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CHAPTER XVII. - 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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Another trip to London. Stiffness of English society. Annoying indifference of the Duke of Leeds to American interests. Returns to Paris. Dines with the Duchess of Orleans. Ternant appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States. Conversation with M. de Ségur. M. de Montmorin wishes Morris appointed Minister from the United States. Asked to confer with the Committee of Commerce. Dines with Lafayette. Dines with Marmontel. Lafayette vexed. Madame de Nadaillac. The “farm” abolished by the Assembly. The tobacco decrees. Desired to write a letter on them. Letter to Washington thereupon. Some details of the affair of October 5th at Versailles. Disturbance in Languedoc. Trepidation of the Bishop of Autun. Great tumult in Paris. Conversation with Madame de Nadaillac. The Château during the riot. Lafayette confesses the guards were drunk. Morris’s advice to him.
In the early part of December Morris again went to London, where very pressing affairs demanded his personal attention, and for some weeks, with what resignation he could muster, he gave himself up to long, dull, and extremely unsatisfactory conversations with city men. Mrs. Siddons was somewhat of a relief from the monotony of business, but he only speaks of seeing her a few times—once in “a very bad piece called ‘ Isabella,’ in which she acts very well.” The stiffness of London society manners never suited his taste, and he invariably found the rout and the evening entertainment tiresome, and his only comment was that there was no pleasant intercourse between the men and women. “I go,” he says, “one evening to the Duchess of Gordon’s. Here in one room the young are dancing, and in another the old are gambling at a faro-table. I stay but a little while, for the party is to me vastly dull. The male dancers are very indifferent.”
He again presented himself (December 18th) at the Duke of Leeds’s office, hoping to find that his affairs with the government might have been advanced. He found his grace “in council, but that breaks up while I am here. Mr. Burgess tells me that the Duke is very much engaged. He talks a great deal, but, stripping off the compliment and profession, what he says amounts to no more than that sundry cabinet councils have been held on the treaty with America, and that a reference has been made of the affair three months ago to Lord Hawkesbury, whose report has not yet been received. I answer to all this, very dryly, that I have presented myself to let them know that I am alive; that I shall write from hence to America; that I leave town next week; that I will wait on the Duke at such time as he may indicate; that if I learn nothing more than that things are just as I left them I shall merely say so; that it may be worth their while to consider whether the measures proposed last session in Congress respecting the commerce with this country may not be adopted, and what the consequences would be.”
There is a decided flavor of republican curtness in this message left for his grace which may have had its influence. Certain it is, however, that although he subsequently made two appointments to meet Morris, profuse apologies from Mr. Burgess, and many regrets that “the Duke is by a sudden and severe indisposition prevented from meeting me,” was all the satisfaction the latter got from his grace. Morris was not slow to make his ideas known with regard to the treatment he—or, rather, his country—had received from the English Government, and he mentioned that, “dining one day with Lord Lansdowne, we have a great deal of conversation upon various subjects. I give them my honest sentiments respecting Britain and America, which are not pleasing, but I do not mean to please.”
Not long after this he was back in Paris again, and making an early visit to Madame de Flahaut to learn the latest news, which was always to be found in her salon. “She complains bitterly,” he says, January 19, 1791, “of the Bishop of Autun’s cold cruelty. He is elected a member of the Department of Paris and resigns his bishopric. He treats her ill. His passion for play has become extreme, and she gives me instances which are ridiculous.* He comes in, and I come away. Visit Madame de Chastellux, and go with her to dine at the Duchess of Orleans’. Her Royal Highness is ruined; that is, she is reduced from 450,000£ to 200,000£. She tells me that she cannot give any good dinners, but if I will come and fast with her she will be glad to see me.”
“At Madame de Staël’s this evening [January 21st] I meet the world. Stay some time in various conversation, altogether of no consequence. This morning Ternant calls and takes breakfast. He was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States last Sunday. We converse a little about his mission. He wishes me to be appointed here. I tell him that I understood from De Moustier that Carmichael has been asked for. He says that if it be not too late he will get that matter altered. He will know more about it, and tell me.
“Go to the Louvre. M. de Flahaut had desired to see me. He talks about sending hardware to America for sale, a friend of his being at the head of a considerable manufactory. I tell him his friend may call some morning and I will speak to him. Go to Madame du Bourg’s. They are at play, and high play, too, in which I of course take no part. Come away early.”
