THE latter part of this Narrative 1 was the part first written by Marie-Thérèse, Madame Royale de France, only surviving child of Louis XVI. and Marie-Antoinette. She wrote it in the Temple after the death of her brother in 1795, when her own captivity became less rigorous, and she was allowed the use of pencil and paper.
The first part of the Narrative, that which relates the various events taking place from October 5, 1789, to August 10, 1792, was written by her in 1799, during her exile and soon after her marriage to her cousin, the Duc d'Angoulême, son of the Comte d'Artois, subsequently Charles X. This manuscript was corrected and copied, in his own handwriting, by her uncle, Monsieur, Comte de Provence, subsequently Louis XVIII., with whom she lived during his two exiles and his two Restorations till his death. This copy, now in possession of the family of François Huë, a devoted attendant of the royal family of France, to whom the Duchesse d'Angoulême gave it, was first published by M. de Saint-Amand (Firmin Didot, Paris, no date). From that edition this translation is made. The additions by Louis XVIII. are placed in the text between brackets; his omissions, which are chiefly of words and brief sentences, [Page 210] made to correct his niece's French style, are, necessarily, not shown in the translation.]
First Uprising of the Populace on the 5th and 6th of October 1789. Removal of my Family to the Capital.
It was on the 5th of October, 1789, of a Monday, that the first disturbances which, in the end, convulsed all France, broke forth. In the morning of that too memorable day every one was still tranquil at Versailles. My father had gone to hunt at Meudon, a royal château midway to Paris; my mother had gone alone to her garden at Trianon; my uncle Monsieur, with Madame, remained at Versailles; my Aunt Élisabeth had ridden out on horseback to dine at her garden on the road to Paris; my brother and I had also gone out in the morning and returned towards half-past one to dine with my mother. Hardly had my Aunt Élisabeth reached Montreuil and begun her dinner when they came to tell her that all the women and all the rabble of Paris were coming, armed, to Versailles. A few moments later the news was confirmed; they were already very near Versailles, where my father had not yet returned. My aunt went back at once to Versailles accompanied by her two ladies-in-waiting. Going to my uncle's apartment, she asked if he knew what was happening; he said he had heard talk of all Paris coming out to Versailles armed, but he did not believe it; my aunt assured him that the thing was true, and together they went to my mother.
We had just finished dinner when it was announced that Monsieur and Mme. Élisabeth were there and wished to speak to the queen. My mother was surprised, because
[Page 211] it was not her usual hour for seeing them. She passed into another room [to speak with them], and returned almost immediately, much agitated by what she had heard and still more uneasy about my father; she was not aware that the moment the news of the insurrection reached Versailles two gentlemen, named Puymontbrun and La Devèze, had hastened on horseback to warn my father. He returned at five o'clock, and by six the whole troop of rioters were in Versailles; the iron gates of the château were closed and defended by the Gardes du Corps.
M. de la Fayette was at the head of this Parisian army. [None but the rabble came first; M. de la Fayette did not come, with troops little disciplined, until eleven at night.] They entered the hall of the Assembly, where they declaimed much against the king and the government. The president of the Assembly, M. Mounier, came several times to the château to speak to my father. The Duc d'Orléans was with la Fayette [they were not together], and it was said they intended to make him king. However that may be, the object of these rioters was not well known to themselves; none but the leaders were informed of their true purpose. Their [principal] purpose was to murder my mother, on whom the Duc d'Orléans wished to avenge himself for affronts he said she had put upon him; also to massacre the Gardes du Corps, the only ones who remained faithful to their king [they were then commanded by the Duc de Guiche].
Towards midnight the crowd retired, seeming to want rest; many of the women lay down on the benches of the National Assembly. M. de la Fayette himself went to bed, saying that everything was tranquil for the night; so that my father and mother, seeing that all was really quiet, retired to their rooms, and so did the rest of the family. [Page 212]
My mother knew that their chief object was to kill her; nevertheless, in spite of that, she made no sign, but retired to her room with all possible coolness and courage [after ordering all who had gathered there to retire also]. She went to bed, directing Mme. de Tourzel to take her son instantly to the king if she had heard any noise during the night; she ordered all her servants to go to bed.
The rest of the night was quiet till five in the morning; but then the iron gates of the château were forced and the vagabonds, led, it was said, by the Duc d'Orléans himself, rushed straight to my mother's apartment. The Swiss Guard stationed at the foot of the staircase, which could have disputed their passage, gave way, so that the villains, without any hindrance, entered the hall of the Gardes du Corps wounding and killing those who tried to oppose their passage. Two of these guards, named Miomandre de Sainte-Marie and Durepaire, though grievously wounded, dragged themselves to my mother's door, crying out to her to fly and bolt the doors behind her. Their zeal was cruelly rewarded; the wretches flung themselves upon them and left them bathed in their blood, for dead. Meantime, my mother's women, wakened by the shouts of the insurgents and the Gardes du Corps, rushed to the door and bolted it. My mother sprang from her bed and, half-dressed, ran to my father's apartment; but the door of it was locked within, and those who were there, hearing the noise, would not open it, thinking it was the rioters trying to enter. Fortunately, a man on duty named Turgy (the same who afterwards served us in the Temple as waiter), having recognized my mother's voice, opened the door to her immediately.
At the same moment the wretches forced the door of my mother's room; so that one instant later she would have been taken without means of escape. As soon as she [Page 213] entered my father's rooms she looked for him, but could not find him; having heard she was in danger he had rushed to her apartment, but by another way. Fortunately, he met my brother, brought to him by Mme. de Tourzel, who urged him to return to his own rooms, where he found my mother awaiting him in mortal anxiety. Reassured about my father and brother, the queen came in search of me; I was already awakened by the noise in her rooms and in the garden under my windows; my mother told me to rise, and then took me with her to my father's apartment.
My great-aunts Adélaïde and Victoire arrived soon after. We were very uneasy about Monsieur, Madame, and my Aunt Élisabeth, of whom nothing had been heard. My father sent gentlemen to know where they were. They were found sleeping peacefully; the brigands not having gone to their side of the château , neither they nor their servants knew what was happening. They all came at once to my father. My Aunt Élisabeth was so troubled by the danger that the king and queen had run that she crossed the rooms inundated with the blood of the Gardes du Corps without even perceiving it . . . .
The courtyard of the château presented a horrible sight. A crowd of women, almost naked, and men armed with pikes threatened our windows with dreadful cries. M. de la Fayette and the Duc d'Orléans were at one of the windows, pretending to be in despair at the horrors which were being committed during that morning. I do not know who advised my mother to show herself on the balcony, but she went out upon it with my brother. The mob demanded that her son should be sent in; having taken him into the room my mother returned alone to the balcony [expecting to perish, but happily], this great courage awed the whole crowd of people, who confined themselves [Page 214] to loading her with insults without daring to attack her person.
M. de la Fayette, on his side, never ceased to harangue the rioters, but his words had no effect and the tumult still continued. He told them that my father consented to return with them to Paris; he said he could assure them of this as my father had given him his word. This promise calmed them little, and while the Court carriages were being made ready to start, all the family returned to their rooms to make their toilet, for up to this time we still wore our night-caps.
All being arranged for the departure, there was fresh embarrassment about how to leave the château, because they wished to prevent my father from crossing the great guardrooms which were inundated with blood. We therefore went down by a small staircase, crossed the Cour des Cerfs and got into a carriage for six persons; on the back seat were my father, mother and brother; on the front seat Madame, my Aunt Élisabeth and I, in the middle my uncle Monsieur, and Mme. de Tourzel. My great-aunts, Adélaïde and Victoire started for their country-seat, Bellevue, at the same time.
The crowd was so great it was long before we could advance. In front of the cortège were carried the heads of the two Gardes du Corps who had been killed. Close to the carriage was M. de la Fayette on horseback surrounded by troops of the Flanders regiment on foot, and of the grenadiers of the French guard. [In the ranks of the latter and mingling with them, though with very different sentiments, were several of the Gardes du Corps, who gave to their king in these cruel moments the last mark of devotion which it was ever possible for their regiment to give.]
We started at one in the afternoon. Though the journey [Page 215] from Versailles to Paris is usually done in two short hours we did not reach the barrier till six in the evening. Along the whole way the brigands never ceased firing their muskets, and it was useless for M. de la Fayette to oppose them; they shouted: Vive la nation! À bas les Calotins! À bas les Prêtres! M. Bailly, Mayor of Paris, in conformity with an ancient custom [so insolent and derisory at this moment], presented my father with the keys of the city on a gold plate, and made him a long speech in which he spoke of the pleasure the good city of Paris would have in possessing the king, whom he urgently requested to go at once to the Hôtel de Ville. My father was unwilling to consent, saying it would take too long and fatigue his children too much. Nevertheless, M. Bailly insisted, and M. de la Fayette being of the same opinion,–because he thought it better to go the same day rather than wait for the morrow when they would be forced to go,–my father decided to do so.
Having entered Paris, the shouts, the clamour, the insults increased with the mob of the populace; it took us two hours to reach the Hôtel de Ville. My father had ordered all persons in his suite who were in the other carriages to go straight to the Tuileries; he therefore went alone with his family to the Hôtel de Ville, where the municipality and M. Bailly received him, still civilly, and made him another speech on their joy at seeing that he wished to establish himself in Paris. My father answered in a few words, from which they could see that he felt his position much. They asked him to rest there a moment, as he had now been eight hours in the carriage. The People, who filled the square, shouted loudly and demanded to see the king; he placed himself therefore at a window of the Hôtel de Ville, and as it was now dark they brought torches in order to recognize [Page 216] him. Then we again got into the carriage and reached the Tuileries at ten o'clock.
Thus passed that fatal day, the opening epoch of the imprisonment of the royal family and the beginning of the outrages and cruelties it was to bear in the end. The rest of this year, and year of 1790 were passed in a continual struggle between the Royal Power and that arrogated to itself by the Assembly, the latter always gaining the upper hand, although no very remarkable events happened during that time relating to the personal situation of my family.
Flight of my Father; Stoppage at Varennes; his Return to Paris
On the 20th of June, 1790, my father and mother seemed to me greatly agitated during the whole day and much occupied, without my knowing the reason. After dinner they sent us, my brother and me, into another room, and shut themselves into their own, alone with my aunt. I knew later that this was the moment when they told the latter of their plan for escaping by flight from the durance under which they were living. At five o'clock my mother went to walk with my brother and me; during our walk my mother took me aside from her suite, and told me not to be uneasy at anything that I might see; that we might be separated, but not for long; I understood nothing of this confidence. Thereupon she kissed me and said that if the ladies of the suite questioned me as to this conversation I was to say that she had scolded me and forgiven me. We returned about seven o'clock and I went to my room very sad, not knowing what to think of what my mother had said to me. I passed the rest of the evening alone; my mother had induced [Page 217] Mme. de Mackau, my subgoverness, to go and spend a few days in a convent of which she was very fond, and had also sent into the country a young girl who was usually with me; besides which she ordered me to send away all my servants except one woman.
I was hardly in bed before my mother came in; she told me we were to leave at once, and gave her orders for the arrangements; she said to Mme. Brunyer, my waiting-woman, that she wished her to follow us, but that, having a husband, she was free to remain. That [good] woman replied immediately that they did right to go, and as for her she should not hesitate to leave her husband and follow us everywhere. My mother was touched by that mark of attachment. She then went down to bid good-night to Monsieur and Madame, who had supped with her as usual. Monsieur was already informed of the departure; on returning to his own apartment he went to bed, and then, having sent away all his people, he rose [without noise and, disguising himself as an English merchant] he started with one of his gentlemen, M. d'Avaray, who, by his intelligence and devotion enabled him to escape [or surmount] all the dangers of the route.
As for Madame, she was wholly igorant of the intended journey, and it was not until after she was in bed that one of her woman came and told her she was ordered by the king and Monsieur to take her without delay out of the kingdom. She started at once, and met Monsieur at the first post where they relayed, without appearing to know each other, and so arrived safely at Brussels.
My mother had already been to wake my brother, whom Mme. de Tourzel took down to her entresol. Having gone there with him we there found awaiting us one of the Gardes du Corps who was to be our guide. My mother came several [Page 218] times to cast an eye upon us while my brother was being dressed as a little girl; he was heavy with sleep, and did not know what was happening. At half-past ten we were ready; my mother took us herself to the carriage in the middle of the courtyard and put us into it, my brother and me and Mme. de Tourzel. M. de Fersen, a Swedish noble in the service of France, served us as coachman. To throw people off the scent we made several turns in Paris and returned to the little Carrousel near the Tuileries to wait for my father and mother. My brother was lying at the bottom of the carriage under Mme. de Tourzel's gown.
We saw M. de la Fayette pass close by us, going to the king's coucher. We waited there a full hour in the greatest impatience and uneasiness at my parents' long delay. During the journey Mme. de Tourzel was to pass for a Baronne de Korff; my mother as Mme. Bonnet, governess of the lady's children; my father, under the name of Durand, as valet de chambre; my aunt, named Rosalie, as the lady's companion, and my brother and I for the two daughters of Mme. de Korff, named Amélie and Aglaé. The two waiting-women followed us in a calèche. The three Gardes du Corps who accompanied us passed for servants; one was on horseback, one on the carriage, and the third went before us as courier.
After waiting one hour I saw a woman approach and walk round our carriage; it made me fear we were discovered, but I was soon reassured by seeing the coachman open the carriage door to admit my aunt; she had escaped alone with one other person. On entering the carriage she trod upon my brother, who was hidden at the bottom of it; he had the courage not to utter a cry. She assured us that all was quiet at Court, and that my father and mother would soon come. In fact, the king came almost immediately, and then my mother with a member of the Gardes du Corps, who was [Page 219] to follow us. We then started. At first nothing happened until we reached the barrier, where we were to find the postcarriage which was there to take us on. M. de Fersen did not know precisely where it would be; we were obliged to wait a rather a long time and my father got out, which made us uneasy. At least M. de Fersen came with the other carriage, into which we got; that done, he bade my father goodnight, mounted his horse, and disappeared. 1
Nothing remarkable happened to us during the next morning. At Etoges we were on the point of being recognized, and at Châlons-sur-Marne, which we passed through at four in the afternoon, we were so completely. The inhabitants seemed well-intentioned; a great number of them were charmed to see their king and offered wishes for the success of his flight. At the post after Châlons, where we ought to have found troops on horseback to convoy the carriage to Montmédy, we found none; and we waited there, expecting them, till eight o'clock in the evening; then, going on, we reached Clermont, where we saw troops, but the rioters of the village would not allow them to mount their horses. One of their officers recognizing the king, approached the carriage and told him in a low voice that he was betrayed. We continued our way in agitation and anxiety, which, how- [Page 220] ever, did not prevent us from sleeping; but having been awakened by a violent jolt, they came and told us they were ignorant of what had become of the courier who preceded us. It can be imagined in what fear we were; we supposed he had been recognized and captured.
