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The Life of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France
by Charles Duke Yonge
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THE LIFE OF MARIE ANTOINETTE, QUEEN OF FRANCE.

BY CHARLES DUKE YONGE

1876



PREFACE.

The principal authorities for the following work are the four volumes of Correspondence published by M. Arneth, and the six volumes published by M. Feuillet de Conches. M. Arneth's two collections[1] contain not only a number of letters which passed between the queen, her mother the Empress- queen (Maria Teresa), and her brothers Joseph and Leopold, who successively became emperors after the death of their father; but also a regular series of letters from the imperial embassador at Paris, the Count Mercy d'Argenteau, which may almost be said to form a complete history of the court of France, especially in all the transactions in which Marie Antoinette, whether as dauphiness or queen, was concerned, till the death of Maria Teresa, at Christmas, 1780. The correspondence with her two brothers, the emperors Joseph and Leopold, only ceases with the death of the latter in March, 1792.

The collection published by M. Feuillet de Conches[2] has been vehemently attacked, as containing a series of clever forgeries rather than of genuine letters. And there does seem reason to believe that in a few instances, chiefly in the earlier portion of the correspondence, the critical acuteness of the editor was imposed upon, and that some of the letters inserted were not written by the persons alleged to be the authors. But of the majority of the letters there seems no solid ground for questioning the authenticity. Indeed, in the later and more important portion of the correspondence, that which belongs to the period after the death of the Empress-queen, the genuineness of the Queen's letters is continually supported by the collection of M. Arneth, who has himself published many of them, having found them in the archives at Vienna, where M.F. de Conches had previously copied them,[3] and who refers to others, the publication of which did not come within his own plan. M. Feuillet de Conches' work also contains narratives of some of the most important transactions after the commencement of the Revolution, which are of great value, as having been compiled from authentic sources.

Besides these collections, the author has consulted the lives of Marie Antoinette by Montjoye, Lafont d'Aussonne, Chambrier, and the MM. Goncourt; "La Vraie Marie Antoinette" of M. Lescure; the Memoirs of Mme. Campan, Clery, Hue, the Duchesse d'Angouleme, Bertrand de Moleville ("Memoires Particuliers"), the Comte de Tilly, the Baron de Besenval, the Marquis de la Fayette, the Marquise de Crequy, the Princess Lamballe; the "Souvenirs de Quarante Ans," by Mlle. de Tourzel; the "Diary" of M. de Viel Castel; the correspondence of Mme. du Deffand; the account of the affair of the necklace by M. de Campardon; the very valuable correspondence between the Count de la Marck and Mirabeau, which also contains a narrative by the Count de la Marck of many very important incidents; Dumont's "Souvenirs sur Mirabeau;" "Beaumarchais et son Temps," by M. de Lomenie; "Gustavus III. et la Cour de Paris," by M. Geoffroy; the first seven volumes of the Histoire de la Terreur, by M. Mortimer Ternaux; Dr. Moore's journal of his visit to France, and view of the French Revolution; and a great number of other works in which there is cursory mention of different incidents, especially in the earlier part of the Revolution; such as the journals of Arthur Young, Madame de Stael's elaborate treatise on the Revolution; several articles in the last series of the "Causeries de Lundi," by Sainte-Beuve, and others in the Revue des Deux Mondes, etc., etc., and to those may of course be added the regular histories of Lacretelle, Sismondi, Martin, and Lamartine's "History of the Girondins."



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

Importance of Marie Antoinette in the Revolution.—Value of her Correspondence as a Means of estimating her Character.—Her Birth, November 2d, 1755.—Epigram of Metastasio.—Habits of the Imperial Family.—Schoenbrunn.—Death of the Emperor.—Projects for the Marriage of the Archduchess.—Her Education.—The Abbe de Vermond.—Metastasio.— Gluck.

CHAPTER II.

Proposal for the Marriage of Marie Antoinette to the Dauphin.—Early Education of the Dauphin.—The Archduchess leaves Vienna in April, 1770.— Her Reception at Strasburg.—She meets the King at Compiegne.—The Marriage takes place May 16th, 1770.

CHAPTER III.

Feelings in Germany and France on the Subject of the Marriage.—Letter of Maria Teresa to the Dauphin.—Characters of the Different Members of the Royal Family.—Difficulties which beset Marie Antoinette.—Maria Teresa's Letter of Advice.—The Comte de Mercy is sent as Embassador to France to act as the Adviser of the Dauphiness.—The Princesse de Lorraine at the State Ball.—A Great Disaster takes place at the Fire-works in Paris. —The Peasant at Fontainebleau.—Marie Antoinette pleases the King.— Description of her Personal Appearance.—Mercy's Report of the Impression she made on her First Arrival.

CHAPTER IV.

Marie Antoinette gives her Mother her First Impressions of the Court and of her own Position and Prospects.—Court Life at Versailles.—Marie Antoinette shows her Dislike of Etiquette.—Character of the Duc d'Aiguillon.—Cabals against the Dauphiness.—Jealousy of Mme. du Barri.— The Aunts, too, are Jealous of Her.—She becomes more and more Popular.— Parties for Donkey-riding.—Scantiness of the Dauphiness's Income.—Her Influence over the King.—The Duc de Choiseul is dismissed.—She begins to have Great Influence over the Dauphin.

CHAPTER V.

Mercy's Correspondence with the Empress.—Distress and Discontent pervade France.—Goldsmith predicts a Revolution.—Apathy of the King.—The Aunts mislead Marie Antoinette.—Maria Teresa hears that the Dauphiness neglects her German Visitors.—Marriage of the Count de Provence.—Growing Preference of Louis XV. for the Dauphiness.—The Dauphiness applies herself to Study.—Marie Antoinette becomes a Horsewoman.—Her Kindness to all beneath her.—Cabals of the Adherents of the Mistress.—The Royal Family become united.—Concerts in the Apartments of the Dauphiness.

CHAPTER VI.

Marie Antoinette wishes to see Paris.—Intrigues of Madame Adelaide.— Characters of the Dauphin and the Count de Provence.—Grand Review at Fontainebleau.—Marie Antoinette in the Hunting Field.—Letter from her to the Empress. Mischievous Influence of the Dauphin's Aunts on her Character.—Letter of Marie Antoinette to the Empress.—Her Affection for her Old Home.—The Princes are recalled from Exile.—Lord Stormont.—Great Fire at the Hotel-Dieu.—Liberality of Charity of Marie Antoinette.—She goes to the Bal d'Opera.—Her Feelings about the Partition of Poland.—The King discusses Politics with her, and thinks highly of her Ability.

CHAPTER VII.

Marie Antoinette is anxious for the Maintenance of the Alliance between France and Austria.—She, with the Dauphin, makes a State Entry into Paris.—The "Dames de la Halle."—She praises the Courtesy of the Dauphin.—Her Delight at the Enthusiasm of the Citizens.—She, with the Dauphin, goes to the Theatre, and to the Fair of St. Ovide, and to St. Cloud.—Is enthusiastically received everywhere.—She learns to drive. —She makes some Relaxations in Etiquette.—Marriage of the Comte d'Artois.—The King's Health grows Bad.—Visit of Marshal Lacy to Versailles.—The King catches the Small-pox.—Madame du Barri quits Versailles.—The King dies.

CHAPTER VIII.

The Court leaves Versailles for La Muette.—Feelings of the New Sovereigns.—Madame du Barri is sent to a Convent.—Marie Antoinette writes to Maria Teresa.—The Good Intentions of the New Sovereigns.— Madame Adelaide has the Small-pox.—Anxieties of Maria Teresa.— Mischievous Influence of the Aunts.—Position and Influence of the Count de Mercy.—Louis consults the Queen on Matters of Policy.—Her Prudence.— She begins to Purify the Court, and to relax the Rules of Etiquette.—Her Care of her Pages.—The King and she renounce the Gifts of Le Joyeux Avenement, and La Ceinture de la Reine.—She procures the Pardon of the Duc de Choiseul.

CHAPTER IX.

The Comte de Provence intrigues against the Queen.—The King gives her the Little Trianon.—She lays out an English Garden.—Maria Teresa cautions her against Expense.—The King and Queen abolish some of the Old Forms.— The Queen endeavors to establish Friendships with some of her Younger Ladies.—They abuse her Favor.—Her Eagerness for Amusement.—Louis enters into her Views.—Etiquette is abridged.—Private Parties at Choisy.—Supper Parties.—Opposition of the Princesses.—Some of the Courtiers are dissatisfied at the Relaxation of Etiquette.—Marie Antoinette is accused of Austrian Preferences.

CHAPTER X.

Settlement of the Queen's Allowance.—Character and Views of Turgot.—She induces Gluck to visit Paris.—Performance of his Opera of "Iphigenie en Aulide."—The First Encore.—Marie Antoinette advocates the Re-establishment of the Parliaments, and receives an Address from them.— English Visitors at the Court.—The King is compared to Louis XII. and Henri IV.—The Archduke Maximilian visits his Sister.—Factious Conduct of the Princes of the Blood.—Anti-Austrian Feeling in Paris.—The War of Grains.—The King is crowned at Rheims.—Feelings of Marie Antoinette.— Her Improvements at the Trianon.—Her Garden Parties there.—Description of her Beauty by Burke, and by Horace Walpole.

CHAPTER XI.

Tea is introduced.—Horse-racing of Count d'Artois.—Marie Antoinette goes to see it.—The Queen's Submissiveness to the Reproofs of the Empress.— Birth of the Duc d'Angouleme.—She at times speaks lightly of the King.— The Emperor remonstrates with her.—Character of some of the Queen's Friends.—The Princess de Lamballe.—The Countess Jules de Polignac.—They set the Queen against Turgot.—She procures his Dismissal.—She gratifies Madame Polignac's Friends.—Her Regard for the French People.— Water Parties on the Seine.—Her Health is Delicate.—Gambling at the Palace.

CHAPTER XII.

