« PreviousContinue »
Georgium sidus, I meant them in good humor, and cannot now but be amused at the tragical tone with which they are resented.
But I am digressing. I was observing that if the vulgar and malevolent critics upon the address had failed to discern what I meant should be as clear as daylight, the vitality of the treaty of peace to my whole argument, and the motive for the manner in which I noticed its preamble, I should merely have imputed it to their inattention, or their incapacity, or to that sort of bandage which you men of sense often involuntarily tie round their own eyes, when they are to judge of what they do not like. But I do not so deem of you. That you did not perceive it I see; for if you had, it would have been impossible that you should have indicated a mere play upon words as the notable characteristic of my manner of introducing the treaty of peace. I have therefore at the expense of all this tediousness explained to you the absolute necessity that I was under of introducing the treaty of peace, and my motive for the manner in which I treated its preamble. But I am not the less convinced that I did fail of my object in that part of the address, at least so far as it was a discourse to be read, and therefore that I did not avail myself of the treaty of peace in the best manner. De non apparentibus et non existentibus eadem est ratio. In a popular harangue, that which is not seen may as well not exist. I hope you will not think I began this letter with a conception where it was to lead me. I am yet to thank you for the good will and intrepidity with which you have defended some of the points upon which the address was assailable and assailed, even at the hazard of some collisions with your warm federal friends and associates. Of this at least I can assure you there were no sordid or selfish aims mingled with my motives for delivering that address, or
for uttering any one word that it contains. With its reception by my countrymen hearers and readers I am well satisfied. But I shall not deny to you that it was spoken not alone to my countrymen. It was meant also for the hearing of other ears and the reading of other eyes, for other regions and other languages. Like the famous Epistle to Posterity it may never reach its address; but I spoke to and for man, as well as to and for my country. The legitimacy of colonial dominion and of chartered liberties are questions of deeper and more overwhelming interest to other nations than to Britain at this time, and if the Holy allies of Laybach and their subjects do not hear the sound of the trumpet upon Zion, it shall be for the want of dimensions to the instrument that bore the blast, and not of willingness in the breath that inspired it.
I have learnt with much pleasure from your letter to Mr. Brent that your establishment prospers not only as it concerns your interest, but as it bears on the public mind and morals. I have no doubt that its influence upon both has been and will be upon the whole salutary. You will not expect the concurrence of any one in all your sentiments, either of praise or blame, and if you have once or twice touched with unheeding hand the ark of our Union, I admit that it was when it was shaken by the stumbling of its bearers.
I close this letter with feelings of seriousness approaching to sadness. Like the former it is entirely confidential. You will make any use of it in the way of hints, as you did of the former, at your discretion and at your own times. To the parts of it which are defensive against your own censures I do not wish for a reply, either public or private. If I appeal from the censuring part of your sentence, it is only to your own breast, and I am well aware that
others might appeal perhaps with more propriety from its indulgence.
Department of State,
WASHINGTON, 28 July, 1821.
The Secretary of State has submitted to the consideration of the President of the United States the note which he had the honor of receiving from his Excellency the Baron de Neuville of the 9th instant, particularly the translation of the Baron's note of the 4th of April last.2
1 "I am glad of having this opportunity of thanking you for the article in one of your late papers, headed 'Self-Respect.' I do not know that there is a word in it to which I would not subscribe. I strongly doubt whether the project to exhumate and transport the remains of the spy and truce-breaker, and slanderer of his heroic captors ought to be permitted at all; and if there had not been within these two years, a solemn procession from very honest people for the funeral of Mister Hutton, I should have thought the project of the New York procession outrageous beyond a parallel. There is but one thing to be said in palliation of André's conduct, and that arises from the nature of the war in which he suffered — a civil war, in which minds even of the highest refinement might, and in numberless instances, did believe our cause to be rebellion. There should be some, and I am willing to yield a large allowance of moral obliquity resulting from that primordial error, and I would even give the benefit of it to the memory of André. But it is impossible to do him honor without insulting all that was great and glorious in our cause. The invective upon Washington in Miss Seward's 'Monody' is not the less despicable for being the false conception of a female muse, and I dare say you have seen as I have the very parliamentary monument in Westminster Abbey, erected to adorn with sepulchral glory this Pandar of treachery, exhibiting all the national malignity in the mutilation of the figure of Washington." To Robert Walsh, August 4, 1821. Ms.
