Jacksonian Miscellanies, #43

January 6, 1998

JMISC #43: Diary of Gallatin's Mission for JQA - Part I

Copyright by the editor, Hal Morris, Secaucus, NJ 1997. Permission is granted to copy, but not for sale, nor in multiple copies, except by permission.

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Diary of Gallatin's Mission for JQA - Part I

The following is taken from The Diary of James Gallatin, ed Count Gallatin, intro by Viscount Bryce (London, William Heinemann, 1916). It says less about Albert Gallatin's treating with the British government (under John Quincy Adams) than about a young man of the highest society who has spent much of his life in Europe, bemoaning the uncivilty of Baltimore, courting the daughter of "gentleman of the old school", worrying about his brother's shotgun wedding to an uncouth farmer's daughter, undergoing the ordeal of an Atlantic crossing, noticing that the King is looking the worse for wear, and being ferried across the surf to the shore of Boulogne on the backs of peasants (one of their party gets a well-deserved dunking).



JULY 1823-OCTOBER 1827


A horrible day here; the noise of the July 4 celebration intolerable. I have to rub my eyes to see if I am awake, that it is true I am not in the Rue de l'Universite. How I regret it. Father is going alone to see the new house in Western Virginia-also to Washington. I take mamma and Frances to Baltimore to­morrow. We are stopping right in the country at a nice old house which belongs to the Montgomery family. But the difference in everything; only about three private coaches in New York- no means of getting about. The streets absolutely filthy and the heat horrible. I have been nearly every night for a long walk. No roads-no paths. I never realized the absolutely unfinished state of the American cities until I returned. The horrible chewing of tobacco- the spitting; all too awful. We have had a charming and hospitable reception, but all is so crude.


We are now in Baltimore. Not quite so dirty as New York. We are with mamma's relations-the Nicholsons. They are kindness itself, but I even see that mamma feels the change most keenly. The young men of Baltimore stare at me as if they thought I were a wild beast let loose. Everybody knows everybody else, and all call each other by their christian names. If I am offered a post, no matter how humble, abroad, I will accept it with joy.


The heat is something I did not ever realize. We go in a few days to some place by the sea. Frances has lost all her colour. Albert has written me the most distressing letter. It seems he compromised himself with a farmer's daughter. They threatened him with exposure and he was weak enough to marry her on May 23, when we were at sea. He is afraid to tell father and begs me not to do so. The girl is living with her family. I do not know what to do. Troubles do not come singly. It seems this girl is without education.


Back again in Baltimore and most thankful. A horrible place on the Eastern shore of Maryland called Sennox, a wooden shanty to live in, food not so bad but we have to eat like pigs. When we arrived and saw what it was going to be like we commenced to laugh and we could not stop ourselves. The poor people thought we must be lunatics. Father has gone to his beloved Western Virginia alone. Albert is there. He is going to report to us how the beautiful new residence is progressing. They tell me Baltimore is very cheerful in the winter. It does not look much like it now. Mr. Patterson, Madame Bonaparte's father, has kindly invited us to dinner, fortunately the weather is much cooler. General Reubel and his wife have just called. They are living with Monsieur Pascault who has the beautiful daughter.


I have seen Miss Pascault; Madame Bonaparte was right. I have never seen anything more lovely. As Madame Reubel has invited me to call I will certainly take advantage of her invitation.


I went this afternoon to Monsieur Pascault's *

house, it is the oldest house in Baltimore. Most beautiful iron gates that he had sent from France, an air of refinement about the interior that I have never seen out of France. I was received by Madame Reubel, who is very handsome. She has a daughter and two sons; the youngest, Frederic, is the handsomest young man I have ever seen. He must be about seventeen. Mlle Pascault was charming. I am without doubt in love with her. Her father has lost most of his money. Madame Reubel begged me to sup with them to­morrow evening; quite sans facon. She wishes to present me to her father - he is very old. Madame Pascault never appears.


I am quite off my head. Monsieur Pascault, who is the Marquis de Poleon, is a gentleman of the old regime. No wonder his daughter is so well bred. He received me with the most wonderful courtesy-tapped a beautiful gold snuff­box and offered it to me. The supper quite simple but served on beautiful silver. Everything had the air of the greatest refinement. I thought myself back in France again. I will speak to father tomorrow and beg him to approach Monsieur Pascault - with a view of my paying my addresses to his daughter.