Marie Antoinette finds herself in Debt.—Forgeries of her Name are committed.—The Queen devotes herself too much to Madame de Polignac and others.—Versailles is less frequented.—Remonstrances of the Empress.— Volatile Character of the Queen.—She goes to the Bals d'Opera at Paris.— She receives the Duke of Dorset and other English Nobles with Favor.— Grand Entertainment given her by the Count de Provence.—Character of the Emperor Joseph.—He visits Paris and Versailles.—His Feelings toward and Conversations with the King and Queen.—He goes to the Opera.—His Opinion of the Queen's Friends.—Marie Antoinette's Letter to the Empress on his Departure.—The Emperor leaves her a Letter of Advice.

CHAPTER XIII.

Impressions made on the Queen by the Emperor's Visit.—Mutual Jealousies of her Favorites.—The Story of the Chevalier d'Assas.—The Terrace Concerts at Versailles.—More Inroads on Etiquette.—Insolence and Unpopularity of the Count d'Artois.—Marie Antoinette takes Interest in Politics.—France concludes an Alliance with the United States.—Affairs of Bavaria.—Character of the Queen's Letters on Politics.—The Queen expects to become a Mother.—Voltaire returns to Paris.—The Queen declines to receive him.—Misconduct of the Duke of Orleans in the Action off Ushant.—The Queen uses her Influence in his Favor.

CHAPTER XIV.

Birth of Madame Royale.—Festivities of Thanksgiving.—The Dames de la Halle at the Theatre.—Thanksgiving at Notre Dame.—The King goes to a Bal d'Opera.—The Queen's Carriage breaks down.—Marie Antoinette has the Measles.—Her Anxiety about the War.—Retrenchments of Expense.

CHAPTER XV.

Anglomania in Paris.—The Winter at Versailles.—Hunting.—Private Theatricals.—Death of Prince Charles of Lorraine.—Successes of the English in America.—Education of the Duc d'Angouleme.—Libelous Attacks on the Queen.—Death of the Empress.—Favor shown some of the Swedish Nobles.—The Count de Fersen.—Necker retires from Office.—His Character.

CHAPTER XVI.

The Queen expects to be confined again.—Increasing Unpopularity of the King's Brothers.—Birth of the Dauphin.—Festivities.—Deputations from the Different Trades.—Songs of the Dames de la Halle.—Ball given by the Body-guard,—Unwavering Fidelity of the Regiment.—The Queen offers up her Thanksgiving at Notre Dame.—Banquet at the Hotel de Ville.— Rejoicings in Paris.

CHAPTER XVII.

Madame de Guimenee resigns the Office of Governess of the Royal Children.—Madame de Polignac succeeds her.—Marie Antoinette's Views of Education.—Character of Madame Royale.—The Grand Duke Paul and his Grand Duchess visit the French Court.—Their Characters.—Entertainments given in their Honor.—Insolence of the Cardinal de Rohan.—His Character and previous Life.—Grand Festivities at Chantilly.—Events of the War.— Rodney defeats De Grasse.—The Siege of Gibraltar fails.—M. de Suffrein fights five Drawn Battles with Sir E. Hughes in the Indian Seas.—The Queen receives him with Great Honor on his Return.

CHAPTER XVIII.

Peace is re-established.—Embarrassments of the Ministry.—Distress of the Kingdom.—M. de Calonne becomes Finance Minister.—The Winter of 1783-'84 is very Severe.—The Queen devotes Large Sums to Charity.—Her Political Influence increases.—Correspondence between the Emperor and her on European Politics.—The State of France.—The Baron de Breteuil.— Her Description of the Character of the King.

CHAPTER XIX.

"The Marriage of Figaro."—Previous History and Character of Beaumarchais.—The Performance of the Play is forbidden.—It is said to be a little altered.—It is licensed.—Displeasure of the Queen.—Visit of Gustavus III. of Sweden.—Fete at the Trianon.—Balloon Ascent.

CHAPTER XX.

St. Cloud is purchased for the Queen.—Libelous Attacks on her.—Birth of the Duc de Normandie.—Joseph presses her to make France support his Views in the Low Countries.—The Affair of the Necklace.—Share which the Cardinal de Rohan had in it.—The Queen's Indignation at his Acquittal.— Subsequent Career of the Cardinal.

CHAPTER XXI.

The King visits Cherbourg.—Rarity of Royal Journeys.—The Princess Christine visits the Queen.—Hostility of the Duc d'Orleans to the Queen. —Libels on her.—She is called Madame Deficit.—She has a Second Daughter, who dies.—Ill Health of the Dauphin.—Unskillfulness and Extravagance of Calonne's System of Finance.—Distress of the Kingdom.—He assembles the Notables.—They oppose his Plans.—Letters of Marie Antoinette on the Subject.—Her Ideas of the English Parliament.— Dismissal of Calonne.—Character of Archbishop Lomenie de Brienne.— Obstinacy of Necker.—The Archbishop is appointed Minister.—The Distress increases.—The Notables are dissolved.—Violent Opposition of the Parliament.—Resemblance of the French Revolution to the English Rebellion of 1642.—Arrest of D'Espremesnil and Montsabert.

CHAPTER XXII.

Formidable Riots take place in some Provinces.—The Archbishop invites Necker to join his Ministry.—Letter of Marie Antoinette describing her Interview with the Archbishop, and her Views.—Necker refuses.—The Queen sends Messages to Necker.—The Archbishop resigns, and Necker becomes Minister.—The Queen's View of his Character.—General Rejoicing. —Defects in Necker's Character.—He recalls the Parliament.—Riots in Paris.—Severe Winter.—General Distress.—Charities of the King and Queen.—Gratitude of the Citizens.—The Princes are concerned in the Libels published against the Queen.—Preparations for the Meeting of the States-general.—Long Disuse of that Assembly.—Need of Reform.—Vices of the Old Feudal System.—Necker's Blunders in the Arrangements for the Meeting of the States.—An Edict of the King concedes the Chief Demands of the Commons.—Views of the Queen.

CHAPTER XXIII.

The Reveillon Riot.—Opening of the States-general.—The Queen is insulted by the Partisans of the Duc d'Orleans.—Discussions as to the Number of Chambers.—Career and Character of Mirabeau.—Necker rejects his Support. —He determines to revenge himself.—Death of the Dauphin.

CHAPTER XXIV.

Troops are brought up from the Frontier.—The Assembly petitions the King to withdraw them.—He refuses.—Ho dismisses Necker.—The Baron de Breteuil is appointed Prime Minister.—Terrible Riots in Paris.—The Tricolor Flag is adopted.—Storming of the Bastile and Murder of the Governor.—The Count d'Artois and other Princes fly from the Kingdom.—The King recalls Necker.—Withdraws the Soldiers and visits Paris.—Formation of the National Guard.—Insolence of La Fayette and Bailly.—Madame de Tourzel becomes Governess of the Royal Children.—Letters of Marie Antoinette on their Character, and on her own Views of Education.

CHAPTER XXV.

Necker resumes Office.—Outrages in the Provinces.—Pusillanimity of the Body of the Nation.—Parties in the Assembly.—Views of the Constitutionalists or "Plain."—Barnave makes Overtures to the Court.—The Queen rejects them.—The Assembly abolishes all Privileges, August 4th.—Debates on the Veto.—An Attack on Versailles is threatened.—Great Scarcity in Paris.—The King sends his Plate to be melted down.—The Regiment of Flanders is brought up to Versailles.—A Military Banquet is held in the Opera-house.—October 5th, a Mob from Paris marches on Versailles.—Blunders of La Fayette.—Ferocity of the Mob on the 5th. —Attack on the Palace on the 6th.—Danger and Heroism of the Queen.—The Royal Family remove to Paris.—Their Reception at the Barrier and at the Hotel de Ville.—Shabbiness of the Tuileries.—The King fixes his Residence there.

CHAPTER XXVI.

Feelings of Marie Antoinette on coming to the Tuileries.—Her Tact in winning the Hearts of the Common People.—Mirabeau changes his Views.— Quarrel between La Fayette and the Duc d'Orleans.—Mirabeau desires to offer his Services to the Queen.—Riots in Paris.—Murder of Francois.— The Assembly pass a Vote prohibiting any Member from taking Office.—The Emigration.—Death of the Emperor Joseph II.—Investigation into the Riots of October.—The Queen refuses to give Evidence.—Violent Proceedings in the Assembly.—Execution of the Marquis de Favras.

CHAPTER XXVII.

The King accepts the Constitution so far as it has been settled.—The Queen makes a Speech to the Deputies.—She is well received at the Theatre.—Negotiations with Mirabeau.—The Queen's Views of the Position of Affairs.—The Jacobin Club denounces Mirabeau.—Deputation of Anacharsis Clootz.—Demolition of the Statue of Louis XIV.—Abolition of Titles of Honor.—The Queen admits Mirabeau to an Audience.—His Admiration of her Courage and Talents.—Anniversary of the Capture of the Bastile.—Fete of the Champ de Mars.—Presence of Mind of the Queen.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

Great Tumults in the Provinces.—Mutiny in the Marquis de Bouille's Army. —Disorder of the Assembly.—Difficulty of managing Mirabeau.—Mercy is removed to The Hague.—Marie Antoinette sees constant Changes in the Aspect of Affairs.—Marat denounces Her.—Attempts are made to assassinate Her.—Resignation of Mirabeau.—Misconduct of the Emigrant Princes.

CHAPTER XXIX.

Louis and Marie Antoinette contemplate Foreign Intervention.—The Assembly passes Laws to subordinate the Church to the Civil Power.—Insolence of La Fayette.—Marie Antoinette refuses to quit France by Herself.—The Jacobins and La Fayette try to revive the Story of the Necklace.—Marie Antoinette with her Family.—Flight from Paris is decided on.—The Queen's Preparations and Views.—An Oath to observe the new Ecclesiastical Constitution is imposed on the Clergy.—The King's Aunts leave France.

CHAPTER XXX.

