Memoirs of Marie Antoinette
By Campan

Presented by

Public Domain Books

Chapter VII.

In the beginning of the year 1792, a worthy priest requested a private interview with me. He had learned the existence of a new libel by Madame de Lamotte. He told me that the people who came from London to get it printed in Paris only desired gain, and that they were ready to deliver the manuscript to him for a thousand louis, if he could find any friend of the Queen disposed to make that sacrifice for her peace; that he had thought of me, and if her Majesty would give him the twenty-four thousand francs, he would hand the manuscript to me.

I communicated this proposal to the Queen, who rejected it, and desired me to answer that at the time when she had power to punish the hawkers of these libels she deemed them so atrocious and incredible that she despised them too much to stop them; that if she were imprudent and weak enough to buy a single one of them, the Jacobins might possibly discover the circumstance through their espionage; that were this libel brought up, it would be printed nevertheless, and would be much more dangerous when they apprised the public of the means she had used to suppress it.

Baron d’Aubier, gentleman-in-ordinary to the King, and my particular friend, had a good memory and a clear way of communicating the substance of the debates and decrees of the National Assembly. I went daily to the Queen’s apartments to repeat all this to the King, who used to say, on seeing me, “Ah! here’s the Postillon par Calais,"–a newspaper of the time.

M. d’Aubier one day said to me: “The Assembly has been much occupied with an information laid by the workmen of the Sevres manufactory. They brought to the President’s office a bundle of pamphlets which they said were the life of Marie Antoinette. The director of the manufactory was ordered up to the bar, and declared he had received orders to burn the printed sheets in question in the furnaces used for baking his china.”

While I was relating this business to the Queen the King coloured and held his head down over his plate. The Queen said to him, “Do you know anything about this, Sire?” The King made no answer. Madame Elisabeth requested him to explain what it meant. Louis was still silent. I withdrew hastily. A few minutes afterwards the Queen came to my room and informed me that the King, out of regard for her, had purchased the whole edition struck off from the manuscript which I had mentioned to her, and that M. de Laporte had not been able to devise any more secret way of destroying the work than that of having it burnt at Sevres, among two hundred workmen, one hundred and eighty of whom must, in all probability, be Jacobins! She told me she had concealed her vexation from the King; that he was in consternation, and that she could say nothing, since his good intentions and his affection for her had been the cause of the mistake.

     [M. de Laporte had by order of the King bought up the whole edition
     of the “Memoirs” of the notorious Madame de Lamotte against the
     Queen.  Instead of destroying them immediately, he shut them up in
     one of the closets in his house, The alarming and rapid growth of
     the rebellion, the arrogance of the crowd of brigands, who in great
     measure composed the populace of Paris, and the fresh excesses daily
     resulting from it, rendered the intendant of the civil list
     apprehensive that some mob might break into his house, carry off
     these “Memoirs,” and spread them among the public.  In order to
     prevent this he gave orders to have the “Memoirs” burnt with every
     necessary precaution; and the clerk who received the order entrusted
     the execution of it to a man named Riston, a dangerous Intriguer,
     formerly an advocate of Nancy, who had a twelve-month before escaped
     the gallows by favour of the new principles and the patriotism of
     the new tribunals, although convicted of forging the great seal, and
     fabricating decrees of the council.  This Riston, finding himself
     entrusted with a commission which concerned her Majesty, and the
     mystery attending which bespoke something of importance, was less
     anxious to execute it faithfully than to make a parade of this mark
     of confidence.  On the 30th of May, at ten in the morning, he had
     the sheets carried to the porcelain manufactory at Sevres, in a cart
     which he himself accompanied, and made a large fire of them before
     all the workmen, who were expressly forbidden to approach it.  All
     these precautions, and the suspicions to which they gave rise, under
     such critical circumstances, gave so much publicity to this affair
     that it was denounced to the Assembly that very night.  Brissot, and
     the whole Jacobin party, with equal effrontery and vehemence,
     insisted that the papers thus secretly burnt could be no other than
     the registers and documents of the correspondence of the Austrian
     committee.  M. de Laporte was ordered to the bar, and there gave the
     most precise account of the circumstances.  Riston was also called
     up, and confirmed M. de Laporte’s deposition.  But these
     explanations, however satisfactory, did not calm the violent ferment
     raised in the Assembly by this affair.–"Memoirs of Bertrand de

