What affecting things I have heard the Queen say in the affliction caused her by the belief of part of the Court and the whole of the people that she did not love France! How did that opinion shock those who knew her heart and her sentiments! Twice did I see her on the point of going from her apartments in the Tuileries into the gardens, to address the immense throng constantly assembled there to insult her. “Yes,” exclaimed she, as she paced her chamber with hurried steps, “I will say to them Frenchmen, they have had the cruelty to persuade you that I do not love France!—I! the mother of a Dauphin who will reign over this noble country!—I! whom Providence has seated upon the most powerful throne of Europe! Of all the daughters of Maria Theresa am I not that one whom fortune has most highly favoured? And ought I not to feel all these advantages? What should I find at Vienna? Nothing but sepulchres! What should I lose in France? Everything which can confer glory!”
I protest I only repeat her own words; the soundness of her judgment soon pointed out to her the dangers of such a proceeding. “I should descend from the throne,” said she, “merely, perhaps, to excite a momentary sympathy, which the factious would soon render more injurious than beneficial to me.”
Yes, not only did Marie Antoinette love France, but few women took greater pride in the courage of Frenchmen. I could adduce a multitude of proofs of this; I will relate two traits which demonstrate the noblest enthusiasm: The Queen was telling me that, at the coronation of the Emperor Francis ii., that Prince, bespeaking the admiration of a French general officer, who was then an emigrant, for the fine appearance of his troops, said to him, “There are the men to beat your sans culottes!” “That remains to be seen, Sire,” instantly replied the officer. The Queen added, “I don’t know the name of that brave Frenchman, but I will learn it; the King ought to be in possession of it.” As she was reading the public papers a few days before the 10th of August, she observed that mention was made of the courage of a young man who died in defending the flag he carried, and shouting, “Vive la Nation!”—“Ah! the fine lad!” said the Queen; “what a happiness it would have been for us if such men had never left off crying, ‘Vive de Roi!’”
In all that I have hitherto said of this most unfortunate of women and of queens, those who did not live with her, those who knew her but partially, and especially the majority of foreigners, prejudiced by infamous libels, may imagine I have thought it my duty to sacrifice truth on the altar of gratitude. Fortunately I can invoke unexceptionable witnesses; they will declare whether what I assert that I have seen and heard appears to them either untrue or improbable.