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obtained the permission. You read me part of a letter from
Mr. Sparrow in which those men were spoken of as if they


were culpable and deserving severity for insisting upon
what appeared to me not unreasonable. I thought them in-
jured men who, even if no relief could be obtained for them,
deserved better usage. I was displeased at the manner in
which Mr. Sparrow mentioned them, and gave you to un-
derstand it. You assumed to yourself the whole of Mr.
Sparrow's proceedings on this occasion, and expressed dis-
satisfaction at the impression which I entertained of them.
Then indeed, though with great pain to myself, I was led to
observations which personally touched your feelings, and
which might assume in your mind the appearance of charges,
though solely meant by me as expostulation. You expressed
yourself in terms of disdain at imputations upon your
character. You asserted your entire independence of any
accountability to me in your official capacity (in which re-
spect you were certainly correct as to the fact). You de-
clared you would not suffer such imputations from me. The
rest I wish no longer to remember.

I beg you now to consider what I have here said not as
intended for reproach, or to renew discussion so unpleasant
to us both. It is merely to account to you for the origin of
those reflections which gave you pain and the effect of which
I regret no less than you. I retain my sentiments with re-
spect to Mr. Sparrow's letter. I still think that the unfortu-
nate seamen so shamefully kidnapped to this country, un-
able to obtain either their discharge or their wages, burthened
with debts contracted for the necessaries of life, and turned
adrift upon the street, did not deserve to be treated as
mutineers for merely claiming their right. I am willing to
believe Mr. Sparrow's asperity towards them to have arisen
merely from inconsideration, and would gladly be convinced
that it was entirely without your participation. I should
have needed no such conviction had you not in the most


explicit terms declared that Sparrow did nothing but exe-
cute your orders. You have long known my principles
with regard to the rights, the claims and the complaints of
common seamen, that though often troublesome, occasion-
ally turbulent and sometimes unjust, they are by no means
always wrong. I may add that in the present case they
appear to me eminently entitled to regard.

Two of those men have been again to me this day. They
say that Mr. Sparrow refuses to arrest the captain of the
Monticello without orders from you. They say further that
Marks is shipping men for the vessel in which he came, while
the wages of all his men are still unpaid. They think that
if Sail was personally arrested their wages would be paid. I
know nothing as to the correctness of their opinion, but I
have no reason to disbelieve their statements of facts.

If a more particular explanation of any expression used
by me can tend to give you satisfaction, I will give It verb-
ally or in writing as you may desire. In the meantime I
remain with due consideration and esteem your very humble
and obedient servant.


No. 86. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, ii June, 1812.

The political drama In the north of Europe Is drawing
towards its catastrophe. Nearly two months have elapsed
since the Emperor Alexander left his capital. On the 9th
of May the French Emperor, accompanied by his Empress,
quitted his residence at St. Cloud. They arrived on the i6th


of the same month at Dresden, and on the i8th were met
there by the Emperor and Empress of Austria. The King
of WestphaHa had preceded them, and was at Warsaw,
waiting the arrival of his brother. The king of Naples ar-
rived at Berlin on the i8th and the Viceroy of Italy had
passed through Dresden 10 days before. The Emperor of
Austria is accompanied by Count Metternich his Minister
of Foreign Affairs, and by Prince Schwarzenberg his am-
bassador at the French court. The Duke of Bassano is with
the Emperor Napoleon. I mentioned in my last that the
Count de Narbonne, an aide de camp general of the Emperor
of France, had been with a letter (said to be merely compli-
mentary) from him to the Emperor Alexander at Wilna.
Since then Prince Trubetzkoi, an officer of the same rank, has
been dispatched by the Emperor of Russia, from Wilna with
the answer.