Some time afterwards the Assembly received a denunciation against M. de Montmorin. The ex-minister was accused of having neglected forty despatches from M. Genet, the charge d’affaires from France in Russia, not having even unsealed them, because M. Genet acted on constitutional principles. M. de Montmorin appeared at the bar to answer this accusation. Whatever distress I might feel in obeying the order I had received from the King to go and give him an account of the sitting, I thought I ought not to fail in doing so. But instead of giving my brother his family name, I merely said “your Majesty’s charge d’affaires at St. Petersburg.”

The King did me the favour to say that he noticed a reserve in my account, of which he approved. The Queen condescended to add a few obliging remarks to those of the King. However, my office of journalist gave me in this instance so much pain that I took an opportunity, when the King was expressing his satisfaction to me at the manner in which I gave him this daily account, to tell him that its merits belonged wholly to M. d’Aubier; and I ventured to request the King to suffer that excellent man to give him an account of the sittings himself. I assured the King that if he would permit it, that gentleman might proceed to the Queen’s apartments through mine unseen; the King consented to the arrangement. Thenceforward M. d’Aubier gave the King repeated proofs of zeal and attachment.

The Cure of St. Eustache ceased to be the Queen’s confessor when he took the constitutional oath. I do not remember the name of the ecclesiastic who succeeded him; I only know that he was conducted into her apartments with the greatest mystery. Their Majesties did not perform their Easter devotions in public, because they could neither declare for the constitutional clergy, nor act so as to show that they were against them.

The Queen did perform her Easter devotions in 1792; but she went to the chapel attended only by myself. She desired me beforehand to request one of my relations, who was her chaplain, to celebrate a mass for her at five o’clock in the morning. It was still dark; she gave me her arm, and I lighted her with a taper. I left her alone at the chapel door. She did not return to her room until the dawn of day.

Dangers increased daily. The Assembly were strengthened in the eyes of the people by the hostilities of the foreign armies and the army of the Princes. The communication with the latter party became more active; the Queen wrote almost every day. M. de Goguelat possessed her confidence for all correspondence with the foreign parties, and I was obliged to have him in my apartments; the Queen asked for him very frequently, and at times which she could not previously appoint.

All parties were exerting themselves either to ruin or to save the King. One day I found the Queen extremely agitated; she told me she no longer knew where she was; that the leaders of the Jacobins offered themselves to her through the medium of Dumouriez; or that Dumouriez, abandoning the Jacobins, had come and offered himself to her; that she had granted him an audience; that when alone with her, he had thrown himself at her feet, and told her that he had drawn the ’bonnet rouge’ over his head to the very ears; but that he neither was nor could be a Jacobin; that the Revolution had been suffered to extend even to that rabble of destroyers who, thinking of nothing but pillage, were ripe for anything, and might furnish the Assembly with a formidable army, ready to undermine the remains of a throne already but too much shaken. Whilst speaking with the utmost ardour he seized the Queen’s hand and kissed it with transport, exclaiming, “Suffer yourself to be saved!” The Queen told me that the protestations of a traitor were not to be relied on; that the whole of his conduct was so well known that undoubtedly the wisest course was not to trust to it;

     [The sincerity of General Dumouriez cannot be doubted in this
     instance.  The second volume of his Memoirs shows how unjust the
     mistrust and reproaches of the Queen were.  By rejecting his
     services, Marie Antoinette deprived herself of her only remaining
     support.  He who saved France in the defiles of Argonne would
     perhaps have saved France before the 20th of June, had he obtained
     the full confidence of Louis XVI. and the Queen.–NOTE BY THE

that, moreover, the Princes particularly recommended that no confidence should be placed in any proposition emanating from within the kingdom; that the force without became imposing; and that it was better to rely upon their success, and upon the protection due from Heaven to a sovereign so virtuous as Louis XVI. and to so just a cause.

