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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,

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]
Part 2

 p153  Private Memoirs
of what passed in
The Temple,
from the imprisonment of the royal family
to the death of the Dauphin

Madame Royale, Duchess of Angoulême

 p155  Notice

The following pages are written by the only survivor of the prisoners of the Temple, — the Duchess of Angoulême, Princess Royal of France.

Her name does not indeed appear in the title-page, but there is hardly a page which does not afford internal evidence of its authenticity.

The notes from which it was composed, we are told, were made at the moment by stealth, and with pencils which Her Royal Highness contrived to conceal from her persecutors. The last line implies that they were written in the Temple.

It will be observed that several passages are obscure, and one or two contradictory: there are frequent repetitions, and a general want of arrangement. All these, which would be defects in a regular history, increase the value of this Journal: they attest its authenticity, and forcibly impress on our minds the cruel circumstances of perplexity and anxiety under which it was written; and the negligence and disorder, if I may use the expression, in which the Princess appears before us, become her misery better than a more careful and ornamented attire.

It is a great proof of her good taste, as well as of her conscientious veracity, that she has not permitted any polishing hand to smooth down the colloquial simplicity of her style, and the irregular, but forcible, touches of her expression.

 p156  This narrative was first published in 1817; it has been lately republished with some slight variations, and a greater appearance of authority. In the first edition, the Princess was made to speak in the third person, and one or two omissions were made. The translation (which originally appeared in 1817) has been revised and accommodated to the new edition, and the variations are mentioned in the notes.

There are some little differences on minor points between Her Royal Highness's account and those of M. Hue and Clery. These might have been easily corrected or omitted: but, again, we think the Duchess has acted with perfect good taste and judgment, in leaving these passages as they were originally written. Those who will take the trouble to compare hers with the other two accounts will see that these trifling variances (and they are very trifling) instead of invalidating, support the credit of all the narrators, and prove that they all faithfully report the impressions or the information which they severally received.

 p157  Memoirs,
&c. &c.

[1792.] — The King my father, and his family, reached the Temple at seven o'clock in the evening of the 13th August, 1792. The gunners wanted to take him alone to the Tower,​1 and to leave us in the Palace of the  p158 Temple, but Manuel​2 had by the way received an order to shut us all up in the Tower. Petion appeased the anger of the gunners, and the order was executed. Petion went away, but Manuel remained, and the municipal officers would not let the King out of their sight: he supped with his family. My brother was dying with sleep. At eleven o'clock Madame de Tourzel took him to the tower, which was positively to be the common lodging of all. About one o'clock in the morning, my father and the rest of the family were conducted thither; — there  p159 was nothing ready for our reception. My aunt slept in the kitchen, and it was said that Manuel himself was ashamed at showing her the way to such a bedchamber.

These are the names of the persons who were confined with us in this melancholy abode:—

The Princess of Lamballe, Madame de Tourzel, and Pauline her daughter: Messrs. Hue and Chamilly,​3 who slept in a room above; they belonged to my father: Madame Navarre, my aunt's waiting-woman, who, as well as Pauline, slept in the kitchen with her. Madame St. Brice, who took care of my brother; she slept in the billiard-room with him and Madame de Tourzel. Madame Thibaut, the Queen's woman, and Madame Bazire, mine, lay down stairs. My father  p160 had three men, Turgis,​4 Crétien, and Marchand.

Next day, the 14th, my brother came to breakfast with his mother, and we all went afterwards to visit the great rooms of the Tower, where it was said that accommodations were to be prepared for us, as the turret was too small to hold us all.

The next day, Manuel and Santerre having come, we went to walk in the garden. There was a great deal of murmuring against the ladies who had accompanied us: on our arrival we had found some women  p161 appointed by Petion to wait upon us; and although we rejected them, there was, the next day but one, a decree of the Commune,​5 ordering the dismissal of those who had come with us: but my father and mother having formally opposed this, and the municipal officers who were engaged in the Temple having joined them, the order was for the moment revoked.

We all passed the day together. My father taught my brother geography; my mother history, and to get verses by heart; and my aunt gave him little lessons in arithmetic. My father had fortunately found a library,6  p162 which amused him, and my mother worked tapestry. The municipal officers were very familiar, and showed little respect even for the King; one of them always kept sight of him. My father asked to have a man and woman sent in to do the coarser kind do menial work.

The night between the 19th and 20th August, a new order of the Commune directed the removal from the Temple of all the persons who were not of the royal family. M. Hue and Chamilly were removed from my father, who remained alone with a municipal officer.

They then came down to carry away Madame de Lamballe. My mother strongly opposed this, saying (what indeed was true), that this princess was of the royal family;7  p163 they nevertheless carried her away. My aunt went down with Madame de Navarre and Pauline de Tourzel; the municipal officers promised that these ladies should return when they had been examined. My brother was taken into his mother's apartment, that he might not be left alone. The  p164 Queen could not tear herself from the arms of Madame de Lamballe. We embraced all these ladies hoping however to see them again next day, and we all four passed the night without sleep. My father, though awake, also remained in the bedchamber, and the municipal officers never left him.

