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the rule of secrecy, upon which alone the possibility of con-
fidential communication between the President and Senate
can subsist; and even that was too much an affair of party.^

1 " It is well to enforce the observance of their injunctions of secrecy; but I can-
not see any thing very heinous in Pickering's conduct in this instance. They should
have begun with Stevens Thomson Mason." John Adams to John Quincy Adams,
January 25, 181 1. Ms.


I believe that our heads of departments and our ministers
to foreign powers ought also to be under the restriction of an
official oath, and I wish some of the thoughtful members
of our national legislature would bring the subject before
Congress for discussion. Our laws do not contemn the aid
of oaths as ties upon human conscience in matters of revenue,
where perhaps their efficacy is most questionable, and we
administer quite enough of them in our custom houses to
secure the payment of the paltriest impost. In the act
establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs and of War
there is an oath of office, "well and faithfully to execute the
trust committed to him," provided to be taken by the secre-
taries. But there is none required by the acts establishing
the Department of the Treasury and of the Navy, and none
anywhere for the ministers abroad.


St. Petersburg, 2 October, 181 1.

Your favor of 21 June, without a number, was forwarded
to me from Copenhagen by Mr. Erving, who received it
from the Radius, which on her passage to this place was taken
by a French privateer, and is still detained In Denmark.
Like almost all the letters which we have received this year
it brought tidings of sickness and affliction among our friends.
In the sorrow which they have so often inflicted, I still bless
God that they assure me of the health and welfare of my
parents and of my children.

In the first letter which you wrote me this year there was
an extract of a letter from Burke to Barry,^ the painter,

^ "That you have just subjects of indignation always, and of anger often, I do


upon which I have reflected many times since I received it.
One of the reasons why I am so much an admirer of Burke
is because he always thinks so much, and leads his reader to
think so much upon everything that occurred within his
observations. I have within a few days seen the Edinburgh
Reviezv of the life and works of Barry, from which you took
this extract, at least I find it again there, and the history
and character of Barry there given in connection with it,
explains to me the only part of the extract upon which my
mind had hesitated a little in assenting to its accuracy.
Moderation, gentleness and indulgence to others are un-
doubtedly and universally of "strong prevailment" in count-
eracting the ill disposition of the world; but I am not sure
that a great deal of distrust of ourselves is always calculated
to produce the same effect. I readily perceive why Burke
recommended it with the other qualities to Barry, because
it vv^as precisely that of which Barry stood most in need,
and that for the want of which he was most severely suffering.
But I believe there are many tempers and dispositions who
carry the distrust of themselves to excess, and to whom it
would be more wise and just to recommend confidence in
themselves, and reliance upon their own judgments. My
own experience of life and self observation has often led me
to the conclusion that one of my failings was too much dis-
trust of myself. In the scenes of political life, such as those
that I have been engaged in, distrust of one's self renders
absolutely indispensable a proportionate confidence in others.

no ways doubt. Who can live in the world without some trials of his patience?
But believe me, the arms with which the ill disposition of the world arc to be corn-
batted, and the qualities by which it is to be reconciled to us, arc moderation,
gentleness, a little indulgence to others, and a great deal of distrust of ourselves,
which are not qualities of a mean spirit, as some may possibly think them, but vir-
tues of a great and noble mind, and such as dignify our nature as much as they
contribute to our repose."


In legislative assemblies every man, whether a leader or a
follower, must often sacrifice more or less his own judgment
to that of those with whom he associates; and in time of
party virulence these sacrifices must be greater and more
frequent than in more tranquil periods. It is then that the
principle of distrusting, and that of confiding in himself,
becomes to every conscientious man a question of no small
difficulty and delicacy, and even in the ordinary affairs of
life, I have often found it a very perplexing question. Of
the ill dispositions of the world it would not become me to
complain. The confidence of my country in me has for
many years been to say the least equal to anything that I
had a right to expect, and in a very recent instance has far
exceeded my own. On one occasion, however, it was with-
drawn and in a very conspicuous manner by the legislature
of my native State. It was for having confided in myself,
and for having acted upon questions of great public Interest
according to the dictates of my own deliberate judgment,
in opposition to the momentary feelings and heated passions
of my constituents. Had I during that period followed
Mr. Burke's principle of greatly distrusting myself, and of
course greatly confiding in others, my conduct would have
been certainly very different, and I might possibly have
retained the confidence of those to whose opinions I must
have sacrificed my own. But I have no reason to believe
that the general confidence of my country in me would now
be greater than it is, or, which is infinitely more important,
that the result would have been more useful or more honor-
able to my country.

