John Quincy Adams.

Writings of John Quincy Adams (Volume 9) online

. (page 41 of 42)
Online LibraryJohn Quincy AdamsWritings of John Quincy Adams (Volume 9) → online text (page 41 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


viously made to him, when the prospect of success was not so
bright. With the change of his country's fortune his aver-
sion to fight against her disappears. He comes five thousand
miles to join the standard of her enemies, and one of the
first cannon balls that is fired sends him to his account, a
memorable warning to others not to judge of the moral
merit of the banner by success. Eight days after he was dead
a long and elaborate article in the gazette of this city as-
sured the world that Providence had preserved the life of
Moreau through thousands of dangers in battles, through



1813] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 523

conspiracies, amidst plagues, and over oceans, to make him
the instrument of some great and extraordinary purpose
of beneficence to mankind.

Providence did not intend to make him any longer the
Instrument of any purpose, either merciful or afflictive.
But it has manifested in the most unequivocal manner the
intention of turning the tide of success. If success were
the standard of excellence, what mortal since the creation
of the world had for a compass of twenty years such signal
proofs of the favor of Providence as Napoleon. He too
fancied himself more than mortal. He dreamt that he was
the dispenser of destiny to mankind. It would seem that
even yet he has not awaked from his dream. He left one
immense army to fatten the region kites of Russia, and an-
other is now perishing under his hands by the sword of his
enemies and by famine. All Europe is now conjured against
him. His inflexible spirit has bid defiance to Austria in
addition to all those he had before. But his means of resist-
ance are sinking under him, and since the renewal of the war
he has been defeated In almost every quarter. His armies
are disheartened. He is surrounded with disaffection and
treachery. His enemies are flushed with success, embittered
by the remembrance of former losses, and struggling with
desperation for their own existence. "What is It (says the
son of Sirach) "If one be highly famed.? yet it is known that
he Is but a man; neither may he contend with him that Is
mightier than he."

Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Bayard are still here, waiting for a
definitive answer from England whether the British govern-
ment will treat under the Russian mediation or not. In the
meantime the accounts from America leave them In suspense,
and under an uncertainty whether the Senate have confirmed
the nominations to this commission. The news which we



7



524 THE WRITINGS OF [1813

receive respecting the progress of the war is less favorable
than we had anticipated, and we hear of the opposition
from Massachusetts in all its vehemence. I approve much
of your principle never to despond, and hope for an improving
futurity. By the blessings of God we are in tolerable health.
Charles goes regularly to school and improves in his writing
as fast as I can expect.

Remember me dutifully to my father and affection-
ately to my children. I have lately written to them all, and
hope to have the opportunity of writing soon again; until
which I remain as ever affectionately yours.



TO ABIGAIL ADAMS

St. Petersburg, 14 October, 1813.
I have just this moment returned from attending the
funeral obsequies of the late General Moreau, which have
been solemnized with suitable splendor at the Roman Catho-
lic church of this city. He died at Toplitz on the 2nd of
September, of the wounds he had received before Dresden
the 27th of August. His body was sent here by order of the
Emperor Alexander, and has been buried with all the honors
to which he was entitled by his merits and by falling in the
Emperor's service, and at his side. The church service was
performed by the Archbishop of Mohileff, the Roman
Catholic Metropolitan of the Empire, and a funeral sermon
was preached in the French language by Father MosevII,
professor of Philosophy at the Jesuit College in this city.
His text was from the Wisdom of Solomon, Chap. 9, v. 13:
"For what man is he that can know the counsel of God.?
or who can think what the will of the Lord is.?" — a text
certainly well chosen though from an Apocryphal book. The



^'.



i8i3] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 525

orator's task was not without its delicacy and Its difficulty.
His duty was to pronounce a panegyric, and all the titles
of his hero to glory were acquired in contending against the
cause for which he finally lost his life. There were no serv-
ices to the Russian Empire to speak of, for the first day of his
active service had terminated his career. From the narrow
and dangerous pass the preacher extricated himself as
successfully as the general had extricated his army in his
celebrated retreat, by expatiating upon the inscrutable
counsels of God, and by transferring his encomium from the
general to the Emperor, whose magnanimity considered not
less services intended than services performed, and who
manifested his sense of the exploits which would have been
achieved, had the Hero not been arrested In his career by a
premature death.

