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CHAPTER XXXV. - 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 Switzerland in June, 1796. Lord Grenville provides him with letters. Altona. The Duke of Orleans. Journey to Berlin. Berlin. Count de Haugwitz. Conversation with M. Kalitchoff. Dines with Prince Ferdinand. Introduced to the Princess Dowager of Hesse. Dines with Count Haugwitz. First of a series of letters to Lord Grenville. Dines with the Russian minister. Long conversation. Madame de Nadaillac. Letter to Lady Sutherland. Letter to Lord Grenville. Dinner at Lord Elgin’s. An announcement of a victory of the French at Brescia. An evening at Prince Ferdinand’s. Dines with Marshal Von Mollendorf. Leaves Berlin.
In June of this year Morris was suddenly called, by some “indispensable circumstances, to take a journey into Switzerland; and my sense of propriety,” he wrote to Washington, “induces me to make the long and inconvenient circuit of Hamburg in preference to the short cut through France.” In this same letter he said: “Short as this letter is, I must not close without the tedious repetition how important I conceive it to be that you should continue in office. Would you require a very strong reason indeed? You yourself shall give it from the last four months of our history, and I will freely consent to your retirement when you can designate a successor who will truly hold the sentiments and pursue the conduct mentioned in yours of December. But even then you ought to consider that it is not given to every man to bend the bow of Ulysses, whatever may be his wishes or intentions, and well know that weight of character is, in arduous circumstances, quite as useful as strength of mind. God grant you long life and good health; the rest you will take care of. Farewell. I am, ever yours.”
Morris left London on the 7th of June for Switzerland, having previously taken leave of the king, partaken of farewell dinners with various friends, and conversed with Lord Grenville, “which conversation, though short,” he says, “amounts nevertheless to a great deal in substance.” He left amply provided by Lord Grenville with letters.
After the various vicissitudes experienced at that time when crossing the North Sea from Gravesend to Altona in a Dutch sailing-vessel—“sleeping in a so-called bed upon a mattress about two feet too short, with no sheets and but two blankets,” with a pretty fresh wind and “all sail left standing so as to avoid the trouble of taking them in and setting them again,” Morris arrived safely at Altona, June 12th. “The vis inertiœ of the Dutchman nearly cost me my horses. At four I hear them stamping and struggling upon deck. They tumble down, break the frail stalls which had been built for them, and such is the list of the ship that it is with difficulty they can, when clear of the wreck, keep upon their legs. I go to my old quarters at Altona, but, alack! they are taken, and, what is worse, my landlord is not at home, so that I know not whether any lodgings are taken for me elsewhere. Finally, I have my baggage brought to the King of England Hotel. Everything is, I find, become dearer since I left this place, or else the expectations of the innkeeper are greatly raised by the concourse of strangers. I meet M. Dumas this morning in the street; he regrets not having believed what I told him about the assignats.”
“A M. Macon, aide-de-camp to M. de Lafayette, calls on me [June 20th], and consumes a great deal of my time in recounting projects to get him out of prison. He is to send me some papers relating to his confinement, etc. I write less than I ought, owing to this interruption, and then go and partake of an indifferent dinner at Madame de Flahaut’s. Miss Mathiesen gives me a lesson in the German language. Take Madame de Flahaut driving, and, chemin faisant, she tells me her whereabouts with her Portuguese lover, M. Souza.”
“This morning [June 29th] the Abbé de St. Far calls on me, and then M. de Montjoie, whom I accompany to his lodgings, and see there the Duke of Orleans, with whom I converse on his situation and future prospects. He is to breakfast with me to-morrow. Return home, and, as I am in a hurry, fearing to be late for an appointment, I hurt my foot on the wretched pavement of this town. The Abbé de St. Far does not come until a long half-hour after my return. We dine together at the restaurateur’s, and go thence to Madame de Flahaut’s.”
“This morning [June 30th] MM. Montjoie and d’Orléans breakfast with me. Settle the proper arrangements with the latter, and take him home in my way to dinner at Mr. Parish’s. A large company here to a turtle, and Mr. Ross, the gendre de la maison, makes us drink an immense dose of claret. Play at whist, and return home late. I observe that M. Bonaparte has, in a late address to the Tyrolese, imitated in some measure the famous proclamation of the Duke of Brunswick. Those who found the latter horrible, admire the former for its energy. Such is the justice and impartiality of mankind. If I judge rightly of those mountaineers, M. Bonaparte will not find favor with them, and, after committing himself by such sanguinary declaration, he will, by adhering to it, excite indignation, or, by abandoning it, contempt.”
“This morning [July 12th] I am up at three o’clock, and, after much fatigue in hurrying my servants packing up, I at length get off at five on my journey to Berlin. At Fehrbellin I take post-horses, so as to spare my own young cattle. The waagemeister tries to make me pay for one more horse than I ordered. He considers himself a man of genius, and so, to show that genius, is very eloquent on every occasion, in the very worst dialect of the German language. He is a very great patriot as far as the abuse of kings, nobles, priests, etc., may go, and, with high pretensions to superiority over his fellow-servants, is disposed to consider himself on a level with his master. He says he despises Prussia and its government so much that he never troubled himself to inquire about Berlin, etc. However, as he sits next the postilion, this one tells him that postilions are forbidden to smoke through the forest; that the jägers, if they see them do it, take away their pipes, but yet the jägers themselves smoke. He tells me this with much zeal and emphasis, to prove the oppression of the government. What a barbarous law against the poor. I humbly represent to him that the poor depend much for fuel on these forests, which may be quite consumed by the carelessness of a postilion; that there is no great hardship in being deprived of the use of a pipe while a man rides from one stage to another; that it would be, perhaps, a useful regulation of police to prohibit smoking anywhere, except in the apartments of a house, because villages may be consumed by it, and remind him of our anxiety on shipboard lest the smokers should set the hay on fire. He takes his departure from this point by asserting that there is much more danger from the use of flambeaux behind noblemen’s carriages. I then again humbly represent to him that in the dark, rainy, or snowy nights of winter, numerous carriages, driving about in every direction and through narrow streets, without lights, might not only injure each other but prove fatal to footpassengers; wherefore it might be a useful regulation of police to oblige those who use carriages to exhibit lights. On the whole, I desire him to inquire whether a nobleman be not equally forbidden, with all others, to smoke in the forest. After some consultation with the postilion, he exults in the discovery that, though the law be general, yet the jägers do not take away the noblemen’s pipes. Take leave to suggest that, when a government makes just and equal laws, it cannot be blamed merely because some of those to whom the execution is intrusted wink at the breach of them; that we ourselves, on entering the frontier, found it convenient to encourage the officers in their delinquency by way of expediting our journey. Here again, filled with patriotic zeal, he complains that the portmanteau of a foot-passenger would have been examined. I do not find it worth while to continue the conversation further than to suggest that the blame here, if any, falls on the officer and not on the prince; besides, that one who travels in a chariot and four is not likely to smuggle. But the postilion makes the best commentary on the subject by lighting his pipe, and as the smoke flies in the other’s face and incommodes him not a little, I simply observe that the poor can elude the laws as well as the rich. The postilion smokes on with great fervor, till the patriot loses all patience, and would, I am persuaded, if armed at this instant with legislative power, make it felony to smoke at all. I cannot help meditating again on this occasion (as on a thousand others) upon the manner in which travels are written. A man has adopted some system of morality or politics or religion, either from habit or whim, and, in the plenitude of his own infallibility, goes on condemning the practice of every other person and nation, catches up single incidents and converts them into general data, by way of supporting his hypothesis, and, fixing on special inhibitions without seeking the reason of the law, condemns the legislator for those things which most merit applause, and there where he shows himself a provident parent, the self-conceited satirist marks him as the object of detestation.”
