Marie Antoinette and Her Son

Author: Luise Mühlbach

Chapter XIX. June 20 and August 10, 1792.

Marie Antoinette was right. The revolution was sending its stormbirds to the Tuileries. They beat with their strong pinions against the windows of the palace; they pulled up and broke with their claws the flowers and plants of the garden, so that the royal family no longer ventured to enter it. But they had not yet entered the palace itself; and within its apartments, watched by the National Guard, the queen was at least safe from the insults of the populace.

No, not even there longer, for the storm-birds of the revolution beat against the windows, and these windows had once in a while to be opened to let in a little sunshine, and some fresh air. Marie Antoinette had long given up her walks in the garden of the Tuileries, for the rabble which stood behind the fence had insulted her so often with cries and acts, that she preferred to give up her exercise rather than to undergo such contemptuous treatment.

The king, too, in order to escape the scornful treatment of the populace, had relinquished his walks, and before long things came to such a pass that the dauphin was not allowed to visit his little garden. Marat, Santerre, Danton, and Robespierre, the great leaders of the people, had, by their threats against the royalists and their insurrectionary movements among the people, gained such power, that no one ventured to approach the garden of the prince to salute him, and show deference to the son of the king. The little regiment had been compelled, in order to escape the mockery and contempt, the hatred and persecution which followed them, to disband after a few months; and around the fence, when the dauphin appeared, there now stood none but men sent there by the revolutionists to deride the dauphin when he appeared, and shout their wild curses against the king and queen.

One day, when a crowd of savage women stood behind the fence, and were giving vent to their derision of the queen, the poor dauphin could not restrain his grief and indignation. With glowing cheeks and flaming eyes he turned upon the wild throng.

"You lie —oh, you lie!" he cried, with angry voice. "My mamma queen is not a wicked woman, and she does not hate the people. My mamma queen is so good, so good that—"

His tears choked his voice, and flowed in clear streams down over his cheeks. Ashamed, as it were, of this indication of weakness, the dauphin dashed out of the garden, and hastened so rapidly to the palace that the Abbe Davout could scarcely follow him. Weeping and sobbing, the dauphin passed through the corridor, but when they reached the broad staircase which led to the apartments where the queen lived, the dauphin stopped, suppressed his sobs, and hastily dried his eyes.

"I will not weep any more," he said, "it would trouble mamma. I beg you, abbe, say nothing to mamma. I will try to be cheerful and merry, for mamma queen likes much to have me so. Sometimes, when she is sad and has been weeping, I make believe not to notice it, and then I laugh and sing, and jump about, and then her beautiful face will clear up, and sometimes she even smiles a little. So, too, I will be right merry, and she shall notice nothing. You would not suspect that I have been weeping, would you?"

"No, my prince, no one would think you had," answered the abbe, looking with deep emotion into the great blue eyes which the dauphin turned up to his with an inquiring look.

"Well, then, we will go to my mamma queen," cried the dauphin, and he sprang forward and opened the door with a smile, and, half concealed behind the curtains, he asked, in a *jesting tone, whether he might have permission to enter her majesty’s presence.

Marie Antoinette bade him heartily welcome, and opened her arms to him. The dauphin embraced her and pressed a glowing kiss upon her eyes and upon her lips.

"You are extraordinarily affectionate to-day, my little Louis Charles," said the queen, with a smile. "What is the cause of that?"

"That comes from the fact that to-day I have nothing to give you excepting kisses—not a single flower. They are all withered in my garden, and I do not like to go there any more, for there are no more bouquets to pluck for my dear mamma queen. Mamma, this is my bouquet."

And he kissed and caressed the queen afresh, and brought a glow to her eyes and a smile to her lips.

"Come now, my child, you see that the abbe is waiting, and I believe it is time for the study-hours to begin. "What comes first to-day?"

"We have first, grammar," answered the abbe, laying the needful books upon the little table at which the dauphin always took his lessons in the presence of the queen.

"Grammar!" cried the dauphin; "I wish it were history. That I like, but grammar I hate!"

"That comes because you make so many mistakes in it," said the abbe; "and, certainly, grammar is very hard."

The child blushed. "Oh, it is not on that account," he said. "I do not dislike grammar because it is hard, but merely because it is tedious."

"And I will wager that on that account you have forgotten what we went over in our last grammar hour. We were speaking of the three comparatives. But you probably do not remember them."

"You are mistaken," replied the dauphin, smiling. "In proof, hear me. If I say, ’My abbe is a good abbe,’ that is the positive. If I say, ’My abbe is better than another abbe,’ that is the comparative. And," he continued, turning his eyes toward the queen with an expression of intense affection, "if I say, ’My mamma is the dearest and best of all mammas,’ that is the superlative." [Footnote: The dauphin’s own words.—See Beauchesne’s "Louis XVII.," vol. i., p. 133.]

The queen drew the boy to her heart and kissed him, while her tears flowed down upon his auburn curls.

On the next day, at the time of his accustomed walk, the queen went into the dauphin’s room to greet him before he went into the garden.

"Mamma, I beg your permission to remain here," said the dauphin. "My garden does not please me any longer."

"Why not, my son," asked Marie Antoinette, "has any thing happened to you?"

"Yes, mamma," he answered, "something has happened to me. There are so many bad people always standing around the fence, and they look at me with such evil eyes, that I am afraid of them, and they scold and say such hard things. They laugh at me, and say that I am a stupid jack, a baker’s boy that does not know how to make a loaf, and they call me a monkey. That angers me and hurts my feelings, and if I begin to cry I am ashamed of myself, for I know that it is very silly to cry before people who mean ill to us. But I am still a poor little boy, and my tears are stronger than I. And so I want you, mamma, not to let me go to the garden any more. Moufflet and I would a great deal rather play in my room. Come here, Moufflet, make your compliments to the queen, and salute her like a regular grenadier."

And smiling, he caught the little dog by the fore-paws, and made him stand up on his hind legs, and threatened Moufflet with his hand till he made him stand erect and let his fore feet hang down very respectfully.

The queen looked down with a smile at the couple, and laughed aloud when the dauphin, still waving his hand threateningly to compel the dog to stand as he was, jumped up, ran to the table, caught up a paper cap, which he had made and painted with red stripes, and put it on Moufflet’s head, calling out to him: "Mr. Jacobin, behave respectfully! Make your salutations to her majesty the queen!"

