Thursday, October 15, 2009

Marie-Antoinette on Trial

One of the jurors rose. "Citizen President, the accused has not fully replied concerning the incident mentioned by Citizen Hébert, regarding what allegedly happened between herself and her son."
Antoinette found herself rising to her feet. She gazed steadily at her accusers, and not a few of them squirmed.

"If I did not reply, it was because nature recoils at such an accusation against a mother." She turned to the galleries, her sweet, quavering voice resounded to the ceilings. "I appeal to all the mothers who may be here!"

A stir broke out among the spectators....

~ from Trianon by Elena Maria Vidal, Chapter Seven, "The Sacrifice"

Here is an excerpt from Thomas Carlyle's essay, "The Trial of Marie-Antoinette":
Marie-Antoinette, in this her utter abandonment, and hour of extreme need, is not wanting to herself, the imperial woman. Her look, they say, as that hideous Indictment was reading, continued calm; 'she was sometimes observed moving her fingers, as when one plays on the piano'. You discern, not without interest, across that dim Révolutionary Bulletin itself, how she bears herself queenlike. Her answers are prompt, clear, often of Laconic brevity; resolution, which has grown contemptuous without ceasing to be dignified, veils itself in calm words. 'You persist, then, in denial?' -- 'My plan is not denial: it is the truth I have said, and I persist in that.' Scandalous Hébert has borne his testimony as to many things: as to one thing, concerning Marie-Antoinette and her little Son, -- wherewith Human Speech had better not further be soiled. She has answered Hébert; a Juryman begs to observe that she has not answered as to this. 'I have not answered', she exclaims with noble emotion, ' because Nature refuses to answer such a charge brought against a Mother, I appeal to all the Mothers that are here.' Robespierre, when he heard of it, broke out into something almost like swearing at the brutish blockheadism of this Hébert; on whose foul head his foul lie has recoiled. At four o'clock on Wednesday morning, after two days and two nights of interrogating, jury-charging, and other darkening of counsel, the result comes out: sentence of Death. 'Have you anything to say?' The Accused shook her head, without speech. Night's candles are burning out; and with her too Time is finishing, and it will be Eternity and Day. This Hall of Tinville's is dark, ill-lighted except where she stands. Silently she withdraws from it, to die.



elena maria vidal said...

The comments were closed on this; I don't know how that happened! Sorry!

Dymphna said...

I was at Madame Tusaud's wax museum and saw a bust of Marie Antoinette. She was a very handsome girl.

May said...

What a noble's so awful!

lara77 said...

Today, Friday, October 16th, the memory of Queen Marie Antoinette; executed in Paris in 1793. I pray for Her Most Christian Majesty and all the victims of state sponsored evil and terrorism. May Her Majesty rest in eternal peace.