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My last was of the tenth of July. Mr Livingston, who is on his way to America, presents an opportunity of writing, which must not be neglected, although I am engaged at present in examination of the account received from the Commissioners of the Treasury. I have already mentioned to you, Sir, that the whole of this account is open, and I must now observe, that I do not find myself particularly authorised to make the final adjustment. If it becomes necessary, I will do it, but I shall avoid it as long as I can. In respect to the payments made and making in America, I am at ease, because there I have your orders ; but not so in regard to those made by I shall hope however to be favored with your instructions in consequence of his communications. I shall write particularly respecting the account, when I have gone through it.
In a former letter I mentioned that M. de Lafayette was about to commence an attack upon the Jacobin faction. I have not followed that business in my correspondence, because the Gazettes will furnish the most ample intelligence. I mentioned my apprehension, that it would not be successful, and it furnishes a new instance of the instability of human affairs, especially of those which depend on the opinion of an ignorant populace. I verily believe that if M. de Lafayette were to appear just now in Paris unattended by his army, he would be torn to pieces. Thank God, we have no populace in America, and I hope the education and manners will long prevent that evil. In the present state of things, it seems evident that if the King be not destroyed, he must soon become absolute. I think the prime movers of the revolution see no other mode of establishing the affairs of their country, on any tolerable footing, and will therefore declare their adherence to his Majesty, grounded on the abolition of the constitution by the Assembly, and their masters, the Jacobin club.
In my last I told you, that the King would that day commence a new career ; but while I was writing all was changed, and my letter was gone off but a few minutes, before I was informed that the ministry had given in their resignation. I will not communicate the reasons, because they would be uninteresting to you, and should my letter miscarry, it would occasion much of that noise and nonsense, in which it is unpleasant to find one's name. And the wrong-headed people, who get hold of such things, cannot distinguish between a person who has obtained exact information of what is doing, and those who are actors in the business. For the same reason, I must decline mentioning the plans in agitation, at present, to establish a good constitution. I dare not say that I hope this will take place. I ardently wish it, but I have doubts and fears, because I have no confidence in the morals of the people. The King is anxious to secure their permanent happiness ; but alas ! they are not in a state of mind to receive good from his hands. Suspicion, that constant companion of vice and weakness, has loosened every band of social union, and blasts every honest hope in the moment of its budding.
You will have se^en in the report of the minister of Foreign Affairs to the Assembly, that the impressions are made, which you desire, respecting the dispositions of the United States. After this report was made, some persons spoke to me of those dispositions in a tone of irony ; but I assured them, very seriously, that our grateful sentiments for the conduct of this nation would be demonstrated by our conduct, whenever occasion should require. That the changes they might make in their own administration, would by no means affect our regard for them, nor diminish our attachment. As this language was not ministerial, but held in the sincerity of social life, it surprised those who, unfortunately for them, can find for the conduct of nations no motive but interest, and are so short-sighted as not to perceive, that a virtuous and honorable conduct is the truest interest which a nation can pursue.
In respect to other objects which are committed to me, it is hardly necessary to say, that nothing can be done in the pre sent moment. Such time as the Assembly can spare from the discussion of party disputes is necessarily engrossed by the department of war and finance. The determination to suspend the King has been a little palled by the information, that their armies would immediately revolt, and particularly the Southern army, on which they made their greatest reliance. This circumstance has greatly deranged the plan of operations, and the more so, as many instruments especially convened and collected for that grand stroke are at present no small incumbrance to the contrivers of it. Among these are the Bretons and Marseillois now in this city. Some of the chiefs of the Jacobins have, I am told, prepared the means of their escape to America, and among them your old acquaintance Condorcet. They are to embark at Dunkirk and St Valery. I am, &c.
- Gouverneur Morris
- The Life of Gouverneur Morris With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers Vol. II., Jared Sparks, 1832