I have written to father, who is in New Geneva, telling him that I wish, if she consents, to make Miss Pascault my wife. Frances had a letter from him to­day which is most amusing. He gives a description of the home.

The architect is some local man who never built a house before. He had no idea of Grecian architecture but a style of his own which is Hiberno­teutonic. The outside is like a French barracks with port­hole windows, the inside ornamentations like those of a Dutch tavern, so that the French marble chimney­pieces, mirrors and papers which he sent out are rather out of place. The workmen are still there and live and board in what Lucien calls "The Chateau." The approach to the house is hidden by a log­cabin which is occupied by Monsieur, Madame, Mlle and the petite Bouffe family. Albert has taken possession of the only parlour in the old brick house. This young gentleman has four guns, a pointer, three boats, two riding horses, and a pet colt smaller than a jackass. His wardrobe is distributed about the parlour. A billiard­table with Albert's old stockings for pockets. "So, my dear daughter," he adds, "we will pass the winter in Baltimore." This is a respite for us. I am delighted, for this will give me an opportunity for pressing my suit with Miss Pascault. I am anxiously awaiting father's answer to my letter. I know it would be wise.


I have again called at Mr. Pascault's, and was received most kindly. I had some conversation with Mlle Josephine; she is so absolutely gentle and sweet, I am certain I am not good enough for her. We dine at the Patterson's again to­morrow. Madame Bonaparte has written to her father to be most civil to us. Madame Reubel and Mlle Pascault are to be of the guests.


Father has returned, and called yesterday on Monsieur Pascault. He gave his consent to my paying addresses to his daughter. Father was so kind, he said her want of fortune should not stand in the way. Alluding to his first marriage he added, "She had nothing, but we loved each other." Mamma has been left a nice little fortune, so we are now well off. Mr. Pascault has another daughter married to a Mr. O'Donnell, the son of a rich Indian nabob. She was married when she was fifteen, and had a child before she was sixteen. She is very beautiful like a fullblown rose, but seems to have but little brain or education.


My suit is progressing. Josephine likes to hear about France. She plays delightfully both the harp and the spinet. I talk all sorts of nonsense which all lovers do. It has cheered her up as her youth has not been very cheerful.


All is settled. Mlle Pascault has consented to be my wife and we are to be married early in the New Year. Mamma and Frances are delighted with her. She is so gentle and innocent. Mamma says she is like a beautiful lily. She is beautiful, there is no doubt about that. Madame Reubel rather astonished me by appearing the other day in a bright red wig. It seems she has wigs of every colour to go with her frocks. A Bonaparte fashion and not certainly adopted by the ladies of the Restoration, as I never saw such a thing in Paris. General Reubel is horrible, has not a penny in the world, stops in bed nearly all day, and lives on Monsieur Pascault's bounty. Does not attempt to do any work. His daughter will be very handsome. A brother of Monsieur Pascault's lives in a lodge at the gate but nobody ever speaks to him-the reason I do not know.


Madame Pascault insisted on our coming to them. They all dine with us to­morrow. We have a very good house in Charles Street for the winter. Father will be much in Washington.


To­night we all sup with Monsieur Pascault to see the New Year in. It is father's first visit to the house. I am anxious to see how he treats Reubel.

JANUARY 2,1824

The entertainment at Monsieur Pascault's was of the greatest elegance. Father was much pleased and I noticed his astonishment at the fine plate, also the quantities of family portraits, &c. &c. I fear there is going to be delay with regard to our marriage. Josephine is a Catholic, and that is one thing father is adamant about. He will not allow (if we have any children) that they should be brought up in that religion.


Father was forced by his party, but much against his will, to accept the candidature for the Vice­Presidency. Mr. Crawford's stroke of paralysis required another candidate. All this is most annoying. Father does not wish to enter into public life again. When he left America seven years ago, I believe he vowed never to return. He has given the best part of his life and all his energies to his adopted country; no one knows better than himself that he is disliked, but that they still want to pick his brains and make use of him. He goes to Washington to­night.