After that day, the dauphin did not go into his garden again, and the park of the Tuileries was now the exclusive property of the populace, that took possession of it with furious eagerness.

The songs of the revolution, the wild curses of the haters of royalty, the coarse laughter and shouting of the rabble—these were the storm birds which were beating at the windows of the royal apartments.

Marie Antoinette had still one source of enjoyment left to her in her sufferings, her correspondence with her absent friends, and the Duchess de Polignac before all others. Once in a while there was a favorable opportunity to send a letter by the hands of some faithful friend around her, and the queen had then the sad satisfaction at least of being able to express to some sympathizing heart what she was undergoing, without fearing that these complaints would be read by her enemies, as was the case with all letters which were sent by post.

One of these letters to the Duchess de Polignac, which history has preserved, gives a faithful and touching picture of the sorrows and grief of the queen. A translation of it runs thus:

"I cannot deny myself the pleasure of embracing you, my dear heart, but it must be done quickly, for the opportunity is a passing one, although a certain one. I can only write a word, which will be forwarded to you with a large package. We are guarded like criminals, and this restraint is truly dreadfully hard to bear!— constantly too apprehensive for one another, not to be able to approach the window without being loaded with insults; not to be able to take the poor children out into the air without exposing the dear innocents to reproaches, what a situation is ours, my dear heart! And when you think that I suffer not for myself alone, but have to tremble for the king as well, and for our friends who are with us, you will see that the burden is well-nigh unbearable! But, as I have told you before, you absent ones, you keep me up. Adieu, dear heart, let us hope in God, who looks into our consciences, and who knows whether we are not animated by the truest love for this land. I embrace you!

"P. S.—The king has just come in and wants to add a word."

"I will only say, duchess, that you are not forgotten, that we regret receiving so few letters from you, and that, whether near or far away, you and yours are always loved. Louis." [Footnote: Beauchesne "Louis XVII," vol. 1., p. 143.]

Not to be able to show one’s self near the window without being showered with insults! Yes, and even into the very middle of her room they followed her. Even when sitting far away from the window, she could not help hearing the loud cries which were thundered out on the pavement below, as the hucksters offered to the laughing crowd the infamous pamphlet, written with a poisoned pen, and entitled "The Life of Marie Antoinette."

At times her anger mastered her, her eyes flashed, her figure was straightened up, and the suffering martyr was transformed for an instant into the proud, commanding queen.

"I will not bear it!" she cried, walking up and down with great strides, "I will speak to them; they shall not insult me without hearing my justification. Yes, I will go down to these people, who call me a foreigner. I will say to them, ’Frenchmen, people have had the want of feeling to tell you that I do not love France, I, the mother of a dauphin, I—’" [Footnote: The queen’s own words.-See Campan, "Memoires," vol. II. ]

But her voice choked in her tears, and she fled to the extreme end of the room, fell sobbing on her knees, and held both her hands to her ears, in order not to hear the dreadful insults which came up from below and through her windows.

Thus, amid trials which renewed themselves daily, the months passed by. The queen had no longer any hope. She had given up every thing, even the hope of an honorable end, of a death such as becomes a queen, proud and dignified beneath the ruins of a palace laid low by an exasperated populace. She knew that the king would never bring himself to meet such a death, that his weakness would yield to all humiliation, and his good-nature resist all measures that might perhaps bring help. She had sought in vain to inspire him with her zeal. Louis was a good man, but a bad king; his was not a nature to rule and govern, but rather to serve as the scape-goat for the sins of his fathers, and to fall as a victim for the misdeeds which his ancestors had committed, and through which they had excited the wrath of the people, the divine Nemesis that never sleeps.

The queen knew and felt this, and this knowledge lay like a mourning veil over her whole thought and being, filling her at times with a moody resignation, and at times with a swiftly-kindling and wrathful pain.

"I am content that we be the victims," cried she, wringing her hands, "but I cannot bear to think that my children too are to be punished for what they have not committed."

This thought of her children was the pillar which always raised the queen up again, when the torture of her daily life cast her to the ground. She would, she must live for her children. She must, so long as a breath remained in her, devote all her powers to retain for her son the dauphin at least the crown beneath whose burden his father sank. She wanted nothing more for herself, all for her son alone.

There were still true friends who wanted to save the queen. Secret tidings came to her that all was ready for her escape. It was against her that the popular rage was chiefly directed, and her life was even threatened. Twice had the attempt been made to kill the queen, and the most violent denunciations of the populace were directed against her. It was therefore the queen whom her friends wanted most to save. Every thing was prepared for the flight, true and devoted friends were waiting for her, ready to conduct her to the boundaries of France, where she should meet deputies sent by her nephew, the Emperor Francis. The plan was laid with the greatest care; nothing but the consent of the queen was needed to bring it to completion, and save her from certain destruction. But Marie Antoinette withheld her acquiescence. "It is of no consequence about my life," she said. "I know that I must die, and I am prepared for it. If the king and my children cannot escape with me, I remain; for my place is at the side of my husband and my children."

At last the king himself, inspired by the courage and energy of his wife, ventured to oppose the decisions and decrees of the allpowerful Assembly. It had put forth two new decrees. It had resolved upon the deportation of all priests beyond the limits of France, and also upon the establishment of a camp of twenty thousand men on the Rhine frontier. With the latter there had been coupled a warning, threatening with death all who should spend any time abroad, and engage in any armed movement against their own country.

To both these decrees Louis refused his sanction; both he vetoed on the 20th of June, 1792.

The populace, which thronged the doors of the National Assembly in immense masses, among whom the emissaries of revolution had been very active, received the news of the king’s veto with a howl of rage. The storm-birds of revolution flew through the streets, and shouted into all the windows: "The country is in danger! The king has been making alliances abroad. The Austrian woman wants to summon the armies of her own land against France, and therefore the king has vetoed the decree which punishes the betrayers of their country. A curse on M. Veto! Down with Madame Veto! That is the cry to-day for the revolutionary party. A curse on M. Veto! Down with Madame Veto!"

