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CHAPTER III. - Gouverneur Morris, The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, vol. 1 
The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, Minister of the United States to France; Member of the Constitutional Convention, ed. Anne Cary Morris (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1888). 2 vols. Vol. 1.
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Dearth of wheat at Lyons. Morris offers Necker a cargo. Graciousness of the Duchess of Orleans. Ladies vexed by long arguments in the salons. Ten thousand troops ordered out. Swiss guards within the barriers. Necker’s fall desired. Tête-à-tête dish of tea with Madame de Ségur. King and princes oppose liberty. Political talk with the Bishop of Autun. Makes a plan of finance for France. Advises the massing of the Swiss guards round the king’s person. Election excitements. A water-party on the Seine. An eventful day at Versailles. Meeting of the States-General. Magnificent spectacle. Mirabeau hissed. The Duke of Orleans applauded. Visit to Marly. Madame du Barry. Madame de Ségur at her toilet. Petit-Trianon Gardens. Madame de Suze’s lapdog.
In the month of April the dearth of wheat at Lyons gave the ministers serious apprehension, and Morris proposed to the banker Le Coulteux to offer a cargo of grain which was then arriving. The plan was approved of and an express sent to Versailles to consult with M. Necker. “This evening [April 6th] at Madame de Puisignieu’s,” says the diary, “I am told that there is wheat enough in the kingdom, but that it is bought up by forestallers and that M. Necker is suspected of having engaged the funds and credit of government in the operation, by which he will get for the crown one hundred and fifty millions. I cannot help expressing my detestation of this vile slander, and M. de Puisignieu seems ashamed of hinting it. How wretched is the situation of that man who is raised high above others. His services, the fruit of anxious solicitude, are attributed to chance, or pared down to the size of ordinary occurrences. But every public misfortune, even the interference of the seasons and the operations of human cupidity, are charged to the ignorance or injustice of administration. M. Le Coulteux wishes that I should go with him to one of the administration about the cargo of the Russel, as he is fearful that an offer from him would be considered merely in the light of a private speculation. In the afternoon go to M. Le Coulteux’s and take him up by appointment. We visit M. Montlieraiu, and Monsieur C. opens the business. I find he was right in his idea of the reception it would meet with, but I cut the matter short by putting it at once on its true ground without any of those compliments that had already been brought forward and which might of course now be dispensed with. This induces M. Montlieraiu to think more seriously of the matter. The brother of the first magistrate of Lyons is sent for, who wishes it very much. After considering the several difficulties the thing appears of such consequence that a letter is to be written to-morrow, to M. Necker. I desire pointedly that, if my name is used, M. Necker may know that this offer is made from a view to relieve the administration, but above all to succor the distressed people and without the slightest attention to pecuniary considerations.”
The “procession to Longchamp” took place on the 8th of April, and Morris described it as “exhibiting a strange mixture of wretched fiacres and superb equipages with all the intermediate degrees. While visiting Madame de Chastellux this evening,” he continues, “a message is brought from the Duchess of Orleans to the effect that she cannot pay her intended visit. Madame de Chastellux told me that the Duchess had observed on not seeing me there for some time, and said she would visit me chez Madame la Marquise this evening. This is a badinage which I begin to comprehend, and there is nothing in it to flatter my vanity. Tant mieux. I assure the marchioness of my veneration and affection, etc., for her Royal Highness’s virtues, in which there is much more sincerity than a person of her rank has a right to expect. She tells me that Madame de Rully is a slut. I assure her that this information gives me great concern, that I was becoming violently in love with her, and am totally palled by the communication. Tout cela s’entend.”
The early spring attracted Morris toward the country, and he mentions visiting the country-seat of M. le Normand, where, with his true farmer’s instinct, he carefully examined the farm, and expressed himself very much surprised to learn “that the sheep are housed in winter. I attribute it with other practices to want of knowledge in husbandry,” he says, “for, in effect, this is a science very little understood in France. They will acquire it by means of that Anglomania which now rages among them. If at the same time they should improve both their agriculture and constitution, it will be difficult to calculate the power of this nation. But the progress of this nation seems to be much greater in the fine arts than in the useful arts. This perhaps depends on a government oppressive to industry but favorable to genius. At Vieflis [the château of M. le Norrage] we have a thousand proofs that the master does not understand calculation: a very large house not finished, a garden or park which, if ever completed, will at least have been expensive, and will perhaps be magnificent. A large company and a small dinner. An abbé declaims violently against moderation in politics. He will, he says, carry the post by assault. This will be somewhat difficult, as the King has already surrendered everything at discretion. I desire the Comte de Pellue to ask him what he wants. He says a constitution. But what constitution? In explaining himself, it appears that he desires less than is already granted, and a part of the company differ with him because he does not desire enough. And so much for carrying everything by assault. A tedious argument is commenced, to which I pay no attention, but find that the ladies are vexed at it, because the orators are so vehement that their gentle voices cannot be heard. They will have more of this, if the States-General should really fix a constitution. Such an event would be particularly distressing to the women of this country, for they would be thereby deprived of their share in the government, and hitherto they have exercised an authority almost unlimited, with no small pleasure to themselves, though not perhaps with the greatest advantage to the community.”
“To-day [April 15th] I visit M. Millet. He is at play with a number of people who look like gamblers. Madame is abroad and probably engaged at a different game. Call on Madame de Durfort. She lets me know that she is going to pay a visit to a sick person, and she takes an officer of dragoons to support her under the affliction. Take tea with Madame de Chastellux. She gives me many curious anecdotes of this country. Two ladies come in and talk politics. One of them dislikes M. Necker so much that she seemed vexed with herself for being pleased with a little jeu d’esprit which he composed several years ago and which Madame de Chastellux reads to us.”
