|mail: Bill Thayer||
p203 On the morning of this terrible day we rose at six. The night before, my mother had scarcely strength enough to put my p204 brother to bed. She threw herself, dressed as she was, upon her own bed, where we heard her shivering with cold and grief all night long. At a quarter past six, the door opened: we believed that we were sent forº to see the King; but it was only the officers looking for a prayer-book for the King's devotions. We did not, however, abandon the hope of seeing him, till the shouts of joy of the infuriated populace told us that all was over!
In the afternoon, my mother asked to see Clery, who had remained with the King till his last moments,48 and who had probably some message for her. We were anxious that she should receive this shock of seeing Clery, in hopes of its occasioning a burst of grief, which might relieve her from that p205 state of silent and choking agony in which we saw her.
In fact, Clery had been intrusted by my father with delivering to my unhappy mother her wedding-ring,49 with a message that "he never would have parted with it but with his life." He had also given him a parcel with the hair of all his family, saying, that "it had been so dear to him, that he had carefully preserved it till that moment." The officers reported that Clery was in a frightful state, and in despair, at not being allowed to see us. My mother made her request to the Council General, through the commissioners of the Commune; she also demanded mourning for her family. Clery was kept for a month longer in the Temple, and then released.
p206 We had now a little more freedom; our guards even believed that we were about to be sent out of France; but nothing could calm my mother's agony. No hope could touch her heart; and life and death became indifferent to her. She would sometimes look upon us with an air of pity which made us shudder. Fortunately50 my own affliction increased my illness to so serious a degree, that it made a diversion in the mind of my mother. My physician Brunier, and Lacase, a surgeon, were sent for. They cured me in the course of a month.
We were allowed to see the persons who brought our mourning, but only in presence of the municipal officers. My mother would go no more to the garden, because51 she must have passed the door of the room my father had inhabited, and that she could not p207 bear; but, fearing lest want of air should prove injurious to my brother and me, she asked, about the end of February, to be permitted to walk upon the leads of the Tower, which was granted.
It was discovered, in the room of the municipal officers, that the sealed parcel which contained the seal, the ring, and some other things of the King's, had been broken open, and the things carried away. These men were very uneasy about this, but at last they believed that the things had been taken by some thief, for the sake of the gold in which the trinkets were set. But the person who took them was no thief; he acted with the best intentions, to save them for my mother, who desired that the ring and seal should be carefully preserved for her son. I know who this worthy man52 was; but, alas! he has p208 since been put to death, not, indeed, on this account, but for another good action. I cannot venture to name him; hoping that, before he perished, he may have been able to convey these precious reliques to some trusty hand.
When Dumouriez left France, we were again more closely confined. A wall was built between the tower and the garden. A kind of blind was erected on the parapet of the leads, and every hole stopped up with the greatest care.
On the 25th of March, the chimney took fire. It was that evening that Chaumette, procureur (attorney) of the Commune, came, for the first time, to reconnoitre my mother, and to know whether she wanted any thing. She asked for nothing but a door of communication with her sister's room: (The two terrible nights which we passed with her, my aunt and I were obliged to lie on mattrassesº on the floor.) The officers opposed this; but Chaumette p209 said, that, in the state of decline in which my mother's health appeared to be, this indulgence might be necessary, and that he would speak of it to the general council of the Commune. Next morning he returned, at ten o'clock, with Pâche53 the mayor, and that dreadful Santerre, the commander-in‑chief of the national guard. Chaumette told my mother that he had mentioned the request for the door to the council, but that it had been rejected. She made no observation. Pâche asked her whether she had no complaint to make. She, without attending to what he was saying, answered, "No," mechanically.
A short time after this, some officers happened p210 to be on guard, whose compassion alleviated in some degree our sorrows. We latterly had attained a great facility in distinguishing the sentiments of the people who came to watch us; the Queen particularly; who often prevented us from being the dupes of false pretences of pity.
There was also another man who interested himself in our behalf. I know all who felt for us; I dare not name them for fear, in the present state of things, of endangering them, but the recollection of their kindnesses is engraved on my heart. I perhaps may never be able to show my gratitude, but God will reward their charity, and if I should be ever able to name them, they will be revered and loved by every virtuous and feeling heart.54
p211 But persecutions of all sorts increased. Tison was prohibited from seeing his daughter; this vexed him. One evening, seeing a stranger admitted, who brought some clothes to Madame Elizabeth, he flew into a rage that this man should be admitted while his relations were excluded. He let fall some expressions which were reported to Pâche, who happened to be down stairs, and who immediately determined to examine Tison. He asked him what had dissatisfied him. He replied, "The not seeing my daughter; and the seeing certain other persons here, who do not conduct themselves as they ought (meaning that some of the municipal officers used to speak low to my mother and aunt). He was asked their names: he stated them, and added, that we had correspondences without. — When asked for his proofs, he replied, "That one evening, at supper, the Queen, in pulling out her pocket-handkerchief, had dropped a pencil; and that one p212 day he had found some wafersa and a pen in a box in Madame Elizabeth's room." After this deposition, which he signed, his wife was examined. She repeated the same story; accused several of the officers; asserted that we had had communication with the King during his trial; and denounced Brunier, the physician, who attended me for my sore foot, as having brought us intelligence. She also, induced by her husband, signed all this; but she bitterly repented it, as we shall see hereafter. This denunciation was made on the 19th of April. She saw her daughter next day.