2 of the note of the French minister Monroe wrote: "His proposal is, that we submit to the utmost degree of humiliation. It is, as you justly observed, the order of a superior to an inferior. It is even worse, much worse. An inferior may
When that note was in the first instance received as a confidential communication, it was immediately perceived that [a reply to it, such as its purport appeared on the part of the government of the United States to require, must
submit to hard conditions from necessity, and that necessity is his justification. This may be done without dishonor. But to acknowledge error, and to impute it to the subaltern officers of the government who had understood their orders correctly and obeyed them faithfully, and who of course were not only innocent of any crime or misconduct, but had merited well of their government and country, would be an act of degradation and humiliation, of which I do not recollect in history a single example. If we were to submit to this, the proud character of our country would be gone, a pride, not founded in vain ambition or false pretensions of any kind, but in the purity of our principles, and in the firmness and steadiness with which they have been maintained in all our transactions with foreign powers. . . . Nothing therefore being more remote from the views of this government than any concession which should dishonor it, a proposition to that effect can be viewed in no other light than an unmerited outrage. The government, however, is not willing to make that a motive of action beyond what a just sense of what is due to its own character rigorously imposes. All further negotiation on this point must cease." Monroe to Adams, July 12, 1821. Ms.
"I had nearly prepared the draft of a reply to the last note of the French minister, but shall avail myself of the suggestions in your letter to make some additions to it. But as in this reply I have indulged rather freely my own feelings in descanting upon the offensiveness of his proposal, and as on other occasions, I have derived so much benefit from your revising hand, I shall ask permission to send it to you before transmitting it to him, and hope to forward a copy of it to you by the next mail." To the President, July 14, 1821. Ms.
The draft of the reply to de Neuville was sent to Monroe on the 17th and was retained by the President until the 23d; "believing that the present discussion with Mr. de Neuville is of very high importance in its relation to France as well as the attention which it will attract at home, especially should the difference not be accommodated. . . . I have considered much on the subject, and attach the highest importance to your note for the whole administration, and of course those to whom it more immediately relates. . . . The argument of your paper I have only time to add is sound and able. The effect on the government of France through the minister is what is particularly to be guarded against." Monroe to Adams, July 20 and 23, 1821. Ms. "There is good cause to believe that we have much to apprehend from the hostile feeling of many of the sovereigns of Europe towards us, and that war with them is not an improbable event, should it be practicable on their part. The movement in Europe forms an issue between most of the
necessarily have a tendency to foreclose all discussion with the Baron de Neuville upon the objects of important interest to the two countries, which had formed the special occasion of his return to the United States. Unwilling thus abruptly to break off an important negotiation upon a point which to the American government seemed not to deserve even the name of a secondary interest, and upon which the Baron de Neuville had then avowedly received no instructions from his government] it was proposed from this Department that the reply to that note should be postponed, with a view to take up the subjects upon which the Baron had been instructed, and to ascertain whether the ideas of the two governments could be brought nearer to each other concerning them, than it was apparent could be accomplished in regard to the cases of the Apollon and Eugène. To this arrangement the Baron de Neuville acceded, with the undersovereigns and their subjects, and the United States are regarded as the natural ally of the one and enemy of the other, without other agency than the mere force of example. If the progress should be such as to make our overthrow presumable, or to excite despair with the sovereigns, the attempt may be apprehended. I therefore deem it highly important, in every occurrence with every power, that without making any concession, or omitting anything due to fair argument, we use the most conciliatory terms in our power. . . . An answer in a spirit of moderation he undoubtedly has no right to expect. I should not be surprised if he should state that he had yet received no instruction from his government on it, and apologize for the proposition he had made. In any event the rejection of his proposition, the avowal of the order, the defense of it, the exposure of the smuggling scheme with all the details attending the attempt, . . . will I think place us on strong ground." Ib. to Ib., July 24, 1821. Ms. See also a letter from Monroe, July 27, in Writings of James Monroe, VI. 190.
1 The following was substituted for the sentences in brackets: "if the condition which it seemed to impose should be adhered to on his part, all hope of a satisfactory arrangement of the commerce between the two countries must cease, unless the United States should make very mortifying concessions on a point altogether unconnected with it, and in which they were under the deepest conviction that they had committed no wrong. Unwilling that a negotiation on so important an interest should thus be broken off," etc.