Ma princesse de Lamballe.

Secret memoirs of Princess Lamballe : being her journals, letters and conversations during her confidential relations with Marie Antoinette online

. (page 1 of 31)
Online LibraryMa princesse de LamballeSecret memoirs of Princess Lamballe : being her journals, letters and conversations during her confidential relations with Marie Antoinette → online text (page 1 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


944.04 L 3 r3333-"i 05(59" 5759

Lamballe, Marie
Secret memoirs of
Pri ncess Lambal 1 e

W 2 V 35 1936


The Newark
Public Library

Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations




tt 1 ) FIT- 1,; A\





TOINETTE, inscribed by the Prin-
cess, are bound in a facsimile of a
Venetian binding of the latter half
ofthe eighteenth century. The binder was Louis
Douceur, who had studied in Venice under Vente.
At each corner is a gilt sunken panel decorated
with a floral ornament, and in the center of the
cover, running from crown to foot, are three
smaller panels, the large one in the center con-
taining the arms of Louis XVI., stamped in
heraldic colors. When Marie Antoinette's collec-
tion of books one at the Tuileries and the other
at the Petit Trianon were confiscated at the
Revolution, many of them were acquired by the
British Museum, where the original of this bind-
ing now reposes.



Photogravure after a painting by Meisel.




















\ } t


NETTE Frontispiece

Photogravure after a painting by Meisel.


Photogravure after a painting by Benczur.



de Lamballe, was fated to be not only an eye-
witness but a victim of the Reign of Terror. She
was born in Turin in 1749, was married in 1767 to Stan-
islaus, Prince of Lamballe and son of the Duke of
Penthievre, which brought her into the relationship of
sister-in-law to the Duke of Orleans. Her husband died
within a year, leaving her, as she expresses it, "a bride
when an infant, a widow before I was a mother or had a
prospect of becoming one." A marriage was proposed
between the Princess and Louis XV., but it fell through.
In her retirement she gained the friendship of Marie
Antoinette, who appointed her superintendent of the royal
household on the accession of Louis XVI. This official
connection grew into a sisterly intimacy of the most cor-
dial kind. Their youth of brilliant promise was soon
overshadowed with ominous troubles. The lighter tem-
perament of the Queen was happily balanced by the
philosophic gravity of the Princess, who foresaw the bit-
ter fruits of the conditions in which her royal mistress
had been reared and would not radically change. This
journal-record of experiences and reflections is as pathetic
a tale as has ever been told. Lit up as it is with gleams
of the merriment supposed to be the normal atmosphere
of court life, it progresses with the doleful tread of a
funeral march, each step lessening the too short space
that separates the palace from the dungeon, the glamor
of hollow sovereignty from the bloody tyranny of an ir-
responsible populace.

The Princess Lamballe, as will be seen, was as loyal
to her own conscience as to her less clear-sighted mis-
tress. When the catastrophe was impending the Queen



and King implored her to leave France and so save her
life. The beauty and purity of her character was equaled
by her devotion to duty and her courage. She scorned
to leave her friends in the hour of peril, "faithful among
the faithless " titular nobility who scampered away to
safe hiding-places until they might creep back in the re-
turning sunshine. She was harassed with repeated
attempts at bodily injury, and when arrested, calmly re-
fused to forswear her principle of fealty to the monarchy,
while cheerfully willing to accept the mandate of the
nation. Thereupon the gentle and brave woman was
stabbed to death by the fiends who invaded her cell, and
who added an exquisite pang to the sufferings of the
Queen by parading the head of the Princess, on the point
of a pike, before the window where her mistress was ex-
pected to see it.

How the Princess's journal came to light is narrated in
the following pages. It is edited and annotated, in a
liberal sense of those terms, by the lady who, in her
youth, was the confidential secretary and messenger, in
fact a diplomatic maid-of-all-work, of the Princess. From
the copious diary of the latter, supplemented by the
graphic and elaborate additions and comments of the
brillantly gifted editor, to whose care the diary was in-
trusted, we get a most impressive realization of the life
endured by Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette in those
appalling years of doom.