On the 20th, at half past ten o'clock, my mother and I had just gone to bed, when Hebert55 arrived, with several municipals. We p213 got up hastily; and these men read us a decree of the Commune, which directed that we should be searched56 without reserve; this decree was accurately obeyed, even to searching our beds. My poor brother was asleep: they tore him from his bed, under pretence of searching it. My mother took him up shivering with cold. All they found were a shopkeeper's card which my mother had happened to keep; a stick of sealing-wax from my aunt; and, from me,57 a heart dedicated to our Saviour, and a prayer for the welfare of France. This search lasted till four o'clock p214 in the morning. They made a formal inventory of all they found, which they obliged my mother and aunt to sign, by threatening that, if they did not do so, they should be separated from my brother and me. They were exasperated at finding only such trifles.
Three days after they came again, and then sent for my aunt alone.
They examined her on the subject of a hat which they had found in her room. They asked her where she got it, how long she had had it, and why she kept it. She answered, that it had belonged to my father, that he had worn it during the first days of his residence in the Temple, and that she had asked it of him as a keepsake. The municipal officers replied, that this hat was a suspicious circumstance; and, although she insisted on keeping it, they took it from her, obliging her to sign her answer.
My mother went every day on the leads, for the sake of giving us a little air. My p215 brother had for some days complained of a stitch in his side; but on the 9th of May, at seven in the evening, he was seized with a violent fever, accompanied with head-ache, and still the pain in his side. During the first days he would not lie in bed, for he complained that he was suffocating. My mother was alarmed, and asked the officers to send for a physician. They assured her that the illness was nothing, and that her maternal anxiety had alarmed her unnecessarily; they, however, mentioned it that council, and asked, in my mother's name, for our physician Brunier. The council laughed at my brother's illness, because Hebert reported that he had seen him at five o'clock, and that he had then no fever. They therefore positively refused the attendance of Brunier; whom it will be recollected Tison had lately denounced.
The fever, however, grew worse and worse: my aunt had the goodness to take my place in my mother's room, in order that I might not be p216 exposed to the infectious air of the disease, and that she might assist her sister in attending on the poor sick boy. She therefore took my bed, and I slept in her room.
The fever lasted several days, and was always most violent towards evening. My mother continued every day to request the attendance of a physician, but could not obtain it. At last, on Sunday morning, Thierry came; he was physician of the prisons, and appointed by the Commune to attend my brother. As he came in the morning, he did not perceive much fever; but my mother having requested him to call again in the afternoon, he found it violent, and he undeceived the municipal officers as to their opinion that my mother was alarmed at a trifle. He said, on the contrary, that it was more serious than she believed. He had, at the same time, the civility to call upon Brunier, to consult with him on the case, and as to the medicines which it might be proper to give p217 him, because Brunier was acquainted with my brother's constitution, having attended us from our infancy. He gave him some physic, which did him good; on Wednesday he made him take more, and that night I returned to sleep in my mother's room, who was greatly alarmed about the effect of this medicine, because, the last time he had taken any, he had had dreadful convulsions. She feared that he might have them again. She never closed her eyes all night: my brother, however, took his physic quietly, and it did him good, and occasioned no inconvenience.
Some days after, he took a second medicine, which also seemed to agree with him, except that he felt incommoded with heat. He had fits of fever, but only now and then, and occasionally the pain in the side. But his health began to decline, and was never re-established: want of air and exercise did him great mischief, as well as the kind of life which this poor child led; who, at eight years p218 old, passed his days amidst the tears and terrors of his friends, and in constant anxiety and agony.
For some time past I slept in my mother's room, for fear she or my brother should be ill in the night; but during his illness my aunt had taken his place.
On the 31st of May, we heard the drum beat to arms, and the tocsin ring, without being able to learn what the noise was about.58 We were forbidden to go on the leads to take the air, — a prohibition which was always renewed when there was any commotion in Paris.