The Mob attacks the Castle at Vincennes.—La Fayette saves it.—He insults the Nobles who come to protect the King.—Perverseness of the Count d'Artois and the Emigrants.—Mirabeau dies.—General Sorrow for his Death.—He would probably not have been able to arrest the Revolution.— The Mob prevent the King from visiting St. Cloud.—The Assembly passes a Vote to forbid him to go more than twenty Leagues from Paris.

CHAPTER XXXI.

Plans for the Escape of the Royal Family.—Dangers of Discovery.— Resolution of the Queen.—The Royal Family leave the Palace.—They are recognized at Ste. Menehould.—Are arrested at Varennes.—Tumult in the City, and in the Assembly.—The King and Queen are brought back to Paris.

CHAPTER XXXII.

Marie Antoinette's Feelings on her Return.—She sees Hopes of Improvement.—The 17th of July.—The Assembly inquire into the King's Conduct on leaving Paris.—They resolve that there is no Reason for taking Proceedings.—Excitement in Foreign Countries.—The Assembly proceeds to complete the Constitution.—It declares all the Members Incapable of Election to the New Assembly.—Letters of Marie Antoinette to the Emperor and to Mercy.—The Declaration of Pilnitz.—The King accepts the Constitution.—Insults offered to him at the Festival of the Champ de Mars.—And to the Queen at the Theatre.—The First or Constituent Assembly is dissolved.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

Composition of the New Assembly.—Rise of the Girondins.—Their Corruption and Eventual Fate.—Vergniaud's Motions against the King.—Favorable Reception of the King at the Assembly, and at the Opera.—Changes in the Ministry.—The King's and Queen's Language to M. Bertrand de Moleville.—The Count de Narbonne.—Petion is elected Mayor of Paris.— Scarcity of Money, and Great Hardships of the Royal Family.—Presents arrive from Tippoo Sahib.—The Dauphin.—The Assembly passes Decrees against the Priests and the Emigrants.—Misconduct of the Emigrants.— Louis refuses his Assent to the Decrees.—He issues a Circular condemning Emigration.

CHAPTER XXXIV.

Death of Leopold.—Murder of Gustavus of Sweden—Violence of Vergniaud.— The Ministers resign.—A Girondin Ministry is appointed.—Character of Dumouriez.—Origin of the Name Sans-culottes.—Union of Different Parties against the Queen.—War is declared against the Empire.—Operations in the Netherlands.—Unskillfulness of La Fayette.—The King falls into a State of Torpor.—Fresh Libels on the Queen.—Barnave's Advice.—Dumouriez has an Audience of the Queen.—Dissolution of the Constitutional Guard.—Formation of a Camp near Paris.—Louis adheres to his Refusal to assent to the Decree against the Priests.—Dumouriez resigns his Office, and takes command of the Army.

CHAPTER XXXV.

The Insurrection of June 20th.

CHAPTER XXXVI.

Feelings of Marie Antoinette.—Different Plans are formed for her Escape. —She hopes for Aid from Austria and Prussia.—La Fayette comes to Paris. —His Mismanagement—An Attempt is made to assassinate the Queen.—The Motion of Bishop Lamourette.—The Feast of the Federation.—La Fayette proposes a Plan for the King's Escape.—Bertrand proposes Another.—Both are rejected by the Queen.

CHAPTER XXXVII.

Preparation for a New Insurrection.—Barbaroux brings up a Gang from Marseilles.—The King's last Levee.—The Assembly rejects a Motion for the Impeachment of La Fayette.—It removes some Regiments from Paris.— Preparations of the Court for Defense.—The 10th of August.—The City is in Insurrection.—Murder of Mandat.—Louis reviews the Guards.—He takes Refuge with the Assembly.—Massacre of the Swiss Guards.—Sack of the Tuileries.—Discussions in the Assembly.—The Royal Authority is suspended.

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

Indignities to which the Royal Family are subjected.—They are removed to the Temple.—Divisions in the Assembly.—Flight of La Fayette.—Advance of the Prussians.—Lady Sutherland supplies the Dauphin with Clothes.— Mode of Life in the Temple.—The Massacres of September.—The Death of the Princess de Lamballe.—Insults are heaped on the King and Queen.—The Trial of the King.—His Last Interview with his Family.—His Death.

CHAPTER XXXIX.

The Queen is refused Leave to see Clery.—Madame Royale is taken Ill.— Plans are formed for the Queen's Escape by MM. Jarjayes, Toulan, and by the Baron de Batz.—Marie Antoinette refuses to leave her Son.—Illness of the young King.—Overthrow of the Girondins.—Insanity of the Woman Tison.—Kindness of the Queen to her.—Her Son is taken from her, and intrusted to Simon.—His Ill-treatment.—The Queen is removed to the Conciergerie.—She is tried before the Revolutionary Tribunal.—She is condemned.—Her last Letter to the Princess Elizabeth.—Her Death and Character.

INDEX



LIFE OF MARIE ANTOINETTE.



CHAPTER I.

Importance of Marie Antoinette in the Revolution.—Value of her Correspondence as a Means of estimating her Character.—Her Birth, November 2d, 1755.—Epigram of Metastasio.—Habits of the Imperial Family.—Schoenbrunn.—Death of the Emperor.—Projects for the Marriage of the Archduchess.—Her Education.—The Abbe de Vermond.—Metastasio.— Gluck.

The most striking event in the annals of modern Europe is unquestionably the French Revolution of 1789—a Revolution which, in one sense, may be said to be still in progress, but which, is a more limited view, may be regarded as having been, consummated by the deposition and murder of the sovereign of the country. It is equally undeniable that, during its first period, the person who most attracts and rivets attention is the queen. One of the moat brilliant of modern French writers[1] has recently remarked that, in spite of the number of years which have elapsed since the grave closed over the sorrows of Marie Antoinette, and of the almost unbroken series of exciting events which have marked the annals of France in the interval, the interest excited by her story is as fresh and engrossing as ever; that such as Hecuba and Andromache were to the ancients, objects never named to inattentive ears, never contemplated without lively sympathy, such still is their hapless queen to all honest and intelligent Frenchmen. It may even be said that that interest has increased of late years. The respectful and remorseful pity which her fate could not fail to awaken has been quickened by the publication of her correspondence with her family and intimate friends, which has laid bare, without disguise, all her inmost thoughts and feelings, her errors as well as her good deeds, her weaknesses equally with her virtues. Few, indeed, even of those whom the world regards with its highest favor and esteem, could endure such an ordeal without some diminution of their fame. Yet it is but recording the general verdict of all whose judgment is of value, to affirm that Marie Antoinette has triumphantly surmounted it; and that the result of a scrutiny as minute and severe as any to which a human being has ever been subjected, has been greatly to raise her reputation.

Not that she was one of those paragons whom painters of model heroines have delighted to imagine to themselves; one who from childhood gave manifest indications of excellence and greatness, and whose whole life was but a steady progressive development of its early promise. She was rather one in whom adversity brought forth great qualities, her possession of which, had her life been one of that unbroken sunshine which is regarded by many as the natural and inseparable attendant of royalty, might never have been even suspected. We meet with her first, at an age scarcely advanced beyond childhood, transported from her school-room to a foreign court, as wife to the heir of one of the noblest kingdoms of Europe. And in that situation we see her for a while a light-hearted, merry girl, annoyed rather than elated by her new magnificence; thoughtless, if not frivolous, in her pursuits; fond of dress; eager in her appetite for amusement, tempered only by an innate purity of feeling which never deserted her; the brightest features of her character being apparently a frank affability, and a genuine and active kindness and humanity which were displayed to all classes and on all occasions. We see her presently as queen, hardly yet arrived at womanhood, little changed in disposition or in outward demeanor, though profiting to the utmost by the opportunities which her increased power afforded her of proving the genuine tenderness of her heart, by munificent and judicious works of charity and benevolence; and exerting her authority, if possible, still more beneficially by protecting virtue, discountenancing vice, and purifying a court whose shameless profligacy had for many generations been the scandal of Christendom. It is probable, indeed, that much of her early levity was prompted by a desire to drive from her mind disappointments and mortifications of which few suspected the existence, but which were only the more keenly felt because she was compelled to keep them to herself; but it is certain that during the first eight or ten years of her residence in France there was little in her habits and conduct, however amiable and attractive, which could have led her warmest friends to discern in her the high qualities which she was destined to exhibit before its close.

Presently, however, she becomes a mother; and in this new relation we begin to perceive glimpses of a loftier nature. From the moment of the birth of her first child, she performed those new duties which, perhaps more than any others, call forth all the best and most peculiar virtues of the female heart in such a manner as to add esteem and respect to the good-will which her affability and courtesy had already inspired; recognizing to the full the claims which the nation had upon her, that she should, in person, superintend the education of her children, and especially of her son as its future ruler; and discharging that sacred duty, not only with the most affectionate solicitude, but also with the most admirable judgment.

But years so spent were years of happiness; and, though such may suffice to display the amiable virtues, it is by adversity that the grander qualities of the head and heart are more strikingly drawn forth. To the trials of that stern inquisitress, Marie Antoinette was fully exposed in her later years; and not only did she rise above them, but the more terrible and unexampled they were, the more conspicuous was the superiority of her mind to fortune. It is no exaggeration to say that the history of the whole world has preserved no record of greater heroism, in either sex, than was shown by Marie Antoinette during the closing years of her life. No courage was ever put to the proof by such a variety and such an accumulation of dangers and miseries; and no one ever came out of an encounter with even far inferior calamities with greater glory. Her moral courage and her physical courage were equally tried. It was not only that her own life, and lives far dearer to her than her own, were exposed to daily and hourly peril, or that to this danger were added repeated vexations of hopes baffled and trusts betrayed; but these griefs were largely aggravated by the character and conduct of those nearest to her. Instead of meeting with counsel and support from her husband and his brothers, she had to guide and support Louis himself, and even to find him so incurably weak as to be incapable of being kept in the path of wisdom by her sagacity, or of deriving vigor from her fortitude; while the princes were acting in selfish and disloyal opposition to him, and so, in a great degree, sacrificing him and her to their perverse conceit, if we may not say to their faithless ambition. She had to think for all, to act for all, to struggle for all; and to beat up against the conviction that her thoughts, and actions, and struggles were being balked of their effect by the very persona for whom she was exerting herself; that she was but laboring to save those who would not be saved. Yet, throughout that protracted agony of more than four years she bore herself with an unswerving righteousness of purpose and an unfaltering fearlessness of resolution which could not have been exceeded had she been encouraged by the most constant success. And in the last terrible hours, when the monsters who had already murdered her husband were preparing the same fate for herself, she met their hatred and ferocity with a loftiness of spirit which even hopelessness could not subdue. Long before, she had declared that she had learned, from the example of her mother, not to fear death; and she showed that this was no empty boast when she rose in the last scenes of her life as much even above her earlier displays of courage and magnanimity as she also rose above the utmost malice of her vile enemies.

