E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Levée en masse (French). A patriotic rising of a whole nation to defend their country from invasion.
The Queens Levée. It was customary for the queens of France to receive at the hour of their levéei.e. while making their toiletthe visits of certain noblemen. This custom was afterwards demanded as a right by the court physicians, messengers from the king, the queens secretary, and some few other gentlemen, so that ten or more persons were often in the dressing-room while the queen was making her toilet and sipping her coffee. The word is now used to express that concourse of gentlemen who wait on the queen on mornings appointed. No ladies except those attached to the court are present on these occasions.
Kings and some nobles have their levées sometimes of an evening.
When I was very young (said Lord Eldon to Mrs. Forster) Lord Mansfield used to hold levées on Sunday evenings.Twiss: Lord Eldon, vol. i. chap. v. p. 68.