27 November 1789: Lafayette seeking for spies

Friday 27.—(…) Go …to Van Staphorst’s. Tell him the Objections brought by de Moustiers to the Negotiation which Mr. Necker has proposed in Holland. He tells us a Proposition made to him by Lafayette to act as a Spy for Discovery of Intrigues of the Aristocratic Party, by which, says Lafayette, a civil War may be prevented. We advise Van Staphorst to decline this honorable Mission. Parker adds that it should be declined verbally so as to leave no written Trace of the Negotiation. I leave them together and return Home to dress. The Count de Luxembourgh comes in and tells me a great Deal of News which I forget as fast as I hear it. He has a World of Projets too but I give him one general Opinion upon the Whole, that he and his Friends had better take Measures for influencing the next Elections. While he is with me La Caze, Payne and Appleton come in. (…) Talk with Payne about his Bridge. Towards three I go to Dinner at the Louvre. My friend [Mme Flahaut] tells me that the Bishop [d’Autun] had sent her Word he would call after the Assemblée, upon which she had invited him to dine with me. He comes in and we press him hard to stay Dinner but he is engaged. After Dinner we pass two Hours together in perfect Delight. My amiable friend is wound up to a Delirium of Enjoyment. (…) This has been a clear cold Day, the Evening somewhat milder.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 314-315.


26 November 1789: Expecting new revolutions


 Je suis depuis trois ou quatre jours de retour, ma chère amie ; j’avoue que je ne suis rentré qu’à regret, et que les huit jours que j’ai passés dans ma terre m’ont paru bien courts et sont les seuls momens tranquilles que j’ai vu couler de cette année. Nous sommes cependant assez calmes ici depuis mon retour. Mais les craintes sans cesse renaissantes de nouvelles révolutions nous poursuivent toujours, soit qu’elles existent, soit, ce que je penserois plutôt, qu’on se serve de ce moyen pour tenir toujours en haleine les milices. Tant il y a, qu’il s’en faut encore de beaucoup que l’on soit heureux. Il me paroît que, si votre présence ici est indispensable, vous y pouvez venir en toute assurance. Si au contraire vous pouvez être suppléée, ne venez pas maintenant. Quelque désir que j’aie de vous voir, il est encore plus prudent de ne rien mettre au hasard. Je vous observerai d’ailleurs que le pouvoir judiciaire n’est point encore en activité ; on ne peut obtenir aucune sentence par corps pour billets ou autrement.

Il paroît décidé, depuis ce soir, que toute la forme judiciaire va être changée. La France sera composée de 80 départemens, dont chacun aura un conseil qui fera l’office du parlement, et des bailliages de quatre en quatre lieues carrées pour tribunaux de première instance, un Conseil suprême à Paris pour les cassations et qui jugera les crimes de lèse-nation. Le Conseil du Roy ne sera plus que de 8 conseillers et 12 maîtres des requêtes el les ministres…

Vous aurez sûrement appris les ravages des Pays-Bas. On a tiré à boulets rouges sur Gand ; 300 maisons y ont été brûlées ; 5.000 morts sont restés dans les rues ; la garnison, se montant à 1.300 hommes, y a été réduite et faite prisonnière ; on y a perdu beaucoup de monde. L’archiduchesse et toute la cour sont allées à Luxembourg.

Le comte de Seneffe à Mme de Doué, sa soeur, à Moulins, dans Pierre de Vaissière, Lettres d’«aristocrates». La Révolution racontée par des correspondances privées. 1789-1794 (Paris, 1907), p. 160.

