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CHAPTER XXXI. - Gouverneur Morris, The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, vol. 2 
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. 2.
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Morris goes to England. Account of the voyage from Hamburg. The Thames scenery. Mr. Pinckney. Count Woronzow. M. de Moustier. Dinner at the Marquis de Spinola’s. Conversation with Lord Grenville. He apprehends a bad disposition on the part of the American Government. Morris asks to be presented at Court. The Duke of Queensberry. Mademoiselle Faniani. Conversation with Moustier. Manifesto by the new King of France drafted by Morris. Riots in London. Dines with Pitt. Lord Grenville and Chatham. Long interview with Pitt.
On the 7th of June Morris left Altona early in the morning, and, as soon as the gates were opened, entered Hamburg to embark for London.
“We got under way this morning at six,” he says, “but are obliged to come to an anchor below Altona from the want of wind. Start again on Monday. On Tuesday the current is so strong we cannot make head against it, and we anchor. On Thursday the morning is very hazy. We tacked last night at twelve, and continued with our larboard tacks aboard till seven. We cast over a troll net and lay to. Later the wind comes more round to the northward, and we get up the net, in which we have a good many fish. On Friday, June 12th, we are directly before the wind since midnight with a pretty rough sea, so that the ship rolls considerably. Early this evening we see Lowestoft, and come to anchor about ten under the lee of Orfordness in Horsley Bay; the wind fresh, and the weather cold. I remark that in the Elbe a great portion of the shipping is American. We come through a fleet of colliers at anchor.”
“We heave our anchor this morning [June 13th], with a smart gale from the northeast. Get into the Downs about eight o’clock, where there is a fleet of eight sail of the line, besides frigates and many merchant-vessels. The wind continues to blow hard, and, the tide being with us, we run up rapidly. At length we are obliged to come to with the ebb in a reach of the river which brought the wind too much on our starboard bow. Getting underway again we are moored opposite to the Tower at eight o’clock. The sides of the river are beautiful beyond all description, and extremely well worth seeing. In effect, this voyage from Hamburg is one of the most agreeable which can be made in fine weather, but we have it extremely cold.”
“This morning [June 14th] I go on shore and take up my quarters at the Great Hotel, Covent Garden. In the course of the day I learn that Mr. Pinckney is gone to Spain and has taken his children to Paris, which is, I think, ill-judged, and must excite the jealousy of this Court. The British are taking our provision-vessels bound to France, which excites an apprehension that the treaty may not be confirmed in America. I presume it will be confirmed by a feeble majority, but it will, I imagine, hang about Mr. Jay’s neck like a millstone in his political voyages; the more so as I see, (I think) from conversation with Mr. Days, Mr. Pinckney’s secretary, that he is not at all satisfied. I explain to Mr. Days a little the situation of France, and express my apprehension that Mr. Pinckney’s conduct may be disagreeable to this Court. He says that he thinks not, but that Mr. Pinckney’s attachment to the French Revolution is not unknown to them. The Chevalier de Graave calls, and gives me a convincing proof of the misconduct of M. de Monciel to me.”
“Call [June 21st] at Count Woronzow’s, who receives me with open arms. We have much conversation. He shows me a letter from the Russian Minister at Copenhagen to him, and his consequent application to Lord Grenville. It seems that the stoppage of Danish vessels laden with grain will be compromised, and it seems that the Danish Minister, Berenstoff, disapproves highly the conduct of Sweden in regard to France. He gives me some additional proofs that the latter power has no more money left. Respecting Prussia, he seems decided that it ought to be added to Poland, and that Austria ought to recover Silesia and be permitted to possess herself of Bavaria; but he seems to think that Britain ought not to have Flanders. He wishes me to see Lord Grenville, and I tell him that if his lordship wishes it I will see him. He thinks I ought to go to Court as being a public man, and that otherwise it would look like hostility. He wishes I could replace Mr. Pinckney, whom he speaks of as a Jacobin, and adds that he was prudent enough to conceal his sentiments, whereas the person he has left behind him speaks out openly. He also expresses a wish and a hope that I may be appointed Minister to this Court. I tell him that it is my wish to pass my days in the tranquillity of private life. He tells me that the French have corrupted the southern part of America.”
