Our Revolutionary Forefathers. Ii: The Journal of François, Marquis De Barbé-Marbois

TRANSLATED BY PERCY NOEL

September 1779. — Accompanied by General Knox and General Stirling, we crossed New York and the Jerseys. We saw the vast college of Princeton, erected in favor of the Presbyterians, almost destroyed by the troops of both sides. They are reëstablishing it, as if the ravages of war are no more to be feared.

At last we arrived on the banks of the Delaware, which we crossed in order to enter Pennsylvania. The Delaware has its source in the land of the Iroquois; small vessels can go up it as far as Trenton, and war vessels to Philadelphia. Its banks are fertile and varied over the entire extent which we have had occasion to see. We saw fish caught, destined for our supper.

A part of the country is inhabited by Germans, who continue to emigrate from their old country in order to come and live in a hospitable land where prosperity, abundance, and liberty summon all the unfortunates of the universe. The Germans, accustomed to privations, bowed under the yoke of necessity and command, bring here a spirit of economy, perseverance, and docility. That is all their wealth when they arrive. Without repugnance they sell their liberty for a few years to a rich agriculturist. They learn from him how to manage a farm. As to cultivating, there is not much to teach them. They receive a salary which puts them in a position to become landowners themselves at the end of their engagement. It is then that they show new industry and extraordinary patience, so that, by force of savings on very small profits which they make at first, they go on to greater gains, extend successively their domains, and at last arrive at a state of domesticity with really surprising fortunes.

Some of our customs appear very extraordinary to these people, although really most simple. In the midst of a large gathering a man asked me if French ladies rode horseback. I replied affirmatively, and added that they mounted like men. All the ladies blushed, hiding their faces behind their fans, and finally were off with a great burst of laughter. They cannot understand how a woman sits down to her toilette before men or even how she dresses before her husband.

We give ourselves over to society as circumstances permit. The time passes in talk at these assemblies; but, as it seems that it is necessary to be met together for some other object than conversation, it is ordinarily tea or a light repast which is the motive for the invitation. The people play rarely, and almost always for the sole pleasure of the combinations; they have even reformed the shabby custom of paying for the cards. Instead of the fateful green baize where greed and idleness attract Europeans, they sit around a polished mahogany table, very clean.

The eldest daughter of the family or one of the young married ladies makes tea and presents a cup to each person in the company. In summer they add fruits and refreshments; they talk, and where there is no news they tell old stories, or the fine speakers discuss some point of sentimental metaphysics. They change seats, come and go, and finally separate without being tormented by the chagrin of having upset a fortune, or the remorse of having ruined a friend.

Americans are naturally curious and askers of questions. I had proof of it the moment I arrived in Boston; while disembarking I was assailed by a crowd of inhabitants in whose number were members of the Council; they hurried to ask me in the most naïve manner the object of my voyage, about the weather, the point of departure, and the state of affairs in Europe. It was the same in most places along our road, and I remember that my hostess in Hartford, after having asked me if I were married, if I had any brothers or sisters, insisted upon knowing the age of my father and mother.

I sometimes stroll a bit, either to rest me of the coach, or better to know the country which we are traveling through. One day, being rather far from the road and not knowing the name of the lodging place where I wished to go, I was afraid of losing my way either in going ahead or in retracing my steps. In this perplexity, overcome by fatigue, I discovered a hut in the wood and went over to it. There I found a man and a woman who spoke Dutch. More like two savages in their hut than two civilized creatures, they received me brusquely, and I could not make them understand that I wished to be put on the road to Philadelphia. I drew away from them very much disturbed, and, marching ahead at random, was preparing my mind to spend the night in the forest when I saw a small boy run toward the cabin, fall, and cry as if he had been hurt. I went to him, picked him up, and washed his dirt-smeared face. He expressed his thanks. I made him a few presents of no consequence, and as his fall was in no way grievous I let him take the way to the cabin, and I went on slowly, looking behind me from time to time. Undoubtedly the child told his adventure, and in the twinkling of an eye I was rejoined by his mother, who, by means of questions and signs, finally guessed where I wished to go, accompanied me for three quarters of an hour, and only left me when she could show me the lodgings where I was to stop.