“At seven [July 17th] we reach the Hôtel de Russie at Berlin. The appearance of this town is magnificent, and at the same time there is an air of dissoluteness which is striking. It reminds me at once of the Palais Royal. They say that a hotter season was never known here. Nous verrons.”
“In the afternoon [July 18th] visit the ministers of Portugal, Spain, and Russia, whom I see; then the British minister, who is not at home, so I leave my letter for him; so, also, for MM. Guillaume de Humboldt and Schmidt. Count Haugwitz desires I will come to-morrow at eleven. Go from M. Schmidt’s to Madame de Nadaillac’s, who reproaches me for not coming sooner etc. Stay till twelve o’clock; a small party there à la française. The weather this day is warm, though not quite so hot as the two preceding days. I observe, in driving through this great unpeopled town, that the greater part of it is built of brick, plastered over to imitate freestone. The plastering already falls off in many places. In effect, it is emblematical of the empire over which it presides. The immense appearances, I think, want solidity, and this power must (unless upheld by the same genius and talents with those to which it owes its birth) soon fade away, and figure hereafter in history as one of those grand operas which have amused generations long since mingled with the dust, and of which no traces are now to be found. And yet the present situation of affairs would, if duly improved, furnish the means which are wanting (un arrondissement) to make of Prussia a permanent power.”
“I am engaged to wait on Count Haugwitz∗ [July 19th], which I do at eleven, for the people of this country are early. He seems to be a sensible man. Our conversation is, of course, on the current affairs. I tell him that I consider Prussia mistress, in the present circumstances, of the fate of Europe, and throw out the idea that Hanover appears to me necessary to the due consistency of the Prussian Empire. I see that this is a favorite idea. He asks me by what means that acquisition is to be made, and I suggest the exchange of it for Flanders, as a transaction which might perhaps be suitable to all parties. He seems to consider that object as environed by much of embarrassment, and it seems to me that this arises from the length to which they have gone in connection with France. He wishes to know the reason why money is so scarce in England, and I tell him the different causes of scarcity and the circumstances which have placed it so much in evidence. I terminate the conversation, which is leading into length, by taking leave of him. If he wishes anything further, he will seek it. But his chief (Bischofs-werder† ) being with the King in Pyrmont, it is probable he will leave all this just where it is. We considered a little the probable state of France in time to come. I go from hence to see Madame de Nadaillac, and take her to dine with the Portuguese minister. After dinner visit her son at his pension, and we then ride in the park together. Un peu tendre, mais rien de conclusif. I learn that the King is as much in the hands of common women as ever Louis XV. was, and still more—if possible. The great events which occupy just now the attention of this capital are the exilings of abandoned women and actresses, etc.; high-handed acts of authority, exercised towards very insignificant persons and on very trivial occasions, serving to excite at once contempt, disgust, and aversion; but there are more than twenty-five thousand troops, well disciplined and appointed, to preserve the majesty of the Empire. This town is built on such a dead level that the gutters do not carry off the water, and, of course, the stench is great and disagreeable, probably most unwholesome.”
“M. Kalitchoff wished to know [July 22d] whether I thought anything could be done to serve the wandering chief of the House of Bourbon.∗ I tell him that in my opinion he has nothing left but to try and get shot, redeeming by valor the foregone follies of his conduct. This, if he fails, will rescue his memory from reproach, and if fate directs away the shot aimed at his life it may restore him to the good opinion of his nation; that there is very little chance of his being called to the throne of his ancestors, but if any, it is only to be secured by such valorous conduct as may command the respect of the French. The Russian minister wishes to continue a conversation which I commenced with him the other day, so I go on and explain, under the various hypotheses which present themselves, what I conceive possible for the different powers of Europe. M. d’Escar dines with me, and after dinner I go to M. de Humboldt’s, who takes me to see Madame de Berg. Go from thence to Madame de Nadaillac’s, who takes me to tea at Madame de Haugwitz’s. The Spanish minister says that the people of Rome are extremely vexed at the peace made with the French by the Pope.”
