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did not recognize the pretence of Berkeley's punishment to
have been really such; and would it not have been really
more honorable to the king of England to have punished
the offender in fact, than to have pretended he had punished
him, when he really had not, but had peremptorily refused
to punish him? Had no expression of dissatisfaction been
used In accepting the atonement, any future appeal to the
documents would have shown that America had actually
taken for substantial punishment a mockery of words noto-
riously false. Who shall engage to say that it would not have
been produced as a precedent to refuse future malefactors
of the same class from all punishment.^ The exclusion of this


conclusion was In my view so essential in that transaction
that I do most heartily approve that expression of dissatis-
faction which Mr. Smith inserted by Mr. Madison's express
command, and which in his pamphlet he says he himself
disapproved. After all the bluster of Mr. Canning about this
expression of dissatisfaction the British government have
finally agreed to make the very same atonement, accepted
with an expression still stronger of the very same dissatis-
faction. This even in the Times newspaper is spoken of as a
Sfnart and just observation upon the inconsistency of the
pretension that Berkeley had been punished. I regret the
more that the clergyman's correspondent yields this point,
because it has been made so personal to Mr. Madison, be-
cause it has been so often misstated and misunderstood both
in Europe and America, and because its justification never
has been placed upon its true grounds, or indeed so far as I
have seen publicly attempted at all.

Since the publication of these two pamphlets what a
change in the relations between the United States and Great
Britain! How many questions to settle besides anti-neutral
Orders in Council, and non-importation, or impressment
of seamen, and exclusion of ships of war. Even yet, however,
I would not despair that peace may be restored, if not pre-
served. Mr. Foster's letter of 30 May to Mr. Monroe would
have left the case perfectly hopeless, had not the Regent's
proclamation of 22 June given a new commentary upon It
and upon the whole system of the Orders in Council, the
beneficial effect of which will, I hope, not yet be lost. When
England has yielded the substance, I am willing to hope she
will persist in the purpose of obtaining the object for which
it was conceded. Upon herself alone I am persuaded it
depends. I am etc.



St. Petersburg, 10 August, 1812.

• ••••••

I then flattered myself that the revocation of the British
Orders in Council, of which I had just been informed, would
be known in the United States in season to prevent the war
which I knew would otherwise be unavoidable. In this hope
I have been disappointed. After reading Mr. Foster's letter
to Mr. Monroe of 30 May I cannot indeed perceive any
other course which was left to the American government
without self degradation to pursue than that which they
did adopt; but when I remark that within fifteen days after
that letter of Mr. Foster was written, the very same British
ministers by whose instructions he sent it had determined
totally to repeal the whole system which was kindling the
war, which they had always pretended was necessary to
the national existence of England, and which they now
ordered Mr. Foster to say was more necessary than ever,
I see no room left for calculation beforehand upon anything.
I lament the declaration of war as an event which in the
actual state of things when It passed was altogether un-
necessary, the greatest and only insuperable causes for it
having been removed; but as it was not and could not be
known to Congress I cannot be surprised that they should
have considered all pacific and conciliatory means of ob-
taining justice as exhausted, and no alternative left but war
or the abandonment of our right as an independent nation.

The declaration, however, so essentially alters the aspect
of affairs between the two countries and their governments
that I now consider everything again thrown upon the
chances of events. That the British ministers are now de-


sirous of peace with us is obvious from the steps they have
taken. How far the policy of our government will be affected
by the revocation of the Orders in Council when they learn
that It preceded the declaration of war, I can hardly foresee.
My own most ferv^cnt wishes and prayers are that peace
may be restored before any further irritating and aggravating
hostilities shall have been committed on either side.


No. 95. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 30 September, 1812.

I have the honor to enclose copies of a note which I re-
ceived from the Chancellor, Count Romanzoif, communicat-
ing two printed copies of the treaty of peace late concluded
Vv-Ith the Ottoman Porte, and of my answer. One of the
copies of the treaty is likewise enclosed.

On the 20th instant I received a note from the Chancellor
requesting me to call upon him the next evening which I ac-
cordingly did. He told me that he had asked to see me by the
Emperor s command; that having made peace and established
the relations of amity and commerce with Great Britain, the
Emperor was much concerned and disappointed to find the
whole benefit which he expected his subjects would derive com-
mercially from that event defeated and lost by the new war which
had arisen between the United States and England; that he had
thought he perceived various indications that there was on both
sides a reluctance at engaging in and prosecuting this war,
and it had occurred to the Emperor that perhaps an amicable


