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between the two nations, were left untouched; and among other things, Mr. Adams introduced the subject of search and impressment, but was unable to effect anything on a point which England deemed essential to her own protection, a policy with which her own citizens were satisfied.
That England had a right to press into her service Americans, she never claimed, but American traders offered inducements to her seamen to enter their service, and the right to claim these men wherever she could find them on the high seas she maintained. The prevention of the very evils of which the United States complained, and on account of which war was declared by Congress, the American Government had in its own hands, that was, the non-employment of British seamen. That there were two sides to this question, there is no doubt. But in this country, England only got the credit of being willfully, wholly in the wrong. So it was that Federalist politicians, who went far enough to claim that England was justified in searching for and forcing the service of her own citizens, were cried down as traitors to their country.
The great difficulty about the whole matter was in the distinction between British and American citizens, and England was never scrupulous about making the distinction. In this whole difficulty, America's fretfulness and irascibility were quite as conspicuous as her long-suffering and patience. On the justness of the American cause, in the War of 1812, even yet sometimes called Madison's War, there is not ground, perhaps, for absolute unanimity of sentiment; and the historian may yet start the . question of the intrinsic right and wrong of Britain's claim and her perpetrations under it, and of the War of 1812. England never has relinquished this claim, and it has always been treated as a delicate question in the diplomacy of the two countries. But circumstances rendered it of no consequence to Britain, and long ago it ceased, by tacit consent, to be a matter worthy of note.
It must not, for a moment, be thought that Mr. Adams now neglected dinners, parties, and theaters. He was extremely scrupulous about carrying out court requirements, but these did finally make such demands upon his time and inclinations as to drive him to hunt a residence out of the city. A considerable part of his short stay at the pompous "Court of St. James," he, therefore, spent nine miles out, at Ealing. But this did not prevent his carrying his devotion to fashion into every thing he did, even the smallest matters of dress; nor did he drop his tendencies in that way in church-going.
He says himself in the Diary:—
"I made up a packet of newspapers for the Secretary of State, and a packet to my father. I took them with me in the carriage, and, on alighting at the Ambassador's, told my footman, William Hegg, to carry them to Mr. Smith, at Craven Street. I also left in the carriage my round hat and my surtout. When I came out to return home, on entering the carriage and driving off, my hat was missing. On inquiring for it, William told me that it had been stolen from the carriage, together with the packet of papers, while he was riding with the coachman on the box from the Ambassador's house to Cavendish Square. The surtout luckily escaped."
Again he says :—
"We came home about ten o'clock, and shortly afterwards I went with my wife to the Duchess of Cumberland's evening party. The duke and almost all the men were in frocks, but the Prince Regent himself, and several others, were in full dress uniforms. Captain D'Este, the Duke of Sussex's son, told me he thought the Prince had done it by way of example, and a hint for imitation."
On the 7th of April, 1817, he wrote: "I called at the Portuguese Minister's to inquire whether it would be necessary to appear at the 'Te Deum' in court dress, and found it would not."
No old gossipy fashion-plate, or mindless "female" devotee of fashion could have taken more interest in these things, or have been more squeamish about them than was this representative of republican America at a pompous and frivolous foreign court.
One of Mr. Adams's London acquaintances was Jeremy Bentham, but there is no evidence that he took up with any of Bentham's principles, as did the easy-going and unscrupulous Aaron Burr. On religion, Adams and Bentham did not talk, mainly owing to a delicacy of feeling on the part of Mr. Bentham. In this quality he was the decided superior of Mr. Adams, who seldom exhibited a disposition to avoid any subject, whether offensive or agreeable to himself or anybody else. He was never afraid to stand for himself on any point, and his tendency was to lead other men to take a similar course.
He wrote in his Diary:—
"Rose barely iu time to take the morning walk with J. Bentham. Since the second of our long walks, we have fallen into one and the same track through Hyde Park and Kensington Garden. It makes for me a walk of about seven miles, and takes about three hours of my time. I now generally breakfast before I go."
On one of these long walks he got a glimpse of Bentham's religion, concluding from the general tenor of what he did draw out of Bentham, that he was unfriendly to all religion, if not also to the belief in an Author of Nature. Bentham had two principles in his philosophy, which Mr. Adams thought he strangely falsified in his interpretations and applications. These were that all human knowledge is either positive or inferential. He said that inferential knowledge was imperfect and uncertain, depending upon imperfect processes of the human mind. That knowledge of this world and its objects is positive, but all knowledge of God must be inferential, as He is not revealed to any of the senses like the material objects of this world. To all of this, Mr. Adams replied in the following ingenious and unanswerable language, which Bentham did not take up :—
"Inferential knowledge was in numberless cases more to be depended upon than what he called positive knowledge, meaning the mere testimony of the senses; that our knowledge of physical nature, such as it is, consists entirely of inferential corrections of the testimony of the senses. While we trust the positive knowledge of the senses, we must believe that the sun and the whole firmament of heaven move daily round the earth, and so stubborn are these cheating senses, that after they have been convicted of imposture, and when we know it is the revolution of the earth round its axis that produces all these phenomena, we persist in saying that the sun, moon, and stars daily rise and set, and it is only when we sit down to astronomical calculations that we discover the truth, the triumph of inference over the senses. I said that the proofs of intellect in the operations of the material world were as decisive to my mind as those of the existence of matter itself; intellect not residing in matter but moulding and controlling it. What is that intellect, and where is it? Everywhere in its effects ; nowhere perceptible to the senses. That this intellect is competent to the creation of matter I know, not from reason, but from revelation; but that it modifies and governs the physical world is apparent both to my senses and my reason."
Mr. Adams now occupied some time in visiting noted places, art collections, and the many objects about London worthy of intelligent investigation. In speaking of a visit to the monuments erected by order of Parliament at St. Paul's Church, he says :—
"The inscriptions are all in English, and all marvelously insipid; generally a bare recital that they were erected at the public expense, by resolutions of Parliament. The monument to Howard has an inscription upon the pedestal, not in front, but at the left side of the statue. It begins, 'This extraordinary man,' but does not give his name. It appears like the last part of an inscription, of which the first part should be on the other side. Johnson's inscription is in Latin, well enough excepting the notice that it was erected by a subscription of his friends, 'pecunia conlata;' they might as well have inscribed the sculptor's bill."
Were Mr. Adams to take a walk to-day through the streets and parks of Washington City, he would be able to write a similar comment on the enormous statues erected by order of Congress. Some huge and nameless, and others diminutive and contemptible. The miserable portraits of Lincoln, Monroe, and others exhibited in the State Department would also deserve a touch from his caustic pen.
On the 16th of April, 1817, Mr. Adams received a letter from President Monroe announcing that he had selected him for the position of Secretary of State in his Cabinet, and asking him to accept and return home at the earliest possible moment without further notice. On the following day he wrote to the President accepting the place, and at once began his preparations to quit London.
According to foreign custom it was necessary for the British Government to make a present of five