We arrived at the entrance to the village of Varennes, a very small place where there were scarcely a hundred houses and no post-house; so that travellers arriving there were obliged to get their horses from elsewhere. Those intended for us were really there, but at the château on the other side of the river, and none of our people knew it; besides which, our postilions protested that their horses were tired and could go no farther. Our courier then appeared, and with him a man whom he believed to be in our secret, but who was really, as we had reason to believe, a spy of M. de la Fayette. He came to the carriage in a night-cap and dressing-gown, put himself almost into it, and said he knew a secret but could not tell it. Mme. de Tourzel having asked him if he knew Mme. de Korff, he said no; except those words, said while he looked fixedly at my father, it was impossible to get anything from him.
They succeeded at last in persuading the postilions that the horses were at the château and they must take us there; they therefore drove on; but very slowly. As we entered the village we were shocked by the dreadful cries around the carriage; "Stop! Stop!" Then the horses' heads were seized and, in a moment, the carriage was surrounded by a number of armed men with torches; it was then eleven o'clock at night. They asked us who we were; we said: Mme. de Korff, and her family. They put their torches close to my father's face, and told us to get out; we refused, saying we were simple travellers and ought to be allowed to pass; they repeated loudly that we must get out or they would kill [Page 221] us all, and we saw their guns pointed at the carriage. We were therefore forced to get out. As we passed along the street we saw six dragoons on horseback; unfortunately there was no officer with them, for six determined men could have awed those people and saved the king. We were taken to the house of a man name Sauce, mayor of Varennes and a dealer in candles.
While the tocsin sounded and the people uttered cries, my father kept himself in the farthest corner of the room; but unfortunately his portrait was there, and the people gazed at him and the picture alternately. My mother and Mme. de Tourzel complained loudly of the injustice of our stoppage, saying that she was travelling quietly with her family under a government passport, and that the king was not with us. The crowd increased, but in spite of the dreadful noise, our three Gardes du Corps went to sleep. We were all packed together in a very small room, and many of the villagers were there with us. They sent for the judge, to examine my father and decide if he was the king. Having done so, he said nothing. My aunt asking impatiently if he believed it was my father, he still said nothing, but raised his eyes to heaven.
Meantime M. de Choiseul and Goguelat, officers appointed to bring troops to meet us, arrived, but without soldiers; they said they could not bring them because the bridge was blocked by a cart.1 [Page 222]
At last, every one declaring himself convinced that my father was the king, he, seeing that he had no means of escape, took the course of disclosing himself; and having said he was the king, all present threw themselves at his feet and kissed his hands; among others, a major, named Rollin, who had insulted my father before he recognized him, now fell at his feet and protested all that a faithful subject could think or feel. He then rose as if furious, and retired. The whole family of the house also surrounded my father, and the tocsin still sounded. But in spite of these signs of devotion, they said he must not pass, for it was dreadful in him to abandon his people, and that he ought to return to Paris.
Things were thus when, at three in the morning, two agents of M. de la Fayette, sent in pursuit of my father, MM. Baillon and Romeuf, arrived, and they insisted vigorously on his return to Paris. M. Baillon let my father know that he came from the city of Paris to beg him to return, saying that they were in despair at his having quitted it as he had done, and that he ought necessarily to return.
Nevertheless, we tried on our side to delay as long as possible to gain time, and wait to see if help would not arrive. On the other hand, those who had stopped us pressed us extremely to start, being in the greatest fear that in so small a place as Varennes and so near the frontier, the king might be carried off, which could very easily have happened if any one had been there who had any head.
On the other side of the river the son of M. de Bouillé was waiting, but as he had been three consecutive nights without sleep, fatigue overcame him, and he did not wake till the next morning, to hear of the stoppage of the king and his return to Paris. The other officers, who were on this side of the river, MM. de Damas and de Choiseul, [Page 223] got lost in the woods, having taken too long a road; their horses were exhausted, and they did not arrive until long after we were stopped; so that seeing the affair had failed, they were in despair and did not have the patience [the thought] or perhaps the means to go in search of the Marquis de Bouillé, who was waiting for us two posts beyond Varennes. At last, at six in the morning, seeing there was no remedy or help to be looked for, we were absolutely forced to take the road back to Paris.
During all this catastrophe we never saw the famous Drouet, who made so much talk about the part he was said to have played; it is true that, on leaving Clermont, we saw a man on horseback, who passed our carriage, and it may have been he. As for the other, named Guillaume, we saw him, but not until after my father had made himself known; and that man said he had not recognized him, but only my aunt, whom he saw at the Federation.
We therefore got into the carriage, but not without danger; they did not wish our three Gardes du Corps to accompany us, and it was with great difficulty that they at last permitted them to sit on the box of the carriage; the other officers were more exposed, and were afterwards imprisoned and taken to Orléans . . . . Arriving at Sainte-Menehould at half-past three o'clock, we were allowed to leave the carriage for the first time since six in the morning. They took us to the house of the mayor, named Farcy. This man had formerly served at Court, but was much dissatisfied with abuses he declared he had seen there. His wife came repeatedly to my father, saying, "But why did you wish to leave us?" In vain did they tell her, as they did to others, that my father did not mean to leave them, but only to go to Montmédy, which was really his project; but the people would listen to nothing and could not be pacified. [Page 224]
While we were at dinner a man named Bodand arrived, deputy of the Commune of Paris, to beg my father in the name of that city, to return to it as soon as possible; my father, being no longer master of doing otherwise, could only let himself be led. As soon as we had dined, we returned to the carriage, and an hour later met a gentleman of the neighbourhood named Dampierre, who, in despair at the king's being stopped, came to see him, but did not reach our carriage, only that of the waiting-women. The peasants knew him to be what they called an aristocrat, and showed themselves very ill-disposed towards him. Our women begged him to go away, but hardly had he spurred his horse before the people who surrounded the carriages fired at him; he was flung to the ground, and a man on horseback rode over him and struck him several blows with a sabre; others did the same, and soon killed him. The scene, which took place close to our carriage and under our eyes, was horrible for us; but more dreadful still was the fury of these wretches, who, not content with having killed him, wanted to drag his body to our carriage and show it to my father. He objected with all his strength; the postilions, however, would not advance! but at last one man, more humane than the others, went to the postilions pistol in hand, threatening to shoot them if they did not go on; so at last they started. In spite of that, these cannibals came on triumphantly, round the carriage, holding up the hat, coat, and clothing of the unfortunate Dampierre; and, paying no attention to my father's entreaties, they carried these horrible trophies beside us along the road. It was thus that we passed the rest of that day in the midst of insults and perils.
At last, at eleven at night we reached Châlons. There we heard of the arrest of M. de Briges, the king's equerry, who, hearing of my father's departure from Paris, had left his regiment [Page 225] to join him. He was met on the way by M. Baillon, M. de la Fayette's emissary, who, seeing that he had no posthorses, took him with him, brought him to Châlons, and there, with the cruellest treachery, denounced him, and had him arrested. Such was the reward of his love and attachment to his king. Hearing of our arrival at Châlons, M. de Briges asked to see my father, but in vain, and he had the pain of listening to the insults heaped upon him. We were taken to the Maison-Royale at Châlons, where we were well-lodged and well-treated. The inhabitants of the town seemed well-disposed, especially the mayor, M. Rose, and the military commander M. Reubel, a former Garde du Corps. My mother even found in her room a man who proposed to her to escape, which she refused, fearing treachery and seeing moreover countless difficulties.
We were all so fatigued at having passed two nights in uproar and terror that we slept soundly. The next day, we resumed the clothes belonging to our rank, and my brother was again dressed as a boy. Throughout that morning many persons came to see my father, and did so from interest and in no way with insult, as had been shown elsewhere. My brother, especially, enchanted every one by his amiability. This was the day of the Fête-Dieu, and they took us to mass at ten in the morning; but the Offertory had scarcely begun before we heard a great noise, and they came to tell my father that we must leave the mass at once, because the enemy was arriving. It was M. de Bouillé and his troops of whom they thus spoke. We were therefore taken to our rooms and shut up there, where we stayed quite a long time. They served us a dinner, but in the middle of it another alarm was sounded and they obliged us to start at once. Of all the places we passed through, Châlons was the one where we were best treated by the inhabitants . . . . [Page 226]
We reached Épernay at three in the afternoon. It was there that my father ran the greatest danger of the whole journey. Imagine the courtyard of the hôtel where we were to get out filled with angry people armed with pikes, who surrounded the carriage in such crowds that it could not enter the courtyard. We were therefore absolutely obliged to leave it outside and cross that courtyard on foot amid the hoots of these people who said openly they wished to kill us. Of all the awful moments I have known, this was one of those which struck me most, and the horrible impression of it will never leave me.
Entering the house at last, they made us eat a miserable meal. In spite of all the threats of the ferocious populace to massacre every one, they did not go farther and we started from Épernay about six in the evening. Just then they came to tell us that deputies of the National Assembly were arriving. These were Pétion, Barnave, Maubourg, Dumas, commandant of the Garde of the Assembly, and his nephew La Rue. At the moment that the deputies approached our carriage, an unfortunate priest who had not taken the oath was close by it; the peasants, who wished to kill him, had thrown him on the ground, but a Garde on horseback picked him up, put him behind him and rode up to us. At that moment the murderers tried to seize him again under the very eyes of the deputies. My mother cried out to Barnave to save him, which he succeeded in doing through the ascendency he had over the people, and the poor priest escaped with only a wound.
The deputies, having approached the carriage, told my father that by order of the National Assembly they were charged to bring him back to Paris, blaming him at the same time for wishing to leave France. My father answered that he had never had any intention of leaving his kingdom, but [Page 227] only that of going to Montmédy. The deputies then, declaring they were ordered not to let us out of sight, said they must get into our carriage; but, as it could not hold so many persons, they arranged that my aunt and I should go in their carriage with Maubourg, and that Pétion and Barnave should sit with my father and mother. But my aunt and I absolutely refused to leave the carriage. In spite of that they entered it, and though there was no room, Pétion placed himself between my father and my mother, who was thus forced to take my brother on her knees. Barnave sat between my aunt, who placed me before her, and Mme. de Tourzel. These deputies talked much and disclosed openly their manner of thinking; to which my mother and my aunt replied rather energetically. This Pétion was a great rascal, as he proved later, and Barnave was a small lawyer of Dauphiné who wanted to play a part under the circumstances. Maubourg was [a man of another species, but] an insignificant being who had let himself be drawn into the Revolution without knowing why.
We reached Dormans in the evening, and slept at a little inn. The deputies were lodged side by side with us. Our windows looked on the street, which all night long was filled with the populace shouting, and wanting us to go on in the middle of the night; but the deputies no doubt wanted to rest themselves, and so we stayed. My brother was ill all night and almost had delirium, so shocked was he by the dreadful things he had seen a on the preceding day.
The next day, June 24th, nothing happened of importance, except impertinent speeches from the deputies, yells and insults from the people, and the excessive heat which overcame us because we were, as I have said, eight persons in a carriage holding only four.
We stopped for dinner at Ferté-la-Jouarre; where my [Page 228] father was well-received by the mayor, named Renard, who had the delicacy to prevent any one from entering his house or garden. We were told that our three Gardes du Corps must be left behind, because there was no safety for them in Paris. They remained, nevertheless, with us and nothing happened to them . . . . We slept at Meaux in the bishop's house, full of priests who had taken the oath, but otherwise civil enough; the bishop himself served us. They informed us that we must start the next day at five in the morning so as to reach Paris in good season.
We started at six, and though it is only ten leagues from Meaux to Paris, we did not reach Bondy, the last post, till midday nor the Tuileries till half-past seven at night. At Bondy the populace showed its desire to massacre our three Gardes du Corps, and my father did all be could to save them, in which, it must be owned, the deputies eagerly seconded him. The crowd we met along the road was innumerable, so that we could scarcely advance. The insults with which the people loaded us were our only food throughout the day. In the faubourgs of Paris the crowd was even greater, and among all those persons we saw but one woman fairly well-dressed who showed by her tears the interest she took in us.
On the Place Louis XV. was M. de la Fayette, apparently at the summit of joy at the success of the blow he had just struck; he was there, surrounded by a people submissive to his orders; he could have destroyed my father at once, but he preferred to save him longer in order that he might serve his own designs.
We were made to drive through the garden of the Tuileries, surrounded by weapons of all sorts, and muskets which almost touched us. When the deputies said anything to the people they were instantly obeyed, and it is no doubt to their [Page 229] intentions (good or bad) that my father owed his preservation at that moment; for had those deputies not been with us it is more than likely we should then have been murdered. It was they also who saved the Gardes du Corps.
On arriving at the Tuileries and getting out of the carriage, we were almost carried off our feet by the enormous crowd that filled the staircase. My father went up first, with my mother and my brother. As for me, I was to go with my aunt, and one of the deputies took me in his arms to carry me up. In vain did I cry for my aunt; the noise was so dreadful she could not hear me. At last we were all reunited in the king's room, where were nearly all the deputies of the National Assembly, who, however, seemed very civil and did not stay long. My father entered the inner rooms with his family, and seeing them all in safety, I left him and went to my own apartments, being quite worn out with fatigue and inanition. I did not know until the next morning what took place that evening. Guards were placed over the whole family, with orders not to let them out of sight, and to stay night and day in their chambers. My father had them in his room at night, but in the daytime they were stationed in the next room. My mother would not allow them to be in the room where she slept with a waiting-woman, but they stayed in the adjoining room with the doors open. My brother had them also, night and day; but my aunt and I had none. M. de la Fayette even proposed to my aunt to leave the Tuileries, if she wished to do so, but she replied that she would never separate from the king.
My father and mother could not leave their rooms, not even to go to church, and mass was said in their apartments. No one could enter the Tuileries unless by cards of permission, which M. de la Fayette granted to few. [Page 230]
Such was the state of my parents' captivity during more than two months until the acceptance by the king of the Constitution. After that, we had several months of respite and apparent tranquillity, but the king found himself in a constant struggle with the Assembly, which ulcerated all minds more and more, daily.
Assault on the Tuileries by the Populace June 20, 1792.
