1 January 1790: the trial of Besenval & American debt

Friday... — (…) I write till twelve, then dress. While dressing Mr. Short calls and presses me to dine with Mons[ieu]r de La Fayette. Go round and pay sundry Visits of the Season, among others at the Châtelet to the Baron de Bezenvald. He is a little vexed at finding new Delays in his Trial. He receives a Visit from the Dames de la Halle who in very bad french, tho Parisians, make him their sincere Compliments, promise friendship and Assistance, which are not to be despised. He of course treats them with Respect, and Mesdames d’Oudenarde and La Suze stimulate them to acts of Violence. This is truly characteristic of wrathful Woman. Go hence to the Louvre. Sit a while with Madame [de Flahaut]. Monsieur [her Husband – A.E.] comes in; he arrived last Night; he is to go to Versailles this Evening. I go to Mons[ieu]r de La Fayette’s. A long Time before the Company assemble. Dine at half past four. He tells me that Monsieur [the King’s brother] and Mirabeau are closely allied. That one is a weak and indolent Creature, the other an active and artful Rascal. I tell him that they must finish the Trial of Bezenvald because the People begin to take his Part, and that of Course a violent Torrent may be turned against his Prosecutors. This affects him. To my Surprize he tells me that notwithstanding my Criticisms on the Assemblée I must acknowlege that their Constitution is better than that of England. I assure him that he is much mistaken if he imagines that to be my Opinion. (…) From Mons[ieu]r de La Fayette’s at six I go to the Louvre. Mons[ieu]r [de Flahaut] is waiting for his Horses, by which means and by the Arrival of Company, it is near eight before we have a Moment to ourselves. We make the best Use of it. I then go to Mad[ieu]r de Chastellux’s. Stay till half past nine and go to Mad[am]e de Stahl’s, who expresses very kindly her Apprehension that I had forgotten her. Stay till half past ten and return to the Louvre where the Bishop d’Autun is waiting for me. Explain to him a Plan which I had communicated to Madame for purchasing Facilities in America and in which she will be interested. He tells me that if the Advantage is great and the Operation solid he thinks he can obtain two Millions. I tell him that I wish to confine the Object to one Million. We are to talk further. He observes, on what I say, that the American Debt would furnish a good Speculation. I tell him that I am already engaged in it. That it is so large an Object that the Junction of many Capitalists became necessary &c., &c. Madame [de Flahaut] being ill I find her with her Feet in warm Water, and when she is about to take them out, one of her Women employed in that Operation, the Bishop [d’Autun] employs himself in warming her bed and I look on. It is curious enough to see a Reverend father of the Church engaged in this pious Operation. 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. 354-355.


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