3 June 1789: two conversations – with Jefferson & with a sex worker

Wednesday… (…) At noon the Baron de Montbellet calls on me to be presented to Mr. Jefferson. Go to Mr. Jefferson’s. Some political Conversation. He seems to be out of Hope of anything being done to Purpose by the States General. This comes from having too sanguine Expectation of a downright republican Form of Government. The literary People here, observing the Abuses of their monarchical Form, imagine that every Thing must go the better in Proportion as it recedes from the present Establishments and in their Closets they make Men exactly suitable to their Systems, but unluckily they are such Men as exist nowhere and least of all in France. I am more than ever perswaded that the Form which at first appeared to me most fit for them is that which will be adopted, not exactly according to my Idea but probably in a much better Manner.  (…) Return Home and dine. After Dinner take a Turn in the Palais royal. A Lady invites me from her Window to pay a Visit and I accordingly go up Stairs, but a nearer Approach convinces me that her Health has been injured by her Attention to the phisical Necessities of her fellow Creatures. I lament to her this Misfortune, which she denies but offers at the same Time the usual Securities. I decline to avail myself of her Goodness. It is just therefore that I should present her with something to buy Ribbands. It happens however that I am as unjust as I am ungallant. To convince me of her Tenderness and render me more sensible to her attractive Graces she locks the Door and puts the Key in her Pocket. Her Reasons are excellent but not convincing and her Tone and Manner are rather vehement than perswasive. I am very gentle but a little obstinate and ask her out of Curiosity whether she is acquainted with such a Thing as the Police. Her Knowlege I find is equal to her Elocution. She has already the Honor of being registered in the sublime Archives of that misterious Office, and with a Candor rare in more elevated Stations, the Means by which she obtains her daily Bread are there noted
by her own Avowal. Doubtless Monsieur will not expose himself to the Scandale of an Affair of this Sort and that for a Trifle — ‘D’ailleurs c’est juste que ceux qui viennent me voir payent quelque Chose, comme moi je suis obligée de payer pour la Chambre le Temps que j’y suis.’ — As it is not worth while to plead a Cause where there is no common Judge I look at my Watch, and having Time enough I determine to wait patiently the Event. Finding that I do not contest her Arguments the Lady expresses a Desire to know the Cause. ‘C’est que j’ai pris mon Parti, ma belle.’ — The french Vivacity gives Way as usual to the Nonchalence which they despise in themselves and respect in others. The Door is opened, and as I will not present her with Money she presents me with a Profusion of Expressions whose Excellence consists more in Energy than in Elegance. (…)

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p. 104-105.


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