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CHAPTER XV. - 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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Reticence of the Duke of Leeds. Morris’s letter to the duke. Letter to Washington. Undertakes to negotiate for the sale of American estates. Miss Farren. The impressment of American seamen. Interview with the Duke of Leeds. Presented to Pitt. Long interview with Pitt and the Duke of Leeds relative to the treaty of commerce, non-payment of money due by the English Government to American land-owners, evacuation of the frontier-posts, etc. The Hastings trial. News from Paris. The National Assembly vote the king an allowance. Abolition of the nobility. The Duke of Orleans in a “whimsical” situation. Great fête of the federation. Letter to William Short at Paris. Strictures on the young men of London. Rise of the Jacobins in Paris. Lafayette’s position insecure.
It was now late in April, and still the Duke of Leeds maintained a profound silence upon the subject of the conversation Morris had held with him, nor had he returned the copy of the President’s letter. “I am still waiting,” Morris wrote to Washington on the 28th, “for intelligence from the ministers, who (to judge by appearances) slumber profoundly upon the application made to them. It was not until the 28th of April, and after several notes had been sent to jog his memory, that the duke consented to notice Morris or his affairs. He then pleaded indisposition as the excuse for his long delay.
Morris in his reply [April 30th] expressed himself as happy to receive from such “respectable authority” the sincere wish of England to fulfil her engagements with the United States “in a manner consistent with the most scrupulous fidelity;” though this had never admitted of question in his mind, and he assured his grace of his conviction of the determination of the United States to perform in the fullest manner every stipulation which they had made. He entreated of his grace’s goodness to inform him in what respect, and to what degree, he considered the final completion of those engagements to which the United States were bound as having been rendered impracticable, this being to him a new idea. He further asked his grace the nature and extent of the redress expected for British subjects upon the specific points of the treaty. On the subject of a commercial treaty between the countries, Morris expressed a sincere hope that he might be mistaken in supposing that his grace showed a disinclination to securing an amiable intercourse by the force of a treaty, and assured him how unhappy he should be to convey a false impression on this subject, which might be prejudicial to both countries. He begged, therefore, that he might be set right.
The following letter to Washington was sent, with Morris’s full reply to the Duke of Leeds, of which a summary only is given above. “I must rely,” he wrote, “on your kindness both to interpret favorably what I have done, and to excuse my omissions. I thought it best to heap coals of fire on their heads, and thereby either bring them into our views or put them most eminently in the wrong. It was, moreover, my wish to draw forth specific propositions, because these will admit of discussion, or else, if manifestly unjust, they can not only be repelled, but they will serve to show a predetermined breach of faith by them which will justify whatever conduct we may afterwards find it proper to adopt. I have some reason to believe that the present administration intends to keep the posts and withhold payment for the negroes. If so, they will cover their breach of faith by the best pretexts in their power. I incline to think also that they consider a treaty of commerce with America as being absolutely unnecessary, and that they are persuaded they shall derive all benefit from our trade without treaty. In the matter of treaties very much will, I think, depend upon the situation of France. From the conduct of the aristocratic hierarchy in the Low Countries, who are instigated and supported by Prussia, I have long been thoroughly convinced that the alternative of war or the most ignominious terms of peace would be proposed to the Imperial Courts. Counting upon the absolute nullity of France, and supposing that this country can at any moment intimidate that into abject submission, Prussia and Poland will, I think, join themselves to Turkey and Sweden against Russia and Austria, which are both exhausted and one of them dismembered. Probably the war will be commenced before the letter reaches your hands, and then Britain and Holland are to be the umpires or, rather, dictators of peace. Perhaps there never was a moment in which this country found herself greater, and consequently it is the most unfavorable moment to obtain advantageous terms from her in any bargain. It appears clearly that the favorable moment for us to treat is not yet come. It is indeed the moment for this country, and they seem determined to let it pass away.”
“This afternoon [May 2d], at the poets’ gallery of paintings, I have pointed out to me Lord Derby and Miss Farren, who are to be married as soon as Lady Derby will make her exit. Miss Farren is one of the Drury Lane company of comedians.”