“In a very long conversation with M. de Lafayette to-day [April 17th] he gives me the history of his campaign in Auvergne. I find that his mind is getting right as to the business he has in hand. We consider of a revolt in Paris, and agree that it might occasion much mischief but would not produce any good, that in consequence it will be best to enter a protestation against the manner of canvassing the city, etc., but to go on with the business and get the members elected. There is to be a meeting of the noblesse this afternoon and M. Clermont* will talk to this effect. He is, if possible, to be made one of the representatives and is therefore to be brought forward as a speaker immediately. Lafayette says he has genius and family though of small fortune. Go to dine with M. de la Bretèche after dinner. M. de Durfort, comes in. He has been at the meeting. M. de Clermont’s speech was very much admired and he carried his point by a large majority, contrary, says M. de Durfort to the wish of M. Necker’s friends. I am very curious, and among other things ask if M. de Lafayette was there. Yes, and said a few words which were very well. As M. de Durfort is not the friend of either M. de Lafayette or M. Necker, I fancy things have gone very right. Ten thousand men are ordered into the neighborhood of Paris, and the French and Swiss guards are within the barriers, which makes the Maréchaussée, etc., six thousand more, so that if we have an insurrection it will be warm work. The revolution that is carrying on in the country is a strange one. A few people who have set it going look with astonishment at their own work. The ministers contribute to the destruction of ministerial authority, without knowing either what they are doing or what to do. M. Necker, who thinks he directs everything, is perhaps himself as much an instrument as any of those which he makes use of. His fall is I think desired, but it will not happen so soon as his enemies expect. It will depend much on the chapter of accidents who will govern the States-General, or whether they will be at all governable. Gods! what a theatre this is for a first-rate character. Lafayette has given me this morning the anticipation of a whimsical part of the drama. The Duke de Coigny, one of the Queen’s lovers, is directed by his constituents to move that the Queen shall not, in case of accidents, be Regent, and he (Lafayette), who is hated by both King and Queen, intends to oppose that motion. I give him one or two reasons which strike me in support of his opinion, but he inclines to place it on a different ground. His opinions accord best with those of a republic. Mine are drawn only from human nature and ought not therefore to have much respect in this age of refinement. It would indeed be ridiculous for those to believe in man who affect not to believe in God.”
“This afternoon [April 28th] over a tête-à-tête dish of tea with Madame de Ségur we have a pleasant talk. The tea is very good, and her conversation is better flavored than her tea, which comes from Russia. After this an hour spent with Madame de Chastellux at the Palais Royal, where I found her with her son lying in her lap. A mother in this situation is always interesting, and her late loss renders her particularly so. In the course of conversation, asking after the health of her princess, she repeats a message formerly delivered. On this occasion I observe that I should be sorry to show a want of respectful attention or be guilty of an indiscretion, and therefore wish to know what would be proper conduct should I meet Her Highness anywhere else—that my present opinion is that it would be proper not to know her. She says I may rely on it that in such case she would recognize me. I tell her farther that, although in my interior I have a great indifference for the advantages of birth, and only respect in her Royal Highness the virtues she possesses, yet I feel myself bound to comply exteriorly with the feelings and prejudices of those among whom I find myself. Between nine and ten it is concluded that the Duchess will not make her evening visit, and I take my leave, returning the message I had received: ‘I have visited Madame la Duchesse chez Madame de Chastellux, and I am sorry not to have met her there.’”
Morris seemed to be impressed with his lack of the proper spirit of a traveller and sightseer, for in a letter [April 18th] to a friend at Philadelphia he confessed his shortcomings in that regard.
“I am pretty well convinced,” he wrote, “that I am not fit for a traveller, and yet I thought otherwise when I left America. But what will you say to a man who has been above two months in Paris without ascending to the top of Notre Dame, who has been but three times to Versailles, and on neither of those times has seen the King or Queen, or had the wish to see them, and who, if he should continue here twenty years, would continue in ignorance of the length of the Louvre, the breadth of the Pont Neuf, etc.? A man in Paris lives in a sort of whirlwind which turns him round so fast that he can see nothing, and as all men and things are in the same vertiginous situation you can neither fix yourself nor your object for regular examination. Hence the people of this metropolis are under the necessity of pronouncing their definitive judgment from the first glance; and being thus habituated to shoot flying, they have what the sportsmen call a quick sight. They know a wit by his snuff-box, a man of taste by his bow, and a statesman by the cut of his coat. It is true that like other sportsmen they sometimes miss, but like other sportsmen they have a thousand excuses besides the want of skill. The fault, you know, may be in the dog or the bird or the powder or the flint, or even the gun, without mentioning the gunner.
“We are at present in a fine situation for what the bucks and bloods would term a frolic and high fun. The ministers have disgusted this city by the manner of convoking them to elect their representatives for the States-General, and at the same time bread is getting dearer. So that when the people assemble on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday next, what with hunger and discontent the least spark would set everything in a flame. The state physicians have, by way of antidote, brought between fifteen and twenty thousand regular troops within and about the city; so that at any rate the bons bourgeois may not have all the fun to themselves. This measure will rather tend to produce than to prevent a riot, for some of the young nobility have brought themselves to an active faith in the natural equality of mankind, and spurn at everything which looks like restraint.”
“This evening [April 20th] while I am taking tea in Madame de Flahaut’s salon, the Marquis de Boursac comes in fresh from the elections. He has been very busy all day in traversing the views of the ministry in the election of the nobles, and thinks with success. There is to be a meeting to-morrow morning at the Provost’s of Paris, to decide finally what they shall do. Madame goes to make her visit of condolence to Madame de Guibert, whose husband, a Neckerist, is dismissed from his place in the War Office, at which, by the bye, she is delighted, though Madame de Guibert will not be so well pleased, notwithstanding that she is of the party opposed to her husband. Promise Madame de Flahaut to return, and go to M. Millet’s;* sit a little while with him and his mistress, and then call on Madame de Corney. She is in high spirits at the opposition like to take place among the nobles. She gives me an anecdote from the Baron de Breteuil,* who had it from the mouth of M. Machault, a minister. The King and Princes have united together to oppose the progress of liberty, the rapidity of which has at length given them serious alarm. The King applied to M. Machault to be premier, which he declined on account of his age. Was asked his opinion of M. Necker. ‘I don’t like his conduct, but I think it would be dangerous to dismiss him at present.’ Madame de Corney presses me to stay to supper, but I decline, telling her I am engaged to her friend the Comtesse de Flahaut, which she of course admits to be a sufficient reason. Go to Madame de Flahaut’s. Meet the Bishop d’Autun.† Talk more politics than I ought.
“I am of the opinion that if the Court should attempt now to recede, it is impossible to conjecture the event. The chiefs of the patriotic party have gone so far that they cannot retreat with safety. If there be any real vigor in the nation the prevailing party in the States-General may, if they please, overturn the monarchy itself, should the King commit his authority to a contest with them. The Court is extremely feeble, and the manners are so extremely corrupt that they cannot succeed if there be any consistent opposition. Unless the whole nation be equally depraved, the probability, I think, is that an attempt to retreat at this late period of the business will bring the Court into absolute contempt.”