I had hoped to be married this month, but still this question of religion. The Archbishop of Baltimore declines to marry us if there is a Protestant ceremony.


At last all is settled. Monsieur Pascault is disgusted with the behaviour of the Archbishop, and has written to him to the effect that he will entirely dispense with the services of the Church of Rome, that his daughter will be married in the Protestant Church. He added that a wife's first duty was to obey her husband.


We are back from our honeymoon and leave shortly to join poor mamma at New Geneva. Father still in Washington. The Archbishop has excommunicated Monsieur Pascault.

MAY 10

The French Minister intimated to us that he has an important package to deliver into one of our hands, or accredited servants. As Lucien was returning here from Washington, father sent him for it. Imagine my surprise when I found it was addressed to me. It was from the Duc and Duchesse d'Angouleme-a most beautiful silver­gilt vase with their arms on one side-a wedding present. It was more than a surprise considering all they have been through, on account of the King's death, to have given me a thought. Josephine is delighted with it. Monsieur Pascault was greatly overcome when he saw it. I must consult father in what form to acknowledge it. We go in a few days to try the new house at New Geneva. It is all ready for our reception. In all events we will pass the summer there. It is getting intolerably hot here.


We have been here for some time. The place itself is delightful. The views superb. Air as pure as air can be, but not a soul to speak to-not a neighbour, with the exception of some totally uneducated farmers, their wives and daughters. We are all here. Frances has a pony. Josephine is not allowed to ride at present. So I ride a huge farm­horse-who is as thin as a knife; no roads, so we risk our lives every moment. Albert sometimes rides in front of us. and when we are approaching a dangerous spot he blows a horn. I wish some of my Paris intimes could see us-how amused they would be. Mamma attends to all our personal comforts. We have many too many servants. Frances has named it "Castle Solitude." Our greatest friends are the mosquitoes, who certainly keep us company. Father reads all day as he is compiling some work. It is too hot for him to go to Washington at present. Mr. Crawford is no better.


Josephine and myself return to Baltimore shortly. Monsieur Pascault is very ailing and they seem worried about him. Our home is empty, so I think Josephine will not suffer too much from the heat. There is a rumour about a mission to France. I dare not think of it. When we leave, Frances says she will take to her bed. It is awful for her. I am certain mamma will not stand the winter here. Father will have to be in Washington on account of the elections.


Greatly to the relief of us all, greatly to the relief of father himself, he has been able to withdraw from the candidature of Vice­President. It really was nothing more than a hope of his party that should Mr. Crawford have been elected President his health would have obliged him to withdraw, and father would have been head of the State. Of course his birth disqualified him for standing for the Presidency, and this was the only means of putting him in that position. Now they are worrying him again with offers of the Treasury, but I am certain he will not accept any post of any kind or description. I had always heard Carrol­town, the seat of the Carrolls, spoken of with almost awe as to its magnificence. Josephine told me it was nonsense. So to see it we went. I really could not help laughing.

Merely a square wooden house with a piazza all around it. The interior most ordinary. It seems the original Carroll, who called himself Carroll of Carrol­town, was the natural child of somebody. This I fear is very much the habit of the Americans of the Southern States- vain boasting. They of course have large plantations and slaves; but miserable houses, and live in the most untidy manner. To my astonishment I hear there are no schools in the Southern States and that all the children of the better class have to be sent to the North to be educated. Father has decided to remain with mamma, Frances and Albert for the winter at New Geneva. Of course I am obliged to remain in Baltimore.


My father­in­law is very ill and we are all in close attendance. Reubel found the air did not agree with him and has betaken himself to New York, much to the relief of all. Madame Reubel is a delightful woman and has suffered much. To be here in Baltimore without money, dependent on her friends, must be most galling to her,, having lived at Court all her life, and particularly at the Court of Westphalia, where she was the first lady­in-waiting on the Queen. She often describes to us the splendours of the Palace at Cassel, which was built by the Landgrave of Hesse in imitation of Versailles. His son has it now and I believe the whole of his vast fortune intact. When she was there and King Jerome reigned, she says nothing could equal the extravagance of living. She was not at all surprised at the Westphalian troops being quite useless to Napoleon, as they were never maneouvred. All was a life of pleasure there, from morning until night. We will have, I fear, a sad Christmas. I am sorry for Josephine's sake.


