MR. CALVERT ATTENDS THE KING’S LEVEE
It had been the intention of the court to give but one levee—that to the deputies on the Saturday preceding the opening of the States-General, but so widespread and so profound had been the dissatisfaction among the tiers at the treatment they had received on that occasion at the hands of Monsieur de Breze, that the King had hastily decided to hold another levee on the evening of the 5th of May, to which all the deputies were again invited and at which much of the formal and displeasing ceremony of the first reception was to be banished. At the first levee His Majesty had remained in state in the Salle d’Hercule, to which the deputies were admitted according to their rank, the noblesse and higher clergy passing in through the great state apartments, the tiers being introduced one after the other by a side entrance. The King now rightly determined to receive all in the great Salle des Glaces with as little formality as possible. But with that unhappy fatality which seemed to attend his every action, this resolution, which would have been productive of such good results at first, now seemed but a tardy and inefficient apology for courtly hauteur.
So fatigued was Madame de Tesse and her guests by the day’s proceedings, that it was late when they set off from the rue Dauphine for the palace. Mr. Morris had the honor of driving alone with Madame de Tesse (Lafayette and d’Azay declining to attend this levee, having paid their respects to the King on Saturday), while Mr. Jefferson, whose coach had remained at Versailles, begged the pleasure of Madame de St. Andre’s company for himself and Mr. Calvert. She came down the marble steps in her laces and gaze d’or, her dark hair unpowdered and unadorned save for a white rose, half-opened, held in the coil by a diamond buckle, and she looked so lovely and so much the grand princess that Mr. Jefferson could not forbear complimenting her as he handed her into the coach. As for Mr. Calvert, he stood by in silence, quite dazzled by her beauty. She took Mr. Jefferson’s compliments and Calvert’s silent admiration complacently and as though they were no more than her just due, and talked gayly and graciously enough with the minister, though she had scarce a word for the younger man, whom she treated in a fashion even more than usually imperious, and to which he submitted with his unvarying composure and good-nature.
In the Place d’Armes the crush of coaches was so great that the American Minister’s carriage could move but slowly from that point into the Cour Royale, and ’twas with much difficulty that Mr. Jefferson and Calvert, finally alighting, forced a passage through the crowd for Madame de St. Andre. At the foot of the great Escalier des Ambassadeurs they found Madame de Tesse and Mr. Morris, who had just arrived. Mounting together, they passed through the state apartments of the King, upon the ceilings and panellings of which Mr. Calvert noted the ever recurring sun-disk, emblem of the Roi Soleil whose sun had set so ingloriously long before; through the Salle de la Guerre, from whose dome that same Sun-King, vanquished so easily by Death, hurled thunder-bolts of wrath before which Spain and Holland cowered in fear; until they at length came into the Galerie des Glaces, where their Majesties were to receive.