Next day, at seven o'clock, we learned that the ladies would not return to the Temple, and that they had been taken to the prison of La Force:​8 but we were very much surprised, at nine o'clock, to see M. Hue​9 return, who said that the council-general  p165 of the Commune had pronounced him innocent, and sent him back to the Temple.

After dinner, Petion sent a man of the name of Tison, and his wife, to do the coarse work. My mother took my brother into her own room, and sent me with my aunt into another. We were only separated from my mother by  p166 a little room, where a municipal officer and a sentinel were placed. My father remained above stairs; but, having learned that they were preparing another apartment for him — which he by no means wished for, because he would be thereby still farther removed from his family — he sent for Palloi,​10 the foreman of the labourers, to prevent the work being proceeded in; but Palloi replied insolently, that he received no orders but from the Commune.

We went up every morning to the King's apartment to breakfast; and afterwards the whole family returned to the Queen's, where the King passed the day. We went every day to walk in the garden, for the sake of my brother's health, where the King was always insulted by the guard. On the feast of St.  p167 Louis, at seven o'clock in the morning, Ca Ira was sung under the walls of the Temple.

We learned that morning, by a municipal officer, that M. de la Fayette​11 had quitted France. Manuel, in a conversation with my father in the evening, confirmed the report. He brought my aunt a letter from her aunts at Rome.​12 It was the last the family received from without. My father was no longer called King. He was treated with no kind of respect; and, instead of "Sire," or "Your Majesty," was called only Mr. or Louis. The officers always sat in his presence, and never took off their hats.

 p168  They deprived him of his sword,​13 and they searched his pockets. Petion sent Clery​14 to wait upon him, who had been before in my father's service; but he, at the same time, sent as turnkey and gaoler the horrible man​15 who had broken open his door on the 20th​16 of  p169 June, 1792, and who had been near assassinating him. This man never left the Tower, and was indefatigable in endeavouring to torment him. One time he would sing the Carmagnole, and thousand other horrors before us; again, knowing that my mother disliked the smoke of tobacco, he would puff it in her face, as well as in that of my father, as they happened to pass him. He took care always to be in bed before we went to supper, because he knew that we must pass through his room. Sometimes, even, he would be in bed as we went to dinner: in short, there was no species of torment or insult that he did not practise. My father  p170 suffered it all with gentleness, forgiving the man from the bottom of his heart. My mother bore it with a dignity of character that frequently repressed their insolence. The garden was full of workmen, who often insulted my father. One of them even boasted before him that he wished to split the Queen's head with the tool with which he was working. Petion, however, caused him to be arrested.

These insults increased on the 2d of September. They even threw stones at my father from the windows, which fortunately did not reach him. About the same time, a woman, probably with good intentions, wrote on a large piece of paste-board, "Verdun is taken," and held it up to a window.​17 My aunt had time to read it, though none of the officers saw it. Hardly had we heard this news, when a new municipal officer, named  p171 Mathieu,​18 arrived; he was in a furious passion, and ordered my father to go in: we all followed, fearing to be separated from his majesty.

On going up stairs, Mathieu found Mr. Hue, whom he seized by the collar, crying out, that he arrested him. Mr. Hue, to gain time to receive the commands of my parents, asked for some delay, that he might pack up his effects. Mathieu refused; but another officer, more charitable, consented. Mathieu then turned to my father, and said to him every thing that the most brutal rage could suggest: amongst the rest he exclaimed — "The drum has beat to arms; the tocsin has sounded; the alarm-guns have been fired; the emigrants are at Verdun; if they come, we shall all perish; but you shall die first!"

 p172  My father heard all this, and a thousand such sallies, with the calm that hope inspires. My brother burst out crying, and ran into another room. I followed him, and had the greatest difficulty in quieting him. The poor child fancied his father already murdered. Mr. Hue now came back, and, after Mathieu had gone through his violence over again, they went away together. Fortunately, Mr. Hue was taken only to the Town-house, for the massacre was already begun at the Abbaye. He remained a month in prison; but, when he was released, he did not return to the Temple.

The other officers all disapproved the ferocious conduct of Mathieu, but they could do no more. They told my father that it was universally believed that the King of Prussia was advancing and killing all the French he met, under an order signed Louis. There was no species of calumny which they did not invent, even the most absurd and incredible.  p173 The Queen, who could not sleep, heard the drums beating all night, but we knew not why.

The 3d of September, Manuel​19 came to see the King, and he assured him that Madame de Lamballe, and all the other persons who had been removed from the Temple, were well, and in security together, in the prison of La Force. At three o'clock, just  p174 after dinner, and as the King was sitting down to tric-trac with my mother (which he played for the purpose of having an opportunity of saying a few words to her unheard by the keepers), the most horrid shouts were heard. The officer who happened to be on guard in the room behaved well: he shut the door and the window, and even drew the curtains, to prevent their seeing any thing; but, on the outside, the workmen, and the gaoler, Rocher, joined the assassins, and increased the tumult.

