William Chambers.

Chambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) online

. (page 25 of 59)
Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 25 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Versailles and bring the royal family to Paris. This alarming
movement took place on the 5th and 6th of October. The court,
deserted by the host of nobles who might have been expected to
rally round the throne, and with scarcely any friends left but
their immediate attendants and attached guards, were on this
momentous occasion exposed to many gross indignities, and with
some difficulty were able to save their lives. Carriages being
prepared, they were compelled to go into them and proceed to
Paris, attended by a rabble of many thousands. It was not
the least of the many painful circumstances accompanying this
removal, that the king was compelled to withdraw his son from
the healthy breezes of the country to the comparative close-
ness of a city atmosphere. The boy, also, was inconsolable.
To be taken away from his little garden was a sore grief; his
beautiful flowers, the flowers reared with his own hands, would,
he said, wither and die ; and he was like to die at the thought.
In order to console him, he was told he should have much nicer
flowers at Paris, and as many as he could wish for. " They will
not be my own flowers that I planted and watered," he answered;
" I shall never love any flowers so well as these."

Clinging to his mamma in terror of the horde of wild-look-
ing men and women who were shouting in demoniac laughter,
the dauphin entered one of the coaches ; the queen alternately
trying* to pacify his fears, and to look with calmness on the ter-
rific throng. Already blood had been shed. The mob, in forcing
the palace, had killed two of the guards who defended the queen's
apartments from outrage ; and with the heads of these unfortu-
nate and brave men stuck on the end of poles, a party preceded
the royal carriages to Paris. These wretches, with a refinement
of cruelty which, we imagine, could scarcely be matched out of
France, stopped on the way at Sevres, and compelled a hair-
dresser to dress the gory heads according to the fashion of the
period. In the rear of this band slowly came the procession of
soldiers, citizens, women — an indescribable crowd of the vilest
beings on earth — some riding astride on cannons, some carrying



pikes or muskets, and numbers waving long: branches of poplar.
It looked like a moving- forest, amidst wliich shone pike-heads
and g-un-barrels. After the royal carriages came the king's
faithful guards, some on foot and some on horseback, most of
them uncovered and worn out with want of sleep, hung-er, and
fatigue. Finally came a number of carriages containing deputies
of the Assembly, followed by the bulk of the Parisian army.

In the course of the journey, which was protracted to* a late
hour, the king and queen were constantly reviled by the crowd
of savage women who thronged about them. There was at the
time a dearth of bread in Paris, arising from natural causes ;
but it was imputed to the king, and now that he was in the
hands of the mob, they cried out that bread would no longer be
either dear or scarce. " We shall no longer," they shouted at
the windows of the royal carriages, " we shall no long-er want
bread ; we have the baker, the baker's wife, and the baker's bo3'-
with us." In the midst of all the revilings, tumult, and singing,
interrupted by frequent discharges of musketry, might be seen
Marie Antoinette preserving the most courageous tranquillity of
soul, and an air of noble and inexpressible dignitj'-.

The departure of the royal family for Paris was so hurried
that no time was afforded to make preparations at the palace of
the Tuileries, which, since the minority of Louis XV., had not
been the residence of the kings of France. Some apartments,
however, were cleared for their reception ; and from this time
may be dated the captivitj^ of Louis XVI. in the hands of his

On the day after the arrival of the court in Paris, a noise was
heard in the garden of the Tuileries, which, terrifying the
dauphin, he threw himself into the arms of the queen, crying*
out, "Oh mamma, is yesterday come again?" The child in
his simplicity could not account for the revolutionary move-
ments of which he, with others, was the victim ; and a few days
after making the above affecting exclamation, he went up to his
father to speak to him on the subject. " Well, Louis, what is it
you wish to say ? " asked the king.

