Saturday, October 16, 2010

Murder of the Queen, 1793

It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like the morning star full of life and splendor and joy. O, what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.

But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone. It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.

--Edmund Burke, 1793

Read here the last letter of Marie Antoinette to her sister-in-law Mme Elisabeth.

Vive la Reine.


  1. In the letter, the Queen regrets that she cannot write to her daughter. I do wish she had, though, as I am sure it would have been an amazing letter (as is the one to her sister-in-law)!

  2. That's the tragic thing about these revolutionaries; they claim to seek justice for all, yet go about it like monsters. Put the issue of monarchy aside for a moment, and one sees that here they are demolishing a family. Not only by the guillotine either: when I think of the imprisonment of poor Marie-Thérèse, comes to mind. And the young king, taught to swear, drink, and calumniate his parents by boors, and then beaten, and neglected to death. Of course they could not write, for revolution has nothing to do with justice, only with spiteful, malicious, Satanic hatred.

  3. They were such a lovely family, too. It is hard to imagine anyone wishing them harm.

    The anniversary of Marie-Thérèse's death, oddly enough, is also coming up in a few days. It is a curious coincidence that she passed away almost on the anniversary of her mother's execution.

  4. Indeed, it is. I've been thinking lately about posting something using the fate of Louis XVII to illustrate the barbarism inherent in revolution. Unsurprisingly, the fate of the royal family, as well as that of the Vendée, has gone down the memory hole, for anyone knowing of these things must surely question the modern assumption that the French Revolution was beneficial for humanity.

  5. I hope you do post on this topic.