Monsieur Pascault has recovered wonderfully and insists upon having a dinner of all the family on the 31st. He says it will be his last year, and he wants to have them all around him. I am sorry I will be away from my father and mother, but my duty is by my wife. We expect our child in the New Year.

FEBRUARY 7, 1825

My dear wife was safely delivered of a fine boy this morning. We are going to call him Albert.


Monsieur de Lafayette has arrived and has been received with the greatest enthusiasm. His progress is a triumphal one. His cause is the emancipation of the Spanish Colonies and of Greece. Both of which are dear to the hearts of Liberals of all nations. When in Paris father received the thanks of the Greek Governor for his efforts on their behalf. Now that I am on the subject it seems so unfair that father was never allowed to accept an order of any kind or to retain any of the superb presents that were given to him-all of which are now in Washington. All that he did keep was a superb set of glass, some eight hundred pieces, that the Emperor Alexander gave him as a purely personal gift.

MAY 15

Father has just written to me that I must be present at Uniontown to help him receive Lafayette, who is going to stay a couple of nights with him at Friendship Hill. So I am off to­morrow. Josephine is quite well and so happy with her baby. I do not mind leaving her.

MAY 16

Detained until Thursday, as I have just received a list of things which will be wanted by mamma for the 25th: it is a mile long.

MAY 27

The meeting at Uniontown and the reception of Monsieur de Lafayette far surpassed anything I have ever seen in this country. People came from miles away and camped out, bringing their tents. Lafayette is the nation's guest so was surrounded by a huge mounted bodyguard. He spoke just after father had introduced him. Father spoke after him and I really think he must have been inspired. His French accent seemed to leave him as he became excited. The subject was the critical position of the Greeks. He must have inspired his audience, as I have never heard such an outburst of genuine enthusiasm and cheering; it lasted quite half an hour. Monsieur de Lafayette embraced him publicly. We returned to Friendship Hill and quite a thousand sat down to supper in relays. Mamma had arranged everything wonderfully, rows and rows of tables in the garden. Hundreds of niggers all dressed in white to serve. Yesterday we passed in comparative quiet, but there were callers all day for Monsieur de Lafayette. We had a quiet dinner which Monsieur de Lafayette said reminded him of the Rue de l'Universite. I do not think he was the only one who was reminded of it. He left this morning as he has a prolonged tour to make and a very short time to make it in. I go back to­morrow to bring Josephine and my son here for the summer.


We are all very happy here. The country is beautiful and mamma certainly has the art of making everybody comfortable. Josephine is delicate but loves the good air here, particularly for our boy, who is growing apace. Father worships him at a distance. A few days since I told father for the first time of Mr. Adams' letter to me of February last. I had written privately to Mr. Adams informing him of father's reasons for refusing the Treasury under his administration. Father has always been above suspicion and I may frankly say (although he is my father) that he is the only one of either party who has not fallen into some error which has cast suspicion on their motives. This Mr. Adams frankly acknowledges in his letter to me. When I read this paragraph I could see father's evident gratification at the opinion held of him by a political opponent-and that opponent the actual President of the United States. We drifted into reminiscences of Paris. Father's heart is there and in Geneva, but only stern duty keeps him here.


Father at last acknowledges that he made a mistake in building this house, and that we will never inhabit it after this summer. He has commissioned me to find a house in Baltimore for the winter as it is quite near enough to Washington for him in case he is obliged to go there. I was much gratified at receiving a beautiful silver bowl from some of my friends in Paris for my son. Albertine de Stael sent the most beautiful baby clothes. The first clothes my boy wore were those of Napoleon. The Queen of Westphalia gave them to Madame Reubel when her boy was born, and she gave them to Josephine. He still wears the little dressing­gown that was made by Madame Mere.