Under the circumstances of that time the people took a mania to place in all the public squares and gardens what were called "liberty trees;" these were little trees or tall poles, at the top of which they put the bonnet rouge with tricolour ribbons–that is to say, red, blue, and white. They expressed to my father a wish to plant one in the garden of the Tuileries, and he acquiesced. The day they planted this tree was made a species of revolutionary fête, somewhat like that formerly given at the planting of the May tree on the first of that month. They triumphed in having wrung this consent from my father, and to celebrate it they chose the 20th of June, the anniversary of our departure for Varennes, and the fête was to take place beneath our windows. From all these signs my parents could augur nothing good and expect nothing but fresh insults heaped upon them.
Previous to this, the Assembly had exacted that the king should sign their decree that all priests who had not taken the oath were to be sent out of France. My father would not acquiesce in that decree, and had put his veto upon it. This veto was a derisory right which the Assembly allowed the king to exercise when he would not acquiesce in their propositions. On this refusal, they exasperated all minds [Page 231] against my father, constantly seeking to force him in one way or another to give his consent to the decree. This, therefore, was the concealed object they wished to succeed in on the occasion of this fête.
On the 20th of June, about eleven o'clock in the morning, nearly all the inhabitants of the faubourgs Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau, where the populace chiefly lived, marched in a body to the National Assembly, to go from there to the garden and plant the liberty-tree. But as they were all armed, which gave reason to suspect bad intentions, my father ordered the gates of the Tuileries to be closed. The Assembly showed great dissatisfaction, and sent a deputation of four municipals to induce the king to order the gates to be opened. These deputies spoke very insolently; said they exacted the opening of the gates in order that those who had come to plant the tree, the sign of liberty, might return that way, inasmuch as the crowd in the rue Saint-Honoré was too great to allow them to pass. My father, however, persisted in his refusal, and they then went and opened themselves the gates of the garden, which was instantly inundated by the populace; the gates of the courtyards and the château still remained locked.
An hour later this armed procession began to defile before our windows, and no idea can be formed of the insults they said to us. Among others, they carried a banner on which were these words: "Tremble, tyrant; the people have risen;" and they held it before the windows of my father who, though he was not visible himself, could see all and hear their cries of "Down with Veto!" and other horrors. This lasted until three o'clock, when the garden was at last freed. The crowd then passed through the Place du Carrousel to the courtyards of the Tuileries, but quietly, [Page 232] and it was generally thought they were returning to their faubourgs.
During this time our family were in the rooms on the courtyard side, absolutely alone and observing all that went on; the gentlemen of the suite and the ladies dined on the other side. Suddenly we saw the populace forcing the gates of the courtyard and rushing to the staircase of the château. It was a horrible sight to see, and impossible to describe–that of these people, with fury in their faces, armed with pikes and sabres, and pell-mell with them women half unclothed, resembling Furies.
Two of the ushers wishing to run the bolts of my father's door, he prevented it and sprang himself into the next room to meet the rioters. My aunt followed him hastily, and hardly had she passed when the door was locked. My mother and I ran after her in vain; we could not pass, and at that moment several persons came to us, and finally, the guard. My mother cried out: "Save my son!" Immediately some one took him in his arms and carried him off. My mother and I, being determined to follow my brother, did all we could against the persons who prevented us from passing; prayers, efforts, all were useless, and we had to remain in our room in mortal anxiety. My mother kept her courage, but it almost abandoned her when, at last, entering my brother's room she could not find him. The persons who, on her own order, had carried him away lost their heads, and in the confusion, took him up higher in the château, where they thought him in greater safety. My mother then sent for him and had him brought back to his room. There we awaited, in the silence of profound anxiety, for news of what had happened to my father.
Returning to him, I must resume at the moment when he passed through the door which was then locked against [Page 233] us. As soon as he thought the danger passed the king dismissed his suite, so that no one was with him but my Aunt Élisabeth, [Maréchal de Mouchy (who in spite of his 77 years and my father's order persisted in remaining), two old ushers, the brave Acloque, commander of the division of the National Guard, an example of fidelity in the uniform of rebellion], 1 and M. d'Hervilly, lieutenant-colonel of the new King's-Guard, who, seeing the danger, ran to call the Guard and collected about twenty grenadiers, but on reaching the staircase he found only six had followed; the others had abandoned him. My father was therefore almost alone when the door was forced in by one sapeur, axe in hand raised to strike him, but [here] by his coolness and imperturbable courage my father so awed the assassin that the weapon fell from his hand,–an event almost incomprehensible. It is said that some one cried out: "Unhappy man, what are you about to do?" and that those words petrified him; for my part I think that what restrained that wretch was Divine Providence and the ascendancy that virtue always maintains over crime.
The blow having thus failed, the other accomplices, seeing that their leader had let himself be cowed, dared not execute their evil designs. Of all this mass of the populace, there were certainly very few who knew precisely what they were expected to do. To each had been given twenty sous and a musket; they were sent in drunk with orders to insult us in every imaginable way. Their leader, Santerre, had brought them as far as the courtyard, and there he awaited the success of his enterprise. He was desperate on learning that his stroke had missed, and he came near being killed himself by a man in the château, who aimed for him, [Page 234] and was prevented from shooting only by remonstrances as to the danger to which he exposed my father; for if Santerre were sacrificed the brigands would surely avenge him.
My father was nevertheless obliged to allow all these wretches to go through the rooms of the château, and, standing himself in a window with my aunt, he watched them pass before him and heard the insults with which they overwhelmed him. It was on this horrible day that my father and my aunt each made a memorable speech. At the moment of the greatest danger a soldier came up to the king and said to him, "Sire, fear nothing." My father took his hand and laid it on his own heart. "Does it beat hard, grenadier?" he said. Shortly before, my Aunt Élisabeth, being mistaken for the queen, saw herself exposed to the utmost fury of the brigands; some one near was about to make her known. "Do not undeceive them," cried my aunt with sublime devotion.
This dreadful situation lasted from half-past three in the afternoon till eight at night. Pétion, mayor of Paris, arrived, pretending to be much astonished on hearing of the danger the king had run. In haranguing the people he had the impudence to say: "Return to your homes with the same dignity with which you came." The Assembly, seeing that the stroke had missed, changed its tone, pretended to have been ignorant of everything, and sent deputation after deputation to the king expressing the grief it feigned to feel for his danger.
Meantime my mother, who, as I said, could not rejoin the king, and was in her apartment with my brother and me, was a long time without hearing any news. At last, the minister of war came to tell her that my father was well; he urged her to leave the room where we then were, as it was [Page 235] not safe, and we therefore went into the king's little bed-chamber. We were scarcely there before the rioters entered the apartment we had just left. The room in which we now were had three doors: one by which we had entered, another opening upon a private staircase, a third communicating with the Council Chamber. They were all three locked, but the first two were attacked, one by the wretches who were pursuing us, the other by men who came up the little staircase, where we heard their shouts and the blows of their axes.
In this close danger my mother was perfectly calm; she placed my brother behind every one and near the door of the Council Chamber, which was still safe, then she placed herself at the head of us all. Soon we heard some one at the door of the Council Chamber begging to enter. It was one of my brother's servants, pale as death, who said only these few words: "Madame, escape! the villains are following me." At the same instant, the other doors were forced in. In this crisis my mother hastily ordered the third door opened and passed into the Council Chamber, where there were, already, a number of the National Guard and a crowd of wretches.
My mother said to the soldiers that she came to take refuge with her son among them. The soldiers instantly surrounded us; a large table standing in the middle of the Chamber, served my mother to lean upon, my brother was seated on it, and the brigands defiled past it to look at us. We were separated from my father by only two rooms, and yet it was impossible to join him, so great was the crowd. We were therefore obliged to stay there and listen to all the insults that these wretches said to us as they passed. A half clothed woman dared to come to the table with a bonnet rouge in her hand and my mother was forced to let her [Page 236] place it on her son's head; as for us, we were obliged to put cockades on our heads. It was, as I have said, about eight o'clock when this dreadful procession of rioters ceased to pass and we were able to rejoin my father and aunt. No one can imagine our feelings at that reunion; they were such that even the deputies from the Assembly were touched. My brother was overcome with fatigue and they put him to bed. We stayed together for a time, the room being full of deputies. An hour later they went away, and about eleven o'clock, after having passed a most terrible day, we separated to get some rest . . . .
The next day Pétion came again to play the hypocrite, saying he had heard of more assemblings of the people and he had hastened to defend the king. My father ordered him to be silent; but as he still tried to protest his attachment, my father said: "Be silent, monsieur; I know your thoughts."
Massacre at the Tuileries; Dethronement of my Father.
The Days from the 10th to the 13th of August, 1792.
After the fatal epoch of June 20, my family no longer enjoyed any tranquillity; every day there were fresh alarms, and rumours that the faubourgs Saint Antoine and Saint Marceau [together with those wretches who were called the Marseillais] were marching against the château. Sometimes they sounded the tocsin and beat the générale; sometimes, under pretext of a dinner of confraternity, they invited [and worked upon] the sections of opposite opinions to demand the dethronement of the king, which Danton, Robespierre, and their party wanted at all costs. After these many preludes, we heard with certainty on the 9th of August that the populace, armed, was assembling to attack the [Page 237] Tuileries; it was already evening. The troops who remained faithful to my father were therefore hastily collected, among them the Swiss Guard; and a great number of the nobles who were [still] in Paris arrived [in haste]. Imagine the situation of my unhappy parents during that horrible night; they remained together [expecting only carnage and death], and my mother had ordered my brother and me to go to bed.
Pétion arrived about eleven o'clock, exclaiming loudly against this new tumult. My father treated him as he deserved and sent him away; nevertheless, malignant people spread the news that Pétion was kept prisoner in the Tuileries; [on which] minds grew [embittered and] inflamed even to fury, and at midnight the signal was given to begin the dreadful massacre. The first shot fired killed M. Clermont-Tonnerre, a member of the First Assembly. For a part of the night the tumult went on outside the Tuileries, where fresh reinforcements of the National Guard were successively arriving; unfortunately, [far] too many came, for most of them were already seduced and treacherously inclined.
At six in the morning it was suggested to my father to visit all the posts and encourage the troops to defend him; but only a few cries of Vive le Roi! were heard in the courtyards, and what was worse, when he wished to enter the garden, the artillery-men, most wicked of all, dared to turn their cannon against their king; a thing not believable if I did not declare that I saw it with my own eyes.
My father, having thus indubitably recognized the bad disposition of the National Guard, saw but too well that no faithful subjects remained about him, except a few nobles who had come to us, a part of the servants of the château, and the Swiss Guard; they all armed themselves. M. Mandat, commandant of the National Guard in the Tuileries [a man of little enterprise but faithful], was summoned by [Page 238] the mayor to the Hôtel de Ville; there he was murdered by order of the municipality, who immediately appointed Santerre to replace him. Towards seven in the morning Roederer, head of the department, arrived. He asked to speak alone with the king; there, he threw himself at his feet and conjured him to save himself; he represented to him that furious brigands were arriving in masses, that he had too few persons to defend him, that he had no course left but to go, he and his family, and take refuge in the National Assembly. My father rejected the idea for a long time, but Roederer insisting, and the peril becoming urgent and inevitable, he at last resolved to go to the Assembly with his family, Mme. de Lamballe, and Mme. de Tourzel. He left all the rest of his people in the château, not doubting that as soon as it was known that he had gone, the tumult would cease and there would be no longer any danger for those he left there. 1
We crossed the garden of the Tuileries in the midst of a few National guards, who still remained faithful. On the way we were told that the Assembly would not receive my father. The terrace of the Feuillants, along which we had to pass, was full of wretches, who assailed us with insults; one of them cried out: "No women, or we will kill them all!" My mother was not frightened at the threat and continued her way. At last we entered the passage to the Assembly. Before being admitted [to the hall] we had to wait more than half an hour, a number of deputies still [Page 239] opposing our entrance. We were thus kept in a narrow corridor, so dark that we could see nothing, and hear nothing but the shouts of the furious mob. My father, my mother, and my brother were in front with Mme. de Tourzel; my aunt was with me, on the other side. I was held by a man whom I did not know. I have never thought myself so near death, not doubting that the decision was made to murder us all. In the darkness I could not see my parents, and I feared everything for them. We were left to this mortal agony more than half an hour.
At last we were allowed to enter the hall of the Assembly, and my father on entering said [in a loud voice] that he came to take refuge with his family in the bosom of the Assembly, to prevent the French nation from committing a great crime. We were placed at the bar, and they then discussed whether it was proper that my father should be present at their deliberations. They said, as to that, that it was impossible to let him stay at the bar without infringing on the inviolability of the sovereign people; and they declaimed speeches thereon which were full of horrors. After this they took us into the box of a journalist.
We had hardly entered this species of cage when we heard cannon, musket-shots, and the cries of those who were murdering in the Tuileries; but we were ignorant at the time of what was happening. We heard later how the massacre began. My father had hardly left the château before a party of wretches [already in the courtyards] began to attack with armes blanches [sabres and pikes] the Swiss Guard, who fired in self-defense. Nothing more was needed to push their fury to the highest point; those who were outside hearing the Swiss fire first, and taking them for the aggressors, spread the rumour that my father had ordered them to fire on the people. Soon, not only the courtyard gates but those [Page 240] of the château were forced, and these madmen rushed in, massacring all whom they found, especially the Swiss. [Then and there perished an immensity of faithful servitors of all ranks and classes. Among the victims were MM. de Clermont d'Amboise and de Castéja, de Viomesnil and d'Hervilly; the Maréchal de Mailly, MM. de Maillardoz and de Bachmann died later. All the old officers of the Guard called "constitutional," the two battalions of the Filles-St.-Thomas and the Petits-Pères distinguished themselves by an unbounded devotion, though, unhappily, fruitless. What could they do against a multitude maddened with drink and blood and fury?] The Tuileries then became a spectacle of horror; blood ran everywhere, especially in the apartments of the king and queen. Nevertheless, in the midst of these abominations some traits of humanity were shown; among these monsters were some who saved several persons, taking them by the arm and making them pass for their friends or relatives . The carnage lasted all that day on one side or the other; the number of brigands who perished was considerable, for those wretches killed each other in their blind fury. At night, the château took fire; fortunately, the flames lasted but a little while, and so ended those awful and too memorable scenes.
Meantime our terrors increased as these dreadful noises went on; but it was even worse when we heard the same sort of cries close to the Assembly. The members themselves were frightened, and in their fear they tore out the iron railing of the box where we were and forced my father into the midst of them; but this tumult was soon appeased. It was occasioned by the approach of a number of the Swiss Guard who had escaped from the Tuileries and were trying to come to the support of the king; they had almost forced the door of the Assembly when an officer said to them: [Page 241] "What are you doing? The king is in the midst of assassins; they will murder him if you advance." This reflection held them back and they surrendered; it was thus that these brave foreigners [ever faithful], to the number of about one hundred, escaped the massacre. As for those of their compatriots who did not perish in the Tuileries, they were taken to the Hôtel-de-Ville and there massacred with their principal officers. A forged order from the king was sent to summon the Swiss Guard from the barracks at Courbevoie; on their arrival in Paris they met the same fate.