“After the Comédie Française to-night [April 21st] I go to Madame de Chastellux’s, and she gives me the news from Versailles. M. de Vauguyon* is not to return to Spain. M. de la Luzerne is to go there. Hope that M. de Ségur will go to London. The nobles of Paris have agreed to elect, protesting against the Réglement. This is the best course they could take. Madame de Chastellux tells me that the Duchesse d’Orléans had left, a little before my arrival, a message for me. She wishes me to see her son, M. de Beaujolais.”
Morris had been for some time engaged in forming a plan of finance for France. It had been translated into French, and presented to M. de Malesherbes. The morning of Wednesday, the 22d, Morris spent with Jefferson, discussing the question of the finances generally, and particularly the plan which he had made. “Mr. Jefferson,” he says (April 22d), “likes much my plan of finance. We wait till after four for Lafayette, who then comes in déshabille, having been engaged in politics till that moment. The business we believe is going well. I advise that the Swiss guards should be removed from about the King’s person by the States-General, and a compliment be at the same time made to the national troops. Mr. Jefferson does not seem to think this important, but I urge it to the conviction of Lafayette. He wishes to have our opinion whether he should take a great part in the debates of the States-General. We agree that he should only speak on important occasions. Afterwards Jefferson and I go to the Palais Royal to get our profiles taken.” [The semi-silhouette substitute for the photography of today.]
“To-night [April 24th] at supper at the Baron de Besenval’s, we are told of an express announcing the Emperor’s death, and then again that he is not dead. It appears, however, that he is not long for this world. We hear a great deal also about the disturbances for want of bread. These give pleasure to the company here, who are all adverse to the present administration. We hear also that there is to be a new administration; that Monsieur is to be the chief, and all the present ministers are to go out except Necker. This arrangement is less agreeable to the company than it would have been to turn out Necker and keep the rest. For my own part, I do not believe in a change just now. Puisignieu tells me that the States-General will quarrel immediately about the question as to the votes, whether they shall be given par ordre or par tête. He asserts this with so much warmth as to show that he wishes it. He says, further, that the nation is incapable of liberty; that they can bear nothing long and will not even stay at their regiments above three months. Thus he takes the noblesse for the nation, and judges the noblesse from those members who, from idleness and dissipation, are of the least consequence in revolutions except, indeed, so far as their numbers are concerned. It seems the general position of those who wish the King to be everything that he must inevitably be so in a few years, let the nation do what it will in the present moment. In fact, the revolutionists have but flimsy materials to work with, and unless some greater energy of character should result from their present doings, the friends of despotism must succeed.”
“All this morning [April 25th] I am employed in writing, and in the afternoon go to dine with M. Millet and his mistress, the Marquis de Bréhan, an old lady and her daughter, beautiful and just coming forward, one married woman, a young and extremely handsome one, the husband of the former, and the friend of the latter, with a captain in the navy, who like myself is a bachelor, and a young man I know not who. The dinner (à la matelote) and the guests are of M. Millet’s bespeaking. After dessert we are entertained by an old woman who plays on the vielle (hurdy gurdy) and accompanies her instrument with loose songs, to the great delight of the gentlemen, the mother, and the married lady, whose husband has an exhausted, disconsolate air. The child listens with infinite attention. The two young ladies are not well pleased. M. Millet proposes another such party for next week, which we agree to. He is to order the dinner and consult us. I tell him it shall be just what he pleases, but that we will, if he pleases, excuse the music. From thence we go to the Hôtel Royal des Invalides, a most magnificent piece of architecture. The chapel and the dome are sublime. In the kitchen we are made to observe, among other things, a little kettle with 2,500 pounds of beef for tomorrow’s soup; another, with a smaller quantity, for messieurs les officiers. A spectacle which excited the greatest effect in my mind was a number of mutilated veterans on their knees in the chapel. The most sincere devotion. Poor wretches! they have no hope on this side of the grave. The women went on their knees when we came near the sacristy. At M. Millet’s suggestion, I made a prayer for the two handsomest, which they liked quite as well as any in the Missal. M. Millet tells me that he heard a number of the “invalides” expressing their pity that so fine a man should have lost his leg. He did not perceive me give one of them a crown, or he would have known how to appreciate the compliment and the compassion.”
On Sunday (April 26th) Morris was entertaining a friend, whereupon, he says, “I receive to my great surprise a billet from a lady containing a declaration of love, but anonymous. I write an ambiguous answer to the fair incognita and send my servant Martin to dog the messenger, a little boy, who delivers it to a waiting-woman. She goes to the house of M. Millet. It is therefore from his mistress, who certainly is worth attention. In the evening I call on Madame Millet, but have not an opportunity to say a word to her en particulier. Call on Madame de Chastellux, and find that as usual the Duchess has just left her, and a little message for me. There is something whimsical in this, but I express a regret on the subject. This evening at Madame de Flahaut’s they are in the midst of politics, of which I am tired. After supper the Bishop of Autun reads us the protest of the nobles and clergy of Brittany, and during the lecture I very uncivilly fall asleep. Madame is not well, and besides has met with something in the course of the day which preys upon her spirits. I enquire what it is and she declines telling me, which I am glad of.”
Paris was astir with the excitement of the elections during this month of April. On the 21st the “Electoral Assemblies” had begun. The streets were full of electors of each degree. Besides, the town swarmed with beggars. Twenty thousand vagabonds infested the capital, surrounded the palace, and filled the Hôtel de Ville. The government, being forced thereto, kept twelve thousand of them digging on the hills of Montmartre and payed them 20 sous a day. They were starving. Bread was very scarce. They surrounded the bakers’ shops and a bitter murmuring, gradually growing louder, arose from them. Irritated, excited, imaginative, they waited for some excuse for action, however slight. It came on the 25th, in a rumor that Reveillon, an elector and manufacturer, had “spoken badly of the people at an electoral meeting.” What he actually said no one knew; that he was a just man all knew; what they imagined he said was that “a man and his wife and children could live on fifteen sous a day,” and he was a traitor and must die. All day Sunday the crowds, idle and angry, had time to talk and to encourage each other to violence. On Monday, still idle and drunk, the mob began to move, armed with clubs. Morris mentions going out to see the banker Le Coulteux. “His gate” [April 27th], he says, “is shut and all the shops are shut. There is, it seems, a riot in Paris, and the troops are at work somewhere, which has given a great alarm to the city. I believe it is very trifling.” By midnight the crowd was somewhat dispersed, but only to reassemble with renewed energy to do its wild work the next morning. The cause of the “Third Estate” was what they had come to defend, and not even when they faced the cannon and saw two hundred of their number killed did they relinquish their firm conviction that the cause of the Third Estate was righteous and would prevail.