“Madame de Flahaut tells me to-day [January 22d] that she has a gleam of hope in her prospects, and I will try to bring it to some end. Go to see Madame de Ségur, and take her a present of some apples, etc. Monsieur is with his wife, and, the conversation turning that way, the pleasure a man feels in speaking of himself leads him to communicate the history of the war between Russia and the Porte. From his statement, England embroiled those powers. Having taken the history a great way back, and brought it to the peace which concluded the former war between them, he states that the Empress took on herself to be the liege lord (suzerain) of Georgia; that the Afghis Tartars, dwelling about the Caspian Sea, and who are constantly at war with the Georgians, received aid from the Pasha in their neighborhood, and that the Tartars of the Cuban made frequent depredations on the Russian territories and then crossed that fordable river into the Turkish territory; that complaints having arisen on this subject, the mediation of France was asked and accepted, and he and M. de Choiseul-Gouffier employed themselves efficaciously in settling the difference. It was agreed that the Pasha should no longer give aid to the Afghis Tartars, and that those of the Cuban should not be protected after their inroads as before; that Prince Potemkin, having assembled a considerable army to be reviewed by the Empress in that quarter, and being informed that the causes of complaint continued notwithstanding the treaty, sent immediately through the Russian ambassador, Bulgakow, a menacing message to the Turk; that this being communicated by the Reis Effendi to M. de Gouffier, he, much surprised, advised the Turk immediately to arm and informed him, Ségur, of what was done and doing; that he thereupon spoke in very high terms to the Russian ministry, who laid the blame upon Prince Potemkin. They agreed to submit to any reasonable terms, and although those proposed through M. de Gouffier by the Turk were conceived rather haughtily, to his great surprise they were acceded to. His courier, however, charged with that intelligence, was intercepted by the Turkish robbers, and murdered; when he learned that accident he immediately sent another, but before that messenger arrived the English had been busy in dissuading them from all accommodation. Their ambassador, Mr. —, told the Reis Effendi that he would be powerfully supported by Prussia and Poland; that if Austria should join Russia, a powerful diversion would be made by the revolt in Flanders then in train; that they must not trust to France, whose favorite system it was to support Russia, with whom she had lately formed very close connections, and of course could not be cordially attached to the Porte. ‘The reason of England was (says Ségur) that, being vexed with Russia for forming a treaty with France by which, among other things, the principles of the armed neutrality are acknowledged, and for insisting on a like acknowledgment, in a proposed renewal of the treaty with England, she was in hopes of making a breach between France and her new ally Russia, or her new ally the Turk. In consequence of the British intrigues, the Porte refused to accede to the terms which she had herself proposed, but sent others in a style imperious and dictatorial; that he was much hurt at this, but, to his very great surprise, the Empress acceded to those also, but by the time that her despatches were ciphered, and just as the courier was about to depart, they learned that the Turk had actually commenced hostilities. He says that he long since informed his court that Hertzberg had formed vast projects menacing all Europe, but that no attention was paid to his information, and, on the contrary, he was represented as a firebrand, desirous of general mischief; that he very early proposed the triple alliance of Austria, Russia, and France, which was then rejected and has never been completed because, finally, the French Revolution prevented a ratification by France. He says that the late Emperor Joseph told him, shortly before his death, that the Empress of Russia had permitted him to make a separate peace, and that he might assure the King he would agree to give up Chorzim, and even Belgrade, to effect it. We pass then to the peace of Reichenbach, and I tell him the manner in which Van Hertzberg became the dupe of his own contrivances.’*
“We learn this day some news which, if true, will affect a little the affairs of this country. It is said that the Catholic militia of Strasbourg have all resigned and that a petition is arrived, signed by four thousand persons, to which a much greater number have adhered, desiring that all which has been done in respect to the clergy and nobility may be rescinded; that conciliatory commissioners are named (three) to go thither. Visit Madame de Chastellux who tells me that she is informed by a person lately come from French Flanders that a general apprehension is there entertained of a visit from the imperial troops. I do not believe in this visit.
“Leave her and go to the Louvre. I find Madame de Flahaut in conversation with a deputy from the Islands, who wishes a particular person nominated to the Department of the Colonies, and that, in the demarcation of limits with Spain, a tract should be ceded in St. Domingo, for a part of which a plantation will be given of which she shall have one-half. I sup here. She is very sad, and it is in vain that I try to remove that sadness. But her prospects are very bad.”