“This morning [July 23d] M. de Humboldt calls on me, and we go together to see a monument raised by the present King to his natural son. I dine (very much against my will) with Prince Ferdinand. I was engaged to a very agreeable party, but it seems that their Highnesses must never be denied unless it is from indisposition. I had, however, written a note declining the intended honor, but the messenger, upon looking at it, for it was a letter patent like the invitation, said he could not deliver it, that nobody ever refused, etc.—all which I was informed of after he was gone, and on consulting found I must go or give mortal offence, which last I have no inclination to do; so I write another note and send out to hunt up the messenger. While I am abroad this untoward incident is arranged, and of course I am at Bellevue. This prince resembles the picture of his brother, the late king, but has by no means the same expression of countenance. The princess is tolerably well-looking, now that she is made up, and the children are rather handsome than otherwise. It is said that their progenitor was one Schmittau, aide-de-camp to old Frederick. Old Ferdinand has at least the exterior of regard to this acquired offspring. The princess is overjoyed at a piece of news she has just heard, in such way as proves that it is a fabrication to amuse her, by some courtier who knows the gentle feelings of her breast. A traveller, it seems, is arrived, who heard from the servant of some other traveller that in a popular commotion at Vienna, consequent on the late ill-success of the Austrian arms, the Emperor has been massacred by the mob. She says it is a pity, for he, a good sort of creature, innocent cause of all the evils which Europe groans under, and, moreover, being already afflicted with a pectoral complaint, must naturally perish in no distant period, if his days be not already shortened by the catastrophe she has just heard. This Court of Ferdinand abounds in such news, and from the same cause, of which a late instance is said to have produced a good anecdote. Somebody had contrived to make the whole host of Condé prisoners, and then to put them all to the sword by the victorious republicans. Elated by so splendid an affair, the princess sent to M. Caillard, the Minister of the Republic, to know if it was true; and he in reply is said to have written that he had not the slightest information of so bloody an event, which it was to be hoped, for the sake of humanity, was not true. I sit at table next to a M. Percival, brother to Madame de Vannoise. He says that he knew me in the society of Madame de Laborde, of the Carrousel, at Paris. He brought here the diamond called the ‘Regent,’ to be pledged for a loan, which has been obtained for the new Republic. He assures me that his sentiments are still pure, and those of M. Caillard also. Asks permission to wait on me, and to make me acquainted with M. Caillard. I shall be very happy, etc., but apprise him that I am not at all agreeable to his government, and therefore leave it to him to consult with M. Caillard how far it may be proper to risk seeing me. He seems very desirous. This afternoon the ministers of Spain and Portugal, with the Marquise de Nadaillac and Baron d’Escar go to the garden at Charlottenburg, which they are so kind as to show me, and afterwards we take tea with Mrs. Brown, the wife of the King’s physician—an English family. Here I see Princess Augusta, youngest daughter of His Prussian Majesty, who seems desirous to please. The garden of Charlottenburg is tolerable, and that is all. On our return, speaking of the arrangements of old Frederick about his posterity, the Baron d’Escar tells me the history of the present King of Sweden, who is the illegitimate son of the Duchess of Sudermania. Louis XV. was said to be the son of a M. de Nangis. The questions raised as to the legitimacy of the late Dauphin are buried now in the tomb which encloses the ashes of that unfortunate child. From what source is to flow the new line of Gallic monarchs?”
“I am introduced to-day [July 24th] to the Princess Dowager of Hesse, who being desirous to know what will probably result from the progress of the French arms, I tell her that the little princes along the Rhine must lay their account in being the humble servants of the Republic. She does not like this. Prince Frederick says the proclamation of the Duke of Brunswick∗ was forced upon him by the King, acting with the advice of Shulemberg, who adopted the plan given by —; that the conduct of the campaign was contrary to the advice of his brother, Prince Henry, who recommended assembling the army on the frontier, and declaring to the French nation that it was not intended to invade them, much less to dismember the kingdom, but merely to re-establish the monarchy. This plan would not have succeeded better than the other; at least, I think not. But all the past is now consigned to the facts of history. As to the future, it is in the hands of that Supreme Intelligence which mocks the prudence of man, and his cunning, which we presume to dignify with the name of wisdom.”
“Call on Madame de Nadaillac [July 25th]. The Baron d’Escar comes in. He seems a little hurt. Dine at home, and call after dinner to take her out to ride. He is there, and has the same air. He wishes to marry her, a foolish thing for both of them, but he is in love and can’t see it. She, who is not, opposes but pities him. I advise her to love me, which she seems inclined to, but reason steps in to advise her against it. She has preserved herself pure from a man she was much attached to during her husband’s life by respect for the marriage vow; she has resisted the King of Prussia, who offered the honors of the handkerchief, and Prince Louis, whose letters she shows me proving that fact. It would be ridiculous to succumb now to a voyageur who treats everything lightly, and yet such a thing might happen. She gives me the character of the ministers and monarch conformably to what I had previously heard among the members of the Corps Diplomatique. The Baron, who comes after our return, has an air of despondency which touches me, and which is far from being changed by perceiving, in the countenance of the fair, marks of sentiment which he cannot excite.”
“The Vicomte d’Anadia and Chevalier de Borghese breakfast with me [July 26th]. The latter tells me that the French are at their old work of destroying nobility in Italy. Perhaps some persons not yet involved in the mischief may awaken, but as yet the sleep appears profound. When they are gone I call on Lord Elgin,∗ and we converse fully on the present state of affairs. He considers the Prussian Cabinet as being completely in the hands of France, and, moreover, as being too feeble, from the personal character of the King, to undertake and pursue any great plan of politics. He says they will confine themselves to the peculation of towns and districts from time to time, so as to keep up the attention and flatter the avidity of the Prussian monarch and nation, without risking the chances of remote events for any permanent interest. He thinks also that Russia will not assent to any arrangement which may give an increase of power to this monarchy. Things seem, however, to press pretty hard, and, in my opinion, if a decisive conduct be not speedily adopted, all future efforts will be useless. If, however, a considerable battle should be gained against the French in Upper Suabia, it would totally change the face of affairs. Lord Elgin says he is upon the scent of what has passed in Pyrmont. I fancy the public will know it as soon as anybody; for if, in effect, there be any plan adopted there, its execution must be prompt and immediate. He gives me the history of the little stories of women which have lately emanated from the King of the Bulgarians. Evidently he must be a very weak Prince, and if he be placed in arduous circumstances he must be ruined. I take Madame de Nadaillac to dinner at M. Haugwitz’s. A petit dîner, after which some conversation with him. In the course of it we agree that the situation of Europe is very critical; that the German Empire is, in effect, annihilated, and the name of it only useful to those who, in the interval which precedes its public dissolution, know how to possess themselves of its spoils; that this idea formed the basis of that policy pursued by old Fritz when he put himself at the head of a Germanic Confederation; that the possession of Mayence by the French opens for them a road into the heart of Germany, and that the fate of Europe is in the hands of the Prussian Cabinet. I observe to him that, however it may have been in the interest of this Court to depress the Austrian power, it seems by no means advisable to overturn it, and that the extension of the power of France, though very pleasing to us Americans and republicans, cannot be perfectly so to the kings and nobles of Europe, who will probably see the anticipation of their own fate in ancient history, and may perhaps already perceive that the Republic of France is not much more respectful in its conduct than was ancient Rome. He does not feel pleasantly under this, but says, as to the conduct of this kingdom, they must wait and let others come to them (laisser venir), which may be translated ‘bid at their auction.’ I applaud the wisdom of this idea, which might, however, be characterized by a name less noble, and only add that if they suffer matters to go one-half inch beyond their means of arresting the progress, from that moment they are lost; just as all those have been hitherto ruined who, in a like indolence, have looked on indifferent at the fate of their neighbors. He tells me that Saxony wishes now to connect herself federatively with Prussia. He does not say, neither do I ask, what may be the success of such proposal, because I presume that the sense of the French Directory must be first known. I tell him that there is one circumstance well worthy of their attention, viz., that the French Government, apprehensive lest the army should overturn them and establish the authority of a military chief, cannot but desire the destruction of that army previous to a peace, and of course that it would be a leading point of policy with them to re-establish Poland, in the course of which Russia and Prussia could not do them a greater favor than to kill their troops. This conception seems never to have entered into people’s heads here, so difficult is it to comprehend what passes before our eyes.”
