Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Last Letter
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Author:  Louis-Charles [ Sun Feb 04, 2007 1:38 pm ]
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Oh… their arguments are only assumptions, nothing more… they say that Marie-Antoinette did not have a table to write (whereas she had one..), that she could not write as well, and that certain signatures of the commune member are suspect… no...they are not credible only one moment…
This letter is a real letter of Marie-Antoinette, it is her style and her manner of writing. :D

Author:  baron de batz [ Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:39 pm ]
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Should this be of interest to any of you, there is a visit of the Grands Dépôts at the Archives Nationales de Paris at 12:30 on April 3rd 2007. Rdv in the cour of the Hotel Rohan Soubise. I know the girl doing the visit and she knows I want to see the last letter of our Queen, but this time not behind a glass cabinet, so I think we should get to see it face to face. If anyone is interested let me know, she will be opening the armoire de fer so there will be the last will and testament of Louis XVI and Louis XIV as well I believe. Depends how much time she has. The visit costs 8 euros I think...let me know here on the site if of interest and I shall contact the organiser to book the places.

Author:  Jasmine d'Adelaide [ Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:49 am ]
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Hi everyone,

I also cannot read french very well (only highschool level that I have pretty much forgotten by now!)

Is there a copy in english somewhere available?

I would love to know poor sweet Marie's last words to her daughter.

Author:  Louis-Charles [ Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:54 am ]
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In english? I don't know sorry.... :?

Author:  Elizabeth [ Sat Mar 24, 2007 1:06 pm ]
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Jasmine, I remember reading a post here that was translated into English. Check all the posts in this topic, or do a search!

Author:  Lamballe [ Sat Mar 24, 2007 5:25 pm ]
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I have also seen the letter somewhere in the forum, but cannot find it. So here it is again in english:

“It is you, my sister, that I am writing for the last time. I have been sentenced to death but not a death that is shameful, for it is only shameful for criminals, but to be reunited with your brother. Like him, innocent, I hope to display the same firmness as he did in his last moments. I am as calm as one is when one's conscience holds no reproach. I deeply regret having to leave behind my poor children. You know that I lived only for them and for you, my dear good sister. In what a situation I leave you, who out of your affection has sacrificed everything to be with us!... All that is left is for me to confide in you my last thoughts. I should have liked to write them down before the start of the trial but quite apart from the fact that I was not allowed to write, events took place so rapidly that I really did not have the time. I die in the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman faith, that of my fathers, in which I was brought up and which I have always acknowledged. Having no hope of spiritual consolation and not even knowing if there are still any priests of my faith here and if so, whether the place at which I am would endanger them too much, I simply ask God for forgiveness for all my trespasses. I hope that He in His love will hear my prayers kindly and will receive my soul mercifully. ?I ask all those whom I know, especially you, my sister, to forgive me for any unhappiness I may unwittingly have caused them. I forgive all my enemies the wrongs they have done to me. I now say farewell to my aunts, brothers and sisters. I used to have friends; the thought of being separated from them for ever, and their unhappiness, will pain me even in my death; let them know at least that I thought of them until the last moment. ?Adieu, my dear and good sister. I hope this letter will reach you. Think of me always. I embrace you from the bottom of my heart and also my dear poor children. My God, it breaks my heart having to leave them forever. Goodbye, goodbye. Now I must devote myself only to my spiritual duties. Since I am not able to act freely they will perhaps send me a constitutional priest; however, I declare here and now that I shall have nothing to say to him and shall treat him as a complete stranger.”

Author:  Elizabeth [ Sat Mar 24, 2007 9:10 pm ]
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Merci beaucoup Lamballe! :D

Author:  ShaniFaye [ Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:28 am ]
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Thank you so much for posting the english version :) What great strength she seemed to have, I dont know that I could have been that brave in the face of execution

Author:  no_less_dear2me [ Sun Sep 30, 2007 2:52 am ]
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Yes, thank you also for the English translation! Beautifully written, I must say.

Author:  ShaktiValkyrie [ Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Last Letter

I see two different versions of the letter. Most are the ones with the holes and tears in it. Which I take to be the original.
Then I see ones where there are no holes are anything. Have these just been restored?