“Dine [June 24th] at Mr. Boyd’s in the country, where I see the Marquis de Spinola, an able man, formerly one of my diplomatic brethren in France. He tells me that he has been employed here very assiduously in trying to prevent the government of this country from ruining their own affairs in his country—Genoa; that the bane of parliamentary influence forces them to the nomination of improper men, of which he gives me some striking instances. Indeed, this evil runs through the whole contexture of their civil and military life, so that if, on the one hand, it secures the domestic freedom and prosperity of the country (which seems, by the by, to be questioned) it does certainly, on the other, diminish its exterior influence, splendor, and even its security. There is nothing perfect in this world, and we must therefore take things as we find them. I find that Mr. Jay was universally liked here, and that Mr. Pinckney is not approved of among the government people. The news in town from the West Indies are bad, and Admiral Cornwallis has been driven into port by a French fleet. Qu.: Whether Admiral Lord Bridport has not a chance of falling in with them, for in that case he will probably obtain, with superior force, equipment, and skill, a decided as well as an easy victory.”
“Dine with Count Woronzow [June 27th]. M. de Spinola dines with us, and Mr. Burgess, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who has the American department. I have a long conversation with him after dinner, and he repeatedly expresses his wish that I would see Lord Grenville. I tell him that if his lordship wishes it I will wait upon him. I tell him the apprehensions expressed to me by men in the city respecting the capture of our provision-vessels (by the by, Hankey mentioned it this morning in terms too strong to be repeated). He tells me that those apprehensions have been excited by Mr. Deas, and from the tenor of his conversation on that chapter I see clearly that this Government are by no means satisfied with the present mission. I say all I can consistently to smooth difficulties. Admiral Lord Bridport has fallen in with the French fleet and driven them into Port L’Orient, after taking three ships of the line. He remains at sea, where he rides triumphant, and, of course, has many naval means of facilitating the debarkation of the troops destined to act in that quarter.”
“This morning [June 29th] the Comte de Moustier calls on me, and we have a long conversation. He is working to place himself as one of the new King of France’s ministers, if I can judge of his views by his conversation. He tells me that the King will be well disposed to conciliate with all parties. I mention the Duke of Orleans, but he thinks that may encounter some difficulties. While he is here, Mr. Burgess comes in. He gives me a rendezvous at Lord Grenville’s, and descants on the rights of ci-devant Monsieur to be acknowledged as King of France, whence I conjecture that the administration here lean to that idea. While he is here Mr. Beckford comes in, and he, having an estate in Jamaica, sees the necessity of being well with America, as their granary and natural protector. Go after dinner to the Marquis de Spinola’s. The conversation here, where our company consists of aristocrats of the first feather, turns on French affairs. They at first agree that union among the French is necessary, but, when they come to particulars, they fly off and are mad. Madame Spinola would send the Duke of Orleans to Siberia. An abbé, a young man, talks much, and loud, to show his esprit, and, to hear them, one would suppose that they were quite at their ease in a petit souper de Paris. Our little abbé tells us that the leaders of the French, finding how strong is the disposition of the people towards monarchy, will place the Duke of Orleans on the throne, and he, finding it impossible to gain the good opinion of the gentlemen of France, must at length accept. I ask him if it be wise to place him in that predicament; he says, whether wise or not, the King will not be able to prevent his followers from insulting him. There is, I fear, too much truth in this. His connection with Montesquiou is mentioned as a sad blot on his escutcheon. Yet Montesquiou (whatever may be his heart) is certainly one of their best heads, and they have not too many people of understanding among them. Burgess spoke of them this morning with much contempt, and, indeed, their conduct is not calculated to inspire respect.
“M. de Puisignieu calls upon me and enters into a long conversation on his affairs and those of his country. He tells me that the Comte d’Artois is much changed. He is grown wiser by adversity and more moderate in his opinions. He is going to La Vendée, and Puisignieu is going with him—but this is a secret.”
“Go to Count Woronzow’s [June 30th], who tells me he has seen Burgess, who is delighted at the conversation which he had with me. I suppose it was the last, because in that I merely assented to his ideas. The Count desires me to call on him to-morrow, when he will show me a despatch to his Court on the subject of an acknowledgment by this government of the French King. He says the ministers are strongly inclined to it, but fear the effect of that measure in the country.”
