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CHAPTER XXI. - 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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Convinced that Montmorin withheld the mémoire until the king had accepted the Constitution. Lady Hamilton. Festival of the adoption of the Constitution. The opera. The king and queen received with applause. Paris illuminated. Letter to Washington on the king and the Constitution. A coalition dinner with Madame de Staël. The current of opinion against dropping the king’s titles, Sire and Majesté. A reaction in favor of the king. Supper at Madame de Guibert’s. Long conversation with Montmorin, who says he can trust no one but Morris. M. de Moustier attests Morris’s favor with their majesties. What passed between the King of Prussia and the Emperor at Pilnitz. The Duke of Orleans declares his bankruptcy. Much struggling for offices in Paris. Moustier thinks Morris mistaken about the Constitution. M. de Montmorin declares war against the newspapers.
“Seem. de Montmorin to-day [September 16th] and ask him for the different papers I have given him. He tells me that the last is in the King’s hands, being intended to regulate his future conduct. On inquiry I find that he did not deliver it till after His Majesty had accepted the Constitution. This is wrong, but it is too late to do any good by saying so. The first paper, being a discourse intended for the King, he says the King has returned; but as I gave it to him he wishes to keep it. I ask him what became of Pellin’s work. He says that was only a mémoire. I tell him what Short told me; he says that it is a fabricated story, but from what he afterwards tells me I find that Short’s account and Brémond’s are different editions of the same thing, and I am now pretty well persuaded that the poor King has been prevented by an intrigue, in which M. de Montmorin is a party, from acting as he ought. I ask him if it is true that they are like to suffer for want of corn. He says there would be enough if there were authority sufficient to cause an equal distribution. I hint to him the advantage of providing a quantity of flour to distribute gratis to the poor of this city in a moment of distress, and point out both the means and the consequences. Desire him to think of this, and be secret.”
“Brémond complains to me [September 17th] that he cannot get Montesquiou’s accounts, and suspects that the publication of them is stopped. He tells me that the King has had for some days the manifesto of the princes. Qu.: de hoc. After dinner go to the British ambassador’s, where I see Lady Hamilton,* a very extraordinary woman of the town who went to Italy in keeping, and here became so much the passion of Sir William Hamilton that he has married her. She is a fine creature to appearance.”
“This morning [September 18th] is introduced by peals of artillery. It is a high festival on the adoption of the Constitution. As no carriages can move, I walk out at one and go to the Palais Royal; thence to the Louvre. Stay and dine with Madame de Flahaut. Return home and, having deposited my watch, purse, and pocket-book, walk through the Rue St. Honoré to the Champs Élysées, thence to the Tuileries. The illumination of the Château and avenue is superb. Having had enough of the crowding and squeezing and walking, I return home. The weather is grown cool and threatens rain. While at the Louvre a balloon, let off in the Champ de Mars, passed over our heads.”
“Madame de Montmorin and her daughter and Mrs. Villars, together with Mr. Villars and Mr. Franklin, breakfast with me [September 19th]. M. de Montmorin comes in and gives me the mémoire I had written for the King. He shows me at the same time a note in which he desires a translation of it. I ask him if he has thought of the affair of the flour; he says that he has not. As I proposed that we should have some further conversation about it, he wishes me to make a small note on the subject, to be delivered together with the mémoire. I promise to do so. Go to the Louvre and read my mémoire to Madame de Flahaut, telling her that she is to assist me in the translation in order that, at a future day, I may let the King know that she is in his secret. Promise to speak to M. de Montmorin on her subject. Visit at the British ambassador’s. The Prussian minister asks me whether I was one of the men who advised the King’s letter. I tell him, no, and tell him further what I would have written. The British ambassador is present, and tells me he did not believe the story. Gouvernay afterwards speaks to me on the subject, and says that he defended me against that imputation. I tell him in general terms what I would have done and add that if, at last, it should become necessary, from the despair of doing good through the means of the King to apply to the princes, I have thought of him as the proper person to be employed therein. Lady Hamilton sings, and acts in singing, with a degree of perfection which I never yet beheld. She is truly a most charming woman, but she has a little the air of her former profession. Lady Anne Lindsay, who is here, reminds me that we met at the Duchess of Gordon’s. At five, go to the opera, ‘Castor and Pollux.’ The King and Queen are here; they are received with vast applause, and the parterre prohibit all applause except to them. See M. de Montmorin, who tells me that it will be impossible to take measures respecting subsistence for a sum greater than what may be furnished by the civil list. We are to converse further about this. I go to the Louvre, and thence to the Fontenelles’,* where there is much company and play. I read here the letter to the King from his brothers, which is well written.”
