17 January 1790: who will be the minister (of finance)?

Sunday…  (…) At half past two call at the Louvre; Madame [de Flahaut] is engaged in Conversation. I go at three to Monsieur de La Fayette’s. Mr. de Gouvernay arrives shortly after me. (…) After Dinner Gouvernay tells me that Necker is much better but makes himself worse than he is by Way of securing a Retreat which he meditates. He says farther that a Chief Minister is necessary. I ask him who is to be in the Finances, whether the Bishop d’Autun. He says that he will not do at all; that he is unequal to the Business. That Monsieur Touret for the Home Department and Mr de St. Priest for the foreign Affairs will do very well but there are no other Men sufficiently eminent. I ask Madame de La Fayette, who comes up to us, to name a Man. She cannot. I observe that I hear the Count de Ségur is in Pursuit of the Office of foreign Affairs. Gouvernay & she join in declaring that he is not fit for it. At Dinner La Fayette asked me what they should do about their Militia. I told him, Nothing, for they cannot do what is right and therefore had better leave it in such Situation as that it can be mended, which would not be the Case if fixed by the Constitution. He says that he and others are determined to select particular Articles in the Constitution as it now stands, and form of them a Constitution properly so called, leaving the rest at the Mercy of the Legislature. This I approve of but yet much will depend on the Selection. I advise that they should, in respect to their Bill of Rights, imitate the Masons who knock down the Scaffolding when they have finished the House. From hence I go to the Louvre. I give my friend [Madame de Flahaut] such Information as relates to her friend [Bishop d’Autun], but he has too good an Opinion of his own Opinion to make an able Minister of Finance. After doing family Duty I take her to Mad[ame] de La Borde’s and go myself to Mad[ame] de Chastellux’s. There is a Ball for Children. The Countess de Chastellux is here, who receives me with great Warmth altho of a cold Manner, consequently it is a Compliment. Every Body seems to agree that Things go badly and they speak with Despondence, but in Fact nothing good could result from the Measures of Government, which have been as yet very illjudged. Go hence to Mad[ame] de La Borde’s and stay a little while, then come Home. Pleasant Weather this Day.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 368.

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