What does this adventure prove? Very little, it is true, and I admit that it is neither spicy nor extraordinary. But I am sure that one may draw from it the following moral: The sentiment of natural human kindness is the same everywhere; gratitude is not strange to the human heart, and the surest means of softening a gross and savage being is first to know the value of maternal tenderness.

In the different districts which we pass through, the inhabitants come to wish us happiness; they light bonfires to celebrate the arrival of His Excellency, the Chevalier de la Luzerne,1 and they offer us hospitality with a really patriarchal simplicity — which we accept in the same spirit.

We soon arrived at a half day’s journey from Philadelphia. We found some of the land badly cultivated and sparsely inhabited, but that in which we are now is comparable to the most beautiful places in Europe. I do not know whether the good reception which we receive embellishes America in our eyes, but at any rate in a voyage of one hundred and fifty leagues I have seen nothing which would correspond to the rough and savage pictures which I had formed of it. There are many uncultivated parts, but that is due to lack of labor, and the majority are susceptible of attaining a high degree of population and cultivation. Prosperity and abundance reign in all the habitations. From Boston to this point we have not seen a single poor person; we have not met a peasant who is not well dressed and who does not have a cart or at least a good horse. The best of kings limited himself to wish that each peasant might be able to have his boiled chicken every Sunday; we have not entered a single house of a morning without finding cooking there in the iron kettle a fine fowl, beef, or mutton, with a piece of bacon; great abundance of vegetables, bread, cider, dairy products, and profusion of firewood; clean furniture, a good bed, and often a gazette.

The houses of this part of America have already a form and arrangement different from those of the North. The latter resemble more the houses of England. Here you would believe yourself in a canton of Germany or Holland. Besides, if you ever come to America, I recommend Delaware from Trenton to Bristol, where we slept last. There you drink excellent mineral waters, or you take tea on a covered balcony overlooking the river. You see on the opposite bank the pretty city of Burlington; you will be slightly fleeced by your host, and then, following the charming banks of the stream, you will at last arrive at Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA,October 10, 1779. — The Gazette of Philadelphia has already let you know that we arrived here September 21, when His Excellency was received by the ringing of church bells and conducted by a company of cavalry composed of the most notable citizens of the city.

You asked me to write you a few words about the house where we live. Imagine at the western extremity of the town a square surrounded by four streets, covered by an English lawn, and in the midst of it a large residence of good appearance. It is almost opposite the State House where the Pennsylvania Congress holds its sittings, and where the days are passed in blessing France, cursing England, and imagining means to bring the latter power to reason.

From one side we have the view of the town, from the other that of the new prison, the hospital, and the poorhouse. Everywhere else these buildings would present a disheartening prospect, but here it is quite different; at least the sight of the latter two buildings has nothing depressing when one knows the order and cleanliness which reign there, and that they are the work of enlightened and compassionate humanity.

The streets are laid out straight as a chalk line and the pedestrians have wide sidewalks. The houses are all built of brick, simple and uniform outside, and probably convenient for those who live in them, although nothing can be more distant from our arrangements, and one finds nothing in them which resembles the small apartments which make our dwellings so pleasant. Many people prefer cities irregularly built. For me, friend of order and symmetry, I admit that this city pleases me very much: it has everything to make it the most beautiful city in the world; but, if you except the Lutheran Church and a few other temples, there is not a single edifice of an architecture worthy of remark. The State House forms a fine enough mass in the midst of a town, but it is a building without taste or elegance. Dr. Franklin compares the tower to a microscope half out of its case.

