John Quincy Adams.

Writings of John Quincy Adams (Volume 9) online

. (page 15 of 42)
Online LibraryJohn Quincy AdamsWritings of John Quincy Adams (Volume 9) → online text (page 15 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

could it be accounted for that no mark of interest or of
sensibility had been manifested from any part of the Cath-
olic world to the situation of the Pope. Yet the Catholics
formed the great mass of population in several important
European states. To instance only Austria. I suggested
that the Austrian government, from motives of policy, m,ight
perhaps restrain the expression of such sentiments, though

^ Cypher.


otherwise they might he entertained: but he replied that the
sentiment to zvhich he alluded was precisely of a nature which
the policy of the government could not control. " Were it felt,
it would burst through all such restraint; but he was not aware
that any had been used. Here he was at least sure that none had.
There were provinces of the Russian empire inhabited almost
entirely by Catholics. They were not only unrestrained in re-
gard to their religious sentiments, but the Emperor Napoleon
well knew — he had been explicitly informed long ago — that
in case of any difference between him and the Pope, by which
the consciences of that class of the Russian subjects might be
affected, the Russian government would not side with him
against them.

The approaches to hostility may perhaps be indicated more
accurately by gradations of temper than by the particular sub-
jects in discussion between the parties. How serious the dif-
ferences in altercation between the two Empires appear to this
government you will easily infer from this co7iversation, when
you recollect that Count Romanzoff is the man of the Russian
dominions most deeply pledged and most strongly attached to
the French alliance. The same inference may be drawn from
language very recently held by the Emperor Alexander himself.
The Sunday before last Count Luxburg, the Bavarian charge
d'affaires, had a private audience to take leave of his Majesty.
The Emperor, after charging him with his compliments to the
King of Bavaria, said: " / hope the peace of the north of Europe
will not be disturbed. There is a great deal of talk abroad
among the public, but all that signifies nothing. For what
purpose should there be war? It is time that the world should
be allowed a little tranquillity. I suppose it is not expected to
make conquests here. What end could that answer"? As for
the rest, we are ready (Au reste, nous sommes pret)." / have
these particulars from Count Luxburg himself, who was much


surprised, and not a little embarrassed at this unexpected dis-
course. The King of Bavaria is a member of the Rhenish

There is a rumor in circulation that the king of Prussia has
acceded, or rather been admitted to that league. It is reported
to me from sources which induce me now to notice it, hut not
from such as I consider indisputably authentic. It is obvious
that in the event of war between France and Russia, Prussia
must rely on a protector, and as clear that her own policy would
give the preference to France.^ I am with great respect, etc.


St. Petersburg, 13 August, 181 1.
Dear Sir:

• ••••••

I congratulate you cordially upon the success which has
hitherto attended your ^^ special mission.''^ It is felt and ac-
knowledged by the Americans, who have found their way
here so much more easily since your arrival than they could
before. I hope it will terminate as much to your satisfaction
as you could anticipate. It is much to be regretted that
the Danish government still refuses to listen to reason with
regard to the convoy cases. If however the British do not
renew the blockade of the Sound, there will be no convoy
cases after this; and if Denmark who takes a toll will perform
her corresponding part of keeping the passage free, none of
our countrymen will ever resort to a British protection to
effect it.

That the alliance of which you speak will be defeated, if
they set up a party of their own, I firmly believe with you.

^ Cypher.