Several officers of the guard and of the municipality now arrived: the former insisted that my father should show himself at the windows; fortunately the latter opposed it; but, on my father's asking what was the matter, a young officer of the guard replied: "Well! since you will know, it is the head of Madame de Lamballe that they want to show you." At these words my mother was overcome with horror; it was the only occasion on which  p175 her firmness abandoned her. The municipal officers were very angry with this young man; but the King, with his usual goodness, excused him, saying, that it was not the officer's fault, but his own, since he had questioned him.

The noise lasted till five o'clock. We learned that the people had wished to force the door, and that the municipal officers had been enabled to prevent it only by putting a tri-coloured scarf across it, and by allowing six of the murderers to march round our prison with the head of the Princess, leaving at the door her body, which they would have dragged in also. When this deputation entered, Rocher shouted for joy, and at the sight of the bloody head, scolded a young man who turned sick with horror at this spectacle.

The tumult was hardly over, when Petion,20  p176 instead of exerting himself to stop the massacres, coolly sent his secretary to the King with some money. This man was very ridiculous, and said a thousand things which at another moment would have made one laugh. He thought my mother was standing up out of respect for him; because, since this dreadful scene, she had remained standing and motionless, perfectly insensible of all that was going on. The municipal officer, who had given his scarf to tie across the door, took care to make my father pay him the value.

My aunt and I heard the drums beating to arms all night; my unhappy mother did not even attempt to sleep; we heard her  p177 sobs. We did not believe that the massacre was still going on, and it was only some time after that we learned that it had lasted three days.

It is impossible to describe all the violent scenes which were occasioned, as well as by the municipal officers as by the guard; every thing alarmed their guilty consciences. One day, a man having fired a gun in the Temple, to try it, they examined him with great ceremony, and drew up a formal account of the transaction. Another time, during supper, there was a cry "To arms!" — they believed the Prussians were coming. The brutal Rocher drew his sabre, and said to my father, "If they come, I shall kill you." It was nothing, however, but some mistake of the patroles.

On one occasion, however, about a hundred workmen, led perhaps by some friend of our family, undertook to force the iron gate at the  p178 side of the Rotunda;​21 the guard and municipal officers hurried to the spot; these workmen were dispersed, and perhaps, alas! there were some lives lost.

The severity of these municipal officers increased daily. There were, however, two of them who alleviated the sufferings of my parents, by showing them pity, and by giving them hopes. I am afraid they are dead. There was also one sentinel, who, through the keyhole, had a conversation with my aunt. This poor man did nothing but weep the whole time he was in the Temple; may Heaven have rewarded him for his affectionate attachment to his sovereign!

When I took my lessons, and my mother wrote out extracts of books for me, a municipal officer continually looked over my shoulder, thinking we were employed in conspiracies.  p179 They had refused us the newspapers, that we might not know the state of affairs abroad. One day, however, they brought one to my father, telling him it contained something interesting for him. Monsters! — it was a statement that they would make a cannon-ball of his head. The calm and contemptuous silence of my father disappointed the malice of those who had sent this infernal writing. There was also a municipal officer who came one night, and, after a thousand insults and threats, repeated what had been before said, that, if the enemy advanced, we should all perish. My brother alone, he said, "excited some pity; but that, being the son of a tyrant, he must needs die with the rest." These were the scenes which each day brought with it.

The republic was proclaimed on the 22d September; they communicated it to us with great joy: this day they also reported the retreat  p180 of the Prussians. We could not believe it, but it was true.

In the beginning of October they removed pens, paper, ink, and pencils; they searched every where, even with rudeness: that did not, however, prevent my mother and me from concealing some pencils, which we preserved. My father and my aunt gave up theirs.

The evening of the same day, after my father had supped, he was told to stop, that he was not to return to his former apartments, and that he was to be separated from his family. At this dreadful sentence the Queen lost her usual courage: we parted from him with abundance of tears, though we expected to see him again in the morning.

In the morning, however, they brought us our breakfast separately from his: my mother would take nothing. The officers,  p181 alarmed at her silent and concentrated sorrow, allowed to us to see the King — but at meal-times only, and on condition that we should not speak low, nor in any foreign language, but loud, and in good French. We went down therefore with the greatest joy, to dine with my father. One of the officers observed that the Madame Elizabeth had spoken low to the King: he chid her violently.

In the evenings, when my brother was in bed, my mother and my aunt sat with him alternately, while the other went with me to sup with my father. In the mornings, after breakfast, we remained in the King's apartments, while Clery dressed our hair, as he was no longer allowed to come to my mother's room, and we had, besides, by this arrangement, the pleasure of spending a few moments more with my father.

One day Manuel came to my father, and took from him, with great rudeness, his red  p182 ribbon.​22 He assured him, that of all the persons who had been in the Temple, Madame de Lamballe alone had perished. An oath of fidelity to the nation was now administered to Clery, Tison, and his wife.