A few days after my arrival they introduced me to Edward Drinker, born on Philadelphia soil in 1680. This centenarian told me that his parents’ cabin was on the edge of a forest which is to-day replaced by the most densely populated part of Philadelphia. A few scattered huts were then inhabited by Swedes, Dutch, and savages. He recalls that he played with their children and caught squirrels in the thickets which are replaced to-day by a church, and that he has picked strawberries on the site of the State House. Father of eighteen children, he has seen his fourth great-grandson.

This wild and desert ground where Drinker was born is changed into a rich city noted for its commerce, and inhabited by forty thousand souls. The hut where the savage cooked his fish among a few stones has become a quay where five hundred vessels land every year. Ships and frigates have replaced canoes. The Congress of thirteen Republics sits where the natives held assembly around the council fire.

During his hundred years of existence, Drinker has seen the beginning and the limit of British power in Pennsylvania. He has been the subject of seven monarchs, and to-day he enjoys independence under a republican government.

You have surely heard of Lorery and Mr. Rittenhouse. This mechanic, who has a great natural talent, made a machine which represents the movements of the celestial bodies in a very exact manner. He is treasurer of the State of Pennsylvania. I left him, counting all paper money, separating the good from the bad, and awaiting the epoch when both kinds will be of equal value. Then I mounted my horse to visit the botanical garden of Monsieur Bartram.

It is four or five miles from Philadelphia. We found a solitary house surrounded by fine orchards, decorated on the garden side by a colonnade of rustic taste. It appeared to us to be a worthy habitation of the American Linnæus. But the garden! It was in a state of neglect which caused us real sorrow. We saw there the remains of treasures amassed by him who is no more, but we saw, too, that these plants were half strangled by useless and parasitic herbs. The trees were dead, and those that were not dead were dying. Some plants were drying up from lack of water, and over the whole scene was an air of abandonment which, if I were a botanist, I should call criminal.

We wandered about a neighboring forest, where the same negligence which had just displeased us in the garden added new beauty. The forest is filled with a multitude of trees which are scarcely known in Europe: the magnolia, whose blossom perfumes the air with such a delicious odor; the tulip tree, whose shade, they say, rejuvenates old couples; the catalpa, so brilliant in spring, so faded in autumn; the sassafras, of which they claim that the leaves, the flower, the fruit, the sap, the wood, and the bark embody all known medicinal properties; the laurel of every species, with which we crown the heroes of America, but which still waits for her to produce a poet. In fact, there were spread before our eyes all the forest riches which Pennsylvania owes only to Nature. These trees embellish the gentle slopes of the hills, the varied shades of their verdure forming, with the brooks which traverse them, the most agreeable pictures. The wild vine rises about the trunks and branches of oaks and elms; its interlaced tendons form cradles whose fastness the sun’s rays cannot penetrate. But content yourself with these natural beauties; you will find among the country houses which the war has spared around Philadelphia neither marvels of architecture, elegance, taste, nor convenient arrangements. Everything testifies that they have thought only of the useful; everything that is agreeable they owe to Nature; and, as the country is charming, there is not a hut which is not happily situated; but not a house, not a garden which merits the least attention.

The banks of the Schuylkill are embellished by a great number of dwellings which belong to the richest citizens of Philadelphia. On the right bank of this river is Mr. William Hamilton’s house. If ever Pennsylvania has a king, a prince, a doge, or any sort of master, it is here that he will make his residence if he wishes to occupy the most beautiful situation which exists in the environs of Philadelphia. Here he will be able to plant enchanted gardens, and have fountains as beautiful as at Marly, but at less expense; to-day it is quite simply a natural English garden.