I had heard something of it before I received your letter,
but I confess to you when I heard such names as candidates
for the next Presidency, I thought those who told me that
such would be the case were joking. I should even now not
believe it possible, had I not seen upon what foundation
Aaron Burr seriously undertook to make himself an Emperor,
and how much newspaper eloquence was wasted before the
last election, to make a candidate, whose chance of success
was no better than that of the allies will be at the next.
The rumor of Mr. Randolph's appointment to England was
at least premature, and I suppose naturally sprung from
Mr. Monroe's accession to the Department of State. After
what has happened I think we shall not soon have an envoy
of any kind at the Court of St. James, but when we do, I
should be glad to see there a man of Mr. Randolph's spirit,
with a little more discretion of conduct, and much more
delicacy of language and deportment. I have some curiosity
to see what his line of politics will be, since his friend ^ has
become a member of the administration. You do not com-
prehend the policy of the Perceval- Wellesley ministry in the
order to encourage a trade between France and England
in French ships manned by French seamen. Will you allow
me to suggest my solution of the problem.? It is, that the
Perceval-Wellesley tribe, composing alas! too large a part of
their nation, hate a Frenchman more than they do anything
on this side the infernal regions, excepting a Yankee. The
reason Is because in their hatred of France their pride is
gratified as by the consciousness of struggling against su-
perior power — they think the strife glorious. Their hatred
of America Is mingled with the mortification of having in her
an enemy whom they wish to despise, and cannot. As a
commercial rival they dread America much more than France.

1 Monroe. See Henry Adams, History, V. 367.


I think as you do, that they will force America into a war
against them, though they might see as clearly as you and
I do, that in this policy they make themselves the tool of

The difficulties between France and Russia are not
smoothed over, and Oldenburg is but one among many of j

their causes. There has been ever since the peace of Tilsit
a sort of instinct in the public opinion that another war
between the two empires must soon come. Hence at the
first moment when it was known there was a variance in
their cabinets, the speculative politicians made a somerset
over all the intermediate gradations, and at the first word of
discussion, proclaimed the war in which it may terminate.
The parties have not yet come to avow their altercations
in public, but they are acquiring asperity and growing in
number. The late ambassador on his return hence to Paris
administered a cooling and quieting potion, which oper-
ated remarkably well for a time, and that was the time when
you must have heard that the cure was effected. But there
has been since then another paroxysm, which I hope will
not end in a convulsion before winter. And then there will
be time gained to try new and more durable pacific expedi-
ents. I am etc.


No. 63. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 16 August, 1811.


The state of affairs between Russia and France still con-
tinues to be critical. The negotiations between the parties
have lately acquired a degree of activity, but with regard to
their particulars there is an unusual secrecy affected on both
sides. The rumor that the king of Prussia has acceded to the
confederation of the Rhine Is still maintained, but the fact
is known to none of the ministers from the princes of that
confederation at this court. The kings of Saxony, Bavaria,
Wiirtemburg, and Westphalia have ministers here with the
rank of envoy and minister plenipotentiary. So has the
king of Prussia. Not one of them Is Informed whether the
Autumn will pass In peace, and their courts are as ignorant of
what is to happen as themselves.^

The following article, translated from the St. Petersburg
gazette of this day, was probably inserted for the purpose of
quieting a new alarm, which during the last fortnight has
existed here, that the war was on the point of breaking out.

From the Rhine, 28 June, they write as follows: The rumors of
the possibility of a new war upon the continent had indeed never
obtained credit with persons of penetration, because there was not
a single fact to support them, but even these rumors have now
entirely ceased to be heard. Every one is convinced that the con-
tinental peace Is more firmly established than ever, and Europe
has well grounded hopes of enjoying a long repose, which after so
many bloody efforts it so truly needs. The termination of the

1 Cypher.


disturbances in Spain and the subjugation of its neighboring
Portugal, together with the expulsion of the English from the
Pyrenean peninsula appear now to be the principal objects of the
French government. In order the more speedily to accomplish
this end, it is understood that orders have been dispatched to a
very considerable number of troops distributed in the interior of
the empire to march immediately for Spain. It is said that even
some of the columns which had previously been ordered to the
Rhine, have also had their destination altered, and taken the same
direction. New convoys of artillery and of warlike stores of all
kinds are in the like manner taking the road to Spain. The Berne
gazette contradicts the report that the French troops have quitted
the canton of Tessin.

