James Madison Papers

To James Madison from François de Barbé-Marbois, 31 May 1785

From François de Barbé-Marbois

New York, may 31st. 1785.


I have been happy in forming the acquaintance of Mr. Mazzey, & receiving at the Same time your letter dated 3d. June 1784.1 He is now on his way to france where I know he will find many friends.2 Mr. Jepherson one of them is generally esteemed in paris & Versailles, & I have no doubt but his appointment as a minister to our court will give great Satisfaction.

The opinion in paris is that peace will continue: The Emperor is Single on his own Side, & will probably See the necessity of altering his System.3

Mesmer Keeps his ground, & by what I hear from persons of respectable character I See Sufficient reasons to Doubt before pronouncing him to be a Quack.4 With perfect esteem & respect I have the honour to be Sir, your obedt. hble. Servt.

De Marbois

RC (DLC). Addressed in care of Fontaine Maury, who forwarded the letter from Fredericksburg to Orange County. Docketed by JM.

1Not found.

2Mazzei sailed for France on 17 June 1785 and never returned to America (Schiavo, Philip Mazzei, p. 159).

3Several months earlier, Joseph II of Austria was thought to be fomenting a general war in Europe. See Lafayette to JM, 16 Mar. 1785.

4JM wrote “Mesmer” above Barbé-Marbois’s barely legible word. Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) arrived in Paris during Feb. 1778, proclaiming his discovery of a superfine fluid that penetrated and surrounded all bodies. Mesmer’s treatment, calling for a soaking of the human body in a fluid to produce cures for many ailments, was considered brilliant by some and quackery by others (Robert Darnton, Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France [Cambridge, Mass., 1968]), pp. 47–52, 71–72.

Index Entries