“Brémond tells me [September 21st] that St. Foi, Rayneval, etc., have set on foot an intrigue to detach the Emperor from the King of Prussia, by the means of M. de Metternich, and that all the original pieces have been communicated to him. He also tells me that Duport begins to gain an ascendency over the King and Queen. Call at the Louvre at five, and desire Madame de Flahaut to assist me by correcting my translation to-morrow morning. She is engaged; and as this is a very paltry engagement, which nevertheless is to be kept, I testify in a short manner my dissatisfaction. Speak to M. de Montmorin about the flour business. He is grown cold on the scent. His difficulties may be real, but I grow tired of a man who has always difficulties. He tells me that the King is urgent for my translation, which he (Montmorin) supposes is in order to communicate it to the Queen. Talk with the Prince de Poix about lands. Sup with the Comte de la Marck. Rien de manquant here.”
“Send this morning [September 22d] for Bergasse to come and correct my translation. Tell him what to write in consequence, and at three, having finished the copy of my work, I go to the Louvre and submit it to the perusal of Madame de Flahaut, consequent on which I make one or two corrections; refuse, however, to soften one part which is very strong. Dine at M. de Montmorin’s, and after dinner give him the translation as he goes out to the Council, having first mentioned to him that the strong traits are, I fear, dangerous just now, as His Majesty has accepted the Constitution in a different manner from what I expected. He tells me that there is no such danger. He promises to return me my discourse. Go hence to Madame de Laborde’s, and spend the evening. Speak to Laborde and set him to work to give me the facts respecting the King’s acceptance, and promise to give him a letter for the King. Speak also to Duport respecting a purchase of flour for Paris.”
“Go [September 24th] to see M. de Montmorin. Give him a letter on the flour plan, and ask for my discourse, which he will not yet give. I think he means to copy it, but is so lazy that it will not be completed in a long time. Return to the Louvre, where I pass the evening. The Bishop d’Autun, who is here, me fait sa cour, from whence I conjecture that he has learned, from some quarter or other, que je me suis un peu vanté. We shall see. I receive his advances ni mal ni bien. He tells me that the consideration of his report is postponed till the next legislature. He is sore under this. Madame de Flahaut tells me, some time after, that she is much hurt at this circumstance. Call on Laborde and give him a letter for the King, which he promises to deliver immediately.”
“To-day [September 25th] I dine at the Louvre. In the evening we walk out to see the illuminations, which are splendid; that is, the Château and Gardens of the Tuileries, Place Louis Quinze, and Champs Élysées. M. Windham, who is with us, seems attentive to Mademoiselle Duplessis, but I think he is too young and too old to be taken in.”
“At the Louvre [September 28th] we have a deal of English company: Lord Holland, Lady Anne Lindsay, etc. The Bishop d’Autun tells me that Moustier is appointed, and asks if I am lié with him. I answer, tolerably well, which leads to a discussion in order to know the ground. I see that he is forming designs on him. Probably it is Moustier’s appointment which brought the Bishop d’Autun forward towards me. He tells me that Montmorin communicated it on Thursday last. Going home I take the Chevalier de Luxembourg with me, and en route he tells me how far he was in the affairs of Favras. It seems that, when it began to take wind a little, Mirabeau and others endeavored to make him the catspaw, that, in case of need, he might be converted into the scape-goat. I sup with the Comte de la Marck, who is shortly to leave town. I ask him whether he intends for Germany and as far as Vienna. He says that he does. He says that he means to go to his terres, and spend some time in hunting and in meditating on what he has seen for the last three years. He does not incline to buy American lands. The British ambassadress is here and complains a little of neglect, which I assure her arises from business. This is true, but, besides, I think she is a little préoccupée just now.”