I am just informed by the French and German gazettes
that Congress are called together by proclamation, to meet
on the 4th of November, and in the English newspapers I
find that there is a sort of coalition between the two quon-


dam Secretaries of State, in assailing, through the medium
of the press, Mr. Madison's administration. Mr. Pickering's
perseverance and tenacity are worthy of a better cause,
though his mauvaise foi (he would certainly impute this ex-
pression to French influence) is as remarkable in his present,
as it has been in many of his former publications, and his
personalities show very little either of Mr. Burke's distrust
of himself or of moderation, gentleness, or indulgence to
others. I know not how Mr. Smith and IMr. Colvin have
settled between themselves their militating claims to the com-
position of the letters which were to ascertain the contested
title of the late Secretary's abilities; but perhaps Colvin is
only one of the parasites of power, who were to raise the storm
which Mr. Smith assured the people of the United States he
will have to buffet.^

There are very few American vessels left here and we can-
not expect the arrival of any more during the present year.
At least if any others should yet arrive, they will like our-
selves be obliged to remain here until next summer before
they can return. I expect to send this by Mr. Loring Austin,
a young gentleman who came last summer to Archangel,
and is now about to embark for Boston.

Although we are within the bounds of the city of St.
Petersburg, the situation where we are is so much in the
country that it begins to be uncomfortable, and we intend to
remove next week into the city.^ If you have the English
translation of Storck's Picture of Petersburg, I can show you
where we are. Please to open the plan and look to the branch
of the river marked C; that is the Nevka, upon the borders
of which is our residence. This river, together with the little

' Colvin claimed authorship of letters to Armstrong and Turreau.
* His new house was at the comer of the Vosnesenskoi and the Little Officers*


Nevka, marked In the plan Z), and a small stream called the
Karpoffka marked Al, forms an Island called the Apothe-
caries Island, on which a building marked 123 Is designated
in the explanation of the plan as the Surgery School. Our
house Is the next door to this building, and with only the
street between them. Here Is a facsimile of that part of
Storck's plan. The dotted part Is not upon the plan. I
have added It here to show our house, garden and pier
extending out upon the river, at the end of which, according
to the fashion of the country, we have a flagstaff, and on
the days when we receive company hoist the flag of the
United States. You will see by mere Inspection of the plan
that the situation Is quite rural, and as a mere summer
residence It Is as pleasant as any place of abode that ever
fell to my lot. From our door down to the Karpoffka,
there Is a wall Inclosed by low railings on both sides, extend-
ing along the bank of the river and kept In excellent order for
the sole convenience of walkers. The plot marked 122 Is a
very large public garden, called the Apothecary's or Botanic
Garden, containing a great variety of plants, and always
open for walking. Beyond the river at the separation of the
two Nevkas the figure In form of a spade and marked 126
Indicates the Imperial Palace, the usual summer residence
of the Emperor and Empress, In front of which upon the
River are stationed two yachts, with an excellent band of
music, who have regularly entertained us with their martial
concerts at the Emperor's dining hour, between four and five
o'clock, and at nine in the evening almost every day through-
out the summer. We are so near, that with the open doors
and windows of warm weather we heard It as If It had been
before our own door. The palace Is upon an island formed by
the two Nevkas, contiguous to the Isle of Apothecaries, and
called Thamennoi Ostrofj which In Russian signifies Stony


Island. On the mainland beyond that island, and in sight
from our windows, is the country seat of Count Strogonoff,
with a large and very beautiful English garden, likewise
always open to the public, and sometimes in the summer
much frequented. Count Strogonoff is one of the most dis-
tinguished noblemen of the country, and is yet more illus-
trious by his attachment to the fine arts than by his greal
wealth, high rank and venerable years. In the city he ha.*
one of the finest collections of pictures extant in Europe,
But his garden here has a rarer and more memorable orna-
ment — the very tomb of Achilles, before which Alexander
the Great and Julius Caesar paid their homage to the char-
acter of the hero. It was brought from Greece by the com-
mander of a Russian fleet which was so much celebrated
for its naval victories over the Turks during the reign of
Catherine, and by him presented to Count Strogonoff, who
has placed it with many other monuments of antiquity in
his garden. There are two other large and handsome
gardens open to the public in our neighborhood, and over
which I have occasionally varied my daily walks. The
French ambassador and the Danish minister are our near
neighbors, and many others with whom we have as much
intercourse as suits our mutual convenience. While the
weather was fine we never wanted company, and even now
we have no reason to complain of being solitary. But the
leaves before my windows are falling in showers from the
trees as I write. The river, as Charles tells me, is mechant,
by which he means stormy. The days of dampness, and
darkness, and chilling frigidity are at hand and even here.
I still linger In my Russian arcadia, but the ladies and the
children call for the snug comforts of the city, and at the
next letter I shall write you I shall have bid a last farewell,
as a residence, to the pleasant borders of the Nevka and be


once more "in populous city pent." In the meantime,
adieu. We are all well.


No. 70. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 3 October, 181 1.


