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APPENDIX. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 8 (Letters and State Papers 1782-1799) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 8.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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WILLIAM VANS MURRAY TO JOHN ADAMS.1
The Hague, 1 July, 1798.
The papers, some of which I have received as late as 8th May, and one of 26th May, have, after so long a pause of uncertainty, thrown me into a tumult of feelings, almost to tears. I see, with a pride sustained by active domestic sources of greatness, the rising energies of America spreading over that surface of the public mind which reflection had matured, into a mass of stability, fit to support all the passions that are generous and lofty. Among the causes of exultation, the addresses are certainly all important. I circulate them here, and they open the eyes of even the wilful as to the long-told tale and inveterate error, that the people and the Executive are at variance. The prospects which these things open upon this government, give them infinite solicitude. Their ally is deaf to their sufferings, and, if war openly comes on, I verily believe they do not know whether they are to share in it or not. They will struggle, complain, argue, and remonstrate against joining France, both because they hate her and rejoice at our energy, and because it will put almost a last stroke to their commerce, perhaps colonies. Knowing the absolute power of France over all their means, and foreseeing a period when the question might be decided against their neutrality respecting the United States, all my wishes have been bent towards the preparation of a state of things internally here, that might eventually drive the French out of this country. In this wish, the theories of the old and the new governments are not at all taken into view, nor are their merits among the motives I have felt to do this; it is my duty which makes it becoming in me, Sir, to tell you I have conversed with some of the important men among the moderates in the month of May. As soon as I knew very secretly that they intended through General Daendels to overturn the Directory and Councils, if they could get the leave of France, I discovered that their object ultimately was to get possession of power, new organize the whole country in its public men, and, if possible, in any lucky concurrence of external things, liberate the country from the French, whom they abhor. I wrote to Mr. King, stating the views to which I thought these men, if successful in oversetting the usurpers of 22d January, might be brought. My object in writing was this. In all their solicitude against France, the principal obstruction to a radical concert was the fear of the interference of Great Britain to restore the Stadtholder. That fear removed, and external events concurring, [and they seemed coming, as war on the Rhine, internal convulsions in France, ruptures in Italy] they seemed to be in a fair course to even success. I stated to him that, while the parties here (and one hundred and fifty thousand men voted for the Constitution) were afraid of this interference, all their measures for independence would be checked, and they would remain absolutely French; that if great Britain could by some means settle that fear, and the moderates succeeded (as they did on the 12th June), and other events that seemed probable occurred, the government which would be formed among the moderates, would do all in their power to so prepare things that they might successfully avail themselves of opportunity. My letters arrived safely, and nothing was hazarded on my part.
On the 22d of May, I was called upon by the second man in the party. A conversation the preceding evening at a ball of the French minister was the proximate cause, for I had enjoyed with him some confidential conversations before. In this interview, this gentleman, after telling me that he wished to converse fully with me in confidence, and that what I should hear from him should not go further than to you, Sir, the Secretary of State, and Mr. King, opened himself fully. He told me that if Daendels succeeded (he went the 17th at night) they meant to overturn the present men, whom he represented as peculators, and as men who exhausted every thing in enormous bribes, to arrange their internal affairs, and the first moment in their power to drive out the French; that opportunities would occur in the war, if it was renewed, and that they meant to embroil parties in France, if there was a chance of convulsion there, but that the great obstacle was the temper of England towards them; that this apprehension once settled by a secret understanding, they could join her and the United States against France; that this understanding ought to take place soon, because they would then work all their means to the grand object from the start of the new administration, which he hoped would be formed in a little time. I then read to him part of my letter to Mr. King from a press-copy, on this subject. He said that was all he wished. In many parts of his conversation he was excessively moved by mournful and indignant feelings. I told him I should write to Mr. King. That we were so distant, I did not see the necessity of writing to the President. You will see, Sir, that I have not overrated this interview, when I tell you that the gentleman was the name which you will find at the bottom of this page.* His name I have not informed Mr. King of, nor any one.
Could this nation be once roused, and drive the French out, the spirit of revolt from her would spread over all the affiliated countries, and the most important events succeed. As to the restoration of the Stadtholder, that is in my mind a secondary consideration, and for themselves; and it is not improbable that his restoration would take place. The expulsion of the French must be the groundwork of every measure, whether for his restoration, or any thing else, and would be highly important to the United States.
I mention this to you, Sir, because I think it my duty to tell you every thing of consequence, which I cannot and ought not to trust to the inspection of so many men (above a hundred), who claim the privilege of inspecting the despatches in the office, and I think it important enough to trouble you with, because it is a likeness of the men now in power, and, I believe, a true view of their wishes. But Great Britain will not give up the Stadtholder. I do not know that she need. The question, however, is, whether she would see this whole country eventually divided by France, or in the full possession of France, or so placed as that it might either have a constitution different from its old form, and probably also the Stadtholder, taking him back upon terms of their own after the French should be dispossessed, and without her interference. Prussia would take care also of this restoration, it is probable, though now she abandons all her friends, and Great Britain, by her project last summer, in fact gave him up.
