The Last Days At The Tuileries

April 4, 2019

During one of the last nights of July, at one o’clock, Madame Campan was alone near the Queen’s bed, when she heard some one walking softly in the adjoining corridor, which was ordinarily locked at both ends. Madame Campan summoned the valet-de-chambre, who went into the corridor; presently the noise of two men fighting reached the ears of Marie Antoinette. “What a position!” cried the unfortunate Queen.  “Insults by day and assassins by night!”  The valet cried: “Madame, it is a scoundrel whom I know; I am holding him.”  “Let him go,” said the Queen.  “Open the door for him; he came to assassinate me; he will be carried in triumph by the Jacobins tomorrow.”

Pavillon de Flore, Paris, only section that remains of Tuileries Palace.

People were constantly saying that the Faubourg Saint-Antoine was getting ready to march against the palace. Marie Antoinette was so badly guarded, and it was so easy to force an entrance to her apartment on the ground-floor, opposite the garden, that Madame de Tourzel, her children’s governess, begged her to sleep in the Dauphin’s room on the first floor. The Queen was averse to this step, as she was unwilling to have any one suspect her uneasiness. But Madame de Tourzel having shown her that it would be easy to keep the secret of this change by using the Dauphin’s private staircase, she ended by accepting the proposal so long as the trouble should last. She was so thoughtful of all those in her service that it cost her much to incommode them in the least. Finally, she consented to use the bed of the governess, and a pallet was laid for the latter every evening. Mademoiselle Pauline de Tourzel slept on a sofa in an adjoining closet. As no one in the house suspected that the Queen might have changed her apartment for the night, Madame de Tourzel and her daughter took precautionary measures. When the Queen had gone to bed, they rose, and after making sure that the doors were locked, they shot the inside bolts. “The closet I occupied served as a passage for the royal family when they went to supper,” says Mademoiselle de Tourzel, afterwards Madame de Béarn, in her Souvenirs de Quarante Ans; “I went to bed early; sometimes I pretended to be asleep when the Princes were passing through, and I saw them approach my sofa, one after another; I heard their expressions of kindness and good will toward me, and noticed what care they took not to disturb my slumber.”

The Dauphin and his Governess, Louise-Élisabeth de Croÿ, Duchess of Tourzel.

Poor Marie Antoinette! Could one believe that a Queen of France would be reduced to keeping a little dog in her bedroom to warn her of the least noise in her apartment? The Dauphin, delighted to have his mother sleep so near him, used to run to her as soon as he awoke, and clasping her in his little arms would say the most affectionate things. This was the only moment of the day that brought her any consolation.

Marie Antoinette and the downfall of royalty, by Imbert de Saint-Amand. Pgs. 259-261

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 671



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