In the beginning of June, Chaumette and Hebert came one evening about six o'clock, and inquired once more whether my mother wanted any thing, or had any thing to complain of. She answered No, and took no further notice of them. But my aunt asked Hebert for the hat59 which has been already p219 spoken of, and which he had taken away from her. He replied, the council did not think proper to restore it. Then my aunt, seeing that Chaumette did not go away, and knowing how extremely my mother suffered (though she gave no sign of it) from his presence, asked him why he came, and for what he stayed? Chaumette answered, that being on a visit to the prisons, and all prisons being equal, he had come to the Temple. My aunt replied No, for that some persons were justly, and others unjustly, kept in prison. They were both intoxicated.b
My brother was taken ill in the night, but Thierry having returned with a surgeon named Soupé, and another called Julapes, this indisposition had no bad consequences.
About this time, Madame Tison went mad. She was uneasy about my brother's illness, and had been long tormented with remorse: she got into a state of languor, and would not take the air. One day she began to talk p220 aloud of herself; alas! that made me laugh, and my poor mother and aunt looked at me with an air of satisfaction, as if they observed with pleasure this short moment of gaiety.
But the poor woman's derangement soon became serious: she raved of her crimes, of her denunciations, of prisons, scaffolds, the Queen, the royal family, and all our misfortunes. Conscious of her crimes, she thought herself unworthy to approach us; and she believed that the persons against whom she had informed60 had perished. Every morning she was in anxious hope of seeing the municipal officers whom she had denounced; and, not seeing them, she went to bed every night in a deeper melancholy. Her dreams must have been dreadful, for she screamed in her sleep so loud, that we heard her.
The municipal officers permitted her to see p221 her daughter, of whom she was very fond. One day, that the porter, who was not apprized of this permission, had refused to let the daughter come into the prison, the officers, seeing the desperate grief of the mother, sent for the girl at ten o'clock at night. This untimely visit alarmed her still more; it was with great difficulty they persuaded her to go down stairs, and on the way she repeated to her husband, "We are going to prison." When she saw her daughter, she did not know her; the fancy of being arrested had seized her mind. She was coming back again with one of the officers, but in the middle of the stairs she suddenly stopped, and would neither go backwards nor forwards. The officer, alarmed, was obliged to call for assistance to remove her up stairs; but nothing could induce her to go to bed, and during the whole night she disturbed us by raving and talking incessantly.
The next morning the physician pronounced p222 her quite mad. She was for ever at my mother's feet, asking her pardon; and nothing, indeed, could exceed the compassion which both she and my aunt showed to this poor creature, of whose previous conduct they had had too much reason to complain. They watched and attended her while she remained in this state in the Temple; and they endeavoured to pacify her with the warmest assurances of their forgiveness. The next day, she was removed from the tower to the palace; but her disorder increasing every hour, she was at last sent to the Hotel Dieu,61 where a woman belonging to the police was placed to watch her, and to gather whatever she might, in her phrensy, say concerning the Royal Family.
On the 3d of July, they read to us a decree of the Convention, that my brother should be separated from us, and placed in the most secure apartment of the tower. As p223 soon as he heard this sentence pronounced, he threw himself into the arms of my mother, and entreated, with violent cries, than to be separated from her. My mother was strikenº to the earth by this cruel order; she would not part with her son, and she actually defended, against the efforts of the officers, the bed in which she had placed him. But these men would have him, and threatened to call up the guard, and use violence. My mother exclaimed, that they had better kill her than tear the child from her. An hour was spent in resistance on her part, and in prayers and tears on the part of all of us.
At last they threatened even the lives of both him and me, and my mother's maternal tenderness at length forced her to this sacrifice. My aunt and I dressed the child, for my poor mother had no longer strength for any thing. Nevertheless, when he was dressed, she took him and delivered him p224 herself into the hands of the officers, bathing him with her tears, foreseeing that she was never to see him again. The poor little fellow embraced us all tenderly, and was carried off in a flood of tears. My mother charged the officers to ask the council-general for permission to see her son, were it only at meals. They engaged to do so. She was overwhelmed with the sorrow of parting with him, but her horror was extreme when she heard that one Simon62 (a shoemaker by trade, whom she had seen as a municipal officer in the Temple), was the person to whom her unhappy child was confided. She asked continually to be allowed to see him, but in vain. He, on his side, cried for two p225 whole days, and begged without intermission to be permitted to see us.
The officers now no longer remained in my mother's apartment; but we were locked up together both night and day; it was indeed an alleviation of our misfortune to be delivered from such society. The guards now came only three times a day, to bring our meals, and to examine the bolts and bars of our windows.