* * * * *

Marie Antoinette Josephe Jeanne was the youngest daughter of Francis, originally Duke of Lorraine, afterward Grand Duke of Tuscany, and eventually Emperor of Germany, and of Maria Teresa, Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, more generally known, after the attainment of the imperial dignity by her husband in 1745, as the Empress- queen. Of her brothers, two, Joseph and Leopold, succeeded in turn to the imperial dignity; and one of her sisters, Caroline, became the wife of the King of Naples. She was born on the 2d of November, 1755, a day which, when her later years were darkened by misfortune, was often referred to as having foreshadowed it by its evil omens, since it was that on which the terrible earthquake which laid Lisbon in ruins reached its height. But, at the time, the Viennese rejoiced too sincerely at every event which could contribute to their sovereign's happiness to pay any regard to the calamities of another capital, and the courtly poet was but giving utterance to the unanimous feeling of her subjects when he spoke of the princess's birth as calculated to diffuse universal joy. Daughters had been by far the larger part of Maria Teresa's family, so that she was, consequently, anxious for another son; and, knowing her wishes, the Duke of Tarouka, one of the nobles whom she admitted to her intimacy, laid her a small wager that they would be realized by the sex of the expected infant. He lost his bet, but felt some embarrassment, in devising a graceful mode of paying it. In his perplexity, he sought the advice of the celebrated Metastasio, who had been for some time established at Vienna as the favorite poet of the court, and the Italian, with the ready wit of his country, at once supplied him with a quatrain, which, in her disappointment itself, could mid ground for compliment:

"Io perdei; l' augusta figlia A pagar m' ha condannato; Ma s'e ver che a voi somiglia, Tutto il mondo ha guadagnato."

The customs of the imperial court had undergone a great change since the death of Charles VI. It had been pre-eminent for pompous ceremony, which was thought to become the dignity of the sovereign who boasted of being the representative of the Roman Caesars. But the Lorraine princes had been bred up in a simpler fashion; and Francis had an innate dislike to all ostentation, while Maria Teresa had her attention too constantly fixed on matters of solid importance to have much leisure to spare for the consideration of trifles. Both husband and wife greatly preferred to their gorgeous palace at Vienna a smaller house which they possessed in the neighborhood, called Schoenbrunn, where they could lay aside their state, and enjoy the unpretending pleasures of domestic and rural life, cultivating their garden, and, as far as the imperious calls of public affairs would allow them time, watching over the education of their children, to whom the example of their own tastes and habits was imperceptibly affording the best of all lessons, a preference for simple and innocent pleasures.

In this tranquil retreat, the childhood of Marie Antoinette was happily passed; her bright looks, which already gave promise of future loveliness, her quick intelligence, and her affectionate disposition combining to make her the special favorite of her parents. It was she whom Francis, when quitting his family in the summer of 1764 for that journey to Innspruck which proved his last, specially ordered to be brought to him, saying, as if he felt some foreboding of his approaching illness, that he must embrace her once more before he departed; and his death, which took place before she was nine years old, was the first sorrow which ever brought a tear into her eyes.

The superintendence of her vast empire occupied a greater share of Maria Teresa's attention than the management of her family. But as Marie Antoinette grew up, the Empress-queen's ambition, ever on the watch to maintain and augment the prosperity of her country, perceived in her child's increasing attractions a prospect of cementing more closely an alliance which she had contracted some years before, and on which she prided herself the more because it had terminated an enmity of two centuries and a half. From the day on which Charles V, prevailed over Francis I. in the competition for the imperial crown, the attitude of the Emperor of Germany and of the King of France to each other had been one of mutual hostility, which, with but rare exceptions, had been greatly in favor of the latter country. The very first years of Maria Teresa's own reign had been imbittered by the union of France with Prussia in a war which had deprived her of an extensive province; and she regarded it as one of the great triumphs of Austrian diplomacy to have subsequently won over the French ministry to exchange the friendship of Frederick of Prussia for her own, and to engage as her ally in a war which had for its object the recovery of the lost Silesia. Silesia was not recovered. But she still clung to the French alliance as fondly as if the objects which she had originally hoped to gain by it had been fully accomplished; and, as the heir to the French monarchy was very nearly of the same age as the young archduchess, she began to entertain hopes of uniting the two royal families by a marriage which should render the union between the two nations indissoluble. She mentioned the project to some of the French visitors at her court, whom she thought likely to repeat her conversation on their return to their own country. She took care that reports of her daughter's beauty should from time to time reach the ears of Louis XV. She had her picture painted by French artists. She made a proficiency in the French language the principal object of her education; bringing over some French actors to Vienna to instruct her in the graces of elocution, and subsequently establishing as her chief tutor a French ecclesiastic, the Abbe de Vermond, a man of extensive learning, of excellent judgment, and of most conscientious integrity. The appointment would have been in every respect a most fortunate one, had it not been suggested by Lomenie de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, who thus laid the abbe under an obligation which was requited, to the great injury of France, nearly twenty years afterward, when M. de Vermond, who still remained about the person of his royal mistress, had an opportunity of exerting his influence to make the archbishop prime minister.

Not that her studies were confined to French. Metastasio taught her Italian; Gluck, whose recently published opera of "Orfeo" had, established for him a reputation as one of the greatest musicians of the age, gave her lessons on the harpsichord. But we fear it can not be said that she obtained any high degree of excellence in these or in any other accomplishments. She was not inclined to study; and, with the exception of the abbe, her masters and mistresses were too courtly to be peremptory with an archduchess. Their favorable reports to the Empress-queen were indeed neutralized by the frankness with which their pupil herself confessed her idleness and failure to improve. But Maria Teresa was too much absorbed in politics to give much heed to the confession, or to insist on greater diligence; though at a later day Marie Antoinette herself repented of her neglect, and did her best to repair it, taking lessons in more than one accomplishment with great perseverance during the first years of her residence at Versailles, because, as she expressed herself, the dauphiness was bound to take care of the character of the archduchess.

There are, however, lessons of greater importance to a child than any which are given by even the most accomplished masters—those which flow from the example of a virtuous and sensible mother; and those the young archduchess showed a greater aptitude for learning. Maria Teresa had set an example not only to her own family, but to all sovereigns, among whom principles and practices such as hers had hitherto been little recognized, of regarding an attention to the personal welfare of all her subjects, even of those of the lowest class, as among the most imperative of her duties. She had been accessible to all. She had accustomed the peasantry to accost her in her walks; she had visited their cottages to inquire into and relieve their wants. And the little Antoinette, who, more than any other of her children, seems to have taken her for an especial model, had thus, from her very earliest childhood, learned to feel a friendly interest in the well-doing of the people in general; to think no one too lowly for her notice, to sympathize with sorrow, to be indignant at injustice and ingratitude, to succor misfortune and distress. And these were habits which, as being implanted in her heart, she was not likely to forget; but which might be expected rather to gain strength by indulgence, and to make her both welcome and useful to any people among whom her lot might be cast.



CHAPTER II.

Proposal for the Marriage of Marie Antoinette to the Dauphin.—Early Education of the Dauphin.—The Archduchess leaves Vienna in April, 1770.— Her Reception at Strasburg.—She meets the King at Compiegne.—The Marriage takes place May 16th, 1770.

Royal marriages had been so constantly regarded as affairs of state, to be arranged for political reasons, that it had become usual on the Continent to betroth princes and princesses to each other at a very early age; and it was therefore not considered as denoting any premature impatience on the part of either the Empress-queen or the King of France, Louis XV., when, at the beginning of 1769, when Marie Antoinette had but just completed her thirteenth year, the Duc de Choiseul, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was himself a native of Lorraine, instructed the Marquis de Durfort, the French embassador at Vienna, to negotiate with the celebrated Austrian prime minister, the Prince de Kaunitz, for her marriage to the heir of the French throne, who was not quite fifteen months older. Louis XV. had had several daughters, but only one son. That son, born in 1729, had been married at the age of fifteen to a Spanish infanta, who, within a year of her marriage, died in her confinement, and whom he replaced in a few months by a daughter of Augustus III., King of Saxony. His second wife bore him four sons and two daughters. The eldest son, the Duc de Bourgogne, who was born in 1750, and was generally regarded as a child of great promise, died in his eleventh year; and when he himself died in 1765, his second son, previously known as the Duc de Berri, succeeded him in his title of dauphin. This prince, now the suitor of the archduchess, had been born on the 23d of August, 1754, and was therefore not quite fifteen. As yet but little was known of him. Very little pains had been taken with his education; his governor, the Duc de la Vauguyon, was a man who had been appointed to that most important post by the cabals of the infamous mistress and parasites who formed the court of Louis XV., without one qualification for the discharge of its duties. A servile, intriguing spirit had alone recommended him to his patrons, while his frivolous indolence was in harmony with the inclinations of the king himself, who, worn out with a long course of profligacy, had no longer sufficient energy even for vice. Under such a governor, the young prince had but little chance of receiving a wholesome education, even if there was not a settled design to enfeeble his mind by neglect.