“La Caze repeats again to-day [January 23d] that Jefferson has made Robert Morris a promise on my subject which is impossible. He tells me that he learned from Colonel Smith the only objection to placing me in this Corps Diplomatique would be my other pursuits. At half-past three I call on Madame de Flahaut. The Bishop of Autun is with her. Take a note of the person that the Colonists want for their Minister, and then go to dine with M. Montmorin. Meet Ternant. Montesquiou comes in after dinner, and says he wishes to see me. Ternant and I come away together. In the carriage he tells me that, on entering the court at Montmorin’s, he took occasion to observe, on seeing my carriage, that it would be a good thing I were appointed the Minister from the United States; to which Montmorin replied that he should like it much. Ternant then told him it would be very easy to get it done, since nothing more would be necessary than to signify a desire of the kind to Mr. Jefferson. Montmorin then said there was another person who desired it, namely, Carmichael. He asked if it was he or his friends who desired it, but before any decisive answer could be obtained they entered the salon. Afterwards go to take tea with Madame de Chastellux, and sup with the Princess. A very fine day, but drizzly evening. The news of Strasbourg, Montmorin told me, is unfounded.”
“This morning [January 25th] Ternant comes in. He tells me that the appointment of a Minister for the Colonies will experience considerable delay. He wishes me to confer with the Committee of Commerce. I promise to do so, if they desire it. He wishes me to tell Montmorin the sum which I conceive to be needful for a French minister in America, which I will do when he tells me the appointment is really made. At three o’clock go to dine with Madame de Staël, who is not yet come in. Meanwhile I visit at the Louvre, where they are at dinner. Madame de Flahaut is ill, and goes to bed. Return to dinner. The Abbé Siéyès is here, and descants with much self-sufficiency on government, despising all that has been said or sung on that subject before him, and Madame says that his writings and opinions will form in politics a new era, as that of Newton in physics. Go from hence to Madame du Bourg’s. She advises me to pursue rather the attractions of society than any serious attachment. Company come in, which puts an end to that matter.”
“This morning [January 26th] I am prevented from doing anything almost. First, M. de Flahaut presents to me by appointment his friend, who is a chief of the works of Amboise. He wants vent for hardware in the United States. Then Colonel Walker comes to communicate the perplexed state of the affairs of the Scioto Civilization Company. He asks my advice, but I can give no advice, not knowing sufficiently all the facts; some of the most important he remains ignorant of. Before he is gone Colonel Swan arrives, and tells me that his plan for the debt has fallen through by the misconduct of Cantaleu. He wishes me to visit Montesquiou. I tell him that if Montesquiou wishes to see me he can call on me. Dine with Lafayette, who is tolerably well content to see me. Ternant is here; he thinks a few weeks will drive things to a decision. I think not. After dinner we have an interesting conversation together. He tells me that he had arranged a plan for restoring order by the exertion of force, in which De Bouillie and Lafayette were to co-operate, but the latter failed while he was in Germany. He is now at work to bring about the same thing. I see that he is desirous of being in the ministry here, and would play at heads for kingdoms. They want some person of this sort, of a rank sufficiently elevated to run no risk unnecessarily, and whose temper will not avoid any which may be necessary or proper. The Bishop happening to be at the Louvre to-day, I ask him what kind of place he has got, what is the income, whether it will support him, etc., and observe that unless it will place him in an independent situation he has done wrong in accepting. He says that it is the only door which was open.”
“Dine with the Duchess of Orleans to-day [January 27th], and go thence to the Louvre. Madame de Flahaut has her sister with her, who is arrived in great penury at Paris, and to whom she has sent money, notwithstanding the misery of her own situation. Leave them, and visit Madame de Staël. Return early, after drinking much weak tea.”