The constitutionalists, on their part, saw that there had been nothing more than a pretence of listening to them. Barnave’s last advice was as to the means of continuing, a few weeks longer, the Constitutional Guard, which had been denounced to the Assembly, and was to be disbanded. The denunciation against the Constitutional Guard affected only its staff, and the Duc de Brissac. Barnave wrote to the Queen that the staff of the guard was already attacked; that the Assembly was about to pass a decree to reduce it; and he entreated her to prevail on the King, the very instant the decree should appear, to form the staff afresh of persons whose names he sent her. Barnave said that all who were set down in it passed for decided Jacobins, but were not so in fact; that they, as well as himself, were in despair at seeing the monarchical government attacked; that they had learnt to dissemble their sentiments, and that it would be at least a fortnight before the Assembly could know them well, and certainly before it could succeed in making them unpopular; that it would be necessary to take advantage of that short space of time to get away from Paris, immediately after their nomination. The Queen was of opinion that she ought not to yield to this advice. The Duc de Brissac was sent to Orleans, and the guard was disbanded.

Barnave, seeing that the Queen did not follow his counsel in anything, and convinced that she placed all her reliance on assistance from abroad, determined to quit Paris. He obtained a last audience. “Your misfortunes, Madame,” said he, “and those which I anticipate for France,. determined me to sacrifice myself to serve you. I see, however, that my advice does not agree with the views of your Majesties. I augur but little advantage from the plan you are induced to pursue,–you are too remote from your succours; you will be lost before they reach you. Most ardently do I wish I may be mistaken in so lamentable a prediction; but I am sure to pay with my head for the interest your misfortunes have raised in me, and the services I have sought to render you. I request, for my sole reward, the honour of kissing your hand.” The Queen, her eyes suffused with tears, granted him that favour, and remained impressed with a favourable idea of his sentiments. Madame Elisabeth participated in this opinion, and the two Princesses frequently spoke of Barnave. The Queen also received M. Duport several times, but with less mystery. Her connection with the constitutional deputies transpired. Alexandre de Lameth was the only one of the three who survived the vengeance of the Jacobins.

     [Barnave was arrested at Grenoble.  He remained in prison in that
     town fifteen months, and his friends began to hope that he would be
     forgotten, when an order arrived that he should be removed to Paris.
     At first he was imprisoned in the Abbaye, but transferred to the
     Conciergerie, and almost immediately taken before the revolutionary
     tribunal.  He appeared there with wonderful firmness, summed up the
     services he had rendered to the cause of liberty with his usual
     eloquence, and made such an impression upon the numerous auditors
     that, although accustomed to behold only conspirators worthy of
     death in all those who appeared before the tribunal, they themselves
     considered his acquittal certain.  The decree of death was read
     amidst the deepest silence; but Barnave’a firmness was immovable.
     When he left the court, he cast upon the judges, the jurors, and the
     public looks expressive of contempt and indignation.  He was led to
     his fate with the respected Duport du Tertre, one of the last
     ministers of Louis XVI. when he had ascended the scaffold, Barnave
     stamped, raised his eyes to heaven, and said: “This, then, is the
     reward of all that I have done for liberty!”  He fell on the 29th of
     October, 1793, in the thirty-second year of his age; his bust was
     placed in the Grenoble Museum.  The Consular Government placed his
     statue next to that of Vergniaud, on the great staircase of the
     palace of the Senate.–"Biographie de Bruxelles."]

The National Guard, which succeeded the King’s Guard, having occupied the gates of the Tuileries, all who came to see the Queen were insulted with impunity. Menacing cries were uttered aloud even in the Tuileries; they called for the destruction of the throne, and the murder of the sovereign; the grossest insults were offered by the very lowest of the mob.

About this time the King fell into a despondent state, which amounted almost to physical helplessness. He passed ten successive days without uttering a single word, even in the bosom of his family; except, indeed, when playing at backgammon after dinner with Madame Elisabeth. The Queen roused him from this state, so fatal at a critical period, by throwing herself at his feet, urging every alarming idea, and employing every affectionate expression. She represented also what he owed to his family; and told him that if they were doomed to fall they ought to fall honourably, and not wait to be smothered upon the floor of their apartment.

About the 15th of June, 1792, the King refused his sanction to the two decrees ordaining the deportation of priests and the formation of a camp of twenty thousand men under the walls of Paris. He himself wished to sanction them, and said that the general insurrection only waited for a pretence to burst forth. The Queen insisted upon the veto, and reproached herself bitterly when this last act of the constitutional authority had occasioned the day of the 20th of June.