One of the most arduous of Morris’s undertakings for his friends in America was to negotiate in London and Paris for the sale of their respective estates, in various parts of the United States. There was, of course, a general feeling of distrust of a country so far away and so uncultivated, and a desire to be thoroughly indemnified for losses. Writing to Robert Morris of the difficulties he encountered in this effort, he says: “What can I offer those who may wish to purchase? Money I have not. Personal security in this country I have not. In America they will not take it, and if I propose a mortgage of the premises they may reply that these they have already. As to the Fairfax estate, it is somewhat differently circumstanced, but even respecting it, I expect that if I can see and converse with Mr. Martin, he will insist on security here.”* As in Paris, so more or less in London, Morris’s advice was constantly asked about purchases in America, but he found it extremely difficult to bring anyone to the point of a purchase.
“Sir John Miller is at Mr. Wilmots’ to-night [May 5th], and he tells me that great fortunes have been made by borrowing money and purchasing estates in Ireland, which yield an interest of five per cent. upon the purchase money till the old leases fall in, and then yield twice and three times as much. He has himself speculated in this way to the amount of £20,000. In conversation he describes the situation of a gentleman in the country here as far from agreeable, if he resides anywhere in the neighborhood of a peer or a great commoner, ‘because,’ says he, ’such person must either be the humble servant of the great man or must be borne down by his opposition, in all parish and county meetings and in everything which relates to the roads.’ To-night, when I come in, I find on my table an invitation from Mrs. Church to breakfast to-morrow at twelve. I write the following answer:
In plain prose, the packet sails to-morrow night and I must write.’”
“Dine to-day [May 6th] with the French ambassador. When dinner is half over two of his family come in from the House of Commons, where the debate was animated, although they were all of one mind. The address has been carried unanimously, and a determination is avowed to obtain from the Spanish Court an acknowledgment that they are entitled to no part of America but such as they occupy. After dinner, attend Mrs. Penn to the play. Henry the Fifth is acted very badly, and with great applause. The monarch makes great exertion ‘to split the ears of the groundlings.’ A translation of the ‘Marriage of Figaro’ is very well done by the intended wife of Lord Derby, Miss Farren. She is said to be perfectly chaste, and his lordship, I suppose, is satisfied on that subject, but the caresses of the stage are not exactly what one would wish to be exhibited on one’s intended bride.”
“This morning [May 13th] M. Bourgainville, one of Lafayette’s aides-de-camp, comes in. I read to him my letter to his General and to Carmichael, and explain as fully as conversation could permit my plan for carrying on a war against this country. He is to write to M. de Lafayette to-morrow for permission to pass over for a few days to Paris. I give him also some ideas upon the constitution which they are now forming, and read an essay written on it last summer which contains many predictions since verified. He tells me that he is an advocate for a single chamber, but that my objections against that form are strong.”
Morris had been several times applied to, to take some steps in regard to the American seamen impressed into the British service, and he prepared a short memorial on the subject, which was sent to the Lords of the Admiralty. Being strongly convinced of the necessity of more action in the matter, in consequence of the cases brought to his notice, he determined, if possible, to see the Duke of Leeds on the subject.
He therefore requested an interview, which was granted for the 20th of May, and which the diary describes as follows: “I stay but a short time with his grace the Duke of Leeds. He apologizes for not having answered my letters. I tell him that I suppose he has been so much engaged in other affairs that he has not had time. He says I misunderstood one part of his letter to me, for that he certainly meant to express a willingness to enter into a treaty of commerce. To this I reply that my present object is to mention another affair, and as to my letter, he will, I suppose, answer it at his leisure. I then mention the impress of American seamen, and observe that their press-gangs have entered American vessels with as little ceremony as those belonging to Britain. ‘I believe, my Lord, this is the only instance in which we are not treated as aliens.’ He acknowledges this to be wrong, and promises to speak to Lord Chatham on the subject. I tell him that I have already prevented some applications from being made on this business in a disagreeable manner, but that in a general impress over all the British dominions, if the greatest care be not used, such things will happen that masters of vessels, on returning home, will excite much heat in America, ‘and that, my Lord, added to other circumstances, will perhaps occasion very disagreeable events. And you know, my Lord, that when a wound is recently healed it is very easy to rub off the skin.’ He repeats his assurances. I tell him that I feel the inconveniences to which they may be subjected from the difficulty of distinguishing between seamen of the two countries, and add my wish that some plan may be adopted, founded on good faith, which may prevent the concealment of British seamen while it secures those of America from insult, and suggest the idea of certificates of citizenship from the admiralty courts of America to our seamen. He seems much pleased with this, but I desire him to consult those of the King’s servants whose particular department it is, reminding him at the same time that I speak without authority from America, on which score I made an apology in the outset. I then take my leave, but he requests me to call again about one o’clock to-morrow.