The date of this article Is prior to the most recent rumors
of war, but its publication here in a sort of official gazette
at this time is the strongest Indication which has yet oc-
curred that the peace will survive the present year. It
is probable that France has expostulated, and perhaps
warmly, against the extraordinary number of troops on the
Polish frontier, with Intimations that unless part of those
forces should be removed, her own armaments In the same
quarter must be proportioned to them. That such Immense
preparations on the borders of a friend were the more
strongly calculated to excite uneasiness at a time when there
was an enemy, against whom Russia had so recently shewn
a spirit so highly animated, to employ them. In fine that
France considered It as Indispensable that Russia should
assume In that quarter an attitude less menacing. To these
suggestions it has been natural to answer that France herself
must set the example and suspend her counter-armaments.
Intead of two divisions as mentioned In my letter of 28 July
I now hear that double that number, or sixty thousand men,
have been ordered to join again the Turkish army from which


they had been detached; and as this has been thus far in
compHance with the requisitions of France, it may be deemed
proper to turn the attention of the pubHc to the Hke com-
pliance on her part.

It is certain that the French Ambassador now speaks more
confidently of the preservation of peace than he did last week.
He ^ gave yesterday a great entertainment on the occasion
of the Emperor Napoleon's birthday, which was attended by
the Chancellor and principal ministers and crown officers
of this empire. 2

The Ambassador, whom I frequently see, by no means accords
with the Russian government respecting the relations between
the Uiiited States and Britain. I have often reported to you
the earnestness with which it is here desired that our peace with
England may be preserved. You will see by my last conversa-
tion with the Chancellor that he expressed this sentiment with-
out reserve. The Ambassador is equally candid and explicit
in his wishes and his hopes, that it will come to a war. I believe
that he and his government estimate too highly the advantage to
them of this war; but that it will be advantageous to them is so
obvious that it is surprising it should not be perceived by a
British ministry.'^

Among the vessels under the American flag which have
arrived within a few weeks at Cronstadt was one called the
Angerona, Captain John T. Marks. She had been chartered
In London to come here In ballast and take a cargo. Im-
mediately after her arrival I received an intimation that
she came with forged papers, of which I gave notice to Mr.
Harris, that he might be prepared for the detection of the
fraud when the papers should be put Into his hands. They
passed through the examination of the Neutral Commission,
where after some difficulty they were admitted as genuine.

* Cypher. * Adams, il/^moi>j, August 15, 1811. 'Cypher.


Just at the time when they were to be sent to Mr. Harris,
Captain Marks informed him that he had lost them from
his pocketbook at Cronstadt, together with some other
valuable papers, and he advertised them offering a hand-
some reward to any person who should find them, but with-
out effect. Captain Marks then came to me, requesting
my assistance to obtain for him a document to serve him as
a substitute for genuine American papers instead of those
he alleged to have lost. I could give him no such assistance.
I explicitly stated to him that I had reason to believe that
he came with forged papers. He said if they were, it was not
to his knowledge, that he had received them from Mr.
Maury at Liverpool, and that they had passed through the
hands of Mr. Lyman at London. I referred him to Mr.
Harris, who since told me that he should take bonds equal to
the value of the vessel, to be forfeited unless proof should
hereafter be produced by Captain Marks that his papers
were genuine. It may be observed on this occasion that 7ioza
all difficulties here with regard to the papers of vessels com-
ing in ballast are merely formal, or raised for the benefit
of having them removed. It is a matter of indifference
where or to whom the vessel belong, if she brings no cargo
and comes to take one of Russian produce or manufactures
away. It is however so far from being indifferent to us, that
I should regret the success in a single instance here, of the
London forgeries of ships-papers attempted to be passed
off for American registers. If peace and any commerce
should be left us, it would deserve to be considered, whether
some further legislative provisions might not be expedient,
to secure the fair and authentic papers from the too close
resemblance of the counterfeits. I am very respectfully etc.
P. S. I take the liberty to enclose a letter to the President
of the United States, and two others.



