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This webpage reproduces a portion of
Royal Memoirs

on the
French Revolution

as translated by
John Wilson Croker
and published by
John Murray, Albemarle Street, London,
1823

the text of which is in the public domain.

This text has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Coblenz
Part 2

p43 Narrative
of
A Journey
to
Bruxelles and Coblentz

by
Monsieur, now Louis XVIII

p45 Notice

The authenticity of the following Memoir is undoubted. It was written soon after the event — certainly before the death of the writer's nephew, Louis XVII. It has been lately published from the King's own manuscript, and we have been informed that his Majesty even corrected the press. It is therefore a literary curiosity; but it was expected that it would be something better. The King in early life had a kind of literary character: one or two little theatrical pieces were attributed to his pen; and he was considered to be even a puriste in the niceties of the French language. The present work seems to have destroyed that reputation; and the French critics go so far as to say, that the language is in many places vulgarly ungrammatical. On this point the translator does not presume to be a judge; but he must admit, that the work does not place his Most Christian Majesty very high in the list of royal authors, as the style is bad, the observations often puerile, and the sentiments far from noble; but it must also be allowed, that it has a certain degree of interest; and as no inconsiderable share of French politics has, since the Restoration, hinged on the personal character of the monarch, it is not unimportant to trace in this Narrative the course of his feelings and the turn of his mind.

p47 to
Antoine Louis Francois d'Avaray,1
his deliverer,
Louis Stanislas Xavier of France,
full of gratitude — Health.

I am aware, my dear friend, that you are employed in writing the circumstances p48which precede and accompanied the moment of my deliverance; no one is better qualified than you to give celebrity to your work, and yet I wish also to attempt it. It is possible that your modesty may prevent your doing yourself the justice you deserve, p49and I feel it to be a duty, as well as a pleasure, to guard against that result. I should be ungrateful were I to suffer that any one in the world — even yourself — should dare to rob my deliverer of the least particle of glory which is due to him. It is for this purpose, rather than to recall to my recollection events which I never can forget, that I write this narrative. Receive it, I beg of you, as a pledge of my tenderest friendship — as a monument of my gratitude. May it serve to acquit me of some part of the debt towards you, which I have felt so much pleasure in contracting, and which I shall feel still more pleasure in for ever acknowledging.

p51 Narrative,
&c. &c.


Teucro duce et auspice Teucro!


Reports spread in November, 1790, of the intended escape of the King, had induced me to think of mine. I determined on opening my design to Peronnet,2 at that time employed in my wardrobe, because he was the person who would be most naturally employed in making the necessary preparations; and that I was, even then, as convinced of his fidelity, as I am now after his faithful service. These reports ceased, and we naturally put off our project to a more favourable opportunity. I p52mentioned it to the Queen, who assured me that neither she nor the King had given any grounds for such a rumour; but she added that sooner or later there was every appearance of their being driven to this extremity, and she promised to give me timely notice; but she, at the same time, advised me to be always ready for the event.

The persecution3 which was excited against the King on the approaching Easter, in 1791, and the resolution which it forced upon him, convinced me that I had no choice between apostasy and martyrdom; the former revolted me, and I will own that I felt no great vocation for the latter. I talked a good deal with Madame de Balbi4 on this subject, p53and we agreed that there was a third course open to me, which was, to abandon a country where the usual exercise of our religious duties was about to be proscribed. p54The matter pressed in point of time; it was Good Friday — and Easter Sunday was the fatal day. We agreed that Madame, Madame de Balbi, another person, and myself, should escape that very night in Madame de Balbi's carriage.

It will easily be believed, that I had not now first thought of who the fourth person should be; and my first thoughts had been directed to d'Avaray,5 of whom I was as sure as of myself; but happy in the midst of a family which adored him, his escape seemed as difficult to detect as my own. Besides (and this was my chief motive for making other choice) the delicacy of his health made me fearful that he would be incapable of bearing the fatigues of such an attempt. I then thought of             , but why name him? If p55this narrative meets his eyes, he will see that his refusal (which arose from reasons which I am bound in justice to say were well founded) has not made me forget twenty preceding years of friendship.

I went to the Tuileries, to acquaint the King and Queen with my intention; leaving Madame de Balbi a kind of letter of credential, to be given to             . Occupied as they, even then, were about plans for their own escape6 — which however they had not communicated to me, nor indeed otherwise opened p56themselves, except to ask me for some materials (which were not afterwards employed), for the Declaration which the King published on his departure, — they feared that my escape at this moment might impede theirs, and they endeavoured to dissuade me from it. My judgment was not shaken by their arguments, but my heart sympathised with theirs, and I yielded.