" I want to know, papa," he answered pensively, " why the
people, who formerly loved you so well, are all at once angry
with you ; what is it you have done to irritate them so much ? "

His father, interested in the question, took him upon his knee,
■and spoke to him nearly as follows : — " I wished, my dear Louis,
to make my people still hapjDier than they were. I wanted money
•to pay the expenses occasioned by wars. I asked my people for
Tdoney, as the former kings of France had done ; the magistrates
composing the parliament opposed it, and said that ray people
had alone a right to consent to it. I thereupon assembled the
principal inhabitants of every town, whether distinguished by
birth, fortune, or talents, at Versailles ; and that is what is called
the States-General. When all were assembled, they required



concessions of me which I could not make, either with due re-
spect for myself or with justice to you, who will be my successor.
AVicked men inducing- the people to rise, have occasioned the
excesses of the last few days ; the people must not be blamed for

The dauphin had now a more clear idea of the position of
affairs, and to please his father and mother, he endeavoured to
avoid giving- cause of offence to those about him. When he had
occasion to speak to the officers of the national guards, mayors
of the communes, or revolutionary leaders who visited the Tuile-
ries, he did so with much affability. If the queen happened to be
present, he would come and whisper in her ear, " Is that right ?"

The royal family were not permitted to consider the whole
garden of the Tuileries as their own. The chief portion was
claimed by the National Assembly. In that part appropriated
to the king's household, the dauphin was given a small patch
in which he might pursue his love for flowers ; but even this
indulg-ence was clog-ged with the regulation that he should be
attended by members of the national guard. At first the escort
was small, and courteously did the young prince invite his
guards to enter, and graciously did he distribute flowers amongst
them ; sometimes saying to them, " I would give you a great
many more, but mamma is so fond of them." But the guard
being gradually increased, he could no longer do the honours
of his little domain to all, and once he apologised to those who
were pressing round the palisades — " I am sorry, gentlemen,
that my garden is too small to permit of my having the pleasure
of seeing you all in it."

One day a poor woman made her way into the garden, and
presented him a petition. " My prince," said she, " if you can
obtain this favour for me, I shall be as happy as a queen." The
child took the paper, and with a look of deep sadness exclaimed,
" Happy as a queen ! you say ; I know one queen who does
nothing but weep all day long."



The years 1790 and 1791 were passed by the royal family in a
state of constant apprehension. Clamoured against by all, and in
constant danger of assassination, the king appears to have sunk
into a state of gloomy despondency, from which neither the smiles
of his wife nor the sallies of little Louis could raise him. For some
months he scarcely spoke a word. The queen spent much of her
time in tears. Recommended by a few attached partisans, as
well as by his own fears, he made an attempt to leave the king-
dom with his family, but, as every one knows, they were stopped
at Varennes before they reached the frontiers, and brought back



to Paris. In their return they were under the charge of Bar-
nave, one of the deputies appointed by the Assembly to attend
the royal jDrisoners, At the time it was customary for the revo-
lutionists to wear buttons on which was the device, "To live
free, or die." Observing" words to that eifect on the button of
M. Barnave, the dauphin said, " Mamma, what does that mean
— to live free ?" " My child," replied the queen, " it is to go
where you please." "Ah, mamma," replied the child quickly,
" then we are not free !"

This attempt at flight considerably aggravated the condition
of the royal family, who were now more carefully watched than
ever; the king and queen living almost continually under the
eyes of sentinels, and all their correspondence watched. These
things preyed on the mind of Marie Antoinette, and began to
give her the appearance of premature old age.

" Mamma," said the dauphin one day shortly after the return
of the family to the Tuileries, " how white your hair has grown !"
" Hush, my dear child," replied the queen ; " let us not think of
such trifles when we have greater sorrows, those of poor papa, to
distress us." It is true the queen's beautiful hair had grown
white from the effect of grief. In a single night it had become
as white as that of a woman of seventy, yet she was only about
half that age. The Princess de Lamballe having asked for a
lock of her whitened hair, she had a small quantity set in a ring
and presented to her, with the inscription. Bleached hy sorrow.

On the 20th of June 1792, a lawless Parisian rabble forced
the Tuileries, and rushed like demoniacs from room to room in
search of the king and queen, who, though sufficiently alarmed,
did not quail before this barbarous torrent. Placing themselves
in a recess, with two or three attendants, they awaited what
might be their fate. The queen placed the dauphin before her
on a table. When the tumultuous procession advanced, a person
of coarse appearance gave the king a red cap, which he put on
his head, and a similar emblem was drawn over the head of
little Louis, almost burying- the whole of his face. The horde
passed in files before the table, carrying symbols of the most
horrid barbarity. There was one representing a g-ibbet, to which
a dirty doll was suspended, with an inscription signifying that
it was Marie Antoinette. Another was a board, to which a
bullock's heart was fastened, with the words inscribed, " Heart
of Louis XVI."