The portraiture of these unconsciously fatalistic royal-
ties is eloquently painted in many offhand touches, the
force of which has been made clearer by lapse of years.
The young Queen owed more grudges than gratitude to
her imperial mother for her bringing-up. Conspicuous
lack of common sense may more justly be blamed for the
failure of her life than any of the faults charged against
her. The Princess avers that Marie Antoinette was an
unsophisticated country girl at heart, with a natural dis-
like for fine dress and jewel display. The artifice and
pomposity of the court were alien to her artless nature.
She loved genuine jollity, unhampered by stilted conven-


tionalities, and preferred the society of pleasure-loving
youth to that of the elderly aunts of the King, who
sought to rule her as they dominated him. Add to this
wholesome rebelliousness an unfortunate hereditary and
exaggerated superstition as to the divinity of royalty,
and we have the elements of the hopeless deadlock which
culminated in the Revolution.

Marie Antoinette is here shown as developing an un-
expected solidity of character as the need for it became
more insistent. In the beginning she made light of na-
tional susceptibilities, a fatal folly in ordinary circum-
stances, much more serious in those times. As the King's
weakness and her own unpopularity increased, she rose
to the situation with somewhat of her mother's masterful
spirit, unwise, but compelling a qualified admiration.
When the Princess Lamballe was the transmitter of out-
side opinion and counsel to the King through the Queen
she backed it up by candid advice of her own, with the
usual result of offending, without influencing, the object
of her solicitude. For a time this intercourse, or at least
this faithful remonstrance, ceased, to be resumed when
its wisdom had struck home. But it was then too late
to undo past follies, and a few lingering stupidities were
never given up. The old nobility felt their order had
been humiliated by the persistently alien Queen. The
common people were incensed against a monarchy that
reveled, as they were assured, in wanton luxury while
famine threatened the land. The resurrected States Gen-
eral were regarded as an audacious attempt to set up the
vulgar human against the Lord's anointed. Marie An-
toinette made no politic effort to veil her sovereign con-
tempt for the masses when massed. As individuals no
one was at heart more of a "friend of the people." She
proudly disdained to exchange thoughts with our Frank-
lin or the sages of France on the social convulsions rag-
ing around. "I was the only silent individual among
millions of infatuated enthusiasts at La Fayette's return
to Paris," at the head of the throng he so half-heartedly
led. There is a queenly grandeur in this attitude


despite its perversity. Of all infatuated enthusiasts she
herself was at that supreme moment the queen, and did
not know it. Weakness was behind that show of strength,
for she was even then dallying with Mirabeau, the man
of the people, the man of the hour ; friend of republicans,
friend of the monarchy. Disguised in monkish robe and
cowl he crept into the palace and negotiated for terms
as between the dissolving view of the throne and the
coming people, and his impecunious but statesmanlike
and doubtless honest self. When he was cut off in the
critical phase of the struggle, (by disease, or, as here
suggested, by poison), the cord was snapped that held up
the curtain on the last act but one of the tragedy of a
make-believe reign. Then it fell, and in the black gloom
of the background was played out the final tableau of
horrors on which this book throws so painful a light.

The sympathies of both the writers are openly ex-
pressed. We know where they stand and which view
they will take of characters and events. The fact that
they are women, with feminine instincts, tastes and lit-
erary style, gives special interest to their admirably com-
posed pages, whether of narrative or comment. From
any point of view this book cannot but win its way
among students of history, character, and the strange
inner life of the Revolution period.





CHAPTER I. Journal commenced Empress Maria Theresa, mother
of Maria Antoinette Her political views in all the marriages
of her daughters Fate of the Archduchess Joseph On the
death of Josepha, the Archduchess Carolina weds the King of
Naples Maria Theresa's remonstrance with the Court of
Naples on her daughter's treatment The daughter remon-
strates more promptly and effectually Maria Antoinette des-
tined for France Madame Pompadour French hatred to
Austria Vermond recommended by Brienne as Maria Antoi-
nette's tutor He'becomes a tool of Austria Limited education
of Maria Antoinette Her fondness for balls and private plays

Metastasio Du Barry Observations of the Editor on
Maria Theresa's sacrifice of her daughters to her policy . . .15