“This morning [January 29th] write, and at noon take up Madame de Chastellux. We go together to Choisy, and dine with Marmontel. He thinks soundly. After dinner he mentions his mode of contesting the new-fangled doctrines of the droits de l’homme by asking a definition of the word droit, and from that definition he draws a conclusion against the asserted equality of rights. He admits, however, that all are equal before the law and under the law. I deny this position, and make him remark that, where there is great inequality of rank and fortune, this supposed equality of legal dispensation would destroy all proportion and all justice. If the punishment be a fine, it oppresses the poor but does not affect the rich. If it be corporal punishment, it degrades the prince but does not wound the beggar. He is struck with deep conviction at this observation. I draw only one conclusion, that in morals every general position requires numerous exceptions, wherefore logical conclusions from such positions must frequently be erroneous. I might have pursued (as I have sometimes done) my remark a little farther, to the legal compensation of injuries where the varieties are greater, because the party committing and the party suffering wrong may each be of different rank in society. I might go farther and notice those different varieties of sentiment which the manners of different nations introduce into social life, for it is a fact that the ‘ill we feel is most in apprehension.’ The legislator, therefore, who would pare down the feelings of mankind to the metaphysical standard of his own reason, would show little knowledge though he might display much genius. We return to the Palais Royal, where I set down Madame de Chastellux. Go to the Louvre. Madame de Flahaut is alone and in sorrow. Complains of the cold insensibility of her husband’s relations. He is ill, very ill. The Baron de Montesquiou comes in, and asks if her dower is secured. It is not. M. d’Angiviliers has paid his brother’s debts; quære, whether he will pay this as a debt privilégié.”
“To-day [February 1st] I hear that M. de Rouillière is dead suddenly, and as he was writing the history of the times, and was not friendly to the powers which are, their adversaries say that he was poisoned.
“Paul Jones calls on me, and wishes to have my sentiments on a plan for carrying on war against Britain in India, should she commence hostilities against Russia. At half-past three go to dine with De la Rochefoucault, and later visit Madame de Ségur, and sit for some time. She is just returned from attending on her princess at Bellevue. The two old ladies, Mesdames Adelaide and Victoire, are about to start for Rome. Ternant came this morning and desired me to go to Lafayette this evening, and thence to the Committee of Commerce. He said that he should have caused the committee to write me a note, but that Lafayette, who chooses to seem (the omnis homo) to do everything, preferred taking me along with him. After dining I go to Lafayette’s. Converse some time with Ternant, and when Lafayette comes up I tell him that I cannot go to the committee but at their request; that what I say will have less weight; that I think it better for him to go this evening with Swan, and then, if the committee signify a desire to see me, I will wait on them to-morrow evening; that in the meantime he can signify to me what he wishes should be done. He agrees to the propriety of all this in words, but I can see that he is devilishly vexed. Be it so. Better he be vexed than carry me about in his pocket.”
“This morning [February 3d] Ternant calls and tells me of what passed last evening. He says that Lafayette agreed to the free culture of tobacco; that it is an affair of party entirely. He says that he proposed inviting me to the committee, but that M. Raymond objected, as I was interested. Colonel Swan told me this morning, apropos of the tobacco question, that there is a knot of men in the Assembly who dispose of all things as they list, and who turn everything to account. He speaks of their corruption with horror. I dress and go to M. Mory’s to dinner. There has been, it seems, a mistake, and instead of finding Chaumont I meet two kept mistresses. Chaumont and his wife come in presently after. It is ridiculous enough. However, she goes home. We stay, and dine late. M. de Flahaut, I hear, is getting better. His malady arises from his misconduct in pecuniary affairs. He is a wretch, and the best thing he could do would be to die.”
“I dine with M. de Montmorin to-day [February 4th]. We have a numerous collection at dinner. Madame de Montmorin shows me an almanac from England, sent her by the Duke of Dorset, in which, among other things, is a table of weights and measures. She says that it is one among many things which will be useless to her. I write in a blank leaf opposite to it:
“This abundance of discourse” never ceased to amaze Morris, so often was the mountain delivered of the mouse. This day finished with a musical party at Madame de Chastellux’s, and an hour spent at Madame de Staël’s. “Some advances are made to me by Madame. We shall see.” More music at the Palais Royal, and a call at the Louvre, “where Madame de Nadaillac sups, to see me; she is an aristocrat outrée, and has heard that I am of her sect. She is mistaken. She is handsome, and has a good deal of esprit. Her aunt, Madame de Flahaut, tells me she is virtuous and coquette and romantic. Nous verrons. Madame de Nadaillac assures me that there are many virtuous and religious young women in Paris. She says she will give me a supper with the Abbé Maury.”