“At one o’clock on Friday I again wait upon the Duke. After waiting some time in the antechamber, I am introduced to where Mr. Pitt and he are sitting together. He presents me to the latter, and we enter into conversation. The first point is that of the impress, and upon that subject Mr. Pitt approves the idea of a certificate from the Admiralty of America. I mention that it might be proper for the King’s servants to order that certificates of a certain kind should be evidence of an American seaman, without excluding, however, other evidence, and that in consequence the executive authority in America could direct the officers of the Admiralty Courts to issue such certificates to those applying for them. We then proceed to the treaty of peace. They both mention that I had misapprehended the letter of the Duke of Leeds respecting a treaty of commerce. I observe that it may easily be set right as to that mistake, but that it is idle to think of making a new treaty until the parties are satisfied about that already existing. Mr. Pitt then took up the conversation, and said that the delay of compliance on our part had rendered that compliance now less effectual, and that cases must certainly exist where injury had been sustained by the delay. I observe generally that delay is always a kind of breach, being, as long as it lasts, the non-performance of stipulations. But, descending a little more into particulars, I endeavor to show that the injury is complained of by the Americans for the non-payment of money due by this government to the owners of slaves taken away. On the whole, I observe that inquiries of this sort may be very useful if the parties mutually seek to keep asunder, but that, if they mean to come together, it would be best to keep them entirely out of sight, and now to perform on both sides as well as the actual situation of things will permit. After many professions to cultivate a good understanding, Mr. Pitt mentions that it might be well to consider in general the subject, and on general grounds to see whether some compensation could not be made mutually. I immediately replied: ‘If I understand you, Mr. Pitt, you wish to make a new treaty instead of complying with the old one.’ He admitted this to be in some sort his idea. I said that even on that ground I did not see what better could be done than to perform the old one. ‘As to the compensation for negroes taken away, it is too trifling an object for you to dispute, so that nothing remains but the posts.* I suppose, therefore, that you wish to retain the posts.’ ‘Why, perhaps we may.’ ‘They are not worth the keeping, for it must cost you a great deal of money, and produce no benefit. The only reason you can desire them is to secure the fur-trade, and that will centre in this country, let who will carry it on in America.’ I gave him the reasons for this opinion. ‘If you consider these posts as a trivial object, there is the less reason for acquiring them.’ ‘Pardon me, sir, I only state the retaining them as useless to you; but this matter is to be considered in a different point of light. Those who made the peace acted wisely in separating the possessions of the two countries by so wide a water. It is essential to preserve the boundary if you wish to live in amity with us. Near neighbors are seldom good ones, for the quarrels among borderers frequently bring on wars. It is therefore essential for both parties that you should give them up, and to us it is of particular importance, because our national honor is interested. You hold them with the avowed intention of forcing us to comply with such conditions as you may impose.’ ‘Why, sir, as to the considerations of national honor, we can retort the observation and say our honor is concerned in your delay of performance of the treaty.’ ‘No, sir, your natural and proper course was to comply fully on your part, and if then we had refused a compliance, you might rightfully have issued letters of marque and reprisal to such of your subjects as were injured by our refusal. But the conduct you have pursued naturally excites resentment in every American bosom. We do not think it worth while to go to war with you for these posts, but we know our rights, and will avail ourselves of them when time and circumstances may suit.’
“Mr. Pitt asked me if I had power to treat. I told him I had not, and that we would not appoint any person as minister, they had so much neglected the former appointment. He asked me whether we would appoint a minister if they did. I told him that I could almost promise that we should, but was not authorized to give any positive assurance. We then converse loosely upon the manner of communicating on that subject. In the course of it I tell him that we cannot take notice of their consuls, or anything which they may say, because they are not characters known or acknowledged by us. His pride was a little touched at this.”
“’I suppose, Mr. Morris, that attention might as well be paid to what they say as that the Duke of Leeds and I should hold the present conversation with you.’
“By no means, sir. I should never have thought of asking a conference with his grace if I had not possessed a letter from the President of the United States, which you know, my Lord, I left with you, and which, I dare say, you have communicated to Mr. Pitt.’
