It is necessary to be sincere at Court, and severe in the field, stoical without obduracy, magnanimous without weakness, and to gain the esteem of our enemies by the justice of our actions; and this, madam, is what I aim at. Joseph Vienna, September, 1787.
(From the inedited Letters of Joseph IL, published at Paris, by Persan, 1822.)
During the alarm for the life of the Queen, regret at not possessing an heir to the throne was not even thought of. The King himself was wholly occupied with the care of preserving an adored wife. The young Princess was presented to her mother. “Poor little one,” said the Queen, “you were not wished for, but you are not on that account less dear to me. A son would have been rather the property of the State. You shall be mine; you shall have my undivided care, shall share all my happiness, and console me in all my troubles.”
The King despatched a courier to Paris, and wrote letters himself to Vienna, by the Queen’s bedside; and part of the rejoicings ordered took place in the capital.
A great number of attendants watched near the Queen during the first nights of her confinement. This custom distressed her; she knew how to feel for others, and ordered large armchairs for her women, the backs of which were capable of being let down by springs, and which served perfectly well instead of beds.
M. de Lassone, the chief physician, the chief surgeon, the chief apothecary, the principal officers of the buttery, etc., were likewise nine nights without going to bed. The royal children were watched for a long time, and one of the women on duty remained, nightly, up and dressed, during the first three years from their birth.
The Queen made her entry into Paris for the churching. One hundred maidens were portioned and married at Notre-Dame. There were few popular acclamations, but her Majesty was perfectly well received at the Opera.
A few days after the Queen’s recovery from her confinement, the Cure of the Magdelaine de la City at Paris wrote to M. Campan and requested a private interview with him; it was to desire he would deliver into the hands of the Queen a little box containing her wedding ring, with this note written by the Cure: “I have received under the seal of confession the ring which I send to your Majesty; with an avowal that it was stolen from you in 1771, in order to be used in sorceries, to prevent your having any children.” On seeing her ring again the Queen said that she had in fact lost it about seven years before, while washing her hands, and that she had resolved to use no endeavour to discover the superstitious woman who had done her the injury.
The Queen’s attachment to the Comtesse Jules increased every day; she went frequently to her house at Paris, and even took up her own abode at the Chateau de la Muette to be nearer during her confinement. She married Mademoiselle de Polignac, when scarcely thirteen years of age, to M. de Grammont, who, on account of this marriage, was made Duc de Guiche, and captain of the King’s Guards, in reversion after the Duc de Villeroi. The Duchesse de Civrac, Madame Victoire’s dame d’honneur, had been promised the place for the Duc de Lorges, her son. The number of discontented families at Court increased.