“The Assembly have abolished the farm, etc., of tobacco, permitted the culture, and laid on a large duty.*
Dine [February 13th] with M. de Lafayette, and speak to him about the enormous duty on tobacco brought in American vessels. He wishes me to give him a note about it. I tell him that I do not choose to meddle with matters out of my line. He says that Mirabeau has promised him to speak about it, and he expects that both the tobacco and the oil will be taken up by the Diplomatic Committee. I ask him whether it would not answer for the King to suspend that decree, and give his reasons. He says that he would rather the Americans should be obliged to the nation than to the prince. I tell him that I learn from some persons well informed that if he had spoken the question would have been differently decided. He says that, on the contrary, it was so carried to spite him, and that the aristocrats in particular opposed it merely on that ground. Madame de Ségur, whom I meet, confirms to me that the aristocrats lost the tobacco question. I think an additional reason for their vote is a hatred to America for having been the cause of the Revolution. M. de Montmorin assures me that he is doing everything in his power relating to the tobacco decrees, and I ask him if I shall write him a letter on the subject. He expresses a strong wish that I would, and pressed me earnestly to do so the next day, as he was then to meet the Diplomatic Committee.”
Morris was extremely anxious to keep himself out of sight, “not wishing to be quoted in any of the deliberations of the committee,” and therefore, he says, speaking of the note afterwards in a letter to Mr. Jefferson, “I stated the observations as being made by American citizens. I am endeavoring, if possible, to obtain a duty on the culture equivalent to the import duty. There is little hope of success to any proposition for alleviating, much less removing, the burdens they have laid upon us. The greater part have adopted systematic reasoning in matters of commerce as in those of government, so that, disdaining attention to facts, and deaf to the voice of experience, while others deliberate, they decide, and are more constant in their opinions in proportion as they are less acquainted with the subject, which is natural enough.”
In a private letter to Washington, written about this time, Morris says of the late decrees, that the “laying a heavy duty on oil, and giving a great preference of duty on tobacco imported in French ships, and declaring that none but those built in France shall be reputed French bottoms, will excite much ill-humor in America. Those who rule the roast here seem to think that because the old government was sometimes wrong, everything contrary to what they did must be right. Like Jack in the ‘Tale of a Tub,’ who tore his coat to pieces in pulling off the fringe and trimmings that Peter had put on, or like the old Congress in its young days, which rejected the offer of valuable contracts and employed a host of commissaries and quarter-masters because Great Britain dealt with contractors—but, really, in the present effervescence very few acts of the Assembly can be considered as deliberate movements of national will. There still continue to be three parties here. The enragés, long since known by the name of Jacobins, have lost much in the public opinion, so that they are less powerful in the Assembly than they were; but their Committees of Correspondence (called Sociétés Patriotiques), spread all over the kingdom, have given them a deep and strong hold over the people. On the other hand the numerous reforms, some of them unnecessary, and all either harsh, precipitate, or extreme, have thrown into the aristocratic party a great number of discontented.
“The military, who as such look up to the sovereign, are somewhat less factious than they were, but they are rather a mob than an army, and must, I think, fall either to the aristocratic or Jacobin side of the question. The middlemen are in a whimsical situation. In the Senate they follow the Jacobin counsels rather than appear connected with the other party. The same principle of shamefacedness operates on great occasions out-of-doors, but as the aristocrats have been forced down by a torrent of opinion from the heights of their absurd pretensions, and as the middlemen begin to be alarmed at the extremities to which they have been hurried, those two parties might come together if it were not for personal animosities among the leaders.
“This middle party would be the strongest if the nation were virtuous, but, alas! this is not the case, and therefore I think it will only serve as a stepping-stone for those who may find it convenient to change sides. In the midst, however, of all these confusions, what with confiscating the church property, selling the domains, curtailing pensions, and destroying offices, but especially by that great liquidator of public debt, a paper currency, this nation is working its way to a new state of active energy which will, I think, be displayed as soon as a vigorous government shall establish itself. The intervening confusion will probably call forth men of talent to form such government and to exert its powers.”
