Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/88

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73
EXECUTION OF MADAME ELIZABETH.

have lived in those times. We have talked with some of her friends and some of her enemies; we have read, certainly not all, but hundreds of the libels written against her; and we have, in short, examined her life with—if we may be allowed to say so of ourselves—something of the accuracy of contemporaries, the diligence of inquirers, and the impartiality of historians, all combined; and we feel it our duty to declare, in as solemn a manner as literature admits of, our well-matured opinion that every reproach against the morals of the Queen was a gross calumny—that she was, as we have said, one of the purest of human beings. The grandeur of her mind—the courageous wisdom of her counsels (seldom adopted)—the minute and laborious, yet wide and lofty, fulfilment of all her duties, and particularly as wife and mother—and, finally, the unequalled magnanimity, and patience—the greatest of magnanimities—with which she bore such misfortunes as never woman before suffered, are matters of history—the opprobrium of which, thank God! brands the French Revolution, and never can be effaced.

Here also died, on the 10th of May 1794, Madame Elizabeth, a saint, if it be allowed to any mortal to be a saint. Not only innocent but inoffensive, she lived, in spite of her high birth, in a modest obscurity; she was a personification of piety, of domestic love, of charity, of humility, of self-devotion. One word of her own, often repeated, but never too often, shows her character in all its grand and yet soft and mellowed lustre. When the mob