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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 8

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It is from this devoted servant that we derive the most complete particulars of these last days of the unfortunate monarch. The next day, Louis was expecting every moment the arrival of Malesherbes, but he came not: the commune had forbidden all further access to him. Louis again endeavoured to pass the time by reading the trial and death of Charles I. of England. The next morning, a municipal officer arrived, accompanied by the warden 'of the Temple, and informed him that he was ordered to take an inventory of everything in the place. He made a strict scrutiny into every private desk and drawer, on pretence of seeing that no knives, scissors, or sharp instruments were secreted. Amongst other things, he discovered three thousand livres in gold, which Louis said were the property of M. de Malesherbes, and the roleaux were written upon by Louis, " For M. de Malesherbes." The officer suffered it to remain. During the search, Mathey, the warden, conducted himself with the most unfeeling insolence; indeed, the French character, through the whole of these scenes, is seen to great disadvantage - a character wonderfully destitute of sympathy and respect for misfortune. When Louis approached the fire to warm himself, he found Mathey standing with his back to it, spreading out his coat-flaps on each side, so as to occupy the whole, and he made no offer to give way for the king. Louis, for once, spoke sharply to him, and he made a hasty retreat. Had Louis had more of that imperative mood, and less tenderness for others, it may safely be said, that not only would he not have been there, but that there would have been no revolution.

That evening Louis first learned that the commune had forbidden any one to have access to him; that Malesherbes had repeatedly applied for entrance, and had been refused admittance. He asked why they had not told him sooner, and instantly wrote a note to the council-general of the commune, requesting that, under the circumstances, he might have the society of his counsel, and that he might be able to retire for private meditation and devotion from the perpetual surveillance of his watchers. He gave the note to the municipal officers, but they did not deliver it till the next morning. That morning having arrived, Sunday, the 20th of January, he inquired repeatedly, but in vain, for M. de Malesherbes. At one o'clock arrived the deputation appointed to announce to him the sentence of the convention. This consisted of Garat, the minister of justice, Lebrun, the minister of foreign affairs - both Girondist ministers - Grouvelle, secretary of the council of government, with the mayor and other officers, and, lastly, Santerre, the commandant of the national guards. Some of these men had received much favour from Louis, and Garat, in particular, professed to have much horror at the post assigned him; but no one showed much real concern. Garat, still keeping on his hat, thus addressed the king: - "Louis, the national convention announces to you its decrees. The secretary of the council will read them to you." Grouvelle then read from a paper, that the convention condemned him as guilty of treason; rejected any appeal to the people, and appointed him to die in the morning. Whilst this was reading, not the least change of countenance took place in Louis, not even at the words " suffer the punishment of death." He looked calmly round on the company, took the paper from Grouvelle's hand, put it in his pocket, and took thence another which he had prepared in certain conviction of his fate. He presented this to Garat; but as he showed a hesitation in taking it, Louis said - " I will read it to you first;" and he then read his letter to the convention, demanding a respite of three days, for due preparation to appear before God; that he should be allowed to have a confessor, whom he would name; allowed to see his family without witnesses; that the perpetual presence of the municipals should be withdrawn; that his family should, after his death, be permitted to quit France, and retire where they might think proper; and his letter concluded in these terms: - " I recommend to the bounty of the nation at large those persons who were dependent on me. There are very many of them who have sunk their whole fortunes in their places, from the loss of which they must now be in great want, and others who never had anything to live upon but their appointments. Amongst the pensioners there are many old men, women, and children, who also have no support."

