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not be delayed beyond the months of A4ay and June. The
attack, however, it is not supposed will begin from this
quarter. The first events of the war which will if it com-
mences be of great and striking character, will reach you by
shorter conveyances than from hence.


No. 81. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 31 March, 1812.

A full month has elapsed since I had the honor of writing
you last, and that letter still remains sealed in my desk
ready to be dispatched by the first practicable opportunity.
Since it was written the three regiments mentioned in It
have actually marched for the Polish border and have been
followed by eight or ten others; principally the Imperial
Guards. The departure of the Emperor himself is expected
in the course of a few weeks or perhaps days. He himselj
told me last week that notwithstanding all the pains he had taken
to avoid this conflict {cette lutte) it must come. That he would
not commence the war^ biit that he expected to be attacked and


that every indication was of zvar.^ The Prussian ofRcer,
Colonel Knesebeck, returned without succeeding In his mis-
sion. The advice of Austria to negotiate, or rather perhaps
to yield has been equally unsuccessful. Count Nesselrode
has not been sent and probably will not be sent to Paris.
Prussia has concluded a treaty of alliance with France, and
the Prussian ports upon the Baltic as well as those of Swedish
Pomerania are already occupied by French troops. Orders
have already been Issued for arming and equipping for sea,
the Russian fleets on the Black Sea, the White Sea and the
Baltic, and the principal command of all Is to be held by Eng-
lish officers In the Russian service.

From all these circumstances, and many others, It can
scarcely be doubted that the war will commence as soon as
the season will admit of active military operations. At
present there Is a bare possibility that It may yet be deferred,
on which the hopes of some and the fears of others hinge.
The Intimation Is circulating but upon doubtful authority,
that a personal Interview between the Emperor Alexander
and the French Emperor will take place; and It Is supposed
that they may meet In some expedient to reconcile what
their ministers and ambassadors have not been able to
settle. On this event however little reliance Is placed by any
person. The war may be considered as Inevitable.

It is remarkable that In this state of things, the tone of
negotiations so far as It is known to the public Is still not
merely moderate but courteous. Count Chernlcheff arrived
here about a fortnight since, with a letter to the Emperor
Alexander full of amicable professions. But If, as there is
resaon to suppose, the demand that a French garrison shall
be admitted at Riga, has been extended to all the Russian
ports upon the Baltic, not excepting St. Petersburg itself,

^ Cypher.


it is impossible that it should be complied with. It is also
suggested that Russia has been required to force the ful-
fillment of the engagements of Sweden, to adopt the conti-
nental system of exclusion to the English commerce. In-
stead of which the crisis will to all appearance result in a
defensive alliance and a common cause between Sweden
and Russia.

It is very certain that since the reunion of Holland and the
Hanseatic Cities to France, Sweden and Russia have been
the countries through which the English commerce (chiefly
of colonial articles) has partially found its way to Germany,
France and Italy. So alluring have been the profits of this
commerce to the merchants in these ports, and so valuable
has it proved to the revenues of the governments, that the
supreme authorities of the two countries have not felt the
inclination, if they have possessed the power effectually to
interdict it. They have been enriching themselves by It,
at the expense of France and of her dependencies, which the
British Orders in Council have at the same time deprived
of all or nearly all their own commerce, excepting such as
they could suffer to be carried on by mutual licenses. In
1809 this trade had been forced through the channel of Hol-
land; in 1 8 10 through Heligoland, Holstein and the Hanse-
atic Cities. It furnished the pretext for their reunion to
France. Its attempts to pass through the Prussian ports
in the latter part of the summer of 1810 failed, because
those ports were placed under the custody of French guard-
ians. France it is evident cannot long tolerate the ransom
under which she is laid by this combination of affairs. She
finds herself under the same necessity of war against Sweden
and Russia, that she did for the reunion of Holland. The
Immediate cause of this war therefore Is the British Orders
in Council; and probably the knowledge that they are pro-


ducing that effect is the preponderating argument to the
British ministry for adhering to them, when their perni-
cious consequences to Britain herself have become univer-
sally notorious. The policy of their adhesion is as shallow
now, as it was, when their refusal to repeal them sanctioned
the incorporation of Holland with France. A war between
France and Russia will doubtless for the moment promote the
interests of England but like all their former speculations will
terminate in disappointment.^

