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This will accompany a duplicate of my last, of the sixth instant, also copies of my letter of the tenth instant to the Commissioner of Foreign Relations, 7)f his answer of the fourth Prairial, or twenty-third instant, and of my reply of the twenty-sixth. You will perceive that Mr Warden had been so imprudent as to lodge the despatches entrusted to his care with the Justice of Peace at Morlaix. This was done by the advice of John Diot. acting there as Consular Agent. Whether that advice is to be attributed to ignorance or design, I know not ; but it might easily have been foreseen, that the deposit would not be safe. I hope your despatches are in cypher, if they contain anything which is not of a very public nature.
The gazettes will communicate to you such intelligence as we have here, and you will obtain from other channels much fuller and earlier intelligence, as to what is called news, than any which I can give. Moreover, this letter may be long ere it reaches you, for I have not any present opportunity ; and such is the state of things, that, unless letters be committed specially to the care of some trusty person, there is very little chance that they will ever reach you.
I have not received a line from you, nor from your predecessor, posterior to the despatches by Captain Culver, desiring M. Genet's recall.
We have had a sort of novel, or farce, lately, the subject of which was, that certain Commissioners had arrived from the United States at Brest. You will see in the gazettes what relates to them so far ; and now I am told, that Mr Jefferson is one of them, that he has been in Paris, and is gone to Switzerland, where a Congress is to be held of the neutral powers. And, what is more extraordinary, this intelligence comes through a confidential channel, in general well informed. Now as I do not conceive it possible, that any commissioners from the United States should have passed through Paris without seeing me, I am at a loss to conjecture with whom the honor of the invention lies, and also what can have been the object. For as to foreign powers, they cannot be the dupes, and as to the people here, they think more of the guillotine than of anything else.
In my last I mentioned to you the omnipotence of the two Committees. Apparently this term is applicable only to that of Satut Public ; but the inquisitorial powers lodged with the other (and by means of which, they can arrest whom they please) give them great weight in the general scales. It is, I presume, needless to repeat what is mentioned to me, that the Convention, as well as all those other authorities, who once could influence its deliberations, view with jealousy, but with apprehension and deep awe, these colossal pillars of the Republic, which they have raised, or permitted to be raised. This, as well as the ferment inherent in the nature of all such bodies, you will certainly perceive at the first glance, and your judgement will seize the remote consequences intuitively. On my part, therefore, it is more fitting to observe, that these consequences are more remote than might be supposed. A conviction of that instability which attends all fortuitous greatness, more especially such as is founded on fear, and the certainty of complete ruin, should they be overthrown, will long smother all minor discontents ; moreover, the apprehension from the foreign enemy will, in my opinion, both promote their concord and support their power.
Should the convoy of provisions expected from America be intercepted by Lord Howe, it might cause a great commotion, because it would undoubtedly affect the subsistence of Paris, and no individual will take on himself any responsibility respecting that object. Hence might arise crimination and recrimination, of course discord and all its consequences. If no exterior causes should preserve union, a very little experience of human affairs would enable us to pronounce, that it could not long exist.
This leads me to say one word about the northern army, premising that all the other armies taken together are but trifling diversions. The late arrangement made by Mr Pitt with the King of Prussia, by concentrating the interest and objects of the two chief powers, Britain and Austria, gives much more consistence to the war on the part of the Allies. They seem also to have found out at last, what indeed the Convention has proclaimed a dozen times, that all the magic of the Revolution is contained in the single word, Paris. Now the high road to that city is from Flanders by Valenciennes, Landrecy, Cambray, &tc. If matters are to be decided in the plains of Picardy, numbers will, I think, avail but little against a formidable cavalry. You will see that no quarter is to be given to the British and Hanoverian troops. The Austrians are, already, but little disposed to give quarter. The corps of emigrants and deserters will naturally sell their lives as dear as they can. This campaign, therefore, will be one of the bloodiest in the annals of history. I am, &c.
- Gouverneur Morris
- The Life of Gouverneur Morris With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers Vol. II., Jared Sparks, 1832