“He had. Mr. Pitt said they would in like manner write a letter to one of their consuls.
“’Yes, sir, and the letter would be attended to and not the consul, who is in no respect different from any other British subject, and this is the subject which I wished you to attend to.’
“He said, in reply to this, that etiquette ought not to be pushed so far as to injure business, and keep the countries asunder. I assured him that the rulers of America had too much understanding to care for etiquette, but prayed him at the same time to recollect that they (the British) had hitherto kept us at a distance instead of making advances; that we had gone quite as far as they had any reason to expect in writing the letter just mentioned, but that from what had passed in consequence of it, and which (as he might naturally suppose) I had transmitted, we could not but consider them as wishing to avoid an intercourse. He took up this point, and expressed a hope that I would remove such an idea. He assures me that they are disposed to cultivate a connection, etc. To this I reply that any written communication that may be made by his grace of Leeds shall be duly transmitted; that I do not like to transmit mere conversation, because it may be misconceived, and that disagreeable questions may arise; that as to the disposition for having a good understanding between the two countries, it is evidenced on our part not only by the step which the President has taken, but also by the decision of the legislature, in which a considerable majority were opposed to the laying extraordinary restrictions upon British vessels in our ports. Mr. Pitt observes that, on the contrary, we ought to give them particular privileges in consequence of those which we enjoy here. I tell him that I really know of no particular privilege we enjoy, except that of being impressed, which of all others we are least desirous to partake of. The Duke of Leeds observed, in the same style of jocularity, that we were at least treated in that respect as the most favored nation, seeing that we were treated like themselves. They promised to consult together, and give me the result of their deliberations.”
“At eleven o’clock to-night [May 22d] I take Mrs. Phyn to Ranelagh. We do not arrive till after twelve. The room is filled, and it is an immense one. The amusement here is to walk round until one is tired, and then sit down to tea and rolls. The report of the day has been that the National Assembly have denied to the King the power of making war and peace. I met an abbé at the French ambassador’s at dinner to-day, who is a very great astronomer, and who makes several observations on the philosophic credulity of Franklin and Jefferson. Both of them, he thinks, have entertained a higher sense of the force of steam-engines applied to navigation than they merit, and I think so too. I have told Parker long ago that I believe Rumsey’s contrivances will answer only to work up stream in rivers where fuel is cheap. The ambassador seems to me to be in a violent agitation of mind, and I remark it after dinner to his niece, who tells me that he has been so for some days, but she cannot conjecture the reason. In conversing about the news of yesterday, Church, who is here, says that it is reported from M. de Calonne, said to have learned it by express, that the National Assembly have vested in the Crown the right of peace and war. I express my surprise that in the present conjuncture the Comte de Florida Blanca should be removed, and from the state of affairs draw into question the truth of that report. La Luzerne upon this subject declares that in Spain they have no idea of any such situation as seems to be imagined here; that there is nothing extraordinary in their armaments, etc. This is going too far for his own object, because a certain extent of armament in that country is indisputable, and also that it exceeds the usual measure of peace establishment very considerably.”
“Dine [May 27th] with the Marquis of Lansdowne. It is six when I arrive. He receives me politely, and apologizes for not having invited me sooner. At dinner he sports sentiments respecting the constitution of France to the French who are here, which I believe to be foreign to his heart. Dr. Price* is one of the guests, who is one of the Liberty-mad people. After dinner, being together in the drawing-room a few minutes, the noble marquis advances sentiments to me far less friendly to France, but full of love and kindness for America. I am, however, at liberty to believe just as much as I please. The resolutions of the Assembly are arrived, which say just nothing, as far as I can find. They reserve the right of declaring war to the National Assembly, but permit the King to arm, etc. This, at least, is the account given to me by Lord Lansdowne.
“Dine [May 28th] at the French ambassador’s. He says that the decree respecting war and peace was passed in consequence of the tumultuous meeting of the populace in the neighborhood of the place where the Assembly sit. Bouinville says that Lafayette wants him to concert with me, and then return for a few days to Paris. He thinks that the decree will by no means prevent the administration from engaging in a war, and I think so too.”
