The king got better, and intrigues of all kinds were revived; but, aided by Mercy’s counsels, and supported by the dauphin’s unalterable affection, Marie Antoinette disconcerted all that were aimed at her by the uniform prudence of her conduct. Happily for her, with all his defects, her husband was still one in whom she could feel perfect confidence. As she told Mercy, under any conceivable circumstances she was sure of his views and intentions being always right; the only difficulty was to engage him in a sufficiently decided course of action, which his timid and sluggish disposition rendered almost painful to him. And just at this moment she was more anxious than usual to inspire him with her own feelings and spirit, because she could not avoid fearing that the discontent with which the few people in France who deserved the name of statesmen regarded the recent partition of Poland might create a coolness between France and Austria, calculated to endanger the alliance, the continuance of which was so indispensable to her happiness, and, as she was firmly convinced, to the welfare of both countries. She conversed more than once with Mercy on the subject, and her reflections, both on the partition, and on the degree in which the mutual interest of the two nations was concerned in their remaining united, gave him a very good idea of her political capacity. He also reported to his imperial mistress that he had found out that King Louis had conceived the same opinion of her, and had begun to discuss affairs of importance with her. He trusted that his majesty would get a habit of doing so; since, if his life should be spared, she would thus in time become able to exert a very useful influence over him; and as, at all events, “it was absolutely certain that some day or other she would govern the kingdom, it was of the very greatest consequence to the success of the great and brilliant career which she had before her that she should previously accustom herself to regard affairs with such principles and views as were suitable to the position which she must occupy.”
Marie Antoinette is anxious for the Maintenance of the Alliance between France and Austria.—She, with the Dauphin, makes a State Entry into Paris.—The “Dames de la Halle.”—She praises the Courtesy of the Dauphin.—Her Delight at the Enthusiasm of the Citizens.—She, with the Dauphin, goes to the Theatre, and to the Fair of St. Ovide, and to St. Cloud.—Is enthusiastically received everywhere.—She learns to drive.— She makes some Relaxations in Etiquette.—Marriage of the Comte d’Artois. —The King’s Health grows Bad.—Visit of Marshal Lacy to Versailles.—The King catches the Small-pox.—Madame du Barri quits Versailles.—The King dies.