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My DEAR Sir, - I passed the last evening in company with the Emperor Alexander, who, however prepossessed in his favor, has surpassed my expectations. He really is a great, good, sensible, noble-minded man, and a sincere friend to the cause of liberty. We have long conversed upon American affairs. It began with his telling me that he had read with much pleasure and interest what I had sent him. I found ideas had been suggested that had excited a fear that the people of the United States had not properly improved their internal situation. My answer was an observation upon the necessity of parties in a commonwealth, and the assertion that they were the happiest and freest people upon earth. The transactions with France and England were explained in the way that although the United States had to complain of both, the British outrages came nearer home, particularly in the affair of impressments. He spoke of the actual preparation and the hostile dispositions of England. I of course insisted on the rejection of his mediation, the confidence reposed in him by the United States, who hastened to send commissioners chosen from both parties, which he very kindly acknowledged. He said he had twice attempted to bring on a peace. "Do, sir," said I, " make a third attempt. It must succeed ; ne vous arrtez pas en si beau chemin. All the objects of a war at an end, the re-establishment of their old limits can the less be opposed, as the Americans have gained more than they have lost. A protraction of the war would betray intentions quite perverse and hostile to the cause of humanity. Your personal influence must carry the point. I am sure your Majesty will exert it." "Well," says he, " I promise you I will. My journey to London affords opportunities, and I will do the best I can." I told him I had received a letter from Mr. Gallatin, now in London, and we spoke of him, Mr. Adams, Mr. Bayard, and the two new commissioners. I had also other occasions to speak of America; one afforded me by the Swedish Marshal Stadinck, who mentioned my first going over to that country; another by a well intentioned observation of Madame de Stael, that she had received a letter from my friend Mr. Jefferson, of whom he spoke with great regard. This led to observations relative to the United States and the spirit of monopoly in England, extending even to liberty itself. The Emperor said they had been more liberal in Sicily than I supposed them. I did not deny it; but expressed my fears of their protecting Ferdinand against the Cortes. His sentiments on the Spanish affairs were noble and patriotic. The slave-trade became a topic, upon which he spoke with philanthropic warmth. Its abolition will be an article in the general peace.
You see, my dear sir, I had fully the opportunity we were wishing for. If it has not been well improved, the fault is mine. But I think some good has been done; and upon the promise of a man so candid and generous I have full dependence. If you think proper to communicate these details to Mr. Gallatin, be pleased to have them copied. He spoke very well of him, and seemed satisfied with the confidence of the United States and the choice of their representatives to him. By his last accounts Mr. Adams was at St. Petersburg. The particulars of this conversation ought not, of course, to be published, but you will probably think it useful to communicate to the commissioners.
Most truly and respectfully yours.
- General Lafayette
- The writings of Albert Gallatin, Vol I, Henry Adams