Part 4.3 is the third part of Chapter 4.
A Childhood at Versailles consists of the first 5 chapters of the memoirs of Mme de Boigne (1781-1866), née Adèle d’Osmond, who was a French salon hostess and writer. She was born in the Château de Versailles and lived at the court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette until her family fled to England during the Revolution. Later in her long life, she married a rich soldier of fortune 30 years her senior, hosted a brilliant salon in Paris, and became an intimate of the last French queen, Marie-Amélie, consort of King Louis Philippe (r. 1830-1848). Childless herself, Mme de Boigne addressed her memoirs to her grandnephew. The memoirs were not published until 1907, under the title Récits d’une tante, or An Aunt’s Tales. They’ve never been published in English, as far as I know, so I’ve decided to translate the first 5 chapters, the ones that take place mainly at Versailles, and post them here on this blog for interested readers to enjoy for free.
The chapters are quite lengthy, so I’ve broken each one into several parts. In Part 4.3, the author recounts her father’s role in the narrow escape of Mesdames, Louis XV’s aunts, from the mob.
A Childhood at Versailles, Chapter 4, Part 3 (4.3)
Far from calming down, the Revolution became ever more menacing. The King, who had formed the project of leaving Paris, wished to get his aunts away from it. They asked for and obtained the National Assembly’s permission to go to Rome. Before leaving, they went to stay at Bellevue.
My father had been named minister to St. Petersburg to replace M de Ségur (1790). The Minister’s public report had it that this choice had been made because the Empress Catherine would not consent to receive an envoy who was a patriot. This circumstance could not but render my father’s position very dangerous. Nevertheless, he did not think of leaving France, but he wanted his wife and daughter to leave. As soon as Mesdames had crossed the frontier, my mother was to follow them.
On the eve of the day fixed for Mesdames’ departure, my father, who spent his days among different groups, caught wind that many no longer wanted to let them leave. Demagogic orators preached a crusade against Bellevue, with a view to fetching the old ladies and bringing them back to Paris; one could never have too many hostages, etc. The obedient mob was already on the road to Bellevue.