5 October 1789: Women march to Versailles

Monday 5. (…) The Town is in Alarm. Visit Madame de Flahaut. Stay with her till near one o’Clock. (…) The Chevalier Durfort arrives and I walk off to my Carriage. Go towards Chaillot to see what is doing but am stopped at the Pont royal. Go into the Tuilleries. A Host of Women are gone towards Versailles with some Cannon. A strange Manoeuvre. Walk up to Mr. Short’s; he is just going out to dine. We return together to the Place Louis Quinze. This Tumult is the Continuation of last Night, a wild, mad Enterprize. Go to the Arsenal; admitted with Difficulty. They are at Dinner. Madame Lavoisier is detained in Town as all Carriages were stopped and the Ladies obliged to join the female Mob. While we sit at Table we learn that the Militia and the Régiment national are marching towards Versailles. Return Home and dress; at eight o’Clock go to the Louvre to take Madame de Flahaut to sup with Mad: Capellis. Capellis is with her; he says the Régiment de Flandre, the Milice de Versailles and the Gardes du Corps are determined to give the Parisians a warm Reception. Lafayette has marched by Compulsion, guarded by his own Troops who suspect and threaten him. Dreadful Situation, obliged to do what he abhors or suffer an ignominious Death, with the Certainty that the Sacrifice of his Life will not prevent the Mischief. After Capellis is gone and Madame is dressed we have some interesting Conversation. She is hurt at my Reasonableness (…) She promises me, but I absolve her from the Promise and insist that she shall pursue only the Dictates of her own Inclination and Understanding. She insists that she will be only mine. And this is human Nature. Strange Compound! Madame de Corney tells me that this Woman is a Coquette. It may be, but while I give her Liberty to do as she pleases her Coquetry can answer but little Purpose I think. Go to Supper. Much Discourse about what is to happen at Versailles and we agree that our Parisians will be beaten and we consider it as fortunate that they are gone &c., &c. I venture the Assurance that from this Day forward the french Army will return to its Sovereign; presuming always that the Régiment de Flandre will, as it is said, do their Duty this Night. A Gentleman here tells us an Anecdote which shews how well this Nation is adapted to the Enjoyment of Freedom. He walked near a Knot of People collected together where an Orator was haranguing. The Substance of his Oration was: ‘Messieurs, nous manquons du Pain, et voici la Raison. II n’y a que trois Jours que le Roi a eu ce Veto suspensif et déjà les Aristocrats ont acheté des Suspensions et envoyé les Grains hors du Royaume.’ To this sensible and profound Discours his Audience gave a hearty Assent: ‘Ma foi, il a Raison. Ce n’est que ça.’ Oh rare! These are the modern Athenians! Alone learned, alone wise, alone polite, and the Rest of Mankind Barbarians. (…) This Morning was very fine and pleasant but this Afternoon we have a high Southwest Wind and Rain. I learn this Evening that several of the Provinces are become discontented at the Acts of the Assemblée nationale but principally with the City of Paris. Nous verrons. The Company at Supper was reduced almost to a Tête à Tête; the Guests all decline, from the public Confusion.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 242-244.


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