Adams Papers

John Quincy Adams to John Adams, 10 Aug. 1797

London 10. August 1797.

My Dear Sir.

Since the letters from you and from the Secretary of State of 1. and 2. June, I have no further dispatches from America; in obedience to the instructions and directions contained in them I am waiting here for further orders and documents such as may enable me to proceed.—I write you again, having very little to say, but principally for the sake of keeping the correspondence in full life and activity, remarking at the same time, that here in London, I have scarce any source of intelligence more authentic than the common news papers.

The internal state of this Country is to all appearance perfectly tranquil. A few days ago an attempt was made by the corresponding Society to collect a large body of the Populace in this City, and measures were concerted for assembling similar meetings in others of the principal towns at the same time. But the meeting here was immediately dispersed, and was apparently <[free]> [not] more successful elsewhere. The principal result has been the publication in the Opposition newspapers, and in hand-bills which are dispersed about the City and Country, [of] a paper purporting to be a petition and remonstrance from these meetings, to the king, demanding annual parliaments, universal suffrage &c. The Universal desire for Peace appears in the general anxiety with which every movement of the negotiators at Lisle is watched.—Of the negotiators I say, for this negotiation is conducted with a reserve and secrecy on both sides, which contrasts with the publicity given to every Paper that passed, at that of the last Winter, between Charles De la Croix and Lord Malmesbury. This indeed may be considered as almost the only indication of a more serious intention for Peace than existed then, at least on the part of France.—The Government here very certainly desire it at present and will go far to obtain it. Their embarassments are so rapidly accumulating, and the resources at their disposal so nearly exhausted that their only hopes of supporting the present Ministry is in the attainment of Peace. Their embarassments in France too are great, and their state of parties extremely dangerous, but it is not clear that Peace would relieve the Directory, or give them greater strength to contend against the present Legislature: the general opinion rather inclines to the contrary and supposes that the period immediately succeeding the Peace will [...] be the most rigorous touchstone to the strength of the Government. The Directory are believed to entertain a similar opinion themselves, and their conduct hitherto has tended to confirm such a suspicion. A considerable fermentation has for some time prevailed at Paris. The misunderstanding between the Council of 500 and the Directory has been inflaming by mutual irritations until it has almost ripened to a complete rupture.—Eternal Principles will always in a given time vindicate themselves. The members of the Directory are almost at open War <among> against each other. Two of the five are in unison with the majority in the Council of 500, and the other three find no resource to support them but the arm of the solider. They have apparently been for some time preparing to call military force, to support as they say the Republic, against the royalism of the legislative body.—Their negotiations with the army of Buonaparte, have been very public.—Some time since a Committee of the Council of 500 was formed to enquire into the proceedings of Buonaparte, with respect to Venice and Genoa. Before any report was made by this Committee, The Directory published a declaration from themselves to Buonaparte approving explicitly all his conduct in Italy, and particularly with regard to Venice and Genoa. Very soon after appeared an address from Buonaparte to his army, intimating in terms sufficiently clear his intention of marching with them to Paris in case of necessity to bring the Legislative Body to their duty. The several divisions of his army in formal addresses to the Directory have not only echoed back these dispositions of their general but improved upon them and threatened the Council of 500 in the clearest and most unequivocal manner.—During the same period this appeal to force has been carried still <further> further by the agency of another General and army. About 27000 men were drawn from the army of Sambre & Meuse, by order of their commander General Hoche, and their march was directed to Paris. They actually had passed beyond the constitutional limits, when the alarm was given in the Council of 500.—A message was immediately sent to the Directory to demand the cause of this proceeding. From their answer it appeared that the Directory as a body knew nothing of the fact: that it was done without the knowledge of the Minister at War, and as it should seem by a concert between one or two Members of the Directory and General Hoche. From the present aspect of things it should seem, that the discovery of this manoeuvre till defeat its success, for it is said that the troops have received orders now to march back and that Hoche has resigned his command. In the resistance of the Council of 500 against all these menaces, Pechegru has taken a leading part, and a law has been proposed for raising at the pleasure of the Legislative Councils any portion of the National Guards, for such purposes of defence as may be deemed necessary.—Upon the subject of the finances too the Directory and the Council of 500 have come to a close issue. The former sent a message demanding immediate supplies in the most urgent terms, and stating the extreme public distress for the want of money, threatening as usual the ruin of the Republic if immediate and effectual provision were not made. The Council answered by a report of a Committee denying most of the facts stated in the message, and the Directory replied by a long report from the Minister of Finance. The conclusion of the whole matter is that with an express provision made for raising one thousand millions of livres to defray the current expences of the year, the national Treasury is exhausted, all the funds are anticipated, and almost all the public creditors remain unpaid.

There is nothing material to tell relative to any other part of Europe. The negotiation<s> <are> [is] still going on between the Emperor and France. Like the other negotiation if it eventually terminates in Peace, it will be by the sacrifice of small States as indemnities to the large ones.

You have undoubtedly been informed that the Turkish Government have lately made an important change in their system of policy towards the European Powers, by adopting the practice of sending regular Ministers and keeping them constantly residing with the most weighty Courts. I find in the public papers accounts of the arrival of Turkish Ambassadors at nearly the same time, at Paris at Vienna, and here. There has indeed been one here these three years and he is now succeeded by the new comer in the common cause. Mr: King, I find has had some acquaintance with the person just gone, and some conversation has passed between them upon the expediency and practicability of some commercial intercourse between his Country and ours.—The object seems interesting in many points of view, and if we fairly get open the mediterranean will offer prospects highly important to our mercantile enterprize. Mr: King will mention, (I believe, has already mentioned) the subject in his communications to the Government.—I have every reason to be satisfied and grateful for the confidence and freedom with which he has treated me here.—He will be essentially and importantly useful in this mission, for he has the faculty, which few men in the world possess, of dealing with these People, without either yielding to or quarreling with them.

I am your affectionate & dutiful Son

John Q. Adams.

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).

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