“Dine [July 27th] with Lord Elgin, who learns that a truce of nineteen days has taken place between Austria and France. He communicates to me whatever he knows of the situation of things; is to call on M. d’Alvensleben,∗ who hitherto has been the greatest enemy of the British Court.”
“I dine at M. Schmidt’s at Charlottenburg [July 28th]. We have a large company. Lord Elgin tells me the result of his conference with M. d’Alvensleben, which is far more satisfactory than he expected. I go to Prince Ferdinand’s. The Princess not being at home, I await her return.”
“This morning [July 29th] I read, and write a letter. Call on the Portuguese and British ministers. Dine with Madame de Nadaillac. Her friend and adorer the Baron d’Escar dines also with us. She would have been as well content if he had not come. After dinner we go together to the rout of Madame de Haugwitz, which is just like all other things of the same sort. After our return we are un peu froids, and then très animés, but the sound of the Baron’s boots leaves everything undecided. She has what the French call une tête exaltée, and the struggle between her reasonings and her wishes gives no small interest. Au reste, things must take their course sans que je m’en mêle, for it is chance which usually decides.”
During his visit at Berlin, Morris, in fulfilment of a promise made to Lord Grenville before he left London, commenced a series of letters to his lordship in which he gave him information of the state of Europe and of the feeling of the various court circles in which he moved. The first of the series was dated July 28th, and in a very straightforward manner he set before his lordship the state of feeling at the Court of Berlin, and the “object, which is, my lord,” he says, “to possess the King’s electoral dominions; and,” he continues, they will accomplish it unless you can reduce their power to a second order. The German Empire still exists in name, but in fact it is annihilated. Those who calculate on former establishments neglecting present circumstances will be dupes. They may slumber behind the intrenchments of mouldy records, but the point of a Prussian bayonet will awaken them. Events in Italy and on the Rhine have thrown everything into confusion at Vienna. France may derive every advantage from it; perhaps she will. This Cabinet now holds the fate of Europe in its hands. If you mean to have their cordial assistance, you must give them a consideration of permanent value. If France dictates peace to Austria, Prussia may perhaps risk taking Hanover, and holding it under a French guarantee. That will depend on the occupation which can be found for the Empress of Russia. She is not immortal. I believe it is possible to make an arrangement which will bring you to a solid and useful peace. If Prussia receives the King’s electoral dominions on condition that you get the countries lying north of ancient France and west of the Rhine, including Dutch Flanders with Flushing and Berg-op-zoom; if Prussia give Cleves and Prussian Gelders to the Stadtholder, erecting Holland into a monarchy and receiving the Dutch American possessions; if the Emperor receive Bavaria; and the Elector of Bavaria, in lieu of it, the German territory along the Rhine in possession of France, the Emperor leaving, for the present at least, his possessions in the Milanese to the King of Sardinia; you surrendering to France her possessions in the East and West Indies, but keeping the Cape of Good Hope and Trincomalee—if these things be done, Prussia becomes your friend from the double tie of interest and apprehension. Once get her at sea and you will know how to deal with her. The same thing may be predicted as to France, so far as you would hereafter work upon her fears.
“If, on the contrary, you possess yourself of all her transmarine dominions, from that moment, she confining herself to a marine merely military, you are reduced to that dependence in which hitherto she has been held to you, because in a marine war you may lose much and can gain nothing. I am persuaded, my lord, that this Court may be brought to concur heartily in such a plan—which, by the by, Russia will certainly dislike, unless, indeed, an exchange could be made as a peace-offering to the Empress, giving her Finland for Norway, to be taken by Sweden at the expense of Denmark, which would suit this Cabinet so much the better as a dispute with Denmark would favor projects against Hamburg, Lübeck, and Mecklenburg, reserving the entry into Holstein for the moment when Denmark should be sufficiently embarrassed in her affairs to render it a mere parade instead of a campaign. Should a proper understanding take place between the courts interested on the matters above mentioned, it seems to me that Prussia might come forward and offer her mediation on the following conditions: First, the status quo in Europe at a certain day past, and in Asia and America a certain day to come. Secondly, the full acknowledgment of that form of government which the French may think proper to adopt, and a renunciation of all claim to interfere in their affairs. Thirdly, the inviolability of the rights of property. The first point would cut off all claims and clamors of retribution by merging precedent dominion in the rights of conquest. The second, indifferent in itself, and coupled with the first, would serve as a lever to raise the army and people of France against the government, if the mediation should be refused and the force of Prussia be in consequence once more exerted, or (if you please) once exerted, against France. The third point would enable this Cabinet to draw on negotiation into length so as to exhaust your enemy, in and through his finance, because new points of discussion might continually be raised and would serve as the ground of retribution to many emigrants, perhaps to all, and even obtain some valuable compensation to the Bourbons for the royal domain. Among the many circumstances which seem to call for decision, that which may principally interest you is the desire of France to preserve to herself one enemy, and that you should have that unpleasant preference; also the necessity which the government lies under of employing its armies until they shall be reduced to a safe insignificance. Your fleet may preserve you from invasion, or cutting off all supplies from the desultory corps thrown on your coast may operate their destruction. In so doing, you would not disserve the Directory. At the same time, I cannot but think that forty or sixty thousand victorious Frenchmen preaching republicanism in Britain would be very troublesome. But although you would preserve the kingdom free from injury, perhaps from attack, I do not see how you could preserve His Majesty’s Prussian dominions. If peace be dictated to Austria, France and Prussia will find employment for Russia in Turkey, in Poland, and in Sweden. Denmark will be awed into acquiescence or be robbed of her Holstein. You are cut off completely from all means of communication with your allies; in short, you must depend on the good will of Russia, when her interest is only secondary and, even as such, remote.