Image: Joseph Depestre, Comte de Seneffe

25 November 1789: further speculations about the French debt & weather predictions

Wednesday 25. — This Morning Mr. Parker comes to Breakfast and shortly after Mr. Van Staphorst. The latter has received Letters respecting Mr. Necker’s proposed Negotiation in Holl[and], with one from the two Houses, Commissi[on] of the United States, to Mr. Short. They are very jealous. (…) While he is with me the Count de Luxembourgh comes in. He detains me a long Time for Nothing. Tells me however that the Party of the Nobles are determined to be quiet. This is the only wise Conduct. Go to Mr. Short’s. He tells me that Van Staphorst has been with him. He has already spoken to Mr. Necker on the Subject some Days ago and given him, as he says, a high Idea of the Value of that Debt and surprized him by communicating the Extent of our Credit in Holland. Go to Mr. Grand’s to Dinner. Learn there that the Negotiation is yet in its Infancy. It has been originally handed to Mr. Necker thro a Person of his Acquaintance by Stanidski. The House formerly Fizeau and Grand will have the Negotiation. Go (…) to Mons[ieu]r Millet’s. He is alone; Madame Rosalie and he are parted. The old Story: Youth and Age; Liberty on one Side, Jealousy on the other. Thence to Mad[am]e de Chastellux’s. She has visited this Day at Bellevue and brings me a World of civil Things from the Count de Chastellux and his Lady. The Dutchess comes in. A short Visit but very civil Things from her. Thence to Mad[am]e La Borde’s. Make Tea for them. My friend [Mme Flahaut] is ill, coughing, had a fever all Night. Complains that I neither visited nor sent to know how she did all this Day &c. I come away early (i.e. at eleven) and sit down to write. This Morning was fair. Upon entering the Salon at Mr. Grand’s I predicted Snow. The Company was surprized and I believe thought me very wild and rash but this Evening justifies me for it snows fast.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 312-313.

24 November 1789: no American wheat for Necker

Tuesday 24. — (…) …go to the Prince de Broglio’s to Dinner. The Count de Ségur dines with us; a pleasant Company. The Bishop [d’Autun] is of the Number. After Dinner I give him some Hints as to the Objection made by many to the Opposers of Mr. Necker’s Plan because they do not come forward with a better. Go from hence to Mr. Necker’s. The Mayor and the Committee of Subsistence are waiting to speak with him. Send in my Name and in Consequence he comes out to the Antichamber. I tell him that I cannot undertake to furnish him with Wheat. That I must either ask for it an extravagant Price or risque a great Loss. That I do not chuse the first and will not incur the second. That if he has any other Plan for obtaining it in which I can be useful he may command me. He is a little disappointed at this Intelligence. Leave him and pay my Respects to Mad[am]e Necker. The Comte de Ségur is with her and Mons[ieu]r de Thiare. After a short Visit go to Mad[am]e de Chastellux’s. Stay till eight and then go by Appointment to the Louvre. The Insurgents in Brabant seem to be in a fair Way to Success. The Imperialists are in Possession of Bruxelles only, and beseiged here. My Friend [Mme Flahaut], as becomes a faithful Ally to the Emperor, quells all Insurgency on my Part. Shortly after Mons[ieu]r de Thiare comes in. He gives us some Account of what has passed in Brittany. Among other Things it happened that two Municipalities quarelled about Subsistence and the Matter went so far as to use Force on each Side. Each in Consequence gave Orders to a Regiment to march against the other, for in each a Regiment happened to be quartered. Luckily a Compromise took Place; but this is one of the first Fruits of the new Constitution of Armies and Municipalities. There will be many others of the like Kind for when Mankind are resolved to disregard as vulgar Prejudice every Principle which has hitherto been established by Experience for the Government of Man, endless Inconsistencies must be expected. Sup here. (…) This has been a fine Day, clear but cold. The Ice remained all Day in the Shade.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 310-311.