“The King goes this day, in about an hour hence, to close, or rather to bid farewell to the session of the National Assembly,” Morris wrote to Washington on Thursday, September 30th. “You will have seen that he has accepted the new Constitution, and been in consequence liberated from his arrest. It is a general and almost universal conviction that this Constitution is inexecutable; the makers to a man condemn it. Judge what must be the opinion of others. The King’s present business is to make himself popular, and, indeed, his life and crown depend upon it; for the Constitution is such that he must soon be more or less than he is at present, and, fortunately, he begins to think so, but, unfortunately, his advisers have neither the sense nor spirit which the occasion calls for. The new Assembly, as far as can at present be determined, is deeply imbued with republican, or rather democratical principles. The southern part of the kingdom is in the same disposition; the northern is ecclesiastical in its temper; the eastern is attached to Germany, and would gladly be reunited to the empire; Normandy is aristocratical, and so is part of Brittany; the interior part of the kingdom is monarchical. This map is (you may rely on it) just, for it is the result of great and expensive investigation made by Government, and I think you will be able, by the help of it and of the few observations which precede it, fully to understand many things which would not otherwise perhaps be so easily unriddled. You doubtless recollect that the now expiring Assembly was convened to arrange the finances, and you will perhaps be surprised to learn that, after consuming church property to the amount of one hundred millions sterling, they leave this department much worse than they found it, and the chance now is (in my opinion) rather for than against a bankruptcy. The aristocrats, who are gone and going in great numbers to join the refugee princes, believe sincerely in a coalition of the powers of Europe to reinstate their sovereign in his ancient authorities, but I believe that they are very much mistaken. Nothing of consequence can be attempted this year, and many things may happen before the month of June next, were the several potentates in earnest. I am led to imagine that their views are very different from those which are now assigned to them, and it is very far from impossible that the attempt (if any) will, so far as France is concerned, be confined to a dismemberment. The weak side of the kingdom, as matters now stand, is Flanders, but were the Provinces of Alsace-Lorraine, French Flanders, and Artois rent away, the capital would be constantly exposed to the visits of an enemy. These provinces were, as you know, acquired by an immense expense of blood and treasure, and if Louis ⅪⅤ. could have succeeded in making the Rhine his boundary from Switzerland to the ocean, he would have obtained the advantages almost of an insular position. Indeed, it is difficult to abstain from the wish that the countries included within that boundary were united under a free and efficient government, since it would, in all human probability, be the means of dispensing the blessings of freedom in no distant period to all Europe. But on this subject it is now permitted to a rational being to form rather wishes than hopes, much less expectations. I will enclose herein a note, just received, of the latest intelligence from Coblentz; it is written by the Prince de Condé to his confidential friend here, and is accompanied by the request that all French gentlemen capable of actual service will immediately repair to the standard of royalty—beyond the Rhine—or, rather, on the banks of that river. To the troops mentioned in this note are added, by the counter-revolutionists here, 15,000 Hessians and 16,000 French refugees; so that, exclusively of what the Emperor may bring forward, they muster an army, on paper, of 100,000 men. The Emperor has about 50,000 in the Low Countries. But all these appearances, and the proposed Congress of Ambassadors at Aix-la-Chapelle, do not in the least change my opinion that nothing serious will be attempted this year of our Lord.
“M. de Montmorin has resigned, and the Comte de Moustier is named as his successor, but whether he will accept seems to be very doubtful. He is now at Berlin, and as he is an intimate of M. de Calonne, who is one main-spring of the counter-revolution, he is, I presume, in the secret of what may be really in agitation. This on one side, and on the other an office the power and authority of which is just nothing at all; for you will observe that by the new Constitution every treaty and convention whatsoever must be submitted to the investigation of the Assembly, to be by them accepted or rejected. You will have seen what has been done here respecting the colonies. Their commerce, which involves their existence, is left to the mercy of the Assembly, which will not be over-attentive to their interests when they fall into competition with those of the mother country. I send out to Mr. Morris a bundle of pamphlets written by M. de Comeré, according to hints and observations which I furnished to him. Mr. Morris will give you one, and you will see that it was calculated to produce a liberal system of colonial government, beneficial to them and to us. In order to bring it about, it was proposed that commissioners should be sent out with full powers to treat with the colonial assemblies; and, could that have been carried, this pamphlet would have been the groundwork of the instructions to the commissioners. The proposition was rejected. I do expect that at length this government must come into some such measure and a useful treaty be established between France and the United States, and a road laid open for solid connection with Great Britain. In all cases we have the consolation that, if the powers of Europe, by their excluding principles, deprive us of the needful vent for our produce, which becomes daily more and more abundant, we shall, from the cheapness of living and of raw materials which result from that circumstance, make great and rapid progress in useful manufactures. This alone is wanting to complete our independence; we shall then be a world by ourselves, and far from the jars and wars of Europe. Their various revolutions will serve merely to instruct and amuse, like the roaring of a tempestuous sea, which at a certain distance becomes a pleasing sound.”
Speaking of Lafayette’s position, in a letter to Robert Morris at this time, Morris says: “You will see in this appointment of Moustier, that our friend Lafayette has no kind of influence. He is about to retire into Auvergne, to spend the winter on his estates. The King and Queen detest him, and the nobles hold him in contempt and abhorrence, so that his sun seems to be set, unless he should put himself at the head of the republican party, who at present are much opposed to him. All this results from feebleness of character and the spirit of intrigue which bring forward the courtier, but ruin the statesman. I am very sorry for him, because I believe he meant well.”