Having heard the paper, Garat took it, and promised to deliver it immediately to the convention. After they had retired, Louis ordered dinner up, but, on sitting down to it, observed, "I have no knife." He was then informed by the municipals that the commune had ordered that he should have no knife or fork, but that his valet might have one to cut his bread and meat. Louis said, indignantly, " Do they think I am such a coward that I would attempt my own life? I am innocent, and am not afraid to die. Would to God that my death could avert the miseries that I foresee! "

At six in the evening, Garat and the deputation returned, and informed Louis that the convention had acceded to his request for the confessor named; that he should be allowed to see his family freely, and without witnesses; that the nation, " ever great and just," would charge itself with the care of his family, and with the proper indemnities to his household; but that it rejected the prayer for delay. Louis, having heard these particulars, retired to his inner chamber, and Garat took his leave. The confessor, M. Edgeworth de Fermont - a member of the celebrated Irish family of Edgeworths town - was then introduced. M. Edgeworth would have thrown himself at the feet of the king, but Louis caught him, raised him up, and both shed tears of emotion. Louis, who had been so completely shut out from the world, asked many questions regarding the condition of the clergy in that awful time, and particularly requested him to assure the archbishop of Paris that he died faithfully attached to his communion. At eight o'clock, he requested M. Edge- worth to wait there while he went to receive his family; for, notwithstanding the order of the convention, the commune would not consent to his interview with his family in private; he must consent to meet them, under these solemn and affecting circumstances, in the dining-room, which had a glass door, through which the municipal watchers could still keep their eyes upon him. This is Clery's account of the scene: -

"The king, about eight o'clock, came out of his closet with a serene countenance, and desired the municipal officers to conduct him to his family. The officers replied that this could not be, but that his family should be brought down to him, if he desired it. 'Be it so, then,' said the king; 'I may. at least, see them alone in my bedroom?' 'No,' replied one of them; ' it is settled by the minister of justice that it shall be in the outer room.' 'You have heard,' said Louis, in the utmost calmness, 'that the decree of the convention permits me to see them without witnesses?' 'Yes,' said the municipals, 'you will be in private; the doors shall be shut, but we shall see you through the glass.' 'Let my family come,' " said Louis. The municipals disappeared, and Clery began to set the chairs, and prepare the little, miserable apartment as best he could. Louis desired that some water and a glass might be ready, in case any of the ladies should be overcome by their agitation. He then told Clery to go in, and desire M. Edgeworth not to make his appearance during the interview, lest it should give a shock to his family. The municipals were more than a quarter of an hour before they returned, during which time Louis went several times into the closet to the abbé, but from time to time reappeared at the door in expectation of his family. At last, at half-past eight in the evening, the door opened, and his family entered. The queen came first, leading the dauphin by the hand; madame Elizabeth followed with the princess royal. They all threw themselves into the arms of the king. A melancholy silence prevailed for some minutes, only broken by sighs and sobs. The queen made an inclination towards his majesty's Chamber. " No," said the king, " we must not go into that room; I can only see you here." Clery shut the glass door, remaining himself out- side with the municipals. The king sate down; the queen was on his left hand, madame Elizabeth on his right, his daughter nearly opposite, and the little dauphin stood between his knees. All were leaning on the king, and often pressed him in their arms. This scene of sorrow lasted an hour and three quarters, during which time it was impossible to hear anything outside the glass door; but it could be seen that, after every low sentence uttered by the king, the agitation of the queen and princesses increased; that this lasted some minutes, and that then the king began to speak again in the same gentle, low voice. It was quite plain, from their gestures, that they received from his own lips the first intelligence of his condemnation. At a quarter past ten the king rose; they all followed. "I opened the door," says Clery. "The queen held the king by his right arm. Their majesties gave each a hand to the dauphin. Madame Royale, on the king's left, had her arms around the king's body, and behind her, madame Elizabeth, on the same side, had taken his arm. They advanced some steps towards the entry door, breaking out into the most agonising lamentations. 'I assure you,' said the king, ' that I will see you again to-morrow morning at eight o'clock.' 'You promise! ' said they, all together. 'Yes, I promise.' 'Why not at seven o'clock? ' asked the queen. 'Well - yes, at seven,' replied the king. 'Farewell!' He pronounced 'Farewell!' in so impressive a manner, that their sobs were renewed, and madame Royale fainted at the feet of the king, around whom she had clung. His majesty, to put an end to this agonising scene, once more embraced them all most tenderly, and had the resolution to tear himself from their arms. 'Farewell! farewell! ' he said, and went into his Chamber. The queen, princesses, and dauphin retired to their own apartments; and though both the doors were shut, their screams and lamentations were heard for some time on the stairs. They had parted for ever in this world."

