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Engraved EXCLUSIVELY for N1 of the Ladys Magazine IMPROVED SERIES ENLARGED
Published by J.Fage 112 Fetter Lare July 18.32.
OR MIRROR OF THE BELLES-LETTRES, FINE ARTS,
MUSIC, DRAMA, FASHIONS, &c.
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(The Companion to the Annuals is incorporated with the Lady's Magazine.)
INTERVIEW BETWEEN QUEEN MARIE-ANTOINETTE AND MIRABEAU.
IN the number of the Lady's Magazine for February last, we introduced to our readers an extract from a recent French work of fiction, entitled Barnave. To the same work we have recourse for the following illustration of the annexed plate.
The author represents the narrator as an Austrian nobleman, whose mother and cousin, Helen, are confidential attendants of Marie-Antoinette. At the beginning of the Revolution he visits Paris, and, among the various public characters with whom he there becomes acquainted, is Mirabeau. This popular leader, weary of the humiliations to which he is obliged to submit, in order to conciliate the favour of the new and capricious sovereign, the people, is disposed to return to that natural allegiance, which, as a member of the aristocracy of France, he still feels for the King; and he determines to save, if possible, the royal family from the democratic fury which he has himself mainly contributed to arouse. In pursuance of this intention, he consents to a secret interview with the queen, and engages the relater to be his sole attendant on this occasion.
"At eleven at night, we were on horseback.
Before we left the street, Mirabeau wrapped himself in his cloak, and drew his hat down over his eyes. At first, we proceeded cautiously, making several circuits to ascertain that we were not followed; and, soon quitting Versailles, we entered those thick woods which lead from that
place to St. Germain. The night was dark; the wind waved the tops of the trees; the grass rustled under the feet of the horses; the wild tenants of the forest
passed and repassed with a thousand confused noises. Mirabeau led the way, while I followed in silence, with the passive obedience of a soldier following his colonel, and without having ever inquired whither we were going. Never did I behold such profound dejection and melancholy as in the silent progress of Mirabeau through the long forest: his head inclined upon his bosom; his left arm hung down by his side; and the violence with which, from time to time, he stuck the spurs into the sides of his horse, attested the vehemence of the passions with which his mind was agitated.
"At length, from a rising ground, we discovered at our feet the palace of St. Cloud, asleep in the midst of its extensive park. We proceeded at a foot-pace to the iron gate. At the watchword, uttered in a low tone, the gate opened to admit us, and was quickly closed. We pursued our way down the long avenue bordering the Seine: no sound was to be heard save the murmuring of the water. On reaching the great basin, we found a man, who asked us to alight, and laid hold of the bridles of our horses: he pointed to a steep path running past the cascades of the fountain to the platform which leads to the palace. Mirabeau had some difficulty to scramble up the hill by this slippery path, and it was only by supporting himself upon my arm that he arrived at a certain point of the avenue, where he stopped.
"It was a perfectly open spot. An Italian vase, crowned with foliage, which waved from its top, indicated the place of meeting. Here Mirabeau stood still. You
must step aside, my noble esquire,' said he to me; Go, take your seat on that bench, in yon arbour. I wish to have a witness of this interview; for, to confess the truth, I have too richly deserved hatred in that palace, not to have reason to feel rather insecure here. Go, then, my friend, wait for me there, and keep an eye upon me. Above all, happen what will, not a word, not a gesture, not a motion, that may betray fear.'
"In obedience to these injunctions, I left Mirabeau to his reflections, seated myself in an arbour from which I could see all that passed, and began to think of the perilous chances of a revolution, which, at such an hour, could force the daughter of emperors to quit the bed of her royal consort, in order to implore the forgiveness and support of this man. Amidst these
doleful thoughts, I saw three females advancing as if from the palace. They seemed to glide over the greensward, hastening on slowly; they were evidently afraid. was between them and Mirabeau. I cast a look at him, and saw him walking to and fro, with measured step, like a man who has long paced the circumscribed platform of a dungeon.
"The three ladies gradually drew nearer: two of them passed before me. It was the queen, followed by my mother. The queen was pale; her eyes were cast down, her hands clasped: she trembled, but was yet resolute. Her white dress, blown by the wind, displayed her shape: her auburn hair flowed loosely over her shoulders. You would have taken her, at midnight, with a cloud veiling the face of the moon, for the apparition of a young female, who had died the preceding day, and who had returned. in her bridal night-dress to earth, where her steps have ceased to produce an echo, her body a shadow, her breathing a sound.
My mother followed the queen very closely. She was always cool; her step was always stately, her head motionless, her eye fixed: she walked as though she had been in the presence of the whole court in the great drawing-room of the palace.
"My attention was so taken up by the scene before me, that I was scarcely aware that the third of these ladies had entered the arbour where I was posted. When the queen had passed this arbour, she quickened her pace, as if she had forgotten the errand on which she had come; and
presently, finding herself face to face with Mirabeau, she gave a piercing shriek, and started back. It was not till then that I perceived that I had a companion. At the outcry of the queen, she would have rushed forth from the arbour, but I detained her. Pardon me, madam,' said I, that cry is not a cry of distress; her majesty was startled-nothing more. Let us not disturb this interview by useless interference.
"See,' said I, resuming, the queen has recovered herself, and is accosting him. The conference begins; may it end well!'
"Good heavens!' exclaimed the young lady; what an ugly man! I don't wonder that the queen was frightened.'
"The voice was so sweet, and so touching, that, in spite of the scene which absorbed my attention, I turned my head, and recognized Helen, my cousin Helen, whom I had seen but once since my arrival in France."
We pass over the conversation which ensues after this recognition, as unconnected with our subject.
At length, the moon succeeded in bursting through the cloud which covered her. One of her rays fell upon Marie-Antoinette and Mirabeau. From the agitation expressed in their faces, it was evident that the conversation had been interesting and animated. The queen seemed to have somewhat recovered her spirits; her look was serene; she bade adieu to Mirabeau. On his part, calm and polite, he respectfully accompanied the queen to the end of the greensward: there he stopped, and there, too, terminated the pale moonlight, rendered fainter by the trees of the shrubbery.
Madam,' said Mirabeau to the queen, 'when your august mother dismissed a subject with whom she was satisfied, she did him the honour to give him her hand to kiss.' As he thus spoke, he dropped on one knee. The queen, with a slight smile, held out her hand, which he pressed to his lips. She then took the way to the palace, still followed by my mother, who had not seen me.
"I had but time to say to my fair cousin, "Tis the Count de Mirabeau.' He was still kneeling. The Countess turned about to look at him. He is not so ugly as I at first thought him,' said she. Before I could answer, she was gone, and presently the door of the palace closed upon her."