I apprehend that the war will break out again. We know nothing of Bonaparte and his fleet, that can be deemed authentic, except that they are near Malta. The rupture between Genoa and the court of Turin is a thing intended by our great ally, and will lead to the speedy downfall of Sardinia, who, in the latter end of April, actually set on foot a negotiation at Paris to obtain a handsome retreat, if it was the declared intention of France to revolutionize his country. France tries to avoid such appearances with an ally, and though a miserable substitute for a manly and noble resistance, yet it had some policy in it, for it brought her to renounce openly her design, and enabled him to defeat the insurgents, who had been stimulated by France, and who for a month thought themselves deserted. It is singular, but he will join France, if war comes on with the Emperor. Such is his abject state, living with a certainty of being cut up, if the French republic exists a year.
Some part of the subject of this letter, which will be, I fear, Sir, very toilsome to you, may require a vindication. My own opinion is, that the evil ones of the world have a decided superiority over the good, by that jacobinical and secret intrigue, by which vast plots are ripened in the dark, and because the good will not go into the dark to work. I believe that an enemy is to be opposed in the recesses of the mine, which is ready to heave into air the fortress, as well as on the open plain in broad day, and that their mode of fighting must furnish the model by which the fashion of resistance is to be adopted. In fact, Sir, that a diplomat of strict honor, and with views the most correct, in the present scenes in Europe, must counterwork in the manner that they work. That to resist this horrible illuminism, this darkness visible, he must himself, if possible, be an illuminé. I submit this delicate question to you, Sir, who have yourself worked in the midst of difficulties the greatest. I trust that I feel the full force of the truth that there is something in honest intentions, and in true simplicity of design, that without cunning excels it; yet the experience at this day of every horrible scene that has occurred for ten years past, from the first step of revolution to the last, convinces me that this truth is applicable in sound interpretation to the principles and intentions of a system, and that though bad means are not sanctified by a good end, yet that no good means will equal bad means, conducted by immense combination, without they are combined and excited in a manner resembling that in which the bad are. This for my vindication, should I have appeared to you to be doing something secretly, which I have mentioned in this letter.
I have the pleasure to inform you that Mr. Adams was well on 23d June. I have the honor to be, with my felicitations among the crowd who address you, and the most sincere respect and most perfect esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
W. V. Murray.
WILLIAM VANS MURRAY TO JOHN ADAMS.
The Hague, 17 July, 1798.
In a late despatch in June to the Secretary of State, I mentioned Mr. Pichon, late Secretary to Genet and Fauchet, last a Secretary in the bureau of foreign affairs, on the American side of the office, at Paris, and now French Secretary of legation here. I promised this gentleman in the third interview, about three weeks since (for I wished to make him talk freely, knowing that his opinions have helped to mislead the French government), that his name should not be mentioned in any way that might be known to the world, at his own request. Since that I have not seen him till to-day. I this morning received a note from him, informing me that he had some intelligence to communicate exceedingly interesting to both of us, and wished an hour to be named. I gave him the time. Before the hour (one), the Chargé des Affaires, Champigny, drove up, and was with me, loosely talking about Rastadt, and the war which is now again bursting forth between France and Germany. After his departure, the visit as to time being perfectly out of course, Mr. Pichon came.
For a fortnight before I had expected that they would probably attempt to use me as a vehicle of overtures to be made to the government, for the purpose of distracting and dividing, and of reviving that hope which has so much been our disease. I am not much out in my expectations. Mr. Pichon, after some time, detailed to me the substance of the inclosed paper as intelligence respecting Mr. Gerry, lamenting the unhappy quarrel, &c., &c., and endeavoring to predispose me to Mr. Talleyrand, assuring me that he was solicitous for accommodation. The conversation was long, and made up, on my part, of the gross insults which we had too long borne, and the injustice which we had suffered, and of the spirit which now animates the councils and the nation of America, and the current of opinions that bore down every art and obstacle; on his part, of conceding to much I said, of lamenting the rest, of praises of the instructions, for their profound wisdom, and conciliatory and magnanimous tone. In fine, I considered this interview as probably bringing into motion part of their plan respecting my humble self. In about two hours, he told me that he had, as he before informed me, translated the instructions which I lent to him, sent them to Mr. Talleyrand with remarks, and had this morning received Mr. Talleyrand’s answer, which, if I pleased, he would read. It was, he said, a copy. I perceived it was in Mr. Pichon’s own hand, which I know. After his reading of it, and tracing with much concern the point in which all negotiation must stop, he put it into my hands. I asked him if I might keep it, because I could not read French as fluently as he repeated it. He assented. This was probably also what he wished. I told him that we were now armed and arming; that the bills for the sortie of our cruisers and for suspension of intercourse, which I had newspaper copies of in my pocket, and which I lent to him, had passed without debate or opposition, so mature was the public mind on these points; that I regretted Mr. Gerry’s stay at Paris, because, I added, that this might divide the public mind as to the chance of honorable accommodation, and, of course, might delay those vigorous measures which became our government after such moderation, lest their patience might be misconstrued, as the internal parties of America had been; that we were so very far off, it was now impossible for us to be kept in a wavering state, and that, from the decided tone of the government, supported throughout by the nation, it would be no very easy matter; that the conduct of government and the people, notwithstanding Mr. Gerry’s stay, was a proof that nothing now but acts of justice could restore harmony; that as to the mode, I was no judge; that my government could alone judge.