“Go to Count Woronzow’s [July 1st], who shows me a despatch to his Court containing the argument he used to Lord Grenville to persuade to an acknowledgment of the new King of France; his lordship’s reply; the plans in contemplation, etc. He is convinced that if Spain and Austria be not soon bound down by a recognition of the new King, they will make peace with the Convention. I believe he is right. He gives me some light as to this Cabinet, and by his account Lord Grenville is the strongest man in it. Dine at the Piazza and then come home, take tea, and read the newspapers.”
“This morning [July 2d], at eleven, wait by appointment on Lord Grenville, and stay till half-past twelve. We have a long conversation on general politics, the line to be adopted by Great Britain in the present moment, and the ruin of acknowledging the French King. I mention the acquisition of Flanders by this country, and the advantages to be expected from it. His lordship seems very attentive to this idea. I tell him my opinion of Prussia and the relations in which it stands to this country, in which he seems to agree. I state to him what I conceive as practicable respecting Austria and Russia in the present moment, and show him how far it would affect France by pushing the King of Prussia to extremity; this also strikes him forcibly. I state the various advantages which might result from acknowledging the French King: the treaties which might be formed with him, the difference between appearing as auxiliaries and invaders, etc. State to him, further, the necessity of a moderate line of conduct on the part of the new King, so as to lessen, if not destroy, opposition to him. Touch on the means of keeping Spain, etc., steady. Observe to him that Sardinia must ever be the ally of France and the enemy of Austria. All this makes an impression. I notice the state of Italy and the utter indifference to Great Britain whether that country continue in its present political form or put on any other. He wishes to know the state of France. I observe to him that half a dozen different people going through that country will give each a different account of it, and that he can, in his cabinet, form a better opinion on principles which I explain, and then add correspondent information. I take up what might be the feelings of the country on the step proposed, and cite the conduct of Queen Elizabeth as an authority which they would be little inclined to question, whatever may be its intrinsic merit. Having gone far into that affair, I then mention, as a business which I have no right to meddle in but which, from its importance, presses itself upon me—the taking of our ships and the ill blood which might thereby be excited; how useful it would be to give immediate relief; the very bad consequences of delay to the party interested and its resulting effects on national feelings. He says he believes everything is done which can be done to give despatch, general assurances—and was inclined to think the price allowed would render the capture rather useful than injurious to the owners. He then mentions a declaration by Mr. Innis to the Governor of Kentucky, that the influence of the British Cabinet has been used to prevent our success in negotiation for the free use of the Mississippi, and how injurious this is, as they are really desirous we should have it. He apprehends that the American Government are not so well disposed towards Great Britain as he had been led to imagine. I say everything which appears to me proper for removing that impression, and suggest a confidential application by the British minister. He states the danger of publicity from the nature of our government, and its consequent effects, on which I suggest a verbal communication to the President; to this also he is disinclined, as not coinciding with their habits of business, but wishes I would write a private letter on the subject, which I promise. At coming away he expresses the wish to see me again before I leave town; also that Mr. Pitt wishes to see me. I will wait on them, etc.—and then recollect the being presented to His Majesty, which I will ask on the ground of respect, but would rather avoid, unless his lordship should think it would be taken ill. He says that, considering the place I have filled, he thinks it would be most proper; upon which I desire him to present me, and to let me know the time and place, etc. I call (at his request) on Mr. Windham. He is just going to Court, is under restraint, wishes to commence an interesting conversation which there is no time to pursue, so I avoid it and leave him. Dine at M. de Ciricello’s, the Neapolitan minister. The Duc d’Harcourt, who is here, speaks to me, first respecting the Duke of Orleans, and afterwards generally on French affairs. He has much the idea of re-establishing the parlements. I recommend on the part of the new King such general declarations as will bind him down to nothing except a general oblivion of the past, with very few exceptions. Try to convince him that re-establishing the parlements will be in the first instance attended with much difficulty on the part of the people, and in the second will occasion much opposition by them to his measures.”
“I visit Mr. Burgess [July 3d] at the Secretary’s office, and, speaking of what Lord Grenville had said yesterday respecting the spirit of our Government, from what Mr. Innis had said to the Governor of Kentucky, he tells me that he thinks much stronger ground is given by Mr. Randolph, the Secretary of State, in his intercourse with Mr. Hammond, to whom he had refused a sight of the treaty, and to whom he holds the same or even severer language than before. I tell him of Mr. Jay’s arrival, which he is much rejoiced at.”