We often walk along the banks of the Delaware and the Schuylkill; we discourse on the combination of circumstances which led us here; we recall the fine climate of France, and the society we left there, which is found nowhere else; we compare it to Pennsylvania, still in its infancy, remembering that Paris is where our friends and acquaintances live. We, forgetting all these advantages, came to seek a coldly beautiful country, where friendship does not go beyond families, where a foreigner at the end of six months is still a stranger, and where a bachelor is called a ‘single man’ and treated as if he were really isolated from the rest of nature; where religious and national prejudices which are not yet quite effaced exclude all hope of intimate liaison, and where the people cannot yet believe in the sincerity of a Frenchman; where party spirit and civil discord oblige us to avoid those whose friendship we should desire in other circumstances.

One day I was given over to these reflections when I saw a little old octogenarian, dressed in a long coat, enter my home. His white hair was covered by a gray hat with turned-down brim; he had a keen look for all his age; he sustained himself with a big stick, and as soon as he saw me he came to me with eagerness, threw back his coat, and clasped me in his arms, and said in very good French: ‘Friend Marbois, I am very happy to see thee.’ But I tried in vain to remember who he could be. The good Quaker perceived my embarrassment.

‘I am Antoine Benezet,’ he told me.

I knew at once who he was without further explanation. Who could have lived a month in Philadelphia without knowing Antoine Benezet! But, since he is less known in Paris, I will tell you that he is one of the most respectable men on earth. His parents, who were Protestants, left the kingdom toward the end of the reign of Louis XIV. They established themselves in Pennsylvania, and their children are important merchants or rich landlords of the state. Antoine was then in the cradle. He had no sooner made the acquaintance of the Quakers than he adopted their principles; not those of the White Quakers, as they call those whose code is less strict, but he gave himself over to all the austerity of Quaker principles. He could have made a great fortune in commerce, but he preferred the profession of schoolmaster, and for more than fifty years his time has been employed in teaching little children to read and write, and inculcating in them a small number of precepts which appear to me to be the most complete catechism of morals that one could offer to their understanding.

Benezet has spirit, fire, and, if I dare thus to express myself, he carries his love of humanity as far as lunacy. When, excited by his zeal, he speaks of universal tolerance and of the good that would come to the realm and to humanity by the admission of Protestants to the rank of citizens, he has the most eloquent persuasion.

‘I must be permitted,’ he says, ‘to express myself feelingly on this important subject. One of my uncles was hung by these intolerants, my aunt was put in a convent, two of my cousins died at the galleys, and my fugitive father was ruined by the confiscation of his property.’

He relates these persecutions and the sufferings of his relatives as another person would speak of titles of nobility. He cannot be persuaded that France has become much more tolerant than the majority of the other states of Europe, and he still believes us to be at the same place we were when Louis XIV, a hundred years ago, committed the irreparable crime of revoking the Edict of Nantes. He is of that small number of those who profess Quakerism in all its severity. The gravity of the Quakers has not, however, bereft this good refugee of his French vivacity.

There are in Philadelphia a thousand to twelve hundred Acadians who regard him as their father. The unfortunate inhabitants of that peninsula, separated for more than half a century from France, their mother country, kept the right not to carry arms against her until the war of 1756. At that epoch the English, their masters, suspecting that they had betrayed their neutrality and that they had held intelligence with the French, snatched away the land which they had tilled and dispersed them in other colonies. About twelve hundred of these unfortunates were set down on the banks of the Delaware, and abandoned without resources to the mercy of the Pennsylvanians. Benezet remembered that they had a common origin; although as poor as they, he received them, consoled them, encouraged them, and went from door to door asking bread for them; made the parents of his young Pennsylvania pupils subscribe funds, importuned the Government of Pennsylvania to afford them means of existence, and addressed request upon request to the King and Parliament of England, so that his generous obstinacy forced some help in favor of these unfortunates he called his children.

He is also a protector of the negroes. He was one of the most zealous advocates of the law which has just been enacted to assure negro liberty and to banish slavery in Pennsylvania.