“The news from Paris [May 30th] is that everything is again in confusion. The populace have dispersed the Court of the Châtelet, and hanged several persons confined for crimes. The reason of this riot was to prevent an investigation of the excesses before committed at Versailles. Farther, the object of the demagogues, according to rumor, is to remove Lafayette and place La Meth* in his stead. This would be a curious appointment. But France seems now to be governed by Barnave,† Chapelier,‡ the Baron de Menou,§ and Duc d’Aquillon,¶ with others of the same stamp. Unhappy kingdom!”
The trial of Warren Hastings was going on most of the time that Morris had been in London, and although tickets of admission had been offered to him at various times, only once had he gone to Westminster Hall; on June 7th, however, when the trial was nearly over, he again went. “We get,” the diary says, “to Westminster Hall at eleven, and find great difficulty in procuring a seat. About two the court opens, and from twelve we have been pressed hard by those who could not get seats, and are much incommoded by the foul air till near six, when the company is a little thinned. Mr. Fox sums up the evidence with great ability. But he does not get through it at eight o’clock, when the Lords adjourn. It is said that this man is to be acquitted, and from the various decisions as to evidence we would be inclined to think so, but in my opinion this charge of bribery is fully supported. It will, however, depend, I suppose, on the situation of the ministry at the time of the decision, whether he is acquitted or condemned.”
By the middle of June the bourgeoisie révolutionnaire in the National Assembly, hoping to insure to themselves a passive king, with all the splendor of a court around him which he should owe to them, voted Louis ⅩⅥ. an allowance of 26,000,000£ “Out of this sum, however,” Morris says, in commenting on the act, “he is to provide for his household troops, and for the different branches of the royal family. He has asked, though not pointedly, 4,000,000£ for the Queen’s dower, and they have granted it, but not specifically. The forms will, I suppose, be gone through speedily. There is also a plan of confederation to take place between the military and militia, by way of counter-security to the Revolution.”
Ten days after the Assembly had enthusiastically voted the allowance for the king; just as enthusiastically, and “with an inconsequence truly prodigious,” they voted the abolition of the nobility.
“To-day [June 24th] at dinner at the French ambassador’s,” continues the diary, “there are a number of the Corps Diplomatique, and, what suits me better, a fine turtle. Advices from France announce the total abolition of the French nobility, down to the very arms and livery; this upon motion of some of the Whig nobles. There is also a strange address to the Assembly from a junto of all nations. It seems as if the Revolutionists were studying how best to excite a strong opposition to their measures. Heaven knows how this will all end, but I fear badly, unless they are saved by a foreign war. Go from hence to General Morris’s, and sit some time with them. He says there will be no war, and from his manner of speaking I think he has been told so by some person who is in the secret.”
Morris’s keen sense of humor prevailed even at this juncture, which was full of sadness to many of his Parisian friends, and he could not resist the inclination to see the grimly amusing side of the change of names that must ensue from such a decree. “Make a thousand compliments for me,” he wrote to Mr. Short, “to her Royal Highness and to Madame de Chastellux. I suppose that when I return to Paris (which will be soon) I shall have to learn new names for one-half of my acquaintance. Pray, are the friends of the Revolution afraid that its enemies will not be sufficiently exasperated?”
“The Marquis de la Luzerne tells me to-day [July 2d], at dinner, that the Duke of Orleans has taken leave of the King with intention to return. I tell him that I doubt yet his returning, because I think that the slightest circumstance would prevent it, and mention, as an instance, that the receipt even of an anonymous letter announcing danger would terrify him. He says there are many ways, but that they will neither use them nor permit others to do it. He seems rather vexed at this. The decree respecting the nobility, he observes, is not yet sanctioned. I notice the situation of the Duke of Orleans as being whimsical. He cannot go into any country well, nor remain here, when the war breaks out. He asks me why I suppose always that there will be a war? I tell him that I have long been convinced of it, for many reasons. ‘Vous dites toujours les choses extraordinaires qui se réalisent.’ Happening to mention Short, he speaks of him as being fou, and rendered so by Jefferson. I tell him that he will probably be appointed minister in France. He seems not well pleased, but says he is probably a very suitable person. He is vexed at Lafayette’s conduct respecting the noblesse, and says that, although he has a good deal of management (conduite) in his affairs, he has done much evil from the want of genius (esprit), in which idea he is not entirely wrong.”
