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I am afraid you will again think my draft unnecessarily harsh, and if so, request of you to strike out everything which may be justly deemed of that character. But I think you will observe little delicacy towards the American government in the tone of his note. I believe it to be important to hold up constantly on our part of the correspondence the nature of our objections to the proposals of Great Britain, and there is so much of a scolding in the remarks upon our declining their proposals, and upon our offered substitute, that I thought a spirited notice of them due in justice to ourselves. I presume you have seen how the Marquis of Londonderry has treated us in a recent debate on this subject in Parliament.1
I propose with your permission to leave this city of the 20 of this month, for an absence of two months on a visit to my native state. Among other inducements to this excursion the state of my father's health, which is infirm, is the most impressive.
I am etc.
TO CHARLES JARED INGERSOLL
WASHINGTON, 7 August, 1821.
I think your conclusion has been judicious, in adhering to Bynkershoek and his Ambassadorial Law for the disposal of your leisure, rather than to bestow any part of it upon Don Luis de Onis. The first intimation I had that it was the intention of this "most excellent Lord" to give us a specimen
1 On a motion of Wilberforce for an address to the King. See National Intelligencer, August II and 15, 1821. The communication in that issue, signed "Verax," was written by Stratford Canning.
of Spanish diplomacy, according to the estimate of it to which Lord Chatham testified from long experience, was a look. It was a glance of the eye and a muscular play of features in his countenance when he agreed to the 8th article of the treaty in the terms finally drawn up by me, and to which alone I would subscribe. He asked me what I understood by the words "shall complete them." I told him it was to confine the benefit of the exception to grantees in possession and having commenced settlements. It was on assenting to this explanation that his visage beamed with that ray which seemed to say, I have him in the toils. This look gave me a moment of uneasiness, as indicating a snare; but the draft, with the exception of the inserted date, was my own, and I had purposely drawn it so as to make the date perfectly inoperative as to the great grants.
We had no copy of the grant to the Duke of Alagon, but we had copies of the two others. On the morning of the day when we signed the treaty I recurred to the Spanish copy which we had of the grant to Count Puñon Rostro, and found it dated the 6th of February. The date in the article was the 24th of January, so that I thought there could not be raised so much as the shadow of a question upon the date. I signed the treaty, and it was from you that I received the next notice of Don Luis's mine. I dare say you will recollect it, as you called one morning on me just from the President's,1 having left with him a gentleman who had discovered that all the three grants were dated on the 23rd of January, and that the 24th had been purposely selected by Don Luis to make them all valid. This was not the case. But two of them, which were royal orders to the governors of Cuba and of Florida to put the grantees in possession, though dated on the 6th of February, referred to the grants as having
1 Adams, Memoirs, March 8, 1819.
been made in the preceding December. But Don Luis's story in his memoirs is incorrect in most of its facts. It is not true that in all or any of the gazettes of the Union it was published that the agent of the Duke of Alagon had offered his lands for sale, or that they had been sanctioned by the date agreed upon by the treaty. The rivals of the Secretary of State did afterwards undoubtedly say that he had suffered himself to be deceived by the Spanish Minister, and no man took more pains to disseminate that idea than the Spanish Minister himself. But whatever he may have said to the signers, the Minister of France has never made any of the qualifying or contesting remarks to me which he says he made to him. It was through the Minister of France, and after long discussion with him, and upon the most explicit declaration on both sides that it annulled all the grants, that the article had been settled. It was therefore through the Minister of France that the declaration was demanded of him. He gave the declaration without intimating an objection, though with an ambiguity of phraseology importing all the intention of bad faith which he disclaimed. He was as ambitious of being thought a perfide, as Beaumarchais says women are of being called so. I have seen slippery diplomatists, more than one; but Onis is the first man I have met with who made it a point of honor to pass for more of a swindler than he was.
Onis's book will do us no more harm than did that of General Turreau. It is just about as wise, and bears the same sort of relation to truth. It did not even secure his immediate object, which was to convince the Cortes that he had obtained as good a treaty as was obtainable, and that if they did not like it, he had reserved for them a back door to creep out from it and refuse the ratification. They did not like 1 Memoir upon the Negotiations, translated by Tobias Watkins, Washington, 1821.
the treaty, and Vivés with the ratification was expressly ordered to declare so, which he did; but there was a sense of honor upon them. They saw the true character of the pretence about the grants and were ashamed of it. They not only advised the ratification, but the declaration of the annulment of the grants in terms as explicit and unequivocal as we had desired, leaving Don Luis the credit of having intended a fraud without effecting it.
Your translation of Bynkershoek with the commentary, and still more your manual of international law, will afford you occupation more agreeable to yourself and more profitable to our country than a formal review of such trash as the Don has given to the world concerning us and our national character. With regard to the latter, I do not distinctly understand from your letter in what respect your plan differs from that of Martens, none of whose publications are mentioned among the books to which you have had or wish to have access. I have with me here only one of the writers whom you speak of as not having yet obtained, Callières, one of the very best writers on the subject. I send you this herewith, and also another work upon consuls-de Steck, whom however you must not implicitly trust any more than Borel or Warden. They were I believe all consuls themselves, seeking to magnify their office. Pecquet is a valuable writer, but I have him not here. His work is in the Library of Congress. You say nothing of the Abbé de Mably, three of whose works will I think have some relation to your purpose the Droit Public de l'Europe, the Principes des Négotiations, and the Entretiens de Phocion sur les Rapports de la Morale et de la Politique. You will of course consult Montesquieu, whose distinctions between the different classes of laws are presented more distinctly and with more discrimination of deduction than I have found in any other writer.
It will give me great pleasure if I can furnish you in the course of your work either any other books, or any suggestion which you may find useful. You speak of Barbeyrac as one of the authors which you have or can command, by which I suppose you mean his translations into French of Grotius and Puffendorf with his Commentary, and also his translation of the very treatise of Bynkershoek upon which you are engaged. None of those works should be used as authorities but with his commentary.
I have felt as you did upon the project of an honorary procession through the City of New York to glorify the accomplices of Benedict Arnold. My own opinion is that his remains ought not to be suffered to be taken away, and if, as I apprehend they cannot be without a violation of law, I hope it will not be permitted.1
I read with pleasure of the numbers of the Sketch Book and have been diverted with the growling good humor of its English critics. Voltaire says that the first Catherine of Russia gained her ascendancy over the sublime and terrible Peter by scratching his head in his fits of frenzy. Geoffrey Crayon has tried something like such an experiment upon John Bull, and with some success. We must take credit for Geoffrey, though he is for a republican, rather too accomplished a courtier.
I am, etc.
1 "I am really anxious that he [H. B. M. Consul Buchanan] and the other consuls should be made to understand the limited nature of their functions. Had Mr. Buchanan proceeded in the business as he had at first intended, I understand that he and his suite would probably have been pelted for their pains, and Major André's bones would have incurred an equal risk of being thrown into the water. Happily Mr. Baker was passing through New York about that time, and succeeded in making Mr. Buchanan sensible of his danger." Stratford Canning to Londonderry, September 4, 1821.