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own power of attraction. A piece of loadstone drawn several
times along' a needle or a small piece of iron, converts it into an
artificial magnet. If this magnetised needle be then carefully
balanced, so as to move easily on its centre, one of its ends will
always turn to the north. Now, Louis, look at this small case.
You see in it the magnet, made like the hand of a clock, with
that end which points to the north shaped like the head of an
arrow. You see that it is carefully balanced on a steel point,
and beneath it is a card marked like a dial-plate with north,
south, east, west, such being the cardinal points ; also the inter-
mediate points, as north-west, south-east, &c. By merely look-
ing at the position of the needle when it settles to a point, the
mariner can see the direction in which his vessel is sailing, and
regulate his steering accordingly. The case, you see, is covered



wltli glass, to protect the face from injury. This is a small
compass, hut there are large ones which are not so well suited
for carrying about. "Whether large or small, the compass is
one of the most useful instruments in the w^orld. Without it,
mariners dare not venture out of sight of land, nor would the
discovery of America have heen made hj the great Columbus.
You will remember that the magnetic needle always points to
the north."

'• Papa, tell me, is the compass as useful on land as at sea?"

" Assuredly, my child. For example, suppose we were to lose
our way in the adjoining forest : I know that the Chateau de
Rambouillet lies to the north of the forest, and to find out the
north I look at my compass, and take the direction to which the
needle points — so," And the king showed his son how the needle
would act.

The boy, who had been most attentively listening to his father,
suddenly cried, " Do, papa, lend me your compass, and let me
find my way by myself to the chateau."

" And if you lose your way ?" said the king, a little startled at
the proposal.

" But the compass will guide me, papa."

"You are not afraid, then, of being alone in the forest?"

" Was a king of France ever afraid ? " replied Louis, proudly
raising his pretty fair head,

" Well, be it so," said the king ; " here is the compass, and
here, too, is my purse, for you may want money on your way.
Now let us part ; you, Mr Adventurer, may take to the right, I
will keep to the left, and I appoint you to meet me at the

"Agreed," said Louis, kissing his father's hand as he took
from it the compass, and then merrily plunged into the depths of
the forest.



For about an hour the dauphin pursued his way, directing his
course by the compass till he arrived at the borders of the forest,
without finding himself nearer home. A large meadow lay
before him, in which some peasants were mowing, and he
advanced towards them, not to inquire his way — the idea of
seeking any other guide but his compass did not enter his head —
no, he only wanted to know the hour. As he approached, a
little dog began barking in rather a hostile way. His master
called him back ; but the dog did not immediately obey, and the
peasant left his work, and with the handle of his scythe gave
the animal several blows.

On hearing the cries of the dog, Louis ran to the peasant.
" Will you sell that pretty dog, friend?" said he to him.


" Not so fast, my little gentleman," answered the peasant, who
did not recognise the prince ; " I would not sell my dog, do you
see, for all the gold in the king's purse. My poor Muff — my
only companion in my poverty — my only friend ! "

" Then why do you beat him ?"

" He that loves well chastises well, my little gentleman."

" Here, friend," said the child, taking- a piece of gold from his
purse ; " I will give you this, if you promise me not to love
your dog quite so well."

Astonished at this munificence in so young a child, the pea-
sant said, " One M^ould think you were the son of a king, to give
away so much money at a time."

" I am the son of your king," answered Louis, artlessly.

" Pardon, my prince ; I ask pardon," said the peasant in great
confusion. " Pardon me for having refused you the dog : it is
yours, my prince, and all that I have besides. Take Muff, my
g'ood young prince — take Muff."

" I am much obliged to you, my good sir," answered the
child ; " but you tell me he is your only friend. Now I have a
great many friends, so I will not deprive you of yours. I only
want you to tell me what o'clock it is."

" It is three o'clock, your highness."

" But how do you know ? — where did you see it ? " said the
child with much surprise. " You did not look at your watch."

" If we poor peasants could not tell the hour without a watch,
1 do not know what we should do. Sure we have the sun."

'' And how do you know by the sun ?"

