Sept. 12, 1796.
May 10, 1792.
I am every day more confirmed in the opinion I communicated to you on my arrival, that the first ardour of the revolution is abated.—The bridal days are indeed past, and I think I perceive something like indifference approaching. Perhaps the French themselves are not sensible of this change; but I who have been absent two years, and have made as it were a sudden transition from enthusiasm to coldness, without passing through the intermediate gradations, am forcibly struck with it. When I was here in 1790, parties could be scarcely said to exist—the popular triumph was too complete and too recent for intolerance and persecution, and the Noblesse and Clergy either submitted in silence, or appeared to rejoice in their own defeat. In fact, it was the confusion of a decisive conquest—the victors and the vanquished were mingled together; and the one had not leisure to exercise cruelty, nor the other to meditate revenge. Politics had not yet divided society; nor the weakness and pride of the great, with the malice and insolence of the little, thinned the public places. The politics of the women went no farther than a few couplets in praise of liberty, and the patriotism of the men was confined to an habit de garde nationale, the device of a button, or a nocturnal revel, which they called mounting guard.—Money was yet plenty, at least silver, (for the gold had already begun to disappear,) commerce in its usual train, and, in short, to one who observes no deeper than myself, every thing seemed gay and flourishing—the people were persuaded they were happier; and, amidst such an appearance of content, one must have been a cold politician to have examined too strictly into the future. But all this, my good brother, is in a great measure subsided; and the disparity is so evident, that I almost imagine myself one of the seven sleepers—and, like them too, the coin I offer is become rare, and regarded more as medals than money. The playful distinctions of Aristocrate and Democrate are degenerated into the opprobium and bitterness of Party—political dissensions pervade and chill the common intercourse of life—the people are become gross and arbitrary, and the higher classes (from a pride which those who consider the frailty of human nature will allow for) desert the public amusements, where they cannot appear but at the risk of being the marked objects of insult.—The politics of the women are no longer innoxious—their political principles form the leading trait of their characters; and as you know we are often apt to supply by zeal what we want in power, the ladies are far from being the most tolerant partizans on either side.—The national uniform, which contributed so much to the success of the revolution, and stimulated the patriotism of the young men, is become general; and the task of mounting guard, to which it subjects the wearer, is now a serious and troublesome duty.—To finish my observations, and my contrast, no Specie whatever is to be seen; and the people, if they still idolize their new form of government, do it at present with great sobriety—the Vive la nation! seems now rather the effect of habit than of feeling; and one seldom hears any thing like the spontaneous and enthusiastic sounds I formerly remarked.