The course of policy lately pursued by Sweden has dis-
concerted the anticipations of most men, much more than
that of Russia. That Sweden, under the adoption of a
French general for her future sovereign, and with the bitter
experience of her losses and misfortunes still so recent,
should again become the ally of Russia in a war against
France, is a result so different from that which was expected,
that even those who witnessed the fact find themselves at
loss to account for it. The predominating interest of the
moment is indeed the same for both Russia and Sweden.
The Swedish ports of Pomerania are even more advantage-
ously situated for affording a vent to the English commerce
than those of Russia. Of this advantage her merchants
had availed themselves, and her government, though it had
submitted to the necessity of declaring war against England,
had avowed its inability to prohibit effectually the trade.
They had also refused to furnish sailors, at the requisition
of France, to man the fleets which France is preparing for
sea. France took possession of the ports of Swedish Pome-
rania, and incorporated the garrison of Stralsund, three
thousand men, into her own army. The Swedish Minister
of Foreign Affairs gave notice to Mr. de Cabre, the charge
d'affaires of France, that unless the French troops should

^ Cypher.


be withdrawn Sweden would open her ports to the English,
accept the advantageous terms of peace offered by England,
and consider the debt due hy the government of Sweden in
Holland^ as liquidated.^

Count Lowenhlelm was immediately sent here and has
been received with great distinction by the Emperor. Gen-
eral Von Suchtelen who had resided at Stockholm as an
informal ambassador, while Count Stedingk had been in
the same capacity here, from Sweden, and who had very
recently returned, leaving only a charge d'affaires, has
been dispatched again to resume his post, and all the out-
ward indications are of a perfect mutual concert between
Russia and Sweden in opposition to the present measures
of France. Whispers of distrust are yet circulated by some
who are perhaps unwilling to find their political foresight
in default. They suspect or insinuate duplicity in the actual
measures of Sweden, and that her opposition to the French
possession of her ports in Pomerania, is merely for the sake
of saving appearances. These surmises have probably no
foundation, and the Russian government gives no credit to

The Secretary General of the Empire and the Secretary
of the Imperial Council for the department of Legislation,
were last evening arrested and sent into banishment. They
were persons of distinguished talents and very recently in
high favor. The cause of thier sudden disgrace is attributed
to improper communications with France, but neither is nor
probably will be known with certainty. I am with great
respect, etc.

^ Not in cypher.



St. Petersburg, 10 April, 181 2.
Dear Sir:

I have received your favor of 3 January from London,
forwarded by Mr. Navarro, and although uncertain whether
this letter will find you still in England, I will not pass by
the opportunity of thanking you for it.

Your representation of the state of things in England,
though far from being drawn in dazzling or even in gay
colors, has I am convinced the more substantial merit of
truth. Almost all the English travellers who have for some
years past favored the public with their observations made
in America have thought proper to represent our national
character as vicious, upon no better foundation than that
they had witnessed in America individual instances of vice.
The Edinburgh reviewers, with an eye of philosophical
penetration worthy of Peter Pindar's magpie peeping into
a marrow bone, prophesy that the American character,
which they pronounce positively bad now, will be greatly
improved when wealth comes to be more generally inherited
than acquired.''- If for all the moral and political pollution
that the whole manufactory of English dragnets has been
able to gather from all the foul bottoms of the American
continent owe improvement from the prevalence of heredi-
tary wealth, is to consist in a substitution of injiumerable
nightly assassinations, burglaries and larcenies, Lud's men
to break stocking weaver's frames, and Irishmen to knock
down for sport people as they are coming out of church,
Catholics driven to rebellion by religious persecution, and
a master sacrificing his friends, his friendships, and his

1 Edinburgh Review, XV. 442.


principles for ^' Panem et Circenses," I would put It as a
problem to the arithmetical acuteness of the Edinburgh re-
viewers how much we shall be gainers by the exchange?