Still kept on the box at the Assembly, we witnessed the horrors of all kinds which there took place. Sometimes they assailed my father and all his family with [the basest and most atrocious] insults, triumphing over him with cruel joy; sometimes they brought in gentlemen dying of their wounds; sometimes they brought my father's own servants, who, with the utmost impudence, gave false testimony against him; while others boasted of what they had done. At last, to complete the revolting scene, they brought in the Host and flung the sacred wafers on the ground. It was in the midst of these abominations that our entire day, from eight in the morning until midnight, passed [as one may say] through all gradations of whatever was most terrible, most awful.
The session ended by [a decree full of insults to my father, declaring the king suspended from his functions and ordering the convocation of a National Convention. They next wished to take up the fate of my brother; they proposed to appoint his governor, and even to make him king; but the latter motion was rejected, and that of giving him a governor was adjourned until the Convention should declare whether the Nation desired to still have a king]. At last they permitted us, about one at night to retire to one of the little rooms near-by, in the convent of the Feuillants; there we [Page 242] were left alone [without the slightest defense against the sanguinary rage of these wretches]. The next day, several persons belonging to my father's service came to us. We were forced to return again to the Assembly and spend the whole day there while they discussed what should be done with the king, and where he should be kept. The Place Vendôme, in which is the Chancellerie, was proposed for this purpose, on which Manuel, public prosecutor for the Commune of Paris, demanded, in the name of his constituents, to be intrusted with the responsibility of keeping my father and his family; and this being granted, he proposed the château of the Temple for our residence, which was decreed.
That day and the next were passed like the preceding day; we were forced to listen in the hall of the Assembly to the prowess of those who had distinguished themselves by their barbarities. At night we returned to our rooms, [where we were not allowed to enjoy in peace the hours consecrated to rest], a deputy of the Assembly coming an hour after midnight to search and see if we had men hidden there; none were found, for my father had been obliged to send away those who had come to him. On the 12th it was determined that we should be transferred to the Temple on the following day.
On the 13th we did not go to the Assembly. Towards three in the afternoon Pétion and Manuel came to take my father, and they made us all get into a carriage with eight seats, into which they got themselves [with their hats on their heads and shouting, Vive la Nation! ]. We drove through the streets leading to the Temple in great peril and loaded with insults; our conductors themselves feared the people so much that they would not let the carriage stop for a moment; and yet it took two hours before we could reach the Temple through that immense throng. On the [Page 243] way they had the cruelty to point out to my parents things that would distress them,–the statues of the Kings of France thrown down, even that of Henri IV., before which the populace compelled us to stop, to make us look at him on the ground. We did not observe on our way any feeling souls touched by our condition, such terror was now inspired in those who still thought rightly. And yet, in the midst of so many sights which might well break down the strongest soul, my father and my mother preserved the tranquillity and courage that a good conscience can alone inspire.
Imprisonment of my Family in the Tower of the Temple,
August 13,1792, followed by the Trial and Martyrdom
of my Father, January 21, 1793. 1
On arriving at the Temple on Monday, August 13th, 1792, at six o'clock in the evening, the Artillery-men under Santerre wished to take my father to the Tower and leave us in the château. Manuel had received on the way a decree of the Commune designating the Tower as our common prison. However, they calmed the artillery-men and we entered the château first, where the municipal guards kept my father and all of us within sight. An hour later, Pétion went away and my father supped with us. At eleven, my brother dying with sleep, Mme. de Tourzel took him to the Tower, where we were all to go, although nothing had been prepared to receive us. My father was surrounded by the municipal guards, drunk and insolent, who sat down beside him, and talked in a loud voice without the slightest regard to him. At one o'clock we were at last taken over to the Tower, where Manuel, as secretary-general of the [Page 244] Commune, committed us. He was ashamed himself, to find this lodging bare of everything, and such that my aunt was reduced to sleep in the kitchen for several nights.
The persons who were shut up with us in this fatal place were the Princesse de Lamballe, Mme. de Tourzel and her daughter Pauline, M. de Chamilly, my father's head valet de chambre, M. Huë, in the service of my brother, Mmes. Cimbris, Thibaut, Navarre, and Bazire, waiting-women to my brother, my mother, my aunt, and myself. My father was lodged above on the third floor of the building adjacent to the main body of the Tower; having a municipal guard in his room. My aunt occupied a kitchen with Mlle. de Tourzel and Mme. Navarre; my mother lodged below in a salon, with me and afterwards Mme. de Lamballe;; and in a third room was my brother with Mme. de Tourzel his governess, and his maid, Mme. Cimbris; this was a billiard-room. Mmes. Thibaut and Bazire slept below. In the kitchen of the château, destined for our service, were Turgy, Chrétien, and Marchand, men long attached to the king's household, who brought the dishes for our meals to the Tower.
The next day my father came to breakfast at nine o'clock in my mother's room, and afterwards we all went together to look over the Tower, because they wanted to make bedchambers of the great rooms. We returned to dine on the first floor in a room adjoining the library. After dinner, Manuel and Santerre commander of the National Guard, came to the Tower, and my father went to walk with them in the garden. On our arrival the previous day they had demanded the departure of the women who were in our service, and we even found new women chosen by Pétion waiting to serve us, but they were not accepted. The day but one after, during our dinner, they brought us a decree [Page 245] of the Commune ordering that our women and even the ladies should be removed. My father opposed this vehemently and so did the municipal guards, which annoyed those who had brought the order. We were each asked privately if we did not wish for others; on which, having all responded no, things remained as they were.
From this time we were busy in regulating our hours. We passed the whole day together; my father taught my brother geography and history; my mother made him learn and recite verses; my aunt taught him arithmetic. Fortunately there was a Library adjoining our apartments [that of the guard of the Archives of Malta], where my father found an agreeable diversion; my mother, my aunt, and I often did worsted-work.
My father asked for a man and woman to do the rough work, and a few days later they sent a man named Tison and his wife. The guards became daily more uncivil and insolent, and they never left us one instant alone, either when we were together or separate. Mme. de Lamballe was allowed to write to the outside and ask for the things she needed, but always in open letters read by the municipals. At last, during the night of the 19th and 20th of August, they brought and read in all our rooms a decree of the Commune removing from the Tower all persons who were not of the royal family. They ordered Mme. de Lamballe to rise. My mother tried to oppose it by urging that she was her relative, but in vain; they replied that they had orders to take her away and question her. Obliged to submit, we all rose, with death in our hearts, to bid these ladies farewell [an eternal farewell to the Princesse de Lamballe, and it seemed as if we had a presentiment of her horrible fate. MM. de Chamilly and Huë were also taken away]; our waiting-women were prevented from taking leave of us. [Page 246]
Every one having gone, my brother was left alone in his room, and they brought him, still asleep, into that of my mother where two municipals were on guard. Unable to go to sleep again, even my brother who was awakened by the noise, we passed the night together; my father, though awakened, remained in his room with a municipal. The men who took away the ladies assured us they would return after their examination, but we learned the next day that they had been taken to the prison of La Force. M. Huë, however, returned at nine o'clock the next morning; the Council, having judged him innocent, sent him back to the Temple.
My mother, left thus alone, took charge of my brother, who slept in her room; I went to occupy the billiard-room with my aunt, and the municipal kept himself during the day in the queen's room and at night with the sentinel in the little room between us. My father remained above, where he slept; we went up to breakfast with him while they cleaned my mother's chamber, after which my father came down and spent the entire day with us.
The 24th, towards one in the morning, they came to search my father's room under pretence of looking for arms, and they took away his sword. The next day, the day of Saint-Louis, they shouted the "Ça ira" close by the Temple. We then heard that M. de la Fayette [having ended his rôle], had abandoned the army and quitted France, which news was confirmed to my father that evening by Manuel, who at the same time brought a letter, which had been opened, to my Aunt Élisabeth from my great-aunts in Rome; this was the last that my family received from without. Not only was my father no longer treated as king, but he was not even treated with simple respect; he was not called Sire or Your Majesty, but merely Monsieur, or Louis; the municipal guards [Page 247] sat down in his room, their hats on their heads. It was then that Pétion sent Cléry for the service of my brother, to which he already belonged; and he installed as jailers or turnkeys of the Tower two men named Risbey and Rocher. The latter was the horrible man who on the 20th of June had forced my father's door and tried to kill him. This monster roamed around us continually with dreadful glances; he never ceased torturing my father in every possible way; sometimes he sang the Carmagnole, and other such horrors; at other times he puffed the smoke of his pipe into my father's face as he passed, knowing that he disliked the smell of it; at night when we went to supper, as we were obliged to pass through his room, he was always in his bed, and sometimes he would be there at our dinner hour, pretending to sleep; in short there was no kind of insult and insolence he did not invent to torment us.
Meantime the king lacked everything; he therefore wrote to Pétion to obtain the money which was intended for him; but he received no answer and our discomforts were multiplied daily. The garden, the only place where my father could take the air, was full of workmen, who insulted us to such a point that one of them boasted he would knock off my mother's head, but Pétion had him arrested. Even at the windows on the street which looked into the garden, people came expressly to insult us. On the 2d of September, as we were walking there towards four in the afternoon, not knowing what was going on outside, a woman stood at one of those windows who loaded my father with insults and dared to assail him with stones which fell beside him; another of those windows offered us at the same moment a very touching contrast. How precious to the unfortunate is a mark of interest! A woman, not less feeling than courageous, having written on a large card the news of the taking [Page 248] of Verdun by the coalition army, held it towards us at a window long enough for us to read it, which my aunt did without the municipals perceiving it.
We had hardly rejoiced at the news when a new municipal arrived, named Matthieu [a former capuchin monk]. Inflamed with anger he came to my father and told him to follow him, which we all did, fearing that they meant to separate us. Going upstairs we met M. Huë, and Matthieu told him he arrested him; . . . then, turning to my father, he said all that fury could suggest, and especially these words: "The générale is beaten, the cannon of warning is fired, the tocsin is sounding, the enemies are at Verdun, if they come we shall all perish, but you the first." My father listened to his threats firmly, with the calm of innocence, but my brother, terrified, burst into tears and ran into the next room, where I followed him and did my best to console him, but in vain; he imagined he saw my father dead. Meantime, M. Huë having returned, Matthieu, continuing his insults, took him away with him and shut him up in the prison of the Mairie, instead of that of the Abbaye where he was to have gone, but the massacre of that day had already begun there . . . We heard that in the end he was set at liberty, but he never returned to the Temple.
The municipals all condemned the violent conduct of Matthieu, but they did not do better. They told my father they were certain the King of Prussia was on the march and killing all Frenchmen by an order signed by Louis. There were no calumnies they did not invent, even the most ridiculous and the most incredible. My mother, who could not sleep. heard the générale beaten all night.
September 3d at eight in the morning, Manuel came to see my father, and assured him that Mme. de Lamballe and the other persons taken from the Temple were well and all [Page 249] together, tranquilly, in La Force. At three in the afternoon we heard dreadful outcries; my father left the dinner-table and played backgammon with my mother, to control his countenance and be able to say a few words to her without being heard. The municipal guard in the room behaved well; he closed the door and window, also the curtains, so that they might see nothing. The workmen at the Temple and the jailer Rocher joined the murderers, which increased the noise. Several officers of the National Guard and some municipals arrived; the first desired that my father should show himself at the window. The municipals fortunately opposed this; but my father, having asked what was happening, a young officer replied: "Well, if you want to know, it is the head of Mme. de Lamballe they wish to show you." My mother was seized with horror; that was the sole moment when her firmness abandoned her. The municipals scolded the officer, but my father, with his usual kindness, excused him, saying it was not the officer's fault, but his own for having questioned him. The noise lasted till five o'clock.
We learned that the people had tried to force the gates; that the municipals had prevented it by tying across the door a tricolour scarf; and that finally they had allowed six of the murderers to enter and walk round our prison with the head of Mme. de Lamballe, but on condition that they left the body, which they wanted to drag round, at the gate. When this deputation entered, Rocher uttered shouts of joy on seeing the head of Mme. de Lamballe, and scolded a young man who was taken ill, so horrified was he at the sight.
The tumult was hardly over before Pétion, instead of exerting himself to stop the massacre, coldly sent his secretary to my father to reckon about money. This man was very ridiculous, and said many things which would have [Page 250] made us laugh at another moment; he thought my mother remained standing on his account; for since that awful scene she had continued standing, motionless, and seeing nothing that took place in the room. The municipal guard who had sacrificed his scarf at the door made my father pay for it. My aunt and I heard the générale beaten all night; my unhappy mother did not even try to sleep; we listened to her sobs. We did not suppose that the massacre was still going on; it was not until some time later that we learned it had lasted three days.
It is impossible to give all the scenes that took place, as much on the part of the municipals as on that of the National Guard; everything alarmed them, so guilty did they feel themselves. Once, during supper, there was a cry to arms; it was thought that the foreigners were arriving; the horrible Rocher took a sabre and said to my father, "If they come I will kill you." It was only some trouble with the patrols. Their severity increased daily. Nevertheless, we found two municipals who softened the misery of my parents by showing them kind feeling and giving them hope. I fear they are dead. There was also a sentinel who had a conversation with my aunt through the keyhole. That unfortunate man wept all the time he was near us in the Temple. I know not what became of him; may heaven have rewarded his attachment to his king.
When I took my lessons and my mother prepared extracts for me, a municipal was always there, looking over my shoulder, believing that there must be conspiracy. The newspapers were not allowed us for fear we should know the foreign news; but one day they brought a copy to my father telling him he would find something interesting in it. Oh, horror! he there read that they would make a cannon-ball of his head. The calm and contemptuous silence of my father [Page 251] damped the joy they had shown in bringing him that infernal writing. One evening a municipal, on arriving, uttered many threats and insults, and repeated what we had already heard, that we should all perish if the enemy approached Paris; he added that my brother alone caused him pity, but, being the son of a tyrant, he must die. Such were the scenes that my family had to bear daily.
The Republic was established September 22, they told us joyfully; they also told us of the departure of the foreign army; we could not believe it, but it was true.