“I dine to-day [October 1st] with M. de Montmorin. After dinner ask him again for my discourse; he promises, on his honor, to give it to me. I desire him to give the King my letter about subsistence; that I care nothing for the event, but it is his duty to lay the matter before His Majesty. I ask him who made the King’s speech,* which was excellent. He assures me that the groundwork is by the King himself. I desire him to make the King observe the difference of effect between this and those long stories which they made him tell heretofore. He says that he has already done so. At the Louvre I meet Short. The Bishop d’Autun, who comes in, takes him aside and holds a long conference, which I conjecture relates to the debt from America to France, which the pious bishop wishes to make something out of. Visit Madame de Staël, who has a motley company, which, she says, have partaken of a coalition dinner. There is Beaumetz, the Bishop d’Autun, Alexandre Lameth, the Prince de Broglie, etc. Malouet comes in, and also the Comte de la Marck, who converses with madame. I observe in particular, as to the others who dine with her, their coalition seems natural enough. Ségur is here, who tells me he has asked for the ambassade de Londres, and is told that it will meet with no difficulty, but must be left to the successor of M. de Montmorin. Visit Lafayette, who receives me very coldly. I am not surprised at this.”
“Sup at the Comte de la Marck’s [October 5th]. He assures me that he is concerned in no party or coalition of parties; that he despises every man almost, in the country, and means to enter the service of some foreign prince. The Bishop d’Autun sups here and I cannot help thinking there is some mystery in all this, but what I think I can perceive clearly is that he is much disappointed in his expectations. The members of the late Assembly are all high-toned in their reprehension of this day’s work of their successors, which is too little respectful towards the King. Are they indignant that any others should exceed them in marks of indignity?”
“The National Assembly, which had yesterday determined not to address the King by the title sire or votre majesté, and to place him on a level with their president, etc., have this day [October 6th] rescinded all those resolutions, as they find the current of opinion in Paris to be against such measures. I find that the Comte de Montmorin has not yet presented to the King my letter on subsistence. This is ill done, and I think he will live to repent it. At Madame de Staël’s there is rien de marquant, except that, from the manner in which she mentions the King’s speech, I am led to believe that it is not written by his particular friends. Madame de Laborde asks me what the Queen is to do to become more popular. I tell her, after considering a little, that she must write a letter to the Emperor, and contrive to have it intercepted, etc. This is an excellent little stroke if well executed, but otherwise it is wretched.”
In his letters to friends in America Morris generally entered more fully into the details of events than he did in his diary, though the latter seems to bring the reader more en rapport with the incessant movement and agitation of Paris. A few days after (October 10) the National Assembly had revoked their determination to abolish the title of Sire, by which the king had heretofore been addressed, Morris wrote to Robert Morris commenting on the sudden accession of affection for the king among the masses: “The people of this city are become wonderfully fond of the King and have a thorough contempt for the Assembly, who are in general what used to be called at Philadelphia the blue-stockings. There is, however, this difference between the two capitals, that with you virtuous poverty is respected but here splendor is indispensable. Judge the consequence. And, to enlighten that judgment, know that at this moment they stand on the brink of bankruptcy, which can only be avoided by increasing the vigor of the executive magistrate. This becomes daily more and more apparent, and Paris exists, as it were, on the interest of the national debt. These facts will enable you to understand why the other evening, at the Italian Comedy, as it is called, the parterre or people cried out continually: ‘Vive le Roi, Vive la Reine, Vive la famille royale, Sire, Vive votre Majesté.’ These words sire and majesté were, you know, proscribed by the Assembly, which was obliged, by a stong expression of the popular sentiment, to retract that decree the very next day. A patriot in the midst of this acclamation took it into his head to cry ‘Vive la Nation,’ but the rest silenced him immediately. Now, my dear friend, this is the very same people which, when the King was brought back from his excursion, whipped a democratical duchess of my acquaintance because they heard only the last part of what she said, which was: ‘Il ne faut pas dire, “Vive le Roi.”’ She had the good sense to desire the gentleman who was with her to leave her. Whipping* is, you know, an operation which a lady would rather undergo among strangers than before her acquaintance. The provinces are not as yet in the same disposition with the capital. I must speak of M. de Favras, who was hanged very unjustly. I believe it to be true and, indeed, almost certain, that he was concerned in a plan with the 88, 604, 211, 490, to sustain the Revolution, yet there was no existent law to render this criminal, much less capital—and the crime was never duly proved (supposing it to be a crime). M. de Lafayette, who followed the business from the beginning, and was eventually the prime cause of the catastrophe, invariably meant well in it, but at last was rather overthrown by the popular torrent of the moment. His enemies now number it among what they call his crimes. Apropos of M. de Lafayette: He went to Auvergne, I am told, the day before yesterday, and this morning I am told that it is in contemplation to choose him for Mayor of Paris.”
