Marie Antoinette finds herself in Debt.—Forgeries of her Name are committed.—The Queen devotes herself too much to Madame de Polignac and others.—Versailles is less frequented.—Remonstrances of the Empress.— Volatile Character of the Queen.—She goes to the Bals d’Opera at Paris.— She receives the Duke of Dorset and other English Nobles with Favor.— Grand Entertainment given her by the Count de Provence.—Character of the Emperor Joseph.—He visits Paris and Versailles.—His Feelings toward and Conversations with the King and Queen.—He goes to the Opera.—His Opinion of the Queen’s Friends.—Marie Antoinette’s Letter to the Empress on his Departure.—The Emperor leaves her a Letter of Advice.
But this addiction to play, though it was that consequence of the influence of the society to which Marie Antoinette was at this time so devoted, which would have seemed the most objectionable in the eyes of rigid moralists, was not that which excited the greatest dissatisfaction in the neighborhood of the court. Excessive gambling had so long been a notorious vice of the French princes, that her letting herself down to join the gaming-table was not regarded as indicating any peculiar laxity of principle; while the stakes which she permitted herself, and the losses she incurred, though they seemed heavy to her anxious German friends, were as nothing when compared with those of the king’s brothers. Even when it became known that she was involved in debt, that again was regarded as an ordinary occurrence, apparently even by the king himself, who paid the amount (about L20,000) without a word of remonstrance, merely remarking that he did not wonder at her funds being exhausted since she had such a passion for diamonds. For a great portion of the debts had been incurred for some diamond ear-rings which the queen herself did not wish for, and had only bought to gratify Madame de Polignac, who had promised her custom to the jeweler who had them for