24 May 1789: a party in Malmaison & a dangerous coach ride back to Paris

Saturday… (…) In the Evening go to Malmaison. (…) There is a very large Company here. Cantellux, who I wished to speak to, is much engaged and his Wife very anxious to go, wherefore I cannot say a Word to him except how do you do. Madame du Molly is very civil. But I must go to see her I find only sur les jours de fête. Qu[estion?]: is this because she has not at other Times a Dinner she would chuse to exhibit, or wishes not at other Times to be broken in upon, or wishes to save one the Risque of a Visit when she is not at Home? The last is the Reason assigned but the second is that which I believe in. The Professor of Natural History of Madrid is here of whom the County de Pilos by a Vice of Pronunciation said that he was the Bouffon (meaning the Buffon) of Spain. His exalted Compliments to Madame are as like to the former as to the latter at least. But perhaps they are not ridiculous because from a Quarter respected, and if not ridiculous, of course not disagreable. She has Sense enough to appreciate them fully. (…) At a little before ten I set off for Paris, and my Coachman being asleep I am nearly overset in one of the Ditches. After several Efforts to make him awaken and he still continuing to drive wild, I stop him and ask if he is drunk. Tell him if he is, then to get down from the Box and let my Servant drive, but if he is sober then to go on and to pay more Attention, for that if he oversets the Carriage I will instantly run him thro’ the Body. This has the desired Effect and brings him to the Use of his Senses. How idle to suppose that Man is a reasonable Creature. If he had run into the Ditch, which is dry and above six Foot perpendicular, it is a thousand to one that I should have been in a Condition not to act and he not to suffer; but this is a Danger to which by Habit he is familiarized. The other by its Novelty makes Impression and he probably does not consider, at least untill he is fairly awake, that I have no Weapon but my Cane to execute the Threat.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 89-90.


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