I have not had the pleasure of receiving a line from you
since I wrote you last. Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Bayard will
probably be obliged to pass the winter here, for we have no
final answer yet from England, and when It comes the Gulf
of Finland will be no longer navigable. They intend how-
ever to send the ship to Gothenburg, and if on the receipt
of the answer from the British government there should be
nothing left for them but to return home, they will go through
Sweden by land, and may embark from Gothenburg In the
winter, or at least In the spring, two or three months earlier
than they could go from this place. ^

The progress of the war in Germany has been since the re-
commencement of hostilities so favorable to the allies, and
so much against the French, that the campaign of 18 13 has
every prospect of terminating as disastrously to the Emperor
Napoleon as that of 181 2. The Emperor Alexander has had

1 A letter from the Commissioners to the Secretary of State, October 3/15, 1813,
is in Writings oj Gallatin, I. 587.



526 THE WRITINGS OF [1813

a silver medal struck to commemorate the campaign of
18 1 2. On one side is the eye of Providence Inclosed within
a triangle, and on the other the inscription In Russian "not
unto us, not unto us"; it is to be distributed to every officer
and soldier who served during that campaign, and to be
worn suspended by a blue ribbon at the button hole, without
distinction of ranks, from the Field Marshal to the common
soldier.



TO BENJAMIN WATERHOUSE f

St. Petersburg, 24 October, 18 13.
Dear Sir:

• ••••••

I am not displeased to hear that Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana
and Louisiana are rapidly peopling with Yankees. I con-
sider them as an excellent race of people, and as far as I am
able to judge I believe that their moral and political char-
acter far from degenerating improves by emigration. I have
always felt on that account a sort of predilection for those
rising western states, and have seen with no small astonish-
ment the prejudices harbored against them by the New
England junto-federalists. There Is not upon this globe
of earth a spectacle exhibited by man so interesting to my
mind or so consolatory to my heart as this metamorphosis
of howling deserts into cultivated fields and populous villages
which is yearly, daily, hourly, going on by the hands chiefly
of New England men in our western states and territories.
If New England loses her influence in the councils of the
Union it will not be owing to any diminution of her popu-
lation occasioned by these emigrations; it will be from the



1813] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 527

partial, sectarian, or as Hamilton called it clannish, spirit
which makes so many of her political leaders jealous and
envious of the west and of the south. This spirit is in its
nature narrow and contracted, and it always works by means
like itself. Its natural tendency is to excite and provoke
a counteracting spirit of the same character, and it has
actually produced that effect in our country. It has com-
bined the southern and western parts of the United States,
not in a league but in a concert of political views adverse to
those of New England. The fame of all the great legisla-
tors of antiquity is founded upon their contrivances to
strengthen and multiply the principles of attraction in civil
society. Our legislators seem to delight in multiplying and
fomenting the principles of repulsion.

If I could by any act of mine contribute to the restoration
of a just and honorable peace to our country, I should be
ready to say "Lord, now iettest thou thy servant depart in
peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." But I have
little reason to flatter myself that such are the intentions of
Providence. The British government have manifested a
strong disinclination to treat with United States under any
mediation, and although we are not yet informed of their
having expressly refused that of Russia, they have not ap-
pointed any person to treat with us under it, and we are in
hourly expectation of receiving their final answer. The great
successes which they have had in their European affairs
have made them more indifferent about a peace withAmerica,
and although they are indebted to Russia for all those suc-
cesses, they are not more inclined to submit any of their
maritime pretensions to the umpirage of a Russian mediator.



528



THE WRITINGS OF



I1813



TO ABIGAIL ADAMS

St. Petersburg, 25 October, 18 13.