We had now no one to attend us, and were all the better for it. My aunt and I made the beds, and waited on my mother. We often went up to the tower, because my brother went there too from the other side: the only pleasure my mother enjoyedº was seeing him through a chink as he passed at a distance. She would watch at this chink for hours together, to see the child as he passed.63 It was her only hope, her only p226 thought. She now and then heard of him, either from the officers, or from Tison, who sometimes saw Simon. Tison endeavoured to make compensation for his past conduct; and he behaved better, and gave us some information.
As to Simon, he ill-treated my brother beyond all belief, and the more so because the poor boy cried at being separated from us: at last he had overcome him to such a point of dread, that he did not dare to weep. My aunt, who knew all this, entreated Tison, and those who, through compassion, brought us reports of the state of my brother, to conceal these horrors from my mother; who, however, either knew or suspected them but too well.
One day, a report was spread that my brother had been seen on the Boulevard. The guard, angry at not seeing him, reported that he was no longer in the Temple, and even we, alas! for a moment hoped that this might be true. But all were soon undeceived: the Convention p227 directed him to be taken into the garden, that he might be seen. On this occasion, my brothers, whose faculties they had not yet had time to alienate, complained of being separated from his mother, and asked by what law he was so treated; but they soon obliged him to hold his tongue. When the members of the Convention, who had been sent to ascertain the presence of my brother, had come up to my mother, she made a formal complaint against the cruelty of taking away her child. They answered, that they thought it a necessary precaution.
A new Procureur General had been lately appointed: he also came to visit us. Notwithstanding all we had been obliged to see and to suffer during our misfortunes, the manners of this man astonished us. From the moment he entered our room till his departure, he did nothing but swear.
On the 2d of August, at two o'clock in the morning, they awoke us, to read to my mother p228 the decree of the Convention, which, on the requisition of the procureur of the Commune, ordered her removal to the Conciergerie,64 preparatory to her trial.
She heard this decree read without any visible emotion, and without speaking a single word to them. But my aunt and I immediately required to be allowed to accompany my mother: but even this favour was refused to us. During the whole time that my mother was employed in making a bundle of the clothes which she was to take with her, these officers never quitted her. She was even obliged to dress herself before them. They asked for her pockets: she gave them. They searched them, and took away every thing they contained, though there was nothing p229 of any importance. They sent them in a parcel to the Revolutionary Tribunal,65 and told the Queen this parcel would be opened in her presence, at the tribunal. They left her only a pocket-handkerchief and a smelling-bottle, lest she should feel ill. She was now hurried away, after having embraced me, and charging me to keep up my spirits and courage, to take a tender care of p230 my aunt, and to obey her as a second mother: she repeated to me the instructions I had already received from my father: she then threw herself into the arms of my aunt, and recommended her children to her care. The thought of seeing my mother for the last time was so terrifying, that I was incapable of making any answer. At last, my aunt having said a few words to the Queen, in a whisper, she departed without daring to cast another look on me, lest she should lose her firmness.
She was obliged to stop again at the foot of the tower, because the officers insisted of making a procés-verbal of the delivery of her person. In going out, she struck her forehead against the wicket, not having stooped66 low enough. They asked her whether she p231 had not hurt herself: she replied, No; nothing can hurt me now. She got into a carriage with one municipal officer and two gendarmes.
On her arrival at the Conciergerie, they put her into the filthiest, dampest, and most unwholesome room of the whole prison. A police soldier watched her day and night, and never lost sight of her.67 My aunt and I were inconsolable, and spent many days and many nights in tears, though they had assured my aunt, when her sister was removed, that no harm should happen to her.
The company of my aunt, whom I loved so tenderly, was a great consolation to me; but, alas! all that I loved was perishing around me, and I was soon to lose her also.
The day after the Queen's removal, my aunt entreated with great earnestness, in her own name and mine, to be allowed to join my mother; but she could not obtain this indulgence, p232 nor even any account of her. As she knew that my mother, who had never drunk any thing but water, could not drink that of the Seine, as it did not agree with her, she begged the officers to take her some of that of Ville D'Avray,68 which came every day to the Temple. They promised to do so, and made an order accordingly; but one of their colleagues took it into his head to oppose this arrangement, and the order was never carried into effect.
