Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/47

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1807
37
DEMANDS AND DISAVOWALS

the event would embarrass him much,—and Mr. Madison seemed to me to share this embarrassment.... Once for all, whatever may be the disposition of mind here, though every one is lashing himself (se batte les flancs) to take a warlike attitude, I can assure your Highness that the President does not want war, and that Mr. Madison dreads it still more. I am convinced that these two personages will do everything that is possible to avoid it, and that if Congress, which will be called together only when an answer shall have arrived from England, should think itself bound, as organ of public opinion, to determine on war, its intention will be crossed by powerful intrigues, because the actual Administration has nothing to gain and everything to lose by war."

Turreau was not the only observer who saw beneath the surface of American politics. The young British minister, Erskine, who enlivened his despatches by no such lightness of touch as was usual with his French colleague, wrote to the new Foreign Secretary of England, George Canning, only brief and dry accounts of the situation at Washington, but showed almost a flash of genius in the far-reaching policy he struck out.

"The ferment in the public mind," he wrote July 21,[1] "has not yet subsided, and I am confirmed in the opinion . . . that this country will engage in war rather than submit to their national armed ships being forcibly searched on the high seas.... Should his Majesty think fit to cause an apology to be offered to these States on ac-
    • Erskine to Canning, July 21, 1807; MSS. British Archives.