The watch-cry rolled like a peal of thunder through all the streets and into all the houses; and, while within their closed doors, and in the stillness of their own homes, the well-disposed praised the king for having the courage to protect the priests and the emigres, the evil-disposed bellowed out their curses through all the streets, and called upon the rabble to avenge themselves upon Monsieur and Madame Veto.

Nobody prevented this. The National Assembly let every thing go quietly on, and waited with perfect indifference to see what the righteous anger of the people should resolve to do.

Immense masses of howling, shrieking people rolled up, on the afternoon of the 20th of June, to the Tuileries, where no arrangements had been made for defence, the main entrances not even being protected that day by the National Guard.

The king gave orders, therefore, that the great doors should be opened, and the people allowed to pass in unhindered.

In a quarter of an hour all the staircases, corridors, and halls were filled by a howling, roaring crowd; the room of the king alone was locked, and in this apartment were the royal family and a few faithful friends—the king, bland and calm as ever; the queen, pale, firm, uncomplaining; Madame Elizabeth, with folded hands, praying; the two children drawing closely together, softly weeping, and yet suppressing their sobs, because the queen had, in a whisper, commanded them to keep still.

A little company of faithful servants filled the background of the room, and listened with suspended breath to the axe-strokes with which the savage crowd broke down the doors, and heard the approaching cries of the multitude.

At last a division of the National Guard reached the palace, too late to drive the people out, but perhaps in season to protect the royal family. The door of the royal apartment was opened to the second officer of the National Guard, M. Acloque. He burst in, and kneeling before the king, conjured him, with tears in his eyes, to show himself to the people, and by his presence to calm the savage multitude.

By this time the two children were no longer able to control their feelings and suppress their fear. The dauphin burst into tears and loud cries; he clung affrighted to the dress of his mother; he implored her with the most moving tones to take him away, and go with him to his room. Marie Antoinette stooped down to the poor little fellow, and pressed him and Theresa, who was weeping calmly, to her heart, whispering a few quieting words into their ears.

While the mother was comforting her children, Louis, yielding to Acloque’s entreaties, had left the room, in order to show himself to the people. Madame Elizabeth, his sister, followed him through the corridor into the great hall, passing through the seething crowd, which soon separated her from the king. Pushed about on all sides, Madame Elizabeth could not follow, and was now alone in the throng, accompanied only by her equerry, M. Saint-Pardoux. Armed men pressed up against the princess, and horrid cries surged around her.

"There is the Austrian woman!" and at once all pikes, all weapons were directed against the princess.

"For God’s sake!" cried M. de Saint Pardoux, "what do you want to do? This is not the queen!"

"Why do you undeceive them?" asked Madame Elizabeth, "their error might save the queen!"

And while she put back one of the bayonets directed against her breast, she said, gently: "Take care, sir, you might wound somebody, and I am convinced that you would be sorry."

The people were amazed at this, and respectfully made way for her to come up with the king. He stood in the middle of the hall, surrounded by a crowd threatening him with wild curses. One of these desperadoes pressed close up to the king, while the others were shouting that they must strangle the whole royal family, and, pulling a bottle and a glass out of his pocket, he filled the latter, gave it to the king, and ordered him to drink to the welfare of the nation.

The king quietly took the glass. "The nation must know that I love it," said he, "for I have made many sacrifices for it. From the bottom of my heart I drink to its welfare," and, in spite of the warning cries of his friends, he put the glass to his lips and emptied it.

The crowd was beside itself with delight, and their cries were answered from without by the demand of the bloodthirsty rabble—"How soon are you going to throw out the heads of the king and the queen?"

Marie Antoinette had meanwhile succeeded in pacifying the dauphin. She raised herself up, and when she saw that the king had gone out, she started toward the door.

Her faithful friends stopped the way; they reminded her that she was not simply a queen, that she was a mother, too. They conjured her with tears to give ear to prudence—not to rush in vain into danger, and imperil the king still more.

"No one shall hinder me from doing what is my duty," cried the queen. "Leave the doorway free."

But her friends would not yield; they defied even the wrath of the queen. At that moment, some of the National Guards came in through another door, and pacified Marie Antoinette, assuring her that the life of the king was not threatened.

In the mean while the shouting came nearer and nearer, the cries resounded from the guard-room, the doors were torn open, and the people surged in, in immense waves, like the sea lashed into fury by the storm. The National Guards rolled a table before the queen and her children, and placed themselves at the two sides to defend them.

Only a bit of wood now separated the queen from her enemies, who brandished their weapons at her. But Marie Antoinette had now regained her whole composure. She stood erect; at her right hand, her daughter, who nestled up to her mother—at her left, the dauphin, who, with wide-open eyes and looks of astonishment, gazed at the people bursting in. Behind the queen were Princesses Lamballe and Tarente, and Madame Tourzel.

A man, with dishevelled hair and bare bosom, gave the queen a handful of rods, bearing the inscription, "For Marie Antoinette!" Another showed her a guillotine, a third a gallows, with the inscription, "Tremble, tyrant! thy hour has come!" Another held up before her, on the point of a pike, a human heart dripping with blood, and cried: "Thus shall they all bleed—the hearts of tyrants and aristocrats!"

The queen did not let her eyes fall, her fixed look rested upon the shrieking and howling multitude; but when this man, with the bleeding heart, approached her, her eyelids trembled—a deathly paleness spread over her cheeks, for she recognized him—Simon the cobbler—and a fearful presentiment told her that this man, who had always been for her the incarnation of hatred, is now, when her life is threatened, to be the source of her chief peril.

From the distance surged in the cries: "Long live Santerre! Long live the Faubourg Saint Antoine! Long live the sans-culottes!"

And at the head of a crowd of half-naked fellows, the brewer Santerre, arrayed in the fantastic costume of a robber of the Abruzzo Mountains, with a dagger and pistol in his girdle, dashed into the room, his broad-brimmed hat, with three red plumes, aslant upon his brown hair, that streamed down on both sides of his savage countenance, like the mane of a lion.

The queen lifted the dauphin up, set him upon the table, and whispered softly to him, he must not cry, he must not grieve, and the child smiled and kissed his mother’s hands. Just then a drunken woman rushed up to the table, threw a red cap down upon it, and ordered the queen, on pain of death, to put it on.