" Well, indeed, I cannot tell you that very clearly, my
young prince; it is, however, according to its height. When
as high as it will go nearly over our heads, and when it casts
the least possible shadow anywhere, we know it is noon pre-
cisely. According as it comes down lower, and our shadow
lengthens, it is one o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock, and so
on. You see we just judge by the shadows, my good little

"Thank you, friend, for all you have taught me," said the
child; and then, notwithstanding the earnest intreaties of the
peasant to be allowed to show him the way — steady to his re-
solve to consult no guide but the compass — he fearlessly struck
again into the forest, and at length, after several hours of wan-
dering, now finding now missing the track, he arrived at Ram-
bouillet heated and panting, yet insensible to the fatigue he had
undero'one from exultation at having, imassisted, reached the
end of his journey.

The moment the king saw him, he ran to him with an eager-
ness that betrayed what had been his anxiety. " I had almost
begun to think you had lost your way, Louis."

" Lost my way, indeed ! How could I have lost it ?" said the
child, with a half-indignant look.



'' Oh, I see your pride is up in arms ; but if it had not been
for the compass "

" Papa, if I had had no compass, my heart would have g'uided
me to you."'



We must say something* of the parentage and birth of ouf
young hero, and shall commence with his father. Louis XVI.
was grandson of Louis XV., by whom, while dauphin, or heir-
apparent to the throne of France, he was kept in comparative
seclusion and ignorance of the knowledge required for his high
destination. In consequence of this imperfect acquaintance with
the world and of state affairs, as well as from temperament, he
was indecisive, timid, silent, and reserved ; but full of benevo-
lence, and of exemplary morals. In 1770, he was united to
Marie Antoinette, daughter of Francis I. of Austria and Maria
Theresa; Louis at the time being no more than sixteen, and
Marie Antoinette fifteen years of age. Educated with g*reat
care, this young princess was hig'hly accomplished, and endowed
w'ith an uncommon share of gracefulness and beauty. In a letter
written by her mother Maria Theresa to her future husband, she
says, among other things, " Your bride, dear dauphin, is sepa -
rated from me. As she has ever been my delight, so she will
be your happiness. For this purpose have I educated her, for I
have long been aware that she was to be the companion of your
life. I have enjoined upon her, as among her highest duties,
the most tender attachment to your person, the greatest attention
to everything that can please or make jo\i happy. Above all, I
have recommended to her humility towards God ; because I am
convinced that it is impossible for us to contribute to the happi-
ness of the subjects confided to us, without love to Him who
breaks the sceptres, and crushes the thrones of kings according
to His own will." The departure of this young and fascinating
creature from Vienna filled all hearts with sorrow, so much was
she beloved. Conducted with great state through Germany to the
borders of France, near Strasburg, she was there assigned to the
care of the French nobles and ladies of honour deputed to receive
her ; but not till an important ceremonial, according to the usage
of France, had been performed.

In the midst of a pretty green meadow was erected a superb
pavilion. It consisted of a vast saloon, connected with two
apartments, one of which was assigned to the lords and ladies of
the court of Vienna, and the other to those of the court of France,
including body-guard and pages. The young princess being
conducted into the apartment for the Germans, she was there
undressed, in order that she might retain nothing belonging to
a foreigii court; and with the slenderest covering she was ushered



into the apartment in which her French suite was in attendance.
It was a trying- moment for a delicate female. On the doors
being- thrown open, the young princess came forward, lookino-
round for her lady of honour, the Countess de Noailles • then
rushing into her arms, she implored her, with tears in her eyes,
and with a heart-felt sincerity, to direct her, to advise her, and
to be in every respect her guide and support. It was impossible
to refrain from admiring her aerial yet august and serene deport-
ment : her smile was sufficient to win every heart. Dressed by
her tirewoman, the Duchess of Cosse, she became a princess of
France ; and on presenting herself to the numerous retinue, she
was hailed with loud and protracted acclamations.

