Source Problems on the French Revolution

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2. Saint-Priest, Abrégé, in Campan, II, 297–304.

The fifth of October, at about eleven o’clock in the morning, one of my valets came from Paris to warn me that the national guard of Paris, paid and unpaid, followed by a numerous populace of men and women, had set out for Versailles. The king was hunting on the heights of Meudon, and I wrote to him to inform him of it. His majesty returned quite promptly and called a council of state for half past three. This council was then composed of eight ministers, the Marshal of Beauveau, the archbishops of Vienne and of Bordeaux, guard of the seals, Necker, minister of finance, and the comtes de Montmorin, de La Luzerne, de La Tourdu-Pin, and de Saint-Priest, secretaries of state. I gave an account to the council of the information I had received, and which had been confirmed since by many other reports. I described the danger there would be in awaiting this multitude in Versailles, and I proposed a plan to be executed in these circumstances. [The plan was to guard the bridges over the Seine and check the advance of the Parisians. If this were not successful the king could fall back on Versailles and retreat to Rambouillet.] My plan was approved by the Marshal of Beauveau, MM. de La Luzerne and La Tour-du-Pin, and vigorously combated by M. Necker, seconded by the Comte de Montmorin, the archbishops of Vienne and Bordeaux. M. Necker maintained there was no danger in allowing this multitude to arrive at Versailles, where it probably came only to present a petition to the king; that at the worst, should his majesty judge it necessary to establish himself at Paris, he would be venerated and respected there by his people who adored him. I replied by opposing to that both the form and the substance of my plan, which contradicted all these pretended inclinations of the people of Paris. The king did not explain himself upon the course he would follow. He ended the council, and we knew he had gone to consult the queen. She declared to him that she would not for any motive separate herself from him and from her children. This would render impossible the plan I suggested. . . . Toward seven o’clock in the evening a sort of Parisian advance guard, composed of men badly clothed and women of the populace, arrived at the grating of the court of ministers, where they were refused entrance. These people then asked that some women be permitted to go to present a request to the king. His majesty ordered that six of them be allowed to enter, and told me to go and give them a hearing in the Oeil-de-Boeuf. I went there. One of the women, who, as I have since learned, was a woman of the street, acting as spokesman represented to me that there was a scarcity of bread in Paris, and that the people came to ask some of his majesty. I replied that the king had taken all the steps he could to make good the deficiency of the last crop; I added that calamities of this nature ought to be supported with patience as one supports the drought when the rain fails. I dismissed these women, telling them to return to Paris and assure their fellow citizens of the love of the king for the people of the capital. [That night the king called a council. Hardly were the members seated when Saint-Priest received a letter from Lafayette, written from Auteuil, saying he was coming, that there would be no disorder, and he would be responsible for everything.] After having read M. de Lafayette’s letter to the council I presented again my suggestion made after dinner, observing, however, that there was no longer time to return to the measures proposed then; but that it was urgently necessary for the king with his family and his regular troops to set out for Rambouillet. The controversy between M. Necker and myself became more lively than on the first occasion. I described the risks the king and his family were going to run, if they hesitated to leave. I dwelt upon the resources they would have if they quit Versailles for Rambouillet, and I ended by saying to the king: "Sire, if you are taken to Paris tomorrow, your crown is lost." The king was affected and went to speak to the queen, who, this time, consented to go. M. Necker says in one of his works: "He alone had to decide what course to follow, and he resolved to remain. In a great number of persons, just one, so far as I can remember, voted for going without any modification." It is probably to myself that M. Necker attributes this isolated opinion, but his memory serves him badly, for it is a fact that MM. de Beauveau, de La Luzerne, and de La Tour-du-Pin were constantly of the same opinion as myself.

M. Necker passes over in silence the order which the king on entering the council gave me to make ready the carriages, which terminated the session. I told his majesty that I was going to execute his orders, to have my wife and children start for Rambouillet, and I was going there myself in order to be there at his arrival. I ordered M. le chevalier de Cubières, equerry, to take to the stables the order to prepare the carriages and went home to make my personal arrangements. After having agreed with Madame de Saint-Priest about her departure, I mounted a horse, enveloped myself in a mantle in order not to be recognized, in which I was successful. I had gone hardly a half-league before the carriage of my wife overtook me. She informed me that M. de Montmorin had sent word to her that the king was not going to leave.

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Chicago: "2. Saint-Priest, Abrégé, in Campan, II, 297–304," Source Problems on the French Revolution in Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913), 182–185. Original Sources, accessed April 13, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Y3LTWRKN187V3TF.

MLA: . "2. Saint-Priest, Abrégé, in Campan, II, 297–304." Source Problems on the French Revolution, Vol. II, in Source Problems on the French Revolution, edited by Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913, pp. 182–185. Original Sources. 13 Apr. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Y3LTWRKN187V3TF.

Harvard: , '2. Saint-Priest, Abrégé, in Campan, II, 297–304' in Source Problems on the French Revolution. cited in 1913, Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, pp.182–185. Original Sources, retrieved 13 April 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Y3LTWRKN187V3TF.