Marie Antoinette threw both her arms around the dauphin, kissed his auburn hair, and turned calmly to General de Wittgenhofen, who stood near her.

"Put the cap upon me," said she, and the women howled with pleasure, while the general, pale with rage and trembling with grief, obeyed the queen’s command, and put the red cap upon that hair which trouble had already turned gray in a night.

But, after a minute, General Wittgenhofen took the red cap from the head of the queen, and laid it on the table.

From all sides resounded thus the commanding cry: "The red cap for the dauphin! The tri-color for Little Veto!" And the women tore their three-colored ribbons from their caps and threw them upon the table.

"If you love the nation," cried the women to the queen, "put the red cap on your son."

The queen motioned to Madame Tourzel, who put the red cap on the dauphin, and decked his neck and arms with the ribbons. The child did not understand whether it was a joke or a way of insulting him, and looked on with a smile of astonishment.

Santerre leaned over the table and looked complacently at the singular group. The proud and yet gentle face of the queen was so near him, that when he saw the sweat-drops rolling down from beneath the woollen cap over the dauphin’s forehead, even he felt a touch of pity, and, straightening himself up, perhaps to escape the eye of the queen, he called out, roughly: "Take that cap off from that child; don’t you see how he sweats?"

The queen thanked him with a mute glance, and took the cap herself from the head of the poor child.

At this point a horde of howling women pressed up to the table, and threatened the queen with their fists, and hurled wild curses at her.

"Only see how proudly and scornfully this Austrian looks at us!" cried a young woman, who stood in the front rank." She would like to blast us with her eyes, for she hates us."

Marie Antoinette turned kindly to them: "Why should I hate you?" she asked, in gentle tones. "It is you that hate me—you. Have I ever done you any harm?"

"Not to me," answered the young woman, "not to me, but to the nation."

"Poor child!" answered the queen, gently, "they have told you so, and you have believed it. What advantage would it bring to me to harm the nation? You call me the Austrian, but I am the wife of the King of France, the mother of the dauphin. I am French with all my feelings of wife and mother. I shall never see again the land in which I was born, and only in France can I be happy or unhappy. And when you loved me, I was happy there." [Footnote: The queen’s own words.—See Beauchesne, vol. i., p. 106.]

She said this with quivering voice and moving tones, the tears filling her eyes; and while she was speaking the noise was hushed, and even these savage creatures were transformed into gentle, sympathetic women.

Tears came to the eyes of the young woman who before had spoken so savagely to the queen. "Forgive me," she said, weeping, "I did not know you; now I see that you are not bad."

"No, she is not bad," cried Santerre, striking with both fists upon the table, "but bad people have misled her," and a second time he struck the table with his resounding blows. Marie Antoinette trembled a little, and hastily lifting the dauphin from the table, she put him by her side.

"Ah! madame," cried Santerre, smiling, "don’t be afraid, they will do you no harm; but just think how you have been misled, and how dangerous it is to deceive the people. I tell you that in the name of the people. For the rest, you needn’t fear."

"I am not afraid," said Marie Antoinette, calmly; "no one need ever be afraid who is among brave people," and with a graceful gesture she extended her hands to the National Guards who stood by the table.

A general shout of applause followed the words of the queen; the National Guards covered her hands with kisses, and even the women were touched.

"How courageous the Austrian is!" cried one. "How handsome the prince is!" cried another, and all pressed up to get a nearer view of the dauphin, and a smile or a look from him.

The great eyes of Santerre remained fixed upon the queen, and resting both arms upon the table he leaned over to her until his mouth was close by her ear.

"Madame," he whispered, "you have very unskilful friends; I know people who would serve you better, who—"

But as if ashamed of this touch of sympathy, he stopped, sprang back from the table, and with a thundering voice, commanded all present to march out and leave the palace.

They obeyed his command, filed out in military order past the table, behind which stood the queen with her children and her faithful friends.

A rare procession, a rare army, consisting of men armed with pikes, hatchets, and spades, of women brandishing knives and scissors in their hands, and all directing their countenances, before hyena-like and scornful, but now subdued and sympathetic, to the queen, who with calm eye and gentle look responded to the salutations of the retreating crowd with a friendly nod.

In the mean while the long-delayed help had reached the king: the National Guards had overcome the raging multitude, and gained possession of the great reception-room where Louis was. The mayor of Paris, Petion, had come at last, and, hailed loudly by the crowd which occupied the whole space in the rear of the National Guards, he approached the king.

"Sire," said he, "I have just learned what is going on here."

"I am surprised at that," answered the king, with a reproachful look, "the mayor of Paris ought to have learned before this about this tumult, which has now been lasting three hours."

"But is now at an end, sire, since I have come," cried Petion, proudly. "You have now nothing more to fear, sire."

"To fear?" replied Louis with a proud shrug. "A man who has a good conscience does not fear. Feel," he said, taking the hand of the grenadier who stood at his side, "lay your hand upon my heart, and tell this man whether it beats faster." [Footnote: The king’s words. The grenadier’s name whose hand the king took, was Lalanne. Later, in the second year of "the one and indivisible republic," he was condemned to die by the guillotine, because, as stated in the sentence, he showed himself on the 30th of June, 1798, as a common servant of tyranny, and boasted to other citizens that Capet took his hand, laid it upon his heart, and said: "Feel, my friend, whether it beats quicker."—See Hue, "Dernieres Annees de Louis Seize," p. 180.]

Petion now turned to the people and commanded them to withdraw. "Fellow-citizens," said he, "you began this day wisely and worthily; you have proved that you are free. End the day as you began it. Separate peaceably; do as I do, return to your houses, and go to bed!" The multitude, flattered by Petion’s praises, began to withdraw, and the National Guards escorted the king into the great council-chamber, where a deputation of the National Assembly had met to pay their respects to the king.

"Where is the queen, where are the children?" cried the king, as, exhausted, he sank into a chair.

His gentlemen hastened out to bring them, and soon the queen and the children came in. With extended arms Marie Antoinette hastened to her husband, and they remained a long time locked in their embrace.

"Papa king," cried the dauphin, "give me a kiss, too! I have deserved it, for I was brave and did not cry when the people put the red cap on my head."