Louis retired into his closet to his confessor. When he had somewhat recovered his composure after this excruciating scene, he came out of the closet, took some refreshment, and then returned to the closet. M. Edgeworth offered to say mass, which Louis had not heard, to listen to, for a long time. He gladly accepted the proposal, and M. Edgeworth went out to procure the necessary articles and vestments. It was not without some difficulty that he induced the atheistic municipals to allow the king this last religious indulgence; at length, however, the requisites were procured from the neighbouring church, but not before two o'clock in the morning. Meantime, Louis conversed with M. Edgeworth till about midnight, when he went to bed. Clery was going to roll his hair, as usual, but he said, "It does not signify now." When Clery, who was weeping bitterly, drew his curtains for the last time, the king said, "Clery, you will call me at five o'clock; " and scarcely had he said this, when he dropped asleep, and slept through the night, like a weary and innocent child. The abbé Edgeworth threw himself on Clery's bed; and Clery, who refused to lie down, sate all night in a chair by his master's pillow.

Whilst Louis thus calmly slept the night before he ascended the scaffold, various passions were keeping awake the various parties in Paris. The jacobins, alarmed by rumours of meditated attempts to rescue the king on the way to the place of execution, were exhorting each other to keep together, to sit all night; and they sent fresh emissaries to all the authorities to quicken their watchfulness, and to instigate the whole population to rise in arms. Their terror was increased by a startling incident. Lepelletier St. Fargeau, who had been président of the parliament of Paris, a man of immense fortune and very loose morals, had voted emphatically for the death of Louis. His conduct, dictated by a desire for his own safety, especially incensed the royalists. A captain Paris, of the life guards, that night had him pointed out to him at the restaurant of Fervier, the cook, in the Palais Royal, where he was going to sup. Wrapping himself in his mantle, Paris stepped up to him and said, "Art thou Lepelletier?" He replied in the affirmative. "So thou art the villain, then, who voted for the death of the king?" "I am no villain," replied Lepelletier; "I voted according to my conscience." "Then take that for thy reward," said Paris, plunging his sword into his body. Lepelletier fell, only having time to say, "I am very cold!" Paris escaped; but soon after, despairing of getting eventually out of France, committed suicide. The news of this assassination flying through Paris added new terrors to the jacobins, and made that night of their triumph a night of horror to them.

"On hearing the clock strike five," says Clery, "on the morning of the fatal 21st, I began to light the fire. The noise I made awoke the king, who, drawing the curtains, asked if it had Struck five. I said it had by several clocks, but not yet by that in the apartment. Having finished the fire, I went to his bedside. 'I have slept soundly,' said his majesty, 'and I stood in need of it: yesterday was a trying day to me. Where is M. Edgeworth? ' I answered, 'On my bed.' 'And where were you all night? ' 'On this chair.' 'I am sorry for it,' said the king, and gave me his hand, at the same time tenderly pressing mine. I then dressed his majesty, who then bade me go and call M. Edgeworth, whom I found already risen, and he instantly attended the king to the turret. Meantime, I placed a chest of drawers in the middle of the Chamber, and arranged it in the form of an altar, for saying mass. The necessary articles of dress had been brought at two o'clock in the morning. The priest's garments I carried into my Chamber, and, when everything was ready, I went and informed his majesty. He had a book in his hand, and, finding the place of the mass, gave it me; he then took another book for himself. Before the altar I had placed an arm-chair for his majesty, with a large cushion on the ground. The cushion he desired me to take away, and brought a smaller one, of hair, from his closet, which he commonly used at his prayers. When the priest came in, the municipal officers retired into the ante-chamber, and I shut one fold of the door. The mass began at six o'clock. There was profound silence during the awful ceremony. The king, all the time on his knees, heard mass with the most devout attention, and received the communion."

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