I carefully avoided dropping a word that, in the most distant manner, held up an idea of communicating this paper, or of treating it in any way but as an affair of mere conversation and for my private perusal. Nothing was said to prevent my communicating it. He repeated his wishes, that whatever had passed might not reach the public. I assured him it should not; that I remembered my promise to him; that with him I lamented the state into which the two nations appeared approaching, but saw no way out of it at present; that you had done all that became the dignity and independence which you watched over; that I personally had the honor of knowing the perfect sincerity of your heart upon the endeavor to adjust, but that I was no judge of the mode to be pursued, and that I hoped we should still be armed and prepared, and protect our commerce by defensive measures. He said we were right in placing every thing in a state of defence, and of protecting our commerce, and of preventing their or any privateers from molesting our waters and limits. But his regret was that, just as things began to take a turn, such as he knew Mr. Talleyrand wished, there should be nobody at Paris to treat. I again recurred to the patience of the envoys, and the impropriety (so I thought it) of Mr. Gerry’s stay. He recurred then to the powers, “joint and several,” and said that our government broke off the negotiation, though a man appointed by it, Mr. Gerry, was competent to treat, and on the spot, before it knew the result. I then called his recollection to Mr. Talleyrand’s note in March, which begins by criminating the American government, charging insincerity, and absolutely dismissing the majority of the envoys, though all there, when once in Paris, were alone one commission; and that “joint and several” meant to guard against contingencies of death in any one or more in so distant a scene and voyage.
As I saw his drift was to lead me into such opinions as might induce me to write to government, that a new expectation might be excited, the motive of which, I do not hesitate to declare, I believe to be merely to divide and bewilder, and to relax our energy, and as I wished to show him that I had no hopes myself of adjustment,—on his lamenting the present crisis, and wishing that it could yet be averted, I observed to him that while I regretted that this crisis was imposed upon us in defence of our honor, independence, and commercial interests, I saw no means, in the present state of things, by which this could be accomplished; that his government ought to have reflected, last March, upon one thing in particular, which would always, if not attended to, render after-thought embarrassing, if not useless, in any nation in Europe that had a delicate negotiation with America. It was the distance of America (U. S.) from France. That when a negotiation so situated had been, after mature efforts on our part, broken off, and the ministers gone, it was not possible to intimate any fresh ideas to the American government, as they could to any government in Europe, by couriers in ten days, and hence a radical breach of negotiation with America must, from the policy of America arising from that distance, always produce those decisive measures there, which had from self-preservation been lately adopted; that the moment it was announced by you, Sir, that all hopes had ceased, the government and nation rose up to a point infinitely beyond the lethargy of hope, and took ground that changed the subject-matter for negotiation; that the United States had not declared war that I knew of, but that she had taken her ground, &c., &c. He talked about parties; that France could not hurt us, but that our parties might. I told him that that was the error which could not be explained, if facts, acts, and laws, had not already explained it.
Permit me now, Sir, shortly to state what I believe to be the real object of this whole interview. France, alarmed at our attitude, war bursting out again, wishing to amuse America with a new chime of bells, has fixed on this Secretary, because he knew me in Philadelphia, as the instrument to try the pulse, and me as the vehicle of her wretched policy. Nothing has ever come from me to lead her to suppose that I am her man—that much, at least, I may permit myself to boast to you, Sir—but still she thinks that on that account she could get me into an informal negotiation, and impose upon me so far as to credit these airs of tenderness, and induce me by these means to hazard a few hopes in favor of amicable adjustment, that two opinions might yet rise in the United States; and that, at all events, some ground would be prepared for the impressions which she trusts Mr. Gerry may make on his return, if nothing more. Mr. Gerry acts wisely in resisting entering into negotiation, or affecting to assume the power; yet they and the French Americans at Paris will try every art to impress the public mind in America that every thing could be done by any man with powers; that Mr. Talleyrand has at last brought the Directory into a temper to treat, &c., &c.
I could not refuse a member of our corps an interview he asked for in a note; and, indeed, I was curious to see the advances of proud and conscious debility. As I was determined that I would not write at all upon the subject to government, nor to any one but to you, Sir, entirely for yourself, and he will never know that I have written, I would not give this visit any importance in Mr. Pichon’s eyes by any hesitation, and I thought I might get something; what, I did not know, nor expect precisely. I have not dared, at such a time, Sir, to step between your measures and their object, nor need you fear that I shall. If this affair takes a more formal attempt, I shall listen but to get what I can, and then declare myself incompetent, and that, having no power, and not having any security, I shall not dare to meddle nor to write to government upon the subject; that they are competent to acts of justice and sincerity without negotiation. I am well aware of the consequence of my doing any thing like listening to formal proposals without this declaration on my part, because it would lead them, perhaps, to write to America that great hopes were entertained of an amicable adjustment, and mention the overtures to which I should have listened.
