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The question of a navy is a great one, and in my humble
opinion embraces considerations far more important and
extensive than any that Mr. Quincy or Mr. Lloyd have seen
fit to contemplate in their discussion of it. Far be it from
me to depreciate the millions of dollars to which freight
and tonnage, and exported fish, flour, or manufactures, may
amount. But in this question something besides dollars
and cents is concerned. I have no room to say more, and I
entreat your indulgence for having said so much. I am etc.



St. Petersburg, 14 July, 1812.

By what singular and unaccountable accident the letters
taken from Captain Hinckley last year at Hamburg ever
found their way to you, is matter of much more surprise to
me than the seizure of them by the police at the time. It
must certainly be that generosity, which your father gives the
world credit for, which induced the honorable seal breakers
to forward the letters after reading them, and there is a'
candor and bonhommie in the inclosure of their own ab-
stract and translation which I like much better than my
Lord Castlereagh's report from the Right Honorable the
Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that "no letters,
public or private were broken open."

When I first learnt that my number II to you had fallen
into the hands of the French police, and that in all prob-
ability it has been transmitted to Paris, I very well knew that
the paragraph of which the translation is now in your hands
would excite attention, and have a degree of Interest there'
stronger than you could Imagine. It referred to transactions'
and to the exertion of an influence with which they were
well acquainted, and which had given me more trouble and
concern than anything else that has happened during my
residence here. When they got the letter the struggle was
over, and their objects had been completely defeated. I
have no doubt they understood every word of the extract
better than you to whom the letter was directed, because
they had reports from other sources relative to the same
subject, which you have had no opportunity of perusing.
His Majesty the Emperor Napoleon occupies himself much


more with details of commerce than you seem to be aware of,
and if he does not exactly reason from his information, as
you and I might do, it is because certain motives enter into
the composition of his deliberations which we should not so
readily admit.

Mr. John Henry's correspondence is one of the most In-
structive political pamphlets that has fallen under my cog-
nizance for several years. Among many other interesting
revelations it discloses, or at least asserts, that the pleasures
and the indolence of certain ministers abandon to subalterns
the administration of public affairs. One of the great mis-
fortunes of all the old governments of Europe, and it has not
a little contributed to their greatest calamities of late years,
has been precisely this, that their great men, their ministers
and generals, have been and are men of pleasure and of in-
dolence, and of course that their business has of necessity
been abandoned to subalterns. Ignorance of what they
ought to know has been no inconsiderable source of the
blunders which have been punished by such heavy calamities
to themselves. Whatever may be the vices of France
under her new system this is not among them. She at least
is not governed by subalterns. The activity of all her official
administrations might teach her enemies a lesson of wisdom.
If luxury, sensuality, and indolence, could learn wisdom
from either friend or foe. But when indolence contends
with toil, when pleasure wrestles with diligence, which party
think you will bear away the prize? I certainly do not ap-
prove the manner In which his Majesty's police obtained
possession of my letter, but the extract and translation
sufficiently show that it was not obtained without a purpose,
and I Incline to the belief that its final inclosure to you was
Intended as a hint that its contents had not been perused
without suitable notice.


The city of St. Petersburg has no longer the honor of being
the scene of negotiations, either political or commercial.
The Emperor and his Minister of Foreign Affairs have both
been nearly three months absent from it, and now, in the
political convulsion which is shaking Europe to its deepest
foundations, Russia has once more changed her side and
entered upon the bloody arena." The war has been com-
menced more than three weeks. Of its events hitherto our
information here is not very distinct, nor perhaps very ac-
curate. The Russians have been retreating to unite their
forces, but nothing decisive of the issue of the campaign
has to our knowledge hitherto occurred.