A few days after, my mother, in order to obtain some tidings of us, endeavoured to send to the Temple some things which were useful to her; and, amongst others, her knitting-box, because she had undertaken to knit a pair of stockings for my brother. We sent it to her, with all the silk and worsted we could find, as we knew how fond she was of this kind of occupation. In happier times she was never without work, except when she p233 was obliged to be in public; and, accordingly, she had worked an immense quantity of furniture, and even a carpet, and an infinite quantity of all kinds of tapestry. We collected, therefore, every thing we could for her, but all our care was thrown away; and nothing that we sent was delivered to my mother. The alleged reason was, an apprehension that she should endeavour to shorten her life, by means of the knitting-needles.69
For some time, we heard of my brother from the municipal officers. That indulgence, however, did not last; but we heard him every day singing the Carmagnole, Marseilles songs, and such trash, with Simon. Simon dressed him in a red cap, and a carmagnole.70 He p234 made him sing at the windows, that the guard might hear him; and he taught him the most horrid oaths and execrations against God, his own family, and the aristocrats. My mother fortunately was ignorant of these horrors. Oh, my God! what pain it would have given her! She was gone before the child had learned this infamous lesson. It was an infliction which the mercy of Heaven was pleased to spare her.
Before she had left the Temple, they came to ask her for the Dauphin's clothes. On this occasion, she expressed her wish that the son of Louis the Sixteenth should not cease to wear mourning; but the first thing Simon did was to take away his black coat.
Towards the end of August, the change of life, and the ill usage with which he was overwhelmed, made him sick. Simon forced him to eat to excess, and to drink large quantities of wine, which he detested. This diet p235 soon brought on a fever; for which they gave him physic, which disagreed with him, and his constitution became altogether deranged. He grew extremely fat, without increasing in height or strength. Simon, however, still made him take the air on the leads of the tower.
In the beginning of September, I had an indisposition caused solely by my anxiety about my mother: I never heard a drum that I did not expect another 2d of September: every day I went upon the leads with my aunt. The officers visited us closely thrice a day, but their severity did not prevent our receiving now and then some hints of what was passing abroad, and particularly about my mother, which was our greatest concern.
In spite of all the efforts and vigilance of these cruel men, we always found some compassionate hearts, who felt for us. We learned that the Queen was accused of having had a p236 correspondence beyond the walls of the prison; we therefore hastened to get rid of our writings, our pencils, and whatever we had still preserved, fearing that we might be undressed and searched before Simon's wife, and that finding these things on us might endanger my mother; we had contrived, notwithstanding the most minute searches which were made in our chambers, and amongst all the furniture, to conceal ink, paper, and pens. We learnt too that my mother might have escaped71 from the Conciergerie. The wife of the keeper72 was not insensible to her misfortunes, and paid her every possible attention.
p237 The officers came again for linen for my mother, but they would not give us any account of her state of health. They even took away from us some pieces of tapestry which my mother had begun, and on which we were working, under pretence that these works might contain mysterious characters, and a secret mode of writing.
On the 21st of September, at one in the morning, Hebert arrived with several officers, to execute an order of the Commune, that we should be confined more strictly than heretofore; that we should have but one room; that Tison, who did the coarse household work, should be put in prison in the turret; that we should have nothing but what was strictly necessary; that there should be a kind of slide made in the door of upper room, by which our victuals were to be conveyed to us; and finally that, except to bring us water and firewood, no person should be allowed to enter the room.
p238 The slide in the door was not made, and the officers still continued to come three times a day, and examine very carefully all the bars and bolts, and every kind of furniture. We were obliged to make our own beds, and sweep the room: this was a long work at first, from our awkwardness at it, but we were obliged to do it, for we had at last absolutely no one to assist us. Hebert told my aunt that equality was the first law of the French republic; and, other prisoners not being allowed attendants, we could no longer have Tison. In order to treat us with all possible severity, they deprived us of even the most trifling accommodations; an armed chair, for instance, in which my aunt used to sit, and several other little matters of the same kind. Nay, things of strict necessity were denied us.
When our meals came, the doors were suddenly clapped to, that we might not even see the persons who brought them. We no p239 longer heard any news, except by the hawker, whose cries now and then reached us, but, in spite of all our attention, indistinctly. We were forbidden to go on the leads, and were deprived of our large sheets, lest, notwithstanding the gratings, we should escape from the windows. This was the pretext alleged; but the real cause of the change was a desire to substitute coarse and dirty sheets.
I believe it was about this time that the Queen's trial began. I have learnt, since her death, that there was a plan for effecting her escape from the Conciergerie, which unhappily failed. I have been assured that the gendarmes who guarded her, and the wife of the gaoler, had been gained over; that she had seen several well-affected persons in the prison, and, amongst others, clergyman, who had administered the sacrament to her, which she had received with the utmost devotion.
