The festivities were crowned in the most appropriate manner by a public thanksgiving, offered by the queen herself to Heaven for the gift of a son, and for her own recovery. But that celebration was necessarily postponed till her strength was entirely re-established; and it was not till the 21st of January that the physicians would allow her to encounter the excitement of so interesting but fatiguing a day. The court had quit Versailles for La Muette the day before, to be nearer the city; and on the appointed morning, which the watchers for omens delightedly remarked as one of midsummer brilliancy, the most superb procession that even Paris had ever witnessed issued from the gates of the old hunting-lodge, whose earlier occupants had been animated by a very different spirit.
That the honors of the day might be wholly the queen’s, Louis himself did not accompany her, but followed her three hours later, to meet her at the Hotel de Ville. Nineteen coaches, glittering with burnished gold, and every panel of which was embellished with crowns, wreaths, or allegorical pictures, marching on at a stately walk toward the city gate, conveyed the queen, radiant with beauty and happiness, the sisters and aunts of the king, the long train of her and their ladies, and all the great officers of her household. Squadrons of the body-guard furnished the escort, riding in front of the queen’s carriage and behind it, but not on either side, she herself having forbidden any arrangement which might intercept the full sight of herself from a single citizen. Companies of other regiments awaited the procession at different points, and closed up behind it as it passed, swelling the vast train which thus grew at every step. An additional escort, almost an army in itself, in double rank, lined the whole road from the barrier of the Champs Elysees of the great cathedral; and, as the royal coach passed through the city gate, a herald proclaimed that “The king wishing to consecrate by fresh acts of kindness the happy moment when God showered his mercies on him by the birth of a dauphin, and at the same time to give to the inhabitants of his good city of Paris some special mark of his beneficence, granted an exemption from the poll-tax to all the burgesses, traders, and artisans who were not in such circumstances as made the payment easy.”
The proclamation was received with all the thankfulness of surprise; the cheers, which had never censed from the moment that the procession first came in sight, were redoubled, and it was amidst shouts of congratulation both to themselves and to her that the queen proceeded onward to Notre Dame. Having paid her vows and made her offerings in the cathedral of the nation, she passed on to the Church of Ste. Genevieve, the especial patroness of the city, and repeated her thanksgiving before the tomb of Clovis, the founder of the monarchy. At the Hotel de Ville she was met by the king, with the princess, his brothers,