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 Final farewell 
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Peasant
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Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 9:34 am
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Post Final farewell
I've just read the Edgeworth's account of the final hours of the King and was surprised to discover that on the morning of the 21st Louis intended to see his family again and was persuaded against it by Edgeworth. I always assumed that this was Louis' own idea, and that he knew when he said his farewells the day before that he wouldn't see them again. Personally, though I am sure Edgeworth had the best of intentions, I think his advice was wrong.


Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:45 pm
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Marquis/Marquise
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Post Re: Final farewell
Hm. What it really comes down to, as with most things, is weighing the reliability of the source. Nearly all my knowledge of Marie Antoinette is second-hand rather than primary (Antonia Fraser, Erickson, etc) so I'm not the best judge. But would Edgeworth have any motive for perhaps implying that he had more influence with the king than he did? Perhaps he was trying to ingratiate himself to the Bourbon Restoration by insinuating that he was intimate with the king and had even convinced him to spare his family the pain of a final good-bye. When did Edgeworth write his account, do you know?

But I should say, even just referencing my secondary-sources, I had always read that Louis had consciously lied to his family about seeing them again the night before. Edgeworth would have us believe that Louis had been genuine but backed out at the last minute. I have trouble seeing that. Louis could be volatile, but I can't see him eschewing a final embrace with his wife because someone said that it would be more merciful.

Whatever the case I agree with you. Louis should have said a last good-bye. But he'd know his family better than I do (or any of us could) so perhaps it was better given their dynamic.

_________________
History is written by the victors - Winston Churchill


Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:45 pm
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Peasant
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Post Re: Final farewell
The memoir - The Last Hours of Louis XVI, King of France by The Abbe Edgeworth de Firmont, His Confessor - was, I believe, first published in 1814.

He says: "When he saw her the previous night, he had promised the Queen that he would see her again in the morning, and was anxious to keep his word, but I most urgently begged him not to give her this additional agony, which would be almost unbearable for her. He remained silent for a moment, and then, with an expression of the deepest sadness, said, 'You are right: it would be better to deprive myself of the happiness of seeing her once again, and to let her live in hope a little longer.'

I was discussing this with my hubby this morning and he suggested that the fact that this advice had come from a priest might have had a bearing on Louis' acquiescence.

Edgeworth had been in consultation with the King in his little turret when the family were brought down to see him for what would be the last time. He remained in the turret and thus within earshot. He describes it thus:

"This most interesting conversation was interrupted by one of the officials, who came to tell the King that his family had now come down, and that he had permission to see them. Very affected, he left instantly. The interview took place (as far as I could gather, for I was not present myself) in a little room only separated by a glass screen from that occupied by the Commissioners, in order that they might be able to see and hear what was going on. I myself, although in the cabinet in which the King left me, easily distinguished the voices, and in spite of myself was a witness to the most touching scene which I have ever experienced. No pen could describe it; for more than half an hour not a single distinguishable word was said; nor were there tears or sobs; but loud cries - loud enough to be heard outside the Tower. The King, the Queen, Madame Elizabeth, the Dauphin and Madame Royale - all lamented together. At last their cries and tears stopped for lack of strength, and they began to talk, quietly, their voices low and controlled.
Their talk lasted about an hour, after which the King said good-bye, letting them think they would see him again the next day. After they had left, he came back at once to me, in a state of agitation that showed how unendurable the parting had been to him. 'Ah, Monsieur,' he said to me, throwing himself into a chair, 'what an interview I have just had! Why should I love and be so tenderly loved? But now let us forget all save the fact of salvation; that now needs all my thoughts and desires.'

Harrowing. :cry:


Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:58 pm
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