“I tell M. de Montmorin after dinner to-day [October 14th] that the republicans mean to begin their attack by the civil list, and suggest to him the means of preventing it. He says nothing can be done for supplying provisions to Paris. I tell him that I am very glad not to be charged with that business; that mischiefs will arise of which neither he nor I will have anything to accuse ourselves, as we have done all in our power. I think he has not. I send in a blank cover 500£ to Mademoiselle Duplessis, with precautions of every kind to prevent discovery; her pension is stopped, and she knows not what to do. Poor girl, she spends her days and nights in tears. Spend the evening at Madame de Guibert’s. After supper I am un peu aimable, and as I come away have a curious conversation with Lady Anne Lindsay, who is desperately in love with Mr. Windham and tortured by jealousy. I tell her that if she wishes to bring back a lover she must alarm his fears, and if she chooses to make use of me, I am at her orders. Tell her how she ought to act, and she says that if it becomes necessary she will apply to me.”
“This morning [October 18th], immediately after breakfast, I dress and go to the Comte de Moustier’s. He appears very glad to see me, and we converse about the state of affairs. He seems inclined to accept the office of Foreign Affairs. We go together in my carriage as far as the Comte de Ségur’s, where he takes his own, and in the way I communicate to him the means of changing the French Constitution, and making at the same time a considerable acquisition of territory. He shows an attachment to the interests of Prussia. Pay a long visit to the Comte de Ségur. He is intriguing to the very eyes, while he declares his determination to be quiet. It is very possible, however, that he tells the truth, for man deceives himself much oftener than he deceives others. After dinner I pay a visit to M. de Montmorin, and find him much agitated. After staying some time in the salon we retire together, and he gives me at last the speech I had prepared for the King. He then tells me that his heart is full and he must disburden it; that, La Marck being gone, he has nobody but me whom he can trust. He then proceeds to tell me that the King, after appointing Moustier, and after Moustier’s acceptance, wishes to be off, because he fears his reputation as an aristocrat, and especially the inconsequent conduct of Madame de Bréhan, both of which he, Montmorin, had apprised him of before. He tells me that Moustier is, at the hour we are talking, in conversation with the King and Queen, and he feels much wounded that he is not of the party. He says that he has proposed two things: one, to have a council formed of persons devoted to the royal interest who would pursue the Constitution strictly, but with the view to destroy it; and the other, to leave the ministry as it is, but with the change only of his own place and to have a private council, to consist of himself, M. de Moustier, Malouet, and the Abbé de Montesquiou, or if he, from respect to his patron Monsieur, should decline, then the Archbishop of Aix; that they will do nothing; that he finds his measures are disconcerted, and he knows not what to count upon; that he supposes this to come from the Comte Mercy d’Argenteau, who gives the Queen counsels well calculated to serve the interests of Austria. I tell him that perhaps some persons have done him ill offices at Court. He says no, that he is well received, perfectly well, but he declares that he will quit, let what will happen. I see, however, that he will not quit entirely, if he can help it. He tells me that he has not force enough of character to pursue the measures which he knows to be right. This I well know. He gives me a history of what passed respecting the Cour plénière, in regard to which, having first opposed the plan as dangerous and afterwards insisted on vigorous measures to carry it through, as the slightest symptom of retreat must prove fatal, he found a different plan adopted, and then, when the King was about to take M. Necker, he told His Majesty that he would give himself a master whom he must obey; that, subsequent to this appointment, he took a course different from that which he had formerly pursued, and adopted M. Necker’s lenient modes of proceeding. I remind him that I had frequently pointed out the fatal consequences of those half-way measures. He acknowledges this and says that he also saw them, but he had not sufficient vigor of mind to pursue the course which appeared to himself to be right. I ask him what situation the King and Queen are in with respect to the princes. He says that there is no understanding between them. I tell him that I am informed that the King receives letters from his brothers which he does not communicate. He says that this is true, but he reads to him such parts as relate to public affairs. I tell him that the Queen, I understand, receives letters from the Emperor respecting affairs here. On this subject he seems to be not quite clear, and says again that he apprehends the late change to arise from Austrian counsels. He recommends to me the greatest secrecy, in a style which seems to beg my pity for so much of human weakness.”