“If I were to dwell longer on these subjects I should write a dissertation instead of a letter, and weary you with details which will readily suggest themselves without my meddling. I pray you to believe, my lord, in my respectful attachment.”
“This morning [August 1st] I visit the Chevalier de Borghese and take him to Lord Elgin’s, where we dine. Marshal Möllendorf∗ is there, and M. d’Alvensleben, with whom I had formerly a slight acquaintance in London at M. de la Luzerne’s. The old field-marshal feels as if he could give the French a dressing, provided he was let loose upon them.”
“This morning [August 2d], as I go down-stairs I am recognized by the valet-de-chambre of the Vicomte d’Orléans. This is lucky, for I wished to see him. I call (on foot) at Madame de Nadaillac’s by appointment. She is in bed indisposed, and her friends, of course, are with her. After they are gone I sketch out a letter for her, and vex and please her alternately. She says it is wrong, and I am of her opinion. The Baron comes in, and we consider the letter I wrote. It will probably be useless, for these poor emigrants are determined, from the highest to the lowest, that they will always act imprudently. Dine with Lord Elgin. He goes out of town again at night on one of his amorous expeditions. I suggest very gently to him that in the present critical situation it may be necessary that he should be here. This conversation takes place at M. de Heinitz’s, where I spend the evening, there being a great entertainment. From dinner I go to see the Baron d’Alvensleben, with whom I have a long conversation on the present state of things. He lets me see that he fears Russia, and wishes not to break with France, whose successes nevertheless alarm him. He, like all weak men, is seeking for a ground of future hope in the possible contingencies, without adverting to the means of commanding fortune by strong measures. I open to him fully the means which suggest themselves to my mind for pacifying Europe without danger, and with much gain to Prussia. He thinks France will not be prevailed upon to part with Flanders.”
“The Vicomte d’Orléans consumes a great part of my morning [August 4th]. I dine at Charlottenburg with M. Schmidt, and am seated next to the Comtesse de la Marche, a natural daughter of the King. We have a very odd conversation. She tells me how she is closely watched by a grandmother, aunt, and governess, who are here, besides a great-aunt left at home; how the governess is harsh towards pleasures she never felt, having never had a lover, and her husband not calculated to inspire passion; how her aunt, who has had many lovers, is sly and cunning from her great experience; how her grandmother scolds for the pleasure of scolding, and the old woman at home is also very cross; how they have defied her to deceive them, and yet she has been for an hour together with a young man whom she loved, and (prodigious effort) allowed him only to kiss her, for which cruel coldness a companion she had found fault with her. After dinner I call on Madame de Nadaillac, where I see Madame de Sabran. She is much changed, and from a handsome woman has become coarse, masculine, with an air effronté which is very disagreeable. Can this be occasioned by her residence at Rhinesberg? Is vice so infectious? These and other questions might be curious in the solution.”
On the 5th of August Morris wrote the second of the series of letters to Lord Grenville, which contained all the information he had gleaned since the last one was written.
“They tremble here,” he says, “at the knout, so that, could they persuade themselves that the Empress of Russia would live ten years, her wishes would be their law. The success of the French excites apprehension, and if vigorous counsels prevailed you would probably hear of an army under Möllendorf as the prelude of an offer of mediation without consulting any of the belligerent powers. As far as I can judge, they have hitherto sought for little things by little means, but now await the proposals which may be made to them. Whatever these may be, the adherence of Russia will greatly facilitate the adoption of them. They try to persuade themselves that France, from internal divisions, the defect of finance, or pure good will, may leave them unmolested. It has been suggested to them that if she keep possession of Flanders, give up her colonies, and preserve a military marine, she will fear nothing from Britain, who can never afterwards be considered as a weight against her in the general scale of Europe. It would seem that this idea had not before presented itself, for it excited serious reflection. On their hope of quiet either from the interior quarrels or exterior good will of France, it has been observed that the former would (as in ancient Rome) become the constant motive to foreign war, and that France, like Rome, the enemy of all nations (especially those under kingly government), would grant to this, as to any other monarch, the blessings of her friendship till the moment marked for his destruction.
“In effect, my lord, I have no doubt that France, whether she fall under the dominion of an usurper (the natural termination to her present state), or whether she form herself into some tolerable shape of republic, may become dangerous to the liberty of all Europe. Should military despotism take place, that cheap, simple, and severe government will find abundant resources in the soil, climate, and industry of so fine a country. I cannot say absolutely that it is in your power to decide this Cabinet, but I believe so; I ought to have said somewhere (and will say it here) that the character of this people, formed by a succession of rapacious princes, is turned towards usurpation. The war with France was disagreeable to them, because it melted down the accumulations of old Frederick, and did not present an immediate accession of territory. But the war with or, rather, against Poland was not unpopular, because the moral principles of a Prussian go to the possession of whatever he can acquire; and so little is he the slave of what he calls vulgar prejudice, that, give him opportunity and means, he will spare you the trouble of finding a pretext. This liberality of sentiment greatly facilitates negotiation, for it is not necessary to clothe propositions in honest and decent forms.