Meantime the society of the Palais Royal in Madame de Chastellux’s salon drank their tea quietly, and talked politics. “Madame de Chastellux tells me,” writes Morris, “she expects the Duchess to-night. I therefore stay to meet her Royal Highness. She comes in pretty late, is vastly civil, refers to her several messages, extremely sorry not to have met me, etc., to all of which I answer as well as I can. In effect, it goes beyond my idea, though I must from necessity adhere to my original interpretation. She talks a good deal of politics with her friends about the assemblies, etc., and I congratulate her on this employment for her mind, which has contributed already to her health. She says her visit must be very short; she is going to see her children. She came in late, and she should not have made the visit, but to see me. This is clearly persiflage, but it would be vastly uncivil in me should I appear to think so.”
In a letter written to Mr. Carmichael on the 27th, mention is made of a visit paid to M. de Montmorin, who received him civilly, but indifferently. He says: “Should the intrigue now carrying on be successful, they will all be turned out, and then I will cultivate the acquaintance of M. de Montmorin, for the Minister of Foreign Affairs is too much occupied. I can say nothing to you about the politics of this country. I know I write under the inspection of those whose hands this letter may pass through in both kingdoms. Besides, there is nothing that can be depended on till the States-General shall have been some time assembled. The Emperor is, I suppose, by this time in the regions of the departed. This country is not in a condition to send an army of observation to the Rhine, and of course her ministers will be but little attended to. The part which Britain and Prussia may take is uncertain.”
“On the way to see M. Millet [April 28th] I see some troops marching with two small field pieces towards the Faubourg St. Antoine. It seems there has been a riot there. Hear at M. Millet’s a terrible account of it, which certainly is exaggerated. Later I find that the riot has been pretty serious.” But the French theatre, and an endeavor to discover if Madame Millet was the fair heroine of the anonymous billets, evidently occupied more of Morris’s attention than the riots. “It would seem,” he says, “that the billets are not from her and that I am egregiously mistaken, and my curiosity is strong.” M. Millet’s party, planned the week before, was fixed for the 1st of May. “I dress and go to M. Millet’s, where the party are to meet. Madame is waiting for her bonnet, and afterwards we wait for some other persons of the company. Proceed to the Palais de Bourbon. See the small apartments and garden. They are very beautiful. From thence we go to the cabaret, and dine à la matelote—the same company we had last week, except the captain in the navy. After dinner, the women propose to go on the Seine, to which I readily agree. We shall be less liable to observation there, which, considering my company, is of some consequence. M. Millet will not go and madame is glad to get rid of him, which he seems to perceive, and goes home alone to enjoy the reflection which such an idea cannot fail to engender. We embark in a dirty fishing boat, and sit on dirty boards laid across. Mademoiselle, who is dressed in muslin trimmed with handsome lace, adds much to the beauty of her dress, which is completely draggled. Her friend seems well pleased with my attentions to her, and she tries to be modest, but apes the character badly. After descending a considerable distance, we remount to the Barrière de Chaillot, but from a mistake in the orders, (which has been the loss of many battles) our carriages are not to be found. We walk towards town. The women, as wild as birds let out of a cage, dispatch the men different ways, but yet no news of our equipages. Cross the river, and go to look for them where we dined. Not finding them, we return to recross it. Meet a servant, who tells me that carriages are at the Grille Chaillot. We recross. The scow is taken over by the course of the current, a rope being extended across the river, and a pulley moving to and fro along it, to which pulley the boat is connected by a strong rope, and that end of the rope which is fastened to the boat moves by means of a loop sliding along a bar at the gunwale such a distance towards the end of the scow from the centre as to present the side of the vessel to the current, in an angle of about forty-five degrees. By this means the scow is carried over with considerable velocity. After waiting some time for the carriages (during which time the women amuse themselves with running about), they at length arrive, and I come home. Dress and go to Madame de Flahaut’s. A large company, a great deal of politics, and some play. I do not get home till one, having set down a gentleman who was unprovided of a carriage. Then I sit and read till near two, and go to bed, heartily fatigued with the day’s amusement, if I may give that name to things which did not amuse me at all. I incline to think that Madame Roselle is my unknown correspondent, and I do not care sixpence who it is.”
On the 29th of April Morris wrote to General Washington giving him a description of M. de Lafayette’s success in his political campaign in Auvergne. “He had to contend,” he says, “with the prejudices and the interests of his order, and with the influence of the Queen and Princes, (except the Duke of Orleans) but he was too able for his opponent. He played the orator with as much éclat as ever he acted the soldier, and is at this moment as much envied and hated as ever his heart could wish. He is also much beloved by the nation, for he stands forward as one of the principal champions for her rights. The elections are finished throughout this kingdom, except in the capital, and it appears from the instructions given to the representatives (called here les cahiers) that certain points are universally demanded, which when granted and secured will render France perfectly free as to the principles of the constitution—I say principles, for one generation at least will be required to render the practice familiar. We have, I think, every reason to wish that the patriots may be successful. The generous wish which a free people must form to disseminate freedom, the grateful emotion which rejoices in the happiness of a benefactor, and a strong personal interest as well in the liberty as in the power of this country, all conspire to make us far from indifferent spectators. I say that we have an interest in the liberty of France. The leaders here are our friends; many of them have imbibed their principles in America, and all have been fired by our example. Their opponents are by no means rejoiced at the success of our Revolution, and many of them are disposed to form connections of the strictest kind with Great Britain. The commercial treaty emanated from such dispositions, and, according to the usual course of those events which are shaped by human wisdom, it will probably produce the exact reverse of what was intended by the projectors. The spirit of this nation is at present high, and M. Necker is very popular, but if he continues long in administration it will be somewhat wonderful. His enemies are numerous, able, and inveterate. His supporters are uncertain as to his fate, and will protect him no longer than while he can aid in establishing a constitution. But when once that great business is accomplished he will be left to stand on his own ground. The Court wish to get rid of him, and unless he shows very strong in the States-General they will gratify their wishes. His ability as a minister will be much contested in that assembly, but with what success time only can determine.
“The materials for a revolution in this country are very indifferent. Everybody agrees that there is an utter prostration of morals—but this general position can never convey to the American mind the degree of depravity. It is not by any figure of rhetoric, or force of language, that the idea can be communicated. An hundred anecdotes and an hundred thousand examples are required to show the extreme rottenness of every member. There are men and women who are greatly and eminently virtuous. I have the pleasure to number many in my own acquaintance, but they stand forward from a background deeply and darkly shaded. It is, however, from such crumbling matter that the great edifice of freedom is to be erected here. Perhaps, like the stratum of rock which is spread under the whole surface of their country, it may harden when exposed to the air, but it seems quite as likely that it will fall and crush the builders. I own to you that I am not without such apprehensions, for there is one fatal principle which pervades all ranks. It is a perfect indifference to the violation of all engagements. Inconstancy is so mingled in the blood, marrow, and every essence of this people, that when a man of high rank and importance laughs to-day at what he seriously asserted yesterday, it is considered as in the natural order of things. Consistency is the phenomenon. Judge then what would be the value of an association should such a thing be proposed, and even adopted. The great mass of the people have no religion but their priests, no law but their superiors, no morals but their interest. These are the creatures who, led by drunken curates, are now in the high-road à la Liberté, and the first use they make of it is to form insurrections everywhere for the want of bread. We have had a little riot here yesterday and the day before, and I am told that some men have been killed, but the affair was so distant from the quarter in which I reside that I know nothing of the particulars.”
By the 1st of May the elections in Paris were nearly over and the first victory of the people gained in the decision of the Government that the Third Estate should have a representation equal in numbers to that of the orders of the nobles and clergy combined. On Sunday, May 3rd, the Court and clergy at Versailles awaited the result of the audience to be given to the deputies on Monday. A superb day dawned—Talleyrand says, “A heavenly day.” The beautiful lawn of the palace was crowded with groups of gayly dressed officers and high dignitaries of the church, each wearing the brilliant tokens of his rank. Ladies decked in the brightest colors and wearing the happiest smiles talked, sauntered about, and sat on the stone benches along the alleys underneath the delicate spring foliage. In striking contrast to these were the groups of the members of the Third Estate—shunned as if they bore the seeds of a pestilence among them. They talked in whispers, hurriedly and earnestly—they never smiled. Their costume of black hose and surtout and short black cloak, to which they had been condemned by the old sumptuary laws and which denoted the plebeian, made the contrast even greater. Proudly they carried themselves in this dress, but on their faces were care and gloomy foreboding, and a sudden ominous silence fell upon them whenever a stray member of the noblesse happened to pass near.
On a balcony of the palace was the queen, surrounded by a bevy of beauties of the Court, all in high spirits, discussing the pageant of to-morrow, which to them had an interest almost solely spectacular, just as they valued the Salle des Menus as a room where their beauty could be seen to the best advantage because it was lighted from above. Mr. Morris speaks of visiting Madame de Lafayette and finding that “they are on the move to Versailles. Lafayette is already there to pay his respects in quality of representative. I go and sit a while with Madame de Puisignieu at her toilet. Then go to see Madame de Ségur, and amuse myself with the children, and leave her at her toilet, to meet her again to night at Madame de Puisignieu’s, and she tells me she will stay the whole evening in consequence of my being there instead of keeping another engagement. … During the evening a gentleman entertains the ladies with the description of the hanging match last Thursday. He is colonel of a regiment which was on duty to attend the execution. We drink a great deal of weak tea, which Madame de la Suze says very justly is du lait coupé. Madame de Ségur comes in while the company are at supper, and I tell her very truly that I was just going away but will now stay. The conversation in our corner turns as usual upon politics, and among other things on the want of grain. M. Necker is a good deal blamed, but in my opinion very undeservedly. One foolish thing has indeed been committed, and that is the only one which they do not find fault with. It is the order for searching the barns of the farmers. The riot, also, is dismissed. The Baron de Besenval, who gave the order for quelling it, seems vastly pleased with his work. He ordered, it seems, two pieces of cannon with the Swiss guards, and when preparations were made for firing them the mob took to their heels. It is therefore agreed that the Baron is a great general—and as the women say so it would be folly and madness to controvert their opinion. If I were a military man I should incline to think that two four-pounders could not be of much use in a city like this, where the streets are in general so narrow as only to permit two carriages to go abreast, where the same narrow streets are very crooked, and where the houses are in general four to six stories of stone walls. But as I am not versed in the art of war it is my duty to agree with the rest that a man must indeed be a great general who, with only 1,500 troops, infantry and cavalry, and, above all, with only two pieces of artillery, could disperse ten or fifteen thousand, chiefly spectators, but the seditious, to the amount of three thousand, completely armed with sticks and stones.”
“Mr. Jefferson to-day [May 3d] tells me of a billet for the audience to-morrow which Madame de Tessé reserves for Mr. Short, and which he will get for me as Short cannot be here. I urge on M. de Lafayette, who dines with us, the election of the Duke of Orleans and give my reasons for it. He tells me he will be elected. Mention to him a way of placing M. Necker advantageously, which he thinks would be very useful. Visit Madame de Chastellux, who is so kind as to bring me the form of the ceremonial of to-morrow from the Duchess of Orleans, and at the same time a message. If she can, will pay a visit. Madame de Chastellux proposes to obtain through her a ticket for the audience for me. M. le Maréchal de Ségur comes in. After some conversation, a message from the Duchess. She cannot visit this evening, being too much engaged in writing. I come home to go early to bed, as I must set off early to-morrow for Versailles.”
On Monday, May 4th, the grand procession of the deputies to the States-General formed and defiled through the streets of Versailles to the Church of St. Louis. The same costumes were enforced as in the last States-General, more than one hundred and seventy years before, and the same etiquette, but it was the last gala day of the old monarchy. All ranks and classes were astir this morning. All turned their faces toward Versailles—the goal of all their hopes. Morris was among the number. He says: “At six this morning I set off for Versailles. Am overtaken on the road by M. le Normand and M. La Caze. We alight and walk together through the streets till the procession commences, except a little while that I sit with Madame de Flahaut, who was so kind as to send and offer me part of a window. While we wait for the procession the conversation turns on the bal de l’opéra. M. de la Ville Blanche tells me a story somewhat characteristic of national manners. His wife and a lady, her friend, went thither together. After a while they separated, and, meeting again, conversed a long time, the lady being perfectly ignorant who the person was whom he had picked up, for she was with him. After the ball was over and all three had got home, they rallied the friend for being so taken in. She could give no other reason for being so much deceived, but that madame was in company with monsieur and therefore she could not possibly suppose it was his wife.”
While the lookers-on thoughtlessly talked, laughed, and joked, careless of all but the gay scene, the procession moved on. The nobles glittered in gorgeous dresses and orders. The bishops, superb in violet robes, were followed by their humble curés in modest garb. The Commons were in black mantles, very plain, and hats without feathers. Louis ⅩⅥ., beautiful Marie Antoinette, with her maids of honor and the brilliant Court, completed the picture. Morris says: “The procession is very magnificent, through a double row of tapestry. Neither the King nor Queen appears too well pleased. The former is repeatedly saluted as he passes along with the Vive le Roi, but the latter meets not a single acclamation. She looks, however, with contempt on the scene in which she acts a part and seems to say: ‘For the present I submit but I shall have my time.’ I find that my conjecture as to the Queen’s temper and the King’s is right, when I make a short visit in the salon of Madame de Chastellux later, and, as she is going to the Duchess, she tells me that the King was vexed that the Duke of Orleans* should walk as representative and not as prince of the blood, and also that his consort received no mark of public satisfaction. She was exceedingly hurt. Her conversation on meeting the Duchess of Orleans, who, as well as the Duke, had been repeatedly applauded: ‘Madame, il y a une demi-heure que je vous ai attendue chez moi.’ ‘Madame, en vous attendant ici (at the Church of Notre Dame), j’ai obéi à l’ordre qu’on m’a envoyé de la part du Roi.’ ‘Eh bien, madame, je n’ai point de place pour vous, comme vous n’êtes pas venue.’ ‘C’est juste, madame. Aussi, ai-je des voitures à moi qui m’attendent.’ I cannot help feeling the mortification the poor Queen meets with, for I see only the woman, and it seems unmanly to treat a woman with unkindness. Madame de Chastellux tells me a sprightly reply of Madame Adelaide, the King’s aunt, who, when the Queen in a fit of resentment, speaking of this nation, said, ‘Ces indignes Français!’ exclaimed, ‘Dites indignés, madame.’ The Duchess of Orleans could not get a billet for me, but the Duchesse de Bourbon has promised to try, and if she succeeds will send it to the Palais Royal this evening, and in that case Madame de Chastellux will receive it from the Duchess of Orleans and send it to me. Return home, receive a note from Mr. Jefferson assuring me that I can get a ticket from Madame de Tessé who has reserved one for Mr. Short, who is not arrived. This has been so fine a day that walking about without my hat has got my face scorched exceedingly, and both my forehead and eyes are inflamed.”
The 5th of May, the day long looked for, had come, and royalty welcomed the national estates with all pomp and splendor in the great Salle des Menus. The king, with his ministers of state in front, the queen and princes of the blood at his side, sat on a magnificent throne of purple and gold. Morris says he reached Versailles early, and at a little after eight got into the hall. “I sit there in a cramped situation till after twelve, during which time the different members are brought in and placed, one ‘bailliage’ after the other. When M. Necker comes in he is loudly and repeatedly clapped, and so is the Duke of Orleans; also a Bishop who has long lived in his diocese, and practised there what his profession enjoins. Another Bishop, who preached yesterday a sermon which I did not hear, is applauded, but those near me say that this applause is unmerited. An old man who refused to dress in the costume prescribed for the Tiers, and who appears in his farmer’s habit, receives a long and loud plaudit. M. de Mirabeau is hissed, though not loudly. The King at length arrives, and takes his seat; the Queen on his left, two steps lower than him. He makes a short speech, very proper, and well spoken or rather read. The tone and manner have all the fierté which can be expected or desired from the blood of the Bourbons. He is interrupted in the reading by acclamations so warm and of such lively affection that the tears start from my eyes in spite of myself. The Queen weeps or seems to weep, but not one voice is heard to wish her well. I would certainly raise my voice if I were a Frenchman; but I have no right to express a sentiment, and in vain solicit those who are near me to do it. After the King has spoken he takes off his hat, and when he puts it on again his nobles imitate his example. Some of the Tiers do the same, but by degrees they take them off again. The King then takes off his hat. The Queen seems to think it wrong, and a conversation seems to pass in which the King tells her he chooses to do it whether consistent or not consistent with the ceremonial; but I could not swear to this, being too far distant to see very distinctly, much less to hear. The nobles uncover by degrees, so that, if the ceremonial requires three manœuvres, the troops are not yet properly drilled. After the King’s speech and the covering and uncoverings, the Garde des Sceaux makes one much longer, but it is delivered in a very ungraceful manner, and so indistinctly that nothing can be judged of it by me—until it is in print. When he has done, M. Necker rises. He tries to play the orator, but he plays it very ill. The audience salute him with a long, loud plaudit. Animated by their approbation, he falls into action and emphasis, but a bad accent and an ungraceful manner destroy much of the effect which ought to follow from a composition written by M. Necker and spoken by M. Necker. He presently asks the King’s leave to employ a clerk, which being granted, the clerk proceeds in the lecture. It is very long. It contains much information and many things very fine, but it is too long, and has many repetitions and too much compliment, and what the French call emphase. The plaudits were loud, long, and incessant. These will convince the King and Queen of the national sentiment, and tend to prevent the intrigue against the present administration, at least for a while. After the speech is over the King rises to depart, and receives a long and affecting Vive le roi. The Queen rises, and to my great satisfaction she hears for the first time in several months the sound of, Vive la Reine. She makes a low courtesy and this produces a louder acclamation, and that a lower courtesy. As soon as I can disengage myself from the crowd, I find my servant and I go where my carriage put up, in order to proceed to Paris, being tolerably hungry and not inclined to ask anyone for a dinner, as I am convinced that more such requests will be made this day than will be agreeable to those who have dinners to bestow. I find that my horses are not harnessed, and that I am at a traiteur’s. I ask for dinner, and am shown into a room where there is a table d’hôte, and some of the Tiers are sat down to it. We enter into conversation, talk of the manner of voting. Tell them that I think when their new constitution is formed it will be well for them to vote par ordre, but in forming it to vote par tête. Those who best understand the thing incline to this opinion, but they are from Brittany, and one of them inveighs so strongly against the tyranny of the nobles, and attacks his brother so warmly, that the others come about, and one, a noble representing the Tiers, is so vociferous against his order that I am convinced he meant to rise by his eloquence, and finally will, I expect, vote with the opinion of the Court, let that be what it may. I rise, wish them very sincerely a perfect accord and good understanding with each other, and set off for Paris.”
A week later the weather grew hot, and the dust and dirt became unbearable; even the garden of the Palais Royal “is,” says Morris, “as dusty as a highway and absolutely intolerable.” Of the other intolerable nuisances of the Palais Royal, the lawlessness and vice, and the oratorical efforts of the agitators, Morris makes little mention; but evidently Paris had lost some of its attraction, and, glad to escape from it to the cool of the country, he went to the home of M. Le Coulteux. “The country through which I drive to reach Lucennes,” he says (May 9th), “is highly cultivated, and on the sides of the hills under the fruit trees I observe currant and gooseberry bushes, also grape vines. Probably this mode of cultivating the vine would succeed in America. M. Le Coulteux’s house was formerly the property of a prince of Condé, built in the old style but tolerably convenient, and the situation delicious. His mother and sister arrive in the evening, and his cousin De Canteleu. The Tiers continue to meet and to do nothing, as they are desirous of voting par tête, and the other orders do not join them. Sunday morning [May 10th] we drive to the aqueduct of Marli and ascend to the top. The view is exquisite—the Seine winding along through a valley very highly cultivated, innumerable villages, at a distance the domes of Paris on one side, the Palace of St. Germain, very near, on the other, a vast forest behind and the Palace of Marli in the front of it embowered in a deep shade, the bells from a thousand steeples at different distances murmuring through the air, the fragrance of the morning, the vernal freshness of the air—oh, how delicious! I stand this moment on a vast monument of human pride, and behold every gradation from wretchedness to magnificence in the scale of human existence. We breakfast between ten and eleven, and walk over the garden, and upon our return ride to Marli. The garden is truly royal, and yet pleasing, the house tolerable, the furniture indifferent. We are told by the Swiss that they are preparing for His Majesty’s reception. Return to the house of M. L. Le Coulteux and dress. On entering the salon our company is increased by the representatives of Normandy. We had already received an accession of a banker and his two sisters at breakfast. At dinner we have a political conversation which I continue with the Normans after dinner, and we finally agree in our opinions. Discuss, by way of an episode, the propriety of an India company. This afternoon we visit the Pavilion of Madame du Barry.* This temple is consecrated to the immorality of Louis Quinze. It is in fine taste and the finish is exquisite; the view most delightful, and yet very extensive. In returning from thence we see Madame du Barry. She is long passed the day of beauty, and is accompanied by an old coxcomb, the Prévôt des Marchands.* They bend their course towards the Pavilion, perhaps to worship on those altars which the sovereign raised. From the Pavilion we ascend the hill and go between the house and the fishpond, which smells abominably, to see the villagers dance. Returned to the house I have a talk with Laurent Le Coulteux on the subject of the purchase of the debt due to France. He wishes me to have an interview with M. Necker. This matter has hitherto met with great obstacles and difficulties, from the peculiar temper of M. Necker, who is what may be called a cunning man, and therefore those acquainted with him do not choose to come forward at once openly, because they are certain that he would first assume the merit of having previously known everything which they communicate, and, secondly, would take advantage of such communications to defeat their object if he could get by any means any better terms from others to whom he should start the idea. To deal with such a person requires caution and delicacy. Laurent says he cannot get M. Necker to finish the business they already have to do with him, but will, if I please, get me an interview with him. He thinks it must be managed merely as a matter of finance, in which I own that my opinion has from the first accorded with his. I take M. Laurent with me, and on our return to Paris he vents a good deal of ill humor on M. Necker, who has kept him a long time in play and now, as he suspects, (I believe with truth) keeps De Canteleu in the same position. He tells me that their object is to get an order for money acknowledgedly due. He has an invitation to dine with M. Necker and is then, if the conversation be turned upon that topic, to recommend to M. Necker an interview with me. After a pleasant ride of two hours we reach Paris.”
Back again in Paris, the old routine commenced, writing, receiving innumerable visitors, and making calls in return. “In the evening [May 11th] I go,” he says, “and sit with Madame de Chastellux. She receives a message from the Duchess and sends her answer that I am with her, and have charged her with a commission, etc. This is to make my thanks for her Royal Highness’s kind attention in sending to Versailles for a ticket of admission to the opening of the States-General. In a few minutes she comes in, tells me that she came on purpose to see me, observes that I have been out of town, hopes to see me frequently at Madame de Chastellux’s, is sorry the present visit must be so short, but is going with Madame de Chastellux to take a ride and make some visits. To all this I can make no reply, but by look and manner expressive of deep humility and a grateful sense of the honor done to me. In fact, my tongue has never been sufficiently practised in this jargon, and always asks my heart what it shall say, and while this last, after deliberation, refers to my head for counsel, the proper moment has passed. As I think I understand her Royal Highness, and am tolerably safe on the side of vanity, there remains but one port to guard, and that is shut up. She has perhaps the handsomest arm in France, and from habit takes off her glove, and has always occasion to touch some part of her face so as to show the hand and arm to advantage. Call on Madame Dumolley, who is at chess. Madame Cabarus* comes in. I tell her that it is the fault of La Caze that I have not paid my respects at her Hotel. She tells me I need no introducer. She has a beautiful hand, and very fine eyes. These in a very intelligible manner say that she has no objection to receiving the assurance how fine they are. She goes soon to Madrid, and will be glad to see me both here and there. Slip away without staying to supper and return home. The weather is extremely warm and like to continue so. The spring of Europe, which has been much vaunted by the natives from affection, and the prejudices which it occasions, and by travellers from the vanity of appearing to have seen or tasted or smelt or felt something purer or newer or sweeter or softer than their neighbors—the spring of Europe has reduced itself, this year at least, to one week, namely, the three last days of April and the first four of May, and in this short spring Parker, by changing his waistcoat, has taken the rheumatism.”
Thursday, May 14th, Morris spent at Versailles; called on several of his fair friends, and “in my way about the town,” he declares, “I wander to the Queen’s apartments, which are furnished in very good taste. Pass from thence to the chapel, in which there is just as much devotion as I expected. Call on Madame de Ségur and sit a while at her toilet. She says she is heartily tired of Versailles, which I believe. She shows me a declaration of the clergy of Paris—highly monarchical, and which will do them no good. After leaving her, a shower of rain arising, I take refuge in the antechamber of M. de Montmorin, who asks me if I am come to dine with him, to which I reply in the negative. He tells me I must come some day, which I promise to do. Dine with M. de Lafayette—we have here the politics of the day. Call on Madame de Montvoisseux, who asks me to go with her party to the Queen’s gardens at Petit Trianon. We walk about the garden a good deal. Royalty has here endeavored at great expense to conceal itself from its own eye. But the attempt is vain. A dairy furnished with the porcelain of Sèvres is a semblance too splendid for rural life. The adjoining muddy pond, on the other hand, but poorly resembles a lake. On the whole this garden is handsome, and yet the money applied in making it has been but badly spent, and would be not badly spared. I observe a number of representatives to the States-General walking about in it. Perhaps there is not one of them who thinks of what ought to strike them all, that this expense and others like this have occasioned their meeting. Return pretty late to town and sup with Capellis and his fair aunt, Madame de Flahaut. Another lady is there, who derives much pleasure from the sound of her own voice. The day has been extremely hot; a shower in the evening does not render the air much cooler.”
“This morning [May 16th] is windy, cold, rainy, and disagreeable; but in consistence with my arrangements in concert with M. Le Coulteux, I set off for Lucennes, and arrive there a little after two o’clock. He and his family have been expected for two days, but none are come, and as the cook has not made his appearance it is evident that he will not be out to dinner. Go to a tavern where, with very promising appearances, the utmost the house can afford is a mackerel, a pigeon, fresh eggs, and asparagus. The first has probably been too long on his travels and acquired too much of the haut goῦt for a plain American. This circumstance occasions the death of the solitary pigeon, who is thereby released from the confinement in which he was starving. The cookery and the provisions are worthy of each other—so that this day at least I shall run no risk of indigestion. Mine host, in a laudable zeal for the honor of his house, makes up in the bill what was deficient in the dinner. By this means the dishes make a very respectable figure. The poor little pigeon is rated at something more than a shilling, and the bunch of spindled asparagus at about three shillings, which is not unreasonable—considering the eggs are at about threepence apiece. After this repast, go to Malmaison, where all is topsy-turvy, a strong smell of paint in the house, and added to that a dish of cabbage and vinegar boiling, which gives another smell not a whit more pleasant. Walk over the garden, which is agreeable. Madame Dumolley takes me in her ‘whiskey,’ and we have a mighty pleasant ride in one of the Royal parks. I take tea with Madame, and return to town after a very pleasant day.”
Going a few days later to call on Madame de Suze, he found her “in a scene of great distress”—which he describes with a touch, at least, of humor. “Her lapdog being very ill, the pauvre bête has suffered now for a long time. At first it had the maladie napolitaine; for this it was sent to the doctor of dogs, who by a course of mercurials eradicated this disease, and returned him as complete a skeleton as ever came out of the powdering tub. The kind mistress, by her care and assiduity, soon brought him up to a tolerable embonpoint, when, lo! another indisposition. This is très grave, et voilà Madame, la fille de chambre et un des valets, qui ne s’occupent que de cela. At three different times in my short visit: ‘Je vous demande bien pardon, M. Morris—mais c’est une chose si désolante que de voir souffrir comme ça une pauvre bête.’ ‘Ah! Madame, ne me faites point de vos excuses, je vous en prie, pour des soins si aimables, aussi merités que toutes vos attentions.’ At length, by peeping into his back, she discovers a little maggot. ‘Ah, mon Dieu! Mais, voyez donc!’ I leave them to go to dine with M. la Bretéche. We have the envoy of Saxe-Gotha and M. de Durfort of the guards. After dinner, walk to the pavilion and sit some time. The tutor of the son of M. de Durfort, who was with her husband some time at Florence, gives us a long account of Italy, during which. I am so unfortunate as to fall asleep, sitting next to Madame. Among other things, he mentions the want of cleanliness among the Italians as very shocking, and speaks of it with the same air of horror which some people put on when they notice a similar defect in the French.”
[*]Clermont de Tonnerre was elected by the noblesse to the States-General in 1789. Perished in the massacre of August 10, 1792.
[*]One of the partners in the firm of Le Coulteux de Cantaleu.
[*]Baron de Breteuil, said by Madame Campan to have been the cause of the scandal and result of the affair of the diamond necklace, because of his hatred for the Cardinal de Rohan. The Abbé Vermond threw the entire blame on him. In August, 1789, he was nominated to fill M. Necker’s place in the Finances.
[†]Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Prince of Benevento, a celebrated French diplomatist and wit, born at Paris, February 13, 1754. An accident made him lame for life; and, in consequence, he was required to resign his birthright and enter the church, which profession was very distasteful to him. In 1788 he became Bishop of Autun, and in 1789 member of the States-General, and, enlisting in the service of liberty and equality, he joined the Third Estate. He was proscribed by Robespierre, and took refuge in the United States. In 1799 he co-operated with Bonaparte in the revolution of the 18th Brumaire. He was distinguished for his sarcastic wit and exquisite tact, his coolness and sobriety, and “masterly inactivity.” He resigned from the cabinet of Louis ⅩⅧ. because he would not sign the humiliating treaty which was concluded with the Allied Powers. He died at Paris in May, 1838, leaving memoirs to be published thirty years after his death.
[*]The Duc de Vauguyon had been the governor of the sons of the Dauphin, who became, respectively, Louis Ⅵ., Louis ⅩⅧ., and Charles Ⅹ.
[*]Duke of Orleans, cousin of the king and afterward the celebrated revolutionary Philippe Égalité. Never a favorite of the queen, he was tolerated at Court only on account of his wife.
[*]After Louis ⅩⅤ, died the young King Louis ⅩⅥ pensioned Madame du Barry, besides allowing her the free use of her ill-gotten wealth. She was excluded from appearing at Court and virtually exiled from Paris to the “Château aux Dames.” His forbearance was noticed by her following as more than could have been expected by her, owing to the levity with which she had always treated the Dauphin.
[*]The Prévôts des Marchands were officers of the highest antiquity. The appointment was made by the king, sometimes for two years, or renewed every year at his pleasure, and their jurisdiction extended over the revenues of the Hôtel de Ville, the quays and wharves of the river.
[*]Madame Cabarus was the wife of Count François Cabarus, who in 1782 established the bank of San Carlos, at Madrid. Cabarus was arrested in 1790, but was released, and in 1797 appointed Minister Plenipotentiary at the Congress of Rastadt.