CHAP. II. Editor's remarks on erroneous statements of Madame
Campan Journal resumed Dauphin on his wedding night
and the next morning Court intrigues begin Daughters of
Louis XV. Their influence on the Dauphin, and dislike of his
young bride Maria Antoinette's distaste for etiquette, and love
of simplicity Court taste for hoop-dresses accounted for
Madame de Noailles Her horror at not having been summoned
on an occasion of delicacy Duke de Vauguyon takes a dislike
to Maria Antoinette Cabal between Vermond and Madame
Marsan Du Barry jealous of the Dauphiness Richelieu
Three ladies leave the supper-table of Louis XV. from] Du Barry
being there Remonstrance of the Dauphiness to her mother on
being made to sup with Du Barry Answer Count d'Artois
and Monsieur return from traveling Are charmed with Maria
Antoinette Scandal respecting d'Artois and the Dauphiness

Changes wrought by Court marriages Remonstrance of
Maria Theresa to the French Court Duchess de Grammont-
Louis XV. intrigues to divorce the Dauphin and marry the
Dauphiness Diamond necklace first ordered by Louis XV. as
a present to his hoped-for bride Dauphin complains of the
distance of his apartment from that of his wife All parties
intrigue to get Maria Antoinette sent back to Austria ... 24




CHAP. III. Journal continued Maria Theresa Cardinal de Ro-
han Empress induced by him to send spies to France Maria
Antoinette dislikes meddling with politics Deep game of De
Rohan Spies sent to France, unknown to the Cardinal, to dis-
cover how far his representations are to :be trusted She finds
he has deceived her, and resents it He falls in love with Maria
Antoinette Betrays her to her mother Indignation of Maria
Antoinette on the occasion He suggests the marriage of
Maria Antoinette's sister with Louis XV. His double intrigues
with the two Courts of France and Austria Louis XV. dies
Rohan disgraced 42

CHAP. IV. Journal continued Accession of Louis XVI. and
Maria Antoinette Happy beginning Public joy The new
King more affectionate to his Queen Du Barry and party no
longer received at Court Unsuccessful attempt of the Queen
to restore Choiseul to the ministry Insinuations against the
Queen Vermond and the King The Queen's modesty re-
specting her toilette Mademoiselle Bertin, the milliner, intro-
duced Anecdote of the royal hairdresser False charge of
extravagance against the Queen Remarks of the Editor . . 53

CHAP. V. Notes of the Editor Family of the Princess Lamballe
Journal resumed Her own account of herself Duke and
Duchess de Penthievre Mademoiselle de Penthievre and
Prince Lamballe King of Sardinia Ingenious and romantic
anecdotes of the Princess Lamballe' s marriage The Duke de
Chartres, afterward Orleans, marries Mademoiselle de Pen-
thievre De Chartres makes approaches to the Princess Lam-
balle Being scorned, corrupts her husband Prince Lamballe
dies Sledge parties The Princess becomes acquainted with
the Queen Is made Her Majesty's superintendent ... 63

CHAP. VI. Observations of the Editor on the various parties against
Lamballe in consequence of her appointment Its injury to the
Queen Particulars of Lamballe, the duties of her office, and
her conduct in it The Polignacs Character of the Countess
Diana Jortrnal resinned Account of the first introduction
to the Queen of the Duchess Julia de Polignac The Queen's
sudden and violent attachment to her Calumnies resulting
from it Remark on female friendships Lamballe recedes from
the Queen's intimacy At the Duke's (her father-in-law) is
near falling a victim to poison Alarm of the Queen, who goes
to her, and forces her back to Court Her Majesty annoyed
at Lamballe's not visiting the Polignacs Her reasons The
Abb6 Vermond retires, and returns 75



CHAP. VII. Journal continued Slanders against the Empress
Maria Theresa, on account of Metastasio, give the Queen a dis-
taste for patronizing literature Private plays and acting -
Censoriousness of those who were excluded from them The
Queen's love of music Gluck invited from Germany Anec-
dotes of Gluck and his "Armida" Garat Viotti Madame
St. Huberti Vestris 88

CHAP. VIII. Journal continued Emperor Joseph comes to
France Injurious reports of immense sums of money given
him from the treasury Princess Lamballe presented to him -
Anecdotes told by him of his family The King annoyed by
his freedoms Circumstances that occurred while he was seek-
ing information among the common people Note of the Editor
on certain mistakes of Madame Campan 94

CHAP. IX. Journal continued Pleasure of hearing of the birth
of children The Queen's exultation at finding herself pregnant

Favorable change in the public sentiment The King's aunts
annoyed at the Queen's prosperity Her pregnancy ascribed by
Du Barry to d' Artois Lamballe interferes to prevent a private
meeting between the Queen and Baron Besenval Coolness in
consequence The interview granted, and the result as feared