At the beginning of October, they took away from us pens, paper, ink and pencils; they searched everywhere, and even harshly. This did not prevent my mother and me from hiding our pencils, which we kept; my father and aunt gave up theirs. The evening of the same day, as my father was finishing supper, they told him to wait; that he was going into another lodging in the Great Tower, and would in future be separated from us. At this dreadful news my mother lost her usual courage and firmness. We parted from him with many tears, still hoping, however, to see him again. The next day they brought our breakfast separately from his; my mother would eat nothing. The municipals, frightened and troubled by her gloomy grief, allowed us to see my father, but only at meals, forbidding us to speak in low tones or in foreign languages, but "aloud and in good French." We then went to dine with my father in great joy at seeing him again; but a municipal was there who perceived that my aunt spoke low to my father, and he made her a scene. At night, my brother being in bed, either my mother or my aunt stayed with him, while the other went with me to sup with my father. In the mornings we stayed with him after breakfast long enough for Cléry to comb our hair, because he was not allowed to come to my mother's room, and this gave us a [Page 252] short time longer to be with my father. We went to walk together daily at midday.
Manuel came to see my father and took away from him harshly his cordon rouge (order of Saint-Louis), and assured him that none of those who had been at the Temple, excepting Mme. de Lamballe, had perished. He made Cléry, Tison, and his wife take an oath to be faithful to the nation. A municipal, coming in one evening, woke my brother roughly to see if he was there; this was the only moment of anger which I saw my mother show. Another municipal told my mother that it was not Pétion's purpose to have my father die, but to shut him up for life with my brother in the castle of Chambord. I do not know what object that man had in giving us this information; we never saw him again. My mother was now lodged on the floor above my father's apartment in the great Tower, and my brother slept in my father's chamber, also Cléry and a municipal guard. The windows were secured by iron bars and shutters; the chimneys smoked much.
Here is how the days of my parents were passed. My father rose at seven o'clock and prayed to God till eight. Then he dressed, and so did my brother, till nine, when they came to breakfast with my mother. After breakfast, my father gave my brother lessons until eleven o'clock; the latter played till midday, when we all went to walk together, no matter what the weather was, because the guard, which was changed at that hour, wished to see us and be certain of our presence in the Tower; the walk lasted till two o'clock, when we dined. After dinner my father and mother played backgammon or piquet, or, to speak more correctly, pretended to play so as to be able to say a few words to each other. At four o'clock my mother went up with us to her own room and took my brother, [Page 253] because the king usually went to sleep at that hour. At six my brother went down. My father made him study and play till supper-time. At nine o'clock, after that meal, my mother undressed him quickly and put him to bed. We went up then to our room, but the king did not go to bed till eleven o'clock. My mother did a great deal of tapestry-work, and made me study and often read aloud. My aunt prayed to God; she read many books of piety; often the queen begged her to read them aloud.
The newspapers were now returned to us in order that we might see the departure of the foreigners and read the horrors about the king of which they were full. A municipal said to us one day: "Mesdames, I announce to you good news; many of the émigrés, those traitors, have been taken; if you are patriots you will rejoice." My mother, as usual, said not a word and did not even seem to hear him; often her contemptuous calmness and her dignified bearing awed these men; it was rarely to her that they addressed themselves.
The Convention came for the first time to see the king. The members who composed the deputation asked him if he had any complaints to make; he said no, he was satisfied, so long as he was with his family. Cléry complained that they did not pay the dealers who provided for the Temple. Chabot answered: "La nation n'est pas à un écu près." The deputies present were Chabot, Dupont, Drouet, and Lecointe-Puyraveau. They came back, after dinner, and asked the same questions. The next day Drouet came back alone and asked the queen if she had any complaints to make. My mother made him no answer. Some days later, as we were at dinner, the guards threw themselves roughly on Cléry and ordered him to follow them to the tribunal. Not long before, Cléry, coming down the staircase [Page 254] with a municipal, met a young man of his acquaintance who was on guard; they said good-day to each other and shook hands; the municipal thought that wrong and arrested the young man. It was to appear with him before the tribunal that Cléry was now taken. My father asked that he should return; the municipals assured him that he would not return; nevertheless he was back at midnight. He asked the king's pardon for his past conduct, which my father's manner, the exhortations of my aunt, and the sufferings of my relations made him change; after that he was very faithful.
My father fell ill with a heavy cold; they granted him a doctor and his apothecary. The Commune was uneasy; it had bulletins every day of his health, which was soon reestablished. The whole family were ill of this cold; but my father was more ill than the rest.
The Commune changed on the 2d of December. The new municipals came to inspect my father and his family at ten o'clock at night. Some days later they issued an order to turn Tison and Cléry out of our apartments and to take away from us knives, scissors, and all sharp instruments; they also ordered that our dishes should be tasted before they were served to us. The search was made for the sharp instruments, and my mother and I gave up our scissors.
December 11th we were made very anxious by the beating of drums and the arrival of a guard at the Temple. My father came with my brother to breakfast. At eleven o'clock Chambon and Chaumette, one the mayor, the other the public prosecutor of the Commune of Paris, and Colombeau their clerk, went to my father's apartment. There they informed him of a decree of the Convention which ordered him to be brought to its bar to be interrogated. They requested him to send my brother to my mother; but not [Page 255] having with them the decree of the Convention, they kept my father waiting two hours, so that he did not start till one o'clock, in the mayor's carriage, with Chaumette and Colombeau; the carriage was escorted by municipals on foot. My father observing that Colombeau bowed to many persons, asked him if they were all his friends; to which he answered: "They are the brave citizens of August 10th, whom I never see without joy."
I shall not speak of my father's conduct before the Convention; all the world knows it; his firmness, his gentleness, his kindness, his courage, amid assassins thirsting for his blood, are traits which will never be forgotten and which the most remote posterity will admire.
The king returned at six o'clock to the Tower of the Temple. We had been in a state of anxiety which it is impossible to express. My mother made every effort with the municipals who guarded her to learn what was happening; it was the first time that she deigned to question them. These men would tell her nothing, and it was only after my father's return that we heard the facts. As soon as he had returned she asked urgently to see him; she even sent to Chambon to ask it, but received no reply. My brother spent the night in her room; he had no bed, she gave him hers and remained up all night in a gloom so great that we did not like to leave her, but she forced us to go to bed, my aunt and me. The next day she again asked to see my father and to read the journals to learn about his trial; she insisted that at least, if she might not see my father, permission should be granted to my brother and me. This request was taken to the Council general; the newspapers were refused; they permitted my brother and me to see my father, but only on condition that we should be absolutely separated from my mother. They informed my father of this, [Page 256] and he said that, however great his pleasure might be in seeing his children, the great business in which he was now engaged would not allow him to occupy himself with his son, and that his daughter must not leave her mother. They then brought my brother's bed into my mother's room.
The Convention came to see my father; he asked for counsel, ink, paper, and razors with which to shave; all of which were granted to him. MM. de Malesherbes, Tronchet, and Desèze, his counsel, came to him; he was often obliged, in order to speak to them without being heard, to go with them into the little tourelle. He no longer went into the garden, neither did we; he heard no news of us, nor we of him, unless through the municipals, and then with difficulty. I had trouble in my foot, and my father, hearing of it, grieved about it with his customary kindness, and inquired carefully about my condition. My family found in this Commune a few charitable men, who, by their kind feeling, soothed our torture; they assured my mother that my father would not be put to death, that his case would be sent to the primary assemblies, which would certainly save him. Alas! they deceived themselves, or from pity endeavoured to deceive my mother. On the 26th of December, Saint-Stephen's day, my father made his will, because he expected to be murdered that day on his way to the bar of the Convention. He went there, nevertheless, with his usual calmness, and left to M. Desèze the care of his defence. He went at eleven and returned at three o'clock.
On the 18th of January, 1793, the day on which the verdict was given, the municipals entered the king's room at eleven o'clock, saying they had orders not to let him out of sight. He asked if his fate were decided; they answered no. The next morning M. de Malesherbes came to [Page 257] tell him that his sentence was pronounced. "But, sire," he added, "those wretches are not yet masters; all honest men will now come forward to save Your Majesty or perish at your feet." "M. de Malesherbes," said my father, "that would compromise many persons and bring civil war into France. I would rather die. I beg you to order them from me to make no movement to save me; the king does not die in France." After this last conference he was not allowed to see his counsel; he gave the municipals a note asking to see them, and complaining of the restraint he was under in being watched incessantly; no attention was paid to this.
Sunday, January 20, Garat, minister of justice, came to notify him that his sentence of death would be executed on the morrow; my father listened with courage and religion. He asked a respite of three days, to know what would become of his family, and to obtain a Catholic confessor. The respite was refused. Garat assured my father that there was no charge against his family and they would all be sent out of the country. He asked for a confessor, the Abbé Edgeworth de Firmont, whose address he gave. Garat brought him. The king dined as usual, which surprised the municipals, who expected that he would wish to kill himself.
We learned the sentence pronounced upon my father on that Sunday, the 20th, from the news criers, who came to shout it under our windows. At seven in the evening, a decree of the Convention arrived, permitting us to go to my father; we hurried there and found him much changed. He wept for sorrow over us, and not from fear of death; he related his trial to my mother, excusing the wretches who caused his death; he told her that it was proposed to appeal to the primary assemblies, but he opposed it, because that measure would bring trouble into the State. He then gave religious instruction to my brother, told him above all to [Page 258] pardon those who were putting him to death, and gave him his blessing; also to me. My mother ardently desired that we should pass the night with him; he refused, making her feel that he had need of tranquillity. She begged him at least to let us come the next morning; he granted that to her; but as soon as we were gone he told the guard not to let us come again, because our presence pained him too much. He remained after that with his confessor, went to bed at midnight, and slept till five o'clock, when he was wakened by the drums. At six o'clock, the Abbé Edgeworth said mass, at which my father took the Communion.
He started about nine o'clock; as he went down the stairway he gave his will to a municipal; he also gave him a sum of money which M. de Malesherbes had brought to him, and requested the man to return it; but the municipals kept it for themselves. He next met a jailer, whom he had reproved rather sharply the evening before, and said to him: "Matthieu, I am sorry to have hurt you." He read the prayers for the dying on the way. Arriving at the scaffold, he wished to speak to the people, but Santerre prevented it by making the drums beat; the few words he was able to say were heard by a few persons only. He then removed his clothing himself, his hands were bound by his own handkerchief, and not with a rope. At the moment when he was about to die the abbé said to him: Fils de Saint-Louis, montez au ciel –"Son of Saint-Louis, ascend to heaven."
He received the death-blow at ten minutes past ten in the morning of January 21, 1793. Thus perished Louis XVI. King of France, aged thirty-nine years, five months, and three days, having reigned eighteen years. He had been in prison five months and eight days.
Such was the life of the king, my father, during his rigorous captivity, in which nothing was seen but piety, [Page 259] grandeur of soul, kindness, gentleness, courage, patience in supporting the most infamous treatment, the most horrible calumnies; mercy in pardoning with all his heart his murderers; love of God, of his family, of his people–a love of which he gave proofs with his last breath and for which he has gone to receive his reward in the bosom of an all-powerful and merciful God.
Life in the Tower of the Temple from the Death of Louis XVI. to that of the Queen, October 16, 1793.
The morning of that terrible day [of the king's death] we rose at six o'clock. The evening before my mother had scarcely strength enough to undress my brother and put him to bed; she then threw herself, dressed as she was, upon her bed, and we heard her through the night trembling with cold and sorrow. At a quarter past six they opened our door to look for a prayer-book for my father's mass; we thought we were to go to him, and we still had that hope until the cries of joy of a frenzied populace came to inform us that the crime was consummated. In the afternoon my mother asked to see Cléry, who was with my father to his last moments, thinking that perhaps he had charged him with messages for her. We desired this shock, in order to cause an outflow of her gloomy sorrow and relieve the suffocated condition in which we saw her. My father had, in fact, ordered Cléry to return to my unhappy mother his wedding-ring, adding that he parted from it only in parting with life; he also gave him a packet of my mother's hair and ours, saying they had been so dear to him that he had kept them till the last instant. The municipals informed us that Cléry was in a dreadful state, and in despair because they refused to let him see us. My mother [Page 260] charged them to make her request to the council general; she also asked for mourning clothes. Cléry passed another month in the Temple and was then discharged.
We now had a little more liberty, the guards thinking we were about to be sent away. But nothing was able to calm the anguish of my mother–we could make no hope of any sort enter her heart; she was indifferent whether she lived or died. She looked at us sometimes with a pity that made us shudder. Happily, grief increased my illness, and that occupied her. My own doctor, Brunier, and the surgeon La Caze were brought, and they cured me in a month.1
We were allowed to see the persons who brought our mourning, but only in presence of the municipals. My mother would no longer go down into the garden, because that obliged her to pass the door of my father's room, which pained her too much; but fearing that want of air might harm my brother and myself, she asked, in February, to go up upon the Tower, which was granted to her.
It was discovered that a sealed package in the room of the municipals, which contained the king's seal, his ring, and several other things, had been opened, the seals broken, and the contents carried away. The municipals were very uneasy; but finally they believed it had been done by a thief who knew that the seal with the arms of France was set in gold. The person who took those things was rightly intentioned; he was not a thief; he did it for the right, because my mother wished the seal and ring to be saved for her son. I know who that brave man was; but alas! he is dead, not because of this affair, but in consequence of [Page 261] another good action. I cannot name him, hoping that he may have intrusted those precious objects to some one else before he perished. 1
Dumouriez having left France, our imprisonment became more restricted. They built a wall which separated us from the garden; they put shutters to the top of the Tower; and plugged all holes with care. On the 25th of March the chimney caught fire. That evening Chaumette, prosecutor of the Commune, came for the first time to see my mother, and he asked her if she desired anything. My mother asked only for a door of communication between her room and that of my aunt. (The two terrible nights we had passed in her room we had slept, my aunt and I, on one of her mattresses placed on the floor.) The municipals opposed that request; but Chaumette said that in my mother's feeble state it might be necessary for her health, and he would speak of it to the Council general. The next day he came back at ten in the morning with Pache, the mayor, and that dreadful Santerre, commander of the National Guard. Chaumette told my mother he had spoken to the Council of her request for a door, which was refused. She made no answer. Pache asked her if she had any complaints to make. My mother said, "No," and paid no further heed to him.