In the mean time Madame de Balbi having received a refusal from the person in question, was in a most cruel embarrassment, when Providence (for I would venture to defy the most obstinate infidel to attribute it to chance),7 conducted d'Avaray to her. He had long entertained a desire to serve me as he has done. He had often, though with great modesty, intimated that wish to Madame de Balbi, whom he frequently p57visited; but he now came at an unusual hour, and I can only attribute to Providence his having come that day and that moment, when his presence was absolutely necessary to us. She did not hesitate to make him the proposal; and although it was no agreeable task to be, as it were, the mere mechanical agent of a plan which he had not arranged, and although he had not time to take the smallest measure of preparation either for me of himself, he did not hesitate a moment in accepting it: the only regret he felt was, that I had first chosen another than he. He hastened immediately to collect for me every thing which the shortness of the time permitted him to collect; but when he returned to the Luxembourg8 the intention had been already abandoned: it was only on my arrival p58there that I learned the refusal and the acceptance which had taken place in my absence. The first astonished me, and might have affected me if I had been less grateful for the second. I felt, however, embarrassed for a moment in seeing d'Avaray; but his friendship for me, and the pleasure which he felt in giving me so striking a proof of it was so well expressed in all he said, that I soon forgot the injustice which I had done him in restraining my first impulse.

Before I proceed further with this narrative, I ought to anticipate an objection which my readers may make. How is it possible, they may say, that knowing as I did the numerous ties which d'Avaray was about to break for me,9 I never expressed to him any p59sense of this generosity; and that in the whole course of my narrative I speak of his satisfaction and joy, as if they were unmixed with any portion of regret? But before I am judged, I would request the reader to put himself in my situation. My captivity had become so intolerable, that I was absorbed by one passion — the desire of liberty: I thought but of it; and I saw every object through the prism, if I may use such an expression, which this anxiety placed before my eyes. Those who have suffered the torments of such a situation, or who can understand from the statements of others the irksomeness of captivity, will excuse me, at least, if they do not entirely acquit me. Such I know was d'Avaray's feeling — the tenderness of his friendship convinces me of it; and if I describe his feelings as being different from what they really were, it is only because I describe them not as they were, but as he permitted me to see them.

We nevertheless did not give over our p60project altogether; but, having some time before us, we reconsidered it better, and we soon saw that it was defective in several points, and particularly on the intention of escaping altogether;º and it was resolved, upon d'Avaray's advice, that we should separate. He engaged to provide a conveyance for him and me. He also undertook to provide the necessary disguise for me; but as he alone could not suffice for all that was to be done, he asked me whether there was no one whom I could select to help him. I mentioned Peronnet, and proposed, as I had done in the November preceding, to admit him into our confidence. That he would not consent to; and he only employed Peronnet in some indifferent affairs, and some details about my clothes, reserving his further communications for a future period, according to the degree of confidence he might appear to deserve.

On the other hand, things occurred which gave us much uneasiness. Whether our intention p61had got wind, or whether our gaolors had spontaneously become more jealous, we remarked that we were watched with more than ordinary care; and that M. de Romeuf,10 aide-de‑camp to M. de la Fayette, came frequently to parade the courts of the Luxembourg. We learned also that the town of Valenciennes — through which we reckoned on passing, and which till then had been one of the most quiet in France — was wholly changed; that they stopped and examined p62very narrowly all travellers, and that some had even been ill used.

Seeing, on our first inspection, that it would be difficult to escape from Madame de Balbi's,11 as we had first projected, she endeavoured, but without success, to obtain a country house in the neighbourhood of Paris. Madame de Maurepas refused to lend her Madrid.12 M. d'Etioles, who had at first a mind to hire his house at Neuilly, retracted. My Lady Kerry took it into her head to hire Madame de Bouffler's villa at Auteuil;13 and p63the Count d'Artois' men-of-business refused to lend Bagatelle14 without his distinct permission, or that, at least, of M. de Bonnière's,15 who at that moment happened to have followed the Count to Ulm. All these disappointments embarrassed us. In the mean while Madame de Balbi had had the precaution to provide herself (for any occasion which might arise) of a regular passport for Spa; and in the supposition that the moment was at hand, she had thought of borrowing the house of M. de Fontette, which looks in the garden of the Luxembourg, and through which p64we might easily escape without observation. She received, about the end of May, a summons to Bruxelles on particular business. The Queen, of whom I had asked whether she would give Madame de Balbi any commission for M. de Mercy,16 inquired of me in return, how long she was likely to stay in the Low Countries? and on my answering, "ten or twelve days." "So much the better," she rejoined, "but let it not be longer." She set out on Ascension-day (2d June): I expected her back on Whitsun-eve; but instead of that, I received a letter, to say that her return was postponed. It will be easily guessed that d'Avaray was not idle all this while; and as to what concerns Madame, I may here say, once for all, that Madame de Gourbillon, her reader, undertook to do all that was necessary; and acquitted herself of the task with equal ability and success.

p65 Whit-Monday (June 13), in returning from mass, the Queen whispered me, "The King has given orders for going in the procession of the Fête-Dieu17 at St. Germainº L'Auxerrois; appear to be vexed at it." These few words made at first some impression on me, but it soon vanished. I was until Thursday (16th) without seeing the Queen in private; but on that day she told me their departure was fixed for the ensuing Sunday (19th). I hoped that d'Avaray would come to my coucher; but an accident had happened to his cabriolet, and he could not come. Friday morning I wrote to him to come at six o'clock: he did so. "Are we to grease our boots?"18 p66said he on entering. "Yes," said I, "and for Monday."