The journey of Marie Antoinette through France was like a
triumphal march ; and when she arrived at Versailles, the enter-
tainments given on her account were remarkably splendid. On
the occasion of her marriage, the city of Paris also gave a mag-
nificent fete ; but greatly to her distress and that of her husband,
the overcrowding of the streets caused a dejDlorable catastrophe —
fifty-three persons were pressed or trodden to death, and about
three hundred dangerously wounded. To increase the melan-
choly recollections of the event, a fire broke out in the Place
Louis XV. by which many persons perished, and hundreds lost
their all. The daujDhin and dauphiness were so overwhelmed
with grief at this second disaster, that they sent their whole
income for the year to the relief of the surviving sufferers. This
and other traits of g'ood dispositions seemed to endear Marie
Antoinette to the French ; but unfortunately she was from the
first surrounded by mean factions, whose delight lay in misre-
presenting all her actions, and rendering her unpopular.

The dauphin and dauphiness lived chiefly at Versailles, or in
the small palace in the adjoining grounds, known by the name
of the Trianon, where the princess had an opportunity of in-
dulging in her love for flowers and gardening, and Louis could
pursue unmolested the industrial occupations to which he was
attached. Living much apart from state affairs, four years thus
pleasantly passed away, when the current of their lives was
greatly altered by the demise of the reigning* sovereign. Any
one who had visited the palace of Versailles at the beginning of
May 1774, would have found the inmates in a state of extreme
consternation. Louis XV. lay ill of a dangerous maladj^, small-
pox, and a number of the courtiers catching the infection, died.
At length, on the evening of the 10th of the month, the king closed
his mortal career. The dauphin was at this time with the dau-
phiness in one of the apartments distant from the scene of death.
A noise was suddenly heard by them ; it increased like the rush-
ing of a torrent. It was the crowd of courtiers who were desert-
ing the dead sovereign's antechamber, to come and bow to the
new power of Louis XVI. This extraordinary tumult informed
Marie Antoinette and her husband that they were to reign ; and



by a spontaneous movement, which deeply affected those around
them, they threw themselves on their knees, and both pouring"
forth a flood of tears, exclaimed, " Oh God ! guide us, protect us ;
we are too young to govern ! "

Marie Antoinette was now queen of France ; hut the accession
brought no real happiness. For many years the court had been,
a scene of demoralisation, and full of jealousies and intrigues,
which she found it impossible to quell. The queen was likewise
harassed with perplexing ceremonies, for which, being bred in a
simple patriarchal court, she had no taste. She was little else
than a puppet in the hands of her attendants. If she wanted a
glass of water, she was not allowed to take it herself; it must be
given by a lady of honour. At table everything was presented
on bended knees, as if she had been a divinity. In making her
toilet, she durst not pour water on her own hands ; every move-
ment was performed by waiting -women, all members of the
nobility. Sometimes one trifling operation would require six per-
sons : one would take an article of dress from a wardrobe and
hand it to another, who would in turn give it to another, and so
on, the last putting- it on the person of the queen, who was all
the time perhaps shivering with cold. Marie Antoinette spoke
with satirical pleasantry of these useless ceremonies, and wished
to abolish them ; but this only gained her enemies, and became
the pretext for the j&rst reproaches levelled against her.

Louis XVI. and his queen were married eight years before they
had any children. At length, on the 11th of December 1778, the
queen was delivered of her first infant, a daughter, and great
were the rejoicings on the occasion, although to a less extent
than if the birth had been of a son. When the young princess
was presented to the queen, she pressed her to her truly maternal
heart. ^' Poor little one," said she, " you are not what was
wished for, but you are not on that account less dear to me. A
son would have been rather the property of the state. You shall
be mine ; you shall have my undivided care, shall share all my
happiness, and console me in all my troubles." A great number
of attendants watched near the queen during" the first nights
of her confinement ; and this made her uneasy, for it was con-
trary to the etiquette of the court that they should lie down
in bed. With much kindly consideration, she ordered a number
of large arm-chairs for her women, the backs of which were
capable of being let down by springs, and which served per-
fectly well instead of beds. It was thus that Marie Antoinette
felt for all who were about her. Her daughter was named Marie