This explosion has tended very much to aggravate my ap-
prehensions that another of a similar nature may before
this have burst upon our country. A last hope still lingers
upon my mind; that the recent abandonment of the British
Orders in Council, forced as it has been by the desperation
of hunger from the very grasp of their authors and support-
ers, and insidious as the appearance of their conduct is in
their manner of yielding to the storm they have raised, may
still lead to arrangements which shall save us from the ex-
tremity of war. The debate in the British House of Commons
on the i6th of June, upon Mr. Brougham's motion, was
of such import to us, to our government, and to the sup-
porters of its policy among ourselves, that I hope it will be
duly known and in all its particulars in America. The
evidence appears to have been all printed. I have not seen
it, but I hope that too will be transmitted across the At-
lantic. Not only the speeches of Mr. Brougham and Mr.
Baring, but those of Mr. Rose and Lord Castlereagh, are
memorable documents to us. "War in Disguise" dared not
show his face.^ And Marryat, the kinsman of our writer s,

' James Stephen.


the man who in a pamphlet had urged the poHcy of forcing
the American government to terms by distressing the Amer-
ican people Into riot against their rulers, this man was re-
duced to the necessity of complaining In open Parliament
that he, his wife and children were in danger of being torn
to pieces by the frenzy of the starving manufacturers.

God grant that we may yet be spared from the trials and
dangers of this war. Or, If we must pass through them,
that the spirit which conducted us through that of our
revolution may again lead us in triumph through all its
evils — a sentiment as profound and irradicable in my heart
as that of the affection with which I am ever yours.


No. 92. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 25 July, 1812.

The French ambassador and the consul, with their fami-
lies, the Wiirttemberg and Westphalian ministers, the Ba-
varian and Neapolitan charges d'affaires, embarked at Or-
anienbaum (opposite to Cronstadt) and sailed on the 23rd
instant to be landed at Memel. A frigate, a corvette, and
two transports, were provided by the Russian government
for their conveyance. It having been thought not advisable
to permit their departure by land. The Bavarian minister
had left this city some weeks before the commencement of
hostilities, and was at a country seat In the neighborhood
of Riga. In answer to his application for passports he re-
ceived permission to go, by water, from one of two ports
named to him In the vicinity, and was Informed by a letter


from Count Romanzoff that the Russian frontier from the
Baltic to the Black Sea being invaded, the French embassy
and the legations from the Rhenish confederation would be
under the necessity of departing by sea. As Count Lauriston
is a military officer, and intends proceeding immediately
to the Emperor Napoleon's headquarters, it was perhaps
thought best not to afford him the means of observation
which a journey passing directly through the Russian line of
defence might yield. Upon what principle the extension of
the same cautious arrangement was governed is merely mat-
ter of conjecture. But the Austrian and Spanish ministers,
the Saxon and Prussian charges d'affaires, and a Prussian
military agent who has resided here some years, all of whom
applied also for their passports at the same time with the
French ambassador, were exempted from its operations.
They were permitted, notwithstanding the invasion of the
frontier, to go by land. The Spanish minister's infirm state
of health, and circumstances of private concernment to the
Saxon, were alleged as motives of indulgence to them; but
the favor shewn to the Austrians and Prussians was more
probably dictated by motives of policy, with views still to
conciliate their governments, or at least to excite jealousies
between them and their allies. It appears that Count
Stackelberg, the Russian minister at Vienna, has obtained
permission to remain there in a private character, and Count
St. Julien, the Austrian minister here, has been given to
understand that the same privilege would be allowed him,
if he should think proper to remain. It is not certain that
his orders from his court to depart were peremptory. He
still lingers here, though I believe some manifestation of
impatience at his delay by the late ambassador had in-
duced him to fix for his own departure the same day on which
the ambassador himself was to embark. The Prussians


had asked the permission of their government to remain here,
but had not obtained it. They are, however, not yet gone.

