"'Gentlemen, the weakness of his majesty preventing him from expressing himself, he has commanded me to inform you, that although he is responsible to God alone for his conduct, he yet regrets having caused any scandal to his people by the irregularities of his life, that he sincerely repents of his sins, and, should Providence restore him to health, he purposes living henceforward in all the virtue and morality of his youth, in the defence and maintenance of religion, in preserving a true faith, and in watching over the best interests of his people.'
I learned also, through another channel, that (according to
custom) forty hours' prayer had been enjoined in every church in France to implore the mercy of heaven for the king. I heard too that the shrine of Saint Genevieve had been displayed for the veneration of true believers.
I passed a miserable night, dreaming of graves, winding-sheets, and funeral-torches, from which I only awoke to receive the morning's despatches. Alas! the news but confirmed the distressing state of the king. The very solitude in which I was left at Ruel might alone have served to convince me of my misfortune; for, with the exception of the duc de Cosse, no person came near us. M. de Cosse invited me to walk with him in the garden; I accepted the arm of this noble friend, and we directed our steps towards the wood. When we were there secure from interruption, the duke inquired what were my plans for the future?
"How can I tell you," answered I; "what is henceforward to be my fate is better known to our future queen than to myself."
"That is precisely what I dread," replied M. de Cosse. "Unfortunately you have deeply offended the queen elect, who has irritated her husband's mind against you; and then the Choiseul faction will, in all probability, come into power."
"I see all this," returned I, "and am prepared for whatever may happen."
"I admire your calmness in a moment like the present," cried the duke; "but have a care. Perhaps the best thing would be to remove you beyond the reach of the first shock of court displeasure. In your place I would request passports from the duc d'Aiguillon and travel into England."
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