MAY 1826

I cannot realize what has happened. We are actually going to England. Mr. Rufus King's (our Minister in London) health has broken down. Most important matters have to be negotiated. The President has begged father to take his place. He has accepted but on the condition that he goes on a special mission and not as a resident Minister; that he is at liberty to return in a year: that an ample sum is to be put at his disposal, as he knows that outward show has a great effect on the English people. This has all been agreed to privately. These are the most important negotiations and can only be placed in the hands of a very strong man. The whole of the commercial questions to be finally settled. The most important are the North­Eastern and North-Western Boundary questions. Also the Commercial Convention which father negotiated in 1815 in London, and again in 1818 to last ten years.

MAY 25

I am torn both ways. I know I could be of the greatest use to father. It is impossible to take our child at his age across the ocean, as the discomforts, particularly where food is concerned, are so great. Josephine is quite willing for me to go, in fact urges me to do so. I will leave the matter entirely in father's hands.


It is finally decided I am to accompany father, but only for six months should I be wanted at home. For many reasons this is thought to be for the best. As now arranged we sail on July 1. I am doing all I can to provide for more comfort for the voyage. I often wonder how father has stood so many of these disagreeable crossings of the Atlantic. The horrible cramped feeling. The misery of a gale when we can barely crawl about, and the absolute horrors of a fog. We are to take a very southerly course this time. Both father and mother are very much annoyed. At the last moment an application was made to father asking him to take a Miss Bates to England. It seems she is to marry a Monsieur Van der Weyer, a Belgian avocat. The latter made himself very useful to Prince Leopold, the husband of Princess Charlotte. None of us know or ever heard of the Bates family; they are very rich and extremely vulgar. Father could not refuse.


We sailed on July 1, and arrived here a few days since. We have a beautiful house in Seymour Street.

I have seen to the carriages and horses, all jobbed but very fine.


The King received us last week and was most gracious. But what a change since I last saw him. He is fat, very red in the face and unwieldy.


As nearly the entire Cabinet had left London, including Mr. Canning, father thought it a good opportunity to pay a visit to Paris. He particularly wished to consult Pozzo di Borgo on several very important matters. He finds that Bonapartism is nearly extinct. He found Monsieur de Lafayette in a far more peaceful frame of mind than when he paid his visit to America. He spoke to him in the most forcible language of his love of petty plotting. He seems now to realize that such things are futile. His one wish now is to see the Duc d'Orleans on the throne as a constitutional Monarch. I fear this is in the dim future. Lafayette is strongly in favour of the Duke's disputing the legitimacy of the Duc de Bordeaux. We had an interview with Monsieur de Villele, who seems much annoyed with the President's message, particularly with regard to Hayti. I do not think father gave him much satisfaction. A funny incident I must record. When we crossed to Boulogne mamma had to dress on board for a reception at that port, which was being given to Monsieur de Lafayette. On our arrival it was low tide and as is the custom fishermen came out to the pacquet in shallow water to carry us to the shore-fisherwomen for the ladies. Mamma was mounted on the back of a fat Boulognese. Not thinking the woman was going fast enough she prodded her with her heels. The woman lost her temper and dropped mamma in about a foot of water. We could not help laughing to see her sitting up to her waist in water. She was in red velvet with a huge turban covered with white feathers. The more we laughed the more enraged she became. At last she was rescued and carried, dripping, ashore. She had to be taken at once to an inn and dried. She will never forgive us.

I find Paris delightful, but few of our friends here as all are at their chateaux or by the sea. I visited all my old haunts and have registered a vow that the moment I am in a position to do so I will return here to live and die.


We have now returned here and are seriously at work, and plenty of it.*

* James Gallatin went to America in 1826 and returned to London in March 1827.



LONDON, October 18, 1826

I had intended next spring, before my return to America, to have an excursion to Paris once more to see some of my friends. Mr. Canning's absence and the dispersion of the other members of the Cabinet having left me literally without anything to do here, I embraced what was the most favourable opportunity of making that journey, from which I have just returned. My letter of yesterday to the Secretary of State contains the substance of the information I was able to collect there; and I will now add some particulars which, as they involve the names of individuals, I did not wish to remain on record in the Department of State.

