“No, no, no!” exclaimed the general. “Something will be done. Calm yourself, madame.” Then turning to me, “When,” said he, “did you leave Paris?”
“When all was lost!” interrupted the Queen.
“Nay,” cried the general; “pray let me speak. All is not lost, you will find; have but a little patience.”
“Patience!” said the Queen. “For two years I have heard of nothing else. Nothing has been done for these unfortunate beings.” She then threw herself into a chair. “Tell him!” cried she to me, “tell him! tell him!”
I then informed the general that I had left Paris on the 2d of August, but did not believe at the time, though the daily riots were horrible, that such a catastrophe could have occurred so soon as eight days after.
The Queen was now quite exhausted, and General Acton rang the bell for the lady-in-waiting, who entered accompanied by the Duchesse Curigliano Marini, and they assisted Her Majesty to bed.
When she had retired, “Do not,” said the general to me, “do not go to Sir William’s to-night. He is at Caserte. You seem too much fatigued.”
“More from grief,” replied I, “and reflection on the fatal consequences that might result to the great personages I have so lately left, than from the journey.”
“Take my advice,” resumed he. “You had much better go to bed and rest yourself. You look very ill.”
I did as he recommended, and went to the nearest hotel I could find. I felt no fatigue of mind or body till I had got into bed, where I was confined for several days with a most violent fever. During my illness I received every attention both from the Court, and our Ambassador and Lady Hamilton, who kindly visited me every day. The Queen of Naples I never again saw till my return in 1793, after the murder of the Queen of France; and I am glad I did not, for her agony would have acted anew upon my disordered frame, and might have proved fatal.
I was certainly somewhat prepared for a difference of feeling between the two Princesses, as the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, in the letters to the Queen of Naples, always wrote, “To my much beloved sister, the Queen of the two Sicilies, etc.,” and to the other, merely, “To the Duchess of Parma, etc.” But I could never have dreamt of a difference so little flattering, under such circumstances, to the Duchess of Parma.
From the moment of my departure from Paris on the 2d of August, 1792, the tragedy hastened to its denouement. On the night of the 9th, the tocsin was sounded, and the King and the Royal Family looked upon their fate as sealed. Notwithstanding the personal firmness of His Majesty, he was a coward for others. He dreaded the responsibility of ordering blood to be shed, even in defence of his nearest and dearest interests. Petion, however, had given the order to repel force by force to De Mandat, who was murdered upon the steps of the Hotel de Ville. It has been generally supposed that Petion had received a bribe for not ordering the cannon against the Tuileries on the night of the 9th, and that De Mandat was massacred by the agents of Petion for the purpose of extinguishing all proof that he was only acting under the instructions of the Mayor.