The use, Sir, it has struck me, in this interview, is in this fact (if it be true that the copy is really from Mr. Talleyrand), that the sending of Mr. Pichon here is a measure of solicitude, for he is a useful and active Secretary on American affairs at Paris; and, above all, this interview and the letter of Mr. Talleyrand, and Mr. Pichon giving it to me, prove that they are deeply alarmed, that energetic measures have stunned them, and that the steady and dignified pursuit of them will attain their great end. From letters which I receive to-day from Paris, of the 11th, and from three other letters to two others, which I have heard read to-day, of the 12th, stating in fact the substance of the inclosed, and Mr. Talleyrand’s advances, I have no doubt that they will exert themselves to show how amicable they are, how hasty we are; but I thank God, Sir, that nature has worked to her proper issues in America, and that these tricks will be straws against a storm.
It is my misfortune, Sir, to trouble you with long letters, and in a toilsome character. One thing more, Sir, and I cease to lengthen this. Believe me to be deeply impressed, first, with a sense of duty that shows me I have no right to meddle on this subject, and, secondly, that in sending the inclosed with my remarks, solely, Sir, to you, and to no other man in the world, I hazard no false inferences from what I do, no dangerous effects from the transmission, and that I do it to prove, should it be necessary, to you, that this mode of proceeding is among the arts which they will doubtless practice in various shapes, and that you ought to know the fact; as it will console you to have proof that, though they have no sincerity that can be depended on one moment, they are in some degree humbled. You will perceive, Sir, that I do not mention this even to the Secretary of State; for, in his office, some men go occasionally to read despatches, who might, from good or bad motives, use this paper to foolish or wicked ends.
General Joubert, who commands the French army here, was last night ordered to depart for Mayence. Hatry comes here, as the French expect to begin active and offensive operations against Germany. The negotiation at Seltz between Ex-Director Neufchateau and Count Cobenzel ended in heat; they separated hostilely even. The Congress at Rastadt, it is understood, must be by this time broken up, and the campaign is expected. While Germany has been dozing at Rastadt, the French have accomplished what a brilliant campaign could hardly have effected; for the papacy has been overturned, Switzerland possessed, the kingdom of Sardinia put into their hands, and Malta taken. Bonaparte, it is believed, must be on his route to Leghorn, if Nelson does not secure him. On the other hand, Switzerland is unquiet, and will seize any moment favorable to resist; this country is wretched, and would, I believe, resist, if Great Britain would remove her fears. Her fears, however, are excited now by a suspicion that France may either throw her into departments, or partition her with Prussia, who, as far as I can learn, is not yet a party to the coalition.
The name which I lately had the honor to communicate in another long letter, on a separate piece of paper, was not put into any public despatch, because of my fears that it might somehow leak out, and would be rapidly borne here to the death of the person and of others. I beg you to excuse the laborious length of this letter, and of that, and to believe me to be, with the most perfect respect and attachment, &c.
W. V. Murray.
21 Messidor, An. 6 (9 July 1798).
J’ai reçu, Citoyen, votre lettre du 8 de ce mois, avec la copie des instructions données au nom du Président des États Unis à les envoyés. Je suis surpris comme vous que leur conduite et leur mémoire du 28 Nivose, ayent cadré si peu avec cette pièce. Je n’y vois que deux clauses impératives,—ne permettre aucun secours pendant la guerre—n’éxiger et ne faire aucune soumission sur les procédés reprochés de part et d’autre. Des hommes vraiment concilians eussent levés ces difficultés.
Notre intention est toujours de mettre un terme à un état de choses si contraire aux intérêts des deux pays. Vous savez que le rapprochement eut été effectué de bonne heure, si des mesures irritantes de la part des États Unis n’eussent constamment suscité des obstacles. J’ai fait le 30 Prairéal à M. Gerry des propositions qui n’avaient été suspendues que par la connoissance des étranges communications de Philadelphie. Je lui ai successivement remis des notes sur chacune des questions de détail qui doivent être résolues. Je n’ai cessé de manifester le désir d’activer la dégociation, et les doutes seules de M. Gerry sur la validité de ses pouvoirs ont entrainés des lenteurs. C’est au moment où je me flattais d’avoir fait des progrés, que le Directoire apprend de Philadelphie la publication d’un acte intitulé, “Acte tendant à protéger efficacement le commerce et les côtes des États Unis.” Cette piece que vous verrez dans les papiers publics vous expliquera la sensation qu’elle a produite. C’est ainsi que d’incidens en incidens, et toujours par le fait du gouvernement des États Unis, les deux nations s’eloignent lorsqu’il paraìt qu’elles vont se rapprocher. M. Gerry d’un autre còté n’avance rien. Il élude les discussions sur les notes que je lui remets; il persiste à retourner dans les États Unis, et laisse conjecturer qu’il n’attend aucune autorisation pour traiter définitivement. Je pense que si le gouvernement Américain a les intentions qu’il professe ostensiblement, il doit s’abstenir de toute provocation nouvelle, et envoyer un plénipotentiaire favorablement connu en France. Nous serons peut-être plutôt d’accord que les Anglais ne se l’imaginent.