It is impossible for me to give you precise information of
what is passing at Wilna. Rumors founded upon such
private correspondence as can be transmitted rise and fall
in daily succession — mere exhalations of the night, which
the morning sun again disperses. Sometimes they portend
war, and sometimes negotiation. Of material facts, none
are public excepting such as in their nature admit not
of concealment. The principal persons who accompanied
the Emperor to Wilna, or followed him thither by his orders
were the Councillor Count Romanzoff, Count Kotschubey
a member of the Council and President of the Department
of Legislation, Admiral Tchitchagoff, Count Arakcheieff,
formerly Minister of War and now a general of artillery and
President of the War Department in the Council, Baron
Armfeldt, the new Secretary General of the Empire, Vice
Admiral Shishkoff, and the Minister of the Police, Lieu-
tenant General Balaschoff. Immediately after his arrival


at Wllna, the Emperor paid a visit in person to General
Bennigsen, at his country seat in the neighborhood of that
city, where since the peace of Tilsit he had Hved in retire-
ment. Shortly afterwards General Bennigsen was ordered
to be in attendance upon his Majesty, but has hitherto
had no specific command assigned to him. The governor of
Moscow, Field Marshal Gudovich, has been removed, and
in his place General Kutuzoff who commanded the Army
of the Danube has been appointed. Prince Labanoff, who
was one of the Russian ambassadors at the peace of Tilsit,
has also been removed from the Government of Riga. Dur-
ing the Emperor's absence from St, Petersburg, the Presi-
dency of the Imperial Council, which had been held until
then by Count Romanzoff, was committed to Field Marshal
Count Nicholas SoltikoflF, formerly the Emperor's governor,
and the direction of the Department of Foreign Aflfairs, as
I have already informed you, to Count Alexander Soltlkoff,
his son. General Wiasmitinoflf, formerly Minister at War,
was appointed military governor of St. Petersburg in place
of Minister of Police Balaschoif.

The selection of persons to attend the Emperor, and the
appointments at and since his departure are considered as
symptoms Indicative of the probable result. In the country
there are political parties, and vicious rivalries, and personal
animosities, perhaps not the less violent and inveterate, for
being much cramped and restricted in the expression of their
sentiments and purposes. Count Romanzoff, who since the
peace of Tilsit has been considered as the most confidential
minister of the Emperor, naturally has a multitude of adver-
saries and who are all those who have strong attachments to
England or to the English cause. It is universally expected
that a war with France will he the signal for his retirement. ^

^ Cypher.


Perhaps among the chief personages, whose wishes tend to
that event, there are some who desire it more from the
persuasion that this will be one of its first inevitable conse-
quences than from any other motive. As the Count's anxious
wishes that the peace may yet be preserved are well known,
the eagerness for his removal increases, as the prospect of
war approaches; and since his absence scarcely a day had
passed without rumors that he had resigned his office, and
of supposed appointments of other persons to succeed him.
He was taken ill, immediately after his arrival at Wilna,
and several days severely indisposed. Here it was imme-
diately reported that his illness was a stroke of apoplexy, and
though afterwards contradicted, this report still maintains
its credit. By the most recent accounts, however, it is cer-
tain that he retains his office, and has so far recovered his
health as to transact business as usual. It is understood that
his opinions and counsel, as well as those of Count Kotschubey,
are still of a pacific tendency, hut that the other advisers attend-
ing the Emperor have an opposite leaning. This disposition
is especially attributed to Baron Armfeldt a person who has ^
long been known in the history of the present times, but who
has very recently become a Russian subject. He was a
Swedish nobleman, a native of the province of Finland, lately
ceded to Russia, and where his principal possessions are
situated. Conformably to an article of the treaty he has
elected to transfer his allegiance, and has been treated by
the Emperor with the highest personal distinction and favor.
These honors and dignities are not unenvied, and perhaps
he may be made in the public opinion peculiarly responsible
for perilous advice, which others may have given as readily
as himself. Whether from the habits of his education, or
the features of his personal character, he is less reserved in

^ Cypher.


the free and open avowal of his general sentiments and
opinions, tha7i is customary among the original Russians, and
he has taken no pains to conceal or disguise his impressions in
relations to France.^

