George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Gouverneur Morris, 10 April 1792

From Gouverneur Morris

London 10 April 1792

My dear sir,

There is an Idea in your Letter of the Twenty eighth of January which upon second thought I find it my Duty to examine because altho it cannot now affect me yet it may perhaps have some Influence on Mr Pinckney’s Mission. At any Rate I wish you to be perfectly well acquainted with the leading Features of the british Administration. The Thing I allude to is the Cause which has been assigned for the Reserve I experienced in Negotiating with this Court. One leading Point I cannot investigate because the Death of my friend Monsieur de la luzerne has seald his Lips forever. But I very seriously doubt whether he repeated what I said to him and this for the plainest Reason on Earth. He was very apprehensive lest in the derang’d State of french Affairs We should call on his Court to support our application. He had made himself perfectly Master of their Sentiments respecting the Treaty and therefore told me at once that they would not give up the Posts. Knowing this therefore, it was clearly his Interest to appear unacquainted with the Demand and as to a Treaty of Commerce he knew not one syllable on the Subject. As to the Allegation of Intimacy with the opposition it is totally false. I saw none of them except Mr Fox and him but twice in my Life and one of those Times at a Ball. In fact knowing a little of the suspicious Disposition by confidential Communications which the french Embassador made to me respecting his own Situation and Transactions I purposely avoided the Oppositionists and went but rarely to see even Mr & Mrs Church from that Cause.1 As to the Hauteur I beleive the Complaint to be in one Sense founded. You know Sir that it was not necessary to insist that they should actually appoint a Minister before we did. Time however has shewn that in this Instance at least I judged rightly. If I would have listen’d to Overtures derogatory to the Honor and Interest of my Country I should have been held very highly. And the mortal Sin was that I did not listen to such Overtures. You will recollect Sir that the Duke of Leeds offered to make his Communications to you thro me when I last saw him which I declin’d. At that Moment therefore their Reserve had not proceeded from the Causes now assign’d. Mr Burgess repeated this Offer in the End of December. At a subsequent Period they form’d the Plan of getting a Minister from America whom they supposd they would gain by their Attentions and they hop’d to make the stronger Impression on him by shewing that they were the Causes of his Elevation and my Depression. You have disappointed them and that will operate well.

I have already taken up more of your Time than I expected but this Subject is important and I must pursue it. During the Armament against Spain the Marquis del Campo who valued his Place very highly and was desirous of holding it if possible preserv’d a most profound Silence to every Body but this Court and we know the ridiculous Event of his Negotiations which must have been more successful if he had acted with the Sense and Spirit which the Occasion call’d for. He is a great Favorite at this Court.2 The next Armament which Mr Pitt engaged in was against the Empress and every Art was used to coax Count Woranzow into a Conduct which might subserve Mr Pitts Views. But the firm Russian was too wise and too honest to become either Creature or Dupe. They then attempted to bully him as well as his Mistress and he treated both with Contempt. The Consequence of his Conduct was the compleat Success of his Sovereign and Mr Pitt finding him too well fix’d at his own Court to be shaken by his Intrigues has again had Recourse to a complimentary and apologetical Conduct. During the Course of that Armament the enclos’d Pamphlet was publish’d under the Counts Inspection and Direction. You will collect from it some useful Information. The british Ministry knowing the truth of what is therein asserted, and still more of what is insinuated, shrunk from the Controversy.3 By the bye I was astonish’d to find that they had strongly supported the King of Prussia’s attempt to possess himself of Dantzig.4 I was not so much surprizd the other Day to find that Mr Pitt had asserted roundly in the House of Commons that he had not stimulated the Turk to War. There is not a Cabinet in Europe but what knows the contrary and many of his Hearers too.5 I am ever yours

Gouvr Morris

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC: Gouverneur Morris Papers.

1John Barker Church (1748–1818), a member of Parliament and follower of Charles James Fox, had come to America during the Revolutionary War, and through his influence with Lafayette, he received an appointment as commissary to the French forces in the New World. In 1777 he had eloped with Angelica Schuyler (1756–1814), a daughter of Gen. Philip Schuyler, making him a brother-in-law of Alexander Hamilton.

2Morris apparently had a low opinion of the longtime Spanish ambassador to the Court of St. James, Bernardo, marquis del Campo. On 4 Mar. 1792 Morris wrote in his diary that he had learned of “the absurd Manner in which the Marquis del Campo conducted the Negotiation about the Nootka Sound Affair.” In his entry for 8 April 1792, Morris wrote that he had heard Campo referred to as “a Tool” of the British administration and “that he kept entirely secret from the French Embassador all his Proceedings” (Morris, Diary of the French Revolution, description begins Beatrix Cary Davenport, ed. A Diary of the French Revolution by Gouverneur Morris. 2 vols. Boston, 1939. description ends 2:374, 410). For a discussion of the Nootka Sound crisis, see Alexander Hamilton to GW, 8 July 1790, source note.

3Count Semen Romanovich Vorontsov (Woronzow; 1744–1832) served as Russia’s ambassador in London from 1785 to 1806. On 8 April Vorontsov told Morris that “for a long Time he believd him [Pitt] to be an honest, candid Man but he had at last detected him in seriously asserting on his Honor Things absolutely false. That the British Government have spread over all Europe the most unfavorable Impressions respecting America. . . . He mentions the Insolence of Mr. Pitt’s Menaces to him and the Meanness of his subsequent indirect Apologies” (ibid., 410). Following the deposition and assassination of Peter III in 1762, Catherine the Great (1729–1796) became tsarina of Russia. The enclosed pamphlet has not been identified.

4Danzig (Gdansk, Poland) had been seized in 1772 by Frederick the Great of Prussia. The city was officially incorporated into Prussia in 1793.

5Morris is referring to the Russo-Turkish war of 1787–92. During that conflict Russia gained control of the lower Dniester and Danube rivers, and under the provisions of the Treaty of Jassy of January 1792, the Turks were forced to cede to Russia their possessions on the Black Sea from the Kerch Strait westward to the mouth of the Dniester River.

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