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My Dear Sir,
M. de Laforest called just now, while I was at the Minister s, to inform me that he will probably leave Paris tomor row morning. I, therefore, write this as an introduction to you, and proceed to give a hasty sketch of the form in which the business now stands.
A Commission is named, (the appointments not yet gone through the forms,) to consist of four persons. The Minister is M. Fauchet, Secretary of the Executive Council, a young man of about three and thirty, whom I have not yet seen, but he is said to possess genius and information. The Secretary of Legation is M. Leblanc, a man of about fifty, and who was lately at the head of the Police Department in this city. Him also I am, as yet, unacquainted with ; but he is mentioned to me as a prudent, sensible man.
M. de Laforest goes out as Consul General, and M. Petrie, his friend and companion, as Consul in the port of Philadelphia. These two will undoubtedly draw together, and will probably sway the conduct of the Commission ; for the Minister is to take no important steps without being previously authorised by the Board.
I understand that a kind of etiquette has been established, by which the Consuls, as not being properly diplomatic characters, are not received or invited with the Minister, and I perceive that there is a strong wish to enjoy the exterior respect of office, as well as the solid authority. I cannot pretend to judge, nor even to guess how far anything of this sort consists with the general rules, which you may have found it proper to establish ; but, I think, I can perceive that the two Consuls expect to govern the Commission by two means ; one, their greater knowledge of our country, laws, and inhabitants ; the other, a persuasion to be inculcated on the Minister and Secretary, that they enjoy the confidence of our government. Perhaps a little vanity may also be for something in the business ; but your judgment will well discern motives, and, therefore, I only give hints.
I think that M. de Laforest and his friend, being men of understanding, will endeavor to keep things in a line of prudence and propriety ; therefore, being uncertain, at present, as to the personal characters of the other two, it seems to be well that the Board is to be kept steady by the anchors we are acquainted with, and as the others unfold themselves, it will appear what reliance can be placed on them.
The Minister, in the conference I had with him just now, has again reiterated the assurance, that he and the other members of this government have the most sincere desire to be on the most cordial terms with us, and I am the more disposed to believe in their assurances, because America is the only source, from whence supplies of provisions can be drawn to feed this city, on which so much depends. The coming winter will be, I believe, dreadful, and the spring, should the war continue, must open with partial scarcities, if not general want. To the sufferings, unavoidable from many other causes, no small addition will be made by the laws limiting prices, enforced by the iron hand of necessity. I am, &c.
- Gouverneur Morris
- The Life of Gouverneur Morris With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers Vol. II., Jared Sparks, 1832