I have seen in some of the newspapers that the Attorney
General, Sir Samuel Romilly, In speaking officially of some of
those dreadful enormities mentioned In your letter, lamented
them as indications of a character peculiarly vicious In
the English nation. The remark might be proper In
a public officer whose duties are in some sort those of a
censor morurn, but It would not be liberal In a foreigner to
consider transactions of such a nature as evidences of national
character. I do not so consider them. But they may fairly
be taken as presumptive proofs that the representations of
unparalleled virtue and superhuman felicity, which American
painters have drawn as characteristic attributes of the
English nation, are as wide from the real truth, as the
Smelfungus coloring of the British traveller In America.
This contrast of falsehood between the English pictures
of America and the American pictures of England has struck
me as peculiarly remarkable, and has in no small degree
mortified my patriotic feelings as an American. Its effect
in our own country has been doubly mischievous, by exciting
among many of our young minds a disgust and contempt of
their countrymen, and an extravagant and foolish admira-
tion of another nation. I am very glad that you have had an
opportunity of observing for yourself the real condition of
nature, of men, and of society in England. I will not say
that Its tendencies will be to produce a salutary review of
some of your own prejudications; but I hope and believe it
will tend to correct some of the prejudices of others. You
have doubtless seen much to admire and you have too much
justice and good sense to depreciate that which is estimable
for the place where It Is found. But there Is withal In Eng-


land a spirit of arrogant pretension, and a gloss of splendor,
which may be seen through without any great depth of
penetration. I am well assured, and the persuasion gives
me pleasure, that on your return to our native shores you
will be able from the heart to say with Voltaire's Tancrede,
"Plus je vis d'etrangers, plus j'aimai ma patrie."

As it appears that the British government still deem an
adhesion to their Orders in Council expedient, I see no pros-
pect of an amicable, or indeed of any other, arrangement of
their disputes with America. Their present professions of
amity and conciliation appear to be borrowed from the
practice of their own gentlemen of the road, who take a
traveller's purse with all possible amity and decorum. I
think, however, their present partiality to the Orders in
Council proceeds from the belief, not without reason, that
they will produce a rupture between France and Russia.
A very few months will discover to the world, though prob-
ably not to them, on what foundations this reliance stands.

You know the only glimpses we can catch of English
literature are an occasional pamphlet or review brought by a
traveller to amuse him on the road. Mr. Patterson last
summer brought some of the latest numbers of the Edin-
burgh Review^ in one of which I met that oracular sentence
upon the national character of the Americans, which I have
just alluded to. There too I found a long, and much more
amusing account of the Curse of Kehama; it excited the
wish to see the book itself. The mode of reviewing prac-
tised by the Edinburgh critics is new, and they have made it
fashionable. They give the title of a book, and then publish
a dissertation of their own upon the subject of which it
treats. Their essays are tinctured with strong prejudices,
mingled up with a curious compound of scholastic dogmatism
and fine gentlemantility. I remember reading an account


In one of their former numbers of a voluminous edition or
translation of Sallust, in which they said they had been ac-
customed to read Sallust in books about the size of a hand
at whist. I read, however, almost all their treatises, and
many of them with entertainment and instruction. In the
review of the Lady of the Lake there is a disquisition upon
the source of Walter Scott's popularity as a poet, with
which I was very much pleased. Some of Its Ideas are re-
peated In the review of Southey's Curse, and while they tell
us here how Mr. Southey does not do so and so, like Mr.
Scott, they inform us on the other hand how Mr. Scott does
not use the machinery of Mr. Southey. Do7i Roderick I
have not yet seen, but among the readers of poetry here
there are some who have and who say It Is the author's
masterpiece. That, I suppose, is because, as was said to
account for the vogue of another book. It Is poetical, political
and personal. If Don Roderick Is a great admirer of Lord
Wellington, he ought to give at the same time his candid
opinion of the Duke of Albufera.^

I condole with you upon the extinction of that Illustrious
luminary of letters and science the monthly Anthology. If
the General Repository of Literature - gives but once a quarter
to the public as much wit and as much wisdom as the
Anthology was wont to emit every month, It will deserve
as long a life, and enjoy as fair a prospect of Immor-
tality. ... I am etc.