The king stooped down to the child and kissed his golden hair, and then pressed his little daughter, who was nestling up to him, to his heart.

The deputies stood with curious looks around the group, to whom it was not granted, even after such a fearful day and such imminent peril, to embrace each other, and thank God for their preservation, without witnesses.

"Confess, madame," said one of the deputies to Marie Antoinette, in a confidential tone, "confess that you have experienced great anxiety."

"No, sir," replied the queen, "I have not been anxious, but I have suffered severely, because I was separated from the king at a moment when his life was threatened. I had at least my children with me, and so could discharge one of my duties."

"I will not excuse every thing that took place to-day," said the deputy, with a shrug. "But confess at least, madame, that the people conducted themselves very well."

"Sir, the king and I are convinced of the natural good-nature of the people; they are only bad when they are led astray."

Some other deputies approached the dauphin, and directed various questions to him, in order to convince themselves about his precocious understanding that was so much talked about.

One of the gentlemen, speaking of the day that had gone by, compared it with St. Bartholomew’s night.

"The comparison does not hold," cried another: "here is no Charles the Ninth."

"And no Catherine de Medicis either," said the dauphin, quickly, pressing the hand of the queen to his lips.

"Oh! see the little scholar," cried the by-standers. "Let us see whether he knows as much about geography as about history!"

And all pressed up to him, to put questions to him about the situation and boundaries of France, and about the division of the French territory into departments and districts. The prince answered all these questions quickly and correctly. After every answer he cast an inquiring glance at the queen, and when he read in her looks that his answer had been correct, his eyes brightened, and his cheeks glowed with pleasure.

"Our dauphin is really very learned," cried one of the deputies. "I should like to know whether he has paid any attention yet to the arts. Do you love music, my little prince?"

"Ah, sir," answered the dauphin, eagerly, "whoever has heard mamma sing and play, must love music!"

"Do you sing too, prince?"

The dauphin raised his eyes to his mother. "Mamma," he asked, "shall I sing the prayer of this morning?"

Marie Antoinette nodded. "Sing it, my son, for perhaps God heard it this morning, and has graciously answered it."

The dauphin sank upon his knees, and folding his hands, he raised his head and turned his blue eyes toward heaven, and, with a sweet voice and a mild, smiling look, he sang these words:

"Ciel, entends la priere Qu’ici je fais; Conserve un si boil pere A ses sujets." [Footnote: See Beauchesne, vol. i., p. 146. This scene is historical. Sees Hue, "Dernioree Anneesde Louis XVI." This prayer is from the opera so much admired at that time, "Peter the Great" "O Heaven, accept the prayer, I offer here; Unto his subjects spare My father dear."]

A deep, solemn silence reigned while the dauphin’s voice rang through the room. The faces of the deputies, hitherto defiant and severe, softened, deeply moved. They all looked at the beautiful boy, who was still on his knees, his countenance beaming, and with a smile upon it like the face of one in a blissful dream. No one ventured to break the silence. The king, whose arm was thrown around the neck of his daughter, looked affectionately at the dauphin; Madame Elizabeth had folded her hands, and was praying; but Marie Antoinette, no longer able to control her deep emotion, covered her face with her hands, and wept in silence.

From this day the life of the royal family was one of constant excitement—an incessant, feverish expectation of coming evil. The king bore it all with an uncomplaining resignation; no one drew from him a complaint, no one a reproach. But the thought never seemed to occur to him that perhaps even yet safety might be attained by energy, by spirit, or even by flight.

He had surrendered all; he was ready to suffer as a Christian instead of rising as a king, and preferred to fall in honorable battle rather than to live despised.

Marie Antoinette had given up her efforts to inspire her husband with her own energetic will. She knew that all was in vain, and had accepted her fate. Since she could not live as a queen, she would at least die as one. She made her preparations for this calmly and with characteristic decision. "They will kill me, I know," she said to her maids. "I have only one duty left me, to prepare myself to die!"

She lost her accustomed spirit, wept much, and exhibited a great deal of feeling. Yet she still stood guard over the shattered throne like a resolute sentinel, and looked around with sharp and searching glances, to keep an eye on the enemy, and to be ready for his nearer approach.

She still continued to receive news about every thing that transpired in Paris, every thing that was resolved upon in the National Assembly and discussed in the clubs, and had the libels and pamphlets which were directed at her all sent to her. Marie Antoinette understood the condition of the capital and the feeling of the people better than did the king (who often sat for hours, and at times whole days, silent and unoccupied) better even than did the ministers. She received every morning the reports of the emissaries, followed the intrigues of the conspirators, and was acquainted with the secret assemblies which Marat called together, and the alliances of the clubs. She knew about the calling together of the forty-eight sections of the Paris "fraternity" in one general convention. She knew that Potion, Danton, and Manuel, three raving republicans, were at the head, and that their emissaries were empowered to stir up the suburbs of the city. She knew, too, that the monsters from Marseilles, who had been active on the 20th of June, were boasting that they were going to repeat the deeds of that day on a greater scale.

Nor was it unknown to her that more than half the deputies in the National Assembly belonged to the Jacobin party, and that they were looking for an opportunity to strike a fresh blow at royalty. Very often, when at dead of night Marie Antoinette heard the noisy chorus of the rioters from Marseilles singing beneath her windows,

"Allons, enfants de la patrie," or the Parisians chanting the "Qa ira, fa ira!" she sprang from her bed (she now never disrobed herself on retiring), hurried to the beds of her children to see that they were not in danger, or called her maids and commanded them to light the candles, that they might at least see the danger which threatened.

At last, on the night of the 9th of August, the long-feared terror arrived.

A gun fired in the court of the Tuileries announced its advent. Marie Antoinette sprang from her bed, and sent her waiting-maid to the king to waken him. The king had already risen; his ministers and a few tried friends were now with him. The queen wakened her children, and assisted in dressing them. She then went with the little ones to the king, who received them with an affectionate greeting. At length a blast of trumpets announced that the movement had become general; the thunder of cannon and the peals of bells awakened the sleeping city.

The royal family, crowded close together, silently awaited the stalking of the republic into the halls of the king’s palace, or the saving of the monarchy by the grace of God and the bravery of their faithful friends. For even then monarchy had those who were true to it; and while the trumpet-blasts continued and the bells to ring, to awaken republicans to the struggle, the sounds were at the same time the battle-cry of the royalists, and told them, that the king was in danger and needed their help.