I told you once that I had a friend and that from the age of eight up to twenty nothing had ever impaired our union; that then I quarreled with him and it was I who was in the wrong. I saw him no more. He passed from Europe on to this continent and here died six years ago. I have made a journey to the spot where he was buried; I have been to see an honest citizen of this town who took care of him in his last moments, and whose daughter, I believe, he was to have married. It appeared to me this family loved him sincerely; we have had the bitter consolation of communing with each other about him. This demoiselle told me that he had never spoken to her of me. And how could he have imagined that, separated already by a great interval, the two persons who had been dearest to him would one day have an opportunity to converse together of him?

Jemima Wilkinson has just arrived here, a few religious sects awaiting her with inquietude, others with extreme impatience. Her story is so singular and her dogma so now that she has not failed to attract general attention.

Following an illness when they believed her dead for a few hours, she imagined that she really had been, and announced that the Holy Spirit sent a new soul to live in her body. It is not quite clear whether this soul emanated from the Virgin Mary or from Jesus Christ himself, and the inspired woman is very reserved in her replies on this subject. Her religion is pure and evangelical. Doctors well drew our attention to some difference between the dogmas which she preaches and those of other sects, but as you are happily in the right path there is no need of describing this new one which has been added to the five or six hundred others in which so many imprudent lambs have lost their way. I prefer to tell you of the impression which this prophetess makes, and how she attracts our worldly attention. This soul from Heaven has chosen rather a beautiful body for its dwelling place, and many living ladies would not object to animate these dead remains.

Jemima Wilkinson, or rather the woman whom we call by that name, is about twenty-two years old; she has beautiful features, a fine mouth, and animated eyes; her hair is parted in the middle and falls loosely on her shoulders. She washes it every day with cold water and never powders it; travel has browned her a little; she has an air of pensive melancholy; she has acquired no grace, but has all those which Nature gives. She comes forward with ease and freedom and at the same time with all imaginable modesty. She has a big gray felt hat with turneddown brim that she wears, and she places it on the desk of her pulpit when she preaches. She wears a sort of frock of white linen knotted under the chin like a peignoir. It falls to her feet without marking her waist; the sleeves expose only the tips of her hands.

She has six apostles in her suite; there are three men who speak at her meetings, and three women who keep silence. One of these men has fulfilled the functions of chief judge in his province with distinction for twentyfive years. Won over by grace, he joined the suite of Jemima four or five months ago. As you know, in Europe the magistrates hasten to inform themselves about the conduct of inspired people, and ordinarily arrest them at the start. The magistrates at Philadelphia are interested in Jemima Wilkinson, but with other intent; as soon as they found that she preached neither against independence nor against alliance with the King, they found her a spacious church, which the Methodists willingly loaned, and there for several days she has been preaching before a prodigious congregation of people.

I was curious to hear her. I went with seven or eight French officers and, as the people were kind enough to make room for us, we found ourselves near the pulpit. Despite our number and the movement that our unexpected arrival caused in the assembly, she appeared not to perceive us; she continued to speak, eyes lowered, with much freedom and facility.

To us her discourse appeared to be composed of the ordinary things of the Bible and the Fathers; she enunciated so correctly, although without elegance, that I thought she was reciting a prepared sermon, and it was hard for me to convince myself that she spoke from inspiration, or, as the profane say, extempore. Having cast her eyes on us French, she appeared to remark us for the first time. As she was speaking of the attachment men have for the things of this world, she continued thus: —

‘Among those who are listening to me, how few have been led here by the desire for their salvation. Curiosity attracts them; they have a mind to relate extraordinary things when they return to their own country.’

I swear to you that for the moment I believed her either to be a prophetess or a fortune teller, and I expected to hear her speak of my diary.

‘Do they believe, these foreigners in the House of the Lord, that their presence flatters me? I disdain their honors, I despise greatness and wealth. Seek me no more, hear me no more, if you are not touched by grace; withdraw yourselves, profane no more this temple if you are still in the lakes of the Infernal Angel; but if you are disposed to enter in the way of salvation, if my words have softened your hearts, if I snatch a single one of you from the danger that he runs, I have not come too far to bring the light, and you have not traveled too far to seek it.’