On July 14th the great fête of the federation was held, when the world of Paris celebrated the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, and swore to obey the new constitution. There were three hundred thousand spectators assembled in the great amphitheatre in the Champ de Mars. Here could be seen the courtesan and the chaste maiden, the capuchin and the chevalier of St. Louis, the porter and the dandy of the Palais Royal, the fishwoman and the fine lady, mingled together, and together they swore fraternity. How they kept the oath history tells. At the elevation of the Host by the celebrant, the Bishop of Autun, all that vast multitude fell on their knees. Lafayette placed his sword on the altar, and gave the signal for taking the oath. One moment of intense silence, while he swore to be faithful to nation and king; then all swords drawn, all arms raised, and from all lips came the oath, “I swear.” Then from the king came the words, “I, King of the French, swear to protect the constitution I have accepted.” Frantic enthusiasm greeted the queen, who, with the Dauphin in her arms, said, “The king’s sentiments are mine.” Then the Te Deum gave the amen to the oath. All the while the rain kept falling in torrents on the pageant. In the evening another great fête was held, and on the ruins of the Bastille one saw the sign, “Ici l’on danse.” All night long Paris was en fête.
“Your fête is passed,” Morris wrote, July 26th, of this event to William Short; “I trust that no sinister accidents have resulted from it. When we reflect on the incidents which have passed within less than two years, we must be forcibly struck with the mutability of human affairs. … I sincerely, nay, devoutly, wish that the constitution may be productive of great and lasting good to France. It is, you know, very far from my ideas of what is right, and it will give me great pleasure should it disappoint my expectations. I had been, as you suppose, apprised of the schism in the democratic party, at which I was not at all surprised. United by common danger, very discordant materials were held together, which from different motives had been thrown together. The danger past, in appearance at least, the different pretensions were brought forward, and (unfortunately, I think) there is no man or set of men who have dared to stop at that point of moderation where alone good principles can be found, and by which alone good government can exist. Those who court the people have a very capricious mistress; a mistress which may be gained by sacrifices, but she cannot be so held, for she is insatiable. The people will never continue attached to any man who will sacrifice his duty to their caprice. In modern days we have, I believe, more virtue than the ancients; certainly we are more decent. But the principles of human nature are the same, and so shall we find the pursuits of man to be, if we can but penetrate that veil of decency by which young ambition is decorated. If we cannot, he will spare us the trouble whenever those barriers are removed which were erected against him by that great ally of virtue, the law. In proportion as the Revolution shall appear to be completed, and the new order of things appear to be established, schisms will multiply among the Revolutionists, for each will desire (disinterestedly, no doubt) a share of the good things which are going, and which, from the droits de l’homme, you know all are entitled to enjoy. I remember, in one of the early addresses of Congress, something was said about the luxury of being free. Now the French genius may refine as much upon this luxury as they used to do upon the other; but, bating their talents at refinement, I hardly conjecture what ground those men will take hereafter who would signalize their democratic principles. They will, I fear, be but humble imitators of Sir John Brute, who, in the heat of his zeal and wine, drank confusion to all order. … The observation you made upon the dissolute conduct of the Fédérés, I had long since made upon the whole nation. It requires the strong stomach of monarchy to digest such rank manners. As to the instinctive love of their princes which you speak of, it is indeed instinctive, and the animal will never get rid of its instinct. The French will all tell you that their countrymen have des têtes exaltées, and their manners, habits, and ideas are all up to that standard. A Frenchman loves his king as he loves his mistress, to madness, because he thinks it great and noble to be mad. He then abandons both the one and the other most ignobly, because he cannot bear the continued action of the sentiment he has persuaded himself to feel.”
“Paine tells me that the Comte de Montmorin has applied to the Assemblée,” says the diary for August 8th, “to know whether they will adhere to the family compact. The Spanish ambassador has made a formal demand, accompanied with a threat from his Court. I think I see this in its true light, but do not mention to him my idea. After he has left me some time, Bouinville calls, and from conversation with him I find that I am right. He tells me that the whole of the French administration will go out, but that Montmorin will preserve his place in the council as governor of the children of France; that secretaries will be appointed for the present—young men who can be at any time removed. Ternant has been negotiating (but without effect), to quiet the claims of the German princes, whose feudal claims in France have been annihilated. Barnave is about to desert La Meth, who has lately made overtures to M. de Lafayette, but he replied by a declaration that in the present situation there was no alternative but victory or death. General and Mrs. Morris call upon me. They take tea, and sit till near ten. She tells me that the Duchess of Gordon is, on her report, very desirous of becoming acquainted. She is, it seems, a woman of great wit and full of life. They have dined with her, and she told my sister she would give me a dinner with Mr. Pitt. I express much satisfaction at the idea of being presented to the Premier. In the course of conversation my sister tells me that the fashionable style for young men in London is to affect great ennui, and receive advances from the ladies which they hardly deign to notice.”