^ Louis Gabriel Suchet, Duke of Albufera (1770-1826).

2 The General Repository and Review, established in Cambridge, Mass., in this



No. 83.^ [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 28 April, 18 12.

The Emperor Alexander left this city on the 21st instant, the
day after which I received from the Chancellor Count Romanzoff
the official communication of which I have the honor to enclose
herewith a copy, together with that of my answer.

Two days before his Majesty^s departure, Count Romanzoff
sent me a note requesting me to call upon him the next morning,
which I accordingly did. He told me that the Emperor having
fixed upon the next day for his departure, he himself should be
obliged very soon afterwards to follow him, and as there might
perhaps be before his return some discussions in which the in-
terests of the United States as well as those of Russia might be
involved, from his wish to defend and support both, he wished
to know as far as I was informed and might think proper to
confide to him, what was the precise state of the relations between
the United States and France or England, or both. That some
time ago the Russian ambassador at Paris, Prince Kuraki7i,
had written that there was to be a treaty between France and the
United States, and that arrangements favorable to America had
actually been settled in France; but lately there seemed to be
some uncertainty upon the subject, and he had seen in one of
the latest Journaux de I'EmpIre, that of 2yth Alarch, an article
purporting to be dated from Baltimore, which seemed to hold
out an angry and threatening language towards the United
States. I told him that since my last conversation with him I had
no communication from my own government of a more recent

^ Dispatch No. 82 Is missing from the State Department files.


date than I had then, nor had I any information from which I
could infer any change had occurred in the state of our relations
from that which I had then suggested to him. That with respect
to France all that I could say from the letters I had received
from Mr, Barlow was, that no definitive arrangement had been
agreed upon, and with respect to England none had taken, 7ior
as I believed was likely to take place. I had heard that late Eng-
lish newspapers contained articles of intelligence from New York
to the 14th February, and that Mr. Foster the British minister
was in negotiation with the Secretary of State, from which
negotiation it was expected a treaty would be concluded. I could
say nothing from official sources tipon this subject. My own
opinion was that no such treaty could be concluded. I was
perfectly sure it zvould not unless the revocation of the British
Orders in Council should be one of its explicit conditions. If
Mr. Foster is authorized to stipulate for the revocation of the
orders, a treaty is possible. The Count asked, how I thought
France in that case would take it? I said I did not know, but
I believed the American government would not enquire whether
France would take it well or ill. It was the right of the United
States as a neutral nation to trade with France; that the American
governmefit was bound to protect. It was deyiied them by the
British Orders in Couficil, and unless restored by the revocation
of those Orders in Council I had no doubt but the United States
would vindicate it by war, but I did not anticipate a declaration
of war by the United States at present. The measures that had
been taken this winter were measures of preparation. Upon
the ocean we could do nothing. If hostilities were to commence
there they must come from the part of England and not from ours.
To attack the British upon our continent we must be prepared.
A bill for raising 2^,000 men had been passed by Congress.
They must be raised by voluntary enlistments, for we had no
system of conscription. It was a difficult and slow way to