On the 22d of October 1781, the queen gave birth to a son, the
dauphin, and on this occasion the hopes of all classes appeared to
be crowned with universal joy. Numerous were the congra-
tulations ; and Versailles for some time bore the air of a perpetual
holiday. In the society of her son and daughter the queen now



spent much of her time ; and as they grew up, she endeavoured
to cultivate in them every amiable quality. During- the winter
of 1783, when the poor suiFered greatly from cold, she distri-
buted large sums, saved from her allowance, among the most
necessitous families in Versailles ; nor did she fail on this occasion
to g-ive her children a lesson in beneficence. Having met on the
new-year's eve to get from Paris, as in other years, all the
fashionable playthings, she caused them to be spread out in her
closet. Then taking* her son and daughter in her hand, she
showed them all the dolls and toys which were ranged there, and
told them, that she intended to g-ive them some handsome new-
year's gifts, but that the cold made the poor so wretched, that all
her money w^as spent in blankets and clothes to protect them
from the rigour of the season, and in supplying" them with bread ;
so that this year they would only have the pleasure of looking- at
the new playthings. When she returned with her children into
her sitting-room, she said there was still an unavoidable expense
to be incurred, and that was paying- the toyman for the use of
his toys and the cost of his journey, and a sum was accordingly
paid to him for his services.

To the family of Marie Antoinette another addition was made
on the 27th of March 1785, when Louis-Charles, the object of
our present memoir, was born. Immediately on his birth, which
took place at Versailles, the king, his father, conferred on him
the title of Duke of Normandy, which had not been given to
the princes of France since the time of Charles VII. He was
baptised the same day, his sponsors being: Monsieur, the king-'s
brother (afterwards Louis XVIII.), and Madame Elizabeth, as
proxy for the queen of Naples. This was a happy event in the
royal family of France, and served to assuage the vexations in
which the king w'as becoming- involved with his state affairs.
It %vas another bright moment when the princess Sophie was
born in 1788 ; but she died while still an infant, and shortly
afterwards the dauphin fell in a few months from a florid state
of health into so weak a condition, that he could not walk with-
out support. How many maternal tears did his languishing
frame, the certain forerunner of death, draw from the queen,
already overwhelmed with apprehensions respecting- the state of
the kingdom ! Her g-rief was enhanced by petty intrigues and
quarrels among- the persons who surrounded her. The dauphin
died in 1789 ; and Louis-Charles, or Louis, as his father usually
called him, became dauphin in his stead.

To a naturally amiable disposition, Louis-Charles united an
intellect premature in its development, with a countenance
which bore the mingled expression of the mildness of his father
and the lofty dignity of his mother. As he grew up in child-
hood, he showed a most decided love for flowers ; and the king",
who wished to cultivate tastes so simple and so conducive in
their practical exercise to his bodily health, had given him a


little plot of ground in front of the apartments opening* on
the terrace at Versailles. There was the dauphin, day after
day, to be seen with his little spade working- away ; and thoug"h
the perspiration stood in larg:e drops upon his forehead, he
would suffer no one to help him. " No,"' said he ; " it is he-
cause I make the flowers g-row myself that mamma is so fond
of them ; so I must work hard to have them ready for her."
And every morning" the young- proprietor of this little domain
came to pull his fairest roses, his most frag-rant violets, to
form a bouquet to lay on his mother's bed ; so that the first
thing" Marie Antoinette always saw on awaking- was her boy's
«arly offering" ; while from behind the curtain he watched her
smile of pleasure, then sprang- from his hiding-place to claim
his reward — that reward a kiss — and that kiss was so sweet
to him that no severity of weather could hinder him from g'oing*
to his little g-arden to pull the flowers that Avon for him this

And here we would pause to say, if, in this elevated rank, it
is found that when affection is to be evinced it is evinced in a
way common to all classes — evinced in the daily little attentions
miscalled trifling- — may not those in humble life who have per-
haps felt inclined to murmur that all power to bestow larg"e
hounties, all opportunity to make sj^lendid sacrifices in proof of
love, has been denied to them, repress the vain wish that it had
been otherwise, and rest satisfied in the recollection that however
rare may be the occasions to save or serve, and vouchsafed to
few, yet all may please. Let such, though they may not have
even the flower in the bud to give, rejoice that a kindly look, the
smallest office of patient love, the shrinking" from giving" pain,
the bitter word repressed when rising* to the lips, is no despicable
offering', either in the eyes of an earthly friend or in the sig"ht of
that heavenly friend who forg'ets not the cup of cold water given
for his sake, and who said of her of small power but loving
heart, " She hath done what she could."