A few days previously about twenty thousand men had gone to the Commune to announce that, on the 20th, they would plant the tree of liberty at the door of the National Assembly, and present a petition to the King respecting the veto which he had placed upon the decree for the deportation of the priests. This dreadful army crossed the garden of the Tuileries, and marched under the Queen’s windows; it consisted of people who called themselves the citizens of the Faubourgs St. Antoine and St. Marceau. Clothed in filthy rags, they bore a most terrifying appearance, and even infected the air. People asked each other where such an army could come from; nothing so disgusting had ever before appeared in Paris.

On the 20th of June this mob thronged about the Tuileries in still greater numbers, armed with pikes, hatchets, and murderous instruments of all kinds, decorated with ribbons of the national colours, Shouting, “The nation for ever! Down with the veto!” The King was without guards. Some of these desperadoes rushed up to his apartment; the door was about to be forced in, when the King commanded that it should be opened. Messieurs de Bougainville, d’Hervilly, de Parois, d’Aubier, Acloque, Gentil, and other courageous men who were in the apartment of M. de Septeuil, the King’s first valet de chambre, instantly ran to his Majesty’s apartment. M. de Bougainville, seeing the torrent furiously advancing, cried out, “Put the King in the recess of the window, and place benches before him.” Six royalist grenadiers of the battalion of the Filles Saint Thomas made their way by an inner staircase, and ranged themselves before the benches. The order given by M. de Bougainville saved the King from the blades of the assassins, among whom was a Pole named Lazousky, who was to strike the first blow. The King’s brave defenders said, “Sire, fear nothing.” The King’s reply is well known: “Put your hand upon my heart, and you will perceive whether I am afraid." M. Vanot, commandant of battalion, warded off a blow aimed by a wretch against the King; a grenadier of the Filles Saint Thomas parried a sword- thrust made in the same direction. Madame Elisabeth ran to her brother’s apartments; when she reached the door she heard loud threats of death against the Queen: they called for the head of the Austrian. “Ah! let them think I am the Queen,” she said to those around her, “that she may have time to escape.”

The Queen could not join the King; she was in the council chamber, where she had been placed behind the great table to protect her, as much as possible, against the approach of the barbarians. Preserving a noble and becoming demeanour in this dreadful situation, she held the Dauphin before her, seated upon the table. Madame was at her side; the Princesse de Lamballe, the Princesse de Tarente, Madame de la Roche-Aymon, Madame de Tourzel, and Madame de Mackau surrounded her. She had fixed a tricoloured cockade, which one of the National Guard had given her, upon her head. The poor little Dauphin was, like the King, shrouded in an enormous red cap. The horde passed in files before the table;

     [One of the circumstances of the 20th of June which most vexed the
     King’s friends being that of his wearing the bonnet rouge nearly
     three hours, I ventured to ask him for some explanation of a fact so
     strikingly in contrast with the extraordinary intrepidity shown by
     his Majesty during that horrible day.  This was his answer: “The
     cries of ’The nation for ever!’ violently increasing around me, and
     seeming to be addressed to me, I replied that the nation had not a
     warmer friend than myself.  Upon this an ill-looking man, making his
     way through the crowd, came up to me and said, rather roughly,
     ’Well, if you speak the truth, prove it by putting on this red cap.’
     ’I consent,’ replied I.  One or two of them immediately came forward
     and placed the cap upon my hair, for it was too small for my head.
     I was convinced, I knew not why, that his intention was merely to
     place the cap upon my head for a moment, and then to take it off
     again; and I was so completely taken up with what was passing before
     me that I did not feel whether the cap did or did not remain upon my
     hair.  I was so little aware of it that when I returned to my room I
     knew only from being told so that it was still there.  I was very
     much surprised to find it upon my head, and was the more vexed at it
     because I might have taken it off immediately without the smallest
     difficulty.  But I am satisfied that if I had hesitated to consent
     to its being placed upon my head the drunken fellow who offered it
     to me would have thrust his pike into my stomach."–"Memoirs of
     Bertrand de Molleville."]

the sort of standards which they carried were symbols of the most atrocious barbarity. There was one representing a gibbet, to which a dirty doll was suspended; the words “Marie Antoinette a la lanterne” were written beneath it. Another was a board, to which a bullock’s heart was fastened, with “Heart of Louis XVI.” written round it. And a third showed the horn of an ox, with an obscene inscription.

