The Home Of Marie Antoinette.
The Dairy Of Marie Antoinette.
"Little Queen, you must not be So saucy with your twenty years; Else your subjects soon will see You led beyond the French frontiers."
At this time, also, Marie Antoinette was very fond of extravagant head-dresses. In one of these she had her portrait painted, and sent it to her mother. But Maria Theresa promptly returned it, with the words "I should have liked exceedingly a portrait of the Queen of France; but since you have made a mistake and sent me that of some comedienne, I return it by the first express.
Perhaps the most interesting of the buildings at Petit Trianon is the little dairy of Marie Antoinette, where cream was placed in exquisite porcelain, and milk was skimmed on marble tables by the fair Queen and her young friends, many of whom were soon to be beheaded by the populace. Innocent though these pleasures were, they did great harm to Marie Antoinette; for there were many political intriguers at Versailles whose interest it was to injure her as much as possible, and her impatience of the restraints of royal etiquette gave them an opportunity of doing so. Accordingly, each novel act of hers was called an innovation from Vienna, and she was nicknamed in reproach "The Austrian." Her enemies, too, watched eagerly for every indiscreet act and tried thereby to vilify her. The most outrageous calumnies were thus invented; and soon not merely France, but the whole of Europe was filled with stories of her improprieties. Maria Theresa was so disturbed by them that she privately sent a trustworthy friend to Paris to observe her daughter's conduct and report to her. But he presently wrote to her: "The young Queen is imprudent, that is all." Nevertheless, hundreds of songs were sung about her in the streets, and so terrible were some of the stories circulated, and so readily were they believed, that Marie Antoinette became one of the most unhappy of women. There were times, doubtless, when she would gladly have exchanged the splendor of Versailles, and even the lovely groves of Trianon, for the lot of the humblest peasant in the furrowed field; for to be loved was to her the very breath of life - to be hated stabbed her to the heart. "One morning at Trianon," writes one of her biographers, "I entered the Queen's room and found her weeping bitterly. Some letters were lying near her, and her sobs were frequently interrupted with the words: 'Oh, how I wish that I were dead! Wretches! Monsters! What have I done to them? It would be better to kill me at once.'" It would have been better indeed; for these cruel calumnies were sharpening for Marie Antoinette the blade of the guillotine.
A Corner Of The Conciergerie.
Seated among the trees of Little Trianon and looking on these empty and deserted buildings, one naturally thinks of that gloomy prison in the neighboring capital, - the Concier-gerie. Within its walls there is one room which no one with a tender heart can look upon unmoved. It has been consecrated by great sorrow. When Marie Antoinette was imprisoned there, the Revolution had become a Reign of Terror. The power rested with the most abandoned. The King had already perished; and now the daughter of Maria Theresa was doomed. She was still a Queen, but they had driven her from her throne; a wife, but they had guillotined her husband; a mother, but they had robbed her of her children; a friend, but the gory head of her beloved companion, the Princesse de Lamballe, had been displayed beneath her window on a pike. Now she was only a poor woman, possessing nothing but her life. This also they resolved to have.
It was four o'clock in the morning when she arrived here from the Temple, where she had been long imprisoned. A tallow candle revealed a slimy floor, a filthy bed, a pine table, and a chair. The room itself measured only fifteen feet long and seven wide, yet part of this was reserved for a soldier who never left her, night or day. Her wardrobe now consisted of but two dresses, worn almost to rags; while her shoes and stockings were almost beyond the possibility of repair. Her hair was snow-white, though she was but thirty-seven. Such was the sequel to Versailles and Trianon!