A charge d'affaires from Sweden arrived here on the same
day that the ambassador and his colleagues left the city.
He is a young man, named Hochschild, and was formerly
here as one of the secretaries of Count Stedingk. He comes
directly from Orebro, where the Diet Is still In session. The
negotiation of the peace with England Is conducted In con-
cert between Sweden and Russia. The English negotiator
is Mr. Thornton, the Russian, General Van Suchtelen. But
the French charge d'affaires, Mr. de Cabre, is yet at Stock-
holm, and In the course of the negotiation both Britain and
Russian have perhaps discovered great distrust of Sweden.
Mr. Thornton was gone to Gothenburg when Mr. Hochs-
child left Orebro.

• A Mr. Lea has been to the headquarters of the Emperor
Alexander, and has there been received and recognized as
the official representative of the Spanish government at
Cadiz; though without formal diplomatic character. He
has generally resided here the last eighteen months, as a
partner of a commercial house, at the head of which was the
late Mr. Anthony Colombi, heretofore the Spanish Consul.
The Spanish minister who has just gone, had by a singular
fortune arrived here with credentials from King Ferdinand,
from the Junta then at Seville, and from King Joseph.

The last only had been presented by him and received.
He was recognized as the minister of King Joseph. An in-
formal intercourse has, however, constantly been main-
tained with the government at Cadiz



St. Petersburg, 31 July, 1812.
Dear Sir:

Your favor of 18 March, together with the inclosed paper
containing Mr. John Henry's correspondence on his memo-
rable mission to Boston, I received not many days since. I
have observed by the nev/spapers of a later date that the
party with whom he was sent to negotiate disavow all con-
nection with him, and deny all participation in his trans-
actions on that occasion. Thus far their conduct is laudable,
and by the law of our land every man must be presumed in-
nocent who pleads not guilty, until proof of his guilt is pro-
duced. But the party to whom he was accredited have
certainly countenanced the project upon which he was sent.
From the complexion of their newspaper publication they
even yet dare to countenance it. That as long as they have
the impudence to threaten a separation of the States, and even
as long as they shall sneakingly hanker after it without
daring to avow it, their plans will all terminate In their utter
discomfiture and confusion, I am thoroughly convinced.
That was the purport of Henry's errand, and to that their
measures were driving with Jehu-like fury when he was
sent among them. Erskine's arrangement broke them up
Into fragments "utterly harmless and contemptible," as
Mr. Canning says; and when that momentary gleam of
good sense on the part of Great Britain, by removing the
real cause of all the distresses of our commerce left our
people calmly to estimate the measures of our government
and the opposition projects of those gentlemen, they very
soon found what the people thought of both. The British
ministry, however, less wise than their envoy in America,


chose to renew the experience of injustice, insolence, and op-
pression, refused to sanction his engagements, recalled him,
and put in his stead a man to bully and insult us. From
the feasting, and banqueting, and toasting, which this man
received at Boston, he seems to have been a character to the
heart's content of our wise men of the east. They seconded
all his insults, and passed resolutions in honor and support
of him as patriotic as those they had passed while Henry
was with them. But the people did not go with them.

Now after another trial of two years more by the British
government how far the temper of the American govern-
ment and nation would endure injury and outrage rather
than resort to the last and only remedy of war, the same men
who so loftily spurned at Erskine's accommodation have been
forced, with the most extreme reluctance compelled by fam-
ine and revolt among the victims of their foolish policy in
their own country, to tread back every step they had taken,
to adjust the affair of the Chesapeake exactly as Erskine
had done, even with the very severe but just rebuke upon
their hypocrisy and falsehood, for pretending they had
punished Berkeley, while they refused to punish him at all,
that very rebuke at which their pride had affected to be
so much wounded; to repeal not only the Orders in Council
to which they had so long and so obstinately clung, but that
very paper blockade of May, 1806, which laid the foundation
of the French ''continental system," and of all the subse-
quent anti-neutral decrees and orders both of France and
England; to do more than they were asked to do when
Erskine made his settlement, and to proclaim by their
manner of doing it to all mankind, that they had been
forced to It by the firm and temperate resistance of the
American government.