His father had been a man of a character very different from that of the king. By a sort of natural reaction or silent protest against the infamies which he saw around him, he had cherished a serious and devout disposition, and had observed a conduct of the most rigorous virtue. He was even suspected of regarding the Jesuits with especial favor, and was believed to have formed plans for the reformation of morals, and perhaps of the State. It was not strange that, on the first news of the illness which proved fatal to him, the people flocked to the churches with prayers for his recovery, and that his death was regarded by all the right- thinking portion of the community as a national calamity. But the courtiers, who had regarded his approaching reign with not unnatural alarm, hailed his removal with joy, and were, above all things, anxious to prevent his son, who had now become the heir to the crown, from following such a path as the father had marked out for himself. The negligence of some, thus combining with the deliberate malice of others, and aided by peculiarities in the constitution and disposition of the young prince himself, which became more and more marked as he grew up, exercised a pernicious influence on his boyhood. Not only was his education in the ordinary branches of youthful knowledge neglected, but no care was even taken to cultivate his taste or to polish his manners, though a certain delicacy of taste and refinement of manners were regarded by the courtiers, and by Louis XV. himself, as the pre-eminent distinction of his reign. He was kept studiously in the background, discountenanced and depressed, till he contracted an awkward timidity and reserve which throughout his life he could never shake off; while a still more unfortunate defect, which was another result of this system, was an inability to think or decide for himself, or even to act steadily on the advice of others after he had professed to adopt it.

But these deficiencies in his character had as yet hardly had time to display themselves; and, had they been ever so notorious, they were not of a nature to divert Maria Teresa from her purpose. For her political objects, it would not, perhaps, have seemed to her altogether undesirable that the future sovereign of France should be likely to rely on the judgment and to submit to the influence of another, so long as the person who should have the best opportunity of influencing him was her own daughter. A negotiation for the success of which both parties were equally anxious did not require a long time for its conclusion; and by the beginning of July, 1769, all the preliminaries were arranged; the French newspapers were authorized to allude to the marriage, and to speak of the diligence with which preparations for it were being made in both countries; those in which the French king took the greatest interest being the building of some carriages of extraordinary magnificence, to receive the archduchess as soon as she should have arrived on French ground; while those which were being made in Germany indicated a more elementary state of civilization, as the first requisite appeared to be to put the roads between Vienna and the frontier in a state of repair, to prevent the journey from being too fatiguing.

By the spring of the next year all the necessary preparations had been completed; and on the evening of the 10th of April, 1770, a grand court was held in the Palace of Vienna. Through a double row of guards of the palace, of body-guards, and of a still more select guard, composed wholly of nobles, M. de Durfort was conducted into the presence of the Emperor Joseph II., and of his widowed mother, the Empress-queen, still, though only dowager-empress, the independent sovereign of her own hereditary dominions; and to both he proffered, on the part of the King of France, a formal request for the hand of the Archduchess Marie Antoinette for the dauphin. When the Emperor and Empress had given their gracious consent to the demand, the archduchess herself was summoned to the hall and informed of the proposal which had been made, and of the approval which her mother and her brother had announced; while, to incline her also to regard it with equal favor, the embassador presented her with a letter from her intended husband, and with his miniature, which she at once hung round her neck. After which, the whole party adjourned to the private theatre of the palace to witness the performance of a French play, "The Confident Mother" of Marivaux, the title of which, so emblematic of the feelings of Maria Teresa, may probably have procured it the honor of selection.

The next day the young princess executed a formal renunciation of all right of succession to any part of her mother's dominions which might at any time devolve on her; though the number of her brothers and elder sisters rendered any such occurrence in the highest degree improbable, and though one conspicuous precedent in the history of both countries had, within the memory of persons still living, proved the worthlessness of such renunciations.[1] A few days were then devoted to appropriate festivities. That which is most especially mentioned by the chroniclers of the court being, in accordance with the prevailing taste of the time, a grand masked ball,[2] for which a saloon four hundred feet long had been expressly constructed. And on the 26th of April the young bride quit her home, the mother from whom she had never been separated, and the friends and playmates among whom her whole life had been hitherto passed, for a country which was wholly strange to her, and in which she had not as yet a single acquaintance. Her very husband, to whom she was to be confided, she had never seen.

Though both mother and daughter felt the most entire confidence that the new position, on which she was about to enter, would be full of nothing but glory and happiness, it was inevitable that they should be, as they were, deeply agitated at so complete a separation. And, if we may believe the testimony of witnesses who were at Vienna at the time,[3] the grief of the mother, who was never to see her child again, was shared not only by the members of the imperial household, whom constant intercourse had enabled to know and appreciate her amiable qualities, but by the population of the capital and the surrounding districts, all of whom had heard of her numerous acts of kindness and benevolence, which, young as she was, many of them had also experienced, and who thronged the streets along which she passed on her departure, mingling tears of genuine sorrow with their acclamations, and following her carriage to the outermost gate of the city that they might gaze their last on the darling of many hearts.

Kehl was the last German town through which she was to pass, Strasburg was the first French city which was to receive her, and, as the islands which dot the Rhine at that portion of the noble boundary river were regarded as a kind of neutral ground, the French monarch had selected the principal one to be occupied by a pavilion built for the purpose and decorated with great magnificence, that it might serve for another stage of the wedding ceremony. In this pavilion she was to cease to be German, and was to become French; she was to bid farewell to her Austrian attendants, and to receive into her service the French officers of her household, male and female, who were to replace them. She was even to divest herself of every article of her German attire, and to apparel herself anew in garments of French manufacture sent from Paris. The pavilion was divided into two compartments. In the chief apartment of the German division, the Austrian officials who had escorted her so far formally resigned their charge, and surrendered her to the Comte de Noailles, who had been appointed embassador extraordinary to receive her; and, when all the deeds necessary to release from their responsibly the German nobles whose duties were now terminated had been duly signed, the doors were thrown open, and Marie Antoinette passed into the French division, as a French princess, to receive the homage of a splendid train of French courtiers, who were waiting in loyal eagerness to offer their first salutations to their new mistress. Yet, as if at every period of her life she was to be beset with omens, the celebrated German writer, Goethe, who was at that time pursuing his studies at Strasburg, perceived one which he regarded as of most inauspicious significance in the tapestry which decorated the walls of the chief saloon. It represented the history of Jason and Medea. On one side was portrayed the king's bride in the agonies of death; on the other, the royal father was bewailing his murdered children. Above them both, Medea was fleeing away in a car drawn by fire-breathing dragons, and driven by the Furies; and the youthful poet could not avoid reflecting that a record of the most miserable union that even the ancient mythology had recorded was a singularly inappropriate and ill-omened ornament for nuptial festivities.[4]

A bridge reached from the island to the left bank of the river; and, on quitting the pavilion, the archduchess found the carriages, which had been built for her in Paris, ready to receive her, that she might make her state entry into Strasburg. They were marvels of the coach-maker's art. The prime minister himself had furnished the designs, and they had attracted the curiosity of the fashionable world in Paris throughout the winter. One was covered with crimson velvet, having pictures, emblematical of the four seasons, embroidered in gold on the principal panels; on the other the velvet was blue, and the elements took the place of the seasons; while the roof of each was surmounted by nosegays of flowers, carved in gold, enameled in appropriate colors, and wrought with such exquisite delicacy that every movement of the carriage, or even the lightest breeze, caused them to wave as if they were the natural produce of the garden.[5]

In this superb conveyance Marie Antoinette passed on under a succession of triumphal arches to the gates of Strasburg, which, on this auspicious occasion, seemed as if it desired to put itself forward as the representative of the joy of the whole nation by the splendid cordiality of its welcome. Whole regiments of cavalry, drawn up in line of battle, received her with a grand salute as she advanced. Battery after battery pealed forth along the whole extent of the vast ramparts; the bells of every church rang out a festive peal; fountains ran with wine in the Grand Square. She proceeded to the episcopal palace, where the archbishop, the Cardinal de Rohan, with his coadjutor, the Prince Louis de Rohan (a man afterward rendered unhappily notorious by his complicity in a vile conspiracy against her) received her at the head of the most august chapter that the whole land could produce, the counts of the cathedral, as they were styled; the Prince of Lorraine being the grand dean, the Archbishop of Bordeaux the grand provost, and not one post in the chapter being filled by any one below the rank of count. She held a court for the reception of all the female nobility of the province. She dined publicly in state; a procession of the municipal magistrates presented her a sample of the wines of the district; and, as she tasted the luscious offering, the coopers celebrated what they called a feast of Bacchus, waving their hoops as they danced round the room in grotesque figures.

It was a busy day for her, that first day of her arrival on French soil. From the dinner-table she went to the theatre; on quitting the theatre, she was driven through the streets to see the illuminations, which made every part of the city as bright as at midday, the great square in front of the episcopal palace being converted into a complete garden of fire-works; and at midnight she attended a ball which the governor of the province, the Marechal de Contades, gave in her honor to all the principal inhabitants of the city and district. Quitting Strasburg the next day, after a grand reception of the clergy, the nobles, and the magistrates of the province, she proceeded by easy stages through Nancy, Chalons, Rheims, and Soissons, the whole population of every town through which she passed collecting on the road to gaze on her beauty, the renown of which had readied the least curious ears; and to receive marks of her affability, reports of which were at least as widely spread, in the cheerful eagerness with which she threw down the windows of her carriage, and the frank, smiling recognition and genuine pleasure with which she replied to their enthusiastic acclamations. It was long remembered that, when the students of the college at Soissons presented her with a Latin address, she replied to them in a sentence or two in the same language.