We then entered into detail, and examined three principal points. First, the way of getting out of the Luxembourg. Second, the way of getting out of Paris. Third the road by which we could most easily escape out of France. He was much distressed on the first of these points, because he did not know all the localities of my apartments; and that he believed that I had no means of getting out but through my ante-chamber, which was impossible,19 or the garden, which was very difficult. This obstacle, however, I soon removed, by showing him what I call my private apartment, and which communicates directly with the great Luxembourg, where there were no national guards. I had not before explained this passage to him, because I had not thought of making use of p67it, expecting to set out from Madame de Balbi's, or from the country. Here I cannot but pause to express my wonder, that during twenty months that I had now been in Paris, this passage, which was known to several of my attendants, had not been even suspected by my gaolers;20 and how it was that, using it as I did, during the hottest of the persecution, to go to my chapel, which is in the Great Luxembourg, I had not myself betrayed it.

This difficulty removed, another remained; it was, in what carriage we should get to our travelling carriage; for we never for a moment thought of bringing the latter to the Luxembourg. A hackney coach was obviously the safest, but they were not allowed to come p68into the court of the Luxembourg, and d'Avaray would not hear of my attempting, however well disguised, to escape on foot.21 We had then no alternative but a job coach, or a cabriolet, and we decided for the former; because,22 besides that I am rather too heavy to get easily in and out of a cabriolet, it would have required a man to hold the horse, which did not suit us. This point settled, we discussed whether we had better leave Paris with job or with post horses; and we decided for post horses. First, because it is the least suspicious way of travelling: second, because in taking job horses we must either have placed relays on the road, or obtained an order23 to p69have post horses: the former would have had a suspicious appearance, and the latter might have been as bad; besides, it was adding an additional wheel to a machine already sufficiently complicated, and which it was our interest to simplify as much as possible.

Finally we considered our escape out of France. I thought we must have a passport, but the difficulty was how to obtain it without suspicion. My first idea was to send for Beauchêne, the physician of my stables, who had some connexion with M. de Montmorin24 and M. de la Fayette, and to tell him that two non-juring priests of my acquaintance, terrified at what had lately happened at the convent of the Theatins,25 wished to escape p70from France under the name of two Englishmen, and that I desired he would procure them a passport from the office of M. de Montmorin. D'Avaray did not approve this idea; he represented to me that Beauchêne, who is sharp, might form some suspicions of what it was our interest so much to conceal, and I abandoned this project; but d'Avaray, who was very intimate with Lord Robert Fitzgerald,26 told me that he would endeavour to obtain a passport through his means. As to our route, my first project was to go by Douâyº and Orchies; but after more reflection, I resolved to send Madame by this route, as being the safest; and I told d'Avaray that we should determine upon ours next morning.

p71 On leaving him, I went to the Tuilleries, where the Queen showed me the draft of a declaration which the King had prepared,27 and which he had just given to her. We read it together. I found in it some inaccuracies of style — that was a little drawback; but besides that, we thought the paper rather too long. There was one essential point omitted, namely, a protest against all the acts done by the King during his captivity.

After supper I made some observations to my brother on his work: he told me to take it home with me, and to bring it back to him next day. On Saturday morning (18th June) I began the most ungrateful task in the world, p72namely, the correcting another person's work; and of uniting the phrases, which I was obliged to insert, with the views and expressions of the past that had already been written. The pen really was at every moment ready to fall from my fingers; however, well or ill, at last I got through it. During this time, d'Avaray had written to Lord Robert: he had also been at the coach-maker's, to see whether the carriage was in good order; and to deceive him, without exciting suspicion,28 he had told him, that being obliged to join his regiment, he wished to conceal his departure from his family; and under this plausible pretext, he had enjoined secrecy. He had also made the necessary arrangements with Peronnet for my dress, and he was back with me by six o'clock.

p73 He was out of spirits: Lord Robert had answered, that he had no longer the right of giving passports, and that my Lord Gower29 would certainly not give them to any person who were not really English; and some other means which d'Avaray had also employed had been equally unsuccessful. Fortunately, Madame de Balbi, on going away, had left with him an old passport which she had had from the British ambassador, under the name of Mr. and Miss Foster. But this passport, good for only fifteen days, was dated 23d April, and was for man and woman, instead of two men. I did not believe it possible to make any use of it; but d'Avaray — of whom I am glad to bear testimony that he was no more disturbed by difficulties,30 than if a p74young friend had begged him to take him to the ball of the opera without the knowledge of his parents — d'Avaray, I say, soon showed me that I was wrong; he scraped the writing: and although what he scraped was in a fold, and the paper very thin, the passport was in a quarter of an hour for Messrs. and Miss Forster, and dated the 13th June, instead of the 23rd April.

