It has been calculated that if a tourist should give but five minutes to each apartment of this palace, it would take him three days, of five hours each (it is open only from eleven to four o'clock) to pass through the rooms; and that if he devoted but one minute to each work of art here, he would need seven days, of five hours each, to examine them. The entrance to the Palace of Versailles is worthy of its memories. Passing two sentries at the gilded gate, one finds himself within a courtyard of immense proportions, well fitted for a grand display of military pageants and of royal retinues. Behind him is the town, before him an astonishing array of structures, united in a sort of crescent, the points of which advance to meet him. Before these various buildings, which nevertheless form one vast edifice, are marble statues of illustrious Frenchmen; while in the centre of the area stands the grand equestrian figure of Louis Quatorze, - the royal founder of Versailles.
It is a mistake to inspect this palace with a crowd, or even with a companion who cares nothing for its history. While all the tourists who have been your fellow travelers in the hour's railway trip from Paris hurry across this courtyard, eager to see the sights and catch a return train, you will do well to pause and let these old walls tell you something of their history. Show them a little interest and sympathy, and they will soon speak eloquently of their eventful past. The clock, for example, above the central balcony of this palace, marked formerly, not the time of day, but the hour when the last king of France had died; and after such an event, the officer of the royal bedchamber appeared upon that balcony and broke his wand of office, crying, "The King is dead!" Then, taking up another wand, he exclaimed: "Long live the King!"
Equestrian Statue Of Louis XIV In The Courtyard Of Versailles.
Who can forget, too, that in this courtyard of Versailles occurred, in October, I 789, one of the earliest and most significant outbreaks of the Revolution? Seating ourselves upon the balustrade in this historic area, we have but to turn our heads to see the road on which the famished mob of men and women made their way that day to this magnificent chateau to demand bread of their King. Some hours after they had left Paris for this purpose, thousands of infuriated people had assembled here, destitute alike of food and shelter. The King hastily convened a council, which held a session lasting far into the night, forgetting meantime, with characteristic imbecility, to fill the stomachs of the famished multitude. Bonfires were, therefore, lighted in this courtyard, at one of which a horse was partially roasted and devoured half-raw. It was three o'clock in the morning when the mob gained access to the palace. The young Queen, Marie Antoinette, worn out with terror and excitement, had just sunk into an uneasy sleep, when she was aroused by a dreadful clamor on the staircase, the discharge of guns, the clashing of swords, and the shouts of insurgents. Her faithful guards had only time, ere some of them were massacred, to cry to her: "Flee for your life!" She sprang from her bed, and rushed to the door leading to the King's apartments. To her dismay, she found it bolted on the other side. With the energy of despair she knocked and called for help. Some moments passed, which seemed like hours, but finally she was admitted. Yet hardly was the door closed behind her when the mob with yells and imprecations, burst into the apartment she had left. Meantime the Queen, having gained the King's rooms, was secure from all immediate danger; for the royal troops had hastened to the rescue, and forced the assailants back into the courtyard. There all was uproar and excitement. The crowd was now enormously increased, and wild with hunger, cold, and sleeplessness demanded, as with one voice, that the King should go back with them to Paris. With Louis in their midst, they thought that their condition would be made endurable. The King, not daring to resist, consented to return. But what of the Queen? The multitude distrusted her far more than they did Louis. A hundred miscreants were at that moment thirsting for her blood. One man, however, had the tact and energy to save her. He was the noble ally of America in our own Revolution, - the bosom friend of Washington, - the Marquis de Lafayette. As General of the National Guard, he now approached the Queen.