Some time later we found certain municipal guards who soothed our griefs a little by their kind feeling. We knew after a while, those with whom we had to do; especially my mother, who saved us several times from trusting to a false show of interest. There was also another man who [Page 262] did services to my family. I know all those who took an interest in us; I do not name them, for fear of compromising them as things now are, but the recollection of them is graven on my heart; and if I can never show them my gratitude, God will reward them; but if the day comes when I can name them they will be loved and esteemed by all virtuous persons. 1
Precautions redoubled; Tison was not allowed to see his daughter, and he became ill-tempered. One evening a person brought some articles for my aunt; he was angry that this man should be allowed to enter, and not his daughter; he said things which led Pache, who was below, to send for him. They asked him why he was so displeased. "At not seeing my daughter," he replied, "and because some of these municipals are behaving badly." (He had seen them speaking low to my mother and aunt.) They asked their names; he gave them, and declared that we had correspondence with the outside. To furnish proofs he said that one day my mother, on taking out her handkerchief, had let fall a pencil; and another day he had found wafers and a pen in a box in my aunt's room. After this denunciation, which he signed, they sent for his wife, who repeated the same thing; she accused several of the municipals, declared that we had had correspondence with my father during his trial, and denounced my doctor, Brunier (who treated me for trouble in my foot), for having brought us news. She signed all that, being led away by her husband; but, in the end, she had great remorse for it. That denunciation was made April 19; the next day she saw her daughter.
On the 20th, at half-past ten at night, my mother and I had just gone to bed when Hébert arrived with several other [Page 263] municipals; we rose hastily. They read us a decree of the Convention ordering that we be carefully searched, even to the mattresses. My poor brother was asleep; they pulled him roughly out of his bed, to search it; my mother held him, all shivering with cold. They took from my mother the address of a shop she had always kept, a stick of sealing-wax from my aunt, and from me a Sacred Heart of Jesus and a prayer for France. Their search did not end till four in the morning. They wrote a procès-verbal of all they found, and obliged my mother and aunt to sign it, threatening to carry us off, my brother and me, if they refused. They were furious at having found nothing but trifles. Three days later they returned, and demanded to see my aunt in private. They then questioned her on a hat they had found in her room; they wished to know whence it came, and how long she had had it, and why she had kept it. She answered that it had belonged to my father at the beginning of his imprisonment in the Temple; that she had asked for it, to preserve it for love of her brother. The municipals said they should take it away as a suspicious thing; my aunt insisted on keeping it, but was not allowed to do so. They forced her to sign her answer and they carried away the hat.
Every day my mother went up on the Tower to have us take the air. For some time past my brother had complained of a stitch in his side [point de côté ]. May 6th, at seven in the evening, a rather strong fever seized him, with headache and the pain in his side. At first he could not lie down, for it suffocated him. My mother was uneasy and asked the municipals for a doctor. They assured her the illness was nothing and that her motherly tenderness was needlessly frightened. Nevertheless, they spoke to the Council and asked in my mother's name for Dr. Brunier. The Council [Page 264] laughed at my brother's illness, because Hébert had seen him five hours earlier without fever. They positively refused Brunier, whom Tison had recently denounced. Nevertheless, the fever became very strong. My aunt had the goodness to take my place in my mother's room, that I might not sleep in a fever atmosphere, and also that she might assist in nursing my brother; she took my bed, and I went to hers. The fever lasted several days, the attacks being worse at night.
Though my mother asked for a doctor, it was several days before her request was granted. At last, on a Sunday, Thierry, the physician of prisons, was appointed by the Commune to take care of my brother. As he came in the morning he found little fever, but my mother asked him to return in the afternoon, when he found it very high, and he disabused the municipals of the idea they had that my mother was anxious about nothing; he told them that, on the contrary, the matter was more serious than she thought. He had the kindness to go and consult Brunier about my brother's illness and the remedies that should be given to him, because Brunier knew his constitution, he being our physician from infancy. He gave him some remedies, which did him good. Wednesday, he made him take medicine, and that night I returned to sleep in my mother's room. She felt much uneasiness on account of that medicine, because the last time that my brother had been purged he had frightful convulsions and she feared he might have them again. She did not sleep all night. My brother, however, took his medicine, and it did him good without causing him any accidents. He still had attacks of fever from time to time and the stitch in his side continued. His health began from this time to change, and it was never restored; the want of air and exercise did him much harm, also the sort of life the poor [Page 265] child lived, in the midst of tears and shocks, alarm and continual terrors, at eight years of age.
May 31st we heard the générale beaten and the tocsin rung, but no one would tell us the cause of the uproar. The guards were forbidden to let us go up on the Tower to take the air; an order always given when Paris was in disturbance. At the beginning of June, Chaumette came with Hébert and asked my mother if she desired anything. She answered no, and paid no further attention to them. My aunt asked Hébert for my father's hat which he had taken away; he replied that the Council general did not see fit to return it to her. My aunt, seeing that Chaumette did not go away, and knowing how much my mother suffered inwardly from his presence, asked him why he had come and why he remained. He answered that he visited all the prisons, they were all equal, and therefore he came to the Temple. My aunt replied no, because, in some, persons were justly imprisoned, and others unjustly. Chaumette and Hébert were both drunk.
Mme. Tison became insane; she was anxious about my brother's illness and had long been tortured by remorse; she languished and would not take the air. One day she began to talk to herself. Alas! it made me laugh, and my poor mother, also my aunt, looked at me with satisfaction, as if my laughter did them good. But Mme. Tison's insanity increased; she talked aloud of her wrong-doings, of her denunciations, of the prison, of the scaffold, of the queen, of her own family, and of our sorrows; admitting that because of her bad deeds she was unworthy to approach my family. She thought that those whom she had denounced had perished. Every day she watched for the municipals whom she had accused; not seeing them she went to bed gloomy; there she had frightful dreams and uttered cries, which we heard. The municipals [Page 266] allowed her to see her daughter, whom she loved. One day the porter, who did not know of this permission, refused entrance to the daughter. The municipals, finding the mother desperate, sent for her at ten at night. That late hour alarmed the woman still more; she was very unwilling to go down, and said to her husband: "They are going to take us to prison." She saw her daughter, but could not recognize her. She went back with a municipal, but on the middle of the stairway she would neither go up nor down. The municipal alarmed, called others to make her go up; when there, she would not go to bed, but talked and shouted, which prevented my family from sleeping. The next day, the doctor saw her and found her quite mad. She was always on her knees to my mother, begging her forgiveness. It is impossible to have more pity than my mother and my aunt had for this woman, to whom assuredly they had no reason to feel kindly. They took care of her and encouraged her all the time she remained in the Temple in this state. They tried to calm her by the sincere assurance of their pardon. The next day the guards took her from the Tower and put her in the château of the Temple, but, her madness increasing, they removed her to the Hôtel-Dieu and put a woman to spy upon her and report the things she might let drop.
On the 3d of July, they read us a decree of the Convention ordering that my brother be separated from us and lodged in a more secure room in the Tower. Hardly had he heard it when he flung himself into his mother's arms uttering loud cries, and imploring not to be parted from her. My mother, on her side, was struck down by the cruel order; she would not give up her son, and defended, against the municipals, the bed on which she placed him. They, absolutely determined to have him, threatened to employ violence and to call up the guard. My mother told them they would [Page 267] have to kill her before they could tear her child from her. An hour passed in resistance on her part, in threats and insults from the municipals, in tears and efforts from all of us. At last they threatened my mother so positively to kill him and us also that she had to yield for love of us. We rose, my aunt and I, for my poor mother no longer had any strength, but after we had dressed him she took him and gave him into the hands of the municipals herself, bathing him with tears and foreboding that she would never see him again. The poor little boy kissed us all very tenderly and went away in tears with the municipals. My mother charged them to ask permission of the Council general to let her see her son, if only at meals, and they promised her to do so. She was overcome by the separation; but her anguish was at its height when she learned that Simon, a shoemaker, whom she had seen as a municipal, was intrusted with the care of the unfortunate child. She asked incessantly to see him, but could not obtain it; my brother, on his side, wept for two whole days, never ceasing to ask to see us.
The municipals no longer remained in my mother's room; we were locked in night and day and under bolts. This was a comfort, as it relieved us of the presence of such persons. The guards came only three times a day, to bring our meals and examine the windows to make sure that the bars were not cut. We had no one to wait upon us, but we liked this best; my aunt and I made the beds, and served my mother. In the cabinet in the tourelle was a narrow opening through which we could see my brother when he went up to the battlements, and the sole pleasure my mother had was to see him through that little chink as he passed in the distance. She stayed there for hours, watching for the instant when she could see the child; it was her sole hope, her sole occupa- [Page 268] tion. She rarely heard news of him, whether from the municipals or from Tison, who sometimes saw Simon. Tison, to repair his past conduct, behaved better, and sometimes gave news to us.
As for Simon, he maltreated my brother beyond what we could have imagined, and all the more because the child wept at being parted from us; but at last he frightened him so much that the poor boy dared not shed tears. My aunt entreated Tison, and those who in pity gave us news of him, to conceal these horrors from my mother; she knew or suspected enough. The rumour ran that my brother had been seen on the boulevard; the guards, vexed at not seeing him, declared he was no longer in the Temple. Alas! we hoped this for a moment; but the Convention ordered him to be taken down into the garden that people might see him. There my brother, whom they had not had time to change entirely, complained of being separated from my mother, and asked to see the law that ordered it; but they made him hold his tongue. The members of the Convention, who had come to make certain of my brother's presence, went up to my mother. She complained to them of the cruelty shown in taking her son from her; they answered that it was thought necessary to take that measure. A new prosecutor-general also came to see us; his manners astonished us, in spite of all we had learned to expect from our troubles. From the moment that man entered until he left he did nothing but swear.
On the 2d of August, at two in the morning they woke us up to read to my mother the decree of the Convention which ordered that, on the requisition of the prosecutor of the Commune, she should be taken to the Conciergerie in preparation for her trial. She listened to the reading of the decree without emotion, and without saying a single word. [Page 269] My aunt and I asked at once to go with my mother, but this mercy was not granted to us. While she was making up a parcel of her clothes the municipals never left her; she was obliged to even dress herself before them. They asked for her pockets, which she gave them; they searched them and took all that was in them although there was nothing of importance. They made a packet of these articles and said they would send it to the revolutionary tribunal, where it would be opened before her. They left her only a handkerchief and a smelling-bottle, in the fear that she might be taken faint.
My mother, after tenderly embracing me and telling me to have courage, to take good care of my aunt, and to obey her as a second mother, repeated to me the same instructions that my father had given me; then throwing herself into my aunt's arms she commended her children to her. I answered nothing, so terrified was I at the idea that I saw her for the last time; my aunt said a few words to her in a low voice. Then my mother went away without casting her eyes upon us, fearing no doubt that her firmness might abandon her. She stopped once at the foot of the Tower, because the municipals had to make a procès-verbal to discharge the concierge from the care of her person. As she went out, she struck her head against the lintel of the door, not thinking to lower it. They asked her if she was hurt. "Oh, no," she said; "nothing can hurt me now."
She was put into a carriage with a municipal and two gendarmes. On reaching the Conciergerie they placed her in the dirtiest, dampest, most unwholesome room in the building. She was kept in sight by a gendarme, who never left her day or night. My aunt and I were inconsolable and we passed many days and nights in tears. They had, however, assured my aunt, when my mother was taken, that no harm [Page 270] would happen to her. It was a great consolation for me not to be parted from my aunt, whom I loved much; but alas! all is now changed, and I have lost her too!
The day after my mother's departure, my aunt asked urgently, in her name and mine, to be reunited with her; but she could not obtain it, nor even get any news of her. As my mother, who never drank anything but water, could not endure that of the Seine, which made her ill, we begged the municipals to send her that of Ville d'Avray, which was brought daily past the Temple. They consented, and got a decree in consequence; but another of their colleagues arrived just then and opposed it. A few days later, my mother, in order to get news of us, tried to send for some necessary articles, among others her knitting, for she had begun a pair of stockings for my brother. We sent it, together with all we could find of silks and wools, for we knew how she liked to be busy; she had a habit in former days of always being at work, except in her hours of public appearance. In this way, she had covered a vast quantity of furniture and had even made a carpet and a great deal of coarse-wool knitting of all kinds. We therefore collected all we could; but we learned afterwards that nothing had been given to her, fearing, they said, that she might do herself a harm with the knitting-needles.
Sometimes we heard news of my brother from the municipals; but that did not last long. We could hear him every day singing, with Simon, the Carmagnole, the air of the Marseillais, and other horrors. Simon made him the wear the bonnet rouge, and a carmagnole, and sing at the windows to be heard by the Garde; he taught him to swear dreadful oaths against God, his family, and aristocrats. My mother, happily, did not hear these horrors; oh! my God, what harm they would have done her! Before her depart- [Page 271] ure, they had come for my brother's clothes; she said she hoped they would not take off his mourning; but the first thing Simon did was to take away his black coat. The change of life and his bad treatment made my brother ill towards the end of August. Simon made him eat horribly and forced him to drink much wine, which he detested. All this gave him fever; he took medicine which did him harm, and his health became wholly out of order. He grew extremely fat but did not grow taller. Simon, however, still took him on the Tower to get air.
At the beginning of September I had an illness which had no other cause than my anxiety about my mother's fate. I could not hear the drums without fearing another September 2d. We went up on the Tower daily. The municipals paid their visits punctually three times a day; but their severity did not prevent us from hearing news from without, especially of my mother, which we cared for most. In spite of all their efforts, we always found some good souls in whom we inspired interest. We learned that my mother was accused of having correspondence with the outside. Immediately we threw away our writings, pencils, everything we still kept, fearing that they might make us undress before Simon's wife and that the things we had might compromise my mother; for we had always kept paper, ink, pens, and pencils, in spite of the closest search in our rooms and furniture. We heard also that my mother might have escaped, and that the wife of the concierge was kind and took great care of her.
The municipals came and asked us for my mother's linen, but they would give us no news of her health. They took away from us the pieces of tapestry which she had worked, and those on which we were then working, under pretext that there might be mysterious signs in that tapestry and a peculiar kind of writing. [Page 272]
September 21st at one o'clock in the morning, Hébert arrived with several municipals to execute a decree of the Commune, which ordered that we should be more closely confined, and have in future but one room; that Tison, who still did the heavy work, should be put in prison in the Tower; that we should be reduced to simple necessaries, and that we should have a grating at our entrance door through which our food should be passed, and finally, that no one should enter our room but the bearers of wood and water. This grating was not put in the door and the municipals continued to enter three times a day to bring our food and carefully examine the bars of our window, the closets, and bureaus. We made our beds, and were obliged to sweep our room, which took a long time from the little practice we had of it in the beginning. We had no one now to serve us. Hébert told my aunt that in the French republic equality was the first law, that the prisoners in other prisons had no one to serve them, and he should now take Tison from us. 1
In order to treat us with still more harshness they deprived us of what were little comforts; for example, they took away the arm-chair in which my aunt always sat, and many other things; we were not even allowed what was necessary. We could no longer learn any news, unless from the street hawkers, and then indistinctly though we listened closely. They forbade us to go up on the Tower, and they [Page 273] took away our large sheets, for fear that, in spite of the bars, we might escape through the windows; that was only a pretext. They gave us, in exchange, very coarse and dirty blankets.