About two hundred noblemen had remained in Paris, and had not followed the royal princes to Coblentz to take arms against their own country. They had remained in Paris, in order to defend the monarchy to the last drop of their blood, and at least to be near the throne, if they were not able to hold it up longer. In order not to be suspected, they carried no arms, and yet it was known that beneath the silk vest of the cavalier they concealed the dagger of the soldier, and they received in consequence the appellation of "Chevaliers of the Dagger."

At the first notes of the trumpet the nobility had hurried on the night of the 10th of August to the Tuileries, which were already filled with grenadiers, Swiss guards, and volunteers of every rank, who had hastened thither to protect the royal family. All the staircases, all the corridors and rooms, were occupied by them.

The "Chevaliers of the Dagger" marched in solemn procession by them all to the grand reception-room, where were the king, the queen, and the children. With respectful mien they approached the royal pair, imploring the king’s permission to die for him, and beseeching the queen to touch their weapons, in order to make them victorious, and to allow them to kiss the royal hand, in order to sweeten death for them. There were cries of enthusiasm and loyalty on all sides, "Long live the king of our fathers!" cried the young people. "Long live the king of our children!" cried the old men, taking the dauphin in their arms and raising him above their heads, as if he were the living banner in whose defence they wished to die.

As the morning dawned, the king, at the pressing request of his wife, walked with her and the children through the halls and galleries of the palace, to reanimate the courage of their defenders who were assembled there, and to thank them for their fidelity. Everywhere the royal family was received with enthusiasm, everywhere oaths of loyalty to death resounded through the rooms. The king then went, accompanied by a few faithful friends, down into the park, to review the battalions of the National Guard who were stationed there.

When Louis appeared, the cry, "Long live the king!" began to lose the unanimity which had characterized it in the palace. It was suppressed and overborne by a hostile murmur, and the farther the king advanced, the louder grew these mutterings; till at last, from hundreds and hundreds of throats, the thundering cry resounded, "Abdication or death! Long live Petion! Resignation or death!"

The king turned hastily around, and, with pale face and forehead covered with drops of cold sweat, he returned to the palace.

"All is lost!" cried the queen, bitterly, "Nothing more remains for us than to die worthily."

But soon she raised herself up again, and new courage animated her soul, when she saw that new defenders were constantly pressing into the hall, and that even many grenadiers of the National Guard mingled in the ranks of the nobility.

But these noblemen, these "Chevaliers of the Dagger," excited mistrust, and a major of the National Guard demanded their removal with a loud voice.

"No," cried the queen, eagerly, "these noblemen are our best friends. Place them before the mouth of the cannon, and they will show you how death for one’s king is met. Do not disturb yourselves about these brave people,"

She continued, turning to some grenadiers who were approaching her, "your interests and theirs are common.

Every thing that is dearest to you and them-wives, children, property-depends upon your courage and your common bravery."

The grenadiers extended their hands to the chevaliers, and mutual oaths were exchanged to die for the royal family, to save the throne or to perish with it. It was a grand and solemn moment, full of lofty eloquence! The hearts of these noblemen and these warriors longed impatiently for death. With their hands laid upon their weapons, they awaited its coming.

The populace rolled up in great masses to the palace. "Wild shrieks were heard, the thunder of cannon, the harsh cries of women, and the yells of men. Within the palace they listened with suspended breath. The queen straightened herself up, grasped with a quick movement the hands of her children, drew them to herself, and, with head bent forward and with breathless expectation, gazed at the door, like a lioness awaiting her enemy, and making herself ready to defend her young with her own life.

The door was suddenly opened, and the attorney-general Roderer burst in.

"Sire," cried he, with impassioned utterance, "you must save yourself! All opposition is vain. Only the smallest part of the National Guard is still to be trusted, and even this part only waits the first pretext to fraternize with the populace. The cannoneers have already withdrawn the loading from the cannon, because they are unwilling to fire upon the people. The king has no time to lose. Sire, there is protection for you only in the National Assembly, and only the representatives of the people can now protect the royal family."

The queen uttered a cry of anger and horror. "How!" she cried. "What do you say? We seek protection with our worst enemies? Never, oh, never! Rather will I be nailed to these walls, than leave the palace to go to the National Assembly!" [Footnote: The queen’s own words.— See Beauchesne, vol. i., p. 90.]

And turning to the king, who stood silent and undecided, she spoke to him with flaming words, with glowing eloquence, addressed him as the father of the dauphin, the successor of Henry IV. and Louis XIV., sought to animate his ambition and touch his heart, and tried for the last time to kindle him with her courage and her decision.

In vain, all in vain. The king remained silent and undecided. A cry, one single cry of grief, burst from the lips of the queen, and one moment her head sank upon her breast.

"Hasten, hasten, sire!" cried Roderer, "every moment increases the peril. In a quarter of an hour perhaps the queen and the children will be lost beyond remedy!"

These words awakened the king from his reverie. He looked up and nodded his head. "We can do nothing else," he said. "Let us go at once to the National Assembly."

"Sir," cried the queen, turning to Roderer, "is it true that we are deserted by all?"

"Madame," answered the attorney-general, sadly, "all opposition is in vain, it will only increase the danger. Would you suffer yourself, the king, your children, and friends, to be killed?"

"God forbid it! Would that I alone could be the offering!"

"Another minute," urged Roderer, "perhaps another second, and it is impossible to guarantee your life, and perhaps that of your husband and children."

"My children!" cried the queen, throwing her arms around them, and drawing them to her breast. "No, oh no, I will not give them over to the knife!"

One sigh, one last sob, burst from her lips, and then she released herself from the children, and approached the king and his ministers.

"This is the last sacrifice," she said, heavily, "that I can offer. I submit myself, M. Roderer," and then with louder tones, as if she wanted to call all present to be witnesses, she continued, "will you pledge yourself for the person of the king, and for that of my son?"

"Madame," answered Roderer, solemnly, "I pledge myself for this, that we are all ready to die at your side. That is all that I can promise."

And now the noblemen and the grenadiers pressed up to take the king and queen in their escort.