The opportunity of escaping failed, once, because, instead of speaking to the second p240 sentinel, as she had been desired to do, she addressed the first. Another time she had already got out of her dungeon, and had passed one of the corridors, when a gendarmes obliged her to turn back, and the whole scheme failed. These attempts will not surprise us if we recollect that all honest men took an interest in the Queen's fate, and that (with the exception of the vile and ferocious wretches, who were, alas! too numerous) every one who was permitted to speak to her, see her, or approach her, were touched with pity and respect, so well did her affability temper the dignity of her manners. We knew none of those details while they were passing. We had only heard that a Chevalier de St. Louis had given her a pink with a note concealed in it, but, as we were confined closer than ever, we could not learn the result.73
We were every day visited and searched p241 by the municipal officers. At four o'clock in the morning of the 4th of September, they came to make a complete search, and to carry off every article of plate and china. They took the little that was left; and, as some articles were wanting, they insulted us with an accusation of having stolen them! — but it was their own colleagues who had secretly taken the articles. They found, behind a chest of drawers of my aunt's, a rouleau of Louis d'or,º which they immediately seized with extraordinary eagerness, and questioned p242 her minutely as to whence it came, how long she had it, and for what use she had kept it. She replied, "That it had been given her by the Princess de Lamballe after the 10th of August; and that she had preserved it ever since." They then asked her who had given it to Madame de Lamballe. She answered, that she did not know. In fact, Madame de Lamballe's waiting-women had found means to convey this money to her in the Temple; and she had given it to my parents. They also examined me, and asked me my name, as if they had not known it; and made me sign an account of the transaction.
At noon on the 8th of October, while we were employed in dressing ourselves, and arranging our bed-room, Pâche, Chaumette, and David,74 members of the Convention, with p243 several officers of the municipality, arrived. My aunt, who was not quite dressed, refused to open the door till she was. Pâche, addressing me, begged me to walk down stairs. My aunt would have followed, but they stopped her. She asked whether I should be permitted to come up again; Chaumette assured her that I should. "You may trust," said he, "the word of an honest republican: she shall return."
I embraced my aunt, who was greatly affected, and went down greatly embarrassed p244 at finding myself for the first time in my life alone with men. I did not know what they wanted with me, but I recommended myself to the protection of God. On the stairs, Chaumette affected to offer me certain civilities: I made him no answer. I found myself in my brother's room, whom I embraced tenderly; but we were soon torn asunder, and I was obliged to go into another room. Chaumette desired me to sit down, which I did. He sat down opposite to me, while a municipal officer took out his pen. Chaumette asked me my name, but Hebert continued the interrogatory.
Tell me the truth, he said: it is not intended to affect you or your friends.
Not to affect my mother?
No, but some other persons who have not done their duty. Do you know the Citizens Toulan,75 Lepitre, Breno, Brugnot, Merle, Michonis?
p245 No, sir.
That is false; particularly Toulan, that little young man who used to come so often on duty to the Temple?
I know nothing of him, nor of the rest.
Do you remember that you were one day alone with your brother in the turret?
Your parents had sent you thither, that they might be more at their ease to speak to these people?
No, sir, but to accustom us to cold.
What did you do in the turret?
We talked and played with one another.
When you came out, did you not observe what these men had brought to your parents?
p246 I did not see any thing.
Chaumette then questioned me about a thousand shocking things, of which they accused my mother and my aunt. I was so shocked at hearing such horrors, and so indignant, that, terrified as I was, I could not hope exclaiming, that they were infamous falsehoods; but, in spite of my tears, they still pressed their questions.
There were some things which I did not comprehend, but of which I understood enough to make me weep with indignation and horror.76
He then asked me several questions about Varennes and other things, to all which I answered as well as I could, without implicating any body. I had always heard my parents say, that it were better to die than implicate any body.
p247 At last, about three o'clock, the examination was finished; it had lasted from noon. I entreated Chaumette to let me rejoin my mother, saying, with truth, that I had often made the same request of my aunt. "It is out of my power," said he. "What, Sir, you could not obtain this favour from the general council?" "No, I have no authority there." He then sent me back to my apartment with the municipal officers, desiring me not to speak of what had passed to my aunt, whom they were going to examine also. When I reached my room, I threw myself into her arms; but we were soon separated, and she was desired to go down stairs.
They put the same questions to her as they had done to me relative to the men before mentioned. She answered, that she knew the persons and names of these officers and others, but that she had no kind of intercourse with them. She denied having any correspondence without the Temple, and p248 she replied with still more contempt to the shocking things about which they examined her also.
She returned at four o'clock: her examination lasted but an hour, though mine had lasted three, because the deputies saw that they had no chance of intimidating her as they had hoped to be able to do a young person by the length and grossness of their inquiries. They were, however, deceived: they forgot that the life which I had lived for four years past, and, above all, the example shown me by my parents, had given me more energy and strength of mind.