Author:  ShaktiValkyrie [ Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Last Letter

Here is the full version in English ... nette.html

16th October, 4.30 A.M.

It is to you, my sister, that I write for the last time. I have just been condemned, not to a shameful death, for such is only for criminals, but to go and rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the same firmness in my last moments. I am calm, as one is when one's conscience reproaches one with nothing. I feel profound sorrow in leaving my poor children: you know that I only lived for them and for you, my good and tender sister. You who out of love have sacrificed everything to be with us, in what a position do I leave you! I have learned from the proceedings at my trial that my daughter was separated from you. Alas! poor child; I do not venture to write to her; she would not receive my letter. I do not even know whether this will reach you. Do you receive my blessing for both of them. I hope that one day when they are older they may be able to rejoin you, and to enjoy to the full your tender care. Let them both think of the lesson which I have never ceased to impress upon them, that the principles and the exact performance of their duties are the chief foundation of life; and then mutual affection and confidence in one another will constitute its happiness. Let my daughter feel that at her age she ought always to aid her brother by the advice which her greater
experience and her affection may inspire her to give him. And let my son in his turn render to his sister all the care and all the services which affection can inspire. Let them, in short, both feel that, in whatever positions they may be placed, they will never be truly happy but through their union. Let them follow our example. In our own misfortunes how much comfort has our affection for one another afforded us! And, in times of happiness, we have enjoyed that doubly from being able to share it with a friend; and where can one find friends more tender and more united than in one's own family? Let my son never forget the last words of his father, which I repeat emphatically; let him never seek to avenge our deaths.

I have to speak to you of one thing which is very painful to my heart, I know how much pain the child must have caused you. Forgive him, my dear sister; think of his age, and how easy it is to make a child say whatever one wishes, especially when he does not understand it. It will come to pass one day, I hope, that he will better feel the value of your kindness and of your tender affection for both of them. It remains to confide to you my last thoughts. I should have wished to write them at the beginning of my trial; but, besides that they did not leave me any means of writing, events have passed so rapidly that I really have not had time.

I die in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, that of my fathers, that in which I was brought up, and which I have always professed. Having no spiritual consolation to look for, not even knowing whether there are still in this place any priests of that religion (and indeed the place where I am would expose them to too much danger if they were to enter it but once), I sincerely implore pardon of God for all the faults which I may have committed during my life. I trust that, in His goodness, He will mercifully accept my last prayers, as well as those which I have for a long time addressed to Him, to receive my soul into His mercy. I beg pardon of all whom I know, and especially of you, my sister, for all the vexations which, without intending it, I may have caused you. I pardon all my enemies the evils that they have done me. I bid farewell to my aunts and to all my brothers and sisters. I had friends. The idea of being forever separated from them and from all their troubles is one of the greatest sorrows that I suffer in dying. Let them at least know that to my latest moment I thought of them.

Farewell, my good and tender sister. May this letter reach you. Think always of me; I embrace you with all my heart, as I do my poor dear children. My God, how heart-rending it is to leave them forever! Farewell! farewell! I must now occupy myself with my spiritual duties, as I am not free in my actions. Perhaps they will bring me a priest; but I here protest that I will not say a word to him, but that I will treat him as a total stranger. (Translation by Charles Duke Yonge)

Author:  Rosalie [ Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last Letter

Thank you!

Author:  Lilly [ Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last Letter

This letter was never delivered to Madame Elizabeth, unfortunately. It may have been found under Robespierres' mattress after he was executed, although I cannot find the source where I read this.

Author:  Vive [ Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last Letter

Lilly wrote:
This letter was never delivered to Madame Elizabeth, unfortunately. It was found under Robespierres' mattress after he was executed.

I was having a discussion with another member on this topic in a pm so I figured that I would post my thoughts despite this thread being years "dead" so to speak. Call me a necromancer but here we go.

It is not an uncontested fact that Marie Antoinette's 'final farewell' was found beneath Robespierre's mattress. It is not even an uncontested fact that Robespierre ever intercepted the letter at all. Oh, yes, the letter was intercepted and it never reached Madame Elisabeth, but my contention here is Robespierre's involvement.