By the interference of several deputies, no bloody deed was
committed on this occasion. The result was very different on
the ensuing 10th of August, when the palace of the Tuileries
was attacked and captured after a gallant and ineffectual defence
by the Swiss guards, all of whom, to the number of eight hun-
dred, were barbarously put to death. It would be too painful, even
if it were necessary, to describe this terrible massacre. The poor
son of Louis XVI., no longer heir to a throne, for the monarchy



was abolished, shared all the perils of that day, evincing' a degree
of courage beyond his age. When the wainscotting of a secret
passage in which the family had taken refuge appeared to be
giving way under the repeated blows of the mob, and when the
queen with suspended breath was listening to each stroke of the
axe, the boy, gliding from the terror-relaxed hold of his mother,
fell on his knees, and putting up his little hands, piously ex-
claimed. "Oh God, save mamma! — thou art able to do every-
thing. Oh send away these men ! — a poor child is praying for his
mother ! Oh thou good God, wilt thou not hear him ? " As if in
answer to this artless prayer, the noise suddenly ceased, and an
announcement was made that the people demanded to see the
queen — a fruitless interview, though affording a respite at the

The result is well known. Louis XVI., the queen, the dau-
phin and his sister, with Madame Elizabeth, the sister of the
king, took refuge in the Assembly, whence, after a lengthened
debate, they were transferred to confinement in the Feuillans ;
from this place of detention they were soon taken to the Temple.



The Temple owes its name to the Templars, a military order of
priests, who in the twelfth centuiy devoted themselves to the
recovery of the Holy Temple at Jerusalem from the Saracens.
In 1250 they founded this, the principal house of their order,
and retained possession of it for 160 years. Like the other
ancient fortresses, it was surrounded by high and turreted battle-
ments, in the middle of which rose a square tower, the walls of
which were nine feet in thickness, and which was flanked by four
other round towers. The church, of rudely Gothic construction,
was built on the model of that of St John at Jerusalem.

Within a court-yard in this gloomy edifice, as well as in the
park at Versailles and on the terrace of the Tuileries, Louis-
Charles was indulg'ed with a small garden, a plot where the
flowers mig'ht indeed want the sunshine, but still to him they
were flowers — he still had a garden to cultivate. The large
square tower was the prison of the royal family : there for many
months, to the very day of his death, Louis XVI., whose posses-
sion of all the virtues which constitute a good father, a good
head of a family, is not denied even by his enemies, devoted him-
self to the education of his son. It was his delight to develop
and cultivate that youthful and naturally quick and powerful
intellect. Often did his mirthful sallies, his playful wit, beguile
the anxious parents of a smile.

Every morning the king rose at six o'clock, and prepared the
lessons he intended giving to his sonj at ten, the captives



assembled in the queen's apartment, and study beg-an. Very
sweet were these hours to the poor prisoners, and" whilst the
lesson lasted, each seemed to forg-et past g-reatness, and ceased to
anticipate future perils ; but too often, alas ! these calm domestic
scenes were interrupted by clamorous shouts, nay, even death-
screams, from without, which too plainly told the royal victims
that the forfeiture of liberty and a crown was no security for life
being spared.

It was in such hours as these that the courag-e of Louis XVI.
seemed to g-row with the dang-er — that courag-e which consists in
calm endurance. As soon as each new cause for alarm had
ceased, he endeavoured to lure his startled little circle into forget-
fulness of it by some question to the prince — at times it mig-ht be
a riddle, an enigma ; and his ingenious guesses often succeeded in
checking the tears of the fond mother and aunt.