She was so overcome by emotion in speaking this way that she was obliged to stop and take out her handkerchief to dry her tears. We were surprised by this apostrophe, but remained perhaps as hardened as before.

Jemima accepts nothing in the way of pecuniary alms. She and her disciples possess nothing but what is necessary to live, and they receive gifts that the piety of the faithful brings them. She lives quietly; her conduct and morals are irreprehensible.

Last year another sectarian appeared at Philadelphia; he preached in boots, short jacket, and his hair in cadenettes; he announced universal redemption, from which no one, not even Lucifer, was to be excluded. He did not lack eloquence. He was the vogue for a time, but people soon tired of him. They found that a place in Elysium was not so much to be desired after all if it was to be so common that everyone, without exception, would be received. Besides, a few ministers refuted him and he refuted their refutations, having their books and his own printed, until finally there was nothing more to argue about, and I do not even know if he is still here.

We are on our way to see General Washington at his Headquarters, now at Morristown in the Jerseys, and we expect the sojourn there will be a very bright one.

Don Juan Misales, with whom we have come, has fallen so dangerously sick that it is doubtful whether he wall be able to return.

We have been to see Staten Island, and by looking through our field glasses were able to see at close range the enemy forts. General Washington left us only a moment in this dangerous neighborhood. For me the enemy holds no trap, so I walked a little farther along this arm of the sea: it is surrounded by variegated green hills from which, while on horseback, I witnessed one of those battles which the inhabitants of the air frequently deliver to those of the waters.

One cannot leave the hospitable roof of General Washington without regret, but the death of Don Juan did not permit us a longer sojourn; besides, everything was sad at Morristown because of this calamity.

Congress was present for the funeral ceremonies, at which an unfortunate incident occurred. Our chaplain, according to custom, scattered holy water on the people. An American officer, who received it rather more abundantly than the others, believed himself insulted, and it was not without some difficulty that we made him understand that he ought to be very grateful; that it was a particular favor which the Abbé had conferred upon him, and that we regarded it as good fortune to be so wetted by him.

You are surely interested in my friend Benezet, and you will be happy to know I paid him a visit this morning. Nothing more simple and clean than his house. There was numerous company. A young person beautiful as an angel was seated in the salon, and she was dressed with neatness, simplicity, and, I would say, almost with elegance, if this term were not offensive to Quaker ears. Her hair had not been tortured by the coiffeur; it was drawn back behind her head without powder and covered with a little gauze cap of an extraordinary shape, but which rather pleased me, because nothing unbecomes a beautiful person. She wore a gray satin dress, and her white hands and arms were covered neither by muslin nor by lace. I have never seen a fresher tint, nor more composed, sweeter features, nor a more modest air. The Quaker ladies are not submitted at all to the empire of mode. The form of their coiffure and dress never changes. I assure you that the charms of Mademoiselle Norris are all her own, and she owes nothing to art. She did not rise when I entered, no more than did any of the others, and, as all the seats were occupied, I was for a moment out of countenance.

‘Come, friend,’ said the young lady, ‘come sit thee here on the same chair as I.’

There was only room there for one, and I hesitated a moment to do such a novel thing. Nevertheless the offer was made with such good grace that, led as if by an involuntary movement, I went and took my place beside her. Then they brought us refreshments.

‘Wilt thou not drink a glass of punch?’ the servant asked me, as she presented it to the company.

I drank some, and had hardly put my glass back on the tray when the young lady took it and drank after me. I was in astonishment over all these preferences, but while I was reflecting on what could be the cause an old man entered and Mademoiselle Norris relinquished to him her half of the chair which she occupied with me and retired, without the newcomer making the slightest effort to retain her. I saw at the same time that everybody drank from the same glass; it is a very ordinary custom, above all among the Quakers.