Count Lowenhielm, the king of Sweden's aide de camp,
who had been here some months on a special mission, left
this city last week to join the Emperor at Wilna. Mr.
Thornton has laid aside his incognito, and appears openly
at Orebro the seat of the Swedish Diet. It is said from Stock-
holm that he is negotiating a treaty of commerce, but there
is no symptom of the revocation of the British Orders in
Council. Mr. Prevost, a secretary of the French embassy
here, was despatched as a courier immediately after the
Emperor Alexander left this city. He had not time to reach
Paris, but met the French Emperor at Mentz, followed him
to Dresden, and from thence was sent back as a courier to
the ambassador here. He arrived last week, and immediately
after he came, the ambassador, Count Lauriston, applied
for passports to go to Wibia. Count Soltikoff not being
authorized to grant them, immediately sent a courier with
the request to the Emperor. The answer Is expected this
day or tomorrow.

The first arrivals of vessels from the United States at
Cronstadt this season was on the 8th Instant, since which the
number arrived amounts to ten. The commercial prospects
of the present summer are not favorable to the adventurers.

I am with great respect, etc.

^ Cypher.



St. Petersburg, 12 June, 1812.
My Dear Sir:

Within a few days I have received your kind favors of
19 February and 10 December last, the first of which was
forwarded to me by Mr. Hall from Gothenburg, and the
last by Mr. Russell from London. Mr. Hall came from
Boston to Gothenburg, and has since arrived here in the
Minerva, a vessel belonging to Mr. W. R. Gray. He brought
your letter of 19 February, and although from thence he
transmitted it by the post, I believe it had not been opened
before it came to my hands. Mr. Russell informs me that
your letter of 10 December, together with one of 8 December
from my dear mother, were inclosed originally under cover
to Mr. Barlow. That they were taken by an English cruiser
on board the ship John, bound from Baltimore to Bordeaux,
and were opened at the Admiralty Court in London. How
far Sir William Scott was edified by your remarks upon the
liberties which the gentlemen called emperors and kings
take with the correspondence of us republicans I have not
learnt, but it seems he was willing to give another proof of the
generosity of the world by permitting the letter to be taken
out of his court, and forwarded to its true destination after
having had the benefit of reading it himself.

In the days of Demosthenes we read that the republican
Athenians once intercepted certain letters from that gentle-
man. King Philip of Macedon, with whom they were at war,
and who was but too successfully plotting their destruction.
The public letters they naturally and justly considered as
lawful prizes, but when they came to that for Olymplas, they
transmitted it to her unopened and untouched. This I think


may pass for generosity; more generosity than I am afraid
the admiralty courts of any modern state, monarchical or
republican, would ever display. Why is it that for an ex-
ample of that delicacy and decorum of manners which man-
kind in all ages have admired and celebrated, we must look
back five centuries before Christianity and to a pure de-

I shall follow your advice and be very careful of my opin-
ions of the common law. One of my motives for declining a
judicial station was to avoid the duty of producing them to
the public in a manner which might have a tendency to dis-
turb the public tranquillity. I have neither weight of in-
fluence nor energy of character enough to undertake the
reformation of the moral and legal code of my country,
though I think I have discernment enough to perceive de-
fects in them which a man like those "qu'on ne trouve plus
que dans les vies du Plutarque" might reform. When the
present Mr. John Lowell took his second degree at Cam-
bridge (Anno Domini 1789) he delivered a part in a forensic
dispute, in which he said that with regard to any principles
relating to the liberties of the people you might as well take
the odes of the poet laureate for an authority as Blackstone's
"Commentaries." This was about the time too when Mr.
Harrison Gray Otis said In a public oration to the town of
Boston, that words only made the difference between Punic
faith and British plausibility. English laws and English
virtue were not at that time in high repute at Harvard and
Faneull Halls. Now it would not be safe at either of those
places to utter such opinions. I know not that I ever could
have concurred in them to the full extent. The common
law has some admirable institutions, some excellent prin-
ciples, and many valuable usages which our countrymen en-
joy. God forbid they should ever be deprived of them or


become disgusted with them. For the sake of the good con-
tained in them I had rather tolerate much infirmity and
much evil connected, perhaps, Inseparably with them, than
launch forth upon Innovation which I could not control and
which might sweep away good and evil without discrimina-