“To-day [August 15th] Mr. Bouinville dines with me, and communicates all that he knows respecting the situation of affairs in France. He tells me that Lafayette has been very much hurt to find himself so much deceived by those whom he thought attached to him. Mankind always make false estimates on this subject. He tells me much of what passed between him and the Duke of Orleans. He seems not to know, or to be unwilling to mention, the names of those who are intended for the new ministry. He says that things are going very badly in Paris, and, indeed, in all France. The Comité des Jacobins gathers strength daily. Of course, Lafayette becomes insecure. The army is in a state of total disorder, and the navy little better; the finance every hour more deranged than the last. He seems, however, confident that the Assemblée will adhere to the family compact, and that there will be a war with this country, which I incline to doubt, because there seems not to be sufficient energy in the French counsels. Paine, who was with me, had shown a paper which he had written, and which Lafayette had caused to be translated and published, recommending an attack in the Channel by the combined fleets.”
[*]The effort to purchase Fairfax lands was simply a speculation on Morris’s part. It was after the death of the sixth Lord Fairfax, the recluse of Greenway Court in Virginia, when the State of Virginia had passed acts of confiscation of all his lordship’s lands, as well as of his lord proprietorship. The acts recited that the confiscation was made because the title to them had descended to an alien enemy, his brother Robert, the seventh lord. Afterward it was insisted that the title of the Fairfax heirs in the lands which the sixth Lord Fairfax had appropriated to himself in severalty, either by deeds made to himself as lord proprietor, or by surveys or other acts, indicating his intention to appropriate them to himself individually, should be allowed by the State, which was done by an act of legislature, procured to be passed by John Marshall, afterward chief justice, and who had himself become a purchaser of a considerable tract of these lands. After that act of legislature was passed, Dr. Denny Martin Fairfax, of Leeds Castle, nephew of the sixth lord, sold all of those lands which had not been previously sold. In 1789 Robert, seventh Lord Fairfax, was still alive. There was no conclusion arrived at in the negotiation in which Morris was interested.
[*]The continued occupation of the posts along the frontier by the British troops had occasioned much dissatisfaction in America, and, as early as 1785, Adams, when sent on his mission to Great Britain, had told Lord Carmarthen that perhaps the most pressing of all the six points for discussion was the retention of the posts, which had deprived the “merchants of a most profitable trade in furs, which they justly considered as their right.” In 1785 this subject was also mentioned to Pitt by Mr. Adams, but was always met with the same answer, that it was a matter connected with the debts. It was not until 1796, under Mr. Jay’s treaty, that the much-disputed frontier-posts were surrendered by Great Britain to the United States.
[*]Richard Price, a dissenting minister and speculative philosopher, born in 1723, was the intimate friend of Dr. Franklin and Dr. Priestley. He strongly advocated the cause of American liberty, and in 1778 he was invited by Congress to become a citizen of the United States. This offer he declined. He was an ardent supporter of the French Revolution and drew down upon himself thus the denunciations of Burke in the famous “Reflections.” He died at London in 1791.
[*]Count Alexandre La Meth, a deputy of the noblesse in 1789, who united with the Third Estate to form the national party.
[†]Antoine Charles Pierre Barnave, a revolutionist and an orator, and a member of the States-General in 1789.
[‡]Isaac René Gui Chapelier, an eminent lawyer, among the ablest members of the States-General. He drafted the degree abolishing the nobility, and favored the Feuillants, or the side of the constitution. In 1794 he was executed on the charge of having conspired in favor of royalty.
[§]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.
[¶]Armand de Vignero Duplisses Richelieu, Duc d’Aquillon, warmly supported the popular cause in the States-General in 1789, was the second of the noblesse to renounce his privileges in the session of August 4th, took command of the armies, was proscribed in 1792, but escaped by flight.