One of the displays was of a novel character, from which its inventors and patrons expected scientific results of importance, which, though nearly a century has since elapsed, have not yet been realized. In the preceding year, Montgolfier had for the first time sent up a balloon, and the new invention was now exhibited in the Court of Versailles: the queen allowed the balloon to be called by her name; and, to the great admiration of Gustavus, who had a decided taste for matters which were in any way connected with practical science, the “Marie Antoinette” made a successful voyage to Chantilly. The date of another invention, if, indeed, it deserves so respectable a title, is also fixed by this royal visit. Mesmer had recently begun to astonish or bewilder the Parisians with his theory of animal magnetism; and Gustavus spent some time in discussing the question with him, and seems for a moment to have flattered himself that he comprehended his principles. But the only durable result which arose from his stay in France was the sincere regard and esteem which he and the queen mutually conceived for each other. They established a correspondence, in which Marie Antoinette repeatedly showed her eagerness to gratify his wishes and to attend to his recommendations; and when, at a later period, unexpected troubles fell on her and her husband, there was no one whom their troubles inspired with greater eagerness to serve them than Gustavus, whose last projects, before he fell by the hand of an assassin, were directed to their deliverance from the dangers which, though neither he nor they were as yet fully alive to their magnitude, were on the point of overwhelming them.
St. Cloud is purchased for the Queen.—Libelous Attacks on her.—Birth of the Duc de Normandie.—Joseph presses her to support his Views in the Low Countries.—–The Affair of the Necklace.—Share which the Cardinal de Rohan had in it.—The Queen’s Indignation at his Acquittal.—Subsequent Career of the Cardinal.
Marie Antoinette had long since completed her gardens at the Trianon, but the gradual change in the arrangements of the court had made a number of alterations requisite at Versailles, with which the difficulty of finding money rendered it desirable to proceed slowly. It was reckoned that it would be necessary to give up the greater part of the palace to workmen for ten years; and as the other palaces which the king possessed in the neighborhood of Paris were hardly suited for the permanent residence of the court, the queen proposed to her husband to obtain St. Cloud from the Duc d’Orleans, giving him in exchange La Muette, the Castle of Choisy, and a small adjacent forest. Such an arrangement would have produced a considerable saving by the reduction of the establishments kept up at those places, at which the court only spent a few days in each year. And as the duke was disposed to think that he should be a gainer by the exchange, it is not very easy to explain how it was that the original project was given up, and that St. Cloud was eventually sold to the crown for a sum of money, Choisy and La Muette being also retained.