"For God’s sake," cried Roderer, "no demonstration, or the king is lost!

"Remain, my friends," said the king, stolidly, "await our return here."

"We shall soon return," said Marie Antoinette; and leading her two children, she followed the king, who walked slowly through the hall. Princess Lamballe and Madame Tourzel brought up the rear.

It was done. The dying monarchy left the royal palace to put itself under the protection of the revolution, which was soon to give birth to the republic.

It was six o’clock in the morning when the royal family crossed the threshold of the Tuileries—in front the king, conducting Princess Elizabeth on his arm, behind him the queen with the two children.

Before leaving the palace, the king received tidings that a part of the National Guard had withdrawn, in order to protect their families and their property from an attack of the populace, and that another part had declared, itself against the king and in favor of the revolution.

Louis made his way through the seething crowd that scarcely opened to allow a free passage for the royal family, and overwhelmed them with curses, insults, and abuse.

Some members of the National Assembly went in advance, and could themselves scarcely control the raging waves of popular fury.

On the Terrace des Feuillants the people shouted, "Down with the tyrants! To death, to death with them!"

The dauphin cried aloud with fright, for the bloody hands of two yelling women were extended after him. A grenadier sprang forward, seized the boy with his strong arm, and raised him upon his shoulder.

"My son, give me back my son!" cried the queen, wildly. The grenadier bowed to her. "Do not be afraid, do you not recognize me?"

Marie Antoinette looked at him, and the hint of a smile passed over her face. She did indeed recognize him who, like a good angel, was always present when danger and death threatened her. It was Toulan, the faithful one, by her side in the uniform of a National Guardsman.

"Courage, courage, good queen, the demons are loose, but good angels are near thee too; and where those curse and howl, these bring blessing and reconciliation."

"Down with the tyrants!" roared the savage women.

"Do not be afraid, my prince," said the grenadier, to the dauphin whom he carried upon his shoulder, in order to protect him from the thronging of the crowd. "Nobody will hurt you."

"Not me, but my dear papa," sobbed the child, while the tears rolled over his pale cheeks.

The poor child trembled and was afraid, and how could he help it? Even the king was terrified for a moment, and felt as if the tears were coming into his eyes. The queen too wept, dried her tears, and then wept again. The sad march consumed more than an hour, in order to traverse the bit of way to the Manege, where the National Assembly met. Before the doors of this building the cries were doubled; the attorney-general harangued the mob, and sought to quiet it, and pushed the royal family into the narrow corridor, in which, hemmed in by abusive crowds, they made their way forward slowly. At last the hall doors opened, and as Marie Antoinette passed in behind the king, Toulan gave the little dauphin to her, who flung both his arms around the neck of his mother.

A death-like silence reigned in the hall. The deputies looked with dark faces at the new-comers. No one rose to salute the king, no word of welcome was spoken.

The king took his place by the side of the president, the queen and her ladies took the chairs of the ministers. Then came an angry cry from the tribune: "The dauphin must sit with the king, he belongs to the nation. The Austrian has no claim to the confidence of the people."

An officer came down to take the child away, but Louis Charles clung to his mother, fear was expressed on his features, tears stood in his eyes, and won a word of sympathy, so that the officer did not venture to remove the prince forcibly.

A deep silence sat in again, till the king raised his voice. "I have come hither," he said, "to prevent a great crime, and because I believe that I am safest surrounded by the representatives of the nation."

"Sire," replied President Vergniaud, "you can reckon upon the devotion of the National Assembly. It knows its duties; its members have sworn to live and to die in defence of the rights of the people and of the constitutional authorities."

Voices were heard at this point from all sides of the hall, declaring that the constitution forbids the Assembly holding its deliberations in the presence of the king and the queen.

They then took the royal family into the little low box scarcely ten feet long, in which the reporters of the "Logograph" used to write their accounts of the doings of the Assembly. Into this narrow space were a king, a queen, with her sister and her children, their ministers and faithful servants, crowded, to listen to the discussions concerning the deposition of the king.

From without there came into the hall the wild cry of the populace that the Swiss guards had been killed, and shouts accompanied the heads as they were carried about on the points of pikes. The crack of muskets was heard, and the roar of cannon. The last faithful regiments were contending against the army of the revolutionists, while within the hall the election by the French people of a General Convention was discussed.

This scene lasted the whole day; the whole day the queen sat in the glowing heat, her son asleep in her lap, motionless, and like a marble statue. She appeared to be alive only when once in a while a sigh or a faint moan escaped her. A glass of water mixed with currant-juice was the only nourishment she took through the day.

At about five in the afternoon, while the Assembly was still deliberating about the disposal of the king, Louis turned composedly around to the valet who was standing back of him.

"I am hungry," he said; "bring me something to eat!" Hue hastened to bring, from a restaurant near by, a piece of roast chicken, some fruit and stewed plums; a small table was procured, and carried into the reporters’ box of the "Logograph."

The countenance of the king lightened up a little, as he sat down at the table and ate his dinner with a good appetite. He did not hear the suppressed sobs that issued from a dark corner of the box. To this corner the unhappy woman had withdrawn, who yesterday was Queen of France, and whose pale cheeks reddened with shame at this hour to see the king eating with his old relish!

The tears started afresh from her eyes, and, in order to dry them, she asked for a handkerchief, for her own was already wet with her tears, and with the sweat which she had wiped from the forehead of her sleeping boy. But no one of her friends could reach her a handkerchief that was not red with the blood of those who had been wounded in the defence of the queen!

It was only at two o’clock in the night that the living martyrdom of this session ended, and the royal family were conducted to the cells of the former Convent des Feuillants, which was above the rooms of the Assembly, and which had hastily been put in readiness for the night quarters of the royal family. Hither armed men, using their gun-barrels as candlesticks for the tapers which they carried, marched, conducting a king and a queen to their improvised sleepingrooms. A dense crowd of people, bearing weapons, surrounded them, and often closed the way, so that it needed the energetic command of the officer in charge to make a free passage for them. The populace drew back, but bellowed and sang into the ears of the queen as she passed by:

"Madame Veto avait promis D’fegorger tout Paris."