One of the most furious Jacobin women who marched with these wretches stopped to give vent to a thousand imprecations against the Queen. Her Majesty asked whether she had ever seen her. She replied that she had not. Whether she had done her any, personal wrong? Her answer was the same; but she added:

“It is you who have caused the misery of the nation.”

“You have been told so,” answered the Queen; “you are deceived. As the wife of the King of France, and mother of the Dauphin, I am a French- woman; I shall never see my own country again, I can be happy or unhappy only in France; I was happy when you loved me.”

The fury began to weep, asked her pardon, and said, “It was because I did not know you; I see that you are good.”

Santerre, the monarch of the faubourgs, made his subjects file off as quickly as he could; and it was thought at the time that he was ignorant of the object of this insurrection, which was the murder of the royal family. However, it was eight o’clock in the evening before the palace was completely cleared. Twelve deputies, impelled by attachment to the King’s person, ranged themselves near him at the commencement of the insurrection; but the deputation from the Assembly did not reach the Tuileries until six in the evening; all the doors of the apartments were broken. The Queen pointed out to the deputies the state of the King’s palace, and the disgraceful manner in which his asylum had been violated under the very eyes of the Assembly; she saw that Merlin de Thionville was so much affected as to shed tears while she spoke.

“You weep, M. Merlin,” said she to him, “at seeing the King and his family so cruelly treated by a people whom he always wished to make happy.”

“True, Madame,” replied Merlin; “I weep for the misfortunes of a beautiful and feeling woman, the mother of a family; but do not mistake, not one of my tears falls for either King or Queen; I hate kings and queens,–it is my religion.”

The Queen could not appreciate this madness, and saw all that was to be apprehended by persons who evinced it.

All hope was gone, and nothing was thought of but succour from abroad. The Queen appealed to her family and the King’s brothers; her letters probably became more pressing, and expressed apprehensions upon the tardiness of relief. Her Majesty read me one to herself from the Archduchess Christina, Gouvernante of the Low Countries: she reproached the Queen for some of her expressions, and told her that those out of France were at least as much alarmed as herself at the King’s situation and her own; but that the manner of attempting to assist her might either save her or endanger her safety; and that the members of the coalition were bound to act prudently, entrusted as they were with interests so dear to them.

The 14th of July, 1792, fixed by the constitution as the anniversary of the independence of the nation drew near. The King and Queen were compelled to make their appearance on the occasion; aware that the plot of the 20th of June had their assassination for its object, they had no doubt but that their death was determined on for the day of this national festival. The Queen was recommended, in order to give the King’s friends time to defend him if the attack should be made, to guard him against the first stroke of a dagger by making him wear a breastplate. I was directed to get one made in my apartments: it was composed of fifteen folds of Italian taffety, and formed into an under-waistcoat and a wide belt. This breastplate was tried; it resisted all thrusts of the dagger, and several balls were turned aside by it. When it was completed the difficulty was to let the King try it on without running the risk of being surprised. I wore the immense heavy waistcoat as an under- petticoat for three days without being able to find a favourable moment. At length the King found an opportunity one morning to pull off his coat in the Queen’s chamber and try on the breastplate.

The Queen was in bed; the King pulled me gently by the gown, and drew me as far as he could from the Queen’s bed, and said to me, in a very low tone of voice: “It is to satisfy her that I submit to this inconvenience: they will not assassinate me; their scheme is changed; they will put me to death another way.” The Queen heard the King whispering to me, and when he was gone out she asked me what he had said. I hesitated to answer; she insisted that I should, saying that nothing must be concealed from her, and that she was resigned upon every point.

When she was informed of the King’s remark she told me she had guessed it, that he had long since observed to her that all which was going forward in France was an imitation of the revolution in England in the time of Charles I., and that he was incessantly reading the history of that unfortunate monarch in order that he might act better than Charles had done at a similar crisis. “I begin to be fearful of the King’s being brought to trial,” continued the Queen; “as to me, I am a foreigner; they will assassinate me. What will become of my poor children?”