This obstacle overcome, we were still not without difficulties. We did not know whether it was necessary or not that passports should be visé by the minister for foreign affairs; and we had no inclination to produce one, which, notwithstanding all the skill of d'Avaray and the blots of ink which he had industriously scattered on the back, both on the scraped places, and elsewhere to be less suspicious, might easily be detected. We resolved, therefore, to be satisfied with it as it was, hoping that it would not appear surprising p75that two Englishmen — as we had determined to appear to be — should have thought that the passport of the English ambassador was quite sufficient, and that the municipalities which might happen to examine it would not perceive its defects.

Finally, we considered the road we should take. I had given up that of Orchies to Madame. I did not like that by Valenciennes, for reasons which I have already stated. We settled at last to proceed to Mons, by Soissons, Lâon, and Maubeuge; and this for the following reasons: first, this road being little travelled, we hoped to find horses more easily; as far as Soissons it might be thought that we were going to Rennes, and to Laon that we were going to Givet, which might deceive those who should pursue us. Thirdly, and lastly, walled towns, where the poste is situated in the interior of the town, are marked in the post-book in a particular way. Now, according to this mark, the poste p76is within Avennes, and is not within Maubeuge; and we reckoned, that considering the hour at which we intended to set out, we might pass Avennes, and should arrive at Maubeuge, before the gates were shut; that we should then have to do only with the post-master, and that we should thus avoid the frontier towns, of which the deficiencies of our passport made us very apprehensive.

In the evening, I took my corrections of the King's declaration to the Tuilleries. I asked the Queen, if she thought that a passport from the English ambassador was sufficient; she assured me, that the King himself had no other than one from the Russian minister, which put me very much at my ease.

I must, no doubt, have ill explained myself to the Queen; for, in fact, a passport under the name of the Baroness de Korff, though obtained by Monsieur de Simolin, had been really issued from the Foreign Office; but p77the Queen could have no reason to deceive me,31 and I should not have mentioned these circumstances, if I had not promised to tell every thing.

In the meanwhile, the paper on which the King had employed me contained as yet only the first part of what was intended, that is to say, the defects and errors of the constitution. There was still wanting a summary of the personal insults which the King had undergone since the opening of the States-General; he ordered me to draw up this summary,32 and I accordingly brought it to him next evening. It might be thought, from what I have said here, and in a former passage, that I am the author of the Declaration p78of the 20th June; but I am bound in truth to declare that I only corrected it; that many of my corrections were not adopted; that the whole conclusion was added after I had returned it; and that in its present shape I did not see it till it reached us at Bruxelles.

With the exception of this work, and one or two circumstances (which I shall mention presently), Sunday (June 19) was an idle day for me, but it was not so for d'Avaray. He was busy all day, showed himself but for a moment at the Luxembourg, as we had agreed the evening before, and we did not see each other in private. This public visit, which we had considered necessary, was very inconvenient to him, as it consumed a portion of the short time which he had reserved for himself. On my part too, it was painful to my feelings to leave him confounded in the crowd of courtiers, and to address him only by one of those insignificant phrases33 which princes p79are obliged to use on such occasions; but prudence required that I should be a prince on that occasion; but I promised myself, in my own mind, that it was the last time I should be a prince with him.

He had already made a half confidence to Sayer, his English servant, of the same nature as that to the coach-maker. He told him that he was to set off next day for his regiment, but forbad him to speak about it in the house, or to mention it to any of the family. He added, that wishing for company in his journey, he had the good fortune to meet with a friend, who was a good sort of fellow; but that as the post-masters paid more attention in general to strangers than to natives, we had resolved to travel as Englishmen, under the names of Michael and David Foster: and, finally, he made him acquainted p80with Peronnet, under the name of Perron, valet-de‑chambre of his intended companion. The names of Michael and David were not chosen at random: my linen being marked with an M., and his with D. A., he thought it necessary, in case we should be closely examined, that our assumed names should correspond with these marks.