The young prince was not always equally studious or docile,
and one day that he was to be punished for some misdemeanour,
the plan devised was to take from him his dear little dog- Muff,
which the grateful peasant of the forest had brought as an offer-
ing to his young- prince ; and next to his parents and his flowers
all his care Avas for Muff. On this occasion the dog Avas shut up
in a closet where the dauphin mig-ht hear but could not see him
• — a privation apparently as great to Muff as to his master, for
he never ceased hoAvling- and scratching at the door. The prince,
unable to bear it any longer, ran with tears streaming doAvn his
cheeks to the queen. " Mamma," cried he, " Muff is so un-
happy, and you knoAv, as it was not he that was naughty, he
ought not to be punished. If you Avill let him out, I promise to
go into the closet instead of him, and to stay there as long as
you wish." His petition Avas granted ; Muff was set at libertv,

9 9


and the little dauphin remained patiently in the dark closet till
his mother released him.

Like most children of his age, he did not always make proper
application of the maxims which he heard. One day that, in
the exuberance of animal spirits, he was about to throw himself
into the midst of some rose-bushes, " Take care," said the queen,
"those thorns might tear your eyes out, and will certainly
scratch you severely."

" But, dear mamma," answered he in a most magnanimous
tone, " thorny paths, you know, lead to glory."

" It is a noble maxim," replied the queen, " but I see you do
not quite understand it. What glory can there be in getting your
eyes scratched out for the mere pleasure of jumping into a hedge?
If, indeed, it were to extricate any one from danger, there would
be glory in it, but as it is, there is only imprudence. My child,
you must not talk of glory till you are able to read the histoiy
of true heroes who have disinterestedly sacrificed life and fortune
for the good of others."

On one occasion his governess, uneasy at seeing him running
at headlong speed, said to the queen, " He will surely fall."

" He must learn to fall," replied Marie Antoinette.

*' But he may hurt himself."

" He must learn to endure pain," said the queen, who, with
all her fondness, had no desire to make her boy effeminate.



The love of rural pursuits evinced by the young dauphin was
destined to be rudely broken in upon. While with his parents
at Versailles in 1789, the revolution in France broke out, and
filled the royal family with alarm. It was the misfortune of
Louis XVI. to have fallen on evil times, and, with all his good
qualities, to become the victim on whose head the popular resent-
ment for long-endured injuries should be visited. It was another
of his misfortunes to be surrounded by incompetent advisers, and
to be deserted by the classes who might have been expected to
rally round the throne.

When tumults began to take place in Paris, it was considered
necessary that the king should proceed thither to show himself
to the people at the Hotel de Ville. He went on the 17th of
July 1789. Everybody knows that this movement gave a
trifling lull to the storm. When the sovereign received the
tri-coloured cockade from the mayor of Paris in front of an
assembled multitude, a shout of Vive le Hoi ! arose on all sides.
The king breathed again freely at that moment; he had not for
a long time heard such acclamations. During his absence the
queen shut herself up in her private rooms with her family.


She sent for several persons belonging- to the court, but their
doors ■vrere locked 5 terror had driven them away. A deadly-
silence reig-ned throughout the palace ; fear was at its height ;
the king was hardly expected to return. He did however come
back, and was received with inexpressible joy by the queen, his
sister, and his children. He congratulated himself that no acci-
dent had hajDpened ; and it was then he repeated several times,
" Happily no blood has been shed, and I swear that never shall
a drop of French blood be shed by my order.''

It is not our intention to relate the history of the revolution
which had already commenced, but only to note a few particulars
in the life of our young hero and his unfortunate parents. On
various pretexts it was resolved by the mob of Paris, a large
portion of whom were women of the lowest habits, to march to

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 24 of 59)