“The king,” she says, “has just issued an edict which is as yet only the forerunner of a reform which he designs, to make both in his own household and in mine. If it be carried out, it will be a great benefit, not only for the economy which it will introduce, but still more for its agreement with public opinion, and for the satisfaction it will give the nation.” It is impossible for any language to show more completely how, above all things, she made the good of the country her first object. And she was the more inclined to approve of all that was being done in this way from her conviction that Necker was both honest and able; an opinion which she shared with, if she had not learned it from, her mother and her brother, and which was to some extent justified by the comparative order which he had re-established in the finance of the country, and by the degree in which he had revived public credit. She was not aware that the real dangers of the situation had a source deeper than any financial difficulty, a fact which Necker himself was unable to comprehend. And she could not foresee, when it became necessary to grapple with those dangers, how unequal to the struggle the great banker would be found.
It may, perhaps, be inferred that she did suspect Necker of some deficiency in the higher qualities of statesmanship when, in the spring of 1780, she told her mother that “she would give every thing in the world to have a Prince Kaunitz in the ministry; but that such men were rare, and were only to be found by those who, like the empress herself, had the sagacity to discover and the judgment to appreciate such merit.” She was, however, shutting her eyes to the fact that her husband had had a minister far superior to Kaunitz; and that she herself had lent her aid to drive him from his service.
Anglomania in Paris.—The Winter at Versailles.—Hunting.—Private Theatricals.—Death of Prince Charles of Lorraine.—Successes of the English in America.—Education of the Duc d’Angouleme.—Libelous Attacks on the Queen.—Death of the Empress.—Favor shown to some of the Swedish Nobles.—The Count de Fersen.—Necker retires from Office.—His Character.