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TO LOUISA CATHERINE ADAMS
MY DEAREST FRIEND:
WASHINGTON, 25th July, 1822.
Another number of your journal came to hand this day. I mark your advice to say nothing more upon the subject of the "diplomatic controversy," "1 and I am much inclined that way myself. I have no desire to put him down lower than he has put himself, but the opinions upon objects of great interest avowed and urged in his letters want putting down much more than the man. And I have written what would put them down forever, and make Walsh ashamed of what he has said in their favor. Whether I shall publish it or not is a question. But I have it nearly all written and mean to finish it completely.
Walsh has contradicted me by a subterfuge. He says that his editorial remarks of 10 May were all written by himself, but the professions, and the apologies, and the vouchers, of which they consist, all came from Mr. Russell himself directly or indirectly. Russell's friend,2 through whom the manuscript was communicated, vouched for its correctness as a copy. It was not correct. It was neither the original nor the duplicate, but a mongrel bred from both. The remark that the letters being private did not imply that it was secret, must have come from Russell, or it was a remark which Walsh should not have made, for it misled the public.
1 "I am weary and sick at heart of what they call the 'diplomatic controversy,' and have been much more mortified than proud of a victory over brother Jonathan. I had never any ill will to him and did all but entreat him not to force himself and me before Congress and the nation." To Louisa Catherine Adams, July 23, 1822. Ms.
2 Robert M. Patterson.
The letter was secret as well as private
those whom it accused.
secret at least to
I did not and do not desire that Mr. Walsh should side with me in this matter. All I asked of him was neutrality. He says the facts against Russell are overwhelming. This is more than I desired him to say. The verdict of the public was already given. But I think he ought not to have contradicted me as to the editorial remarks; at least without admitting that although written by himself, he had the substance of them from Mr. Russell or his friend, which was all I meant to say.
TO LOUISA CATHERINE ADAMS
WASHINGTON, 2nd August, 1822.
My friend Walsh has no cause to be uneasy at his neutrality between brother Jonathan and me. He could have no just reason to decline publishing his letter, and after publishing it I think he was in some sort bound to be neutral between us. He has fairly given both sides of the question, and in one of his last papers he says that I have the best of the personal part of the controversy. If there were a human being who after hearing both sides hitherto said otherwise, I should have thought even this too much for him to say. But I care nothing about the personal part of the controversy. I once thought Jonathan Russell my friend and valued his friendship. I now bear him no more ill will than Uncle Toby did to the fly that annoyed him by his buzzing. But the mischief is in his principles, and Walsh
has not only departed from neutrality upon them, but committed himself so deeply in publishing the letters without waiting to hear what I had to say against them, that I expect he will never be on the right side concerning them. Ask him if he has seen the comments upon the controversy in the Louisville Public Advertiser, and an answer to them of about half a column in the Argus of Western America, a paper printed at Frankfort, Kentucky. The piece I mean is in the paper of 18 July, and if I mistake not comes from the first hand. It betrays not a little vexation and disappointment, and contains proportionally as much misrepresentation as Jonathan's own productions. It seems that in Kentucky the question has been asked how, if the Mississippi proposition was so desperately wicked, Mr. Clay came to sign his name to it? And in this paper, which is anonymous and headed "The Ghent Mission," he is defended upon the ground of the new instructions. Jonathan says the new instructions had no effect on the question at all, and appeals to Clay for the assertion that the question was never taken after they were received. But this piece is as spiteful against "the Secretary" as Jonathan himself. It says, if the Secretary were President, and the British were to claim the navigation of the Mississippi tomorrow, he would be obliged to grant the claim or contradict his favorite principle. Jonathan in the Boston Statesman says, by the way, much the same thing. 'Tis the last poor thread by which they think they have the Secretary still entangled, but he will break it and could wind it round Mr. Clay himself.
Last evening we saw Booth in Richard the third. He is here engaged for five nights. The house was tolerably well filled, but I did not like him so well as when I saw him in England. He seemed to have little respect for his audience 1 It is included in Duplicate Letters, 233.
and not to think them worth pleasing. I doubt whether he will fill the house even his five nights..
Ever faithfully yours.
TO LOUISA CATHERINE ADAMS
WASHINGTON, 5th August, 1822.
Your recommendation to me to cease viewing a place hunter in every phiz, I suppose is connected with the advice to make a summer excursion to visit my father. Most of those whom I see here would think themselves very ill used if I did not view them as place hunters, for they neither desire to see nor to be seen by me in any other capacity. A place or a subscription is the object of all the new acquaintance that I make, and if I could satisfy the seekers of the first of these classes as easily as I can those of the second, they would not have so much reason to complain of my vinegar aspect as they do. You may be assured that I feel in the fullest extent the value of your advice, as well as the affectionate motives by which it was inspired. But you are sanguine in the observation that at this time all is warm in my favor. The last attacks upon me have been in some degree foiled. I have not been yet killed in the battle, and the tool used against me has lost its edge or been broken in the conflict. But the controversy is far, very far, from being ended, and its management becomes more difficult the farther I proceed. Upon the main topics of Jonathan's letter my victory is not yet complete, and although I can make it so in every part, I can not do it without exposing him in lights more odious than those in which I have exhibited him already. At this moment the public are so far
from favoring me, although they have done justice to him, that a very large portion are on the lookout to catch me tripping, and will seize upon the slightest indiscretion to turn the tables against me.
The Richmond Enquirer has copied that part of the paper in the Kentucky Argus, mentioned in my last letter to you, which points out the direful consequences "if the Secretary should be President tomorrow," and calls upon me to answer it. I shall answer it, not at all to the satisfaction of the Enquirer. But the Enquirer has suppressed the part of the paper in the Argus which admits that Mr. Clay signed all the papers, and is therefore as responsible for the obnoxious proposal as "the Secretary." The St. Louis Enquirer has done better still. He has pompously published the President's messages to the House of 4 and 7 May, and Jonathan's private letter, and has suppressed the duplicate and the Secretary's remarks. These Enquirers stick to their character. They still enquire, and take only such answers as suit themselves.
Ever affectionately yours.
MY DEAR SIR:
TO ROBERT WALSH
WASHINGTON, I1th August, 1822.
In the controversy which has arisen relating to the transactions at Ghent, the public attention has hitherto been chiefly confined to the circumstances incidental to it of recent date in the conduct of Mr. Russell and of myself. From intimations in some of my letters to you, and particularly from incidents noticed in my paper republished in the National Gazette of the 9th instant, you have observed that the origin