WILLIAM VANS MURRAY TO JOHN ADAMS.1
The Hague, 22 July, 1798.
I had this evening a visit from (the name is on a loose paper* ). After informing me of the exertions of Mr. Schimmelpenninck and Admiral de Winter at Paris, the agents of this government, to recall France to a just respect for the commercial interests of this country, he told me, from a letter from the latter, which he showed me, that France had not commanded the commissary of Marine at Flushing to embargo our ships at that port, (there are none, I think, there,) though the embargo is certain all through the French ports; that this intelligence would please our government, because it promised some respect to trade in this country. He asked my opinion of some parts of the letter, which he read in French, as it was in Dutch, in which the Admiral mentions Mr. Talleyrand’s solicitude to conciliate the United States. I told him not to rely a moment upon these professions, begging him on the contrary to bend all his force to show France that it is her interest to let Holland be at peace with the United States. He said that should be done, and had been endeavored; that they were absolutely ruined, if they should be in the war. I told him that I had written a few sheets on that question, which I would send him; which I shall do privately. Were it known to come from me, though not a treatise, it would work the other way with France.
The reason of my caution in folding up the name is because of what I shall now mention. He gradually led me to the subject of my letter to you, Sir, of 17th July,2 in which I mention that a personage had called on me and proposed to me to write to Mr. King on the following proposition; namely, that if Great Britain would declare that she would not interfere with the internal government here, they (his party) would drive the French out of the country, provided that the war that was probable were renewed and any chance presented itself. He spoke explicitly of the name which I mentioned, connected with the interview in May, and which I find certainly that I have not overrated in mentioning it, Sir, to you. After some time he told me I need not conceal any thing on that subject, that he knew all, and was a party to the plan, and then named one other, a man of the very first talents, I think, in this country, and a man of high and excellent principles, and said, we all are of the same views. I then spoke with absolute freedom to him, and told him what I had written to Mr. King, and that I had communicated to you, Sir, in confidence, even the name. He seemed a little alarmed. I told him it would be perfectly safe with you, and that it was on a loose paper, and that in case of accidents, as death, it would still be sacred. He avowed the highest respect for you, and mentioned that his friends (the moderates, many of whom had the pleasure of knowing you personally) were much attached to you. I told him that not having seen the person with whom I had the interview in May since, I could not communicate the result of my correspondence, but that I now would, to him; and told him that I suspected that Great Britain would not give the pledge required. He at last said he thought she might yet, if a fair occasion offered. In fact, Sir, I now know that the men who overturned the Directory on the 12th June, did it partly with this view, and principally. They have, with some hazard, liberated the arrested members of 22d January, in doing which they risked the suspicions of France; but they have so managed as to have her consent and yet her confidence. Tremendous will be the blow, if she discover a thread of this affair!
I hear nothing more from Mr. Pichon. Mr. Gerry is yet at Paris, and great pains are taken to circulate into merchants’ counting houses here information pretended to be drawn from him, that if he had power he could treat to advantage. In the mean time no act on their part assures us of sincerity; on the contrary, every act of government is a contradiction to this sort of news, namely, a very strict embargo on our vessels in all the French ports, since about the 10th instant, when from private intelligence I heard of it, by letters of the 9th from Paris.
I would pray, Sir, for every gentleness towards this nation, consistent with the honor of the American government. They are, government and all, charmed with our spirit and energy, and, in fact, consider it secretly as a common cause, in which they are interested that we should succeed.
I have requested Mr. Bourne to give notice of the law for suspending intercourse, though I am not officially informed. If I find that my intelligence, that the bill passed 1st June, is not a law, and it came to me through various channels that it is a law, I shall take on myself the mistake by publishing notice that the unofficial intelligence (which I now believe still to be true) is premature, so as to prevent any consequences from Mr. Bourne’s notice.
I have the honor to be, &c.
W. V. Murray.
P. S. 23 July. I have just received letters from several correspondents, which lead me to doubt whether the bill for suspending intercourse be passed into a law; and have written to Mr. Bourne to stop the notice. That measure I resolved on, after a belief that it had passed, because of the endeavors made here and from Paris to lead our trade into a disbelief of the Embargo, which I knew had taken place in the French ports, and because some vessels here of the United States wished to go both to France and her islands.
WILLIAM VANS MURRAY TO JOHN ADAMS.1
The Hague, 3 August, 1798.