raise, organize, and discipline 2^,000 men. I did not think it
could be done in less time, nor should we commit the folly of com-
mencing or declaring wOr before we could do something to main-
tain it, but unless the Orders in Council were revoked a war must
eventually be the result. Did I think it probable they would be
revoked? No, every present prospect was to the contrary. I
thought their existence now depended solely on that of Mr.
Perceval, as prime minister of England. Did I think Mr.
Perceval would remain prime minister? I believed he would.
Was it not probable the Marquis of Wellesley would come in
again after the Catholic question should be disposed of? I
thought not. But how was it possible that the English Regent
should be so fascinated (said the Count) by Mr. Perceval,
^'un homme a ce qu^il parait assez mediocre," in preference to
Wellesley, whose career has been so much more brilliant and
who appeared to have rendered real services to the nation — a man
especially so to the affairs i^i Spain? I said, I had my suspi-
cions that the Catholic question was little more than the ostensible
cause of Lord Wellesley^ s retirement, and that a more efficacious
real cause was the state itself of affairs in Spain. But how so?
There was a good deal of misunderstanding between the British
government and that of the Spaniards at Cadiz. It had already
proceeded so far that the Efiglish had threatened to abandon
them. Lord Wellesley must before this time have strong mis-
givings about the ultimate issue of their cause in Spain. He
may be glad to retire from his stake upon it while it has yet the
shew of being unimpaired. The Count said he thought it very
probable and that the motive would be a very rational one. I
then asked him if he expected very soon to leave the city. He
said within two or three days. The Emperor had finally re-
solved to go and review the situation of his army on the frontiers.
He should very shortly send me a written notice that during his
absence the business of the Department of Foreign Affairs would


be entrusted to Count Soltikoff. His ozvn departure he said was
necessary^ thd' he regretted it much, and he intimated that his
advice had been not to go. But the Emperor had decided other-
wise. The forces assembled on the frontiers he observed were
immense on both sides. There was in history scarcely anything
like it. It was like romance. What it would come to he knew
not. That perpetual restlessness and agitation of the Emperor
Napoleon were such that it was impossible to say how it would
terminate^ and the most extraordinary thiiig of all was that there
was no cause of war. On the part of this country the affair
of the Duchy of Oldenburg was the only object. Russia had
made a declaration in that case reserving her rights, but in that
very declaration had stated explicitly that she did not consider
it as a cause for renouncing the alliance, or for changing the
course of her policy. I said that from the late report of the Duke
of Bassano to the Emperor Napoleon it would seem that the
principle assumed by France went to a total exclusion of all
commerce from the country of her friends, the English Orders
in Council went to a total exclusion of all commerce from itself.
But, said the Count, a total exclusion of all commerce is im-
possible. You might as well set up a total exclusion of all
air to breathe, or of all food to subsist upon from a whole nation
as a total exclusion of commerce. You must have commerce in
some shape either lawful and regular, or by contraband and
licenses. The system of licenses is founded upon falsehood
and immorality. A sovereign who countenanced such vices
is no longer a sovereign; it is a virtual abdication of his authority.
He is a sovereign for that very purpose, to maintain justice a?id
morality, afid to give his sa?iction to falsehood and injustice
is in substance ceasing to reign. The system of formally pro-
scribing commerce by law in general terms, and then allowing
it by a sale of special licenses, appeared to him of the same nature
as the old Popish practice of selling indulgences for crimes.


and like opening a shop to sell titles of nobility to irjamoiis

I thought these opinions, if expressed in very strong terms,
substantially correct, hut observed that France would probably
allege that the English had set the first example of this political
profligacy. That he said was true, hut by which party so prac-
tised it was equally scandalous and unjustifiable.

The Count left the city on the twenty-third, three days after
the Emperor, for the headquarters {the expression is compatible
with the official language of the Chancellor'' s circular notifica-
tion) of the Emperor to he at Wilna. It is certain by the Counfs
expectation that before the campaign begins there will he a nego-
tiation to attempt a pacific arrangement there. I should only
add the wish that with regard to the commercial question the
Emperor Alexander adhere to the principles recognized by the
Count in this conference. I have the honor to be very re-
spectfully, etc.


St. Petersburg, 30 April, 1812.
The inclosed is a copy of a letter which was written near

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