The men of ambition who were labouring to overthrow the Duc de Choiseul strengthened themselves by their concentration at the house of the favourite, and succeeded in their project. The bigots, who never forgave that minister the suppression of the Jesuits, and who had always been hostile to a treaty of alliance with Austria, influenced the minds of Mesdames. The Duc de La Vauguyon, the young Dauphin’s governor, infected them with the same prejudices.
Such was the state of the public mind when the young Archduchess Marie Antoinette arrived at the Court of Versailles, just at the moment when the party which brought her there was about to be overthrown.
Madame Adelaide openly avowed her dislike to a princess of the House of Austria; and when M. Campan, my father-in-law, went to receive his orders, at the moment of setting off with the household of the Dauphiness, to go and receive the Archduchess upon the frontiers, she said she disapproved of the marriage of her nephew with an archduchess; and that, if she had the direction of the matter, she would not send for an Austrian.
Marie Antoinette Josephe Jeanne de Lorraine, Archduchess of Austria, daughter of Francois de Lorraine and of Maria Theresa, was born on the 2d of November, 1755, the day of the earthquake at Lisbon; and this catastrophe, which appeared to stamp the era of her birth with a fatal mark, without forming a motive for superstitious fear with the Princess, nevertheless made an impression upon her mind. As the Empress already had a great number of daughters, she ardently desired to have another son, and playfully wagered against her wish with the Duc de Tarouka, who had insisted that she would give birth to an archduke. He lost by the birth of the Princess, and had executed in porcelain a figure with one knee bent on the earth, and presenting tablets, upon which the following lines by Metastasio were engraved:
I lose by your fair daughter’s birth
Who prophesied a son;
But if she share her mother’s worth,
Why, all the world has won!