There was a meeting at Paris for the first federation on the 14th of July, 1790, the anniversary of the taking of the Bastille. What an astonishing assemblage of four hundred thousand men, of whom there were not perhaps two hundred who did not believe that the King found happiness and glory in the order of things then being established. The love which was borne him by all, with the exception of those who meditated his ruin, still reigned in the hearts of the French in the departments; but if I may judge from those whom I had an opportunity of seeing, it was totally impossible to enlighten them; they were as much attached to the King as to the constitution, and to the constitution as to the King; and it was impossible to separate the one from the other in their hearts and minds.
The Court returned to St. Cloud after the federation. A wretch, named Rotondo, made his way into the palace with the intention of assassinating the Queen. It is known that he penetrated to the inner gardens: the rain prevented her Majesty from going out that day. M. de La Fayette, who was aware of this plot, gave all the sentinels the strictest orders, and a description of the monster was distributed throughout the palace by order of the General. I do not know how he was saved from punishment. The police belonging to the King discovered that there was likewise a scheme on foot for poisoning the Queen. She spoke to me, as well as to her head physician, M. Vicq-d’Azyr, about it, without the slightest emotion, but both he and I consulted what precautions it would be proper to take. He relied much upon the Queen’s temperance; yet he recommended me always to have a bottle of oil of sweet almonds within reach, and to renew it occasionally, that oil and milk being, as is known, the most certain antidotes to the divellication of corrosive poisons.
The Queen had a habit which rendered M. Vicq-d’Azyr particularly uneasy: there was always some pounded sugar upon the table in her Majesty’s bedchamber; and she frequently, without calling anybody, put spoonfuls of it into a glass of water when she wished to drink. It was agreed that I should get a considerable quantity of sugar powdered; that I should always have some papers of it in my bag, and that three or four times a day, when alone in the Queen’s room, I should substitute it for that in her sugar-basin. We knew that the Queen would have prevented all such precautions, but we were not aware of her reason. One day she caught me alone making this exchange, and told me, she supposed it was agreed on between myself and M. Vicq-d’Azyr, but that I gave myself very unnecessary trouble. “Remember,” added she, “that not a grain of poison will be put in use against me. The Brinvilliers do not belong to this century: this age possesses calumny, which is a much more convenient instrument of death; and it is by that I shall perish.”