I please myself with the hope that these great and real


concessions extorted from the stubbornness of the British
councils, though at the last extremity, will preserve us from
that greatest of scourges war. Though until the Orders in
Council were removed I thought that war inevitable, I
cannot think it so now, as the great objects for which we
have been struggling are substantially yielded.

What the cool and deliberate judgment of the people in
America upon this event will be, I cannot undertake to
foretell. I suppose, however, it will be discoverable in the
elections that are near at hand. I do not Imagine that It
will be very propitious to the projectors of a separation of
the States.

I was much gratified In learning that the legislature of
Massachusetts had restored to the University their old
Board of Overseers. It has exceedingly grieved me to see
the spirit of party creeping like a poisonous weed Into our
venerable seminary of education. Believing the change of
the overseers to have been altogether a party measure, I
lamented It sincerely. I cannot say that I should be pleased
to see nine republicans added to the corporation for the very
same reason, because It would be an Innovation dictated by
party spirit. I wish there were less politics, and especially
less violent and erroneous politics, than I know there are in
the corporation. But let the overseers do their duty, and
bad politics in the corporation will never do much harm.
I would say to all who feel Interested In the welfare of the
college, beware above all things of Innovation In the heat of
political dissension.

• •••••

I remain etc.



No. 93. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, i August, 1812.

The above is the latest official account from the armies
that has yet been published. The first handbill observed
that it was expedient to avoid a general action, until the
army under Prince Bagration should have formed its junc-
tion with that commanded by the Minister of War, General
Barclai de Tolli. It does not appear that this junction has
been effected. In one of the official publications it was
said that Prince Bagration had received orders to attack.
An unauthentic rumor has been in circulation that he did
attack, but without success, and that after the action he
retired upon the Dnieper; that the French army after
cutting off his passage have successively occupied Minsk,
Borisow, Orsha, and Smolensk on the direct road to Moscow,
and that if the junction between the two Russian armies
should now be formed, it must be in the rear of the French

On the 6/18 July the Emperor Alexander Issued from the
headquarters at or near Polotsk, a proclamation to the Rus-
sian nation, expressing his entire confidence in the valor and
strength of his forces already assembled for the defence of
the Empire; but stating at the same time, that their enemy,
hoping by force and treachery to attain his object, had in-
vaded the country with very considerable forces, and that
it was necessary to make seasonable preparations even for
the worst contingencies. A distinct appeal was therefore
made to all the several classes of the people, to the nobility,


the clergy and the citizens, to come forward according to
the duties of their respective stations in defence of the
liberty, the religion, and the independence of the nation.
The nobility were specially called upon to meet in the several
governments, and to provide an additional temporary
military force, in the nature of a militia, the officers of which
should be elected by themselves, and a commander in chief,
to be elected in like manner, by a deputation from the several
governments, to meet at Moscow.

The day after this proclamation was issued the Emperor
left the headquarters of the First Army, and proceeded to
Moscow, to direct the necessary arrangements for the or-
ganization of this new force. At the same time Prince George
of Holstein-Oldenburg, husband of the Grand Duchess
Catherine, son of the Duke of Oldenburg, whose Duchy was
annexed with the Hanseatic cities to France, and governor
general of the three governments of Novgorod, Tver, and
Yaroslaff, also left for a short time the army, and went to
Novgorod and Tver to assemble the nobility of those gov-
ernments for the purpose of taking measures in conformity
to the imperial proclamation. On his arrival at Novgorod,
where he met the Grand Duchess arriving from St. Peters-
burg, he addressed a summons to the nobility of the govern-
ment, who held a meeting and agreed to furnish a body of
ten thousand men, to be maintained at their own expense
during the war. Similar meetings have been held at Moscow
and in this city, where the same spirit of exertion and of
devotion to the public has been manifested The nobility
of the government of St. Petersburg met three days succes-
sively in the course of this week, and agreed to furnish from
their estates four men upon every hundred. Among the
inhabitants of the city, five thousand volunteers have pre-
sented themselves to be enrolled. General Kutuzoff, now


here, was elected as the commander in chief for the organiza-
tion of this levy, which is to be ready at the disposal of the
government by the 1st of November.