About a week later Morris dined with Montmorin, when they discussed the decrees. “He tells me that he is well pleased with my reflections, but he does not expect to do anything in the tobacco affair, the Assembly are so violent and so ignorant. I mention to Mr. Duport, who is here, my plan, to which he gives but little heed, for the same reason which M. de Montmorin assigns. This last tells me that a M. Pinchon, who it was said killed himself in July, 1789, was murdered; that it was shortly after he had deposited his portefeuille with the Duc d’Orléans, which he had been persuaded to do on account of the troubles; that the Duc de Penthièvre had been first proposed as his dépositaire, but this meeting with difficulty, his son-in-law was fixed upon; that the unhappy man was brought home, and declared that he was murdered. He lived to sign several papers. There was found in his house two millions, and his estate is bankrupt for fifty millions. M. Duport mentions that from a state of the Duc d’Orléans’ affairs, published by his chancellor, it appears that he is in arrears about fifty millions more. Time will unravel these things, if the suspicions be founded.”
“I dine to-day [February 22d] with Madame de Foucault, and meet there by appointment the Abbé Ronchon. Madame is kindly attentive. I bring the Abbé away with me, and he tells me that in the memorable affair of Versailles, as it was known that the King was that day to hunt in the forest of Meudon, a party of the populace, in number about a thousand, went thither, and among them were some assassins whose object was to kill him, and that a reward of a thousand guineas was to be given to the wretch who should perform that deed. He says that the Comte de St. Priest, being informed of this, sent to urge His Majesty to come immediately on important business to Versailles; that this message made the violent party so much his enemies as they afterwards appeared to be. The Abbé believes all this, which I must acknowledge that I do not. I think there is enough of little villainy about them, but I question whether there be bold criminality.”
“The Marquis de Favernay tells me [February 23d] that there is the devil to pay in Languedoc. A kind of religious war is there kindling between the Catholics and Protestants. He says that the latter, who are rich, have purchased over the national troops, and turned their swords against the Catholics, under pretence of supporting the new Constitution. I suppose others give a different account of the affair, but it seems pretty clear at Nimes and Uses they are actually come to blows. I go at nine to the Louvre to take Madame de Flahaut to sup with Madame de Nadaillac. According to custom, she is not ready. We do not arrive till ten. Our hostess is very pleasant. Insists that I shall be an aristocrat, whether I will or no. She gives me assurances of her religion and morality, etc., but she is a coquette, and she is enthusiastic and romantic.”
“Go to the Louvre [February 24th]; see Madame de Flahaut. She is ill in bed; play sixpenny whist with her. The Bishop of Autun is horribly frightened for his life. When she got home last night she found in a blank envelope a will of her Bishop making her his heir. In consequence of some things he had dropped in conversation, she concluded that he was determined to destroy himself, and therefore spent the night in great agitation and in tears. M. de St. Foi, whom she roused at four o’clock in the morning, could not find the Bishop, he having slept near the church in which he was this day to consecrate two bishops lately elected. At length it turns out that, pursuant to repeated threats, he feared that the clergy would cause him to be this day destroyed, and had ordered the letter not to be delivered till the evening, meaning to take it back if he lived through the day.”
“I learn [February 27th] that Paris is in great tumult, of which I had indeed observed some symptoms this morning. Go to the Louvre; the Bishop is here. I return home, and find the Place du Carrousel full of soldiers. See Madame de Chastellux who tells me that the Princess is much alarmed at what is passing in Paris. There is a deal of riot conjured up, but there seems to be no sufficient object, so that it must waste itself.”
During the early weeks of 1791 rumor was fulfilling her agitating mission, ably assisted by Camille Desmoulins, who faithfully kept alive the fear that the continued emigration of aristocrats meant a counter-revolutionary plot, the end of which would be a general massacre. The roads were guarded to prevent the queen from escaping, as the people were led to believe she intended doing, dressed as a jockey. The king had been supplicated by a deputation from the sections of Paris to prevent the journey of mesdames his aunts to Rome. But his majesty had only made answer that in his opinion the ladies had as much right to go as any other citizen. Deeply incensed by this answer, Camille Desmoulins wrote that they had no right to go off with their pensions, or, as he expressed it, to eat French millions on Roman soil. But on the 19th the old ladies quietly slipped off—leaving the Assembly rather startled, and extreme emotion and excitement among the people, who were fully persuaded that the entire royal family meant to follow suit. Of the departure of these ladies, Madame Campan speaks as follows: “I know from the queen that the departure of mesdames was judged necessary in order to leave the king’s action free from the constraint put upon him by the family.” La Chimique de Paris, a journal under the influence of the constitutional party, expressed great surprise, in a sarcastic article, that two sedentary old ladies should be suddenly possessed with a desire to run over the world. “C’est singulier, mais c’est possible. Elles vont, dit-on, baiser la mule du pape—c’est drôle, mais c’est édifiant.”