Soissons was her last resting-place before she was introduced to her new family. On the afternoon of Monday, the 14th of May, she quit it for Compiegne, which the king and all the court had reached in the course of the morning. As she approached the town she was met by the minister, the Duc de Choiseul, and he was the precursor of Louis himself, who, accompanied by the dauphin and his daughters, and escorted by his gorgeous company of the guards of the household,[6] had driven out to receive her. She and all her train dismounted from their carriages. Her master of the horse and her "knight of honor[7]" took her by the hand and conducted her to the royal coach. She sunk on her knee in the performance of her respectful homage; but Louis promptly raised her up, and, having embraced her with a tenderness which gracefully combined royal dignity with paternal affection, and having addressed her in a brief speech,[8] which was specially acceptable to her, as containing a well-timed compliment to her mother, introduced her to the dauphin; and, when they reached the palace, he also presented to her his more distant relatives, the princes and princesses of the blood,[9] the Duc d'Orleans and his son, the Duc de Chartres, destined hereafter to prove one of the foulest and most mischievous of her enemies; the Duc de Bourbon, the Princes of Conde and Conti, and one lady whose connection with royalty was Italian rather than French, but to whom the acquaintance, commenced on this day, proved the cause of a miserable and horrible death, the beautiful Princesse de Lamballe.

Compiegne, however, was not to be honored by the marriage ceremony. The next morning the whole party started for Versailles, turning out of the road, at the express request of the archduchess herself, to pay a brief visit to the king's youngest daughter, the Princess Louise, who had taken on herself the Carmelite vows, and resided in the Convent of St. Denis. The request had been suggested by Choiseul, who was well aware that the princess shared the dislike entertained by her more worldly sisters to the house of Austria; but it was accepted as a personal compliment by the king himself, who was already fascinated by her charms, which, as he affirmed, surpassed those of her portrait, and was predisposed to view all her words and actions in the most favorable light. Avoiding Paris, which Louis, ever since the riots of 1750, had constantly refused to enter, they reached the hunting-lodge of La Muette, in the Bois de Boulogne, for supper. Here she made the acquaintance of the brothers and sisters of her future husband, the Counts of Provence and Artois, both destined, in their turn, to succeed him on the throne; of the Princess Clotilde, who may be regarded as the most fortunate of her race, in being saved by a foreign marriage and an early death from witnessing the worst calamities of her family and her native land; of the Princess Elizabeth, who was fated to share them in all their bitterness and horror; and (a strangely incongruous sequel to the morning visit to the Carmelite convent), the Countess du Barri also came into her presence, and was admitted to sup at the royal table; as if, even at the very moment when he might have been expected to conduct himself with some degree of respectful decency to the pure-minded young girl whom he was receiving into his family, Louis XV. was bent on exhibiting to the whole world his incurable shamelessness in its most offensive form.

At midnight he, with the dauphin, proceeded to Versailles, whither, the next morning, the archduchess followed them. And at one o'clock on the 16th, in the chapel of the palace, the Primate of France, the Archbishop of Rheims, performed the marriage ceremony. A canopy of cloth of silver was held over the heads of the youthful pair by the bishops of Senlis and Chartres. The dauphin, after he had placed the wedding-ring on his bride's finger, added, as a token that he endowed her with his worldly wealth, a gift of thirteen pieces of gold, which, as well as the ring, had received the episcopal benediction, and Marie Antoinette was dauphiness of France.



CHAPTER III.

Feelings in Germany and France on the Subject of the Marriage.—Letter of Maria Teresa to the Dauphin—Characters of the Different Members of the Royal Family.—Difficulties which beset Marie Antoinette.—Maria Teresa's Letter of Advice.—The Comte de Mercy is sent as Embassador to France to act as the Adviser of the Dauphiness.—The Princesse de Lorraine at the State Ball.—A Great Disaster takes place at the Fire-works in Paris. —The Peasant at Fontainebleau.—Marie Antoinette pleases the King.— Description of her Personal Appearance.—Mercy's Report of the Impression she made on her First Arrival.

The marriage which was thus accomplished was regarded with unmodified pleasure by the family of the bride, and with almost equal satisfaction by the French king. In spite of the public rejoicings in both countries with which it was accompanied, it can not be said to have been equally acceptable to the majority of the people of either nation. There was still a strong anti-French party at Vienna,[1] and (a circumstance of far greater influence on the fortunes of the young couple) there was a strong anti-Austrian party in France, which was not without its supporters even in the king's palace. That the marriage should have been so earnestly desired at the imperial court is a strange instance of the extent to which political motives overpowered every other consideration in the mind of the great Empress-queen, for she was not ignorant of the real character of the French court, of the degree in which it was divided by factions, of the base and unworthy intrigues which were its sole business, and of the sagacity and address which were requisite for any one who would steer his way with safety and honor through its complicated mazes.

Judgment and prudence were not the qualities most naturally to be expected in a young princess not yet fifteen years old. The best prospect which Marie Antoinette had of surmounting the numerous and varied difficulties which beset her lay in the affection which she speedily conceived for her husband, and in the sincerity, we can hardly say warmth, with which he returned her love. Maria Teresa had bespoken his tenderness for her in a letter which she wrote to him on the day on which her daughter left Vienna, and which has often been quoted as a composition worthy of her alike as a mother and as a Christian sovereign; and as admirably calculated to impress the heart of her new son-in-law by claiming his attachment for his bride, on the ground of the pains which she had taken to make her worthy of her fortune.

"Your bride, my dear dauphin, has just left me. I do hope that she will cause your happiness. I have brought her up with the design that she should do so, because I have for some time forseen that she would share your destiny.

"I have inspired her with an eager desire to do her duty to you, with a tender attachment to your person, with a resolution to be attentive to think and do every thing which may please you. I have also been most careful to enjoin her a tender devotion toward the Master of all Sovereigns, being thoroughly persuaded that we are but badly providing for the welfare of the nations which are intrusted to us when we fail in our duty to Him who breaks sceptres and overthrows thrones according to his pleasure.

"I say, then, to you, my dear dauphin, as I say to my daughter: 'Cultivate your duties toward God. Seek to cause the happiness of the people over whom you will reign (it will be too soon, come when it may). Love the king, your grandfather; be humane like him; be always accessible to the unfortunate. If you behave in this manner, it is impossible that happiness can fail to be your lot.' My daughter will love you, I am certain, because I know her. But the more that I answer to you for her affection, and for her anxiety to please you, the more earnestly do I entreat you to vow to her the most sincere attachment.

"Farewell, my dear dauphin. May you be happy. I am bathed in tears.[2]"

The dauphin did not falsify the hopes thus expressed by the Empress-queen. But his was not the character to afford his wife either the advice or support which she needed, while, strange to say, he was the only member of the royal family to whom she could look for either. The king was not only utterly worthless and shameless, but weak and irresolute in the most ordinary matters. Even when in the flower and vigor of his age, he had never been able to summon courage to give verbal orders or reproofs to his own children,[3] but had intimated his pleasure or displeasure by letters. He had been gradually falling lower and lower, both in his own vices and in the estimation of the world; and was now, still more than when Lord Chesterfield first drew his picture,[4] both hated and despised. The dauphin's brothers, for such mere boys, were singularly selfish and unamiable; and the only female relations of her husband, his aunts, to whom, as such, it would have been natural that a young foreigner should look for friendship and advice, were not only narrow-minded, intriguing, and malicious, but were predisposed to regard her with jealousy as likely to interfere with the influence which they had hoped to exert over their nephew when he should become their sovereign.

Marie Antoinette had, therefore, difficulties and enemies to contend with from the very first commencement of her residence in France. And many even of her own virtues were unfavorable to her chances of happiness, calculated as they were to lay her at the mercy of her ill-wishers, and to deprive her of some of the defenses which might have been found in a different temperament. Full of health and spirits, she was naturally eager in the pursuit of enjoyment, and anxious to please every one, from feeling nothing but kindness toward every one; she was frank, open, and sincere; and, being perfectly guileless herself, she was, as through her whole life she continued to be, entirely unsuspicious of unfriendliness, much more of treachery in others. Her affability and condescension combined with this trustful disposition to make her too often the tool of designing and grasping courtiers, who sought to gain their own ends at her expense, and who presumed on her good-nature and inexperience to make requests which, as they well knew, should never have been made, but which they also reckoned that she would be unwilling to refuse.

But lest this general amiability and desire to give pleasure to those around her might seem to impart a prevailing tinge of weakness to her character, it is fair to add that she united to these softer feelings, robuster virtues calculated to deserve and to win universal admiration; though some of them, never having yet been called forth by circumstances, were for a long time unsuspected by the world at large. She had pride— pride of birth, pride of rank—though never did that feeling show itself more nobly or more beneficially. It never led her to think herself above the very meanest of her subjects. It never made her indifferent to the interests, to the joys or sorrows, of a single individual. The idea with which it inspired her was, that a princess of her race was never to commit an unworthy act, was never to fail in purity of virtue, in truth, in courage; that she was to be careful to set an example of these virtues to those who would naturally look up to her; and that she herself was to keep constantly in her mind the example of her illustrious mother, and never, by act, or word, or thought, to discredit her mother's name. And as she thus regarded courage as her birthright, so she possessed it in abundance and in variety. She had courage to plan, and courage to act; courage to resolve, and courage to adhere to the resolution once deliberately formed; and, above all, courage to endure and to suffer, and, in the very extremity of misery, to animate and support others less royally endowed.

