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In the meantime lord Cathcart had communicated to the Russian court the non-acceptance by the prince regent of the interposition of the emperor as to the question which constituted the principal object in dispute between the two states, and his readiness nevertheless to nominate plenipotentiaries to treat directly with the American envoys. The Bramble was despatched to America with the view of communicating these circumstances; and proposing at the same time London or Gottenburg as the scene of operations. The proposal was accepted, and Gottenburg was selected as neutral ground.
New commissions were issued, and Mr. Clay and Mr. Russel were despatched to Gottenburg. Still the practice of impressment was complained of, and, under a belief that hostilities continued in Europe, an abandonment of it in terms was expected. Bat when the state of affairs was altered so as to expose the commerce of the United States to that inconvenience no longer, the proposed stipulation was no longer required. In the letter from the secretary of state of June 25, 1814, it is said: “ The United States having resisted by war the practice of impressment, and continued the war until that practice had ceased, by a peace in Europe, their object has been essentially obtained for the present. It may reasonably be expected, that the arrangement contemplated and provided for will take effect before a new war in Europe shall furnish an occasion for reviving the practice. Should this arrangement however fail, and the practice be again revived, the United States will be again at liberty to repel it by war." And in the letter of August 11, authority is explicitly communicated to conclude a treaty without any provision on the subject of impressment.
With these instructions, on the most interesting part of their duty, the American plenipotentiaries prepared to measure their dexterity with the experienced diplomatists of Europe. Previous to the arrival of his colleagues Mr. Bayard visited England. A people naturally cold, and little disposed to lavish civilities upon strangers, could not be expected to welcome the representatives of an always despised, but now dreaded republic. “ I arrived in London,” says Mr. Bayard in a letter to a friend in America, “at a very inauspicious moment for an American. The allies were at Paris, and news had just been received of the abdication of Bonaparte. The whole nation was delirious with joy, which was not indulged without bitter invectives against their remaining enemies, the Americans. The time of declaring the war stung them more than the act itself. They considered it as an aid given to their great enemy, at a moment when his power was most gigantic, and most seriously threatened the subjugation of the continent, as well as of themselves. They thirst for a great revenge, and the nation will not be satisfied without it. They know little of our parties. It was America that fell upon them at the crisis of their struggle, and it is America now that is to be made to feel the weight of their undivided power.'
An arrangement was made, which had been authorized by the instructions, to transfer the negociations from Gottenburg to Ghent; and Mr. Bayard immediately proceeded to that place. He arrived on the 27th of June, and all the American commissioners were considerably more than a month at the place of rendezvous before a step was taken towards providing them with antagonists. During this unpleasant state of suspense and expectation, when even the intention to proceed at all seemed doubtful, apprehensions the most gloomy were entertained of the result. Mr. Bayard writes on the 6th of August from Ghent, “ Nothing favourable can be augured from the delay in sending their commissioners to the rendezvous agreed to at their instance as the seat of the nogociations. Our commissioners have all been here more than a month, and we have not yet heard that theirs are even preparing to quit London. We expect them daily, but so we have done for twenty days past, and so we shall till they arrive, or till we learn that they do not mean to come at all. I assure you, between ourselves, my hopes of peace are very slender. The government of England affect to despise us, but they know we are a growing and dangerous rival. If they could crush us at the present moment they would not fail to do it; and I am inclined to think that they will not make peace till they have tried the effect of all their force against us. An united, firm, and courageous resistance upon our part, alone, in my opinion, can furnish hopes of a safe and honourable peace to the United States. I wish I could present you with different views; but what does it avail to deceive ourselves? By shutting our eyes upon danger we may cease to see it, while in fact we are increasing it. What I doubt is, that if the olive branch be presented to us by one hand, a cup of humiliation and disgrace will be held out in the other; and although I should rejoice to carry the former to the United States, yet I never shall consent to be the bearer of the latter."
In a subsequent letter he writes, “ No people are more easily elated or depressed by events than the English. We have nothing to hope but from vigorous and successful measures, so far as the war depends upon ourselves alone. The British force in America must be overcome and repelled, or the war must end in national disgrace."