These horrible faces, these threatening, abusive voices, frightened the dauphin, who clung tremblingly to his mother. Marie Antoinette stooped down to him and whispered a few words in his ear. At once the countenance of the boy brightened, and he sprang quickly and joyfully up the staircase; but at the top he stood still, and waited for his sister, who was so heavy with sleep that she had to be led slowly up. "Listen, Theresa," said the prince, joyously, "mamma has promised me that I shall sleep in her room with her, because I was so good before the bad people. " [Footnote: Goncourt.—"Histoirede Marie Antoinette," p. 234.] And he jumped about delightedly into the rooms which had been opened, and in which a supper had been even prepared. But suddenly, his countenance darkened, and his eyes wandered around with an anxious look.

"Where is Moufflet?" he asked. "He came with me, and he was with me when we left the box. Moufflet, Moufflet, where are you, Moufflet?" and asking this question loudly, the dauphin hurried through the four rooms everywhere seeking after the little dog, the inheritance from his brother, the former Dauphin of France.

But Moufflet did not come, and all search was in vain; no Moufflet was to be found. He had probably been lost in the crowd, or been trodden under foot.

When at last silence and peace came, and the royal family were resting on their hard beds, sighs and suppressed sobs were heard from where the dauphin lay. It was the little fellow weeping for his lost dog. The heir of the kings of France had to-day lost his last possession—his little, faithful dog.

Marie Antoinette stooped down and kissed his wet eyes.

"Do not cry, my boy; Moufflet will come back again tomorrow."

"To-morrow! certainly, mamma?"


The boy dried his tears, and went to sleep with a smile upon his lips.

But Marie Antoinette did not sleep; sitting erect in her bed, she listened to the cries and fiendish shoutings which came up from the terrace of the Feuillants, as the people heaped their abuses upon her, and demanded her head.

On the next day new sufferings! The royal family had to go again into the little box which they had occupied the day before; they had to listen to the deliberation of the National Assembly about the future residence of the royal family, which had made itself unworthy to inhabit the Tuileries, while even the Luxemburg palace was no suitable residence for Monsieur and Madame Veto.

The queen had in the mean time regained her self-possession and calmness, she could even summon a smile to her lips with which to greet her children and the faithful friends who thronged around her in order to be near her in these painful hours. She was pleased with the attentions of the wife of the English ambassador, Lady Sutherland, who sent linen and clothes of her own son for the dauphin. The queen also received from Madame Tourzel her watch with many thanks, since she had been robbed of her own and her purse on the way to the Convent des Feuillants.

On receiving news of this theft, the five gentlemen present hastened to lay all the gold and notes that they carried about them on the table before they withdrew. But Marie Antoinette had noticed this. "Gentlemen," she said, with thanks and deep feeling, "gentlemen, keep your money; you will want it more than we, for you will, I trust, live longer." [Footnote: The queen’s own words.—See "Beauehesne," vol. i., p. 806.]

Death had no longer any terrors for the queen, for she had too often looked him in the eye of late to be afraid. She had with joy often seen him take away her faithful servants and friends. Death would have been lighter to bear than the railings and abuse which she had to experience upon her walks from the Logograph’s reporters’ seat to the rooms in the Convent des Feuillants. On one of these walks she saw in the garden some respectably dressed people standing and looking without hurling insults at her.—Full of gratitude, the queen smiled and bowed to them. On this, one of the men shouted: "You needn’t take the trouble to shake your head so gracefully, for you won’t have it much longer!"

"I would the man were right!" said Marie Antoinette softly, going on to the hall of the Assembly to hear the representatives of the nation discuss the question whether the Swiss guards, who had undertaken to defend the royal family with weapons in their hands, should not be condemned to death as traitors to the French nation.

At length, after five days of continued sufferings, the Assembly became weary of insulting and humiliating longer those who had been robbed of their power and dignity; and it was announced to the royal family that they would hereafter reside in the Temple, and be perpetual prisoners of the nation.

On the morning of the 18th of August two great carriages, each drawn by only two horses, stood in the court des Feuillants ready to carry the royal family to the Temple. In the first of these sat the king, the queen, their two children, Madame Elizabeth, Princess Lamballe, Madame Tourzel and her daughter; and besides these, Potion the mayor of Paris, the attorney-general, and a municipal officer. In the second carriage were the servants of the king and two officials. A detachment of the National Guards escorted the carriages, on both sides of which dense masses of men stood, incessantly pouring out their abuse and insults.

In the Place Vendome the procession stopped, and with scornful laughter they showed the king the scattered fragments, upon the pavements, of the equestrian statue of Louis XIV., which had stood there, and which had been thrown from its pedestal by the anger of the people. "So shall it be with all tyrants!" shouted and roared the mob, raising their fists threateningly.

"How bad they are!" said the dauphin, looking with widely-opened eyes at the king, between whose knees he was standing.

"No," answered Louis, gently, "they are not bad, they are only misled."

At seven in the evening they reached the gloomy building which was now to be the home of the King and Queen of France. "Long live the nation!" roared the mob, which filled the inner court as Marie Antoinette and her husband dismounted from the carriage. "Long live the nation!—down with the tyrants!" The queen paid no attention to the cries; she looked down at her black shoe, which was torn, and out of whose tip her white silk stocking peeped. "See," she said, to Princess Lamballe, who was walking by her side, "see my foot, it would hardly be believed that the Queen of France has no shoes."


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Chicago: Luise Mühlbach, "Chapter XIX. June 20 and August 10, 1792.," Marie Antoinette and Her Son, ed. CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb and trans. Coleman, Chapman, Mrs., 1813-1891 in Marie Antoinette and Her Son (New York: The Modern Library Publishers, 1918), Original Sources, accessed March 23, 2023,

MLA: Mühlbach, Luise. "Chapter XIX. June 20 and August 10, 1792." Marie Antoinette and Her Son, edited by CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb, and translated by Coleman, Chapman, Mrs., 1813-1891, in Marie Antoinette and Her Son, New York, The Modern Library Publishers, 1918, Original Sources. 23 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Mühlbach, L, 'Chapter XIX. June 20 and August 10, 1792.' in Marie Antoinette and Her Son, ed. and trans. . cited in 1918, Marie Antoinette and Her Son, The Modern Library Publishers, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 23 March 2023, from