The Last Days Of Napoleon I. Vela.

The Last Days Of Napoleon I. Vela.

The Gallery Of Battles, Versailles 2

The Gallery Of Battles, Versailles.

The Park Of Versailles.

The Park Of Versailles.

The immense park of Versailles, with its world-famous fountains and shaded avenues, groves, and lawns, peopled with a multitude of statues, is still as beautiful naturally as when its picturesque allees saw, like a company of actors on a splendid stage, the brilliant court of Louis XIV; but even more attractive (at least to the writer of these pages) is that portion of it, known as Little Trianon. For, aside from the beauty of rustic bridges, stately trees, and well-kept turf, the grounds and buildings of Petit Trianon recall the joyous, youthful life of Marie Antoinette. This was her rural home, whither she loved to retire when wearied of the tedious ceremonials of the court. In the neighboring palace of Versailles she was a Queen, weighed down with grave responsibilities, and fettered by the numberless annoyances incident to fashionable life. But here she was a happy woman, wife, and mother, discarding all formality, even to the extent of ridiculing (unwisely as it proved) the rigid etiquette of old French royalty. Dressed in white muslin and wearing a pretty straw hat trimmed with flowers, she strolled along these shaded paths with careless grace, chased butterflies, fed the chickens, fished in the tiny lake, or chatted with the dairy-maids as freely as a peasant girl. Upon these lawns she introduced such games as "blind man's buff" and "fox and geese," and joined in all their fun and frolic. Private theatricals were also very popular here, and the Queen took part in them, assuming the character and costume of a shep herdess.

The Fountains At Versailles.

The Fountains At Versailles.

Little Trianon.

Little Trianon.

IN

IN "Petit Trianon."

I do not know a pleasanter occupation on a summer afternoon than to come out from Paris and spend some hours at Little Trianon, reading beneath the grand old trees, or wandering among the modest buildings once occupied by the young Queen, her husband, and their intimate friends. The stone walls of these pretty structures are now covered with a mantle of green ivy, and moss has gathered on the steps once trodden by those royal feet. It is a fascinating though melancholy task to search beneath these cold, deserted ashes for the few sparks they possibly conceal. The rooms that echoed once so frequently to joyous laughter are now empty and desolate, abandoned to oblivion and silence. One cannot enter them. The doors are locked. Peer through the windows, and from the dark interior the reflection of your face will startle you, as you think of other faces that these walls have seen, - faces of brilliant men and lovely women, who nevertheless were destined in a few short months to perish by the guillotine. One of these buildings is the rustic mill where Louis XVI assumed the role of miller, and shouldered heavy sacks of corn while Marie Antoinette and her companions played the part of peasants sitting on benches by their cottage doors.

Discarding All Formality.

Discarding All Formality.

Such freedom from restraint, however, was sharply criticised by those who were not invited to participate in this simple rural life. Old courtiers expressed themselves as amazed at such plebeian conduct, and the ceremonious dowagers of France were horrified at what they called the young Queen's lack of propriety. This feeling Marie Antoinette recklessly resented, and even took the keenest pleasure in shocking "Madame Etiquette," as she humorously styled the first lady of her suite. Thus, one day, in a donkey ride at Trianon she had a fall. Instead of rising, however, she remained seated on the ground, and laughingly refused to move until a lackey should bring Madame Etiquette, to tell her the precise rule for a French Queen's getting up after a tumble from a donkey. This tendency of the young sovereign to ridicule her opponents led her imperial mother, Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria, to write to her as follows: "It reaches me from every quarter that you are not particular to say agreeable things to people, but, on the contrary, indulge in ridicule. This may do you infinite harm. By amusing five or six young ladies or gentlemen, you may offend all others. This is no slight fault in a princess, for it leads to imitation on the part of her courtiers, and repels those who do not like to have their feelings hurt. If you are not careful, I foresee great trouble for you. I beg you, therefore, to take the advice of a mother who knows the world, who idolizes her children, and whose only desire is to be of service to them." Admirable advice, indeed, but it was of little use. "Si la jeunesse savait, si la vieillesse pouvait!" {If youth only knew, if old age only could!] That is indeed a motto for all time. It is not strange that in return for some of Marie Antoinette's sharp pleasantries, sarcastic epigrams were made at her expense. One of these ran as follows: