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CHAPTER V. - 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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Grain under convoy. Tumult in Paris. Fourth of July dinner. Visit to Romainville. Bread scarce. Paris gay. The administration routed and Necker banished. M. de Narbonne. Mobs in the streets. Armorers’ shops broken open. Scenes in the Palais Royal Gardens. Terrible night in Paris. The Hôtel de Force broken into. Morris dons the green bow. No carriages allowed in the streets. Affairs at Versailles. A cry for arms. Carriages stopped and searched. The Bastille taken. Madame de Flahaut’s salon. M. de Launay. Carnival at Versailles. The Bastille in ruins. The King comes to Paris and dons the red and blue cockade. The procession.
In the beginning of July of this eventful year wheat was scarcer than ever. Some towns had none at all, and such grain as could be bought was musty. But even this bad bread was the object of envy to starving creatures, who robbed the fortunate possessors of it on the high-roads. “The grain supply of Paris must be guarded,” Morris says, “or it would be robbed and exhausted before reaching the town. While I was out this day I met a convoy of grain coming into town under the guard of a party of troops. For several weeks, all of the grain and stores brought to this town has been escorted in like manner. I hear of an intended attack on the Hôtel de Force.”
The evening of July 3d Morris spent with M. Le Coulteux, discussing the offer of the farm to take a certain amount of the tobacco about which there was so much trouble. “Cantaleu, who is there, is full of politics,” he says, “and tells me I am frequently quoted by the aristocrats as being of their party. This leads to an explanation of my opinions, in which we perfectly agree, and he appears glad of it. The conciliatory point is an abolition of the parlements, which I think necessary to the establishment of freedom, justice, and order.”
Surrounded by tumult and disorder on his own national holiday, Morris endeavored to find some consolation in reminding himself of the blessings of peace, and in a letter to a friend he spoke of the day as “demanding our filial acknowledgments—a day now at length auspicious, since by the establishment of our new Constitution we have the fair prospect of enjoying those good things for which we have had so hard a contest.” Mr. Jefferson celebrated the day by giving a dinner to the many Americans in Paris, among whom were “M. and Madame de Lafayette. We have,” Morris says, “some political conversation with him after dinner, in which I urge him to preserve, if possible, some constitutional authority to the body of nobles, as the only means of preserving any liberty for the people. The current is setting so strong against the noblesse that I apprehend their destruction, in which will, I fear, be involved consequences most pernicious, though little attended to in the present moment.”
It was a continuously cold and uncomfortable season which Morris encountered this year in France. “Until this month,” he wrote in July to Mr. Carmichael, “fire has been a companion not only agreeable but even necessary. So much for that charming vernal season of Europe which I have often heard celebrated by many of our countrymen, whose principal merit lies in having twice crossed the Atlantic. … You ask me if Mr. Jefferson is gone to America. He is not, but is ready to depart at a moment’s warning, having staid some time expecting his congé, but is still in the same expectation. I conclude that it will not be expedited until the arrangement of the ministerial departments shall have been completed. Probably the Secretary of Foreign Affairs will decline acting until appointed under the new government. It is probable also that the question of the congé will not be agitated till another question is determined, viz., who shall act here in the interim; and also I doubt not but the secretary, Mr. Short, will be empowered. You suppose that the minister has introduced me to the Corps Diplomatique. I hinted that matter to him shortly after my arrival. He told me they were not worth my acquaintance. I have a set which I have made myself, and these are not, you will easily conceive, among the worst company of Paris. As to the ministerial dinners, I have not been at them. It has never been proposed to me. The ministers, you know, give no invitations themselves, and we are bashful. By the bye, I some time since went and asked a dinner of the Comte de Montmorin, who very kindly assured me at parting that I must in his house consider myself perfectly at home, and this you know from him is not an unmeaning compliment. I am tout bête that I have not since profited by these kind assurances. But what can I do? Versailles is the most triste sêjour on earth, and though I am tempted by the strong passion of curiosity to go thither and attend the debates of the États-Généraux, I have not yet prevailed on myself to do it. I believe no man ever made less use of strong recommendations to ministerial people. Probably I am wrong, but I cannot help it. Apropos, do you know Lafayette? Should you reply by asking me, Whence so strange a question? I answer, in the words of the great Montesquiou, ‘My object is not to make men read but to make them think.’ There are great intrigues against the administration here, but hitherto without any effect. I have steadily combated the violence and excess of those persons who, either inspired with an enthusiastic love of freedom, or prompted by sinister designs, are disposed to drive everything to extremity. Our American example has done them good, but, like all novelties, Liberty runs away with their discretion, if they have any. They want an American constitution, with the exception of a king instead of a president, without reflecting that they have not American citizens to support that constitution. Mankind see distant things in a false point of light, and judge either more or less favorably than they ought—this is an old observation; another as old, perhaps, but which all are not in the position to feel, is, that we try everything by the standard of preconceived notions, so that there is an impossibility almost of knowing by description a distant people or country. Whoever, therefore, desires to apply in the practical science of government those rules and forms which prevail and succeed in a foreign country, must fall into the same pedantry with our young scholars just fresh from an university, who would fain bring everything to a Roman standard. Different constitutions of government are necessary to the different societies on the face of this planet. Their difference of position is in itself a powerful cause—their manners, their habits. The scientific tailor, who should cut after Grecian or Chinese models, would not have many customers either in London or Paris; and those who look to America for their political forms are not unlike the tailors in the Island of Laputa, who, as Gulliver tells us, always take measure with a quadrant. He tells us, indeed, what one would naturally expect from such a process, that the people are seldom fitted. The King, who long since declared for the people, has since been wavering. He is an honest man, and wishes really to do good, but he has not either genius or education to show the way towards that good which he desires. In the contest between the representatives of the people and of the nobles, he has by those about him been induced to give support to the latter; but he came forward too late, and not in the proper manner. The result is that he has retreated, and the nobles have been obliged to give way. … The noblesse, who at this day possess neither the force, the wealth, nor the talents of the nation, have rather opposed pride than argument to their assailants. Hugging the dear privileges of centuries long elapsed, they have clamored about the Court, while their adversaries have possessed themselves fully of the public confidence everywhere. Knowing and feeling the force of that situation, they have advanced with a boldness which, to those unacquainted with all the facts, has looked like temerity. But this hardihood has imposed—those who are at the head of the opposition to them are not possessed of talents or of virtue. The chief has not even courage, without which you know that in revolutions there is nothing.
“The French troops, as far as can be ascertained, would not serve against their countrymen, and the foreign troops are not sufficiently numerous to make any serious impression. The people of this city are going (by that invincible instinct which produces in every animal the conduct peculiar to his situation) in the same road which marked the aurora of American opposition. Three months ago the sight of a soldier excited awe—now they speak of attacking whole regiments, and in effect there are not infrequently some scuffles with the foreign troops. Thus opinion, which is everything, becomes daily fortified. While I write I consider the sovereignty of this country as being effectually lodged in the hands of the Assemblée Nationale, for you will observe that this name is assumed instead of États-Généraux, which is tantamount to an American legislature resolving itself into a convention. They mean immediately to form a constitution, and I have no doubt but that they will obtain the King’s consent. The partisans of the ancient establishments have contrived to have a very large body of troops assembled in this neighborhood, but, if I conjecture rightly, those troops will soon be dispersed. The National Assembly have already marked their disapprobation, but the matter will not stop here, and sooner or later the King must send them away. Indeed, I am induced to believe that this measure will cause the kingdom to be cleared of foreign troops, for, not being able to rely on the French regiments, they have selected principally the foreigners. The probable object of those who are at the bottom of the business is to surprise some order from His Majesty’s fears, which are now continually excited, so that he is constantly the sport of apprehensions. But they have a more difficult and dangerous business than they are at all aware of. The Assembly have determined that all taxes shall cease, when they separate, except such as they continue to impose. This provides for as long a term of existence as they may choose to take, and if dispersed, France will certainly refuse to pay. An army will never break a general combination to that effect; so that either sooner or later they must submit, and every show of authority now will weaken it without producing any other effect. Such, then, is the state of this country, in which I think the crisis is past, without having been perceived, and now a free constitution will be the certain result. If they have the good sense to give the nobles as such some share in the national authority, that constitution will probably endure; but otherwise it will degenerate into a pure monarchy, or become a vast republic. A democracy—can that last? I think not—I am sure not, unless the whole people are changed. In any event, however, of the business it bids fair to change the political face of Europe. But whither am I going?”
“Walk to-day [July 8th] in the Champs Élysées, where I meet Mr. Appleton and Mr. Jefferson, who tell me the news of Versailles. There will be on Saturday night 25,000 men in and about Paris. Some talk of a Séance Royale on Monday, but this not founded. Go to M. Le Coulteux’s. They have sad news: that the États-Généraux are to be dissolved, a bankruptcy declared, and the pay of the troops decreased, etc. While at dinner De Norraye comes in from Versailles and assures the company, from the mouth of M. de Montmorin, that there is to be no Séance Royale on Monday.”
The next day (July 9th) Morris was in the hands of the doctor, “who says I must stay eight days longer in Paris. He is certain I shall soon be very well. I should more readily adopt this opinion if I were anywhere else than in so large and foul-smelling a city as Paris. As soon as I can get my business done I am off directly for London. Visit Mr. Jefferson, who shows me his letter to M. de Lafayette on the subject of M. Mirabeau’s misinformation to the States-General. To my surprise, it contains nothing like what M. de la Norraye yesterday at dinner told the company it did contain, having had it at M. de Montmorin’s. An excellent lesson this, to be cautious of believing.” A note this morning from Madame de Flahaut summoned Morris to her apartment during the important and mysterious ceremony of the toilet. Here usually in attendance was the abbé, without whom the hour of the toilet was not complete, who told the latest scandal and read the latest brochures. At this hour, poetically called la jeunesse de la journée, the arrangements of the day were made—the affiche of the theatre was examined, graceful scented notes of tenderness were received and sent, gowns to be inspected and flowers to be sold, temptations in the way of laces and articles de luxe—all found their way into my lady’s boudoir during the hour of the toilet. And her caprices and fascinations charmed the particular favorite who was admitted to the intimacy of this informal morning hour. There were several visitors with Madame de Flahaut on this occasion, and, a pleasant chat ended, Morris drove to Romainville to bid adieu to the Maréchal de Castries and his daughter-in-law. “Madame Lebrun is there, the famous painter, who is as pleasant a companion as she is artist; Madame de — the friend of the Vicomte. We walk about the garden. The Maréchal very kindly asks me to stay at his country-house for the re-establishment of my health. Approaching the house we find Mesdames de Ségur and Chastellux, and are presently joined by M. de Puisignieu. He assures me that the scarcity of corn is excessive, which he is the better able to judge of as his regiment of Chasseurs are employed in the escort of provisions and protection of grain now standing. Take a walk with Madame de Ségur and converse on the situation of their public affairs, which she understands as well as anybody. Take leave, with promises to return speedily. Promise also to write to her. Return to town. This day has been hot. I observe that the potatoes which I see growing are what we consider the worst kind, at least if one may judge from their tops. I go to the club when I return to town and hear that the King, in answer to the address of the États respecting the troops, has told them that he had no intentions that will affect them, and if their apprehensions continue he will remove the session of the States to Soissons or Noyon and go himself to Compiègne. This is an artful reply. If he can get them far from Paris he will weaken that impulse which at present creates such alarm. But the evil lies deeper than his counsellors are aware of, and the business now broached must have its complete course. While at the club receive a message from Madame de Flahaut, who begs I will come to supper to tell her the news. Go. A partie carrée, when I arrive and make the fifth. Stay late, and reconduct an abbé, one of her favorites. He is hunch-backed, and far from an Adonis in other respects; it must therefore be a moral attachment. This day has been hot, but the evening is pleasant and I feel no small pleasure to smell the ripening grain. There are now, in and about this city, above a million of human creatures whose only resource for bread is in the vigilance and attention of government, whose utmost exertions, however, can but just keep pace with the necessity.”
Daily this great necessity grew more terrible—the great army of the unemployed increased and clamored for bread. Rumor announced the approach of a large army from Versailles to the capital, and that the Baron de Breteuil had said, “If it is necessary to burn Paris, burn Paris.” Gayety meanwhile reigned at Paris. Fêtes and dinners enlivened the frequenters of the Palais Royal Gardens, and a ball in the Champs Élysées kept up the spirits of the fishwomen and the dwellers in the Faubourg Saint Antoine. Everything and everybody in Paris seemed ready for civil war. In the council-room Necker and his friends saw the king sleep his false sleep, which was a ruse of His Majesty to cover his embarrassment, and they shrewdly suspected what it meant. July 12th, Morris dined with the Maréchal de Castries. “As I am going away he takes me aside to inform me that M. Necker is no longer in place. He is much affected at this intelligence, and, indeed, so am I. Urge him to go immediately to Versailles. He says he will not, that they have undoubtedly taken all their measures before this moment, and therefore he must be too late. I tell him he is not too late to warn the King of his danger, which is infinitely greater than he imagines; that his army will not fight against the nation, and that if he listens to violent councils the nation will undoubtedly be against him; that the sword has fallen imperceptibly from his hands, and that the sovereignty of the nation is in the Assemblée Nationale. He makes no precise answer to this, but is very deeply affected. Call, agreeable to my promise, on Madame de Flahaut; learn that the whole administration is routed out and Necker banished. Much alarm here. Paris begins to be in commotion, and from the invalid guard of the Louvre a few of the nobility take a drum and beat to arms. M. de Narbonne, the friend of Madame de Staël, considers a civil war as inevitable, and is about to join his regiment, being, as he says, in a conflict between the dictates of his duty and of his conscience. I tell him that I know of no duty but that which conscience dictates. I presume his conscience will dictate to join the strongest side. The little Abbé Bertrand, after sallying out in a fiacre, returns frightened because of a large mob in the Rue St. Honoré, and presently comes in another abbé, who is of the parliament, and who, rejoicing at the change, is confoundedly frightened at the commotions. I calm the fears of Madame de Flahaut, whose husband is mad, and in a printed list, it seems, of the furious aristocrats. Offer to conduct the abbé safely home, which offer Bertrand accepts of. His terror as we go along is truly diverting. As we approach the Rue St. Honoré, his imagination magnifies the ordinary passengers into a vast mob, and I can scarcely persuade him to trust his eyes instead of his fears. Having set him down, I depart for Mr. Jefferson’s. In riding along the boulevards, all at once the carriages and horses and foot passengers turn about and pass rapidly. Presently after we meet a body of cavalry, with their sabres drawn and coming half speed. After they have passed up a little way they stop. When we come to the Place Louis Quinze, observe the people, to the number of perhaps an hundred, picking up stones, and on looking back find that the cavalry are returning. Stop at the angle to see the fray, if any. The people take post among the stones which lie scattered about the whole place, being then hewn for the bridge now building. The officer at the head of the party is saluted by a stone, and immediately turns his horse in a menacing manner toward the assailant. But his adversaries are posted in ground where the cavalry cannot act. He pursues his route, and the pace is soon increased to a gallop, amid a shower of stones. One of the soldiers is either knocked from his horse or the horse falls under him. He is taken prisoner, and at first ill-treated. They fired several pistols, but without effect; probably they were not even charged with ball. A party of the Swiss Guards are posted in the Champs Élysées with cannon. Proceed to Mr. Jefferson’s. He tells me that M. Necker received yesterday about noon a letter from the King, by the hands of M. de la Luzerne, in which he orders him to leave the kingdom; and at the same time M. de la Luzerne is desired to exact a promise that he will not mention the matter to anybody. M. Necker dines, and proposes to Madame Necker a visit to a female friend in the neighborhood. On the route he communicates the intelligence, and they go to a country-seat, make the needful arrangements, and depart. M. de Montmorin immediately resigned, and is now in Paris. In returning from Mr. Jefferson’s I am turned off to the left by the vedette posted on the road to the Place Louis Quinze. Go to the club. A gentleman just from Versailles gives us an account of the new administration. The people are employed breaking open the armorers’ shops, and presently a large body of the Gardes Françaises appear, with bayonets fixed, in the garden, mingled with the mob, some of whom are also armed. These poor fellows have passed the Rubicon with a witness. ‘Success or a halter’ must now be their motto. I think the Court will again recede, and if they do, all further efforts will be idle; if they do not, a civil war is among the events most probable. If the representatives of the Tiers have formed a just estimate of their constituents, in ten days all France will be in a commotion. The little affray which I have witnessed will probably be magnified into a bloody battle before it reaches the frontiers, and in that case an infinity of corps bourgeois will march to the relief of the capital. They had better gather in the harvest.”
In the beautiful garden of the Palais Royal, among the flowers and fountains, the news-venders and the gamblers—in this place, which had been described by the anti-revolutionists as the image of the Chimera, with the head of a beautiful prostitute, the tongue of a serpent, the hands of a harpy, with eyes throwing forth flames and a mouth distilling poisonous and patriotic words—all of revolutionary Paris had assembled this Sunday, the 12th of July. The news of Necker’s dismissal came, and was greeted with a cry of rage. Camille Desmoulins, mounted on a table, cried, “Aux armes!” and announced that the Court meditated a “St. Bartholomew of patriots.” Women distributed green cockades, the favorite color of the hour, and at midnight the big bells of Notre Dame and of the Hôtel de Ville rang out their alarm. That night, in Paris, none but children slept. At Versailles the day passed in anxiety; communication with Paris was cut off, and when the Assembly began its sitting, the morning of the 13th, Versailles was still in ignorance of events at Paris. But they knew that the old ministry had been ordered to quit the Court, and that in the new one they had small confidence.
The next morning Morris hears from Martin, his servant, that the Hôtel de Force is broken into, and all the prisoners liberated. “Presently after,” he continues, “a letter is brought in enclosing one for me from Mr. Nesbitt, who is at the Temple and wishes to see me; but my cocher tells me he cannot bring my carriage, having already been stopped and turned back. In effect, the little city of Paris is in as great a tumult as any could wish. They are getting arms wherever they can find any; seize 600 barrels of powder in a boat on the Seine; break into the Monastery of St. Lazare, and find a store of grain which the holy brotherhood has laid in. Immediately it is put into carts and sent to the market, and in every cart a friar. The Garde-Meuble du Roi is attacked, and the arms are delivered up to prevent worse consequences. These, however, are more curious than useful. But the detail of the variety of this day’s deeds would be endless. I dine at home, and after dinner go to the Louvre, having previously ornamented my hat with a green bow in honor of the Tiers, for this is the fashion of the day, which everybody is obliged to comply with who means to march in peace. It is somewhat whimsical that this day of violence and tumult is the only one in which I have dared to walk the streets, but as no carriages are abroad but the fiacres, I do not hazard being crushed, and apprehend nothing from the populace. Madame de Flahaut is under a great apprehension, which I endeavor to appease. Capellis comes in, and when we are about to set off for the Palais Royal, we meet on the stairs monsieur, from Versailles, who tells us the news. Go to club. Sit a while chatting on the state of public affairs. M. de Moreton tells me that the present ministers are a set of rascals and tyrants, that he knows them perfectly well, and one of them, it seems, is his relation, for whom he exhibits no partiality. After a while Monsieur de —— arrives from Versailles, and tells us that the fashion at Court is to believe that the disturbances at Paris are very trifling. The National Assembly have advised the King to recall the former ministry, and to permit the Assembly to send a deputation to Paris to recommend the forming des corps bourgeois for the maintenance of order in the city. To the first, he replied that the executive power is his, and he will appoint whom he pleases to be his ministers; and he disapproves the second measure. In consequence of this, the Assembly make some sharp resolutions, whose purport seems to be the devoting to public infamy the present administration, and declaring His Majesty’s advisers to be guilty of high treason. Thus the Court and popular party are pitted against each other. In ten days I think it will be decided whether the retreat of the monarch will be immediate and only ruin his counsellors, or whether it will be remote and his own ruin involved in that of his ministers. Some horses are brought into the Palais Royal. We go to see what they are, but cannot learn. We are told, however, by one of the orators that they have received a deputation from the two regiments quartered at St. Denis, offering to join the Tiers if they will come out and receive them! My companions urge them by all means to go. But this manœuvre must at least be deferred till to-morrow. The leaders here, I think, err in not bringing about immediately some pretty severe action between the foreign and national troops. The consequences would, in my opinion, be decisive.”
“Arms and bread!” is the cry on Tuesday, the 14th. The wine and bread shops have been pillaged; now arms are wanted. The mob rushed to the Hôtel de Ville, hearing from an elector, the Abbé d’Ormesson, that arms were stored there; then to the Hôpital des Invalides, and forced the garrison to give up arms. Then came the cry, “We want the Bastille.” Nearly 80,000 men, with scarcely the semblance of a leader, had been got together. A horde of these men, armed and desperate, filled the avenues leading to this fortress, prison, and tomb. Morris mentions being stopped twice while driving, “to see if there be any arms in my carriage. While I am visiting M. Le Coulteux a person comes to announce the taking of the Bastille, the Governor of which is beheaded, and the Prévôt des Marchands is killed and also beheaded. They are carrying the heads in triumph through the city. The carrying of this citadel is among the most extraordinary things I have met with. It cost the assailants 60 men, it is said. The Hôtel Royal des Invalides was forced this morning, and the cannon and small arms, etc., brought off. The citizens are by these means well armed, at least here are the materials for about 30,000 to be equipped with, and that is a sufficient army. I find that the information received last night as to the arrête of the Assemblée Nationale is not correct. They have only declared that the last administration carry with them the regret of the chambers that they will persist in insisting on the removal of the troops, and that His Majesty’s advisers, whatever their rank and station, are guilty of all the consequences which may ensue. Yesterday it was the fashion at Versailles not to believe that there were any disturbances at Paris. I presume that this day’s transactions will induce a conviction that all is not perfectly quiet. From M. Le Coulteux’s go to visit Madame de Flahaut, who is in much anxiety. Her husband, she tells me, is foolhardy, and she apprehends much for his safety. I am present at a family scene in which she plays her part extremely well, and appeals to me for my opinion on one of the points. I answer that in discussions of such a delicate nature it is a rule with me not to interfere. The question is whether he should leave the city. I advise him, if he does, to go at noonday, etc. While he is sitting with us, madame having on her lap an écritoire, by way of exciting his curiosity I scribble some wretched lines, which he asks me to translate for him. Nothing is easier; but, unluckily, one of the ideas is not calculated to please. It was thus:
She tells me that he looked rather foolish at the declaration of being too old to excite a passion. I assure her my object was only to excite curiosity. She observes that I succeeded in my wishes, but that it was ridiculous in monsieur to ask an explanation, because I could have given him the same translation if the lines had been entirely different.”
During the hours of fright, tumult, and horror in Paris, when the body of De Launay, after being kicked and dragged through the gutter and his head carried on a pike through the streets in triumph, was left lying, with many other victims, in the Place de Grève, the Comte d’Artois at Versailles held high carnival in the orangery and, with dances, songs, feasting, and wine in abundance, entertained the foreign soldiery. The morning of the 15th, Morris says, “La Caze comes from Le Normand to tell me that it is impossible to do business this day, which, I fear, is true enough. He also tells me the King is coming to town this day [July 15th], which I do not believe a word of. Dress and wait long for my carriage. Receive a message from Madame de Flahaut. Walk to the Louvre, and order my carriage to follow; later I go to Mr. Jefferson’s, and am stopped near the Pont Royal and obliged to turn into the Rue St. Honoré. Stopped again at the Church St. Roch, and a number of foolish questions asked. Colonel Gardner comes to me; is very happy to be in Paris at the present moment. So am I. Considers, as I do, the capture of the Bastille an instance of great intrepidity. A few paces from the church I am again stopped, and a vast deal of self-sufficiency in the officer brings on an altercation with my coachman. As everything is turned into this street and interruptions of the kind I experience are so frequent, the embarras is very great. I therefore turn back, and come to the Hôtel to dine. While I am at dinner La Caze comes in. He contradicts his news of this morning, but says a deputy is just arrived from the States-General who brings an account that the King has retreated, etc. This I expected. We shall see. Go, according to promise, to Madame de Flahaut’s, with her nephew and the Abbé Bertrand; we proceed along the quay to the Tuileries, walk a little, and sit some time. She wants to see the deputies of the Assemblée Nationale come to town, owns that it is foolish, but says that all women have the same folly. There is much réjouissance in town. After placing madame at home, her nephew and I go to the club. I send away my carriage, and presently after receive a message from her desiring the loan of it. Send the servant after the coachman, but it is too late. His horses are put up, and he is patrolling as one of the garde bourgeoise. The Duc d’Aguillon* and Baron de Menou† are at the club, both of them deputies of the noblesse. I learn through and from them the secret history of the revolution of this day. Yesterday evening an address was presented to the Assembly, to which His Majesty returned an answer by no means satisfactory. The Queen, Comte d’Artois, and Duchesse de Polignac had been all day tampering with two regiments, who were made almost drunk, and every officer was presented to the King, who was induced to give promises, money, etc., to these regiments. They shouted ‘Vive la Reine, ‘Vive le Comte d’Artois,’ ‘Vive la Duchesse de Polignac,’ and their music came and played under Her Majesty’s windows. In the meantime, Maréchal de Broglie was tampering in person with the artillery. The plan was to reduce Paris to famine, and to take two hundred members of the National Assembly prisoners. But they found that the troops would not serve against their country. Of course these plans could not be carried into effect. They took care, however, not to inform the King of all the mischiefs. At two o’clock in the morning, the Duc de Liancourt went into his bed-chamber and waking him, told him all; told him that he pawned his life on the truth of his narration, and that unless he changed his measures speedily all was lost. The King took his determination. The Bishop d’Autun (they say) was called on to prepare un discours, which he did. The orders were given for dispersing the troops, and at the meeting of the Assembly the King, accompanied by his two brothers and the captain of the guard, came in and made his speech. This produced very enthusiastic emotions of joy, and he was reconducted to the Château by the whole Assembly, and by all the inhabitants of Versailles. They tell me that the Baron de Besenval* is dénoncé by the Assemblée Nationale, which appellation the King recognizes in his discours; that they will pursue the present ministry. I give my opinion that after what is passed the Comte d’Artois should not be suffered to stay in France. In this they agree. They say that they will ‘faire le procès’ of the Maréchal de Broglie, and probably of the Baron de Breteuil. Sup with them, and, the claret being better than any I have tasted in France, I give them as a toast the liberty of the French nation and of the city of Paris, which are drunk with very good will. Return home. This has been a very fine day. It is said that the King is to be in town at 11 o’clock to-morrow. But for what? Bon mot: The Baron de Besenval is dénoncé on account of some letters he had written which were intercepted. The Duc de la Rochefoucault, appointed one of the Assemblée Nationale by the city of Paris, meets the baron coming out of the King’s cabinet. ‘Eh bien, Monsieur le Baron, avez-vous encore les ordres à donner pour Paris?’ The baron takes it as a politesse. ‘Non, Monsieur le Duc, excepté qu’on m’envoie ma voiture.’ ‘Apparemment c’est une voiture de poste, Monsieur le Baron.’ Another: In the procession yesterday the King and Comte d’Artois, walking together, were much crowded. One of the deputies said to another, ‘Voyez comme on presse le Roi et Monsieur le Comte d’Artois.’ The other answered, ‘Il y a cette différence pourtant, que le Roi est pressé par l’amour de son peuple.’ To which the King, not hearing more than the last words of the conversation, replied, in turning round, ‘Oui, c’est juste.’”
This was the last successful day for the king. Among the deputies who, taking hands, made a chain around him—even amid the cries of “Vive le Roi!”—there lurked suspicion. A woman in the crowd dared press by the Comte d’Artois to the king and say to him, “Oh, my king, are you sincere? Will you not change within a fortnight?” “No,” said the king, “I shall never change.”
On the 16th a committee was held in the king’s apartments, to discuss the important question whether His Majesty should quit Versailles with the troops, or go to Paris to calm the people. “The queen was for departure,” Madame Campan says, but it was decided that the king alone should go to Paris. The king accordingly went to Paris on the 17th, accompanied by the Maréchal de Beauvau, the Duc de Villeroy, the Duc de Villeguier, and the Comte d’Estaing.* “The queen restrained her tears,” says Madame Campan, “and shut herself up with her family in her private rooms. She scarcely expected that the king would return; a deadly terror reigned throughout the palace, and fear was at its height.”
“This morning” [July 17th], says the diary, “my coach-man tells me there are placards up forbidding any carriages to run, as the King is in town this day between ten and eleven. Here is another day in which nothing will be done. Dress immediately, and go out. Get a window, through the aid of Madame de Flahaut, in the Rue St. Honoré, through which the procession is to pass. In squeezing through the crowd my pocket is picked of a handkerchief, which I value far beyond what the thief will get for it, and I should willingly pay him for his dexterity could I retrieve it. We wait from eleven till four. It seems that His Majesty was escorted by the militia of Versailles to the Point-du-Jour, where he entered the double file of Parisian militia which extends from thence to the Hôtel de Ville. Our friend Lafayette, elected general of the militia of Paris, precedes his sovereign. They move slowly, amid the acclamations of, ‘Vive la nation!’ Each line composed of three ranks; consequently it is a body six deep extending that distance. The Assemblée Nationale walk promiscuously together in the procession. The King’s Horse Guards, some of the Gardes du Corps, and all those who attend him, have the cockades of the city, viz., red and blue. It is a magnificent procession in every respect. After it is over, go to dinner at the ‘traiteur’s,’ and get a beefsteak and bottle of claret. A deputy from Bretagne comes in, whom I met yesterday at a table d’hôte at Versailles. We seat him at our little table. He tells me that the King yesterday sent the Assembly a letter of recall for M. Necker; that the ministers have all resigned, except the Baron de Breteuil, who says he never accepted; that the Comte d’Artois, the Duc and Duchesse de Polignac, M. de Vaudreuil, and, in short, the whole Committee Polignac, have decamped last night in despair. I tell him that travelling may be useful to the Comte d’Artois, and therefore it may be well that he visited foreign parts. We have a conversation on the commerce of their islands, in which I state to him what I conceive to be the true principle on which their system should be founded. He desires a further conversation, when that matter shall be agitated. Tell him I am going to London. He desires to have my address, that he may write to me. I promise to let him have it. He mentions something which interests my friend the Comtesse de Flahaut. I tell him sundry truths the communication of which will be useful to her, and omit certain others which might prove injurious, and thus make an impression different from what he had received, but I fear the folly of her husband and the madness of his brother will ruin them both. It is impossible to help those who will not help themselves. I call on her, and tell her what has passed in the government. Sit a while with her and the Abbé Bertrand, and then go to the club. The King this day confirmed the choice made by the mayor; gave his approbation of the regiment of city guards. He put in his hat a large cockade of the red and blue ribbons, and then, and not till then, received the general shouts of “Vive le Roi!” This day will, I think, prove a useful lesson to him for the rest of his life, but he is so weak that unless he is kept out of bad company it is impossible that he should not act wrongly.”
“The weather [July 18th] is pleasant, and the town begins to be a little quiet. I go to the club and take tea. Kersaw tells me that the Augean stable of Versailles is now quite clean. The Abbé Vermond, and the King’s valet de chambre De Thierry, and the Comte d’Angivilliers,* of his buildings, are departed. De Thierry he dismissed, with many execrations. There are places in abundance to bestow now, and, of course, there will be an abundance of intrigue to get them. In short, the whole conspiracy against freedom is blown up to the moon.”
[*]Morris had been ill with a chill and fever.
[*]Duc Armand de Vignero d’Aguillon was the second of the noblesse to renounce his privileges in the session of August 4th, warmly supported the popular cause in the States-General, and later took command of one of the armies; was prosecuted in 1792, but escaped by flight.
[†]Jacques François Baron de Menou. Served in the Republican army in 1793, in the Vendean campaign, and commanded the National Guard which suppressed the insurrection in the Faubourg St. Antoine.
[*]Baron de Besenval was tried by M. Déséze, a celebrated advocate, and discharged, March, 1790.
[*]Count Charles Hector d’Estaing, commandant of the National Guard at Versailles, was intimate at Court. Madame Campan says he used to dine with the butchers at Versailles, and flattered the people by the meanest condescensions. He worked hard to save the king and queen, and was himself guillotined in April, 1794.
[*]Count Charles Claude d’Angiviliers, a patron of arts and sciences, a favorite of Louis ⅩⅥ., who made him Director of Royal Gardens, Manufactures, and Buildings; died in 1810.