Not that her studies were confined to French. Metastasio taught her Italian; Gluck, whose recently published opera of “Orfeo” had, established for him a reputation as one of the greatest musicians of the age, gave her lessons on the harpsichord. But we fear it can not be said that she obtained any high degree of excellence in these or in any other accomplishments. She was not inclined to study; and, with the exception of the abbe, her masters and mistresses were too courtly to be peremptory with an archduchess. Their favorable reports to the Empress-queen were indeed neutralized by the frankness with which their pupil herself confessed her idleness and failure to improve. But Maria Teresa was too much absorbed in politics to give much heed to the confession, or to insist on greater diligence; though at a later day Marie Antoinette herself repented of her neglect, and did her best to repair it, taking lessons in more than one accomplishment with great perseverance during the first years of her residence at Versailles, because, as she expressed herself, the dauphiness was bound to take care of the character of the archduchess.
There are, however, lessons of greater importance to a child than any which are given by even the most accomplished masters—those which flow from the example of a virtuous and sensible mother; and those the young archduchess showed a greater aptitude for learning. Maria Teresa had set an example not only to her own family, but to all sovereigns, among whom principles and practices such as hers had hitherto been little recognized, of regarding an attention to the personal welfare of all her subjects, even of those of the lowest class, as among the most imperative of her duties. She had been accessible to all. She had accustomed the peasantry to accost her in her walks; she had visited their cottages to inquire into and relieve their wants. And the little Antoinette, who, more than any other of her children, seems to have taken her for an especial model, had thus, from her very earliest childhood, learned to feel a friendly interest in the well-doing of the people in general; to think no one too lowly for her notice, to sympathize with sorrow, to be indignant at injustice and ingratitude, to succor misfortune and distress. And these were habits which, as being implanted in her heart, she was not likely to forget; but which might be expected rather to gain strength by indulgence, and to make her both welcome and useful to any people among whom her lot might be cast.
Proposal for the Marriage of Marie Antoinette to the Dauphin.—Early Education of the Dauphin.—The Archduchess leaves Vienna in April, 1770.— Her Reception at Strasburg.—She meets the King at Compiegne.—The Marriage takes place May 16th, 1770.