“It is not impossible that the Imperial troops may be at length victorious, and in such case the French army, if hotly pursued, must be destroyed. Such, at least, is the opinion which common-sense dictates, and which in conversation with old Möllendorf he strongly confirmed. He went so far as to say that sixty thousand men, well commanded, could not fail to force the French back over the Rhine. With the weight of such an authority, I also am disposed to believe the same thing. But I do not believe in the well commanded, and, indeed, had made up my mind to a part of what has happened when Prince Charles was appointed to succeed Claerfayt. These reiterated misfortunes may perhaps impel the Imperial Cabinet to the nomination of an abler chief, with discretionary powers, and certainly the French, so far advanced without magazines, are in a critical condition. The fortune of war, therefore, may restore the affairs of the Allies, but how far it may be prudent to trust that capricious goddess is not for me to decide. I have said that this Court would accomplish their object unless their power could be reduced to a second order. I was impressed with the practicability of such a plan in the spring of 1795, and since I have been here my belief amounts almost to conviction. But the most favorable moment has gone by, and the difficulties are increased. Little can be expected from Austria, though everything may be hoped from the feebleness of the Prussian King and Cabinet. Is it to be attempted? On that question I may observe that you might count on the cordial aid of your imperial allies, who will not so readily concur to aggrandize the House of Brandenburg, and may oppose the exchanges mentioned in my last letter. These, however, are, to the best of my judgment, most advisable for England, because they furnish the probable means of wresting the Low Countries, and securing the independence of Holland; so far, at least, as Holland can be independent. The plan I contemplated for reducing Prussia was to erect a new but hereditary kingdom of Poland, with a constitution as free and energetic as the moral state of the people may admit; such kingdom to consist of the country ceded by the last partition to Austria, and the whole of the Prussian acquisitions, together with Prussian Silesia, a corner of Lower Lusatia, the New Marche, and that part of Pomerania lying east of the Oder. I have no question but that two hundred thousand Austrian and Russian troops would speedily have effected this, with the aid of Kosciusko and his Poles. With this, as with every other arrangement for permanent peace, I couple the possession of Bavaria by Austria. But, under such hypothesis, there would result a solecism in British politics. While, as Englishmen, you must seek and seize the means of reducing French power and influence, you must, as Germans, wish for their increase in order to secure your Hanover against the imperial pretensions. Hence an oscillation of measures dependent on personal character. It is sufficient to present this idea, improper to pursue it. Indifferent to the fate of the German Empire, you might choose your allies according to your immediate interest. The aggrandizement of the two empires on the side of Italy and Constantinople would be useful to you, by forming two naval powers in the Mediterranean to balance your constant enemies, France and Spain; for Spain seems irrecoverably attached to her neighbor by the relation of weakness to force. Whether your population could resist, through a long struggle, the weight of a people spread out from the Alps and the Rhine to the Pillars of Hercules is a question I will not presume to decide. Experience has taught me a sincere faith in the fallacy of human opinions, and more especially of my own. I am, my lord, your obedient servant.”
“Call after dinner [August 7th] on the Russian Minister, M. Kalitchoff. We have a long conversation on the means of restoring peace to Europe, and the influence which the Empress may have over this Cabinet to that effect. I explain to him how an exchange of Hanover for the Low Countries will tend to secure to Russia the unvarying friendship of England, and he is struck with the force of the observation. He tells me that the want of a proper minister here has greatly weakened the influence of his Court; that they were in the habit, before his time, of presenting an office, and, instead of discussing the subject of it, to hear the reasons against it and transmit them to Petersburg, which had the double mischief of creating delay and exciting the indignation of this Court by the air of superiority which resulted from it. He says that Catherine sent an agent to Brunswick as soon as the King of Prussia opened a treaty with France, to oppose the effect of it; that a Hanoverian who was here as a simple chargé d’affaires prevailed on Bischofswerder to obtain from the King a refusal to ratify, and consequent recommencement of hostilities, provided the arrears of the English subsidy be placed ready at his order in Hamburg. At that time Great Britain had no minister here. He complains that the English and Russian ministers at Vienna are not equal to their business, for that otherwise they might have prevented the Austrian Cabinet from committing many follies. He urges me to stay here a little longer to see what may be the state of affairs in Saxony and Bohemia, if not to learn the decisions of this Cabinet after the King’s arrival.
“I go from his house to visit Madame de Nadaillac. She tells me that the Chevalier de Borghese has told her the freedom of my conversation here on political subjects has given offence. She could not get out of him his informant, but from what he said, and which she repeats, I collect that if my ideas be not pushed by the powers which be, the ministers will be vexed at the attention they gave them. I mean not to stay here much longer, and during that time shall not say anything more unless solicited. Sooner or later they will find that my views are favorable to the peace and happiness of mankind. He has got his information by halves, and is certainly not in the secret of what passes here. Madame de Nadaillac tells me not to be surprised if my stay at Berlin should be irksome to the Cabinet. Sensible of their insignificance, and that they are only the clerks of their officers, they fear that the eye of a stranger should penetrate the arcana of their humiliating condition, etc. She, like all people of imagination, exaggerates; but there is a foundation of truth, and I place it in the apprehension that a stranger should discover the feebleness of their internal condition. They are sensible that it is too late to conceal it from me, for it formed one strong feature of my conversation with M. d’Alvensleben, and it could not but be disagreeable to him. I had occasion also to touch on the state of the Cabinet, respectfully but freely, so as to show that the decisive measures which might have marked the conduct of the King in circumstances like the present could not, perhaps, be safely recommended at this moment. This is also a bitter and unpleasant truth, which they must feel, but cannot like to hear?”
