Saturday, March 21, 2009

Les Adieux

On January 20, 1793, Louis XVI said farewell to his family. He was taken to the guillotine the next morning. Madame Royale later recorded their last meeting; it is said that she fainted when saying good-bye to her father.
About seven o'clock in the evening we learned the sentence by the newsmen, who came crying it under our windows: a decree of the Convention permitted us to see the King. We ran to his apartment, and found him much altered; he wept for us, not for fear of death; he related his trial to my mother, apologizing for the wretches who had condemned him; he told her, that it was proposed to attempt to save him by having recourse to the primary assemblies, but that he would not consent, lest it should excite confusion in the country. He then gave my brother some religious advice, and desired, him above all, to forgive those who caused his death and he gave him his blessing, as well as to me.

My mother was very desirous that the whole family should pass the night with my father; but he opposed this, observing to her how much he needed some hours of repose and quiet. She asked at least to be allowed to see him next morning, to which he consented. But, when we were gone, he requested that we might not be permitted to return, as our presence afflicted him too much. He then remained with his confessor till midnight, when he went to bed....

Such was the life of my father during his rigorous captivity. In it were displayed piety, greatness of mind, and goodness; — mildness, fortitude, and patience, in bearing the most infamous insults, the most malignant calumnies; — Christian clemency, which heartily forgave even his murderers; — and the love of God, his family, and his people, of which he gave the most affecting proofs, even with his last breath, and of which he went to receive the reward in the bosom of his almighty and all-merciful Creator.

~ Private Memoirs, by Madame Royale, Duchess of Angoulême, translated by John Wilson Croker. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1823, pp. 199-203



Matterhorn said...

Her memoirs are beautiful!

Very poignant.

lara77 said...

And so the trumped up charges against His Majesty set in motion his death sentence; a death sentence by one voted by His Royal Highness the Duc d'Orleans.One of the saddest days in the history of France and one which the French People would pay many times over in blood the violence, revolutions and wars fostered by the Bonapartes and the numerous republics.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I read what Louis XVI's family had gone through, it always brings tears to my eyes... very tragic.