Chaumette had assured us that this interrogatory had no concern with my mother, nor even ourselves, and that they were not thinking of trying her. Alas! he deceived us: she was immediately after put upon her trial, and condemned to death; but we were aware of neither. The following are the only particulars which I afterwards heard. p249 She had two counsel,77 M. M. Ducoudray and Chaveau Lagarde. A number of witnesses were examined, some of whom were worthy persons; others, alas! were quite the reverse. Mathieu and Simon, gaolers of the Temple, were also examined. I think what my mother must have suffered in seeing those whom she knew were likely to approach us. Our doctor, Brunier, was brought before the court. They asked him if he knew the Queen. "Yes. "How long?" "Since 1788, when the Queen intrusted to me the care of her children's health." "When you went to the Temple, you facilitated the prisoner's correspondence with persons without the walls?" The Queen then said, "Doctor Brunier, as you all know, never came to the p250 Temple but in company with a municipal officer, and never spoke to us but in his presence." And, finally, unheard of persecution! we learned that the trial had lasted three days and nights without intermission. They put the most unworthy, the most horrid questions to her, on the same subject on which Chaumette had examined us, and which could never have entered the imagination of any but such monsters. "I appeal to every mother who hears me," with the only answer she made to this infamous accusation. The people were touched a tit, and her terrified judges precipitated the sentence, from a dread of the effect which her dignity, presence of mind, and innocence, might have upon the people. She listened to it with perfect composure. They sent to attend her, in her last moments, a priest who had taken the new constitutional oaths. She at first declined his assistance with gentleness, and afterwards positively refused to listen to him or accept p251 his ministry. She knelt down, and prayed alone for a considerable time, coughed a little, then went to bed, and slept for some hours. Next morning, learning that the rector of St. Margaret's was in a part of the prison opposite to hers, she knelt down at the window facing his. I have been told that this clergyman perceived her, and gave her absolution, or his benediction. Then, having thus offered her life as a sacrifice to her Maker, she went to death with fortitude, amidst the execrations which a misguided multitude were uttering against her. Her courage did not abandon her in the cart or on the scaffold; and she showed as much fortitude at her death as she had done during her life.
Thus died, on the 16th of October, 1793, Marie-Antoinette-Josephe-Jeanne de Lorraine, daughter of an Emperor, and wife of a King. She was thirty-seven years and eleven months old. She had been twenty-three years p252 in France, and had survived her husband eight months.
48 Clery was not permitted to accompany the King beyond the Temple, so that this expression means till his departure from the prison; unless, as is probable, Madame had not, at the time she wrote this, known the exact state of the fact.
49 This was, I presume, a ring given to the King by the Queen, on their marriage. In the Moniteur of the 25th of January, 1793, it is described as a gold ring, with the following inscription engraved on the inside: "M. A. A. A. 19 Aprille, 1770;" meaning, I suppose, Marie Antoinette, Archiduchesse d'Autriche. The marriage took place the 16th of May, 1770.
50 What a touching expression of extreme grief!
51 This was the woman whose contempt for, and indifference to her husband, was for so long the favourite calumny of the Revolutionists.
52 Probably the municipal officer, Michonis, who was afterwards put to death for his indulgence to the Queen in the Conciergerie.
53 The son of the Mareschal de Castries' porter. This nobleman had given him some education. He was elected mayor on the 15th February, 1793. But, though a furious Jacobin, Robespierre wished to get rid of him, and he escaped the scaffold, which he deserved, only by Robespierre's fall. He has since lived in obscurity.
54 This passage was not in the original edition, and it is to be regretted, that in the latter publication those interesting names are not stated. Madame had given a pledge which ought to have been redeemed.
Thayer's Note: More text is not necessarily better, and the young Duchess made no such 'pledge'. The last sentence of this passage, which I have "bracketed", is in fact an addition to the original manuscript, which is more concise and less high-flown.
55 The editor of the most infamous of the revolutionary newspapers, the Journal du Père Duchèsne.º It was by the express orders of this monster that Madame de Lamballe was massacred. After having sent numbers of his own associates to the scaffold, he was, at last sent thither himself, on the 21st of March, 1794. He had married a nun, who was guillotined a few days after him.
56 "De les fouiller à discrétion." This phrase is, thank Heaven! untranslatable into our language: none but the monsters of the French age of liberality and reason could have thought à fouiller à discrétion des femmes.
57 "Un sacré coeur de Jésus." Religious tokens of this kind are hung round the necks of children in Roman-Catholic countries.
58 This was the conflict of the Jacobins with the Girondins, which ended in the overthrow of the latter party, and the execution of its principal members.
61 The general hospital of Paris.
62 Simon, a shoemaker, was appointed guardian of the Dauphin. His chief duty was to debilitate his body and impair his understanding; and he, as we shall see in the text, succeeded but too well in the infernal task. He was involved in Robespierre's overthrow, and was guillotined the day after him, July 29th, 1794.