Such, then, as she was, with both her manifest and her latent excellencies, as well as with those more mixed qualities which had some defects mingled with their sweetness, Marie Antoinette, at the age of fourteen years and a half, was thrown into a world wholly new to her, to guide herself so far by her own discretion that there was no one who had both judgment and authority to control her in her line of conduct or in any single action. She had, indeed, an adviser whom her mother had provided for her, though without allowing her to suspect the nature or full extent of the duties which she had imposed upon him. Maria Teresa had been in some respects a strict mother, one whom her children in general feared almost as much as they loved her; and the rigorous superintendence on some points of conduct which she had exercised over Marie Antoinette while at home, she was not inclined wholly to resign, even after she had made her apparently independent. At the moment of her departure from Vienna, she gave her a letter of advice which she entreated her to read over every month, and in which the most affectionate and judicious counsel is more than once couched in a tone of very authoritative command; the whole letter showing not only the most experienced wisdom and the most affectionate interest in her daughter's happiness, but likewise a thorough insight into her character, so precisely are some of the errors against which the letter most emphatically warns her those into which she most frequently fell. And she appointed a statesman in whom she deservedly placed great confidence, the Count de Mercy-Argenteau, her embassador to the court at Versailles, with the express design that he should always be at hand to afford the dauphiness his advice in all the difficulties which she could not avoid foreseeing for her; and who should also keep the Empress-queen herself fully informed of every particular of her conduct, and of every transaction by which she was in any way affected. This part of his commission was wholly unsuspected by the young princess; but the count discharged such portions of the delicate duty thus imposed upon him with rare discretion, contriving in its performance to combine the strictest fidelity to his imperial mistress with the most entire devotion to the interests of his pupil, and to preserve the unqualified regard and esteem of both mother and daughter to the end of their lives. Toward the latter, as dauphiness, and even as queen, he stood for some years in a position very similar to that which Baron Stockmar fills in the history of the late Prince Consort of England, being, however, more frequent in his admonitions, and occasionally more severe in his reproofs, as the youth and inexperience of Marie Antoinette not unnaturally led her into greater mistakes than the scrupulous conscientiousness and almost premature prudence of the prince consort ever suffered him to commit; and his diligent reports to the Empress-queen, amounting at times to a diary of the proceedings of the French court, have a lasting and inestimable value, since they furnish us with so trustworthy a record of the whole life of Marie Antoinette for the first ten years of her residence in France,[5] of her actions, her language, and her very thoughts (for she ever scorned to give a reason or to make an excuse which was not absolutely and strictly true), that there is perhaps no person of historical importance whose conduct in every transaction of gravity or interest is more minutely known, or whose character there are fuller materials for appreciating.

The very day of her marriage did not pass without her receiving a strange specimen of the factious spirit which prevailed at the court, and of the hollowness of the welcome with which the chief nobles had greeted her arrival. A state ball was given at the palace to celebrate the wedding, and as the Princess of Lorraine, a cousin of the Emperor Francis, was the only blood-relation of Marie Antoinette who was at Versailles at the time, the king assigned her a place in the first quadrille, giving her precedence for that occasion, next to the princes of the blood. It did not seem a great stretch of courtesy to show to a foreigner, even had she not been related to the princess in whose honor the ball was given; but the dukes and peers fired up at the arrangement, as if an insult had been offered them. They held a meeting at which they resolved that no member of their families should attend, and carried out their resolution so obstinately that at five o'clock, when the dancing was to commence, except the royal princesses there were only three ladies in the room. The king, who, following the example of Louis XIV., acted on these occasions as his own master of ceremonies, was forced to send special and personal orders to some of those who had absented themselves to attend without delay. And so by seven o'clock twelve or fourteen couples were collected[6] (the number of persons admitted to such entertainments was always extremely small), and the rude disloyalty of the protest was to outward appearance effaced by the submission of the recusants.

But all the troubles which arose out of the wedding festivities were not so easily terminated. Little as was the good-will which subsisted between Louis XV. and the Parisians, the civic authorities thought their own credit at stake in doing appropriate honor to an occasion so important as the marriage of the heir of the monarchy, and on the 30th of May they closed a succession of balls and banquets by a display of fire-works, in which the ingenuity of the most celebrated artists had been exhausted to outshine all previous displays of the sort. Three sides of the Place Louis XV. were filled up with pyramids and colonnades. Here dolphins darted out many-colored flames from their ever-open mouths. There, rivers of fire poured forth cascades spangled with all the variegated brilliancy with which the chemist's art can embellish the work of the pyrotechnist. The centre was occupied with a gorgeous Temple of Hymen, which seemed to lean for support on the well-known statue of the king, in front of which it was constructed; and which was, as it were, to be carried up to the skies by above three thousand rockets and fire-balls into which it was intended to dissolve. The whole square was packed with spectators, the pedestrians in front, the carriages in the rear, when one of the explosions set fire to a portion of the platforms on which the different figures had been constructed. At first the increase of the blaze was regarded only as an ingenious surprise on the part of the artist. But soon it became clear that the conflagration was undesigned and real; panic-succeeded to delight, and the terror-stricken crowd, seeing themselves surrounded with flames, began to make frantic efforts to escape from the danger; but there was only one side of the square uninclosed, and that was blocked up by carriages. The uproar and the glare made the horses unmanageable, and in a few moments the whole mass, human beings and animals, was mingled in helpless confusion, making flight impossible by their very eagerness to fly, and trampling one another underfoot in bewildered misery. Of those who did succeed in extricating themselves from the square, half made their way to the road which runs along the bank of the river, and found that they had only exchanged one danger for another, which, though of an opposite character, was equally destructive. Still overwhelmed with terror, though the first peril was over, the fugitives pushed one another into the stream, in which great numbers were drowned. The number of the killed could never be accurately ascertained: but no calculation estimated the number of those who perished at less than six hundred, while those who were grievously injured were at least as many more.

The dauphin and dauphiness were deeply shocked by a disaster so painfully at variance with their own happiness, which, in one sense, had caused it. Their first thought was, as far as they might be able, to mitigate it. Most of the victims were of the poorer class, the grief of whose surviving relatives was, in many instances, aggravated by the loss of the means of livelihood which the labors of those who had been cut off had hitherto supplied; and, to give temporary succor to this distress, the dauphin and dauphiness at once drew out from the royal treasury the sums allowed to them for their private expenses for the month, and sent the money to the municipal authorities to be applied to the relief of the sufferers. But Marie Antoinette did more. She felt that to give money only was but cold benevolence; and she made personal visits to many of those families which had been most grievously afflicted, showing the sincerity of her sympathy by the touching kindness of her language, and by the tears which she mingled with those of the widow and the orphan.[7] Such unmerited kindness made a deep impression on the citizens. Since the time of Henry IV. no prince had ever shown the slightest interest in the happiness or misery of the lower classes; and the feeling of affectionate gratitude which this unprecedented recognition of their claims to be sympathized with as fellow-creatures awakened was fixed still more deeply in their hearts a short time afterward, when, at one of the hunting-parties which took place at Fontainebleau, the stag charged a crowd of the spectators and severely wounded a peasant with his horns. Marie Antoinette sprung to the ground at the sight, helped to bind up the wound, and had the man driven in her own carriage to his cabin, whither she followed him herself to see that every proper attention was paid to him.[8] And the affection which she thus inspired among the poor was fully shared by the chief personage in the kingdom, the sovereign himself. A life of profligacy had not rendered Louis wholly insensible to the superior attractions of innocence and virtue. Perhaps a secret sense of shame at the slavery in which his vices held him, and which, as he well knew, excited the contempt of even his most dissolute courtiers, though he had not sufficient energy to shake it off, may have for a moment quickened his better feelings; and the fresh beauty of the young princess, who, from the first moment of her arrival at the court, treated him with the most affectionate and caressing respect, awakened in him a genuine admiration and good-will. He praised her beauty and her grace to all his nobles with a warmth that excited the jealousy of his infamous mistress, the Countess du Barri. He made allowance for some childishness of manner as natural at her age,[9] showed an anxiety for every thing which could amuse or gratify her, which afforded a marked contrast to his ordinary apathy. And, though in so young a girl it was rather the promise of future beauty than its developed perfection that her feat-* as yet presented, they already exhibited sufficient charms to exempt those who extolled them from the suspicion of flattery. A clear and open forehead, a delicately cut nose, a complexion of dazzling brilliancy, with bright blue eyes, whose ever-varying lustre seemed equally calculated to show every feeling which could move her heart; which could, at times seem almost fierce with anger, indignation, or contempt, but whose prevailing expression was that of kindly benevolence or light-hearted mirth were united with a figure of exquisite proportions, sufficiently tall for dignity, though as yet, of course, slight and unformed, and every movement of which was directed by a grace that could neither be taught nor imitated. If any defect could be discovered in her face, it consisted in a somewhat undue thickness of the lips, especially of the lower lip, which had for some generations been the prevailing characteristic of her family.

Accordingly, a month after her marriage, Mercy could report to Maria Teresa that she had had complete success, and was a universal favorite; that, besides the king, who openly expressed his satisfaction, she had won the heart of the dauphin, who had been very unqualified in the language in which he had praised both her beauty and her agreeable qualities to his aunts; and that even those princesses were "enchanted" with her. The whole court, and the people in general, extolled her affability, and the graciousness with which she said kind things to all who approached her. Though the well-informed embassador had already discovered signs of the cabals which the mistress and her partisans were forming against her, and had been rendered a little uneasy by the handle which she had more than once afforded to her secret enemies, when, "in gayety of heart and without the slightest ill-will," she had allowed herself to jest on some persons and circumstances which struck her as ridiculous, her jests being seasoned with a wit and piquancy which rendered them keener to those who were their objects, and more so mischievous to herself. He especially praised the unaffected dignity with which she had received the mistress who had attended in her apartments to pay her court, though in no respect deceived as to the lady's disposition, her penetration into the characters of all with whom she had been brought into contact, denoting, as it struck him, "a sagacity" which, at her age, was "truly astonishing.[10]"



CHAPTER IV.

Marie Antoinette gives her Mother her First Impressions of the Court and of her own Position and Prospects.—Court Life at Versailles.—Marie Antoinette shows her Dislike of Etiquette.—Character of the Duc d'Aiguillon.—Cabals against the Dauphiness.—Jealousy of Mme. du Barri.— The Aunts, too, are Jealous of Her.—She becomes more and more Popular.— Parties for Donkey-riding.—Scantiness of the Dauphiness's Income.—Her Influence over the King.—The Duc de Choiseul is dismissed.—She begins to have Great Influence over the Dauphin.

Marie Antoinette herself was inclined to be delighted with all that befell her, and to make light of what she could hardly regard as pleasant or becoming; and two of her first letters to her mother, written in the early part of July,[1] give us an insight into the feelings with which she regarded her new family and her own position, as well as a picture of her daily occupations and of the singular customs of the French court, strangely inconsistent in what it permitted and in what it disallowed, and, in the publicity in which its princes lived, curiously incompatible with ordinary ideas of comfort and even delicacy.

