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It may perhaps be proper to mention one or two things, in relation to the objects treated of in my letters of last January. And first, of a commerce with the French Islands. Nothing has, I believe, been done in France, which may be favorable to our views ; but the commotions in the Islands themselves will, I presume, operate like liberal regulations of police, and probably the colonists will eventually demand as a right, what some time since they would have accepted as a favor. I am led to believe that we should not be over anxious on this subject just now, because circumstances will perhaps serve us better than we can serve ourselves.
My predictions respecting the Turk have been so far veri fied, as that he has got rid of one of his enemies upon tolerable terms, for he loses no dominion worth a contest. How far the intercessions now making to the Empress of Russia will produce the desired effect, seems not to be clearly ascertained. If a squadron of Dutch or English ships had arrived in the Baltic last May, it is more than probable that the peace of the north would have been restored ; but there are many events which would enable the Empress of Russia to carry on suc cessful operations against both the Turk and the Swede. The armies of the former, which opposed those of the Empe ror, cannot suddenly be transported to the quarter where they are now wanted ; neither will the expense of them cease during the campaign. It appears to me that the season is too far advanced for anything Prussia can do, let the inclination of the king be what it may ; and Sweden, unprotected by naval superiority, is exposed to the land force of its enemy, without much chance either of aid or diversion. Finland, which will probably be the object of the Czarina, cannot maintain forces needful to defend it, if the sea communication be cut off. Therefore the whole Prussian army, could it be transported thither, would be worse than useless. And thus the withdrawing of Austria from the war will have less influence than might have been expected.
The people of Flanders seem to be given up, after having been used to distress the House of Austria. Heaven knows what desperation may prompt them to ; but it appears to me
that a wise conduct on the part of France would have acquired for her the dominion of that country ; and if ever that should happen, France having at the same time a good constitution, the consequence of this island is gone. Antwerp seems intended by nature for the emporium of European commerce, and the navigation of the Scheldt would undoubtedly be opened if it belonged to a great naval power. That river and the Thames being nearly opposite to each other, mutual visits might be expected, and in these the superiority at land must at length prove decisive.
The situation of France, however, seems at first sight to preclude all effort. The national bank, which was in contemplation, has never taken effect. After deliberating about it and about it, the thing dropped, and they expected to have made out with their new paper currency (the assignats) but my predictions on that subject seem to be verified. Still, how ever, the situation of their finances is not desperate. But their Assembly is losing ground daily in the public opinion. The army, long encouraged in licentious conduct, is now in revolt. All the bands of society are loosened, and authority is gone. Unless they are soon involved in a foreign war, it is impossible to conjecture what events will take place. For sometime past the ministers have been threatened with the Lanterne, and they would gladly get out of office. The great difficulty is, to find successors, or rather substitutes. Lafayette has been contriving an intermediate ministry to last for a few months, till, by the dissolution of the assembly, who, you know, passed a self-denying ordinance, a set could be taken from among the present members of that body. But this will prove a bad business ; for if the intermediaries are not able, then they will make things worse ; and if they are, they will not give up their places.
We are in hourly expectation of hearing the decision of the Assembly upon the family compact. The Spanish Ambassa dor has required, in pointed terms, a compliance on the part of France. This, I have good reason to believe, was in concert with the French administration. If it were possible to answer for such a body as the Assemblee^ and so placed as they are, I would pronounce in favor of their adherence to the terms of that compact. If so, the tone o f the British ministy may be a little lowered. In the meantime, both the Spanish and English fleets are out, and were approaching towards each other. Probably each side means only to terrify at present; but Spain will not recede any farther, except in the last necessity.
In a day or two I expect to learn something of their intentions here respecting us ; and if I do not hear from them, I shall make a final address to his Grace of Leeds.
It is very flattering to me, Sir, that you are so kind as to ap prove of my communications with the ministers of this country, so far as they had gone in the beginning of May. I earnestly hope that my subsequent conduct may meet the same favorable interpretation. This you may rely on, that if in any case I go wrong, it will be from an error of judgment. I am, &c.
- Gouverneur Morris
- The Life of Gouverneur Morris With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers Vol. II., Jared Sparks, 1832