Adams Papers

John Quincy Adams to John Adams, 11 May 1797

The Hague 11 May 1797.

My dear Sir.

You will find in the Paris papers herewith enclosed some account of the preliminaries between France & the Emperor. They have not yet been published at length.

My brother is still at Paris. I shall probably not go from this Country within a month or six weeks. As Coll: Humphreys is still at Lisbon, and there is nobody here to take my place, I am less anxious to hasten my departure.

I have before mentioned to you the accounts circulated that Mr: Madison was appointed Envoy Extraordinary to France, and sent you the papers which announced his arrival at Paris. The present papers contradict that article, but repeat that he has been appointed. I suppose it is meant as a hint.

General Pinckney is still here, and has done me the honour to communicate with me in the most unreserved and confidential manner upon the state of our affairs with France. He has also desired me to say to you, that it was his wish that no scruple whatever as it regards him may impede the appointment of Mr: Madison, or of any other person who may be more like to succeed in arranging the differences with France. That his only motive in entering upon this mission was the service of his Country, and that the same motive will induce him to acquiesce cheerfully in any other arrangement that may be thought expedient. He has written in similar terms to the Secretary of State, and would write in like manner to you, but that he has not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with you. I have been much gratified by his confidence, and from his conduct and sentiments have formed an high opinion of his character and personal merit.

Mr: Monroe is at length gone from Bordeaux—Whether he is really charged with the pleasure of the Directory, you will soon know. It is now said that Paine is not gone with him, but is going out by himself. Mr: Monroe has indeed long been ashamed of his ally, even while he has been using his services. I remember that while he was feeding him at his table, and lodging him under his roof, his friends were circulating all over Europe, that it was sorely against his will, that he wanted much to get rid of him, but could not, and that Mrs: M especially could not endure to have such a filthy beast in the house. In the mean time, there he stayed, there he wrote his infamous lying libel against Washington, which he took care to intersperse with a parasitical eulogy of his host; there he completed the expedient worthy of himself, whereby he hoped at once to vent all his abuse, and to give Monroe the credit of having suppressed it. There he wrote his 2d: part of his age of reason and used to entertain Monroe’s visitors with his facetiousness at the expence of Religion. Monroe had given him an apartment in a building separated from his principal house and which was an upper story over his Stables, and Paine used to tell company that the Christian Religion came into the world by a stable, and by a stable it should go out of it.

It is with extreme reluctance that I have given you, though in the most intimate confidence my sentiments upon Mr: Monroe’s conduct during his mission in France. A most unfortunate mission it has been for his Country, and where its consequences will lead, I am more able to conjecture than willing to foretell. I hope he was not aware of them himself, because I had rather consider him as prejudiced and improvident, but honest, than something worse.

If the french government will make any peace with England, it must take place in the course of the present year. It is supposed that they will not consent to any peace whatever, until they have produced a revolution in that government. They know by their own experience that such a revolution is the greatest calamity, which the most deadly enmity can destine to a nation, and consider it as indispensably necessary to reduce the British to the same state as their own. They are tearing up the very roots of Italy in the name of liberty & equality; they are edging an insurrection in Spain, and are carrying on the proselytism of atheism and democracy with more vigour than ever throughout Europe.

All this they are doing with the most continual protestations of religious toleration, and of never interfering with the internal affairs of other nations. This is the only branch of their system, which they have taken from the Stock of Machiavel to graft upon that of the Gironde. Robespierre first made the discovery; and the prodigious effect, that his first essay, (the only one that he was permitted to make) upon the article of religion produced, gave them a hint, which they have from that time invariably pursued. What the Jacobins have said, they intend to do, and they never had better prospects of success than at present. It may be said of their designs as Cicero said of those of Casar at the commencement of the civil wars. “That cause has to support it, abundance of every thing but a cause.”

I have been requested by two of my friends and Classmates at College, to recommend each of them for the place of Consul at Bordeaux. They suppose it will be vacant. They are John Jones Waldo, and John Murray Forbes, both of Massachusetts. I have promised the first that I would recommend him as far as might be proper. I believe either of them well qualified to discharge the duties of the place. Both of them bore a good reputation at College, and have as far as I know maintained it ever since. Mr: Waldo is the Son of an old acquaintance of yours, and is a respectable merchant. Mr: Forbes had a regular education to the law; studied under the patronage of Mr: Sprague of Lancaster, and was for some time a practitioner at Boston.

The negotiation for peace, between France and Portugal is broken off; the Minister who conducted it has been ordered to quit France, and has returned to this Country. It is said they required a cession of a part of Brazil to Spain, and the free navigation of the river Amazons.

The Batavian national assembly have not yet concluded the deliberations upon the proposed plan of Constitution, though the french Minister has lately presented a note, urging them to accelerate their debates. They expect to finish in the course of this month.

I am in duty and affection Your Son.

LbC (MHi: Adams Papers).

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