WASHINGTON — “Not without you.” “My dear friend.” “You that I love.”
Marie Antoinette sent these expressions of affection — or more? — in letters to her close friend and rumored lover Axel von Fersen. Someone later used dark ink to scribble over the words, apparently to dampen the effusive, perhaps amorous, language.
Scientists in France devised a new method to uncover the original writing, separating out the chemical composition of different inks used on historical documents. They tested their method by analyzing the private letters between the French queen and the Swedish count, which are housed in the French national archives.