I have the honor to inclose you a duplicate, and to inform you that the same language has been held to me since, and that this government have assured me of their conviction that the letter inclosed in this Leyden paper, marked x, may be considered as evidence of an amicable disposition,1 as they say they have taken pains to ascertain that point from motives of self-interest. These motives I believe, Sir, 574. 1570. them. I do not believe in 536 since 539. 1175 of this letter. Mr. Gerry’s answer I have not yet seen. Mr. Talleyrand’s reply to it I have in manuscript, in the same way, as the inclosed may show. The answer, I hear, demanded a retraction of the arrêtés against our trade. The reply avoids all of that irritating language which is scattered with a supercilious air in the letter, though in a degree and manner more humble, and it announces an amicable spirit, a determination to remain tranquil, and that orders had been given to the privateers in the West Indies to act within the limits of the laws. This order Mr. T. considers as a pledge of amity, without saying any thing of the laws themselves. It renounces all demands of loans, and assures Mr. Gerry of a disposition to treat on fair terms, in a manner the most direct, and in a tone infinitely below any thing which they have used to any nation. All this I 526 as merely arts hoping to 709. 240. negotiation to 759. 977. your 1152. 659. 924 and 839. 955. with England. Their privateers in the mean time are, I understand, to act as usual in Europe against us, because they do so against the vessels of other nations.
I hear that Mr. Gerry has left Paris for America. From the tenor of these letters, I presume that the French consider him as charged to deliver them and perhaps more. It is because I presume that he does not so consider himself, that I trouble you, Sir, with this communication, that you may be as early as possible apprised of these letters which I 526. 1467. as a public mode of 948. 712. 1182. Pichon admits that, as a proof of their sincerity, an American war would be highly unpopular in France; and that the colonies are in danger, if it come on. I stated the preference which you would give to great and solid acts of justice rather than to promises of amity, and a course of proceeding in which they twice had the offer of the hand of amity.
Letters will come from Paris to America, as they do hither, full of absolute falsities, of demands by Mr. G. and concessions on their part. Happening to have seen the 1137. 600. of M. Talleyrand, I have been enabled to contradict part of the misstatements.
The haste in which I am obliged to write I beg you, Sir, to accept as some apology for the very great freedom in blots, &c.
W. V. Murray.
WILLIAM VANS MURRAY TO JOHN ADAMS.
The Hague, 20 August, 1798.
. . . . . . . . .
The inclosed paper was given to me this morning by Mr. Vander Goes, the Minister of foreign affairs. It is authentic, though not authenticated, and proves that the Dutch minister at Paris has acted as I stated lately to the Secretary of State. He made a verbal application to know if his government could not be instrumental in acting as the intermediary between the United States and France, now that all diplomatic communication had ended. In a day or two after, Mr. Talleyrand gave him the inclosed written answer. This proves a solicitude to which the energy of the American government, sustained by union among the people, has given birth. It will be in the power of the government to take a wide survey of the question, and to make a very dignified use of the subject-matter of this paper. The subject-matter has been published in the papers here. This proceeded, I believe, from France.2
I have the honor to be, &c.
W. V. Murray.
Le Ministre des relations extérieures a communiqué officiellement au ministre Batave, Schimmelpenninck, que le Directoire de la République Française a reçu avec satisfaction l’offre de mediation entre la République et les États Unis. Le Ministre des relations extérieures ajoute à cette communication que le Directoire a témoigné recemment, de la manière la plus éclatante, ses dispositions conciliatoires; qu’il ne croyait pas qu’elles seroient plus longtemps méconnues à Philadelphie; et qu’il attendait que l’opinion éclairée des Américains, répondant aux voeux qu’il a manifesté, provoqueroit à son tour une explication définitive et des arrangemens convenables.
WILLIAM VANS MURRAY TO JOHN ADAMS.3
The Hague, 7 October, 1798.
The inclosed is from M. Talleyrand to M. Pichon, who left this place the 24th September for Paris. In many interviews which this gentleman sought with me, with much solicitude, I had repelled the idea that “the assurances” declared by you, Sir, in your message in June, had been given in any of Mr. Talleyrand’s letters that I had seen. To this I added, among many other remarks, that nothing but a formal and explicit assurance of respectful reception, worthy the minister of a free, independent, and powerful nation, would, in my opinion, as an unauthorized individual, be considered by you, Sir, as “the assurances,” which you had spoken of; that I did not know any thing of the intentions of government in the future, but that it was an error in his government to flatter itself with the idea that you would accept assurances by implication, or any of any sort which were blended with any kind of indication of the political complexion of envoys, or any advice or hint upon the choice. That I did not know whether, if assurances were given, they would produce negotiation; but that, without them, there would be no negotiation certainly. That “the assurances,” if given, would not be a favor, but only an assurance that rights, which had been twice refused, should be enjoyed. That an explicit declaration could never be necessary upon such a point, except in cases where the right had been expressly refused. That this right, implied among all equal powers, had been twice expressly denied, and that, of course, an explicit declaration announcing it, became necessary to the dignity of the American government and nation.