I now return to circumstances to which I have alluded before. The morning of that same day (June 19) I met Beauchêne at my wife's levee. He told me that a man had gone to Audouin,34 one of those journalists who distribute daily poison in Paris at one penny a sheet, and produced to him a plan of escape for the King, and the whole of the family; p81adding, that he was certain that this plan had been adopted at the Tuilleries; that the man had begged Audouin to insert it in his newspaper, and that it would certainly appear next day. This information made me uneasy; they tell me even that I grew pale on hearing it. I don't believe that circumstance; but of this I am quite sure, that I very soon recovered myself, and I asked Beauchêne laughing to favour us with the details of this pretended plan. He stated some which I so well knew to be false, that I saw that even if something was known, it was but a very small part of our design, and I became perfectly easy. The second circumstance was a note in enigmatical terms, which I received in the morning from d'Avaray, complaining 'of a bolt which I had ordered to be placed.' I thought I was quite sure that there was no such thing on the door of my private apartment, opening into the Great Luxembourg. I lost no time in hastening to satisfy myself upon this p82point, and seeing that I was right, I resolved to wait for an opportunity of speaking the d'Avaray in private, and hearing from him the explanation of his riddle.

On Monday morning (June 20) a report35 was spread that the Queen had been arrested, in the course of the night, as she was attempting to escape with my sister in a hackney-coach. This did not alarm me much; but on reflection this rumour, combined with what I had heard from Beauchêne, seemed to prove two things: first, that our gaolers were uneasy about us; secondly, that at present it was but a vague apprehension. I concluded, therefore, that we should still have time to escape; but that the moment was well chosen, and that if we did not avail ourselves of it, it never would occur again.

p83 I soon had another alarm; Madame de Sourdis, coming to attend my wife to church, was refused admittance at the gate of the Little Luxembourg; but I soon learned that it was a mistake of the porter: that made my mind easy, and I waited patiently the explanation of d'Avaray's note. I considered, however, that it would probably be expedient to blacken my eyebrows, for the purpose of disguising my countenance, and I accordingly took an opportunity at dinner of slipping into my pocket a cork for this purpose.36

D'Avaray did not come until near seven o'clock, and I confess time appeared to me very tedious; for, independently of the uneasiness I felt about him whenever he was absent, and of the final arrangements which we had yet to make, he was the only being to whom I could speak on the subject which now occupied all my thoughts. He explained p84the story of the bolt which he had mentioned, by saying, that Peronnet, to whom he had given the key of the apartment for the purpose of putting my travelling dress in it, had not been able to open the door, and believed that it was bolted. We immediately went to it, and finding the dress, were satisfied that Peronnet had got in: we then tried the key in the lock, and found that it went easily. We then proceeded to make an inventory of the bundle, which we found very complete. I tried on the boots, which fitted well; and we placed every thing in regular order in the closet, where I resolved to dress.

D'Avaray promised to be with me at eleven o'clock precisely; and, after embracing each other very cordially, we separated, not to meet again till the very moment of action.

I pass over an infinity of details relative to the preparations which d'Avaray made, because, in fact, they were all his own; for them I willingly refer to his Narrative,37 p85which, I am sure, will be exact in these particulars. My object is only to relate what I myself did or saw, and, above all, to take care that on essential points d'Avaray does not depreciate his own merit.

On leaving me, d'Avaray was accosted by a person whom I believe, by the description he gave me of him, to have been Desportes, the usher of my closet, who said that he had something very urgent and important to communicate to him. He took him into the corridor which leads from the Little to the Great Luxembourg, and there this person, after a long preamble of attachment to the King and to me, told him that a friend of his, a man deserving the most entire credit, had confided to him that an attempt had been made to borrow from him a sum of money to facilitate the escape of the whole Royal Family, which was to take place that very night; that he thought it his duty to communicate this information, and that he begged him to lose no time in conveying it to me.

p86 D'Avaray did not lose his presence of mind: he replied, that this was one of the thousand and one reports of escape and counter-revolution with which the public had been distracted for a year past: but the other insisted; and d'Avaray could only get rid of him by promising to speak to me on the subject in the evening at my coucher, or at latest next morning.

He, however, thought the thing important enough to apprize me of it. He came back to my private apartment, and knocked at the door of the closet; but in vain: I had already set out for the Tuilleries. He then debated with himself whether he had not better go thither also, and by seeing either the first femme-de‑chambre of the Queen, or even myself, apprize us of what he had just heard; but he thought, on reflection, that doing so might excite observation; and the more so, because, having long refrained from going into public, for the purpose of avoiding questions, his being seen at the Tuilleries might p87excite some surprise. Besides, matters were now gone so far that there was no receding. All these considerations induced him to keep the alarming information to himself — not even to acquaint me with it till we should be in safety, and to commit the success of our enterprise to the hands of Providence.