Although I am duly sensible to the gentlemanly politeness
of Sir John Sherbrook In permitting my letters to be trans-
mitted to you, I do not wish to give him the trouble to pe-
ruse any more of my epistles, or to write any adapted for his
perusal. Yet I see not why I should withhold my opinions
upon some of the subjects mentioned in your letters. For
instance, I am not of opinion with the Senate of Massachu-
setts that the present war Is waged on the part of the United
States without justifiable cause, as little as I am of their
opinion that It has been prosecuted in a manner indicating
that conquest and ambition are Its real motives.^ But If
I concurred with them in both those opinions, I should
still from the bottom of my soul disclaim the conclusion
which the said honorable Senate have drawn from it, and
declared to be their sense, to wit, that It was not becoming
a moral and religious people to express any approbation of
military or naval exploits which are not immediately con-
nected with the defense of our sea coast and soil.

A moral and religious people are bound in sacred duty to
express approbation of military or naval exploits performed
in their service, even although the Senate of Massachusetts
should think the war unjust, even though the war should be
really unjust, provided that they who performed the ex-



^ ^'Resolved, as the sense of the Senate of Massachusetts that in a war like the
present, waged without justifiable cause, and prosecuted in a manner which indi-
cates that conquest and ambition are its true motives, it is not becoming a moral
and religious people to express any approbation of military or naval exploits, which
are not immediately connected with our defense of our sea coast and soil."



1813] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 529

ploits believed it to be just. The virtue of all action depends
upon the motives of the actor, and it is neither moral nor
religious to take Mr. Quincy's opinion as to the justice of
the cause for a standard to measure the merit of exploits
achieved by Hull, Decatur, and Bainbridge. There is a book
much esteemed by moral and religious men which says, "Who
art thou that judgest another man's servant.^ To his own
master he standeth or falleth." If I could degrade myself in
my own mind, and sink deep enough Into the kennels of fac-
tion to embrace the opinion that the redemption of my sea-
faring countrymen from the accursed oppression of British
press-gang is not a justifiable cause of war, I should still
think It possible that other men quite as patriotic as myself
might be of a different opinion. And when I saw such men
displaying heroic virtue in support of their country's cause,
and sealing the sincerity of their belief with their blood,
I should feel and would express approbation of their exploits,
unless with the loss of all sense of my country's rights I had
also lost all sense of morals, religion and truth.

I had seen some weeks since In the English newspapers
this pious resolution, but I never thought much of its in-
genuity, even as a party measure. I know very well that it
could disgrace none but those who voted for It. I know very
well that if the exploits should continue to be achieved the
moral and religious people would not ask Mr. Quincy or the
Senate of Massachusetts for permission to express their
approbation of them; and If the deed of glory was performed,
I cared very little whether Mr. Quincy or the Senate of
Massachusetts expressed their approbation of It or not. The
approbation which avowedly hangs the virtue of one man
upon the motives of another Is too worthless to be an object
of desire to men of real honor, morals, or religion.

Since I began this letter I have seen the National Intel-



S30 THE WRITINGS OF [1813

ligencers of 3 and 5 August, containing all the proceedings of
the United States Senate upon the nominations to the Rus-
sian mission and the projected mission to Sweden. The
situation in which these transactions place us is a little
awkward, but we have yet no official information of the
event. We have no reason to expect that the British gov-
ernment will treat at all under the mediation, but Mr.
Gallatin and Mr. Bayard have hitherto been waiting here
for a final answer from England, which has not yet been re-
ceived. They have at their disposal the ship In which they
came, and intended to send her round to Gothenburg before
the freezing of the river here. Her departure has however
been so long delayed that It is not certain she will now be
able to get away. We have the ground already covered with
snow and Fahrenheit's thermometer at ten degrees below
the freezing point. Four or five days of such weather will
lock us up for the winter.