"The king," she says, "is full of kindnesses toward me, and I love him tenderly. But it is pitiable to see his weakness for Madame du Barri, who is the silliest and most impertinent creature that it is possible to conceive. She has played with us every evening at Marly,[2] and she has twice been seated next to me; but she has not spoken to me, and I have not attempted to engage in conversation with her; but, when it was necessary, I have said a word or two to her.

"As for my dear husband, he is greatly changed, and in a most advantageous manner. He shows a great deal of affection for me, and is even beginning to treat me with great confidence. He certainly does not like M. de la, Vauguyon; but he is afraid of him. A curious thing happened about the duke the other day. I was alone with my husband, when M. de la Vauguyon stole hurriedly up to the doors to listen. A servant, who was either a fool or a very honest man, opened the door, and there stood his grace the duke planted like a sentinel, without being able to retreat. I pointed out to my husband the inconvenience that there was in having people listening at the doors, and he took my remark very well."

She did not tell the empress the whole of this occurrence; she had been too indignant at the duke's meanness to suppress her feelings, and she reproved the duke himself with a severity which can hardly be said to have been misplaced.

"Duke de la Vauguyon," she said, "my lord the dauphin is now of an age to dispense with a governor; and I have no need of a spy. I beg you not to appear again in my presence.[3]"

Between the writing of her first and second letters she had heard from Maria Teresa; and she "can not describe how the affection her mother expresses for her has gone to her heart. Every letter which she has received has filled her eyes with tears of regret at being separated from so tender and loving a mother, and, happy as she is in France, she would give the world to see her family again, if it were but for a moment. As her mother wishes to know how the days are passed; she gets up between nine and ten, and, having dressed herself and said her morning prayers, she breakfasts, and then she goes to the apartments of her aunts, whose she usually finds the king. That lasts till half-past ten; then at eleven she has her hair dressed.

"At twelve," she proceeds to say, "what is called the Chamber is held, and there every one who does not belong to the common people may enter. I put on my rouge and wash my hands before all the world; the men go out, and the women remain; and then I dress myself in their presence. Then comes mass. If the king is at Versailles, I go to mass with him, my husband, and my aunts; if he is not there, I go alone with the dauphin, but always at the same hour. After mass we two dine by ourselves in the presence of all the world; but dinner is over by half-past one, as we both eat very fast. From the dinner-table I go to the dauphin's apartments, and if he has business, I return to my own rooms, where I read, write, or work; for I am making a waistcoat for the king, which gets on but slowly, though, I trust, with God's grace, it will be finished before many years are over. At three o'clock I go again to visit my aunts, and the king comes to them at the same hour. At four the abbe[4] comes to me, and at five I have every day either my harpsichord-master or my singing-master till six. At half-past six I go almost every day to my aunts, except when I go out walking. And you must understand that when I go to visit my aunts, my husband almost always goes with me. At seven we play cards till nine o'clock; but when the weather is fine I go out walking, and then there is no play in my apartments, but it is held at my aunts'. At nine we sup; and when the king is not there, my aunts come to sup with us; but when the king is there, we go after supper to their rooms, waiting there for the king, who usually comes about a quarter to eleven; and I lie down on a grand sofa and go to sleep till he comes. But when he is not there, we go to bed at eleven o'clock."

The play-table which is alluded to in these letters was one of the most curious and mischievous institutions of the court. Gambling had been one of its established vices ever since the time of Henry IV., whose enormous losses at play had formed the subject of Sully's most incessant remonstrances. And from the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV., a gaming-table had formed a regular part of the evening's amusement. It was the one thing which was allowed to break down the barrier of etiquette. On all other occasions, the rules which regulated who might and who might not be admitted to the royal presence were as precise and strict as in many cases they were unreasonable and unintelligible. But at the gaming-table every one who could make the slightest pretensions to gentle birth was allowed to present himself and stake his money; [5] and the leveling influence of play was almost as fully exemplified in the king's palace as in the ordinary gaming-houses, since, though the presence of royalty so far acted as a restraint on the gamblers as to prevent any open explosion, accusations of foul play and dishonest tricks were as rife as in the most vulgar company.

Marie Antoinette was winning many hearts by her loveliness and affability; but she could not scatter her kind speeches and friendly smiles among all with whom she came into contact without running counter to the prejudices of some of the old courtiers who had been formed on a different system; to whom the maintenance of a rigid etiquette was as the very breath of their nostrils, and in whose eyes its very first rule and principle was that princes should keep all the world at a distance. Foremost among these sticklers for old ideas was the Countess de Noailles, her principal "lady of honor," whose uneasiness on the subject speedily became so notorious as to give rise to numerous court squibs and satirical odes, the authors of which seemed glad to compliment the dauphin and to vex her ladyship at the same time, but who could not be deterred by these effusions from lecturing Marie Antoinette on her disregard of her rank, and on the danger of making herself too familiar, till she provoked the young princess into giving her the nickname of Madame Etiquette; and, no doubt, in her childish playfulness, to utter many a speech and do many an act whose principle object was to excite the astonishment or provoke the frowns of the too prim lady of honor.

There can be no doubt that, though she often pushed her strictness too far, Madame de Noailles to some extent had reason on her side; and that a certain degree of ceremony and stately reserve is indispensable in court life. It is a penalty which those born in the purple must pay for their dignity, that they can have no friend on a perfect equality with themselves; and those who in different ages and countries have tried to emancipate themselves from this law of their rank have not generally won even the respect of those to whom they have condescended, and still less the approbation of the outer world, whose members have perhaps a secret dislike to see those whom they regard as their own equals lifted above them by the familiarity of princes.

This, however, was a matter of comparatively slight importance. An excess of condescension is at the worst a venial and an amiable error; but even at the early period plots were being contrived against the young princess, which, if successful, would have been wholly destructive of her happiness, and which, though she was fully aware of them, she had not means by herself to disconcert or defeat. They were the more formidable because they were partly political, embracing a scheme for the removal of a minister, and consequently conciliated more supporters and insured greater perseverance than if they had merely aimed at securing a preponderance of court favor for the plotters. Like all the other mistresses who had successfully reigned in the French courts, Madame du Barri had a party of adherents who hoped to rise by her patronage. The Duc de Choiseul himself had owed his promotion to her predecessor, Madame de Pompadour, and those who hoped to supplant him saw in a similar influence the best prospect of attaining their end. One of the least respectable of the French nobles was the Duc d'Aiguillon. As Governor of Brittany, he had behaved with notorious cowardice in the Seven Years' War. He had since been, if possible, still more dishonored by charges of oppression, peculation, and subornation, on which the authorities of the province had prosecuted him, and which the Parisian Parliament had pronounced to be established. But no kind of infamy was a barrier to the favor of Louis XV. He cancelled the resolution of the Parliament, and showed such countenance to the culprit that d'Aiguillon, who was both ambitious and covetous, conceived the idea of supplanting Choiseul in the Government. As one of Choiseul's principal measures had been the negotiation of the dauphin's marriage, Marie Antoinette was known to regard him with a good-will which was founded on gratitude. But, unfortunately, her feelings on this point were not shared by her husband; for Choiseul had had notorious differences with his father, the late dauphin, and, though it was perfectly certain that that prince had died of natural disease, people had been found to whisper in his son's ear suspicions that he had been poisoned, and that the minister to whom he was unfriendly had been concerned in his death.

The two plots, therefore, to overthrow the minister and to weaken the influence of the dauphiness, went hand-in-hand, and, as might have been expected from the character of the patroness of both, no means were too vile or wicked for the intriguers who had set them on foot. Madame du Barri was, indeed, seriously alarmed for the maintenance of her own ascendency. The king took such undisguised pleasure in his new granddaughter's company, that some of the most experienced courtiers began to anticipate that she would soon gain entire influence over him[6]. The mistress began, therefore, to disparage her personal charms, never speaking of her to Louis ("France," as she generally called him), except as "the little blowsy,[7]" while her ally, De la Vauguyon, endeavored to further her views by exerting the influence which he mistakenly flattered himself that he still retained over the dauphin, to surround her with his own creatures. He tried to procure the dismissal of the Abbe de Vermond, who, having been, as we have seen, the tutor of Marie Antoinette at Vienna, still remained attached to her person as her reader; and whose complete knowledge of all the ways of the court, joined to a thorough honesty and devoted fidelity to her best interests, rendered his services most valuable to his mistress in her new sphere. He sought to recommend a creature of his own as her confessor; to obtain for his own daughter the appointment of one of her chief ladies; and, with a wickedness peculiar to the French court, he even endeavored to imitate the vile arts by which the Duc de Richelieu had deprived Marie Leczinska of the affections of the king, to alienate the dauphin from his young wife, and to induce him to commit himself to the guidance of Madame du Barri. But this part of the scheme failed. The dauphin was strangely insensible to the personal charms of Marie Antoinette herself, and was wholly inaccessible to any inferior temptations; and, as far as the arrangements of the court were concerned, the success of the mistress's cabal was limited to procuring the dismissal of the mistress of the robes, the Countess de Grammont, for refusing to cede to Madame du Barri and some of her friends the place which belonged to her office at some private theatricals which were held in the palace.

Louis XIV. had taught his nobles the pernicious notion that an order to withdraw from the court was a penal banishment, and his successor now banished Madame de Grammont fourteen leagues from Versailles, and for some time refused to recall his sentence, though Marie Antoinette herself wrote to him to complain of one of her servants being so treated for such a cause. She had not, as she reported to her mother, been very willing to write, knowing that Madame du Barri read all the king's letters; but Mercy had urged her to take the step, thinking it very important that she should establish the practice of communicating directly with Louis on all matters relating to her own household, and that she should avoid the blunder of his daughters, her aunts, whose conduct toward their father had, in his opinion, been mischievously timid, and to follow whose example would be prejudicial both to her dignity and to her comfort.

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