I was the more impatient to reach the Tuilleries, because I knew that my sister Elizabeth was this very afternoon to be apprized of the secret, which it was extremely irksome to me to have kept so long concealed from her. I found her tranquil, resigned to the will of Heaven; satisfied, but without any violent joy; as calm, in short, as if she had been in possession of the secret a year before. After embracing each other very tenderly, she said, "Dear brother, you are blessed with a sense of religion: allow me to give you this image,38 which cannot but bring you happiness." I accepted it, as may be well believed, p88with equal pleasure and gratitude. We conversed for some time on the subject of our approaching enterprise; and, without being blinded by my affection for her, I must say, that it was impossible to reason on the subject with more coolness and judgment than she did. I could not help admiring her.39

I went down to the Queen's apartment, for whom I waited some time, because she was in private with the three gentlemen of the body guard, who have since given to her, as well as to the King, the last melancholy proof of their devotion. At last she came: I ran to embrace her: "Take care," she cried, "not to affect me (m'attendrir). It must not be seen that I have wept."40

We supped, and remained all five41 together p89till near eleven o'clock. At the moment when I was about to take leave, the King, who till then had not informed me of the place of his destination, took me aside; and, after telling me that he was going to Montmedi, positively directed me to proceed by the Austrian Low Countries to Longwy.42 Again we embraced each other tenderly, and at last separated, thoroughly persuaded — at least I was — that before four days we should all meet again in a place of safety. It was not quite eleven o'clock when I left the Tuilleries, and I was glad of it, because I hoped that the Duke de Levis,43 who generally p90saw me home every evening, might not arrive in time, which I wished for two reasons: first, because I was unwilling to expose myself to questions, which, however unconnected they were, might still have embarrassed me: secondly, because I was in the habit of chatting generally a good while before I went to bed; and I was afraid, by going to bed immediately, as it was necessary I should, some suspicion might be excited in the mind of the duke. My hope was disappointed: he even made a merit of his punctuality, with which I should gladly have dispensed. I restrained my impatience however, and chatted quietly with him as we drove along. The moment I reached my own apartment, however, I began to undress, at which he seemed surprised. I told him that I had slept ill the night before, and had resolved to make up p91for it to‑night: this reason satisfied him; I undressed myself, and went to bed.

I must here observe, that my first valet-de‑chambre always slept in my room, which, unless I put him in my confidence, appeared an insurmountable obstacle to my escape; but I had satisfied myself, by a rehearsal which I had made two days before, that before he could undress himself and come back to my room, I had more time than was necessary to get up, light a candle, and get into my closet.

Accordingly the moment he was gone I got up, and closing carefully the curtains of my bed, and taking with me the few things which I wanted, I got into my closet and shut the door; and from that moment, whether from a presentiment or from my confidence in d'Avaray, I thought myself out of France. I put in the pockets of my robe de chambre three hundred louis which I took with me, and passed into the private apartment, p92where d'Avaray was waiting for me, after having had a very serious alarm; for when he had attempted to enter it, the key would not turn in the lock:— a thousand fancies, one worse than the other, had passed through his mind. At last, however, he thought of turning the key the other way, which happened to be the right one.

D'Avaray dressed me, and when I was so, I remembered that I had forgotten my cane and a second snuff-box which I wished to bring away. I was going back to look for them, but d'Avaray would not permit such rashness, and I did not persist in my intention. The clothes fitted me very well; but the wig was a little too light: however, as it fitted tolerably, and as I was resolved, whenever I could, to keep a large round hat with a great tri-coloured cockade over my eyes, the ill-fitting of the wig did not give us much trouble. In crossing the private apartments, d'Avaray told me that there was a carriage p93like our own waiting in the great court of the Luxembourg: this made him uneasy; but I quieted him by acquainting him that it was my wife's; yet when we were on the stairs, he desired me to wait, and went to see if it were still there. Not seeing it, he returned, saying, "Come along with me." — "I am round," I replied, and we proceeded to our carriage, which was a vis-à-vis. By accident I had placed myself with my back to the horses. "What," said d'Avaray, "you are ceremonious?" "Faith," said I, "here I am." — He did not persist in his compliment, and, directing the coachman to drive to the Pont Neuf, we left the Luxembourg.


J. W. Croker's Notes:

1 A. L. F. De Besiade, Count d'Avaray, eldest son of the Marquis d'Avaray who was before the revolution, and is still, what we call Groom of the Stole. The Count d'Avaray was born in 1759, and served at the siege of Gibraltar; after which he became Colonel of the Regiment de Boulonnais. In the latter part of 1788 he visited England, and resided for some months in Kensington, to acquire our language — a circumstance which was useful to him in the most important incident of his life — that which obtained him the honour of this dedication. Monsieur, on assuming the title of Louis XVIII, made M. d'Avaray Captain of his Guards, and gave him the arms of France, to be borne as an honourable augmentation to his own, with the date of the King's escape as a motto. In 1799 he received, what at that time must have appeared, the empty honour of being created a Duke. M. d'Avaray followed the fortunes of the exiled monarch into Italy, Germany, Russia, Poland, and finally into England. He had the entire possession of his private confidence, and the greatest share in his political concerns. Being seriously attacked by consumption (a disease to which it appears from the following pages he was early subject) he was advised to try a voyage to Madeira: an expedient which failed in this case, as it generally does, and M. d'Avaray died there in 1811. His father has been created a Duke and peer of France: his next brother is now Count d'Avaray.