I have furnished the French Ambassador, as he requested,
with a list of the American vessels which have arrived this
year at Cronstadt, and have sailed again for the United
States. I have also sent a copy of the same list to Mr.
Russell at Paris, by a courier dispatched last Monday by
Count Lauriston; and have mentioned to Mr. Russell in a
letter the motive upon which it was requested — to obtain a
more speedy liberation of any of them which might be cap-
tured by the French privateers said to be stationed at the
passage of the Sound. When the courier was dispatched I
had already heard that Mr. Barlow had sailed from Annap-
olis for France, and I learn this morning that he arrived the
6th of last month at Cherbourg. Having understood from
Mr. Russell that it was his intention to leave Paris immedi-
ately after the minister should arrive, I have requested that
Mr. Barlow would in that case open the letter addressed to
Mr. Russell. I hope there will be no capture of any of the
vessels, to make the interposition of either of those gentle-
men with the French government necessary to obtain their
release. But if there should, I shall be happy to find the good
intentions of the Ambassador in asking for the list realized,
by its contributing to their immediate liberation. I am not
inclined to suspect any unfriendly intention towards us, as


having contributed in the sHghtest degree to this request.
There is a frankness and good humor in the character of
the Ambassador, in which deep dissimulation is not con-
genial. He has often very freely and explicitly avowed to me
his wish for a war between the United States and England.
Having in my own nature as little dissimulation as I think
observable in his, I have never pretended in this respect to
coincide with him in sentiment; but I have more than once
suggested to him that if his government really wished that war
should he the result of English ill-usage towards the United
States, it was a strange way of manifesting that desire to rivalize
with England in acts of the like ill-usage, and I have not
scrupled to avow to him that so loiig as France should continue
to hold towards us such a course of cofiduct, it was my opinion
that neither the people nor the government of the United States
would engage themselves in a war which would he so conform-
able to her views and policy ^ It has assured me in strong
terms of his own ^ wish that his government should do us
justice, and his disposition to write anything that might be
proper to promote the same temper there; and I am willing to
believe that this was his real and principal inducement forask-
ing the information contained in this list. At the same time I
am aware that it might he for purposes of an opposite nature and
I know that the French Minister of Foreign Affairs has informed
the French consul here that he had received advices that much
English property had been introduced here under the American
flag, and had enjoined upon him a most vigilant attention and a
report how the fact in this was. The report which was sent by
the same courier with my letter I have reason to believe was as
favorable so far as concerns Americans as the truth would
warrant. The consul ^ has declared to me his opinion that
every vessel which has arrived this year at Cronstadt with

* Cypher. "^ Not in cypher. * Cypher.




a cargo under any other than American colors, was loaded
on English account. The number of those vessels however
amounts only to eleven. As to those Americans he assured me
that he fully credited the statement which I made verbally
to him in conversation, and that he would report accordingly
to his government. I told him that, independent of any credit
which he might be disposed to give me from confidence, he
might observe that the interest of my countrymen trading
here was impulse enough for them and me to detect as much
as we could the counterfeit who came as their competitors in
the market, and as to the introduction of English property
here, I asked his attention to two facts which in my mind
amounted to complete demonstration that its amount had
really been very small. The first was that during the whole
season no insurance had been obtainable in London, upon
shipments of goods to Russian ports in the Baltic; and the
other that the course of exchange had constantly been from
fifty to sixty per cent against England and in favor of
Russia. He admitted the right of these facts, of the first
of which he had not been aware; and he said he should not
fail to avail himself of both in his report. Of the American
vessels, thirty-three came in ballast, and I presume were
either freighted in England, or came here for freights to
England. In all these cases the government here have
scarcely wished to look at the papers. Mr. Gurieff, the
Minister of Finance, to whose Department this matter now
belongs, once told me in express terms that if a ship came
empty, he did not care whence she came, and was not inclined
to scrutinize what she was.^ This disposition obtained ad-
mission for the Crescent, though reported by Mr. Harris as
irregular, and came very near carrying through the Angerona,
when the Captain lost his papers to secure their forgery

^ Cypher.


from detection. The Ambassador and consul knew very well
that these ships that came in ballast will return bound to Eng-
land for whatever port they may have cleared out. When they
have been real Americans I have not felt myself obliged to be
more scrupulous in enquiring whence they came than the
Russian government; it was not my duty to accuse them nor to
point them out by any discrimination from the rest. They will
doubtless return as they came, under convoy, and will be in very
little danger of capture either by French or Spanish ^ privateers.
Their freightings are certainly profitable to the general mass of
our commerce, but I think it necessary to say to you that abuse
of our flag is more difficult to detect in their trading than in the
case of forgery. I have my suspicions that in more than one
instance of those that came this summer, altho' the vessel and
papers and even the master and crew were really American,
the property was English; and I am not sure there were not
cases in which everything was English but the papers. I feel
my whole bounden duty therefore once more to stiggest the
expediency of further legislative provision against the sale of
real American ship's papers, whether with or without the ship,
in foreign ports.^