'• Louis," asked the king on one of these occasions, " what is
that which is white and black, weighs not an ounce, travels night
and day like the wind, and tells a thousand things without speak-
ing?" "It must be a horse," answered the dauphin; "it surely
is a horse. A horse may be white and black, and a horse runs
races, and a horse does not speak." " So far so good, my boy ;
but a horse weighs somewhat more than an ounce, and I never
heard of his telling any news." " Ah ! now papa, I have it ; it
is a newspaper," and the young prince's merry peal of laughter
almost met a response from the sorrowful little group. "An-
other question for you," said the king. " Who is she, the most

beautiful, the best, the noblest " " Who but mamma," quickly

interrupted the dauphin, throwing himself into the queen's arms.
" You did not give me time to finish, Louis," pursued his father ;
"' I ask you who is the most beautiful, the best, the noblest, and
who yet repels the greater part of mankind?" "It is Truth,
papa; but to tell you the truth, I did not guess it myself; my
sister whispered it to me."

In such little exercises of ingenuity, and at times in playing a
geographical game invented by the king, were the boy's hours
of recreation passed. This game consisted in drawing out of
a little bag the names of towns, which were then traced out
upon the map and marked by counters, and the game was won
by whichever player told most of the historical events occurring"
in the places the names of which they had drawn.

Thus the autumn of 1792 passed and winter came on with-
out bringing any alleviation of the condition of the prisoners.
One evening, after the candles were lighted, when the family
were arranged round the table in their sitting apartment, the
dauphin, with the inquisitiveness of youth, asked his father what
book it was he was now reading and studying so carefully. " It
is the history of an unfortunate king, Charles the First of Eng-
land," answered Louis. " How was he unfortunate, dear papa?
Did his people put him in prison, as yours have done ?" " Yes,



my dear child, there is much resemblance in our lives, as I fear
there will be in our fate" — here the queen uttered a deep sig-h, and
looked with agony towards her husband — " but you shall read
the memoirs of Charles when you are old enough to comprehend
his history : it is too intricate "and difficult for a boy. See, here
is a book which I have sent for to amuse you, and I think you
will like it better than the very melancholy memoirs of Charles
the First." " Thank you, dear papa. Oh ! I see it is full of stories ;
shall I read one aloud ?" " Certainly, if you please : take that
pretty one near the beginning- called Arthur ; it teaches a fine
lesson to boys in adversity." The dauphin read as follows : —

" A poor labourer, named Bernard, had six young children,
and found himself much at a loss to maintain them ; to add to
his misfortune, an unfavourable season much increased the price
of bread. Bernard worked day and night, yet, in spite of his
labours, could not possibly earn enough of money to provide food
for six hungry children. He was reduced to extremity. Call-
ing therefore one day his little family together, with tears in
his eyes he said to them, ' My dear children, bread is become so
dear that, with all my labour, I am not able to earn sufficient for
your subsistence. This piece of bread in my hand must be paid
for with the wages of my whole day's labour, and therefore you
must be content to share with me the little that I have been able
to earn. There certainly will not be sufficient to satisfy you all ;.
but at least there will be enough to prevent your perishing with
hunger.' The poor man could say no more : he lifted up his
eyes to heaven, and wept ; his children wept also, and each one
said within himself, ' Oh Lord, come to our assistance, unfortunate
infants that we are ! — help our dear father, and suffer us not to-
perish for want ! ' Bernard divided the bread into seven equal
shares ; he kept one for himself, and distributed the rest amongst
his children. But one of them, named Arthur, refused his share,
and said, ' I cannot eat anything, father ; I find myself sick.
Do you take my pai't, or divide it amongst the rest.' ' My poor
child ! what is the matter with you 1 ' said Bernard, taking him
up in his arms. ' I am sick,' answered Arthur, ' very sick.' Ber-
nard carried him to bed, and the next morning he went to a
physician, and besought him for charity to come and see his
sick child. The physician, who was a man of great humanity,
went to Bernard's house, though he was very sure of not being
paid for his visits. He approached Arthur's bed, felt his pulse,
but could not thereby discover any symptoms of illness. He
was going to prescribe a cordial draught, but Arthur said, ' Do
not order anything for me, sir ; I could take nothing that you
should prescribe for me.'