“This morning [October 19th] the Comte de Moustier breakfasts with me. He tells me what passed yesterday with the King and Queen. He tells me that I stand high in their opinion, as well as in that of M. de Montmorin. He says the King has offered him the embassy to England, and that he is to stay there until a proper opportunity shall offer of placing him in the ministry, which would at present be dangerous. He wishes me to persuade Montmorin to stay longer, which I promise to attempt. He says he will urge the sending to America for a supply of provisions, or rather of flour, according to my proposal to M. de Montmorin. He has some scheme of finance in his head which I must discover, if I can.”
“The Comte de Moustier calls [October 21st], and tells me he asked an audience of the Queen on the subject of flour. Her Majesty told him that she has never yet seen my letter to M. de Montmorin, and she thinks it is of a nature not to have escaped her attention. He desires me to give him a copy. He then tells me that the King of Prussia will furnish money to assist in putting the finances of this country to rights. He tells me what passed with his Prussian Majesty on that subject, and that he intended to head his armies for re-establishing the French monarchy. He communicates a number of queries which he put to M. d’Écrue respecting finance, and he tells me that D’Écrue assures him there is not a man in this country capable of managing the finances, there being no one who joins a knowledge of money matters to that of state affairs. He tells me what passed between the King of Prussia and the Emperor at Pilnitz, as related to him by the King. Leopold began to higgle, but the King told him at once that, however different their dominions, he would send an equal force with the Emperor, which astonished the latter. I give him many hints and outlines of a plan for the finances of this country, and he desires me to write on the subject. I tell him that a good constitution is a previous requisite; that this is the moment for forming one, so as to obtain the royal consent, and I give him some ideas on this subject. I tell him that my plan is, at present, to persuade M. de Montmorin to continue in place until he, Moustier, can be properly admitted, and then to be made President of the Council; that the King must press M. de Montmorin to continue, and he must make the removal of Duportail a condition, by which means, if Delessart can be brought about, there will be a majority in the council. I am to press this plan on M. de Montmorin, and Moustier is, on his side, to urge the Court. I dine at Madame de Staël’s, and say too much against the Constitution, to which she provoked me by fishing for the praise of her father. I did not swallow the bait.”
“Dine to-day [October 22d] with M. de Montmorin. Before dinner I go into his closet, and there urge him to continue for some time longer in office, then to retire as President of the Council. He will not agree, first, because it is impossible to manage the department well; and, secondly, because he has so pointedly declared his determination to retire that he cannot retract. I think this last is the strongest reason. I mention to him St. Croix as being recommended by the Garde des Sceaux, in the name of all the ministers. He says that if there were not particular reasons against admitting him (and I find that these bottom on pecuniary foundations), he would be the fittest person in the world, in order to render the Ministry contemptible. He says that if Ségur will not accept, Barthélemi would answer. M. de Molleville, the Minister of the Marine, gives us at dinner the account of a dreadful insurrection of the blacks at Santo Domingo. I trust that the account (which is not official) is exaggerated. After dinner he tells me that he had a long conversation with Moustier about me this morning, and wishes to know my success with Montmorin. This leads to a conversation on the subject with Madame de Beaumont, in which I communicate the plans of the King’s enemies as they have been communicated to me. They urge me to renew the attack on M. de Montmorin. I do so, and he tells me that his difficulties are insurmountable, that the affair of the princes having possessions in Alsace is ready to be reported, and he is persuaded that the Assembly will not do what is right; that the affair of Avignon also involves a very disagreeable dispute with the Pope, which he is certain will be improperly treated by the Assembly. I tell him that these objections are trivial. He is only to communicate the whole truth to the Assembly, and let them decide as they please; that as to the treatment of French subjects in foreign countries, which forms a second head of complaint, he must remonstrate firmly on the part of the nation and communicate the result, which will, I acknowledge, be unsatisfactory, but for that reason desirable. I then tell him that he has done so much to injure himself with his order as a nobleman that he must continue in office till he can recover his reputation with them, to which effect the sending of the Abbé de Montesquiou to the princes, to know what constitution they wish for, will greatly operate. I had opened this chapter to him in the morning, as well as the negotiation to be made with the Emperor. I find that this last idea of his order works; I add, therefore, that he must stay and thereby defeat the designs of his enemies. He recurs then to his declarations so publicly made that he would retire. I tell him that these may be easily obviated, because the King can desire him to continue until he can find a suitable successor. As I am about to leave M. de Montmorin, madame takes me aside to know the success of my application to her husband. I tell her that he does not absolutely agree, but I think he will. I think, however, that he has at bottom some reason which he will not communicate as yet.
