Modern History Sourcebook:
Letter to Her Mother, 1773
[Tappan Introduction] In I770, Marie Antoinette, daughter of Empress Maria Theresa
of Austria, became the wife of the dauphin who was afterwards Louis XVI. The following
extract is taken from one of her letters to her mother.
VERSAILLES, June 14.
MY DEAREST MOTHER,---
I absolutely blush for your kindness to me. The day before yesterday Mercy sent me your
precious letter, and yesterday I received a second. That is indeed passing one's fête day
happily. On Tuesday I had a fête which I shall never forget all my life. We made our
entrance into Paris. As for honors, we received all that we could possibly imagine; but
they, though very well in their way, were not what touched me most. What was really
affecting was the tenderness and earnestness of the poor people, who, in spite of the
taxes with which they are overwhelmed, were transported with joy at seeing us. When we
went to walk in the Tuileries, there was so vast a crowd that we were three-quarters of an
hour without being able to move either forward or backward. The dauphin and I gave
repeated orders to the Guards not to beat any one, which had a very good effect. Such
excellent order was kept the whole day that, in spite of the enormous crowd which followed
us everywhere, not a person was hurt. When we returned from our walk we went up to an open
terrace and stayed there half an hour. I cannot describe to you, my dear mamma, the
transports of joy and affection which every one exhibited towards us. Before we withdrew
we kissed our hands to the people, which gave them great pleasure. What a happy thing it
is for persons in our rank to gain the love of a whole nation so cheaply. Yet there is
nothing so precious; I felt it thoroughly, and shall never forget it.
Another circumstance, which gave great pleasure on that glorious day, was the behavior
of the dauphin. He made admirable replies to every address, and remarked everything that
was done in his honor, and cspecially the earnestness and delight of the people, to whom
he showed great kindness.
From: Eva March Tappan, ed., The World's Story: A History of the World in Story,
Song and Art, 14 Vols., (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1914), Vol. V: Italy, France,
Spain, and Portugal, pp. 279-280.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, November 1998