“To-day [August 8th] I dine with M. Schmidt, whose attentions have been unremitted and whose table is excellent. The Chevalier de Boufflers, who sees me from the street, comes up. He is just arrived from Poland. Time has worn him down since I last saw him. He puts on an infinity of warmth, and I preserve my natural coldness. In effect, I was not much pleased with his conduct before he left France, and still less with what I hear of him since. Call on Madame de Nadaillac. She has with her a Mayençais, and when he leaves her she tells me his conversation consisted in the history of his courtship and marriage. The first occupied several years, and at last the power of almighty love induced the yielding fair one to make the promise of her hand. They were married at eight in the morning, and, agreeably to the custom of the country, went immediately out of town; but the same custom rendering it improper for them to ride together, his brother accompanied the bride, who fell in love with her on the way, and thus deprived his brother of his newly acquired treasure. This brotherly conduct speaks highly in favor of the manners of Mayence. Madame de Nadaillac complains that I did not come sooner, and that I leave her so shortly after I arrive, to go and pass a dull evening with Madame la Générale—. Talk a sort of reason to her which no woman can bear unless pretty well touched by the wicked child, and take advantage of the little ill-humor thus excited to leave her abruptly. She repents before I am out of the door, and bids me adieu by way of bringing me back; but I pursue my route without a word or look, and in my way meet the Baron, who is, I presume, going thither, and will suffer under the crossness of which I am the cause. I come home early, so as to leave my fair friend time for reflection, having told her that I will leave Berlin in a few days.”
“This morning [August 9th], write, and dine at home. I received, as I expected, a note this morning from Madame de Nadaillac, to which I answered un peu lestement, but yet leaving room for what actually happened. According to her desire. I visit her this afternoon, but, as the devil would have it, I meet the Chevalier de Boufflers on the stairs, who has been denied admission. The arrival of my carriage has produced a change. Madame is at home, but the intended tête-à-tête does not take place.”
The result of this morning’s work was the following letter to Lady Sutherland, for whom and Lord Gower Morris cherished a sincere and lasting friendship.
August 9, 1796.
“I shall direct this letter to you, dear lady, in London, though I suppose you are enjoying the tranquillities of Wimbledon, where, if I had a certain wishing-cap, I should find myself sitting next to you, delighted to see and hear ‘you all the while, softly speak and sweetly smile.’ Luckily this same cap does not fit my head, otherwise I should have been to you a most troublesome guest. I will not say anything to you on public affairs, because (and here I might take the credit of discretion, but prefer the humble truth) I am not in the secret. But when you are Prime Minister and take me for your principal secretary, oh, then, we will have rare politics! We of the society in Berlin, which you will observe is a translation of la société, etc., are delighted at the misfortunes of the Austrian armies, which we attribute to the misconduct of that Cabinet, a circumstance which gives us additional pleasure. We cannot find words to express our astonishment that the French, whose armies do not altogether exceed 200,000 men, should hold Holland, conquer Italy, ravage Germany, and threaten the destruction of the House of Austria. I recollect telling you, when I last saw you at Wimbledon, that I expected no good on the Rhine, and now I will whisper in your ear that, if Claerfayt should be again sent to command the Austrian army, he would probably drive the French beyond the Rhine faster (if possible) than they have advanced; and that because, very gayly (à la française), they have thrown themselves precipitately forward without magazines or resources, so that, checked in front and a small body of troops thrown on their left flank, they would be obliged to make off, or to be cut off.
“This, however, is not what I meant to tell you; but that there is somewhere in this neighborhood a poor man who took it into his head to fall in love with you, which whim, after tormenting him a sufficient time in England, at length drove him hither out of his senses. I do not recollect his name, and you, I suppose, keep no account of such trifles; but truly, lady, if madness be the consequence, I am determined to get out of love, for I would not be mad, ye gods! not mad; no, not for all the pleasures which madmen only are acquainted with. It is not by way of whim, nor yet absolutely for the pleasure of meeting you at Vienna—though, indeed, such an idea would go far to sway my judgment—but for reasons which I will leave Lord Gower to guess at, that I wish he were appointed Ambassador Extraordinary to the Emperor. Perhaps your friend Dundas could tell you why; perhaps you may guess yourself, on reading over this letter. A person who talked tome lately on this subject mentioned my Lord Malmesbury. I have been asked if Sir Morton Eden was considered an able man (for my accent in speaking induces folks to believe I am an Englishman). I answered, as you may well suppose, that I knew nothing of the matter. Adieu, dear lady. Remember me to your lord, and say for me to yourself whatever you may like best, only observing that I won’t be mad.”
“M. le Comte Gasparé called this morning [August 9th]. He dashed into politics; is very desirous that Prussia should take part in the contest. He dines every day with Haugwitz; was scandalized at a conversation the other day with Prince Louis, when Haugwitz, Major Walker, and himself formed the whole of the society. The ministers here do not want ability nor intelligence, but the weakness of the monarch prevents them from acting a decisive part. Haugwitz and Bischofswerder are very well together, and it is understood that all propositions not made to the former must fall to the ground.”
Again, on the 10th, Morris sent to Lord Grenville a budget of suggestions and hints, as follows:
“Lord Elgin tells me that he shall send a messenger this evening. I will, therefore, trouble your lordship with some loose thoughts respecting this Court. You know that ever since the accession of his present Majesty∗ there have been endless intrigues to possess him, and through him the power of the State. These still exist, and are pursued with unceasing attention, so that no great plan of conduct can be adopted, from the fear that some untoward incident should disgust the monarch before things could be brought to issue, in which case the advisers and supporters of the plan would be overturned. It is from this very circumstance that I think it possible to obtain from Russia the complete direction of this Cabinet. To that effect it would be proper to understand perfectly with Bischofswerder and his right-hand man, Haugwitz, so that their greatness should be intimately combined with your interests. Furnish them money when the success of their intrigue may require it, and let them feel that it is better, as well as safer, to put themselves into the hands of a monarchy instead of a republic. The Cabinet of Petersburg combined with you in such a plan, the King will be made to understand that both his interest and his quiet require a full confidence in those ministers. Then an efficient Cabinet will at once exist, and after, it begins to act and feel (to its astonishment, perhaps) that every great movement must be guided by your will. Observe that it is at present understood between Bischofswerder and Haugwitz that proposals not primarily addressed to the latter shall be unsuccessful. If I have a just view of the ground it will be in vain to try (by showing only public advantage) to lead this Court into the measures you might wish, and that for the reasons already mentioned. I do not conceive it possible to do anything if you wait for the assent of Austria, unless you have a complete direction and, indeed, dictation there. But, if I am rightly informed, this is not so much the case as it ought to be, all things considered. I will not say anything on that subject, for evident reasons. Propositions from England, supported by Russia, will meet with a readier attention than if the voice of the Emperor should be heard. This fact your lordship is well apprised of. I think the contents of this letter will try, if not tire, your patience, so I will proceed no farther.”