In the course of a long conversation with Pozzo di Borgo the state of our relations with Great Britain was alluded to. I told him that the Emperor's decision in the case of slaves carried away and the convention relative thereto had not been carried into effect by Great Britain in conformity with what we considered their real intention and meaning; that the British Government had offered to compromise the matter by payment of a sum of money which fell short of our expectations; but that we were nevertheless inclined to accept it, principally on account of the reluctance we felt to trouble the Emperor by an appeal, asking from him further explanation of his decision. Pozzo immediately expressed his wish that we might compromise or otherwise adjust the matter without making such an appeal, which, particularly at this time, would be, as he thought, extremely inconvenient to the Emperor; and speaking of the Maine Boundary question, with which and its possible consequences he appeared well acquainted, he appeared also desirous, though he did not express himself as positively as on that of slaves, that Russia should not be selected as the umpire. I only observed that if there was any inconvenience in being obliged to make decisions which might not please both parties, that inconvenience was less to Russia than to any other Power, and that a compensation for it was found in the additional degree of consideration accruing to the Monarch in whom such confidence was placed. All this, however, corroborates what I have stated in my official letter respecting an approximation between Russia and Great Britain, and the disposition of the Emperor to interfere less than his predecessor in affairs in which he has no immediate interest.

The most remarkable change discoverable to France is the extinction of Bonapartism, both as relates to dynasty and to the wish of a military Government. This, I am happy to say, appears to have had a favourable effect on our friend Lafayette, who was very ungovernable in all that related to petty plots during my residence at Paris as Minister, and to whom I had again spoken on the same subject in the most forcible manner whilst he was in America. His opinions and feelings are not changed; but he appears to be thoroughly satisfied of the hopelessness of any attempt to produce a change at present; and he confines his hopes to a vague expectation that, after the death of the present King and of the Dauphin, the Duc d'Orleans will dispute the legitimacy of the Duke of Bordeaux and become a constitutional King. This is such a doubtful and distant contingency as is not likely to involve Lafayette in any difficulties. Mr. de Villele complained to me of those expressions in the President's message which declared Hayti to have placed herself in a state of vassalage to France, as calculated to increase the dissatisfaction amongst the people of the island at the late arrangement. He said that he was aware of the objections of a very different nature which we had to a recognition of the independence of Hayti, but did not see the necessity of alleging the reason alluded to. As I did not wish and did not think it at all proper to enter into any discussion of the subject, I answered, as if in jest, " Qu'un tribut, impose a une colonie cornme le prix de son independance, etait contraire aux grands principes." I forgot to mention the circumstance to Mr. Brown, and do not know whether the thing had already been complained of to him. If so, its being repeated to me-and they were almost the first words Mr. de Villele addressed to me-shows that it must have made a deep impression on the French Government. This reminds me that I received here a communication from a respectable quarter stating that, a few days before the publication of the order in council of July last, one of the King's Ministers had complained to a confidential friend of the general tone of the American (United States) diplomacy towards England, still more so as respected manner than matter, and added that it was time to show that this was felt and resented. As to manner, the reproach cannot certainly attach either to Mr. Rush's or Mr. King's correspondence; and I know, from a conversation with Mr. Addington, that in that respect Mr. Clay's has been quite acceptable. On looking at your own communications, I am satisfied that those to the British Ministers can have given no offence whatever, and that what they allude to and which has offended them is your instructions to Mr. Rush, printed by order of the Senate, and which have been transmitted both to Mr. Canning and to Mr. Huskisson; a circumstance, by the by, not very favourable to negotiations still pending. That they have no right to complain of what you wrote to our own Minister is obvious; still, I think the fact to be so.

I forgot to mention in my letter of yesterday to the Secretary of State that there is some alarm amongst the legitimates about a plan of Metternich to change the line of succession in Austria, or a plea of the presumed incapacity of the heir presumptive; and that the King of the Netherlands has at last, by his unabated and exclusive attention to business and by his perfect probity and sincerity, so far conquered the prejudices of the Belgians as to have become highly respected and almost popular amongst them.

I have the honour, &c.,




Yesterday the Convention of 1818 was renewed and signed; a meeting again to­morrow. Mr. King left yesterday. Mr. Lawrence is expected to­day.


Father is anxious that the Emperor of Russia should act as arbiter on the North­Eastern Boundary question, but Prince Lieven thinks it will not be convenient for him to do so.

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