I perceive by the newspapers and other publications from
America that the supreme judicial court of Massachusetts
have decided that the common law does not apply to that
Commonwealth in certain cases of libel, and that the gov-
ernor of the State questions the propriety of their decision.
As represented by him it appears to me so extraordinary
that although I have no reason to doubt his accuracy I feel
under an absolute necessity of hesitating in my assent to his
conclusions. For the protection of individual good name
against defamation, one law for members of the legislature
and the supreme executive, and another law for judges and
officers not eligible by the people! Is that the constitution
of Massachusetts? Is that the nature of our government.'*
Divers weights, a great and a small! divers measures, a great
and a small! And this law subtilized out of the Massachu-
setts constitution by judges upon the bench! A hedge for
themselves, and the unsheltered tempest for others! Can
these things be.f* Your extract of the letter from Monticello
gave me pleasure. As to the works not having so much
vogue as an author's paternal feelings might wish, I shall
easily reconcile time to its destiny. Had It been more suc-
cessful It would certainly have allowed me less future tran-
quillity. That it should have no artificial bolstering from
caballing friends or puffers I was fully determined. From
the natural decision of the public upon its merits I shall not
appeal. . . .



No. 88. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 25 June, 1812.

The continuance of the commercial treaty between Por-
tugal and Russia of 1798 for three years, which I mentioned
in my last letter, was concluded in the form of a declara-
tion, a copy of which I have now the honor to enclose. The
alteration in the 6th article Is conformable to the regulation
of the last year, and the motive for it was explained in my
letter to you of 29 April, 181 1.

The reason assigned for the refusal of passports to the
French Ambassador to go to Wilna was the stoppage of the
letters at the frontiers, and it was also mentioned that pass-
ports had been refused to Prince Kurakin at Paris. The
state of the facts has been mentioned to me to be these: At
the time when the Emperor Napoleon left St. Cloud upon
his journey for the inspection of his troops. Prince Kurakin
applied to the Duke of Bassano for passports for himself and
his family. The Duke suggested to him that unless he had
orders from his government to ask for them it would be most
advisable to wait, rather than insist upon this measure,
which would at least have the appearance of a rupture; when
it might perhaps yet be avoided. The Prince acquiesced;
but after the arrival of the Emperor Napoleon at Dresden,
applied a second time for passports, without stating that it
was by order of his government. It seems that the passports
for all his family were then granted, but with respect to his
own, he was requested to state that he was directed by his
government to ask for it. He applied for it, however, a third
time; and this application was accompanied with an official


note declaring that the Emperor Alexander considered the
total evacuation by the French troops of all the Prussian
territories, as an indispensable preliminary to all negotia-
tion,^ and that should that proposal be complied with, he
would commission some person with the necessary powers to
treat concerning an indemnity for the Duchy of Oldenburg.
Immediately on the receipt of this note by the Emperor Na-
poleon, Prince Kurakin's passport was sent him, with an in-
timation from the Duke of Bassano, that to the note itself
no other answer would be returned. At the same time an
order was dispatched to Count Lauriston, the French Am-
bassador here, to demand his passports for himself and all
the persons attached to the Embassy. On the 23 rd instant,
the day before yesterday, he made the application to Count
Soltikoff, and received for answer that the demand had been
dispatched to the Emperor at Wilna. The answer may be
received in six days more, but may possibly be delayed until
Prince Kurakin shall have reached the frontier. The Aus-
trian, Wurtemberg and Westphalian envoys, and the Prus-
sian, Saxon and Bavarian charge d'affaires applied for their
passports at the same time with the ambassador, and have
received the same provisional answer.

The ambassador told me that the Duke of Bassano had sent
him an English newspaper containing almost word for word
the substance of Prince Kurakin's last note, a paper printed
too before the note was presented. From this circumstance it is
obvious the French government [regard] the intercourse between
Russia and England as having been previously concerted be-
tween the parties, a fact of which I have for some time had little
doubt myself, though it has been constantly denied on both sides
from sources which powerful facts could have constrained me
to distrust.