Image: Count de Ségur

23 November 1789: Vicq d’Azyr, patriots & imperialists

Monday 23. — This Morning Mons[ieu]r Doriniere calls on me. He has reduced all the Information I gave him to writing, tho not too exactly. On the whole he has concluded to try his Fortune in France rather than cross the Atlantic, in which Determination he is perfectly right. […] Go from thence to the Louvre and as soon as some Visitors have left Madame [Flahaut] we pay our Vows. Then I call on Madame La Borde. While there, Mons[ieu]r sends to my Carriage a Work he has lately printed. Go to the Champs Elisées & buy a Ring for six livres which is not worth much more. A Boy who had found it sells it to me; perhaps I may find the Owner. Go to Dinner at Madame Lavoisier’s. They do not come in untill after four so that it is near five when we sit down to Dinner. A good Deal of the Politics of the Day. Madame interests herself much. From hence I go to the Louvre. Madame La Borde and Mons[ieu] Vic d’Azyr are there. Sit awhile, then take Mad[am]e de F[lahaut] to Mad[am]e La Tour’s to Supper. I return home and in my Way call on Mad[am]e de Chastellux. The Affairs of the Patriots, which from Accounts received on Saturday Evening were in excellent Train, have it seems sustained a dreadful Reverse, and Ghent, from which a Detachment of the Imperialists had been driven, is retaken by Means of a Reinforcement. This has been a fine Day but cold.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 309.

Image: Félix Vicq d’Azyr

22 November 1789: Ladies of Bretagne & Busy Necker

Sunday 22. — This Morning write a little. Mr. Richard calls upon me. Some other interruptions. Read. Dress and go to Club. Take Mr. Short up and we go together to dine with the Count D’Estaing. A very good Dinner and a small Company. Two Ladies of Bretagne; by saying handsome Things of their Province they seem prepossessed favorably. This is natural enough. After Dinner call at Mr. Necker’s. He is so much engaged that I tell him I will take another Opportunity to speak to him. Go to the Louvre. We make up our last Evening’s Difference and I stay till after eight, then call at Madame de Chastellux’s. She is gone to Mad[am]e de Ségur’s, the Marechal being confined by the Gout. Return Home and write till late. This Day not very pleasant.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 309.

21 November 1789: A dull King & Expectations of anti-revolution

Le Parlementde Metz est mandé à l’Assemblée nationale. On assure les gardes du Roy rappelés. Sa Majesté les demande depuis longtemps et M. de La Fayette a témoigné aux districts la nécessité de se rendre à son voeu, on craint qu’il n’en résulte quelque chose de fâcheux ; je l’ai vu ce pauvre Roy, il a l’air bien ennuyé. Les Brabançons se battent comme des enragés. On assure qu’ils ont trois armées de 15 mille hommes chacune. M. de la Fayette fut hier dans tous les districts, il y pérora longtemps, il invita à se tenir sur ses gardes et il prévint qu’il alloit faire mettre trois pièces de canon sur le Pont-Neuf, lorsqu’elles tireront, la générale battra et tous les citoyens devront se mettre sous les armes, on craint une insurrection, on soupçonna les Parlements et le Clergé de manoeuvrer et on dit que d’ici au 28 il y aura encore une révoiution ce qu’il y a de certain, c’est qu’il y a un bien grand nombre d’anti-patriotes, j’en vois tous tes jours qui voudroient la restauration de l’ancien régime ; tenons-nous sur nos gardes on ne peut se dissimuler que l’Assemblée nationale frappe trop d’intérêts et d’intérêts majeurs pour que ceux qu’elle Attaque ne se défendent pas, nous ne devons pas être sans crainte et sans surveiller attentivement.

Samuel de Missy à M. de Richemond, dans Lettres inédites d’un armateur rochelais, ed. by Richemond (La Rochelle, 1889), p.8-9.