He appeared, at last, to fall in with these ideas; and in the next interview, which was the second week in September, he told me he had stated my remarks to Mr. Talleyrand, but that he did not see how this declaration could be made, to whom, and through whom. I told him that I would communicate to you, Sir, any such declaration, if formally and officially made, though I was unauthorized to open my lips on the subject, and knew that it was taking on myself great hazard, and incurring a risk of being open to the imputation of meddling at such a crisis.
Before he went away from the Hague, it struck me I ought to guard myself by a written note on the point of being unauthorized. I therefore wrote the inclosed, with the remarks respecting “the assurances.” Unless the purity and disinterestedness of my motives are appreciated by you, Sir, I shall consider these informal endeavors to coöperate in what I thought to be your plan and consistent with your policy, as the greatest errors of my life! I thought that some point, honorable to the government over which you preside, might be gained, nothing hazarded.
Before Mr. Pichon went to Paris, he told me that he daily expected an answer upon the points of our conversation on the 7th and 8th instant (September); namely, on “the assurances.” To-night I received from the hands of the French military postmaster here the original of the inclosed, under cover from one signed by Mr. Pichon in which he says, this, from the Minister, Mr. Talleyrand, is the one which he waited some days for here, and which crossed him on the road, and was sent back to Paris, whence he sends it to me to be confidentially mentioned to you, Sir. The mysteriousness of concealing these conversations and communications even from the chargé des affaires here, is unaccountable to me, unless it has arisen from, first, the peculiar origin of these conversations and communications, and, secondly, from their pride. Mr. Pichon, I understood from himself, had these in view when he was sent here; for he told me at the Spanish minister’s, “that his being sent here, and Mr. la Forest’s being entirely given to Mr. Talleyrand, and the American dispute having been put altogether into Mr. Talleyrand’s management lately, were among the proofs of the intentions of his government to settle amicably.” He speaks English well; I speak French badly, and am thus not qualified for long and rapid conversations on important subjects in that language. He has more talents and knowledge, particularly on American affairs, than the present chargé, who speaks a little English, and who has the character of an enragé. Secondly, their pride is concerned in concealment, unless these indirect measures should procure what they aim at, a new negotiation. On the last idea I have urged that the declaration must be as public as the two former refusals, and as solemn as your message.
The inclosed, then, Sir, is sent to you such as it is! It is not the declaration; it is from the minister of exterior relations of France to the Secretary of French legation. Such as it is, I feel it my duty to inclose it, with this exposition, to you in a private letter. Taken with other things it may perhaps throw some light, it cannot throw any shade, I hope, over the present lustre of the public mind, warm, and burning as it does, with a holy flame. If it be at all useful, I shall rejoice. It does not strike me, on mature reflection, as being in any event, either in war or in negotiation, capable of doing mischief, because, Sir, to you only, and to Colonel Pickering, in private letters, have I stated these things, in America; and to Mr. Adams, at Berlin, pretty fully the substance of my informal proceedings, and to Mr. King, a few hints in strict confidence, in Europe. I enjoy great pleasure in having received from Mr. Adams a concurrence of opinions on the points which I have stated to him on this subject.
I am sensible that I run some hazard in thus communicating to you, Sir, such things; but I thought that you would on the whole wish to know all that I could collect, and in the manner that I have taken the liberty of privately communicating it.1
I have the honor to be, &c., &c.
W. V. Murray.
M. TALLEYRAND TO M. PICHON.
Liberté. (Seal of France.) Égalité.
Paris, le 7 Vendeminaire de l’an 7 de la République Française, une et indivisible.
Relations extérieures. 3e division. Nota: L’ordre de la correspondance exige que la réponse relate le No. de la division ci-dessus indiquée. Le Ministre des relations extérieures au citoyen Pichon, Secrétaire de légation de la république française, près de la république Batave.
J’ai reçu successivement, Citoyen, vos lettres du 22 et 27 Fructidor.2 Elles me donnent lieu d’être de plus en plus satisfait du parti que vous avez pris de me rendre compte de vos conversations avec M. Murray. Ces conversations, d’abord purement amicales, ont pris un caractère par l’approbation que je vous ai transmise le 11 Fructidor. Je ne regrète pas que vous ayez confié une copie de ma lettre à l’honneur de M. Murray. Cette pièce, qui n’etait destinée que pour vous seul, ne contient rien qui ne soit conforme à la pensée du gouvernement. Je suis intimement convaincu, que si une fois les explications s’établissent avec confiance entre les deux cabinets, l’irritation cessera, une foule de mal-entendus disparaitront, et les nœuds de l’amitié se resserreront d’autant plus solidement, que de part et d’autre on reconnaîtra la main qui a voulu les dissoudre.