2 M. Peronnet is still about the King's person.

3 The persecution here alluded to was the efforts made to prevent the Royal Family from performing their religious duties, unless they would accept the assistance of what were called the constitutional clergy, which they conscientiously declined, considering these men as apostates.

4 Mademoiselle Caumont de la Force, married, in 1770, to the Count de Balbi, a Genoese nobleman, settled in France. On the marriage of Monsieur to Mary of Savoy, Madame de Balbi was appointed her dame d'atours. Soon after this, a separation took place between her and her husband, in consequence, it is said, of mental derangement in the latter. Madame de Balbi (as indeed the text implies) was high in the confidence and good graces of Monsieur; and she accompanied him in his exile, until the recall of the emigrants under Bonaparte, when she returned to France; but, very much to her credit, was so little in favour with the imperial court, as to be exiled in Montauban. On the restoration she returned to Paris, where she was still residing within the last year or two. It would seem as if the return to France was either the cause or the consequence of some coolness between her and her royal friend. The mention of Madame de Balbi in this place has revived a good deal of scandal in Paris; and one cannot but smile at the simplicity with which the Prince confesses, that though he would not accept the mass from the hands of a constitutional priest, he consulted Madame de Balbi on the spiritual concerns of his conscience.

Thayer's Note: Mme de Balbi is usually stated by modern historians to have been Monsieur's mistress.

5 Young d'Avaray was connected with Monsieur's court by having obtained the reversion of his father's office — his third brother, the present Count, was one of Monsieur's body-guard.

6 The very difficulties which impeded the King's escape were a sufficient justification of the measure — he was a prisoner who was compelled to declare that he was free. At the very height of the persecution and duress which he suffered, the National Assembly forced this weak prince to write the celebrated circular letter of the 23d April, in which he ordered his ambassadors to assure the several powers, that he was at full liberty. This letter was probably proposed to him, because it implied a personal pledge not to attempt to escape from such perfect freedom; and it was probably only to conceal his intentions that Louis was induced to sign so flagrant a falsehood.

7 With all deference to his Majesty, we cannot approve such an assertion as this, which seems to us an indecorous reference to Providence on a small and trivial occasion.

8 A palace (now appropriated to the peers of France) built by Mary de Medicis, in 1615, on the site of a house belonging to the family of Luxembourg. It became the town residence of Monsieur when the Royal Family were forced into Paris.

9 This seems overstated. M. d'Avaray does not appear to have been married: he was a young officer of Monsieur's household, and it does not seem any violent exertion of generosity to have accompanied his royal friend — the majority of the French noblesse emigrated with much less inducement.

10 The same aide-de‑camp whom La Fayette despatched to Varennes after the King, and who, in his efforts to get the Royal Family and their attendants conveyed out of that town without insult, was confounded with them by the infuriated mob, was insulted, beaten, wounded, and dragged to prison, where he remained for several days, till a decree of the National Assembly released him. He followed La Fayette into Germany, but soon returned, and attached himself to Murat, whose aide-de‑camp he remained up to the restoration. He is still alive, a general officer, knight of St. Louis, and of the Legion of Honour, not only unmolested, but even advanced, under "those Bourbons who can neither forgive nor forget."

11 Madame de Balbi had, in right of her place in Madame's family, an apartment in the Luxembourg.

12 A château in the Bois de Boulogne, built by Francis I, was so called in memory of his captivity at Madrid; but I believe the villa here alluded to was built by M. de Maurepas, in the neighbourhood of the old château, and is what is now called Madrid-Maurepas.

13 The villa that the readers of Grimm will recollect as having been the occasion of some verses of Racine, which, not knowing their author, the society of the Duchess de Polignac pronounced to be execrable.

14 A little villa of the Count d'Artois in the Bois de Boulogne, near the Seine; it well deserved the inscription which his Royal Highness placed on the façade, "Parva sed apta." After the restoration, the Count d'Artois gave it to the Duke de Berri.

Thayer's Note: The inscription is by no means original, having gained currency from its appearing over the door of Ariosto's house in Ferrara, where it may still be seen; the late‑15c inscription, however, was placed there by the previous owner, a certain Bartolomeo Cavalieri, who had it suggested to him by a humanist named Dionigi dell' Aquila. The full original inscription is a dactylic couplet:

Parva, sed apta mihi, sed nulli obnoxia, sed non

Sordida, parta meo sed tamen aere domus.