arrangement of the differences between the parties might he
accommodated more easily and speedily hy indirect than by a
direct negotiation; that his Majesty had directed him to see
Trie and to enquire if I was aware of any difficulty or obstacle
on the part of the government of the United States, if he should
offer his mediation for the purpose of effecting a pacification.
I answered that it was obviously impossible for me to speak
on this subject any otherwise than from the general knowledge
which I had of the sentiments of my government; that I was so
far from knowing what their ideas were with regard to the con-
tinuance of the war, that I had not to that day received any
official communication of its declaration, but that I well knew
it was with reluctance they had engaged in the war; that I was
very sure whatever determinatioji they might form upon the
proposal of the Emperor^ s mediation, they would receive and
consider it as a new evidence of his Majesty^ s regard and frieyid-
ship for the United States, and that I was not aware of any
obstacle or difficulty which could occasion them to decline ac-
cepting it. For myself I deeply lamented the very existence of
the war; that I should welcome any facility for bringing it to
a just and honorable termination. I lamented it, because I
thought that the only cause which had made it absolutely un-
avoidable was actually removed at the moment when the declara-
tion was made. If the course which had been adopted by my
government had been such as I could not in my own mind
approve, it would still not become me to censure it, but it was not
so. The declaration of the English Regent in April, and the
letter Mr. Foster had written to the American Secretary of
State in communicating it, had as it appeared to me left the
American government no alternative but an immediate appeal
to arms, or a dishonorable abandonment of all the unquestion-
able rights for which they had contended, and even the essential
characteristics of an independent nation. The blame of the war


was therefore entirely on the English side, hut the war was not
the less disagreeable to me. I lamented it particularly as oc-
curring at a period when, from my good wishes for Russia and
the Russian cause, I should have rejoiced to see friendship and
harmony taking place between America and England, rather
than discord and hostility. I knew the war would affect un-
favorably the interests of Russia. I knew it must be highly in-
jurious both to the United States and England. I could see
no good result as likely to arise from it to anyone. The Count
replied that he had considered it altogether in the same light,
and so had the Emperor who was sincerely concerned at it, and
who had himself conceived this idea of authorizing his mediation.
He thought one indirect negotiation conducted here, aided by the
conciliatory wishes of a friend to both parties, might smooth
down difficulties which in direct discussion between the princi-
pals might be found insuperable. To a mutual friend each
party might exhibit all its claims and all its complaints, without
danger of exciting irritations or raising impediments. The
part of Russia would only he to hear both sides, and to use her
best endeavors to conciliate them. I observed that there was a
third party to be consulted as to the proposal — the British govern-
ment. The Count answered that it had already been suggested
by him to the British ambassador. Lord Cathcart, who had the
day before dispatched it by a messenger to his court. Some
question occurred concerning the mode of enabling me to trans-
mit this communication to the United States, upon which the
Count promised to see me agai^i in the course of a few days.
He said that he should write to Mr. Daschkoff and instruct him
to make the proposition to the government of the United States.^
I am with great respect, etc.

1 Cypher.

392 THE WRITINGS OF [[1812


No. 96. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 2 October, 181 2.

• ••••♦•

It has, indeed, constantly been my wish not to be continued
in the mission here beyond the ensuing Spring, and I sug-
gested this desire to the President as early as last February.
I still retain it, subject to the supposition that my return to
the United States with my family should be practicable,
which in the event of the continuance of our war with Great
Britain it would scarcely be. If the proposition communi-
cated to you in my last letter should be deemed by the
President acceptable, he may perhaps think it advisable to
commit the negotiation to some other person, which I do
not feel the inclination or the duty to ask; but in which I
should very readily acquiesce. But whether he should judge
it expedient to commit the trust to me, or to another, it
may probably occasion the dispatching of a vessel, protected
from capture, by which a remittance in specie might be
made to me, which would save me from the almost incredible
loss in exchange, which by drawing upon Amsterdam I
must incur. And if it be his pleasure to recall me, the same
vessel might perhaps furnish me a safe conduct home.

There is another subject upon which I may possibly be called
to act before I can receive the President's instructions, but
which I have hitherto thought unsuitable to be anticipated so
far as to ask for them. It is at least within the compass of
possible events that the Emperor with his family and all his
court may remove for a time from this capital into the interior


of the empire. Although no suggestion of such a design has
been officially made, it is generally understood by the public
to be contemplated upon certain contingencies, and it is supposed
that upon szich an event it would be expected, and perhaps
required, of the foreigji ministers to accompany or to follow
the sovereign. The city may fall into the possession of a hostile
army as has already happened to Moscow, in which case the
character of a piiblic minister might be no farther recognized
than as securing the right to retire without molestation. The
danger if any such now exists will I trtist be entirely removed
before the Spring; but as it may be otherwise I request the Presi-
dents eventual instructions for the government of my conduct
in the cases supposed. My present intentions are, if invited,
to attend the Emperor, to comply as my duty resulting from my
credentials; if requested to remain {which is possible), likewise
to comply, trusting to the general protectiofi secured to my
character and family by the law of nations. If left at my
option to stay, to follow the Emperor, or to move where I may
judge proper, I shall still remain, unless circumstances should
occur to make it necessary for the safety of my family to with-


I am with great respect, etc.


