There seemed to be some unusual commotion, a suppressed excitement, about the new and stately American Legation at Paris on the morning of the 3d of February in the year of grace (but not for France—her days and years of grace were over!) 1789. The handsome mansion at the corner of the Grande Route des Champs Elysees and the rue Neuve de Berry, which had lately belonged to Monsieur le Comte de l’Avongeac and in which Mr. Jefferson had installed himself as accredited minister to France after the return of Dr. Franklin to America, presented an appearance different from its usual quiet.
Across the courtyard, covered with snow fallen during the might, which glittered and sparkled in the brilliant wintry sunshine, grooms and stable-boys hurried between ecuries and remises, currying Mr. Jefferson’s horses and sponging off Mr. Jefferson’s handsome carriage, with which he had provided himself on setting up his establishment as minister of the infant federation of States to the court of the sixteenth Louis. At the porter’s lodge that functionary frequently left his little room, with its brazier of glowing coals, and walked up and down beneath the porte-cochere, flapping his arms vigorously in the biting wintry air, and glancing between the bars of the great outer gate up and down the road as if on the lookout for some person or persons. In the hotel itself, servants moved quickly and quietly about, setting everything in the most perfect order.
At one of the windows which gave upon the extensive gardens, covered, like all else, with the freshly fallen snow, Mr. Jefferson himself could now and then be seen as he moved restlessly about the small, octagonal room, lined with books and littered with papers, in which he conducted most of his official business. A letter, just finished, lay upon his desk. ’Twas to his daughter in her convent of Panthemont, and full of that good advice which no one ever knew how to give better than he. The letter being folded and despatched by a servant, Mr. Jefferson was at liberty to indulge his restless mood. This he did, walking up and down with his hands clasped behind his back, as was his fashion; but, in spite of the impatience of his manner, a smile, as of some secret contentment or happy anticipation, played about his lips. At frequent intervals he would station himself at one of the windows which commanded the entrance of the hotel, and, looking anxiously out at the wintry scene, would consult the splendid new watch just made for him, at great cost, by Monsieur l’Epine.