Small, but just fine for me; and there's no lien on it, and it's clean, and I bought it with my own money.

15 An advocate of Orleans, who became the legal adviser and superintendant of the household of the Count d'Artois. He returned from the temporary emigration mentioned in the text, and was in 1796 elected one of the council of 500. He did not, it is said, abandon his royalist principles; and he died, much regretted, in 1801.

16 The Count de Mercy, who had lately been Austrian ambassador to Paris.

17 Corpus-Christi day, which, in 1791, fell on Thursday, the 23d.

18 A proverbial phrase (now almost as obsolete as the jack-boots to which it refers) to signify preparation for a journey. When Rabelais, on his death-bed, received the extreme unction, he said, "Ah, it is clear I am just going the long journey — you are greasing my boots."

19 Impossible to be done without observation, as the ante-chambers were filled with attendants, guards, domestics, &c.

20 The duress, the surveillance, under which all the Royal Family were placed, deserves the strong term that Monsieur applies to it. On one occasion a report was spread that Monsieur had escaped, and he was obliged to pacify the populace by parading himself through the town, not without some risk to his personal safety.

21 We shall see, by and by, that Monsieur had a very peculiar gait, by which M. d'Avaray thought he would be certainly detected.

22 The expression is here somewhat clumsy, and the reasoning not less so; as a man to hold the horse of the cabriolet, or to drive the job coach, would be equally necessary in either case.

23 One of the rules of the French poste is, that no one arriving with other than post horses can have post horses, without a special order.

24 At this time minister of foreign affairs; he was afterwards massacred at the Abbaye.

25 On the quay then called des Theatins, now the quay Voltaire. On the 2d June, during divine service, the mob broke into the church of the Theatins, at the moment of the administration of the sacrament; they dispersed the communicants, maltreated the priests, overturned the altar, and defiled the church.

26 Next brother of the late Duke of Leinster, afterwards created an Irish peer by the name of Lord Lecale. He was secretary to the British embassy at Paris, and was about this period acting as envoy in the interval between the Duke of Dorset and Earl Gower.

27 This declaration is to be found in all the publications of the day. The King's shyness and difficulty of expressing himself in ordinary conversation gave so unjust a notion of his understanding, that we have heard persons who knew him doubt whether he had written that admirable composition — his Will. We are glad of this additional testimony as to even the literary powers of Louis XVI, for the Declaration is very well written and very well reasoned.

28 This phrase (as well as others which may attract observation) is the King's own. It seems to have required no great ingenuity to lull suspicion by deceiving those one fears.

29 The present Marquis of Stafford, then Earl Gower, and newly appointed ambassador in France.

30 Again it must be observed, that the King seems to rate too highly a very ordinary expedient.

31 There is a kind of insinuation here which is obviously unjust. The Queen probably told Monsieur exactly what she knew or believed; she had asked the Russian minister for the passport, and probably was not aware of his having sent to obtain it from the French Foreign Office.

32 Monsieur had, as we have said, with his own family and public, the reputation of authorship.

33 No prince, perhaps, has said these insignificant things better than the author: it is amusing to see him undervaluing a talent which he certainly possesses in a very eminent degree.

34 To the very good description given in the text of this Audouin we have only to add, that after having, by the most infamous provocatives, inflamed the fury and cruelty of the Jacobins, he reaped the bitter harvest of his own villany, and was guillotined, 1794, as one of the faction of Hebert and Danton.

35 All these reports, unfounded in themselves, yet so nearly approaching the truth, are curious enough, and prove that all mankind agreed that it was natural that the King should endeavour to escape.

36 This notable circumstance seems to be the only one in which the Prince's own ingenuity was at all exerted towards forwarding his escape.

37 This Narrative has not been yet made public.

Thayer's Note: It was published (7 printed pp.) as part of d'Avaray's letters, although in what year I've been unable to find out: Suite de la correspondance de M. le comte d'Avaray à son ami : donnant des détails sur le voyage du Comte de Lille (Louis XVIII), et de Madame la Duchesse d'Angoulême.

38 It is evident from the context that this was a crucifix.

39 No one who reads the history of this admirable Princess's life can "help admiring her."

40 What a beautiful combination of strength of mind and tenderness of heart these words exhibit!

41 The King and Queen, Monsieur, Madame, and Madame Elizabeth.

42 The King had been advised himself to take this latter road; but no persuasion could induce him to leave the territory of his kingdom, and this route was therefore assigned to his brother.

43 The same whom we have seen in England, and the author of several works of interest and merit. He, as well as Monsieur, to whom he was attached, was at the beginning a favourer of the Revolution — a moderate reformer — and he generally voted with the côté gauche. This was perhaps the reason that Monsieur was unwilling to entrust him with this secret. We have seen (page 21) that the Duke felt, very justly and naturally, a little jealousy on this subject.


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