“Call on Madame de la Suze. Here I am told that the Duke of Orleans has declared his bankruptcy, and put his affairs into the hands of trustees, who allow him a pension. I did expect to have met the Comte de Moustier here, but am disappointed. Return home and read. M. de Montmorin repeated to me this morning what he had once mentioned before, viz., that he considers it indispensably necessary that the Queen should be present at the discussion of affairs of the Cabinet, and that for this purpose there should be a Privy Council, to which Malouet* should be admitted. I do not see the use of this, neither do I conceive his reason. If he expects, through Malouet, to govern that little council, he mistakes his man; at least, I think so. I told M. de Molleville that it appeared to me most fitting to remove Duportail at present and place there some brave, honest soldier, without much regard to his abilities, and then, when Moustier comes forward, to place him (Molleville) as Garde des Sceaux, and Bougainville as Minister of the Marine. He approves of this, but wishes to stay where he is until he shall have gained some reputation by putting the affairs of that department in order.”
“I find Messieurs de Malouet [October 25th] and Moustier at Madame de Staël’s to-night. The former tells me that he has advised M. de Montmorin to quit his post. He says that the Garde des Sceaux keeps the King in constant alarm, and governs him by his fears, so that M. de Montmorin has very little influence left. He says that I am mistaken in my idea that this Constitution will crumble to pieces of itself; that the resources from the assignats will hold out a considerable time; that, by delaying the liquidations, they can procrastinate the moment of distress; that the taxes are tolerably well paid, etc. I persist in my opinion, notwithstanding, that it is now evident that foreign powers will do nothing. Indeed, I am persuaded that their efforts would have tended rather to support than to destroy the new system, because mankind generally resist against violence. Moustier shows me a note he has made and transmitted to the Queen, relative to subsistence. He says he has reason to believe not only in a coalition of the different parties which divided the last Assembly, but that they are interested in the great speculations of grain made in the neighborhood of Paris.”
“M. Brémond calls [October 26th] and tells me that the republican party count with certainty on an attempt of the King to escape; that they mean to facilitate it, and then, laying the blame of all events upon the monarch and his nobles, they will stop payment and be ready to meet any attack whatever. At twelve I go by appointment to the Comte de Moustier’s, where I meet M. Tolozan. This meeting is at his request, and to confer on the subject of subsistence, but from what passes I do not see what can have been his object. I find that Ségur is ready to accept the place of M. de Montmorin, although he does not avow it.”
“Spend the evening [October 28th] with the Baron de Grand Cour; a very large company, and, of course, no society. Lord Gower tells me that he has quitted play, on which circumstance I very sincerely congratulate him. M. Brémond tells me that he has been to solicit the interest of Alexandre Lameth, to get placed. This was by the recommendation of Pellin. Lameth has promised him, and while there he saw Duportail’s man come in with a list of officers for his inspection and approbation, and as he was busied with the examination, Brémond asked to have a friend appointed sub-lieutenant, which was immediately promised.
“Wait on M. de Molleville, and open Mr. Swan’s business. I tell him that the making contracts with the lowest bidder will not answer in this country as in England, because there the articles always exist within the power of the government; and consequently, if the contractors fail in their performance, pecuniary damages set everything right; but here a failure may be of the most dangerous consequence, and it would frequently be the interest of an enemy to occasion that failure, and to pay the stipulated penalty. Hence I infer that there should be a moral security in addition to the pecuniary, and conclude that any contract he may make should be conditional on the approbation of the parties concerned in America, by the Minister Plenipotentiary there. I next suggest to him that it would be advantageous to fix a price for provisions, deliverable either in Europe, America, the Isle of France, or the West Indies, so that only an order need be given for the quantities and places. Show him the advantages that would result therefrom. I then suggest that it would be proper to have always on hand sufficient for six months’ provisions to fifty ships of the line, and to have every month a month’s fresh supply, so that, after deducting what was consumed, the balance of the provisions in store beyond six months’ supply should be sold. I tell him that if his contract be on good terms it will be but a trifling loss, if any, to the marine, and that the commerce will gain what the marine loses; but that by this means they will always be prepared for war. I conclude by telling him that I am, before all things, an American, and therefore he must consider what I say accordingly, but that it may not be amiss to consult Moustier. He is very well pleased with all this, and I think desirous of forming some such plan. He desires to have a sample of the provisions sent to him, which I promise shall be done if any of them be left. Communicate to him the tricks of his enemies, who are sold to the régisseurs. He tells me what passed this morning with the King relative to M. de Montmorin. His Majesty is a little vexed with him, and says that he has been pestering him for six months to name a successor, etc. M. de Molleville’s brother, who is just returned from Coblentz, tells him that M. de Montmorin is detested there, but that his appointment is approved of.