I believe it was about that time that my mother's trial began. I heard, after her death, that friends had tried to rescue her from the Conciergerie. I was assured that the gendarmes who guarded her and the wife of the concierge had been bribed by one of our friends; that she had seen several very devoted persons in the prison, among them a priest who administered to her the sacraments, which she received with great piety. The opportunity to escape failed once because, having been told to speak to the second guard, she made a mistake and spoke to the first. Another time she was out of her room and had already passed the corridor, when a gendarme stopped her, although he was bribed, and forced her to go back to her room, which defeated the enterprise. Many persons took interest in my mother; indeed, unless they were monsters of the vilest species–and such, alas! many were–it was impossible to approach her and see her for even a few moments without being filled with respect, so much did kindness temper what was stately and dignified in her bearing. But we knew none of these details at that time; we knew only that my mother had seen a Chevalier de Saint-Louis who had given her a pink in which was a note; but we were now so closely confined we could not learn the result. 1
Every day we were searched by the municipals. On the 4th of September they came at four in the morning to make a thorough visitation and take away the silver and the china. They took all that was left to us, and finding an [Page 274] article missing they had the baseness to accuse us of having stolen it, whereas it was one of their colleagues who had hidden it. They found behind the drawers of my aunt's wash-stand a roll of louis, which they seized with extraorordinary avidity. They questioned my aunt closely to know who gave her that gold, how long she had had it, and for whom she was keeping it. She answered that the Princesse de Lamballe had given it to her after the 10th of August, and that, in spite of all the searches, she had preserved it. They asked her who had given it to Madame de Lamballe, and she said she did not know. The fact was that the Princesse de Lamballe's women had found means to send the money to her in the Temple, and she had shared it with my parents. They questioned me also, asked my name, as if they did not know it, and made me sign the procès-verbal.
October 8th at midday, as we were busy doing up our chamber and dressing ourselves, Pache, Chaumette, and David, members of the Convention, arrived with several municipals. My aunt would not open the door until she was dressed. Pache, turning to me, requested me to go down. My aunt wished to follow me; they refused her. She asked if I should return. Chaumette assured her that I should, saying: "You may rely on the word of a good republican." I kissed my aunt, who was trembling all over, and I went down. I was very embarrassed; it was the first time I was ever alone with men; I did not know what they wanted of me, but I commended myself to God. On the staircase Chaumette wished to do me civilities; I did not answer him. Entering my brother's room I kissed him tenderly; but they snatched him from my arms telling me to pass on into the next room. There Chaumette made me sit down; he placed himself in front of me. A munici- [Page 275] pal took a pen, and Chaumette asked me my name. After that Hébert questioned me; he began thus:–
"Tell the truth. This does not concern either you or your relations."
"Does it not concern my mother?"
"No; but persons who have not done their duty. Do you know the citizens Toulan, Lepître, Bruno, Bugnot, Merle, and Michonis?"
"What, you do not know them?"
"That is false, especially as to Toulan, that small young man who often waited on you in the Temple."
"I did not know him any more than the others."
"You remember a day when you stayed alone with your brother on the tower?"
"Your relations sent you there that they might talk more at their ease with those men."
"No, monsieur, it was to accustom us to the cold."
"What did you do on the tower?"
"We talked, we played."
"And, on going out, did you see what those men brought to your relations?"
"I did not see anything."
Chaumette then questioned me on a great many vile things of which they accused my mother and my aunt. I was aghast at such horrors, and so indignant that, in spite of the fear I felt, I could not keep myself from saying it was an infamy. In spite of my tears they insisted long. There were things I did not understand, but what I did understand was so horrible that I wept with indignation. Then they questioned me on Varennes, and asked me many [Page 276] questions which I answered as best I could without compromising any one. I had always heard my parents say that it was better to die than to compromise any one, no matter who. At last my examination ended, at three o'clock; it began at midday. I asked Chaumette ardently to reunite me with my mother, telling him, with truth, that I had asked it a thousand times of my aunt. "I can do nothing about it," he said. "What! monsieur, cannot you obtain it from the Council general?" "I have no authority there," he replied. He then sent me back to my room with three municipals, telling me to say nothing to my aunt, who was now to be brought down. On arriving I threw myself into her arms, but they separated us and told her to go down.
They asked her the same questions that they asked me about the persons I have named. She denied all communication with the outside and replied with still greater contempt to the vile things about which they questioned her. She returned at four o'clock: her examination had lasted only one hour, mine three; this was because the deputies saw they could not intimidate her as they expected to do with one of my age; but the life I had led for four years, and the example of my relations had given me strength of soul.
Chaumette had assured us that our examination did not concern my mother or ourselves, and that she would not be tried. Alas! he deceived us, for my mother was tried and condemned soon after. I do not yet know the circumstances of her trial, of which we were ignorant, as we were of her death; therefore I can only say what I have since discovered. 1 She had two defenders, MM. Ducoudray and Chau- [Page 277] veau-Lagarde. Many persons were brought up before her, among whom some, alas! were very estimable, others were not. Simon and Matthieu, the jailer at the Temple, appeared. I think of how my mother must have suffered when she saw those men whom she knew were near us. They summoned Dr. Brunier before the tribunal. They asked him if he knew my mother. "Yes." "Since when?" "Since 1788, when the queen confided to me the health of her children." "When you went to the Temple did you procure for the prisoners correspondence with the outside?" "No." My mother here said: "Dr. Brunier, as you know, never came to the Temple unless accompanied by a municipal, and never spoke to us except in his presence."
Finally, inconceivable fact! my mother's examination lasted three days and three nights without discontinuing. They questioned her on all the vile things about which Chaumette had questioned us–the mere idea could enter the minds of only such men. "I appeal to all mothers," was her answer to that infamous accusation. The people were touched. The judges, alarmed and fearing that her firmness, her dignity, her courage would inspire interest, hastened to condemn her. My mother heard her sentence with much calmness.
They gave her for her last moments a priest who had taken the oath. After gently refusing him,she took no further notice of what he said to her, and would not make use of his ministry. She knelt down, prayed to God alone for a long time, coughed a little, then went to bed and slept some hours. The next morning, knowing that the rector of Sainte-Marguerite was in prison opposite to her, she went to the window, looked at his window, and knelt down. I am told that he gave her absolution or his blessing. Then, [Page 278] having made the sacrifice of her life, she went to death with courage, amid curses which the unhappy, misguided people poured forth against her. Her courage did not abandon her in the cart, nor on the scaffold; she showed as much in death as she had shown in life.
Thus died, October 16, 1793, Marie-Antoinette-Jeanne-Josèphe de Lorraine, daughter of an emperor and wife of a king of France, aged thirty-seven years and eleven months, having been twenty-three years in France. She died eight months after her husband, Louis XVI.
Life in the Temple till the Martyrdom of Madame Élisabeth and the Death of the Dauphin, Louis XVII.
We were ignorant, my aunt and I, of the death of my mother, though we heard the hawkers crying her condemnation in the streets; but hope, so natural to the unhappy, made us think she had been saved. We refused to believe in a general abandonment. 1 But I do not yet know what things have happened outside, nor if I myself will ever leave this prison, though they give me hopes of it.
There were moments when, in spite of our hope in the Powers, we felt keen anxiety about my mother, when we saw the fury of the unhappy populace against us. I remained in this cruel uncertainty for one year and a half; then only, did I learn my misfortune, and the death of my honoured mother.
We learned from the hawkers the death of the Duc d'Orléans; this was the only news that reached us during
Marie-Antoinette leaving the Tribunal after her condemnation to death
[Page 279] the winter [of 1793-94]. But the searches continued and they treated us with much severity. My aunt, who, since the Revolution, had an ulcer on her arm, had great difficulty in obtaining what was necessary to dress it; it was long refused to her. At last, one day, a municipal represented the inhumanity of such treatment, and an ointment was sent. They deprived me also of the means of making an herb-tea which my aunt made me take every morning for my health. Having no fish, she asked for eggs or other dishes on fast-days. They refused them, saying that in equality there was no difference of days; there were no weeks, only decades. They brought us a new almanac, but we did not look at it. Another time, when my aunt again asked for fast-day food they answered: "Why, citoyenne, don't you know what has taken place? none but fools believe all that." She made no further requests.
They continued to search us, especially in the month of November. An order was given to search us every day three times; one search lasted from four in the afternoon till half-past eight at night. The four municipals who made it were all drunk. No one could form an idea of their talk, their insults, their oaths during those four hours. They carried away mere trifles, such as our hats, cards having kings on them, books in which were coats of arms; and yet, they left religious books, after saying impurities and follies about them. Simon accused us of forging assignats and of having correspondence with the outside. He declared we had communicated with my father during his trial. He made a declaration in the name of my poor little brother, whom he had forced to sign it. A noise, that he said was the false money he accused us of making, was that of our backgammon, which my aunt, wishing to amuse me a little, had been kind enough to teach me. We played it in the evening [Page 280] during the winter, which passed rather quietly, in spite of the inquisition and searches. They gave us wood to burn, which they had hitherto refused us.
January 19th we heard a great noise in my brother's room, which made us conjecture that they were taking him from the Temple; we were convinced of it when, looking through the key-hole, we saw them carrying away packages. The following days as we heard his door open and persons walking in his room we were more than ever convinced that he was gone. We thought they had put some important personage in the lower room; but I have since learned that it was Simon who had gone away. Obliged to chose between his office as municipal and that of jailer to my brother, he preferred the former. I have since heard also that they had the cruelty to leave my poor brother alone; unheard-of barbarity which has surely no other example! that of abandoning a poor child only eight years old, already ill, and keeping him locked and bolted in, with no succour but a bell, which he did not ring, so afraid was he of the persons it would call; he preferred to want for all rather than ask anything of his persecutors.
He lay in a bed which had not been made for more than six months, and he now had no strength to make it; fleas and bugs covered him, his linen and his person were full of them. His shirt and stockings had not been changed for a year; his excrements remained in the room, no one had removed them during all that time. His window, the bars of which were secured by padlock, was never opened; it was impossible to stay in his chamber on account of the foul odor. It is true that my brother neglected himself; he might have taken rather more care of his person; he could at least have washed himself, because they gave him a pitcher of water. But the unhappy child was half dead with fear, so much did [Page 281] Simon and the others terrify him. He spent the day in doing nothing; they gave him no light; this condition did as much harm to him morally as it did physically. It is not surprising that he fell into a fearful marasmus; the time that his health remained good and was able to resist such cruelties proves the strength of his constitution.
They "thee'd and thou'd" us much during the winter; we despised all vexatious things, but this degree of coarseness always made my aunt and me blush. She performed her Lenten duties fully, though deprived of fast-day food. She took at dinner a bowl of coffee and milk (this was her breakfast which she kept over); in the evening she ate only a piece of bread. She ordered me to eat what was brought, not being old enough to bear abstinence, but as for her, nothing could be more edifying. From the time they refused her the fast-day food she never, on that account, neglected the duties prescribed by religion. When the spring began they took away our tallow candle and we went to bed when we could see no longer.
Until May 9th nothing remarkable happened. On that day, just as we were going to bed the bolts were withdrawn and some one knocked at our door. My aunt replied that she would put on her dress; they answered that she must not be so long, and they rapped so hard that we thought the door would burst in. She opened it when she was dressed. They said to her: "Citoyenne, you will please come down.""And my niece?" "We will attend to her later." My aunt kissed me and told me to be calm for she would soon return. "No, citoyenne, you will not return," they said to her; "take your cap and come down." They loaded her then with insults and coarse speeches; she bore it all with patience, took her cap; kissed me again, and told me to have courage and firmness, to hope always in God, to practise the good princi- [Page 282] ples of religion given me by my parents, and not to fail in the last instructions given to me by my father and by my mother.
She went out; at the foot of the stairs they asked for her pockets; there was nothing in them; this lasted a long time because the municipals had to write a procès-verbal for the discharge of her person. At last, after countless insults, she went away with the clerk of the tribunal, in a hackney-coach, and was taken to the Conciergerie, where she passed the night. The next day they asked her three questions:–
"Your name?" "Élisabeth de France."
"Where were you on the 10th of August?" "In the château of the Tuileries with the king, my brother."
"What have you done with your diamonds?" "I do not know. But all these questions are useless; you want my death; I have made to God the sacrifice of my life, and I am ready to die–happy to rejoin my honoured relatives whom I loved so well on earth."
They condemned her to death.
She made them take her to the room of those who were to die with her; she exhorted all with a presence of mind, an elevation, an unction which strengthened them. On the cart she showed the same calmness, encouraging the women who were with her. At the foot of the scaffold they had the cruelty to make her wait and perish last. All the women on getting out of the cart asked permission to kiss her, which she gave, encouraging each of them with her usual kindness. Her strength did not abandon her at the last moment which she bore with a resignation full of religion. Her soul parted from her body to go and enjoy happiness in the bosom of the God she had loved.
Marie-Phillippine-Élisabeth-Hélène, sister of King Louis XVI., died on the 10th of May 1794, aged thirty years, hav- [Page 283] ing always been a model of virtues. At the age of fifteen she gave herself to God and thought only of salvation. From 1790, when I became in a state to appreciate her I never saw anything in her but religion, love of God, horror of sin, gentleness, piety, modesty, and a great attachment to her family, for whom she sacrificed her life, being never willing to leave the king and queen. She was a princess worthy of the blood of which she came. I cannot say enough of the goodness that she showed to me, which ended only with her life. She considered me and cared for me as her daughter, and I, I honoured her as a second mother and vowed to her all those feelings. It was said that we resembled each other in face: I feel that I have her nature; would that I might have all her virtues and rejoin her some day, also my father and mother, in the bosom of God, where, I doubt not, they are now enjoying the reward of a death so meritorious.
I remained in great desolation when I felt myself parted from my aunt; I did not know what had become of her, and no one would tell me. I passed a very cruel night: and yet, though I was very uneasy about her fate, I was far from thinking I should lose her in a few hours. Sometimes I persuaded myself that they would send her out of France; then, when I recalled the manner in which they had taken her away, my fears revived. The next day I asked the municipals where she was; they said she had gone to take the air. I renewed my request to be taken to my mother, as I was parted from my aunt; they replied that they would speak of it. They came soon after and brought me the key of the closet in which my aunt kept her linen; I asked them to send some to her, because she had taken none with her; they told me they could not do so.