TO WILLIAM HARRIS CRAWFORD

St. Petersburg, 15 November, 1813.
Dear Sir:

I have received your obliging favors of 13th and 30th
of September, and since your arrival In France have been
seriously wishing for the means of communicating with you.
The conveyance through Copenhagen has, however, been so
precarious, not only from the state of the relations between
Sweden and Denmark, but from the continually varying
aspect of affairs on the Elbe and Holstein, that I have not
until now ventured to write to you; and even at present shall
commit this to one of our countrymen going to Sweden,



1813] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 531

but without any certainty in what manner, or from whence
it will eventually be transmitted to you.

It is true that the British government has finally and
positively refused to treat with the United States under the
mediation of the Emperor of Russia; but we have as yet no
official notification of the fact. We are indirectly informed
that they have sent to the Emperor Alexander at his head-
quarters a long and elaborate memoir to justify their re-
fusal of the mediation, and they have at the same time mani-
fested their willingness to treat with the American envoys
directly, either at Gothenburg or in London. Should this
proposal come in a shape upon which we could deliberate,
we should ask for further instructions respecting It from
America. But from what we know of the dispositions
of the British ministry you may safely conclude that your
negotiations will meet with no obstacle from any possible
success of ours.

Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Bayard are here waiting for the
official communication from this government of the re-
jection of the mediation by the British. The Emperor Alex-
ander gave orders that our letters of credence should be
received by his Chancellor here, and that we should be rec-
ognized in all the usual diplomatic forms, although he was
absent. The Neptune is gone to Gothenburg, whither it is
the intention of Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Bayard to proceed by
land to embark for the United States, as soon as we shall
have authentic information of the British determination.

Prince Kurakin some time since informed me that he knew
his chapel furniture, etc., was in Mr. Warden's possession,
with which he appeared to be well satisfied. I understood
him to say that he had requested him to keep It until the
arrival of Mr. Barlow's successor, and then to place it under
his custody. Perhaps Mr. Warden waits until you shall



532 THE WRITINGS OF [1813

have been officially received and recognized to execute
the Prince's directions. I regret that Mr. Thomas Barlow
ever permitted it to be removed, though I hope it has been
safely kept. . . .



TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE

No. 124. [James Monroe]

St. Petersburg, 22 November, 18 13.
Sir:

The communications which will be transmitted to you by
the present occasion will inform you that the British gov-
ernment have at length positively and definitively refused
to treat with the United States under the mediation of
Russia. We have, however, hitherto no official statement
of this fact, and Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Bayard are waiting
only to receive it. The Neptune sailed on the 2nd instant
from Cronstadt for Gothenburg, and a few days afterwards
put in to Reval, from which place we have not heard of her
departure. When she left Cronstadt there was every pros-
pect that the river and gulf would be closed within two days;
an unusual return of moderate weather immediately after-
wards succeeded, and the navigation Is yet open a month
later than commonly happens at this season.

With the refusal to negotiate under the mediation we are
indirectly told that the British government have manifested
a willingness and even a desire to negotiate with the Ameri-
can mission directly, either at Gothenburg or at London.
They have been Informed that we have no powers authoriz-
ing us to treat otherwise than under the mediation, but they
have given Intimations that they would raise no question



i8i3l JOHN QUINCY ADAMS



533



with regard to the extent of our powers. At the same time
we have been given distinctly to understand that they will
agree to no stipulation whatsoever renouncing or abandoning
the practice of impressment on board our merchant vessels.
They profess a desire for peace and a disposition to agree to
arrangements for guarding against what they call the abuse
of impressment to our satisfaction; but nothing can be more
explicit than their avowal of a determination to yield noth-
ing with regard to the practice Itself. If the powers of the
mission extended to the acceptance of the invitation to treat
directly, and to repair for that purpose to Gothenburg or
to London, it would be perfectly useless to go there under
the present state of our Instructions, since the only basis
upon which the offer to treat with us is made, Is precisely
that which we are expressly forbidden to accept. Mr.
Gallatin and Mr. Bayard have it, however, in contemplation
to touch In England on their passage to the United States,
and will there be able to ascertain, whether the British gov-
ernment can be brought to more accommodating disposi-
tions, as well as what modifications they would propose
of the practice to make it satisfactory to the United States.
I am, etc.