* See p. 362, infra.


Of these last incidents preceding the rupture my information
is from the first hand, but it may possibly be colored by the feel-
ings of the moment or by the natural prejudices of the party. On
the other side I have reported to you zvhat Count Romanzoiff
said to me the day before his departure for Wilna. Certainly
negotiation then was his wish and expectation. [Nine lines of
this paragraph not decyphered.]

/ have repeatedly mentioned to you as a suggestion from an
i7idirect but usually authentic source that a proposition had at
least been hinted from France to Russia that to secure the ef-
fectual operation of the continental system the Russian ports
on the Baltic must be garrisoned by French troops. From one
of the most influential members of the Russian Imperial Coun-
cil, and from one of the most judicious and esteemed ministers
from a member of the Rhenish confederation, I have had assur-
ances the most explicit, that no such proposal from France had
been made or even intimated, while at the same time I was
assured by another minister of the [blank] that it had. The
first statement of it that I saw was in an English newspaper to
which I gave no credit. I menitioned it to the French ambassa-
dor, who treated it as an idle rumor but without explicitly deny-
ing it. Within a very few weeks, and long since the departure
of the Emperor, he has declared to me that no proposition of a
nature dishonorable to Russia had been made, and he added
with an emphasis of manner corresponding to the force of the
words, "/<? puis vous protester que la negociation est encore
viergeJ'' Notwithstanding which there are in the Duke of Bas-
sano^s report of loth March last very strong indications that such
had been, or to say the least such would be, the French ^ [remain-
der of letter with exception of few lines undecyphered.j I
am with great respect, etc.

^ Cypher.



St. Petersburg, 29 June, 1812.
My Dear Sir:

I inclose you a press copy of my last letter, though it is
more than ever uncertain whether either the original or the
copy will be suffered to reach you. We have lived in event-
ful times, but in the course of my life I have no recollection
of a moment so full of portent as the present. We have ac-
counts here from the United States to 9 May by the way of
England. They are more immediately warlike than I ex-
pected or could have wished. It has indeed long been my con-
viction, even from the time when I participated so strongly
in the former embargo, that the British Orders in Council
unless abandoned would inevitably produce a war between
us and England; and in looking back it Is an extraordinary
demonstration of our extreme reluctance to engage in this
war that we have averted it for nearly five years. That
England will abandon them without a war is extremely
doubtful yet; but there are circumstances upon which I
have wished to found a hope that with a little more patience
and forbearance we shall see the downfall of that infamous
compound of robbery, perjury and fraud by the weight of
its mischief recoiling upon its authors, without being obliged
on our part to resort to force for its destruction.

The most powerful patron and supporter of the Orders in
Council Mr. Perceval, First Lord of the Treasury and Chan-
cellor of the Exchequer, was murdered within the walls of
the House of Commons on the nth of last month by an
individual of disordered mind, but not mad enough to be
absolved from the punishment of the laws. Perceval's
administration, which even before his death was struggling



against the weight of a strong and growing opposition, was
unable to support itself after his decease. They endeavored
to recruit their force by taking in Wellesley and Canning as
subalterns under them, but were refused. The House of
Commons passed a vote to address the Regent and ask
him to form a new administration, with a friendly hint how
it was to be formed. Wellesley, and Alolra, and Canning,
and the opposition, and the wrecks of the Perceval ministry,
were alternately manoeuvering, mining, countermining,
and protracting, resigning and resuming, and publishing
in the newspapers, as if they were throwing dice or turning
cards for the executive authority. This state of interregnum
or anarchy continued to the date of our last accounts, 5
June. I had flattered myself when the survivors of the
Perceval administration resigned, that their successors
would immediately remove the great stumbling block, the
Orders in Council, and that we should be saved thereby
from the impending war. But the formation of the new
ministry lingers so long that I now forbode little or nothing
good from the issue of the struggle. The Perceval policy
appears likely to maintain its ascendency yet a little longer,

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