But what needs to be understood first of all is that even if Robespierre did have the letter, it would not indicate any sort of unhealthy obsession on his part. Robespierre was a member of the Committee of Public Safety (say what we will about the body) and so his proscribed duties were to converse with government spies and - yes! - intercept letters. In this scenario, Marie Antoinette would have given the letter to her jailer, who would have given the letter the spy, who would have met with Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety to discuss his findings of the day and would have presented the letter then. Robespierre probably didn't even give any orders to retrieve Marie Antoinette's things; the bureaucracy of the Terror just naturally picked them up. In other words, having the letter would have been entirely natural. If he had it and it was found under his mattress (something I truly, truly doubt for reasons I will elaborate on) this would less be a sign of Robespierre wringing his hands together and sniffing, "Oh, yessssss, these are my precccccioussssss thingsssssss, theeeeesssse are my trophies, no one will have them" and more Robespierre being absolutely practical.

Understand: Robespierre lived in a one-room apartment. He didn't have much room to file away miscellaneous papers. Rather, its ending up under his bed would likely have been the punctuation mark of a very late night where Robespierre was curled over his bed reading over his findings for the day. He's tired - but where should he put the documents? The file box is overflowing...

Eh...under the bed's fine. And so he shoved it there, forgot, and went to sleep.

Sometimes these "larger than life" angels and demons are very human.

Furthermore, if Robespierre did have the letter it's not as though he never tried to make amends for his transgression. Madame Elisabeth would be sent to the guillotine, it's true, but only despite Robespierre's objections. He tried to save her life. Maybe he felt a twinge of conscience.

But again, this is all hinged on Robespierre ever having the letter at all. And there isn't any firm evidence that says he did. That story of it being found under his mattress didn't arise until 1815. That's twenty years after his death.

The inventor of this story was a little man named Courtois. I'm not going to comment on Courtois' politics, but he is almost universally scorned by the biographers of Robespierre (friendly or hostile). This is because Courtois was a historical vandal.

After Thermidor, Courtois was the deputy who was appointed to inventory Robespierre's personal effects, including his papers. Not only has it been conclusively proven that Courtois burned or suppressed any of Robespierre's documents that didn't fit with the Convention's mandate, but Courtois also bent over some of the writings and altered the texts to completely distort their meaning or intention. In other words, the greatest pool of wealth for the study of Robespierre - the man's own writings - were poisoned and no honest biographer has ever forgiven Courtois for his contribution.

I'm trying to say that Courtois is notoriously untrustworthy. Combine this documented instance of dishonesty with his habit of keeping things as insurance when a regime fell, and there is a lot of room for reasonable doubt. Because, yes, Courtois liked to keep things. This Jacobin was a survivor, and he figured if a Monarchy was going to be restored he would have tokens of his eternal devotion to the Bourbon Regime.

In other words, it is entirely likely that one of Courtois' well-connected friends got the letter from Antoinette and gave it to Courtois because, again, Courtois had a collection and what are friends for? Courtois subsequently kept it for himself. Twenty years later with the Bourbon Restoration, he decides to return it (I believe for a fee) to the royal family. But then the inevitable question arose: But where did you get this, Courtois?

Now, what is he supposed to say? "Oh, my friend intercepted it before it could get to Madame Elisabeth because he knew I like to collect things from the monarchy. You're not mad, are you?"

Please. Instead, Courtois said that he found it when he was going through Robespierre's things. After all, he didn't like Robespierre, everyone hated Robespierre, and everyone knew that Courtois had been the man who had the privilege of inventorying the Incorruptible's personal effects. The story seemed to gell... Until we understand everything I outlined above, as well as the fact that - again - Courtois had sat on this information for twenty years. Immediately after Thermidor everyone was wildly scraping for any calumny to throw against Robespierre's reputation; it didn't matter about the truth.

So why didn't Courtois tell his 'under the mattress' story then?

Probably because it wasn't true.

Author:  Marie Louise [ Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Last Letter

Quite sad her death but atleast she died brave. Remember those last words 'Pardon me sir,I meant not do it'.

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