“The Comte de Provence, quietly dining with Madame de Balbi, found himself suddenly surrounded by the femmes de la Halle and an immense crowd of people of all professions, who, in a fever of excitement, demanded to know if he meant to quit the King’s person, or, if the King went, should he go too? To which last question he replied in such a way as to silence and disperse, for a time at least, even this mob. ‘Osez-vous,’ he said, ‘le prévoir?’”
The riot which Morris particularly mentions was in consequence of some false news spread through the town that arms and ammunition had been transported to the donjon of Vincennes, and that there existed in the Tuileries a secret passage through which the royal family intended to make their escape. Lafayette, at the head of the National Guard, saved the fortress of Vincennes from being demolished, and forced the assailants to retreat—which they did, and tumultuously rushed into Paris, with the formidable brewer Santerre in the midst of them. Morris speaks of going to the court of the Tuileries immediately after these riots, but “not being permitted to walk in the gardens; try the quay, but the mud is impassable; go home and dress, and then go to Madame de Foucault’s to dine. After dinner visit Madame de Nadaillac. She and her husband are tête-à-tête. We talk religion and morality. Monsieur observes, with much vehemence, that the man who, under pretext of the former, induces a woman to violate the latter’s laws is worse than an atheist. Madame tries to mitigate a little this denunciation. Now as Monsieur is of cold temper and temperament, and Madame very enthusiastic, it seems to me that there is in this a remote relation to the Abbé Maury, who is much considered by Madame. He is a mauvais sujet, and she is very religious and duteous, etc. I part with her upon a pretty good ton, and Monsieur is also content. Return home, and, according to appointment, Mr. Swan and M. Brémond call on me. The affair of the tobacco is adjusted with the controller so that we are to have a decided preference. The government are to furnish a million and a half, and the interested on this side of the water are to make it up four millions, the business to be carried on on equal and joint account.”
“To-day [March 2d] I dine with Lafayette. I communicate to him some facts respecting American affairs, and, as he is desirous of taking them all up together, I tell him that he had better, in such case, get a resolution or decree empowering the administration to act, for that otherwise he will have so many interests opposed to his plan that it must certainly fail. I think he will not follow this advice, because he wants to appear the Atlas which supports the two worlds. I ask him to tell me what passed the other day at the Château. He acknowledges that the Garde Nationale was drunk, and himself so angry as to have behaved indecorously to the gentlemen there; but he says, at the same time, that M. de Villequière was much in fault, who, notwithstanding he had given his word of honor not to suffer any persons to come into the King’s chamber except his usual attendants, had suffered a crowd to get thither, many of them of the worst kind of people. Having heard his story, I tell him (which is very true) that I am sorry for it, but as the thing is done he must now bear it out with a high hand, and turn M. de Villequière out of office, assigning publicly as a reason that he permitted certain persons (to be named) to come into the King’s chamber on such an occasion, contrary to the promise made on his honor. He finds this advice very good. He must be preserved yet.”
[*]The Bishop of Autun was accused of playing so high that he made a public acknowledgment of his gains in the Chronique de Paris. “ I have gained in six months,” he says, “not in the gambling-houses, but in the society of chess-clubs, about thirty thousand francs,” and seemed to think he had made atonement by having had the courage to acknowledge his errors. He did not, however, escape from the sarcasm of the pen of Camille Desmoulins, who said: “The Bishop d’Autun feels called upon to bring back all the usages of the primitive church, and among them public confession.”
[*]Unfortunately Morris does not give this conversation or his authority.
[*]Louis Blanc, in his history of the French Revolution, gives a startling description of the effect of farming the revenue which prevailed in France until this year of 1791. Of eight principal branches of the revenue five were farmed. The salt tax, the subsidy, the land, and the tobacco were all indirect contributions. The history of the farmers-general was the martyrizing of the tax-payers; for the tax-gatherers France was a conquered country. They bled the people, and they had prisons and galleys ready to punish them. Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, suggested “that by subjecting all those taxes to an administration under the immediate inspection and direction of government, the exorbitant profits of the farmers-general might be added to the revenue.” “The most dreadful laws,” he said, “exist in a country where the revenue is farmed.”