These sad ejaculations were followed by a torrent of tears. I wished to give her an antispasmodic; she refused it, saying that only happy women could feel nervous; that the cruel situation to which she was reduced rendered these remedies useless. In fact, the Queen, who during her happier days was frequently attacked by hysterical disorders, enjoyed more uniform health when all the faculties of her soul were called forth to support her physical strength.

I had prepared a corset for her, for the same purpose as the King’s under-waistcoat, without her knowledge; but she would not make use of it; all my entreaties, all my tears, were in vain. “If the factions assassinate me,” she replied, “it will be a fortunate event for me; they will deliver me from a most painful existence.” A few days after the King had tried on his breastplate I met him on a back staircase. I drew back to let him pass. He stopped and took my hand; I wished to kiss his; he would not suffer it, but drew me towards him by the hand, and kissed both my cheeks without saying a single word.

The fear of another attack upon the Tuileries occasioned scrupulous search among the King’s papers

I burnt almost all those belonging to the Queen. She put her family letters, a great deal of correspondence which she thought it necessary to preserve for the history of the era of the Revolution, and particularly Barnave’s letters and her answers, of which she had copies, into a portfolio, which she entrusted to M. de J––. That gentleman was unable to save this deposit, and it was burnt. The Queen left a few papers in her secretaire. Among them were instructions to Madame de Tourzel, respecting the dispositions of her children and the characters and abilities of the sub-governesses under that lady’s orders. This paper, which the Queen drew up at the time of Madame de Tourzel’s appointment, with several letters from Maria Theresa, filled with the best advice and instructions, was printed after the 10th of August by order of the Assembly in the collection of papers found in the secretaires of the King and Queen.

Her Majesty had still, without reckoning the income of the month, one hundred and forty thousand francs in gold. She was desirous of depositing the whole of it with me; but I advised her to retain fifteen hundred louis, as a sum of rather considerable amount might be suddenly necessary for her. The King had an immense quantity of papers, and unfortunately conceived the idea of privately making, with the assistance of a locksmith who had worked with him above ten years, a place of concealment in an inner corridor of his apartments. The place of concealment, but for the man’s information, would have been long undiscovered? The wall in which it was made was painted to imitate large stones, and the opening was entirely concealed among the brown grooves which formed the shaded part of these painted stones. But even before this locksmith had denounced what was afterwards called the iron closet to the Assembly, the Queen was aware that he had talked of it to some of his friends; and that this man, in whom the King from long habit placed too much confidence, was a Jacobin. She warned the King of it, and prevailed on him to fill a very large portfolio with all the papers he was most interested in preserving, and entrust it to me. She entreated him in my presence to leave nothing in this closet; and the King, in order to quiet her, told her that he had left nothing there. I would have taken the portfolio and carried it to my apartment, but it was too heavy for me to lift. The King said he would carry it himself; I went before to open the doors for him. When he placed the portfolio in my inner closet he merely said, “The Queen will tell you what it contains." Upon my return to the Queen I put the question to her, deeming, from what the King had said, that it was necessary I should know. “They are,” the Queen answered me, “such documents as would be most dangerous to the King should they go so far as to proceed to a trial against him. But what he wishes me to tell you is, that the portfolio contains a ’proces-verbal’ of a cabinet council, in which the King gave his opinion against the war. He had it signed by all the ministers, and, in case of a trial, he trusts that this document will be very useful to him.” I asked the Queen to whom she thought I ought to commit the portfolio. “To whom you please," answered she; “you alone are answerable for it. Do not quit the palace even during your vacation months: there may be circumstances under which it would be very desirable that we should be able to have it instantly.”

At this period M. de La Fayette, who had probably given up the idea of establishing a republic in France similar to that of the United States, and was desirous to support the first constitution which he had sworn to defend, quitted his army and came to the Assembly for the purpose of supporting by his presence and by an energetic speech a petition signed by twenty thousand citizens against the late violation of the residence of the King and his family. The General found the constitutional party powerless, and saw that he himself had lost his popularity. The Assembly disapproved of the step he had taken; the King, for whom it, was taken, showed no satisfaction at it, and he saw himself compelled to return to his army as quickly as he could. He thought he could rely on the National Guard; but on the day of his arrival those officers who were in the King’s interest inquired of his Majesty whether they were to forward the views of Gendral de La Fayette by joining him in such measures as he should pursue during his stay at Paris. The King enjoined them not to do so. From this answer M. de La Fayette perceived that he was abandoned by the remainder of his party in the Paris guard.