One night a municipal officer coming on duty, awakened my brother suddenly, that he might see that he was safe; this was the only occasion in which my mother showed any impatience at the conduct of these people. Another of them told my mother that Petion's design was not the death of my father, but to confine him for life with my brother, in the castle of Chambord. I cannot tell what this man's object could be in repeating this story, for he never came again.

 p183  They had now placed my father in an apartment under that of my mother: my brother slept in the former. Clery and a municipal officer alsoº slept in the same apartments. The windows were blocked up with new gratings and blinds; the chimnies​23 smoked very much.

The following is the way our family passed their days.

My father rose at seven, and was employed in his devotions till eight. Afterwards he dressed himself and my brother, and at nine came to breakfast with my mother. After breakfast, my father taught my brother his lessons till eleven. The child then played till twelve, at which hour the whole family was obliged to walk in the garden,​24 whatever  p184 the weather might be; because the guard, which was relieved at the time, wished to see all the prisoners, and satisfy themselves that we were safe. The walk lasted till dinner, which was at two o'clock. After dinner my father and mother played at tric-trac or piquet, or, to speak more truly, pretended to play, that they might have an opportunity of saying a few words to one another. At four o'clock, my mother and we went up stairs and took my brother with us, as my father was accustomed to sleep a little at this hour. At six my brother went down again to my father to say his lessons, and to play till supper-time. After supper, at nine o'clock, my mother undressed him quickly, and put him to bed. We then went up to our own apartment again, and the King did not go to bed till eleven. My mother worked a good deal of tapestry: she directed my studies, and often made me read aloud. My aunt was frequently in prayer,  p185 and read every morning the divine service of the day. She read a good many religious books, and sometimes, at the Queen's request, would read aloud.

They permitted us to have newspapers again, that we might see the retreat of the Prussians, and the horrid libels against the King, of which they were full. One day, one of these people said to us, "Come, ladies, I have good news for you: several emigrant traitors have been taken: if you are patriots, you must be glad of it." My mother, as usual, made no reply, and did not even appear to hear him. Her calm contempt, and her dignified air, generally struck them with respect. They seldom ventured to speak to her.

A deputation​25 of the Convention came,  p186 for the first time, to see the King in the Temple: the members asked him whether he had not any complaint to make. He replied No; that, while he was permitted to remain with his family, he was happy. Clery complained that the tradesmen who supplied the Temple were not paid. Chabot answered, "The nation is not reduced to half-a-crown." These deputies were Chabot,​26 Dupont,​27 Drouet,​28 and Le Cointre-Puyravaux:​29 they came  p187 again after dinner to repeat the same questions. One day Drouet came alone, and asked my mother if she had no complaint to make. She made him no answer.

A short time after, as we were at dinner, some gendarmes arrived, who fell upon Clery, and forced him off to one of the tribunals. Some days before, Clery, in going down stairs in company with one of the municipal officers, had met a young man of his acquaintance, who was on guard. They wished one another good morning, and shook hands. The officers took umbrage at this, and caused the young man to be arrested. It was to be confronted with him before the tribunal that Clery was now taken. My father entreated they might be allowed to return. The municipal officers said he would  p188 not return. He did, however, return at midnight. He asked the King's pardon for his past conduct, which the kindness of my father, the exhortations of my aunt, and the distress of the whole family, induced him to change. He was ever after truly faithful to us.30

One day a great noise was heard of a mob crying out for the heads of my father and mother. They had the cruelty to yell these horrors under our windows.

My father fell ill of a violent cold. They permitted him to send for a physician and his apothecary, Lemonnier and Robert. The Commune was uneasy; there was a regular bulletin of his health. He got better. The whole family had colds, but the King's was the most serious.

The Commune was changed the 2d of December. The newly-elected municipal officers  p189 came at ten o'clock to reconnoitre31 my father and his family. Some days after, there was a decree of this new Commune, to turn away Clery and Tison; to take from us our knives, scissors, and other sharp instruments; and finally, that whatever we ate should be previously and carefully tasted. A search was made for sharp instruments: my mother and I gave up our scissors.

On the 11th of December, the sound of a drum, and the noise of the arrival of troops at the Temple, gave us a great deal of uneasiness. My father came down with my brother after breakfast. At eleven o'clock, Chambon32  p190 and Chaumette,​33 the mayor and attorney-general of the Commune, and Colombeau,34  p191 the secretary, arrived. They announced to him a decree of the Convention, that he should be brought to its bar to be examined. They obliged him to send my brother to his mother's apartment; but, not having the decree of the Convention, they kept my father waiting two hours. He did not go till about one o'clock, when he went in the mayor's carriage with Chaumette and Colombeau. The carriage was escorted by municipal officers on foot. My father observing, as they went along, that Colombeau saluted a great number of persons, asked him if they were all friends of his; Colombeau answered, "They are brave citizens of the 10th of August, whom I never see but with the greatest pleasure."