Mais je ne vous cache pas que vos lettres des 2 et 3 Vendemiaire, que je reçois à l’instant, me surprennent beaucoup. Ce dont M. Murray doute encore, a été déclaré très explicitement avant même que le message du Président au congrès du 3 Messidor1 dernier, fut connu en France. Je l’avais écrit à M. Gerry, notamment le 24 Messidor et 4 Thermidor; je le lui ai répété avant son départ. Un paragraphe entier de la lettre que vous avez reçu de moi en date du 11 Fructidor, et dont la copie est entre les mains de Mr. Murray, est consacré à développer davantage la détermination fixe du gouvernement français. D’après ces bases, vous avez eu raison d’avancer que tout plénipotentiaire que le gouvernement des États Unis enverra en France, pour terminer les différends qui subsistent entre les deux pays, serait incontestablement reçu avec les égards dûs au représentant d’une nation libre, indépendante, et puissante.2
Je ne puis me persuader, Citoyen, que le gouvernement Américain ait besoin de déclarations ultérieures de notre part pour se déterminer à prendre, afin de renouer les négociations, les mesures que lui suggèrera son désir d’acheminer les différends vers un terme pacifique. Si des mal-entendus de part et d’autre, ont empêché les explications, qui ont eu lieu, d’arriver à ce terme, il faut croire que ces mal-entendus dissipés, rien n’opposera désormais d’obstacles aux dispositions réciproques. Les instructions du Président à ses envoyés à Paris, dont je n’ai eu connoissance que par la copie que vous en a remis M. Murray, et que j’ai reçu le 21 Messidor,3 annoncent, si elles contiennent toute la pensée du gouvernement Américain, des dispositions qui n’ont pu qu’ajouter à celles où a toujours été le Directoire; et malgré les actes ulterieures de ce gouvernement, malgré les mesures irritantes et presque hostiles, auxquelles il s’est porté, le Directoire a montré qu’il persistait dans les sentimens qui sont consignés, tant dans ma correspondance avec M. Gerry, que dans la lettre que je vous ai écrite le 11 Fructidor, et que j’ai répétés plus haut, d’une manière on ne peut plus explicite. Portez donc, Citoyen, à Mr. Murray ces expressions positives, pour le convaincre de notre sincérité, et engagez le à les transmettre à son gouvernement.
Je présume, Citoyen, que cette lettre vous trouvera à la Haye. Dans le cas contraire, je demande qu’elle vous soit renvoyée à Paris.
Salut et Fraternité.
Ch. Mau. Talleyrand.
END OF VOLUME VIII.
[1 ]It is material to an accurate knowledge of events during this critical period, to record the date of reception of these letters. This and the succeeding one were received by Mr. Adams at Quincy, on the 9th of October, 1798. Being written partly in the cipher of the Department of State, of which Mr. A. had no key, he sent them on the 10th to Philadelphia to be deciphered, with a charge to Mr. Pickering to “keep their contents within his own bosom.” Mr. P. returned them deciphered on the 18th, with a letter, speaking of the first as “in different points of view, very interesting.” The effect on Mr. Adams’s own mind is expressed in his reply, 29th October, 1798, page 615.
[* ]To enable you, Sir, to burn the name, I have put it on a piece of paper, separate. [It was Admiral de Winter.]
[1 ]This letter was transmitted by Mr. Pickering in a letter dated 19th October, two days after Nos. 1 and 2 had been sent deciphered.
[* ]Spoors, President of the Directory.
[2 ]Mr. Murray mistakes the date. It was his letter of the 1st.
[1 ]A portion of this letter has never been deciphered. Neither is there any record of its date of reception. Probably it was about the middle of November, before Mr. Adams left Quincy.
[1 ]Inclosed with this came a number of the Nouvelles Politiques, of the 3d of August, published at Leyden, containing the letter of M. Talleyrand to Mr. Gerry, of the 24 Messidor (12 July), which had been published at Paris on the 28th, with introductory remarks betraying a sense that the French government had gone too far in permitting the negotiation to be-broken off. The following passage is underlined in ink;—
[1 ]The first portion of this letter relates to a matter of no public interest.
[2 ]Indorsed on the cover of this letter in the handwriting of Mr. Adams.
[3 ]There is no date of reception marked on this letter; but it must have been received by the early part of February, as the inclosure, which accompanied it, made the basis of the nomination of Mr. Murray to the Senate on the 18th of that month. Mr. Joel Barlow’s letter from Paris, dated five days earlier, is recorded as received by General Washington on the last day of January. With these lights, it is amusing to observe the extent to which party spirit drove Mr. Jefferson from the truth, in his conjectures as to the motives in making that nomination. See his letter to James Madison. Randolph’s Jefferson, vol. iii. p. 423. Sparks’s Washington, vol. xi. p. 398.
[1 ]It is due to Mr. Murray to say that the language of all these letters may suffer from imperfect and perhaps mistaken deciphering.
[2 ]8th and 13th September.
[1 ]21st June.
[2 ]A literal translation of Mr. Adams’s noted declaration of the 21st of June, 1798.
[3 ]9th July.