St. Petersburg, 20 August, 181 1.
My Dear Sir:

• ••••••

As I declined the seat upon the bench upon the foresight
of this state of things, I conclude that another judge will be
appointed during the next session of the United States
Senate. The place here will remain to be disposed of at
the pleasure of the President. I foresee no insuperable im-
pediment to my return home the next summer, if he deems
my recall to be still expedient. If at any time I could have
harbored an ambition or desire to go elsewhere, the state
of affairs in the only places where I could be transferred is
sufficient to damp a fiercer flame than I ever felt. Among
the good natured friends that I have both In Europe and
America, who speculate and foretell upon persons and ap-
pointments, there have been enough to give me notice of
destinations which might have been assigned to me. I as-
sure you in the sincerity of my heart that I have never had
an intimation of these possibilities without serious concern
lest they should prove true, and that I have felt a real
satisfaction at finding the lot cast upon others, which it
was supposed by many, hoped by a few, and feared perhaps
by more than either, might fall to me. In justice to my own
feelings I ought to tell you, to whom my whole soul is as
open as to itself, that I never will shrink from any post
which the constitutional organs of my country shall assign
to me, for any difficulty or danger with which it may be
beset. But I may be allowed to feel a satisfaction when I
see myself passed by, in the assignment of a place where I
know there is nothing but difficulty and danger to be ex-


pected. You have in some of your letters suggested the idea
that the motives of some of those whose suffrages concurred
to the appointment last offered me, were neither pure nor
friendly to me. Of those which actuated the President I am
as sure as if they were in my own heart. I know they were
both honest and kind to me. Among the Senators there were
certainly two, whom no personal regard for me would have
withheld from recording their votes against me, and who not
having done it, must have been actuated by motives of a
different kind. If it were in my nature to suspect dishonest
intentions in conduct apparently fair, my own interest in
this case would lead me to more favorable conclusions. It
is more honorable to myself as well as to the voters, to be-
lieve that they gave their assent to the nomination from the
conviction that I was well qualified for the office, than to
imagine that they foresaw it would be a place where I should
be stowed away from public view, or unavoidably forfeit
any popularity which I might possess. These at least are
motives which no one will acknowledge, and considering
the unanimity of the vote in the Senate as a testimony of
confidence in my integrity from political opponents as well as
friends, it has been the most gratifying occurrence of my life.
The office itself of a judge nothing could ever reconcile to
my own inclinations, but with this testimony in my favor,
I can return to private life, not with a prouder consciousness
of my own uprightness, than when I was turned out of the
Senate by my constituents, the Massachusetts legislature,
but at least with a dismissal less offensive in form and more
agreeable in substance.

My good friend Quincy whom, notwithstanding his great
and manifold political errors, I still adhere to in heart as a
friend, made last winter an eloquent, satirical and witty
speech upon the ungovernable passion of Americans for


place. He seems to assume it as the basis of his whole dis-
course, that the desire for public office is a crime, and with a
very magnanimous patriotism he pours forth his indignation
and contempt without respect to persons, both upon friend
and foe guilty of soliciting themselves, or of having relations
in Congress who solicit for them, the distinctions and the
profits which may be derived from public service. Mr.
Quincy is not the first whom I have heard talk, as if the con-
summation of human virtue consisted in the aversion or dis-
dain to hold public office. Longe die mihi est mens.

It is my opinion that the wish even for the honors and
emoluments of public office is not in itself a culpable senti-
ment. That there is nothing disgraceful or despicable in
avowing It, nor yet in seeking its gratification by fair and
ingenuous means. Still less can I find it in my heart to
despise the member of Congress, who by the same means
endeavors to procure these advantages to his father, son or
brother, if deserving of them; nor the father, son or brother,
who by the honest influence of such a member of Congress
should obtain them. In all this I see nothing despicable and
nothing dangerous, but the excess to which in common with
other human passions it is liable. I have too good an opinion
of the social affections of Quincy himself to believe that,
when his son Josiah shall have grown to manhood, his father
would without reluctance see him proscribed from all public
service, an outcast from all the favors of his country, be-
cause he, the father, might still be serving that country as a
member of Congress.