I shall not say any thing of the conduct of my father at the bar of the Convention. All the world knows it: his firmness, his mildness, his goodness, his courage, in the midst of an assembly of murderers  p192 thirsting for his blood, can never be forgotten, and must be admired by the latest posterity.

The King returned at six o'clock to the Tower of the Temple, under the same escort. It is impossible to describe the anxiety which we had suffered in his absence. My mother had used every endeavour with the officers who guarded her, to discover what was passing; it was the first time she had condescended to question them. These men would tell her nothing. It was only on my father's arrival that she was informed.

When he returned, she asked to see him instantly. She made the same request even to Chambon, but received no answer. My brother passed the night with her; and, as he had no bed, she gave him hers, and sat up all night in such deep affliction, that we were afraid to leave her; but she obliged my aunt and me to go to bed.

Next day, she again asked to see my father, and to read the newspapers, that she  p193 might learn the course of the trial. She entreated, that at least, if she was to be denied this indulgence, his children might see him. This request was referred to the Commune. The newspapers were refused; but my brother and I were allowed to see my father on condition of being entirely separated from my mother. When this was conveyed to my father, he said that great as his happiness was in seeing his children, the important business which then occupied him would not allow of his attending altogether to his son, and that his daughter could not quit her mother. My brother's bed was in consequence removed into my mother's room.

The Convention came to see my father. He asked for counsel,​35 ink, paper, and  p194 razors to shave. All these requests were granted. Messrs. Malesherbes,​36 Tronchet​37 and Desèze, who were assigned as his counsel, came to see him. He was often obliged, in order to converse with them without being overheard, to retire into the turret.

He went no more into the garden, nor did we.​38 He knew nothing of us, nor we of him, but through the municipal officers. I had something the matter with my foot; and my father, having heard of it, was, with his usual tenderness, very uneasy about me, and  p195 made constant inquiries. Our family was so fortunate as to find, amongst the members of the Commune, some men whose compassion alleviated our sufferings. They assured my mother that my father would not be put to death, and that his case would be referred to the primary assemblies, who would undoubtedly save him.

Alas! they deceived themselves; or, through pity, intended to deceive my mother.

On the 26th December, St. Stephen's​39 day, my father made his will, because he expected to be assassinated that day on his way to the bar of the Convention. He went thither, nevertheless, with his usual calmness, and left to M. Desèze​40 the care of his defence.  p196 He left the Temple at eleven o'clock, and returned at three. Henceforward he saw his counsel every day.

[1793.] — At last, on the 18th January, the day on which the sentence was pronounced, the municipal officers entered the King's room at eleven o'clock, saying, that they had now orders never to lose sight of him for a moment. He asked if his fate was decided. They answered, No.

Next morning M. Malesherbes came to acquaint him that the sentence had been pronounced; "but, Sire," he added, "these wretches are not yet masters, and every honest man will endeavour to save your Majesty, or to die at your feet." "M. de Malesherbes," said the King, "such proceedings would involve a great many persons, and would excite a civil war in Paris.  p197 I had rather die.​41 — You will therefore, I entreat of you, command them from me to make no effort to save me — the King of France never dies!"

After this conference he was never allowed to see his counsel again. He addressed a note to the municipal officers, to ask to see them, and to complain of the hardship of being kept under perpetual inspection. No attention was paid to his representations.

On Saturday,º the 20th January, Garat,​42 the minister of justice, and the other members of the executive power, came to announce to him the sentence for his execution next  p198 day. My father heard it with fortitude and piety: he demanded a respite of three days, to know what the fate of his family was to be, and to have a catholicº confessor. The respite was refused. Garat assured him that there was no charge against his family, and that it would be sent out of France. The Abbé Edgeworth​43 de Firmont was the priest he wished for. He gave his address, and Garat brought him. The King dined as usual,  p199 which surprised the municipal officers, who expected that he would endeavour to commit suicide.

About seven o'clock in the evening we learned the sentence by the newsmen, who came crying it under our windows: a decree of the Convention permitted us to see the King. We ran to his apartment, and found him much altered; he wept for us, not for fear of death; he related his trial to my mother, apologizing for the wretches who had condemned him; he told her, that it was proposed to attempt to save him by having recourse to the primary assemblies, but that he would not consent, lest it should excite confusion in the country. He then gave my brother  p200 some religious advice, and desired, him above all, to forgive those who caused his death and he gave him his blessing, as well as to me.

My mother was very desirous that the whole family should pass the night with my father; but he opposed this, observing to her how much he needed some hours of repose and quiet. She asked at least to be allowed to see him next morning, to which he consented. But, when we were gone, he requested that we might not be permitted to return, as our presence afflicted him too much. He then remained with his confessor till midnight, when he went to bed.

He slept till he was awakened by the drums at five o'clock. At six, the Abbé Edgeworth said mass, and administered the holy sacrament to my father. At nine o'clock he left the Temple. On the stairs, he delivered his will to a municipal officer, and a sum of  p201 money, which M. de Malesherbes had brought him, and which he desired should be returned to him; but the officers shared it amongst themselves. He met one of the turnkeys,​44 whom he had reprimanded rather sharply the day before: he now said to him, "Mathieu, I am sorry for having offended you." On his way to the scaffold, he read the prayers for those at the point of death.