Image: Marquis de Lafayette

20 November 1789:Necker’s plan at the Assemblée & Sex cures headache

Friday 20. — This Morning I rise early and go to the Assemblée. Stay there till four, a tedious Session from which I derive a violent Headache. Mirabeau and Dupont are the two Speakers on Mr. Necker’s Plan who command the most Attention, but neither of them in my Opinion derives Honor from the Manner of treating it. Probably it will be adopted and if so it will be I think fatal to their Finances and completely derange them for some Time to come. Dine at the Restorateur’s & then return Home. Dress and go by Appointment to Club to meet the Vicomte de Noailles. He desires me to give Information about America to an unfortunate Man who desires to establish himself in that Country. Go to the Louvre and loose [sic] in the Arms of my fair friend [Mme Flahaut] the Head Ache which I had gained at the Assembly. Take Tea and then visit Madame de Chastellux. The Vicomte de Segur tells me that his Brother is arrived, and requests me to dine To Morrow with the Baron de Bezenvald and go thence to his Interrogatoire. I promise to do so. From Mad[am]e de Chastellux’s go to Mad[am]e de Stahl’s and sup. I give her my Opinion of the Speeches of this Morning and shew one or two Things in which Mr. Dupont was mistaken. She does not like this, because he supported her Father’s Plan, which she declares to be necessary &c., &c. Return Home immediately after Supper. This has been a pleasant Day.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 308.

Image: Pierre, Charles, François Dupont de Bigorre

19 November 1789: Necker agrees to buy American wheat

Thursday 19. — This Morning write a little. The Count D’Estaing calls upon me and while he is with me I receive a Note from Mr. Le Couteulx desiring to see me. He has been three Hours Yesterday with Mr. Necker and the Committee of Subsistence. He relates to me what had passed and tells me that Mr. Necker will contract with me for Wheat. That I shall have the Permission to deliver at the Price stipulated twice the Quantity that I am bound to deliver. That he will contend for six Shillings but I can obtain six Shillings and six Pence. Finally that he has fixed an Interview for me at 7 this Evening. He is obliged to go abroad & therefore desires me to consider of the Means of Execution and call on him before I go to Mr. Necker’s. Go from hence to Mad[am]e de Flahaut. She is still in Bed but rises and pays the usual Adorations. We then ride. She sits me down and I walk thro the Champs Élisées till my Carriage returns. (…) After my Walk go to the Palais royal and dine with the Dutchess of Orleans. Thence to the Louvre to get a Ticket which the Bishop [d’Autun] was to procure for the Assemblée of To Morrow. Receive it and go to Mr. Le Couteulx’s. Converse about the Means of executing a Contract if any is made. He cannot furnish Credit or Money &c.. Go to Mr. Necker’s. He I find expects from me a pointed Proposal and tells me that Mr. Le Couteulx had named the Quantity I could deliver, the Price and the Terms. I tell him there is some Misunderstanding &c., &c., and take my Leave. Go to Club. A Gentleman from Antwerp tells us that Affairs in Brabant look unfavorably to the Emperor’s Interests. Go to Mad[am]e de Chastellux’s. Nothing here. Return Home. This has been a very fine Day.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 307-308.

18 November 1789: Rebellious Metz & Finances


.. Ici, tout est assez tranquille. On craint cependant les suites de ce qui s’est fait aujourd’hui à l’Assemblée nationale. Il a été décidé que pour être membre, il faudroit être possesseur de biens fonds, et le parlement de Metz est mandé ici pour rendre compte de sa conduite. C’est ce dernier décret qui donne de l’inquiétude. Le plan de M. Necker est envoyé aux districts. Il est à mon avis très étroit. Il y est question d’une création de banque nationale, pour l’extension de la Caisse d’escompte et la création de 12.500 actions nouvelles à 4.000 livres. Mais qui les prendra, lorsqu’elles sont à plus bas prix sur la place ? Je me félicite tous les jours de l’opération que j’ai faite pour vous et pour moi : il y auroit bien à en rabattre aujourd’hui.

Il y a un nouveau projet en l’air pour la refonte générale des monnoies, afin d’y changer les inscriptions. C’est le prétexte qu’on donne à une opération de finance, dont le but essentiel ne sera pas de profiter sur la matière, mais de remettre promptement en circulation des espèces. Voilà, je vous l’assure, les seuls plans encore secrets existant aujourd’hui.

Le comte de Seneffe à M. J.-B. Cogels, à Anvers, dans Pierre de Vaissière, Lettres d’«aristocrates». La Révolution racontée par des correspondances privées. 1789-1794 (Paris, 1907), p. 159.