But although there is nothing dishonorable or unjust in
the pursuit of public office, I always have considered and yet
consider It as a passion, which requires great moderation,
self-management, and control. I never solicited any public
office whatsoever for myself, nor that I recollect for any of


my relations. My own maxim has been to wait until called
by the voice of my country, and to repair without hesitation
to the post assigned me by that. I have in several instances
indeed interfered to prevent the call, and in this single case
have answered it by denial. But I have never withstood it
but from solid and cogent reasons, nor, if my present station
should be the last to which I may ever be destined, shall
it be from any fastidious delicacy of mine to reject any office,
for which I may be thought and may think myself suitably

After the multitude of high, honorable and profitable
trusts which have been committed to me by my country,
I should Indeed deserve the reproach of unbridled ambition
and of base ingratitude could I not with cheerful heart
retire for the remainder of my days to private life, and see
her henceforth distribute to others of her children those
favors of which she has hitherto been so lavish to me. And
surely there never could be a time when for the peace and
tranquillity of my own life, or for the future prospects of my
children, I could withdraw from the responsibilities of the
approaching events with more comfort and satisfaction.

No. 64. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 23 August, 181 1.


The day before yesterday I received from Mr. Erving a
letter, dated the 9th instant at Copenhagen, containing the
information that a privateer under French colors had taken
and carried into that port two American vessels, the brig


Hero, Blackler master, of Marblehead, bound from that
place to St. Petersburg, and the brig Radius, B. Lander
master, of Boston, and bound from Newport, also to St.
Petersburg. That the papers of these two vessels had been
delivered to Mr. Desanglers, the French consul and charge
d'affaires, and by him sent to Paris, and that he, Mr. Erving,
had made every effort both with Mr. Desangiers, and with
the Danish government, to prevent this, and to obtain that
the matter should be decided in the tribunals of Denmark;
but unhappily without effect. The letter adds that the
privateer was going out again that night, and it was very
much to be feared, intended to fill that port with our vessels
upon their return from this quarter.

On receiving this letter I immediately enclosed to Mr.
Harris an extract from it including all the material parts of
its information, requesting him to communicate the same as
expeditiously as possible to the masters of all the American
vessels now at Cronstadt (amounting to nearly one hundred)
and to all other persons here known to him as particularly
interested in them. And I suggest to him the propriety of
giving the same notice to the consular agents at Riga and at

There may perhaps be one half of the American vessels now
here who came in ballast and entered with clearances from Gothen-
burg: but they really come from England, where they were
chartered at very high freights to come and take cargoes of hemp
to carry back to England. All these came into the Baltic
through the Belt, and probably under English convoy. They will
return, I suppose, in like manner, and will be in no danger
from this privateer or any other. ^ Among these vessels there
are at least two which came with forged papers. One the
Angerona, Captain Marks, mentioned in my last letter, and

^ Cypher.


the other a vessel called the Philadelphia Packet, Captain
Thorburn, which was detected by Mr. Harris. Both of these
I understand will incur the penalty of having produced
false papers, Mr. Harris having found upon further exami-
nation that Marks could not give bonds to his satisfaction,
to prove hereafter that the papers which he had brought and
pretended to have lost were genuine. / have heard sugges-
tions that several of the vessels which came with cargoes are
really from England and laden on English account. But of
this I have not the means of obtaining certain knowledge, nor is
it within my province to be informed.^

But as the English have not during the present season
blockaded the passage of the Sound, almost all the American
vessels directly from the United States came regularly
through the Sound and paid the duties at Elsineur. Having
no need of English convoy they have not taken it. The

Online LibraryJohn Quincy AdamsWritings of John Quincy Adams (Volume 9) → online text (page 15 of 42)