On the 3d of July Morris wrote a private letter to Washington, and enclosing it to Lord Grenville requested “that he would be so kind as to note anything that might appear inaccurate in it.” In this letter to Washington he begged to suggest that it seemed “most consistent, not only with the prudence but the dignity of Government, to prevent as much as possible these hot speeches, lest we should fall into the state described by Butler:
“His lordship was particular in mentioning that these things do not excite irritation, but apprehension. This distinction consists with His Majesty’s dignity, but the ultimate object is the same, since either must lead to disagreeable consequences. Now there is every reason to believe that the governments mean well and fairly to each other; it would therefore be particularly unfortunate that misunderstandings should arise, especially at the present moment, and on ground the most foreign to your temper and disposition.”
“To-day [July 4th] I go to Madame de Tremouille’s, and make her, what she had asked for, a long visit. The Duke of Queensberry, who comes in while I am there, desires Mademoiselle Faniani to invite me to dine with the Duchess de la Tremouille at his house, which I cannot do. This Mademoiselle Faniani is an extraordinary person. She bears the name of the husband of her mother. George Selwyn, of famous memory, left her his fortune in the persuasion that she was his child, and the Duke of Queensberry looks upon her as the issue of his loins, treats her with the tenderness of a parent, and will, it is supposed, bequeath a great part of his fortune to her. Scandal, in the mean time, says that she is already a mother by unknown aid. She has fine eyes and an intelligent countenance. Dine at the Piazza coffee-house with a host of Americans to celebrate this day, but I leave them early, very early. Mr. Mitchell, of Philadelphia, who sat near me at dinner, tells me that the ministry here are very fair in their conduct respecting the vessels lately taken with provisions on board, and acknowledges that it will be much better for him that all others in which he is concerned should also be taken.”
“The weather is fine this morning [July 5th]. M. de Bonnet calls upon me, and sits a long time. He urges me to prepare a manifesto for the new King of France, which I decline, but he returns so often to the charge that I promise at last to write something, if my time will permit. Hence to dinner with M. de Spinola. The Baron de Breteuil is here, and takes possession of me in the afternoon. Spinola tells me that the British ministry will probably acknowledge the French King; also that a good proclamation will be made as soon as they get footing in La Vendée.”
“I sit down [July 7th] to write, but O’Connel comes in, and is desirous of information respecting France, and so solicitous to obtain my sentiments as to future conduct, and my opinions of the success, that I am obliged to give him some time, which I very much regret. He has just left me, when the Chevalier de Graave comes in, and quite wearies me and almost vexes me. Having been one of the ministres ephéméres of the unfortunate Louis Seize, he talks of having enjoyed His Majesty’s confidence, etc., as if he had really been an efficient Cabinet Minister. And then his wild ideas respecting the succession to the throne! He is truly a bore.”
“This morning [July 8th], dress and go to Lord Grenville’s. He is not disengaged till after two, when we go to Court, and the levee is over. He makes apologies, but I desire him to mention simply to the King my appointment, which answers all my views. I give him a sketch of what I had prepared for the French King. Go from St. James’s to Sir John Sinclair’s, and then to Count Woronzow’s. He tells me that Lord Macartney is to go to the new King as the confidential agent of this Court. I recommend strongly Kosciusko to the Russian Court if they would use Poland against Prussia, especially if they mean to give some executable form of government to that country. I tell him, from some expressions which dropped from Lord Grenville, I think they mean to acknowledge the King of France.”
“The Comte de Moustier calls on me. Says he was long in connection with Windham, the Minister at War, and had urged him lately to see and consult me. He says Mr. Pitt has consigned over the affairs of La Vendée to Mr. Windham. He (Moustier) has sundry plans respecting France, but French liberty does not enter into them. I go to the Secretary’s office, and am detained some time before I can see Mr. Burgess. He tells me that Bond will remain chargé d’affaires till a minister can be found: ‘A thing,’ says he, ‘very difficult; we have not the men in this country.’ I tell him they may perhaps find two men if not one, and recommend a man of social temper for the chief. This, however, is all, on my part, with the utmost deference, etc. We converse a little on their European politics, and especially the King of Prussia, to whom we are led by the mention of Lord Malmesbury. He says that, previous to the British subsidy, he knew the King of Prussia had received two millions sterling from France to betray the coalized powers previous to the subsidiary treaty made with this country. Not being able to prove the fact, nobody would believe him, and so Lord Malmesbury went forward and was the dupe. He says the Hanoverian Regency are not Jacobins, but worse—illuminés. I tell him they are Prussian, and if the Prussian Court be not otherwise employed they will soon steal Hanover. He is of the same opinion. I go to Putney, and dine with Mr. and Mrs. John B. Church. There is a party of English Jacobins, who are really insufferable. If their conduct may be estimated by their conversation, they will certainly be compromised to the extreme. I do not wonder that Mr. Pinckney should have given offence by keeping such company.”