On his arrival a plan was presented to the Queen, in which it was proposed by a junction between La Fayette’s army and the King’s party to rescue the royal family and convey them to Rouen. I did not learn the particulars of this plan; the Queen only said to me upon the subject that M. de La Fayette was offered to them as a resource; but that it would be better for them to perish than to owe their safety to the man who had done them the most mischief, or to place themselves under the necessity of treating with him.

I passed the whole month of July without going to bed; I was fearful of some attack by night. There was one plot against the Queen’s life which has never been made known. I was alone by her bedside at one o’clock in the morning; we heard somebody walking softly down the corridor, which passes along the whole line of her apartments, and which was then locked at each end. I went out to fetch the valet de chambre; he entered the corridor, and the Queen and myself soon heard the noise of two men fighting. The unfortunate Princess held me locked in her arms, and said to me, “What a situation! insults by day and assassins by night!" The valet de chambre cried out to her from the corridor, “Madame, it is a wretch that I know; I have him!"–"Let him go,” said the Queen; “open the door to him; he came to murder me; the Jacobins would carry him about in triumph to-morrow.” The man was a servant of the King’s toilet, who had taken the key of the corridor out of his Majesty’s pocket after he was in bed, no doubt with the intention of committing the crime suspected. The valet de chambre, who was a very strong man, held him by the wrists, and thrust him out at the door. The wretch did not speak a word. The valet de chambre said, in answer to the Queen, who spoke to him gratefully of the danger to which he had exposed himself, that he feared nothing, and that he had always a pair of excellent pistols about him for no other purpose than to defend her Majesty. The next day M. de Septeuil had all the locks of the King’s inner apartments changed. I did the same by those of the Queen.

We were every moment told that the Faubourg St. Antoine was preparing to march against the palace. At four o’clock one morning towards the latter end of July a person came to give me information to that effect. I instantly sent off two men, on whom I could rely, with orders to proceed to the usual places for assembling, and to come back speedily and give me an account of the state of the city. We knew that at least an hour must elapse before the populace or the faubourgs assembled on the site of the Bastille could reach the Tuileries. It seemed to me sufficient for the Queen’s safety that all about her should be awakened. I went softly into her room; she was asleep; I did not awaken her. I found General de W–– in the great closet; he told me the meeting was, for this once, dispersing. The General had endeavoured to please the populace by the same means as M. de La Fayette had employed. He saluted the lowest poissarde, and lowered his hat down to his very stirrup. But the populace, who had been flattered for three years, required far different homage to its power, and the poor man was unnoticed. The King had been awakened, and so had Madame Elisabeth, who had gone to him. The Queen, yielding to the weight of her griefs, slept till nine o’clock on that day, which was very unusual with her. The King had already been to know whether she was awake; I told him what I had done, and the care I had taken not to disturb her. He thanked me, and said, “I was awake, and so was the whole palace; she ran no risk. I am very glad to see her take a little rest. Alas! her griefs double mine!” What was my chagrin when, upon awaking and learning what had passed, the Queen burst into tears from regret at not having been called, and began to upbraid me, on whose friendship she ought to have been able to rely, for having served her so ill under such circumstances! In vain did I reiterate that it had been only a false alarm, and that she required to have her strength recruited. “It is not diminished,” said she; “misfortune gives us additional strength. Elisabeth was with the King, and I was asleep,–I who am determined to perish by his side! I am his wife; I will not suffer him to incur the smallest risk without my sharing it.”


Book 5. - Chapter  •  Chapter II.  •  Chapter III.  •  Chapter IV.  •  Book 6. - Chapter V.  •  Chapter VI.  •  Chapter VII.  •  Chapter VIII.  •  Book 7. - Chapter IX  •  Supplement to Chapter IX.  •  Note.  •  Etext Editor’s Bookmarks From the Entire Marie Antoinette:

[Buy at Amazon]
Memoirs of Marie Antoinette
By Madame Campan
At Amazon