This being that horror of horrors known as Bastille Day, which I refuse to celebrate, I refer the reader to an archival post regarding the last letter of Queen Marie Antoinette, a letter which was written shortly before her execution. The picture below shows the cell of Marie Antoinette (with a waxwork figure of the Queen in her widow’s weeds) in the prison of the Conciergerie, Paris, where the letter was written. May she rest in peace.
Friends and regular guests of The Courtier know that he does not celebrate July 14th, i.e. Bastille Day. Instead he usually dresses appropriately – wearing either Royalist white (as today), funereal black, or his tie of Marie Antoinette’s initials interlocked with fleurs-de-lis taken from the wallpaper of her apartment in the Petit Trianon. He also prays for the victims of the French Revolution, some of whom were his ancestors, even as he realizes that had it not been for the Reign of Terror, he himself might not be here to condemn it, since some of his relatives fled France for America as a result.
The Courtier draws the gentle reader’s attention to the last letter of Marie Antoinette, known as “The Testament”, with which many may not be familiar. It was written after the Queen was condemned to death following a sham trial based on a number of spurious accusations, including that she had sexually abused her own son. Again, many are not aware of this Leftist monstrosity, but then the Left has always been very good at decrying Right-wing atrocities while coming up with apologias for its own.
During her show trial the Queen showed herself to be every bit the Hapsburg, rather than a Bourbon: a woman very much aware of who and what and where she is, and not afraid to stand up for herself. In this final letter however, after her condemnation, the Queen chose to pour out her heart in private by writing to her sister-in-law Madame Élisabeth, Princess of France and sister of her late husband Louis XVI. I highly recommend a visit to the Tea at Trianon site, which not only produces the full text in French and in English translation of this letter, but also images of the actual letter. Sadly, this final, comforting communiqué never reached Madame Élisabeth: Robespierre, architect of the Reign of Terror and one of the great turds of history, kept it for himself and had Madame Élisabeth executed a few months later.
The Queen tells her sister-in-law not to worry, because she knows that upon her execution she is going to see her husband again. The letter then continues with her concerns over the welfare of her children and for Madame Élisabeth herself. The Queen also very presciently writes that she knows her son was tortured to lie on behalf of the prosecutors against her, and that she forgives him this; had he survived no doubt this would at least have provided the Dauphin some consolation.
Catholic readers may be surprised to read that Marie Antoinette writes that she is lacking in spiritual consolation, but again, this is due to Leftist shenanigans. Priests who sought to keep their heads were made to swear oaths of loyalty to the atheist Republic against the Pope, among other acts; these priests were subsequently excommunicated by Pope Pius VI. Marie Antoinette naturally refused to give her last confession to such a man, who would no doubt have immediately gone to Robespierre and disclosed everything she had said in the confessional.
The paragraph that is most touching, and which is reproduced here by way of conclusion, concerns the Queen’s steadfast faith under such circumstances:
I die in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, that of my fathers, that in which I was brought up, and which I have always professed. Having no spiritual consolation to look for, not even knowing whether there are still in this place any priests of that religion (and indeed the place where I am would expose them to too much danger if they were to enter it but once), I sincerely implore pardon of God for all the faults which I may have committed during my life. I trust that, in His goodness, He will mercifully accept my last prayers, as well as those which I have for a long time addressed to Him, to receive my soul into His mercy. I beg pardon of all whom I know, and especially of you, my sister, for all the vexations which, without intending it, I may have caused you. I pardon all my enemies the evils that they have done me. I bid farewell to my aunts and to all my brothers and sisters. I had friends. The idea of being forever separated from them and from all their troubles is one of the greatest sorrows that I suffer in dying. Let them at least know that to my latest moment I thought of them.
Today is the 215th anniversary of the murder of Queen Marie Antoinette of France at the hands of the Jacobites in France. Better men then I have written about this, which went against all laws of chivalry, so I will leave it to Edmund Burke – one of the best of them – who expressed in 1793 my own thoughts on this barbarous act:
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. 0, 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.