On the scaffold he wished spoken to the people; but Santerre​45 prevented him by ordering the drums to beat: what little he  p202 was allowed to say was heard by very few. He then undressed himself without assistance. His hands were tied, not with a rope, but with his own handkerchief. At the instant of death, his confessor exclaimed, "Son of St. Louis, ascend to heaven!"46

He received the stroke​47 of death on  p203 Sunday, the 21st of January, 1793, at ten minutes past ten o'clock in the forenoon.

Thus died Louis XVI, King of France, at the age of thirty-nine years, five months, and three days, of which he had reigned eighteen. He had been five months and eight days in prison.

Such was the life of my father during his rigorous captivity. In it were displayed piety, greatness of mind, and goodness; — mildness, fortitude, and patience, in bearing the most infamous insults, the most malignant calumnies; — Christian clemency, which heartily forgave even his murderers; — and the love of God, his family, and his people, of which he gave the most affecting proofs, even with his last breath, and of which he went to receive the reward in the bosom of his almighty and all-merciful Creator.

J. W. Croker's Notes:

1 The Temple, which had its name, like our Temple, from the knights templars, consisted of two distinct buildings: — the palace of the Temple, which faced the Rue deº Temple, where one of the princes of the blood usually resided (latterly the Count D'Artois lived there), and the tower of the Temple, which was situated in the space behind the palace. The tower consisted of a great square tower, with a round tower at each corner; and on one side there was a small addition, which was usually called the Tourelle or Turret, though the small round towers were also so called. The tower of the Temple was so little known in Paris, that some of those who attended the King never saw or heard of it till the fatal night his majesty was confined there. Mr. Hue gives an interesting description of his first and uncertain view of this curious old edifice. Buonaparte, anxious to extinguish all recollections of ancient times, razed the Temple.

2 We shall give, in the course of the work, notices of the most remarkable personages whose names we may meet; but they occur in such a number in these first pages, that the notes would overwhelm the text.

3 First valet-de‑chambre of the King. His fidelity to his master affected even the Septembrisers at La Force, who spared his life; he was, however, brought to the guillotine in June, 1794.

4 These persons had been menial servants of the King, and, with a provident devotion to his person, contrived to get employed in the Temple. Of Crétien and Marchand I know nothing more; but Turgis continued to distinguish himself by his courage and fidelity to the royal family. At the risk of his life, he kept up their communication with their friends. Madame Elizabeth peculiarly valued him, and the Duchess of Angoulême has since placed him in her own family.

5 The Commune, or common council, of the city of Paris, took very early a prominent share in the revolutionary government. It was often as powerful, and generally more mischievously active, than even the National Assemblies or Convention. All that belonged to the custody, or rather persecution, of the royal family, was, by this atrocious junto, jealously affected to itself.

6 The archives of the Order of Malta were kept in the Tower, and this library was attached to the office of the archivist or keeper.

7 The Princess de Lamballe was of the house of Savoy, and the widow of Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Lamballe, son of the Duke of Penthievre. She was united in the strictest affection and friendship with the Queen; and when the arrangements for the journey to Montmedy, better known by the name of the flight to Varennes, obliged them to part for a moment, Madame de Lamballe made her way to England; but when she heard of the Queen's recapture, not all the persuasions of her friends, nor all her own forebodings of her fate, could prevent her hastening to rejoin her royal friend; whom she accompanied and cheered, during her dreadful trials, with unexampled fortitude and devotion, till the separation here mentioned; which was followed in a few days by the massacre of this amiable woman, under circumstances of unmanly cruelty and cannibal atrocity, unparalleled in the annals even of France. She, as well as the Queen, had been the object of the most brutal calumnies: but in the hour of trial, in their agony, and in their death, how nobly did these august persons refute the slanders of their ignorant and malignant libellers!

8 The palace of the noble family of La Force, which had been purchased by the government, and converted into a prison.

9 M. Hue is the author of a most interesting and valuable work, called "The last Year of the Life and Reign of Louis XVI." This worthy servant has distinguished himself by a fidelity at once chivalrous and useful to his master and his family. He is immortalized in the King's will. After he was dragged from the Tower, during the massacres of September, 1792, he never forgot his duty; he was still indefatigable in the service of the royal prisoners: there was no sort of danger which he did not risk for them; and his devotion was limited only by his anxiety that they should not lose his services. He accordingly remained in Paris during the whole reign of terror, witnessing the gradual diminution of the royal family by the guillotine, or ill usage; and, in spite of personal danger, never could be persuaded to leave that bloody city till the Orphan of the Temple was sent to Germany, when he followed, and rejoined her. He afterwards came with her to England, and was one of those who accompanied Louis XVIII when he sailed from Dover in April, 1814, to ascend a throne of danger, anxiety, and care; where he needed, almost as much as his unhappy brother, that energy, that self-confidence, that adherence to high principles, that devotion to his friends, that severity towards his enemies, which are not to be found in the character or councils of either.

