It was a cold autumnal morning when Marie Antoinette was led from this prison to her execution. With her own hands she had cut off her hair. Then, with her arms securely bound, she walked down through the prison with a guard of soldiers. Outside the gateway was a hooting mob. Up the stone steps, however, the Queen advanced as firmly as if she had been going to her throne. But alas! instead of a closed carriage, as in the case of the King, only the open cart of the condemned awaited her. For a moment she recoiled from this unlooked-for degradation; but immediately recovering her composure, she took her seat in the cart.
It was in the Place de la Concorde, just in front of the entrance to the garden of the Tuileries, and with a view of the park and palace before her, that Marie Antoinette awaited death. She gazed in silence on these scenes of former happiness and grandeur, and a few tears rolled down her sunken cheeks. Then, turning toward the distant towers of the Temple, she murmured: "Farewell, my children; I go to rejoin your father." As she was led to the guillotine, she stepped, by accident, on the foot of the executioner. "Pray pardon me," she said, with as much courtesy as if she were at Versailles. A moment more, and the head of Marie Antoinette was held before the multitude. Upon the books of the parish of La Madeleine is this item of expense:" Coffin for Louis' widow, seven francs!"
Marie Antoinette In The Conciergerie.
Marie Antoinette Going To Execution.
Another interesting excursion to be made from Paris leads the tourist to the suburb of St. Denis. The principal object of attraction here is the old cathedral,which was for centuries a burial-place for the Kings of France. The place on which this building stands has been for sixteen hundred years a place of religious worship, a chapel having been erected here about the year 275, above the grave of St. Denis, the first bishop of Paris, who it is said suffered martyrdom on the Parisian hill of Montmartre, or the "Hill of Martyrs."
The present cathedral, though it has been frequently restored, is more than seven hundred years old, and would repay a visit, merely for its noble architecture and for its modern stained-glass windows, whose brilliant colors and noble figures suggest a high mass, visible, but inaudible.
Marie Antoinette In The Death-Cart.
No church in France had been so rich in relics and rare ornaments as this, and it contained the celebrated Oriflamme, or consecrated banner of the kingdom. But that which gave the church its greatest fame was its collection of royal tombs; for nearly all the Kings of France, together with their families, were buried here up to the time of the Revolution. In 1793, however, the Convention decreed that all these sepulchres of royalty should be destroyed, and on the twelfth of October, in that year, the work of devastation was begun. The populace, authorized by the decree of the Convention, broke through the walls of the crypt, and dragging forth the bodies of the famous dead, some of which had reposed there for a thousand years, threw them into a ditch dug in the vicinity. A kind of madness seemed to have seized upon the people who, drunk with the lust for blood and pillage inspired by the massacres in Paris, hastened from their capital to St. Denis. In their hatred of royalty and their complete repudiation of the past, they did not seem to realize that they were destroying proofs of their own national history.
In their impatience to begin their evil deeds, they halted, on their way to the cathedral, to desecrate twelve beautiful wayside crosses, erected in the thirteenth century to commemorate the various places where the body of St. Louis rested on its way from Paris to its royal tomb.
Pausing again at a smaller church, as if to prepare themselves for a greater act of sacrilege, they dragged from its position over the high altar a famous wooden statue of the Virgin, and, tying a rope around its neck, set it on fire and watched it burn, dancing meantime around it and singing the "Ca ira" and the "Carmagnole."