“To-day [July 11th] I call on Count Woronzow, and show him a draft of a manifesto by the new King of France, which I gave to Lord Grenville last Wednesday, and which he has returned with his wish that it may arrive in season. Count Woronzow is well pleased with it, and thinks the Duc d’Harcourt should give money to the person who will carry it to the King. I tell him that is a matter to be settled among them. He gives me an account of the strange levity and wild negotiations of the Comte d’Artois; the pitiful folly of a M. Serenne to whom he gives his confidence. He fears that, when arrived in La Vendée, he will surround himself by such petits maîtres, and disgust the chiefs who have acquired the confidence of the people in that quarter; namely, Puisaye, Labourdonnaye, Charette, Stoflet, etc., and wishes me to caution some of his entours. I tell him that would have no other effect than to lead the persons to whom I may give such caution into a communication of it to all those who are about the Prince, and by that means more effectually produce the mischief we mean to avoid.”
“The people in this town seem [July 14th] very riotous, The scarcity and dearness of bread is a principal cause of this disposition, fomented doubtless by designing men. This necessary article has risen to double the former price, and wheat was this day, I understand, so high that fifty per cent. of that former price is to be added. It has sold as high as £5 per quarter, or 12s. 6d. per bushel. Go to dine at Mr. Pitt’s. We sit down six. Lord Grenville, Chatham, and another come later. The rule is established for six precisely, which is right, I think. The wines are good, and the conversation flippant. After dinner I have some further conversation with Lord Grenville, and mention par hasard M. de Boursac, my companion in a tour through Holstein—his poverty, among other things—and he says the means of joining the army shall be supplied. We agree that I shall give him (if still at Altona) a credit on my banker for £100. He says he has taken the liberty to give Lord Macartney a copy of the manifesto which I had showed him, which I do not, of course, disapprove of. Indeed, I knew it before. I am to see Mr. Pitt to-morrow. The mob broke his windows yesterday and are rioting in Moorfield this evening.”
Enclosing an order on Messrs. Parish & Co., Hamburg, for one hundred pounds sterling, Mr. Morris sent the following letter to the Vicomte de Boursac:
“Dans les circonstances actuelles, monsieur, vous désirez certainement vous rapprocher de votre chef. Il est possible que vous manquiez de moyens pecuniaires, et la lettre ci-jointe vous en fournira. Ne parlez pas d’obligations. Souvenez-vous toujours de nos conversations, et tâchez de faire comprendre à tout le monde combien il est essentiel de pardonner, d’oublier le passé, en ne pensant qu’à l’avenir. Les dispositions ici sont excellentes. Ils veulent franchement rétablir la France, mais ils ne veulent pas verser le sang et les trésors de l’Angleterre pour assouvir des vengeances particulières. Ils sont dans ce que j’appelle les bons principes, et je me trompe fort ou le nouveau roi se déclarera ouvertement pour la modération et pour la conciliation.”∗
“This morning [July 15th], at ten, I visit Mr. Pitt. I tell him that as I presume Lord Grenville has given him the purport of our conversation it will be best that he should ask me questions. He does so, and I reply to them. Our interview is long, and he is much satisfied with it. I recommend earnestly sending some man to the Comte d’Artois to keep him from doing foolish things. Ask the parole of Piquet’s sons, which he promises, and to pay them fifty pounds apiece. He asks me my ideas respecting a future constitution for France, which I avoid giving as much as possible. Some points, however, we examined.”
[∗]Translation.—In the present circumstances, sir, you evidently desire to be nearer your chief. It may be that the pecuniary means fail to make that possible. The enclosed letter will supply you with what you want. Do not speak of obligations. Only remember our conversations, and try to make everyone understand how necessary it is to forgive, and to forget the past, thinking only of the future. The disposition here is excellent. They wish honestly to re-establish France but they refuse to pour out the blood and the treasures of England to satisfy private revenges. They hold what I would call good principles, and I should be much mistaken if the new king did not declare himself to be for moderation and conciliation.