“Dine with M. de Montmorin. He shows me the report he intends making to the Assembly. It is wonderfully little, considering the time he has consumed in making it. Propose to him some amendments, which I think he will not adopt, and he will repent it if he does not. He declares war against the newspaper writers, and these are sometimes troublesome and sometimes dangerous enemies. He says that Ségur has been with him this morning, and accepted. He tells me that the King has not asked him to stay. To this I reply that it is his own fault, because he had declared so pointedly his determination that the King was exposed thereby to the mortification of a denial, but if he would have consented to stay on such application being made, it would have been made. He says that he does not know whether he shall continue in council. He has told the King that he will stay if he desires it, but wishes His Majesty to consider the matter well beforehand, because if hereafter he should find it convenient to send him away it would be injurious to both of them. Malouet comes during the dinner, and we converse afterwards. He confirms to me that M. de Montmorin is without influence.”
Bertrand de Molleville gives Montmorin credit for great fidelity to the king, and says of him, “that he has been judged with great severity, and perhaps he is the least known of all the men who took part in the Revolution. He was a true loyalist, and no personal fear kept him from trying to aid the king, and this he did by concealed though dangerous correspondence, which was paid for out of the funds of his department. Much of his weakness, which he frankly acknowledged, had its source in a delicate constitution.”
The diary continues: “I have a long conversation with Madame de Beaumont at Madame de Staël’s [October 29th]. She suffers exceedingly from her father’s removal from office. The British ambassadress tells me that both she and Lord Gower have quitted playing, and that she thinks I like them well enough to be pleased at it. I assure her of my attachment more in tone and manner than by words, and I think the seed is not sown on barren ground. Brémond calls me out to tell me that the emigrants expect to enter in January next, and that the Queen is at length agreed to act in concert with the princes. This, he says, is arrived direct from the Prince of Condé this day. I am afraid that the Court have some underhand scheme, and if so, they bet a certainty against an uncertainty.
“The news from Hispaniola are very bad, and I think exaggerated, but the negroes are in revolt, and employed in burning the plantations and murdering their masters. Moustier says he imagines M. de Montmorin has a mind to secure to himself the British embassy, and have him sent to Switzerland. He is therefore determined to push the Queen on that subject. I advise him to let that alone, and tell him the news brought to me this morning.”
“Visit Madame de Ségur [October 30th], who tells me that her husband has this morning resigned the office of Foreign Affairs, which he had accepted yesterday. I congratulate her on this event. He has grounded his refusal on the treatment the ministers met with yesterday from the Assembly. M. de la Sonde told me that he has further intelligence from M. Metternich, and he tells me that M. de La Porte is this evening to submit to the King a plan, sent at His Majesty’s request by M. de Muries, who, he says, is a little fellow of sense, information, and unconquerable spirit. I am to know whether His Majesty adopts it.”
[*]Sir William and Lady Hamilton were returning to Naples from London, where he had, early in the summer of 1791, privately married the fair Emma. Sir William, having found that even at the Court of Naples it was not sufficient to have made Emma his wife in a private manner, had in the spring of this year hastened to London with her to rectify the mistake, and have her acknowledged by the English sovereign.
[*]Fontenelle, the friend of Madame Necker and Madame de Geoffrin, early gave promise of a fine intellect, and wrote with a rare purity of expression and with delicate analysis. Madame de Geoffrin says of him that he was never angry, he never interrupted anyone, and always listened in preference to speaking. Said Madame Geoffrin to him one day: “M. de Fontenelle, vous n’avez jamais ri.” “Non, répondit-il, je ne l’ai jamais fait.” Fontenelle was the nephew of Corneille, and was born at Rouen.
[*]On accepting the Constitution.
[*]The whipping of women in Paris was not always according to law, and flagellation never occupied a conspicuous place in the penal code of France; but the rod had always flourished with vigor in domestic life and in schools. When, however, Paris was in the hands of the tricoteuses, and savage outlaws ruled in the streets; and, again, when the jeunesse dorée had the upper hand, flagellation was not forgotten. Nuns were waylaid in the streets and shamefully beaten by the tricoteuses, and young girls were publicly whipped by the delicate libertines of the jeunesse dorée. An old book, called “The Château at Tours,” graphically describes a kind of romantic whipping club which existed in Paris shortly before the “Terror,” composed exclusively of ladies of rank and fashion. After a trial, the lady who was found guilty of some misdemeanor was disrobed and birched by her companions. Ladies of rank had long used the birch as a means of settling their personal quarrels, and a slight, or a jeu d’esprit at the expense of the ladies and gentlemen of the court, was not infrequently revenged by whipping.
[*]Pierre Victor Malouet was a member of the States-General in 1789, and became prominent as a Liberal Royalist.