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You will find enclosed the copy of what I took the liberty to trouble you with on the thirteenth of last month. On Satur day, the seventeenth, I dined in company with Mr Fox. The state of French politics formed, of course, a large part of the conversation. The situation of other countries was then passed in review, and it became a question how far Britain might be engaged in the affairs of the continent. At length I took an opportunity to ask what system the administration had adopted respecting America. He told me that he could not tell, but he believed they had none, and would in all probability be governed by events. That he did not believe Mr Pitt would trouble his head about the matter, but would probably leave it to Lord Hawkesbury and Mr Grenville, who are both of them indisposed to us ; whereas Pitt himself is, he supposes, rather friendly than otherwise. Mr Fox said further, that he and Burke are now almost alone in their opinion, that we should be permitted to trade in our own bottoms to their islands, and that this opinion loses ground daily ; though for his own part he persists in it.
I find that the ministers apply for information respecting America, and particularly American commerce, to a Mr Irvin, who long resided in America, and is now in the customs ; a mighty sour sort of creature, and one who seems to have a mortal aversion for us. I met him at dinner one day, and he took pains to let me know, that he was doing all he could to prevent any encouragement from being given to our exports, by the corn bill, which is now on the carpet. He declared that he would, by the force of starvation, oblige the people of Britain to raise corn enough for their own consumption, and that even the supply of the West India Islands ought to be provided in this country.
You will readily perceive, sir, from this rude sketch of influential characters, that there is but little disposition for treating with us at present. I am, &c.
- Gouverneur Morris
- The Life of Gouverneur Morris With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers Vol. II., Jared Sparks, 1832