TO ABIGAIL ADAMS

St. Petersburg, 30 December, 1813.
As the time is approaching for the departure of Mr. Galla-
tin and Mr. Bayard, and as the month and year are drawing
to a close, I avail myself now of the opportunity of writing
to you by them, although it is yet uncertain when they will
go, and still more uncertain how long it will be before they
reach the United States,



534 THE WRITINGS OF I1813

The British government peremptorily refused negotiating
for peace with America under the mediation of the Em-
peror of Russia. This has been perfectly well known to us
these two months, and has been sufhciently announced to
the world by the English Regent in his speech at the opening
of the session of Parliament. But in order that my colleagues
may be enabled to take leave of this court, the official com-
munication of the refusal of the British government to treat
must come from the Russian government to us. It has not
yet been made, and the delay is owing to the absence of the
Emperor Alexander from his capital, and probably to the
transactions more important to him than his offered media-
tion, in which he has been so deeply engaged during the
whole course of the present year. The events of the time
have been too conspicuous and too memorable in the history
of the world not to be well known to you, and many con-
siderations will occur to you dispensing me from the task of
enlarging upon them. But in the various and continual
movements of the armies which, with the exception of the
armistice, have been incessant, in the vicissitudes of fortune
which have marked the military history of the year, and in
the multitude of complicated negotiations and of sanguinary
battles which have occupied and engrossed the Emperor's
time, it is not surprising that some delays should have taken
place in the course of the communications from his govern-
ment to us. These delays are less materially important as
the season of the year has been unpropitious for travellers;
so that if Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Bayard could have left this
place sooner, they would scarcely have been advancing upon
their voyage which they could not in any case have com-
pleted until the return of spring.

In refusing the mediation the British ministry through an
indirect channel have intimated a willingness to treat with



1813] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 535

the American envoys directly, and have given us a sort of
invitation to go thither for that purpose. We have no au-
thority either to treat thus with them or to go to England.
But Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Bayard, considering the mission
of mediation as terminated on their departure from this
place, have it in contemplation to stop in England on their
way home, and will probably wait there for further instruc-
tions from the United States, and at the same time ascertain
what prospect there may be of a favorable issue for a direct
negotiation, if our government should deem It advisable to
substitute that mode of treating In the place of the rejected
mediation.

I speak of both my colleagues, because the decision of the
Senate with regard to Mr. Gallatin, of which we were in-
formed through the medium of the newspapers about the
17th of October, and which had taken place in July, is to
this day ofRcially a secret to us as much as the refusal of the
mediation by the British. We have not a line from our own
government dated later than 23 June, and Mr. Gallatin's
powers to act are yet unimpaired by any revocation which he
considers as authentic.

When the navigable season here was finishing, the Neptune
was ordered to Gothenburg there to wait for the gentlemen;
but as the events of the war have opened the mouth of the
Elbe and the ports of Holland, they will perhaps order her
to Helvoetsluys and perform the journey thither by land.
The communication with Holland by post is not yet opened
here, but undoubtedly will be within a few days and in time
to enable them to go in that direction.

For my part I am still bound up here In these "thrilling
regions of thick ribbed Ice." I am unable to judge whether
our government will think proper to accept the overture from
the British for a direct negotiation, and if they should, whether



536 THE WRITINGS OF [1813

the President and Senate will consider it expedient to charge
me with any participation in it. The determination of the
British government has released me from the responsibility
of a trust which would have weighed heavily upon my mind
had the negotiation been formally entered upon, but It will
be attended with much greater difficulties In the direct
form. If on our side it should be concluded to make the
attempt, and I should be joined In a new commission for
that purpose, I shall be gratified with It as furnishing me the
occasion of returning to my friends, my family and my coun-
try; for the prospect is faint Indeed of the possibility of
accomplishing any peace with England consistent with our
rights as an Independent nation. But a good cause should
never despair of the blessing of Providence.



TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE

No. 125. [James Monroe]



Online LibraryJohn Quincy AdamsWritings of John Quincy Adams (Volume 9) → online text (page 41 of 42)