10 Palloi's claim to be employed in fortifying the new state-prison was his supposed share in the destruction of the old. He was a mason, and boasted of being one of the conquerors of the Bastille.

11 La Fayette, after an alternation of wickedness and weakness, lost all courage and hope; and, abandoning duties which he had arrogated to himself, fled basely enough from a storm of his own raising; leaving the unhappy victims of his follies, his faults, and his perfidy, to perish on the scaffolds of his late associates. His desertion saved him from the guillotine, to be one of Buonaparte's Chamber of Deputies.

12 Mesdames Adelaide and Victoire, daughters of Louis XV, who had with some difficulty escaped out of France in 1790.

13 See Mr. Hue's touching account of the sensibility with which the King felt this indignity.

14 Clery, the author of a most interesting "Journal of what passed in the Tower of the Temple, during the Captivity of Louis XVI." Of a lower rank, and possessing less power of being useful, Clery's affectionate and heroic fidelity places him nevertheless by the side of Monsieur Hue. Clery did not live to see the restoration; he died at Vienna on the 10th of June, 1809, and on his tomb is inscribed, "Here lies the faithful Clery!"

Thayer's Note: An English translation of Cléry's Journal is online here.

15 The name of this wretch was Rocher: he was a saddler by trade, and afterwards had a commission in the armies. Our readers recollect that Rocher was the name assumed by the Queen in the flight to Varennes.

16 Every body knows that on the 20th of June the king's palace was forced by the mob, in whose hands the royal family remained for several hours. The conduct of all the members of this unhappy family, on this trying occasion, was, in the highest degree, courageous and noble. Two circumstances in particular cannot be too often repeated. At a critical moment of the riot, a grenadier told the King not to be afraid:— the King put the man's hand to his heart, and said, "Feel whether it beats more quickly than usual." The mob, mistaking Madame Elizabeth for the Queen, began to ill-treat her: some of the attendants, alarmed for her safety, exclaimed: "It is not the Queen!" — "Alas!" said the generous Princess, "why do you undeceive them?"

17 The windows of the houses in the adjoining streets over­looked the garden of the Temple.

18 Almost the last words Louis spoke were to ask pardon of this wretch, whose brutality had betrayed the King into an expression of impatience. Clery calls him Mathey; but it was the same person.

19 An attorney, son of a porter, tutor in a gentleman's family, and at last a Jacobin and Conventionalist. He was the attorney-general of the commune of Paris, the soul of the insurrection of the 20th of June, and a great contributor to that of the 10th of August. He moved that the King should be sent to the Temple, volunteered to be his gaoler there, and became his proselyte. Touched by the candour, virtue, and innocence of the royal family, "almost he was persuaded to become" a royalist. He voted against the King's death, he denounced the massacres, and, after escaping assassination, perished on the scaffold, the 14th of November, 1793, at the age of forty-two. The dreadful moment, to him, must have been when, on his reaching his prison, his fellow-sufferers assailed him with every mark of indignation, for crimes which he had now learned to detest as much as they did.

20 Petion, an advocate of Chartres, a tool of the Duke of Orleans, member of the States-General, mayor of Paris, a conventionalist, and a regicide. He and Robespierre were called two fingers of the same hand; but he soon found, that Robespierre had four fingers against his one. Their enmity was almost as bloody as their friendship had been. Petion was outlawed; and, escaping the gentler death of the scaffold, was found in the woods dead, and half-devoured by wild beasts.

21 A circular building on the N.E. side of the enclosure of the Temple.

22 The Cordon of St. Louis. The Order of the St. Esprit had been abolished by the assembly; and the King, scrupulous in obeying even the most unjust decrees which took the shape of a law, had ceased to wear it.

23 The former edition described those chimnies as being only stove funnels.

24 This, it will be seen, applies only to a small portion of the time. The luxury of a walk in the garden was soon denied to them.

25 The names of the members of this deputation, as given by Clery, differ a little from Madame's — neither, perhaps, mention all that came.

26 Chabot, a capuchin, an apostate, and a regicide: he was guillotined on the 5th of April, 1794.

27 Dupont, one of those cold-blooded philosophers who affected to discuss abstract questions, while their colleagues were shedding the noblest blood of Europe. He was a regicide, and boasted in the tribune that he was an atheist: these two qualities could not fail to recommend him to Buonaparte, who employed him.

28 Drouet, the same who arrested the King at Varennes. The reader will not fail to observe the calculated cruelty of sending this man to the Temple.

29 Le Cointre-Puyravaux, a lawyer and regicide. He pronounced his judgment in the following elegant and logical formula:— "I represent the people; the people has been assassinated by the tyrant. I vote for the death of the tyrant." So late as 1798, he wished to enforce the atrocious sentence of death against the emigrants. He was one of Buonaparte's commissaries of police in his reign of 1815, but I know not what has since become of him.