The physician asked him the reason for refusing the medicine,
but the child tried to evade the question. He then accused him
of being obstinate, and said he should inform his father. This
distressed Arthur greatly, and, no longer able to conceal his



■"emotions, lie said he would explain eveiytliing to him if no one
were present.

The children were now ordered to withdraw, and then Arthur
continued — ' Alas I sir, in this hard season my father can scarcely
€arn us every day a loaf of coarse bread. He divides it amono'st
us. Each of us can have but a small part, and he will hardly
take any for himself. It makes me unhappy to see my little
brothers and sisters suifer hung^er. I am the eldest, and have
more strength than they ; I like better, therefore, not to eat
^ny, that they may divide my share amongst them. This is the
reason why I pretended that I was sick ; but I intreat you not
rto let my father know this ! '

The medical attendant was affected, and said, ' But, my dear
little friend, are you not hungry X ' ^ Yes, sir, I am hungry ; but
that does not give me so much pain as to see my family suffer.'

'■ But you will soon die if you take no nourishment.'

^ I am sensible of that,' replied Arthur, ' but I shall die con-
tented. My father will have one mouth less to feed ; and I pray
Ood to give bread to my little brothers and sisters when I am

The humane physician was melted with pity and admiration
on hearing the generous child speak thus. Taking him up in
his arms, he clasped him to his heart, and said, ' No, my dear
little friend, you shall not die ! God, who is the father of us
all, will take care of you and of your family.' He hastened to his
own house, and ordering one of his servants to take a quantity
of provisions of all sorts, returned with him immediately to
Arthur and his famished little brothers. He made them all sit
down at table, and eat heartily until they were satisfied. It was
a delightful sight for the good physician to behold the joy of
those innocent creatures. On his departure he bid Arthur not
to be under any concern, for that he would provide for their
necessities ; which promise he faithfully observed, and furnished
them every day with a plentiful subsistence. Other charitable
persons also, to whom he related the circumstance, imitated his
■generosity. Some sent them provisions, some money, and others
clothes and linen, so that in a short time this little family became
possessed of plenty.

As soon as Bernard's landlord was informed of what the gene-
rous little Arthur had suffered for his father and brothers, he
sent for Bernard, and addressed him thus : ' You have an admir-
able son ; permit me to be his father also. I will employ you
on my farm ; and Arthur, with all your other children, shall be
put to school at my expense.' Bernard returned to his house
transported with joy, and, throwing himself upon his knees,
blessed God for having given him so worthy a child."

As the winter of 1792-3 advanced, the situation of the royal
family in the Temple became more painful. It was resolved



to suppress certain indulgences wliicli they had hitherto enjoyed.
Their food was to be more plain and less abundant, they were to
eat off pewter instead of silver, tallow candles were to be substi-
tuted for was, and their servants were to be reduced in number.
None of these attendants, however, were to enter their apart-
ments ; and their meals were to be introduced to them by means
of a turning-box. The carrying of these pitiful arrangements into
execution was confided to a municipal officer named Hebert. This
man had originally been check-taker at the door of a theatre, from
which he was expelled for having embezzled the receipts. He
was now the editor of a foul and slanderous print, and by the
most odious arts as an ultra revolutionist, had attained consider-
able power. A ruUng passion with him seems to have been the vili-
fying and tormenting the royal family, and pursuing them indi-
vidually to destruction. Empowered by the Convention, he re-
paired to the Temple ; and not satisfied with taking' away the
most trifling articles to which the royal family attached a value,
he deprived Madame Elizabeth of eig'hty louis which she had
received from Madame de Lamballe. No man, observes M.
Thiers, is more dangerous, more cruel, than the man without
acquirements, without education, clothed with a recent authority ;
if, above all, he possess a base nature, and leap all at once from
the mud of his condition into power, he is as mean as he is atro-

Rendered in every respect uncomfortable in circumstances by
the miserable devices of this wretch, and agitated by the rumours
which daily reached them, the royal family looked with appre-
hension to the future. Never had the dauphin seen so many
tears ; his most playful sallies could not extort a solitary smile.
They did not tell him of the impending misfortune, nor could he
have suspected it while gazing* on the calm and firm countenance

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 25 of 59)