Among the unexpected expenses on their Versailles Tour, Leopold Mozart lists les chaises-à-porteurs; these portable chairs, or rather the carried chairs, turned out to be unavoidable due to the inclement weather: walking from the hotel to the palace would simply ruin little Wolfgang’s fancy clothes; so, two gentlemen carrying a wooden box with a bench had to be hired for a few round-trips, first to Madam Pompadour and later to the Queen Marie Leszczinska’s dinner.
Only the princes of blood could bring their horse-drawn vehicles up to the palace entrance. Everyone else had to leave those at the stables. But even the use of the chaises-à-porteurs had to be regulated, otherwise the stairs and the hallways got crammed: Some decrepit high-ranking ladies and the clergy retained the privilege of the inside chair-transport and caused numerous traffic jams; consequently, many areas of the palace were strictly off limits for the porters who normally waited downstairs.
A few courtiers had their private portable-chair arrangements; as for the greater majority, it had to resort to the chairs for hire. The picture of a Versailles licensed portable-chair, recently published in Versailles Academy Review, reveals, among other things, the chair’s number — 75! I can imagine at least a hundred of them swarming around the Chateau throughout the XVIII century. I don’t know why but all this makes me think about the symbiotic relationship of the red ants and the aphids: the ants also carry the flies around, that is because the flies’ excrement is rich in sucrose and serves the red ants as nourishment; meanwhile the aphids’ legs undergo atrophy, for their only function is to excrete profusely on the the ants who adroitly milk the aphids with antennae.