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The Life of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France   By: (1812-1891)

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[Illustration: Marie Antoinette]





The principal authorities for the following work are the four volumes of Correspondence published by M. Arneth, and the six volumes published by M. Feuillet de Conches. M. Arneth's two collections[1] contain not only a number of letters which passed between the queen, her mother the Empress queen (Maria Teresa), and her brothers Joseph and Leopold, who successively became emperors after the death of their father; but also a regular series of letters from the imperial embassador at Paris, the Count Mercy d'Argenteau, which may almost be said to form a complete history of the court of France, especially in all the transactions in which Marie Antoinette, whether as dauphiness or queen, was concerned, till the death of Maria Teresa, at Christmas, 1780. The correspondence with her two brothers, the emperors Joseph and Leopold, only ceases with the death of the latter in March, 1792.

The collection published by M. Feuillet de Conches[2] has been vehemently attacked, as containing a series of clever forgeries rather than of genuine letters. And there does seem reason to believe that in a few instances, chiefly in the earlier portion of the correspondence, the critical acuteness of the editor was imposed upon, and that some of the letters inserted were not written by the persons alleged to be the authors. But of the majority of the letters there seems no solid ground for questioning the authenticity. Indeed, in the later and more important portion of the correspondence, that which belongs to the period after the death of the Empress queen, the genuineness of the Queen's letters is continually supported by the collection of M. Arneth, who has himself published many of them, having found them in the archives at Vienna, where M.F. de Conches had previously copied them,[3] and who refers to others, the publication of which did not come within his own plan. M. Feuillet de Conches' work also contains narratives of some of the most important transactions after the commencement of the Revolution, which are of great value, as having been compiled from authentic sources.

Besides these collections, the author has consulted the lives of Marie Antoinette by Montjoye, Lafont d'Aussonne, Chambrier, and the MM. Goncourt; "La Vraie Marie Antoinette" of M. Lescure; the Memoirs of Mme. Campan, Cléry, Hue, the Duchesse d'Angoulême, Bertrand de Moleville ("Mémoires Particuliers"), the Comte de Tilly, the Baron de Besenval, the Marquis de la Fayette, the Marquise de Créquy, the Princess Lamballe; the "Souvenirs de Quarante Ans," by Mlle. de Tourzel; the "Diary" of M. de Viel Castel; the correspondence of Mme. du Deffand; the account of the affair of the necklace by M. de Campardon; the very valuable correspondence between the Count de la Marck and Mirabeau, which also contains a narrative by the Count de la Marck of many very important incidents; Dumont's "Souvenirs sur Mirabeau;" "Beaumarchais et son Temps," by M. de Loménie; "Gustavus III. et la Cour de Paris," by M. Geoffroy; the first seven volumes of the Histoire de la Terreur, by M. Mortimer Ternaux; Dr. Moore's journal of his visit to France, and view of the French Revolution; and a great number of other works in which there is cursory mention of different incidents, especially in the earlier part of the Revolution; such as the journals of Arthur Young, Madame de Staël's elaborate treatise on the Revolution; several articles in the last series of the "Causeries de Lundi," by Sainte Beuve, and others in the Revue des Deux Mondes , etc., etc., and to those may of course be added the regular histories of Lacretelle, Sismondi, Martin, and Lamartine's "History of the Girondins."



Importance of Marie Antoinette in the Revolution. Value of her Correspondence as a Means of estimating her Character. Her Birth, November 2d, 1755. Epigram of Metastasio... Continue reading book >>

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