The Queen sensible of her error The Polignacs Night
promenades on the Terrace at Versailles and at Trianon -
Queen's remark on hearing of Du Barry's intrigue against her
Princess Lamballe declines going to the evening promenades

Verm ond strengthens Maria Antoinette's hatred of etiquette

Her goodness of heart Droll anecdote of the Chevalier
d'Eon 104

CHAP. X. Observations of the Editor Journal continued
Birth of the Duchess d' Angouleme Maria Antoinette delivered*
of a Dauphin Increasing influence of the Duchess de Polignac

The Abbe Vermond heads an intrigue against it Polignac
made governess of the royal children Her splendor and in-
creasing unpopularity Envy and resentment of the nobility

Birth of the Duke of Normandy The Queen accomplishes
the marriage of the Duchess de Polignac's daughter with the
Duke de Guiche Cabals of the Court Maria Antoinette's
partiality for the English Libels on the Queen Private com-
missions to suppress them Motives of the Duke de Lauzun for
joining the calumniators Droll conversation between Maria
Antoinette, Lady Spencer, the Duke of Dorset, etc., at Versailles

Interesting visits of the Grand Duke of the North (afterward
the Emperor Paul) and his Duchess Maria Antoinette's dis-
gust at the King of Sweden Audacity of the Cardinal de Rohan 115



CHAP. XL Editor's observations, and recapitulation of the leading
particulars of the diamond necklace plot Journal resumed
Princess Lamballe's remarks on that dark transaction Ver-
gennes opposes judicial investigation The Queen's party
prevail in bringing the affair before the council Groundlessness
of the charge against Maria Antoinette Confusion of Rohan
when confronted with the Queen He procures the destruction
of all the letters of the other conspirators Means resorted to
by Rohan's friends to obtain his acquittal The Princess Conde
expends large sums for that purpose Her confusion when the
proofs of her bribery are exhibited The King's impartiality
Mr. Sheridan discovers the treachery of M. de Calonne Ca-
lonne's abject behavior, dismissal, and disgrace Note of the
Editor 134

CHAP. XII. Jottrnal continued Archbishop of Sens made min-
ister, dismissed, and his effigy burned The Queen impru-
dently patronizes his relations Mobs Dangerous unreserve of
the Queen Apology for the Archbishop of Sens The Queen
forced to take a part in the government Meeting of the States-
General Anonymous letter to the Princess Lamballe Signifi-
cant visit of the Duchess of Orleans Disastrous procession -
Barnave gives his opinion of public affairs to the Princess Lam-
balle, who communicates with the Queen Briberies by Orleans
on the day of the procession He faints in the Assembly
Necker suspected of an understanding with him Is dismissed
- No communication on public business with the Queen but
through the Princess Lamballe Political influence falsely as-
cribed to the Duchess de Polignac Her unpopularity Duke
of Harcourt and the First Dauphin Death of the First Dau-
phin Cause of Harcourt's harsh treatment of Polignac Sec-
ond interview of Barnave with the Princess Lamballe He
solicits an audience of the Queen, which is refused Dialogue
between Lamballe and the Prince de Conti Remarks on the
Polignacs "Marriage of Figaro," a political satire . . . 152

CHAP. XIII. Journal continued The populace enraged at
Necker's dismissal Orleans Mobs Bastile destroyed
Grief of the Queen Blames de Launay The King and his
brothers go to the National Assembly Scene at the palace
The Queen presents herself to the people with her children
Lamballe called for She appears Is threatened by an
agent of Orleans in the crowd, and faints The Queen proposes
to go on horseback in uniform to join the army with her hus-
band Prepares for her departure Her anguish on learning
the King's resolution to go to Paris He goes thither Re-



ceives the national cockade from Bailly Returns The
Queen's delight The Polignacs, d'Artois, Conde, and others emi-
grate The troops withdrawn from Paris and Versailles
Recall of Necker General observations of the Editor on the
influence of the Polignacs, and its effect on the public feeling as
to the Queen 173