30 This expression of dissatisfaction at one part of Clery's conduct was omitted in the original edition.

31 This will seem a strange expression, but it is the very word used by the Duchess, and I know not how I could better express the hostile and prying visits of these men.

32 A physician of little note, raised to the infamous dignity of mayor of Paris, by the almost incredible accident of having opponents baser and more obscure than himself. He was an Orleanist, and partook the character of his party, for he was as weak as he was wicked. He was despised by all parties, and chiefly by his own, which knew him best. His life ended as it began, in obscurity. I have not been able to discover when he died.

He must not be confounded with Chambon, the conventionalist, who voted for the death of the King, but with an appeal to the people; and who was killed in a farm at Lubersac, in 1793, in the overthrow of the Orleanist party, to which he also belonged.

33 Attorney of the Commune of Paris, son of a shoemaker; he was successively a cabin-boy, a postillion, a stationer's clerk, and an attorney. He was for a long while the idol of the mob, and terror and scourge of Paris; but at last even Robespierre felt alarmed at his audacious profaneness and cruelty, and he enveloped him in the proscription of the Hebertists. There is a striking description of the meanness and cowardice of this wretch, when he met in prison crowds that he had himself sent thither. He was guillotined on the 13th April, 1794; and the only truth he ever, perhaps, spoke, were his last words, "That those who had sent him there deserved to follow him."

34 I know nothing of Colombeau, but that he was one of the municipality of the 10th of August. This office, and the anecdote in the text, sufficiently characterize him.

35 It ought never to be forgotten that Louis had the noble confidence to select for his counsel, against a charge of violating the constitution, one of the chief framers of that constitution, the lawyer Target; and that this wretched preacher of law and liberty, and liberality, had the baseness to decline this honourable, and, to a man of professional feeling, indispensable duty.

36 M. de Malesherbes was illustrious by his life, and even, if possible, more so by his death, which was as heroic as that of Sir Thomas More. He was the relation of M. de Chateaubriand, now minister of foreign affairs.

37 Tronchet a little impaired the character he had obtained by his accepting the defence of the King, by taking an office under the Usurper. He died in March, 1810.

38 The phrase is "ainsi que nous;" and though, strictly, it might be rendered as we did, yet it seems as if it really meant nor did we.

39 Some expectation seems to have been entertained that the feast of the proto-martyr was to be further stained by the martyrdom of the eldest son of the church: a title of which the Kings of France were proud.

40 M. Desèze has been consistent in the course of integrity and honour. He is now first president of the high court of appeals, in France.

41 In all the course of the Revolution the King never could be persuaded to risk the shedding of blood; this was attributed to pusillanimity: we now see that it was a feeling compatible with the highest personal courage.

42 Garat, an editor of a newspaper, and minister of justice! — the friend of Pâche and Hebert, the tool and almost the victim of Robespierre. He survived, however, and became one of the vilest adulators of Buonaparte, who made this jacobin a count of the empire; this sansculotte, a knight of the legion of honour; this man of the 10th of August, a legislator; in which character he showed his gratitude, by voting, in March, 1814, for deposing Napoleon the First; and, in 1815, he was again for deposing him, but it was only to put in his place Napoleon the Second. I know not what is become of him.

43 Henry Essex Edgeworth was born at Edgeworth's-town, in Ireland, of which his father was vicar; but he resigned this preferment on account of religious scruples, and removed with his family into France, where they embraced the Roman Catholic faith. The name of Firmont was derived from Firmount, a family estate in the county of Longford. They were near relations of Mr. Edgeworth, who, as well as his daughter, are so well known in the literary world.

44 The atrocious Mathieu, before mentioned.

45 A brewer in the Fauxbourg St. Antoine, the most populous and turbulent part of Paris. His weight in that quarter, and his violent character, advanced him to the chief command of the National Guard of Paris; a distinction which his natural ferocity justified. Though he had no kind of military talents, he had great pretensions, and actually marched at the head of a considerable army, to effect the conquest of La Vendée, according to plans of his own devising. He was beaten every where. One time he was missing, and it was thought that he had been killed in the field of battle; a death so much too honourable for him, that the following derisory epitaph was circulated on the occasion:

Ci gitº le Général Santerre,

Qui n'eut de Mars que la bière."

In confirmation of the old proverb, he and Robespierre soon disagreed, and the death of the latter only saved the former, who afterwards lived quietly in Paris, having contrived to remunerate himself for his public services by obtaining a grant of the vast space on which the Temple stood.

46 This sublime exclamation was so much the impulse of the Abbé's feelings at the moment, that he uttered it (if at all) unconsciously. He did not recollect having used that expression, but he owned that he was nearly unconscious of all that passed at that dreadful crisis. — See his Memoirs, by C. S. Edgeworth, London, 1815.

47 The reader will not fail to observe, that the name of the fatal instrument which deprived her parents of existence is never once mentioned by Madame.

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