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EVIL PRACTICES-MR. ADAMS AND JEREMY BENTHAM— ENGLISH TREATIES—THE AMERICAN CABINET.
ON the 26th-of January, 1815, Mr. Adams left Ghent, and on the 4th of the nexth month reached Paris, where he found his now harmonious colleagues, Clay, Bayard, Russell, and, soon afterwards, Mr. Gallatin. Here he met old acquaintances, such as Marbois, La Fayette, and Madame de Stael, the latter of whom he had met in exile at St. Petersburg. He had taken some of his first lessons in dissipation at the French Capital under the eye of his father many years before. Here, in the company of his sister, to a great extent, he had acquired his passion for theatergoing, a sort of mental or moral disease of which he never was cured. He was now soon engaged in a continuous round of visiting, dining, parties, and first and last and all the the time, of theater-going. His passion for play-houses he did not seem to connect with any moral sense, even in the abuse of mind and time.
Mr. Adams arrived in Paris at a most exciting epoch in its history. Introduced to Louis the Eighteenth, and the followers of the fortunes of the Bourbons, he saw them take to flight in an hour, and the fickle populace shout for Napoleon. He witnessed the strange spectacle of the king's troops marching out in the morning to resist the advance of the little tyrant, escaped from Elba, and returning at night as his body-guard.
On the 20th of March he wrote in his Diary :—
"Mr. Beale came in and told me that the king and royal family were gone. They left the Palace of the Tuileries at one o'clock this morning, and took the road to Beauvais. It was but last Tuesday that the king, at the Seance Royale, talked before the two legislative chambers of dying in defense of the country."
And, notwithstanding the wonderful condition of affairs in Paris at this time, Mr. Adams actually went to the theater almost nightly, sometimes every night for a week at a time; and even when he was expecting Mrs. Adams on her long journey from St. Petersburg, he was at the theater. Of this strange couduct he wrote in his Diary :—
"When I returned home from the theater, of course, I expected to have found my wife's carriage in the yard, and was disappointed, but had scarcely got into my chamber when she arrived." •
Astounding conduct! An amazing way of being disappointed! The most thoughtless and careless man would have been at home watching and waiting to receive his wife, after a separation of eight months; even an esteemed acquaintance would have excited that much consideration and self-respect.
Mr. Adams seemed to attend the plays as if it were a duty he owed himself, his family, and his country, and questions or matters of life, death, or friendship stood little in his way. Even when he had to sit in crowded houses, inhaling offensive and poisonous exhalations from thousands of diseased lungs and debauched bodies, often where he could neither hear nor see, and where not a word nor a sight of any kind could have been of benefit to a refined and cultured mind, Mr. Adams did not fail to appear at the theater. Words would fail to portray the contempt in which such conduct, especially on the part of public example, and of reputed intellectual and moral strength, should be held. The indecent extreme to which Mr. Adams carried this theater-going must appear as a defect in his mental or moral structure.
During Mr. Adams's days in the Senate, under Mr. Jefferson, one of the abominations of Washington, long since done away, was horse-racing at Bladensburg, a place notorious for other disreputable things. Often while the races continued, a quorum could not be mustered in the Senate. And to this barbarous practice, and morally doubtful pastime, Mr. Adams became much attached. Even President Jefferson attended the Bladensburg races, which, however, was not, perhaps, so much a matter of wonder, in his case.
On the 5th of April, 1815, Mr. Adams received information of his appointment as Minister to England, but did not reach London until the 25th of the following month, where he was soon put in possession of his commission and letters of credence.
He had been authorized, in connection with Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Clay, to negotiate a treaty of commerce with England, and by the time of his arrival in London, the other commissioners had made considerable progress in this work. In this conference, Mr. Robinson, vice-president of the London Board of Trade, took the place of Lord Gambier, but otherwise the negotiators on the British side remained the same as at Ghent, and the meetings were held in the rooms of the Board of Trade. They finally succeeded in forming a treaty, of no great commercial consequence, to last four years, and signed it on the 3d of July, 1815. Even in this conference Mr. Adams and Mr. Clay were often on the point of coming to blows; nor was the mild and cautious Gallatin free from an occasional ebullition.
Mr. Adams's superior diplomatic skill was not only apparent at all times in these negotiations, but also his perseverance and stubborness when he felt himself to be right. His suggestions and drafts were more respected than they were at Ghent; and his forms for the final drafts of the treaty he insisted upon as being sanctioned by diplomatic precedent; forms, he insisted, that should be followed in all future treaty papers, and he refused to sign any other, thus compelling his less punctilious colleagues to submit to his views. They objected to his transposition of terms for the mere diplomatic formality, and believed the British agents would object, and the treaty fail. But this was not the case, the Britons readily adopting the form of signatures and name which Mr. Adams had made, as being advisable to secure future harmony. Neither Mr. Gallatin nor Mr. Clay were able to put much stress upon diplomatic forms, especially as applying to republican America, but Mr. Adams, reared in the foreign school of diplomacy, claimed all its forms and advantages for his own country.
Immediately after arriving in London, Mr. Adams set about watching the claims and interests of his country in putting in execution the Ghent Treaty. In his very first interview with Castlereagh, Minister for Foreign Relations, he launched boldly into matters connected with the release and transfer of prisoners, and other affairs demanding more immediate attention. Of this Irishman, Castlereagh, he wrote in his Diary:—
"I did not incline to converse much with him upon French affairs, and therefore took leave. His deportment is sufficiently graceful, and his person is handsome. His manner was cold, but not absolutely repulsive."
Early in December, Mr. Adams ascertained that his Secretary of Legation was to be his sister's son, J. A. Smith. He had himself recommended Alexander H. Everett, instead of Smith, because, he said, he did not think the American Secretary of Legation ought to be nephew of the minister at the same court. But President Madison took a different view of the case, and soon after, Mr. Smith arrived in London, taking his place by the side of his austere uncle.
At the departure of Mr. Clay and Mr. Gallatin, it was understood that Mr. Adams's authority was sufficient to justify him in taking any other steps deemed necessary to enlarge the commercial treaty between this country and Great Britain, and for this purpose, and others, constantly arising in the adjustment of matters of difference and interest touching the war, he was often engaged in long and spirited discussions with Castlereagh and Lord Bathurst.
In the summer of 1816, Mr. Adams received definite instructions to negotiate a new treaty of commerce with England, especially looking to the regulation of trade with the British Colonies on the north and in the West Indies. In the course of his many interviews with Lord Castlereagh, few matters of dispute, and few sources of contention and enmity