There have been indeed several cases of American vessels,
which came with cargoes last from England; the admission
of which I have obtained. But they have all been accom-
panied with proof that they were dispatched from the United
States, and bound here, and that they have been detained
in English ports, either by capture, by stress of weather, or by
the necessity of repairing or charging the ship. The proofs
have been clear. I have Interfered without hesitation, and
in every instance have obtained their admission. I know also
of several Instances in which vessels under similar circum-
stance obtained admission without my Interference. There

^ Danish? =" Cypher.



have been so many of them m all that possibly other causes than
mere compulsion made some of them touch at English ports.
I know that before the navigation opened this government re-
ceived notice from Mr. Daschkoff that a large proportion of
the American vessels coming to Russia this season would take
England in their way. This was not forbidden by any law of the
Utiited States. How far it was compatible with the law of
Russia was for this government to determine. I never dis-
guised or even concealed a fact from them which could bear upon
the principle when I asked for a favor or an exemption from the
rigor of the ukaze, and many vessels have been admitted which
the rigor of the ukaze would have excluded. It is not probable
that any further questions of this nature will occur the present
year, and it is too early to look forward for the ruling principles
of the next, but it is not too soon to say that the safety of our real
commerce with Russia may still depend upon its discrimination
from the imposture which assumes its garb. . . .^


No. 71. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, ii October, 181 1.

I received yesterday from Paris an authentic and particu-
lar account of the discourse held by the Emperor Napoleon
to the Russian ambassador, at the Diplomatic Circle on the
15th of August. It comes from a person who was present,^
and who vouched for its authenticity; and it very naturally

^ Cypher.

2 Probably J. S. Smith. See Adams, Memoirs, September 26, 1811; Vandal,
Napoleon et Alexandre /, III. 192.


accounts for the opinion which it appears to have excited
there, and which seems still to be entertained there, that
hostilities would commence before the close of the present
autumn. The same apprehensions are expressed in letters
from various parts of Germany. Still however the confidence
here remains unaltered, that it Is too late to begin a war in
these northern regions the present year. I saw the French
ambassador a jew days ago, and he told vie that he had received
an explicit assurance from Keromansoff that one division of
the troops in Poland received orders to march, and had actually
marched to join General Kutuzoff's army. The Count, he said,
had acknowledged only one division, but he, the ambassador,
knew there were two, and as this was the first step towards dis-
arming, he considered it as a favorable omen towards the further
preservation of the peace ^ This was probably the point upon
which the French Emperor manifested such a strong de-
termination to have explanations before November. The
Russian tariff, the protest respecting the Duchy of Olden-
burg, and the armaments in Poland, were all rankling in
his mind when he made this speech, and his language with
respect to the Russian general and cabinet, the ambassador
to whom he was speaking, and his own ambassador so re-
cently returned, discovers an exasperated and menacing spirit.
This equivocal state of things is yet continued by the un-
certainty how far his northern tour was to extend; and by
the fact now known here that large detachments of the
cavalry of the imperial guard have arrived at Brussels, pre-
ceding him before his departure from Compiegne; yet an
immediate attack is not expected here; and in answer to
the threat that the conscription of 1812 should be called out,
the actual order has been issued here for a new levy of four
men to every five hundred taxable inhabitants, throughout

' Cypher.


the empire. It will add nearly one hundred and thirty
thousand men to the present numbers of the Russian army.
It is scarcely a year since the last levy was made of three
men in live hundred, and the losses during the year have
been scarcely anything beyond the ordinary average of

// the war should not commence soon there is, I believe, no-
body who thi7iks it possible it should be postponed longer than
until the next summer. The Emperor N apoleorC s confidence
of success, plainly avowed in his address, is founded on the
consciousness of his strength, and upon his conviction that
Russia has no general officers capable of commanding armies
in opposition to an enemy like France. In this opinion
he is not singular. His present ambassador here told me that
what he relied upon to prevent the war was that Russia had no
generals, none at least capable of planning a campaign, which,
he observed, was the great talent of the Emperor Napoleon. A
battle to him was altogether a secondary consideration. If he
lost one today he would gain another after a few weeks; the re-
sult of the whole campaign was his great object, and of this he
was always sure. I have heard that the Emperor Alexander
has not much confidence in the capacity of his generals, and
there is certainly, since the death of Count Kamensky, no very
dazzling military reputation among them. In short, the an-
ticipations of reflecting men here concerning the probable issue
of the war are gloomy and desponding, and notwithstanding
its apparent inconsistency, this melancholy foreboding is shared
even by those who yet wish to accelerate the war. They are im-

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