St. Petersburg, 4 October, 18 12.

My Dear Sir;

But of the war in the country where I reside you may
expect me to speak more at large, and, besides the general
interest to which it is entitled as forming so large a portion

^ Cypher.


of the history of the civilized world, our residence here may
give you a particular concern with it, as our own situation
and circumstances are in no small degree involved in its
events. On the 24th of June the war began, and from that
day to this, according to the official bulletins published here,
has consisted of an uninterrupted series of Russian victories.
We have had Te Deums, illuminations, cannon firing, bell
ringing and all the external demonstrations of continual
triumph, while the French armies have been advancing
with rapid and steady pace, until on the 15th of September,
the very day that my poor child died, they took possession
of Moscow, the ancient and renowned metropolis of the
Russian empire. The real progress of military operations
has been known very tardily, and only by the dates from
time to time of the official reports from headquarters. It is
not prudent to have the knowledge of disasters when they
have happened, still less to anticipate those which may
come. The private correspondence from the armies must
tally with, or at least not materially vary from, the official
reports of the Commanders in Chief. Discretion is one of
the most universal virtues in government organized like
this, as the want of it is one of those the most surely and most
severely punished. The concealment and disguise practised
to keep the knowledge from the public of facts which it
would be disagreeable to them to know, give rise, however,
to many rumors of defeat and misfortune still more un-
founded than the official reports of victories; so that be-
tween flattering misrepresentations on one side and fictitious
alarms on the other, the real state of affairs is perhaps better
and sooner known in the other hemisphere than here, as it
were upon the very scene of action.

Here, however, the spectator has the opportunity of wit-
nessing the impressions produced upon the public mind by


the course of the war which could not be so well observed at
a distance. The hopes of the Russians that the issue will
be glorious and successful to them are founded, first on their
army, and secondly on the natural advantages of their
situation. To judge of the operations of their generals from
their measures would seem that their whole instructions are
on no consideration, and In no event whatsoever, to risk
any essential disaster to the army; to abandon everything
else rather than stake the army upon the chances of a battle.
This system is cautious, and perhaps the best that could
have been adopted; but it gives an appearance of timidity
to all their warlike operations singularly contrasting with
the boldness and impetuosity of the invader, and which he
has not failed to turn to his own advantage. Twice on the
passage from the river Niemen to Moscow the Russians
appear to have determined to meet their enemy in battle,
and on both occasions they assert that the field of battle
was theirs. But the fear of hazarding the safety of the army
has not only prevented them from profiting by their success,
but has Induced them to yield to their vanquished antago-
nist all the fruits of victory. For the battle of Borodino, St.
Petersburg was illuminated and a Te Deum was performed.
The Russian general who commanded at it was made a Field
Marshal, and received a gratuity of a hundred thousand
rubles; and eight days afterwards Napoleon entered Moscow,
and the Field Marshal, with excuse and apology, reported
to his master that, notwithstanding his victory, he had sur-
rendered the capital to preserve the army.

But Napoleon is in an enemy's country, hemmed in be-
tween four Russian armies over whose bodies he must cither
advance or retreat; two thousand miles distant from his
own capital; having lost one half the forces with which he
commenced the war; and surrounded in the midst of his


camp by auxiliary armies so disaffected to him and his cause,
that at the first symptom of defeat they would more eagerly
turn their arms against him than they now follow his banners.
Notwithstanding his rapid and hitherto triumphant career
the hope of finally expelling and even of annihilating him
and his whole host here grows sanguine in proportion as he
proceeds. It is far stronger and more confident than it was
at the commencement of the war, and the Emperor Alexander
who then pledged himself to his people that he would never
make peace while one armed enemy should have his foot on
the Russian territory, has since the loss of Moscow publicly
said that none but a scoundrel can at the present juncture
pronounce the name of peace.


No. 97. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 12 October, 1812.

I have received from Count Soltikoff, the member of the
Imperial Council charged with the Department of Foreign
Affairs, two printed copies of the treaty of peace between
Russia and Great Britain, signed at Stockholm the i8th of
July last, with a circular note from the Count, of which, and
of my answer, together with one of the printed treaties, I
herewith inclose copies. It was, as you may have observed,
the Chancellor Count Romanzoff who recently communi-
cated in a similar manner the peace with Turkey. It seems
that since the Chancellor's return he occasionally resumes
the exercise of his functions in the Foreign Department,


but that Count Soltikoff continues to transact the business
of it Hkewise.