CHAP. XIV. Journal resumed Barnave's penitence Gives the
Queen a list of the Jacobins who had emissaries in France to
excite an insurrection Their Majesties insulted in the royal
chapel by those belonging to it appearing in the National uni-
form Necker proposes to the Queen the dismissal of Abb6
Vermond Her strange acquiescence La Fayette causes the
guards of the palace of Versailles to desert and join the Na-
tional Guard Their Majesties advised to fly to a place of
safety Their feelings on Necker's recommending the abolition
of all privileged distinctions A courier stopped with dis-
patches from Prince Kaunitz Dumourier betrays to the Queen
the secret schemes of the Orleans faction She peremptorily re-
fuses his proffered services Loyalty of the officers of the
Flanders Regiment Effect of this on the National Assembly
Dinner given to this regiment by the body-guards Military
public breakfast Project to remove the King and confine the
Queen in a distant part of France Nefarious famine plot to
excite the people against their sovereigns 187

CHAP. XV. Journal continued March from Paris of a factious
mob and the National Guard, with La Fayette at their head
Poissards at the palace gates of Versailles Dreadful tumult

Attempt to assassinate the Queen Orleans seen encouraging
the regicides La Fayette suspected, from his not appearing
to quell the insurrection The Queen shows herself at the
windows of the Palace, with her children Her heroic address
to the King The royal family depart with the mob for Paris

Their situation at the Tuileries Mirabeau, disgusted with
Orleans, deserts him Orleans, impelled by fear, flies to Eng-
land The King and Queen requested by a deputation from
the National Assembly to appear at the theater Conversation
between Her Majesty and Count de Fersen on the Queen's re-
fusal The Queen and the Duchess de Luynes Dejected state

of Her Majesty, who ceases to be seen in society .... 204

CHAP. XVI. The Editor relates anecdotes of herself, illustrative of
the spirit of the times Outcry against her at the theater, on
account of the colors of her dress Refused by the guards ad-
mission to the Tuileries, from not having the national ribbon
Spy set upon her by the Queen to try her fidelity .... 219



CHAP. XVII. Editor in continuation Extraordinary expedients
necessary to evade espionage Anecdote of boxes sent by the
Editor from Paris Curious occurence respecting Gamin, the
King's locksmith Consternation of the Princess Lamballe
when apprized of it Scheme to avoid the consequences
Kind and interesting conduct of the Queen and royal family . 228

CHAP. XVIII. Editor in continuation Mr. Burke His interest
for the Queen and royal cause misrepresented Proposes vari-
ous schemes for averting the Revolution A secret and confi-
dential ambassador being deemed necessary to communicate
with the Court of England, the Princess Lamballe thought of
for the mission Personages whom she cultivates when in Eng-
land Her mission rendered unavailing, by the troubles in
France increasing Sends the Editor to France for explicit in-
structions Distressed by the papers brought back, she pre-
pares for her own return to France Her account of her
reception in England, and what she means to do when in France
Postscript: Public occurrences in France during the absence
of the Princess Necker His administration and final retire-
ment French clergy Their heartless conduct . . . .235

CHAP. XIX. Narrative continued by the Editor Various
schemes suggested for the escape of the royal family from
France The Queen refuses to go without her family Pope
Pius VI. the only sovereign who offered his aid Fatal attempt
at last to escape Causes of its failure Death of Mirabeau . 246

CHAP. XX. Journal resumed The Princess Lamballe receives a
ring from the Queen, set with her own hair, which had whitened
from grief Letter of the Queen to the Princess Lamballe
Joy of the royal family on the return of her Highness to Paris
-Meeting with the Queen Conversation with Her Majesty on
the state of the nation, and remedies for its disorders Depu-
ties attend the drawing-room of the Princess Barnave and
others persuade her to attend the debates of the Assembly
She hears Robespierre denounce the deputies who caused her
attendance Earnestness of the King and Queen in their be-
half Robespierre bribed to suspend the accusation Fetes on
the acceptance of the constitution Insults to the royal party
Agony of the Queen on her return Conversation with M. de
Montmorin on the plans necessary to be pursued Determina-
tion for the Queen to go to Vienna 252

CHAP. XXI. Journal continued Effect on the Queen of the
death of her brothers, the Empeiors Joseph and Leopold
Change in the Queen's household during the absence of the



Princess Causes and consequences Course pursued by the
Princess Communication from M. Laporte, head of the King's
police, of a plot to poison the Queen and royal family Plans
to prevent its accomplishment Conversation between the

Online LibraryMa princesse de LamballeSecret memoirs of Princess Lamballe : being her journals, letters and conversations during her confidential relations with Marie Antoinette → online text (page 1 of 31)