The Life and Death of Louis XVI

By Saul K. Padover | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
"Long live the dauphin!"

THUS the insignificant and humble Berry, who was not yet in his teens, became the dauphin, the most important person in the realm next to His Majesty the king. Whenever he passed the guards, they stiffened, saluted, cried "Long live the dauphin!" The words brought tears to his eyes.

The widowed Maria Josepha was no less overwhelmed by the turn of events. She had no desire to survive her husband, and only the sternest sense of duty kept her alive. The orphaned princes who were in line of succession to the throne of France still needed guidance. "I live only for my unhappy children," Maria Josepha said.

She appealed to her august father-in-law to help her educate the children, but the easy-going king, absorbed in his amorous adventures, complimented her with the assurance that he considered her sufficiently competent to bring up her own sons. Maria Josepha was left to her own resources and the notes of her deceased husband. Piously she gathered and arranged systematically all the papers he had written on education. Then she made a summary.

"Heaven, my son, is preparing for you the finest crown in the universe; it has given you life in order some day to govern a nation as enlightened . . . as it is attached to its master. May your destiny be brilliant! . . . But it includes duties! It demands knowledge! . . .

-20-

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