Monday, November 5, 2012

In defense of her Queen


Marie Antoinette's Lady-In-Waiting, Madame Campan, was already a well-respected Court member when Marie Antoinette arrived in France, having been Reader for Louis XVI's aunts for some time. She was a Royalist who remained in Marie Antoinette's service well into the Revolution.  Her memoir seems to seek to set the record straight on Marie Antoinette's private life and is a prime source of information about events, in the specific, and Court life, in general.  In this reference to the Petit Trianon, she downplays the extravagance of a party given on the occasion of a visit from Marie Antoinette's oldest brother, the Emperor Joseph of Austria:  "A fete of a novel description was given at Petit Trianon.  The art with which the English garden was not illuminated, but lighted, produced a charming effect.  Earthen lamps, concealed by boards painted green, threw light upon the beds of shrubs and flowers, and brought out their varied tints.  Several hundred burning fagots in the moat behind the Temple of Love made a blaze of light, which rendered that spot the most brilliant in the garden.  After all, this evening's entertainment had nothing remarkable about it but the good taste of the artists, yet it was much talked of.  The situation did not allow the admission of a great part of the Court;  those who were uninvited were dissatisfied; and the people, who never forgive any fetes but those they share in, so exaggerated the cost of this little fete as to make it appear that the fagots burnt in the moat had required the destruction of a whole forest.  The Queen being informed of these reports, was determined to know exactly how much wood had been consumed; and she found that fifteen hundred fagots had sufficed to keep up the fire until four o'clock in the morning."

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