Seeing that when I asked the municipals to let me go to my mother, or tell me news of my aunt they always replied [Page 284] that they would speak of it, and remembering that my aunt had always told me that if I were left alone my duty was to ask for a woman, I did so, to obey her, but with great repugnance, feeling sure they would refuse me, or give me some vile woman. Accordingly, when I made this request, the municipals told me that I needed no one. They redoubled their severity and took away from me the knives, which had been returned to me, saying; "Citoyenne, tell us, how many knives have you?" "Only two, messieurs." "Have you none for your toilet, nor scissors?" "No, messieurs." Another time they took away my tinder-box, having found the stove warm. They said:"May we know why you made that fire?" "To put my feet in water." "How did you light it?" "With the tinder." "Who gave you that?" "I do not know." "As a precaution we shall take it away for your safety, for fear you should fall asleep and burn from that fire."
Searches and scenes like these were frequent, but unless I was positively questioned I never spoke, nor did I to those who brought my food. There came a man one day, whom I think was Robespierre; the municipals showed great respect for him. His visit was a secret to all the persons in the Tower, who either did not know who he was, or would not tell me. He looked at me insolently, cast his eyes over my books, and after searching the room with the municipals went away. The Guards were often drunk; nevertheless, we were left alone and tranquil, my brother and I, in our separate apartments, until the 9th thermidor.
My brother was still wallowing in filth; no one entered his room except at meal times; no one had any pity on that unfortunate child. There was but one guard whose manners were civil enough to induce me to commend my poor brother to him. He dared to speak of the harshness shown to the [Page 285] child, and he was dismissed the next day. As for me, I asked for only simple necessaries, which were often refused to me harshly; but at least I could keep myself clean, I had both soap and water. I swept the room every day. I finished doing it by nine o'clock when the Guards brought up my breakfast. I had no light, but when the days were long I suffered less from that privation. They would no longer give me books; I had none but those of piety and travels which I had read a hundred times. I had some knitting, but that ennuyéd me very much.
Such was our state when the 9th thermidor arrived. I heard the générale beaten and the tocsin rung; I was very uneasy. The municipals in the Temple did not stir out. When they brought my dinner I dared not ask what was happening. At last, on the 10th thermidor, at six o'clock in the morning, I heard a frightful noise in the Temple; the Guard cried to arms, the drums beat, the gates were opened and shut. All this uproar was occasioned by a visit from members of the National Assembly, who came to assure themselves that all was secure. I heard the bolts of my brother's door drawn back; I flung myself from my bed and was dressed before the members of the Convention arrived in my room. Barras was among them. They were all in full costume, which surprised me, not being accustomed to see them thus, and being always in fear of something. Barras spoke to me, called me by name, and seemed surprised to find me risen. They said to me several things to which I made no reply. They went away, and I heard them haranguing the Guards under the windows and exhorting them to be faithful to the National Convention. There were many cries of Vive la Republique! Vive la Convention! The guard was doubled; the three municipals who were in the Temple stayed there eight days. On the evening of the third day, [Page 286] at half-past nine o'clock, I was in my bed, having no light, but not asleep, so anxious was I about what was happening. They knocked at my door to show me Laurent, commissioner from the Convention, appointed to guard my brother and me. I rose; they made a long visit, showed everything to Laurent and then went away.
The next day at ten o'clock Laurent entered my room; he asked me politely if I wanted anything. He came daily three times to see me, always with civility, and did not "thee and thou" me. He never searched my bureaus and closets. At the end of another three days the Convention sent a deputation to report upon my brother's state; these men had pity upon him and ordered that he should be better treated. Laurent took down a bed which was in my room, because the one he had was full of bugs; he made him take baths, and removed the vermin with which he was covered. Nevertheless, they still left him alone in his room.
I soon asked Laurent about that which concerned me so keenly; I mean news of my relations, of whose death I was ignorant, and I begged to be reunited with my mother. He answered me with a very pained air that the matter did not concern him.
The next day came men in scarfs to whom I made the same appeal. They also answered that the matter did not concern them, and said they did not see why I wanted to leave that place, where I seemed very comfortable. "It is dreadful," I said, "to be parted from one's mother for over a year without knowing anything about her, and also one's aunt." "You are not ill?" "No, monsieur, but the cruellest illness is that of the heart." "I tell you that we can do nothing; I advise you to have patience, and to hope in the justice and goodness of Frenchmen." I said no [Page 287] more. I was alarmed the next day by the explosion at Grenelle, which gave me a great fright.
During all this time my brother was still left alone. Laurent went to him three times a day, but, fearing to compromise himself as he was watched, he dared not do more. He took much care of me; and I had only to congratulate myself on his manners all the time he was on service. He often asked me if I needed nothing, and begged me to tell him what I wished and to ring if I wanted anything. He gave me back my match-box and candle.
Towards the end of October, at one o'clock in the morning, I was sleeping when they knocked on my door; I rose in haste, and, opened it, trembling with fear. I saw two men of the committee with Laurent; they looked at me, and went away without speaking.
At the beginning of November came the civil commissioners; that is to say, one man from each section, who passed twenty-four hours in the Temple to verify the existence of my brother. During the first days of this month another commissioner, named Gomier, arrived to be with Laurent. He took extreme care of my brother. For a long time that unhappy child had been left without lights; he was dying of fear. Gomier obtained permission that he might have them; he even passed several hours with him daily to amuse him. He soon perceived that my brother's knees and wrists were swelled; he feared he was growing rickety; he spoke to the committee and asked that the child might be taken to the garden for exercise. He first made him come down from his room into the little salon, which pleased my brother much because he liked a change of place. He soon perceived Gomier's attentions, was touched by them, and attached himself to him. The unhappy child had long been accustomed to none but the worst treat- [Page 288] ment–for I believe that no researches can show such barbarity to any other child.
On the 19th of December the committee-general came to the Temple in consequence of his illness. This deputation also came to me, but said nothing. The winter passed tranquilly enough. I was satisfied with the kindness of my jailers; they made my fire and gave me all the wood I needed, which pleased me. Also they brought me the books I asked for; Laurent had already procured me some. My greatest unhappiness was that I could not ask about my uncles and great-aunts, but I thought of them incessantly.
During the winter my brother had several attacks of fever; he was always beside the fire. Laurent and Gomier induced him to go up on the Tower and get the air; but he was no sooner there than he wanted to come down; he would not walk, still less would he go upstairs. His illness increased, and his knees swelled much. Laurent went away, and in his place they put Lasne, a worthy man, who, with Gomier, took the greatest care of my brother.
At the opening of the spring they wanted me to go up on the Tower, which I did. My brother's illness grew worse and worse daily; his strength diminished; even his mind showed the effects of the harshness so long exercised towards him, and it gradually weakened. The Committee of Public Safety sent Dr. Desault to take care of him; he undertook to cure him, though he admitted that his illness was very dangerous. Desault died, and they sent as his successors Dumangin and the surgeon Pelletan. They saw no hope. They made him take medicines, which he swallowed with difficulty. Happily, his malady did not make him suffer much; it was debility and a total wasting away [Page 289] rather than acute pain. He had several distressing crises; fever seized him, his strength lessened daily, and he expired without a struggle.
Thus died, June 9, 1795, at three in the afternoon, Louis XVII., aged ten years and two months. The commissioners mourned him bitterly, so much had he made them love him for his gentle qualities. He had much intelligence; but imprisonment and the horrors of which he was the victim had changed him much; and even, had he lived, it is to be feared that his mental faculties would have been affected.
I do not think that he was poisoned, as was said, and is still said: that is false, from the testimony of the physicians who opened his body. The drugs he had taken in his last illness were analyzed and found to be safe. The only poison that shortened his life was uncleanness, joined to the horrible treatment, the unexampled harshness and cruelty exercised upon him.
Such were the lives and the end of my virtuous family during their imprisonment in the Temple and elsewhere.
Written in the Tower of the Temple.
[Marie-Thérèse de France was exchanged in October, 1795, for the four commissioners of the Convention delivered up to Austria by Dumouriez in April, 1793. She left the Tower of the Temple during the night of December 18, 1795. That tragic building,–about which Marie-Antoinette exclaimed on hearing where she and her family were about to be imprisoned: "How often I begged the Comte d'Artois to have that vile Tower of the Temple demolished! it was always a horror to me,"–that monument to anguish was razed to the ground by order of Napoleon in 1811. Until then could be read, scratched upon the wall of the room where [Page 290] the child, Marie-Thérèse, lived her solitary life, these piteous words:–
"Marie-Thérèse is the most unhappy creature in the world. She can obtain no news of her mother; nor be reunited to her, though she has asked it a thousand times."
"Live, my good mother! whom I love well, but of whom I can hear no tidings."
"O my father! watch over me from heaven above."
O my God! forgive those who have made my family die."
She went from the Temple to Vienna, where she lived, against her will, three years and a half, resisting all attempts to make her marry the Archduke Charles of Austria. At last, in 1799, she was allowed to go to her uncle the Comte de Provence (Louis XVIII.) at Mittau in Courlande, where she soon after married her cousin the Duc d'Angoulême, son of the Comte d'Artois (Charles X.). Driven from Courlande with Louis XVIII. by the Emperor Paul, she followed her uncle through all his exiles to Memel, Königsberg, Warsaw, again to Mittau, thence to Godsfield Hall and Hartwell in England. "She is the consoling angel of our master," wrote the Comte d'Avaray, "and a model of courage for us."
The portrait of her in this volume was painted by Danloux during the first months of her life in Vienna, when she was seventeen years of age. Its sorrowful expression deepened upon her face as the years went by until at last she became an ideal of Sorrow, and the courtiers of the Restoration reproached her for her sadness and turned from her! But her courage remained. She was absent from the side of Louis XVIII. when the first Restoration fell, but she made a gallant struggle to uphold the royal cause [Page 291] at Bordeaux where she then was. It was that struggle which lead Napoleon to say of her that she was the only man of her family.
Later, she was at Vichy in 1830, when Charles X. signed the ordinances which cost him his throne. From that day until her death, a period of twenty-one years, she lived in exile, at Holyrood, Prague, Goritz, and Frohsdorf. Her husband's nephew, the Comte de Chambord, in whose behalf Charles X. and the Duc d'Angoulême abdicated, regarded her as a second mother, and she had a stronger influence over him than his own mother, the Duchesse de Berry. The last glimpse we have of her is at Frohsdorf in 1851, the year of her death, when the Comte de Falloux thus describes her: –
"Madame la Dauphine was, if I may express it, pathos in person. Sadness was imprinted on her features and revealed in her attitude; but, in the same degree, there shone about her an unalterable resignation, an unalterable gentleness. Even when the tones of her voice were brusque, which often happened, the kindness of her intention remained transparent. She liked to pass in review the Frenchmen she had known; she kept herself closely informed about their family events; she remembered the slightest details with rare fidelity: 'How Madame loves France!' I said to her one day. 'That is not surprising,' she replied. 'I take it from my parents.' At Frohsdorf she was seated nearly the whole day in the embrasure of a certain window. She had chosen this window because of its outlook on copses which reminded her a little of the garden of the Tuileries; and if a visitor wished to be agreeable to her, he remarked upon the resemblance."
She died at Frohsdorf on the 18th of October, 1851, in the seventy-third year of her age, and the twenty-first year of [Page 292] her last exile. She was buried at Goritz, in the chapel of the Franciscans, between Charles X. and her husband, the Duc d'Angoulême. On her tombstone are carved these words: O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus.
1 Beginning on page 243.–TR.
1 Footnote to the above, written by Louis XVIII. "I think that the last two words should be erased and the following substituted: 'and returned to Paris, where, having assured himself that all was quiet, he took the road to the Low Countries, arriving there without accident.' All that is true, and for a thousand reasons of which my niece is ignorant, and of which I hope she will always remain ignorant, it is proper that she should show interest in a man who on that day showed so much devotion."
As a matter of fact Count Fersen drove the party to Bondy, one hour and half beyond the barrier, where he left them at the king's request; the royal family continuing along the post-road, and Count Fersen taking, on horseback, the cross-roads to Bourget and thence to Mons. See "Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen" in the present Historical Series.–TR.
1 This, of course, is the narrative of a young girl, given, no doubt, with her natural conscientiousness. It ought to be compared with the Duc de Choiseul's own account, which seems to have satisfied Count Fersen, the man whose plan was ruined. See "Diary and Corr. of Count Axel Fersen," pp. 271-277.
The failure of the escape was due to four causes: (1) the carelessness of young Bouillé; (2) his father, the Marquis de Bouillé's error in waiting on the frontier; (3) the delay of four or five hours after leaving Châlons, for no real reason; (4) the king's want of character; it is plain that had he taken the situation by the horns and commanded it, he could easily have saved himself and family.–TR.
1 This entire passage was rewritten, corrected, and the additions made by Louis XVIII. –FR. ED.
1 To this Louis XVIII. adds in a footnote: "After the words 'the rest of his people' [son monde] should be added: 'and the ladies, among whom were Mmes. de Tarente, de Duras, de la Rocheaymon, etc., who stayed there by his order.' I mention these ladies here all the more willingly because I am certain they were there. I add 'by his order,' 1st, because it is true; 2d, because it explains why so few persons followed the king and queen to the Assembly."–TR.
1 Here begins the part she wrote in the Tower.–TR.
1 The close air and confinement had produced boils which covered the whole body of la petite Madame as she was called. Soon after her father's death she came near dying, and a rumour of her death was generally believed.–TR.
1 The man was one of the municipals, named Toulan, who gave the seal and ring to Turgy, who took them to Monsieur, afterwards Louis XVIII. (See Appendix V.) Toulan was one of the nine municipals guillotined soon after the queen, for having conspired to help her.–TR.
1 These men were Toulan, Lepître, Beugneau, Vincent, Bruno, Michonis, and Merle.–FR. ED.
1 Turgy, in his "Historical Fragments," thus relates how the captives were treated as to meals (he was on service in the kitchen and it was his duty to bring up the meals): "That day the commissioners ordered us to take up the dinner as usual, but they would not let us lay the table. They gave each princess a plate in which they put soup and a bit of beef, and a piece of coarse bread on the side of it; they gave them a pewter spoon, an iron fork, and a black-handled knife, and a bottle of wine from a tavern. The commissioners then made us serve to themselves the dinner prepared for the princesses."–FR. ED.
1 This was M. de Rougeville; mention is made of his visit to the queen in the Conciergerie in Count Ferson's Diary.–TR
1 This part of the Narrative was written, it will be remembered, during the last solitary months of her life in the Tower.–TR.
1 They were abandoned virtually by all Europe. See the Diary and Correspondence of Count Fersen, the preceding volume of this Historical Series.–TR.
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