I continue to send you translations of the official bulletins
published here exhibiting the progress of the war, and the
military operations of the armies. It is now so extremely
seldom that I can enjoy any opportunity of transmitting
dispatches to you, that I fear none of these publications will
reach you until the news they contain will have been so
long known to you, or have become by the operation of
subsequent events so totally uninteresting, that the mere
perusal of them will be an Insupportable burden upon your
time. Yet I have thought it might be deemed useful to
possess the series of these official documents, and particularly
of those which describe the most Important events of the
war, as they contain the representation of occurrences as
viewed and authenticated by the Russian government. In
war, it seldom perhaps never happens that the official
narratives of great events, or of military operations in gen-
eral, on either side contain the whole truth. It Is rare among
the European nations that they do not contain much un-
truth; nor will you think It extraordinary that after perusing
the whole series of these publications you should find an
uninterrupted succession of Russian victories, without a
single defeat, result in the entrance of the French army
at Moscow within three months after they had stepped
over a frontier eight hundred miles distant from It. As the
principle of the war on the part of Russia has been strictly
defensive, the system has been to avoid any general action
which might risk too large a part of the army. It Is the
general opinion that both Smolensk and Moscow might
have been saved, had the Russian generals chosen to stake
them upon the Issue of a battle; and so universally do all
the private reports and letters from the army concur with


Prince Kutuzoff's reports to the Emperor, that the battle
of Borodino was a great victory to the Russians, that the
Prince himself does not escape censure not merely for having
surrendered Moscow, without further resistance, but for
having suffered the French army to escape. It is certain
that from the Russian commander's first report, not only the
public in general, but the Emperor Alexander himself,
fully expected that pursuit and not retreat was to be the
next operation of the victorious army. I enclosed to you
with one of my late letters a bulletin extraordinary in the
French language, two copies of which were sent to me from
the Chancellor's office. It expressly states that General
Platoff had been dispatched the day after the battle in pur-
suit of the fugitive French, and had overtaken their rear guard.
When that bulletin was issued here. Napoleon was at

It had been an opinion generally entertained by both
parties here (I mean the peace and the war party) that if
Moscow should be taken, the Emperor Alexander would be
inclined to negotiate. Both parties assumed it as unquestion-
able (though I think without sufficient evidence), that the
French Emperor is anxiously desirous to negotiate. They
consider his situation as precarious and perilous In the
extreme. They suppose him to have the same idea of it
himself, and they believe that his great object now is to
extricate himself from it. The argument inferred from this
state of facts on one side is, that now is the time to take ad-
vantage of these embarrassments, and to withdraw from a
contest, in which too much may be hazarded by persever-
ance; on the other,, that mere delay will infallibly accomplish
the ruin and destruction of the invading army, and that the
present is the worst of all possible times for negotiation.
The Emperor has adopted the latter of these opinions, and


has expressed himself in the most decisive terms against
every idea of peace since the loss of Moscow. The official
proclamations, of which I have enclosed translations hold
the same language.

The Emperor Alexander had a personal interview with the
Prince Royal of Sweden at Abo on the 27th of August;
and immediately afterwards returned to this capital; where
he arrived on the 2nd of September. Lord Cathcart, the


British ambassador appointed to reside here, was at Abo
on his way hither at the same time, and arrangements for
a triple alliance between Russia, Great Britain and Sweden,
are said to have been agreed to there. A joint Russian and
Swedish expedition has long been supposed to be con-
templated against Swedish Pomerania, but at the Interview
between the Emperor and the Prince it was concluded that
the Russians and the Swedes should act separately, though
in concert. On his return, the Emperor gave orders at his
passage through Helsingfors, for the immediate departure
of the fleet and troops which had been so long waiting there.
They sailed the same day. The troops to the number of
16,000 men a few days after landed at Reval, and marched
to reenforce the garrison at Riga. The ships of war then
returned to Cronstadt. A Swedish force of 25,000 men was
immediately afterwards assembled at Landscrona, almost
directly facing Copenhagen; and another of 15,000 men at
Gothenburg. They were to sail in the last days of Sep-
tember, and their destination is understood to be a direct
attack upon the Island of Zealand. In the meantime, no
complaint has been alleged; no demand has been made by
Sweden to Denmark. The justification of this procedure
is understood to rest upon principles of state policy; and to
explain the seemingly unaccountable course of Sweden
during the last year. Great Britain, the disinterested ally


of Spain, is said to have had some scruples at this new sample
of retaliation for French aggressions, but was at last brought
to acquiesce and cooperate in it.

Immediately after the surrender of Moscow, the Em-
peror Alexander appointed Count Lieven as ambassador
extraordinary to England; a Mr. Tatishtcheff, envoy ex-
traordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the king of Spain,
Ferdinand; and Baron Strogonoff, with the same character,
to the king of Sweden; Prince Koslofsky, to the king of

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