A Te Deum was celebrated last Sunday for the conclusion
of the peace with Turkey, of which the ratifications have at
length been exchanged. The treaty itself has not yet been
published, but it is said the Pruth is to be the boundary.
The Ottoman Porte does not appear to have paid much
regard to the guarantee of their territory in the alliance
between France and Austria.

A circumstance not a little extraordinary is, that the con-
clusion of peace with England, if accomplished, has not yet
been made public. An Admiral Bentinck was at the Em-
peror Alexander's headquarters, dispatched, it is said, by
Admiral Saumarez from the British Fleet in the Baltic, to
which he has again returned. All the prohibitions against
the admission of English vessels, and of vessels from Eng-
land still subsist in form, and no vessels have yet entered
at Cronstadt directly from an English port; or cleared from
Cronstadt to an English port. At Archangel, I am informed
by Mr. Hazard, that vessels entering from English ports
have been admitted.

The Emperor Alexander has been expected here all this
day, and orders were given by the police for a general Il-
lumination upon his arrival. This expectation however
was disappointed. He Is still hourly expected.

3 August, i8i2. The Emperor arrived at two o'clock this
morning. The peace with England is said to have been
signed in Sweden, and is gone to England for ratification.
The rumor of a triple alliance between Russia, Sweden, and
England, is strongly circulated, and willingly credited here.
The Russian fleet has been so long waiting at Helsingfors
as to countenance the report that Swedish troops are to


embark in it with the Russians, and that its destination is
for Swedish Pomcrania. I am with great respect,


St. Petersburg, 4 August, 1812.


Mr. Richardson brought me on his arrival here a packet
containing two pamphlets, with a minute from you promis-
ing a duplicate and letter by Mr. Willing.

That gentleman had already been some time here, but I
was disappointed in the hope which the minute had excited.
I found upon inquiry that he had neither pamphlet nor
letter for me. Since then, however, and within a few days,
the duplicate of the "American Question," the manuscript
copy of the letter to the Noble Lord, and half the letter
which was to have been sent by Mr. Willing have come to
hand. For the other half of the letter I still live in hope, and
in the meantime will no longer postpone my thanks for
what I have received.

I have read the pamphlets with the attention which the
subject and the manner of discussing it were calculated to
excite, and observing the main object of their argument and
the meridian for which they were intended, I consider their
reasoning as quite unanswerable, and it is presented in lights
suitable to carry conviction where it was to be produced.
There is a passage in page 64 of the letters to a clergyman
which I have understood as alluding to a publication of
mine written at a very early period of these controversies;
but this being mere conjecture and the allusion being in
general terms I may have mistaken its object. I certainly
did believe and publish my belief that "young Mr. Rose's


mission" was intended not to succeed. I gave much at
large my reasons for that opinion, nor have I seen cause
since to apprehend that I had entertained it unjustly. I
did not know, however, until now that either the king or the
Prince Regent had felt or manifested personally so strong
and clear an inclination that reparation should be made for
the outrage upon the Chesapeake, and indeed the 5th letter
to the clergyman leaves some doubt upon my mind whether
its meaning in this respect is explicit or ironical. There is,
however, a concession in it which in candor, and merely
as it regards the impression upon your own mind, I ask
you to reconsider. It says "as it was, I am no advocate for
any expression of dissatisfaction on the part of that govern-
ment in accepting the proffered atonement," etc. Re-
member, that in the very instrument offering this atonement
the British government falsely pretended that it included the
punishment of the offending officer, while In reality they
inflexibly refused to punish him at all. By accepting an
atonement, relinquishing that most important part of the
satisfaction which America had so just a right to demand,
was it not incumbent upon the President to show that he

Online LibraryJohn Quincy AdamsWritings of John Quincy Adams (Volume 9) → online text (page 30 of 42)