63 Pathetic as the whole of these Memoirs are, we cannot refrain from expressing the peculiar feeling which these passages excite.
64 The Conciergerie was originally, as the name implies, the porters' lodge of the ancient palace of justice, and, as was Turk with our Marshalsea, became, in process of time, a prison, from the habit of confining there persons who had committed petty offences about the court.
65 It may not be uninstructive to give a few details relative to the tribunal that murdered the Queen. It consisted of four judges — Herman, Foucaut, Verteuil, and Lanne — all of whom, except Verteuil (an apostate priest), perished on the scaffold within a year. Fouquier-Tinvelle,º of bloody memory, was her accuser. This man grew frightened at the success of his prosecutions, and at the numbers he sent to death: he wished to draw back, but it was too late. He was often heard to say "My turn will come." It did come, and he was executed on the 6th of May, 1795. The jury consisted of a wig-maker, a printer, a tailor, a surgeon, an ex-deputy of the Convention, a crier, a carpenter, a house-painter, &c.; and several of these are known to have perished on the scaffold within a few months; the fate of the rest is unknown.
66 Mathieu, the gaoler, used to say: "I make Madame Veto (the queen), and her sister and daughter, proud as they are, salute me; for the door is so low they cannot pass without curtsying."
67 The reader will not fail to observe all the horrible consequences which these words imply.
68 An agreeable little village about half-way between St. Cloud and Versailles.
69 In the Conciergerie the Queen found a bit of old tapestry which she unravelled, and, by the aid of two pieces of wood, she knitted the threads into garters.
70 I do not know what article of dress they called by this name. I presume it was a kind of jacket, such as the lower orders in France wear, and which was probably therefore honoured with the name of carmagnole.
Thayer's Note: A jacket, yes, worn by working-class men in the Marseilles area. The derivation of carmagnole is unknown, but it's the song that owes its name to the vest. Bloch & Wartburg's Dictionnaire Etymologique de la langue française traces the item of clothing to a dress jacket worn by peasants in Dauphiné and Savoy, then adds dubiously, and to me unconvincingly, that the word may derive from the name of the Piemontese town of Carmagnola.
The word then migrated to a dance and to a transient literary genre, a sort of heroic tale with a republican moral.
71 This seems very doubtful; there were, I believe, more than one plot for this purpose, but they all seem but little likely to have succeeded.
72 The keeper's name was Richard. He and his wife both showed feelings of humanity, which, though in other times they would not have attracted much notice, were, in the then state of France, considered as very extraordinary.
73 M. Hue gives the detail of this affair. The Chevalier de Rougeville managed to get invited to dinner at the house of Michonis, a municipal officer, one of the inspectors of prisons in Paris, and there contrived very adroitly to obtain leave (to gratify his curiosity, as he pretended) to see the Queen. He wore a nosegay, which he pretended a lady had given him: in this was the pink, which contained a note with these words, "I have men and money at your disposal." When he was admitted to the Queen, he offered her the pink. She took it, and found the note; but, as she was endeavouring to trace an answer with the point of a pin, the guard surprised her, and all was discovered. M. de Rougeville escaped, but Michonis was beheaded.
74 David, a painter, and one of the regicides. When Robespierre was attacked the day before his final overthrow, David addressed him in the enthusiasm of their bloody friendship — "If you are obliged to drink hemlock, I will drink it with you." Next day, however, his appetite for hemlock was gone, and he very prudently took care to let his Socrates perish without him. It is said that he saved his life by asking a respite, that he might finish a picture. This is very likely; a false sensibility, and a pretence to a taste for the arts, garnished all the solid atrocities of the Revolution. David was said to have improved his knowledge of the anatomy of the human figure, by the opportunities which the massacres afforded him. Buonaparte, of course, highly favoured him, and made him a knight of the legion of honour.
75 Toulan was really in communication with the Queen. He was a violent republican; but the sight of the royal family touched him with pity, and it was said, at the time, a tenderer sentiment. It would seem, from Hebert's questions, that he partook this latter opinion, though it now appears that Madame Royale did not know Toulan. He was guillotined in June, 1794.
76 It is obvious that these horrors were the atrocious calumnies against the morals of the Queen and Madame Elizabeth.
77 M. Tronçon-Ducoudray was exiled to Cayenne, where he died in 1798. M. Chaveau Lagarde is still alive, and has received the thanks and favour of the Royal Family, and particularly of Madame D'Angoulême. They both showed great talents and courage.
b The translator leaves us with an unfortunate impression. The original French at this point has Ils s'en allèrent, ils étoient ivres tous les deux. — They went away, they were both drunk. The drunks are Chaumet and Hébert.
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