In August the British commissioners arrived at Ghent, and the negociation was opened in due form. A knowledge of the secrets of all the cabinets of the continent, consciousness of her weight and influence in the scale of European politics, of being able to direct all her force to an active and vigorous prosecution of the war with America, and of the proximity of the scene of discussion to all the authority and information of the country, gave to the commissioners, on the part of Great Britain, decided and striking advantages. These were counterbalanced by an inflexible determination of the American envoys to do their duty, a superior acuteness of intellect, and a conscious necessity of their thinking and acting from the impulse of their own vigorous minds, without a reference to the fountain from which their authority was derived. In their correspondence it is understood, that all the negociators largely and actively participated. Among men of great sagacity, which was called into operation by the pressure of most interesting and important circumstances, all acting with one view to their country's good, and ardently labouring to promote it, à collision was created, from which the most brilliant success must necessarily result. Each one bore an honourable and an active part. The character and qualities of Mr. Bayard, it will readily be believed, gave him a weight and influence in the proceedings which could scarcely be surpassed. Possessing originally a mind strong, ardent, and capacious, he had stored it with the fruits of laborious study and long experience. Accustomed to scenes of political controversy, he had learned to profit by the errors of his adversaries, and to correct his own. Naturally cool, sedate, and dispassionate, his judgment freely operated without the danger of being affected by a too luxuriant fancy. Silent when it was his part to listen, but capable of manly eloquence when circumstances occurred to call it forth, he gathered knowledge from every quarter, and insured to each expression profound intelligence. Personally intrepid, as he was politically independent, his purposes never could be shaken by menaces or vituperation. A profound thinker, an ingenious reasoner, an accomplished speaker, he seemed formed for a negociator. The last act of his public life confirmed the expectation of his countrymen, and completed the catalogue of honourable services which he had long before begun.
The result of the negociation is well known; peace was obtained upon rational grounds. Not the less credit is due to the commissioners, that all the original alleged causes of war were not redressed. It was their business to make
and the praises of a grateful country rise to Heaven for the efforts and abilities that contributed to the event.
After the arrangements at Ghent were concluded, Mr. Bayard made a journey to Paris, where he remained until he heard of the ratification of the treaty; and his appointment as envoy to the court of St. Petersburg. This he promptly and absolutely resolved to decline. He stated that he had no wish to serve the administration, except when his services were necessary for the good of his country. In the late transactions he believed that to be the case, and therefore he had cheerfully borne his part. Peace being obtained, he was perfectly satisfied to resign the honours of diplomacy for the sweets of domestic life. Nothing could induce him to accept an appointment that would threaten to identify him with the administration party, without contributing essentially to his country's good. That was his primary and exclusive object. In all his reflections he was principally affected by an anxious jealousy for the welfare, and an ardent affection for the people of his native land. It is difficult to conceive how an idea should have arisen, that he ever deviated in thought or action from the genuine principles of federalism. In every public display, in every private discussion, he was their warmest advocate. The whole course of his political pilgrimage, long and laborious as it was, may safely challenge a comparison with that of any statesman for undeviating consistency of conduct, and pure and enlightened patriotism.
From Paris Mr. Bayard intended to proceed to England. to co-operate in the formation of a commercial treaty, as he was included in the commission despatched for that purpose. An alarming illness, however, prevented him. Active and powerful remedies were not applied in an early stage, and the disease advanced with painful rapidity. Still he flattered himself that he should be able to reach his home, and left Paris on the 10th of May, in a state of extreme debility and suffering. On arriving at Havre he immediately embarked, and the vessel sailed for Plymouth. At that place she was detained for five weeks, during which time Mr. Bayard was unable to leave his birth, but remained in excessive and increasing feebleness, expecting hourly to sail. During all these bodily sufferings, the firmness of his mind never abandoned him. Equally serene on the bed of languor and of pain as he had been during a life of almost uninterrupted hcalth, he cheerfully contemplated the welcome of his expecting family. That melancho