They were assembled on the occasion of a marriage, or rather what we should call a marriage contract. All these socalled ‘gentle’ people are married in their homes, with the exception of Catholics and Quakers, who are usually married in a church. Quakers who are married outside of the meetinghouse with persons of another religious persuasion are obliged to declare publicly that they are sorry to have been married this way in order to be readmitted to church.

The newly married couple usually give over the first weeks of marriage to receiving visits. Two or three young ladies are constantly with the bride and help her to do the honors of her house. Three of the groomsmen fulfill the same functions for the husband. The men’s visits are received in one room and those of the women in another, where the time is passed in an infinitely pleasant manner, drinking tea, punch, wine, or other liquors with the crowd of friends, which does not cease to fill the house of the newly weds during the first weeks of marriage.

Chester is five leagues from Philadelphia in an agreeable spot on the banks of the Delaware; to-day, Sunday, we have been there to dinner. The ladies made the trip on horseback, by carriage, and by phaeton, and we the same. There we laughed and drank the champagne sent by Count de Capellis, whose ship, the Danae, is anchored before Chester. The party was the usual affair of walking and playing, and would not be worth mentioning except for a small incident which was not as diverting for the ladies as for me.

We have spoken of the extreme docility and obedience and submission of American women to their husbands; they (the wives) glory in it, and not without reason. Madame de Montgomery was especially proud of it. Governor Morris, on whom the champagne had had its full effect, climbed into a little sulky, and although these vehicles cannot accommodate more than one person, Madame Bingham, a young and pretty woman, had the whim to climb in with him. It must be remarked that Governor Morris had lost a leg in driving a cabriolet and that this circumstance was not of a nature to reassure Monsieur Bingham. He begged the most agile person of the company to run after his wife and make her get down. You will ask why he did not go himself, but I must tell you that Count de Capellis had sent champagne in abundance. The messenger succeeded in stopping the sulky where Madame Bingham was installed, and begged her to get out. She refused.

‘ Madame, it is your husband’s order.’

I was struck by this way of saying it, and I said to Madame Montgomery that this was the only country in the world where a husband could address a wife in such an imperative tone. Madame Montgomery was very pleased with this evidence which had arrived àpropos in support of the thesis which she had maintained; so far she had triumphed, and I was admitting myself vanquished when Madame Bingham bade us farewell by voice and gesture, lashed the horse with the whip, and continued the journey in the sulky.

There were certain arrangements made to dance after dinner; but it was the pure blunder of a foreigner who did not remember that Americans permit themselves no amusement of this kind on Sunday. A little drunkenness does not matter, but dancing, music, and gambling are profanations.

We are now in Baltimore, the most commercial city of Maryland, which is really an astonishing creation. In twenty-five years fifteen hundred or sixteen hundred houses have sprung up solely as a result of trade, and they continue to be built. The Consul kept us there a day, but we could not profit by it to see the town. However, we met several of the inhabitants, and I perceived here, as at Philadelphia, that there is no happiness except for married people. Nothing is rarer than a bad household. The women are sincerely and faithfully attached to their husbands and have little pleasure outside of their families, but enjoy all those which a retired domestic life can offer. They live surrounded by their children, whom they nourish and bring up themselves. Strangers are well received, but they are rarely admitted into the intimacy of the family.

Accustomed to an extreme deference for women, it is with difficulty that a European accustoms himself to see the husband sovereign master of his home. Some people believe that it is this exercise of authority which keeps their customs so pure in society, and that the equality to which Europeans have admitted their wives has produced first of all looseness, and then corruption of morals. You are right in guessing that I absolutely disagree with this heresy. I am persuaded that the virtue of American women rests on a base more solid than fear and command, and if it could not be preserved except by sacrificing a perfect equality, which appears to me to be the charm of conjugal union, I should renounce it for all my life.

  1. Formerly one of La Fayette’s officers, and in charge of the Mission sent to the United States by the King of France. — TRANSLATOR