“To-day [August 11th] I write a while, then walk to Madame de Nadaillac’s, where I waste some time. In consequence I reach Lord Elgin’s later than I expected and intended, so that I have not a view of some letters he was to show me containing intelligence of the Austrian army. While we are at dinner the Prince de Reusse comes in, reads a letter brought by estafette which announces a victory gained over the French at Brescia by General Quasdanowiche, with some small advantages, under Würmser,∗ in descending along the Adige, consequent upon which the French have precipitately retired from below Mantua, leaving their artillery, etc. This affair promises to be decisive in its consequences. After dinner the English mail arrives, and Lord Elgin receives a letter announcing the arrival of Mr. Hammond, who comes by Hanover and Minden. Mysteries which must explain themselves (says Sterne) are not worth a conjecture. I pass the evening at Prince Ferdinand’s; and give him these tidings, he finds very unpleasant. Sitting next to the Princess and conversing with her friend Schmittau, while the deals at whist permit it, we agree that the French in Germany are exposed to a similar coup, all which is more edifying than pleasant to her Royal Highness. After his game is over the prince asks me what I think of this affair and its consequences. I tell him truly what may, in my opinion, result from it, if the Austrians are able to push forward with vigor, and add that if the corps under Wartensleben receives sufficient re-enforcements to strike a blow on the Main, the French armies in Germany will be completely dissipated. He gives a melancholy assent.”
“This morning [August 12th] the Prince de Reusse breakfasts with me, and we have a long conversation on the state of public affairs, the means of remedying present evils, and a plan for future tranquillity. He tells me that Haugwitz, when he communicated the news from Italy, affected much joy. I walk out and call on Lord Elgin, who cannot receive me because he has much business. Qu.: Is Hammond arrived? I met in the street M. Giustiniani, who tells me that I disturb very much the Baron d’Escar. Afterwards meet M. de Rosencrantz, who walks with me to discuss a little the state of things. Leave him at the door of Madame de Nadaillac. She is pained by my departure, fixed for Monday. I dine at Lord Elgin’s. He says Mr. Hammond is not yet arrived, and he suspects that he is coming to replace him, on account of the leave of absence which he had requested. I cannot suppose this to be the case. He tells me that he could not receive me because he had a great many people with him. Qu.: At dinner we learn that the Prince de Hohenlohe succeeds General Wartensleben, which gives room to expect that something effective may be done. It seems to me that if he can move forward down the Main the French must be put in a very dangerous situation.”
“Lord Elgin takes me to dine at Marshal Möllendorf’s [August 14th]. After dinner I have some conversation with the old man respecting his campaign of 1794, in which he finds fault with the British administration; but on our return I mention it to Lord Elgin, who says the marshal’s representations are not just. Spend the evening with Madame de Nadaillac. Weather warm. She tells me that there has been a riot at Stettin, which having gone rather too far, the military were called on to disperse it, but refused to act against the citizens. This, if true, contrasts a little with the sentiments Count Haugwitz delivered to me this day. He said that he was not so apprehensive of insurrections here as in some other parts of Germany; that the military here is good and may be relied on. He observed that an increase of it tends to increase the revenue, because the quartering of troops in provinces where the culture is yet imperfect from the want of cattle and instruments of husbandry, by increasing the circulation, enables the peasant to procure those means, after which he can afford to pay higher taxes. I think he has too much understanding not to see where the fallacy of such argument rests; so I leave it untouched, but express the kind of consent which consists more in wonder than in conviction. He vaunts the principles of the monarchy, and tells me that however the King may have been led to abandon them the force of things will bring him back. Madame de Nadaillac wishes to go with me to Potsdam; but this would make a history hurtful to her. M. d’Anadia is to bring her back, but in going home together he shows me that he wishes to decline that journey.”
“This morning [August 15th] M. de Kalitchoff calls on me, and we have a conversation on the state of this country, its views, and its relations to others. He tells me that the Prince of Orange told him a new plan was in contemplation for bringing the old coalition again into activity on a new basis. He conjectures that Mr. Hammond comes forward on that subject. N.B.: The English newspapers say he is coming to set on foot a treaty of peace. Pay my bill and pack up; this house is dear and not good. The Baron d’Escar calls to take leave. I tell him that I shall wait Madame de Nadaillac’s orders all the morning, and will stay till to-morrow if she chooses to go to Potsdam. Set off at half-past one, and reach Potsdam in three hours. This evening I walk out to see the town, palace, and garden. A very dull, unpeopled place; it looks like the vulgar expression of ‘Would if I could.’ The weather is warm but pleasant.”
[∗]Christian Heinrich Karl Haugwitz, a Prussian statesman, was sent as Ambassador to the Court of Vienna, in 1790, and became Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1792. He favored an alliance with France, and was superseded by Hardenburg in 1807. Born in 1752, he died in 1832.
[†]Joseph von Bischofswerder, Prussian officer and statesman under Frederick William II., employed in important negotiations.
[∗]The Comte de Provence, afterward Louis XVIII, who came to the throne in 1814.
[∗]William Duke of Brunswick married Augusta, sister of George III. of England.
[∗]Lord Elgin was envoy at the Court of Berlin from 1795 to 1799, whence he proceeded to Constantinople in the same capacity. To this latter appointment is owed the collection and transportation to England of the Elgin marbles and other treasures of art now in the British Museum.
[∗]Philip Charles Comte d’Alvensleben, diplomatist in the service of Prussia.
[∗]Richard Heinrich von Möllendorf, Prussian commander, served under Frederick the Great in the principal campaigns of the Seven Years’ War. In 1794 he succeeded the Duke of Brunswick as commander-in-chief of the Prussian Army. Died in 1816.
[∗]Francis II. Came to the throne in 1792.
[∗]Dagobert Sigismund Count Würmser, an eminent Austrian general. Fought against the Prussians in the Seven Years’ War. In 1793 he commanded the army against the French which drove them across the frontier into Alsace. Bonaparte defeated him at Lonato, August 3, 1796. He died in 1797.