Front Page Titles (by Subject) GOUVERNEUR MORRIS TO JAY. - The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 3 (1782-1793)
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GOUVERNEUR MORRIS TO JAY. - John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 3 (1782-1793) 
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). Vol. 3 (1782-1793).
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GOUVERNEUR MORRIS TO JAY.
Paris, 1st July, 1789.
My Dear Sir:
I am too much occupied to find time for the use of a cipher, and in effect, the government here is so much occupied with their own affairs, that in transmitting to you a letter under an envelope, there is no risk. This, however, I am pretty certain will go safe. The States-general have now been a long time in session, and have done nothing hitherto. They have been engaged in a dispute, whether they shall form one body or three. The commons, who are represented by a number equal to both the others, and who besides have at least one-half the representatives of the clergy, insist on forming a single house. They have succeeded. But the nobles deeply feel their situation. The king, after siding with them, was frightened into an abandonment of them. He acts now from terror only. The soldiery in this city, particularly the French guards, declare they will not act against the people. They are now treated by the mobility, and parade about the streets drunk, huzzaing for the Tiers. Some of them have, in consequence, been confined, not by the force, but by the adroitness of authority. Last night this circumstance became known, and immediately a mob repaired to the prison. The soldiers on guard unfixed their bayonets, and joined the assailants. A party of dragoons, ordered on duty to disperse the riot, thought it better to drink with the rioters, and return back to their quarters. The soldiers, with others confined in the same prison, were then paraded in triumph to the Palais Royal, which is now the liberty pole of this city, and there they celebrated, as usual, their joy. Probably this evening some other prisons will be opened, for “Liberté” is now the general cry, and “autorite” is a name, not a real existence.
The court are about to form a camp in the neighbourhood of Paris, of 25,000 men, under the command of the Marechal de Broglio. I do not know him personally, therefore cannot judge what may be expected from his talents; but all my information goes to the point, that he will never bring his army to act against the people. The Guard du Corps are as warm adherents (in general) to the Tiers as anybody else, strange as that may seem; so that in effect the sword has slipped out of the monarch’s hands, without his perceiving a tittle of the matter. All these things in a nation not yet fitted by education and habit for the enjoyment of freedom, gives one frequent suspicions that they will indeed greatly overshoot their mark, if indeed they have not already done it. Already some people talk of limiting the king’s negative upon the laws. And as they have hitherto felt severely the authority exercised in the name of their princes, every limitation of that authority seems to them desirable. Never having felt the evils of too weak an executive, the disorders to be apprehended from anarchy make, as yet, no impression.
The provincial assemblies or administrations, in other words, the popular executive of the provinces, which Turgot had imagined as a means of moderating the regal legislative of the court, is now insisted on as a counter security against the monarch, when they shall have established a democratical legislative, for you will observe that the noble and clerical orders are henceforth to be vox et præterea nihil. The king is to be limited to the exact sum needful for his personal expenses. The management of the public debt, and revenues to provide for it, will be taken entirely out of his hands, and the subsistence of the army is to depend on temporary grants. Hence it must follow, that his negative, in whatever form reserved, will be of little avail. These are the outlines of the proposed constitution, by which at the same time lettres de cachet are to be abrogated, and the liberty of the press established.
My private opinion is, that the king, to get fairly out of the scrape in which he finds himself, would subscribe to any thing; and truly from him little is to be expected in any way. The queen, hated, humbled, mortified, feels, and feigns, and intrigues to save some shattered remnants of the royal authority; but to know that she favours a measure is the certain means to frustrate its success. The Count D’Artois, alike hated, is equally busy, but has neither sense to counsel himself, nor choose counsellors for himself, much less to counsel others. The nobles look up to him for support, and lean on what they know to be a broken reed, for want of some more solid dependence. In their anguish, they curse Neckar, who is, in fact, less the cause than the instrument of their sufferings. His popularity depends now more on the opposition he meets with from one party, than any serious regard of the other. It is the attempt to throw him down which saves him from falling. He has no longer the preponderating weight in council, which a fortnight ago decided every thing. If they were not afraid of consequences, he would be dismissed; and, on the same principle, the king has refused to accept his resignation. If his abilities were equal to his genius, and he were as much supported by firmness as he is swayed by ambition, he would have had the exalted honour of giving a free constitution to above twenty millions of his fellow-creatures, and would have reigned long in their hearts, and received the unanimous applause of posterity. But, as it is, he must soon fall. Whether his exit will be physical or moral, must depend on events which I cannot foresee. The best chance that royalty has is, that popular excesses may alarm. At the rate in which things are now going, the king of France must soon be one of the most limited monarchs in Europe. Adieu.
I am yours,