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September 7 1812: Adams Meets Madame de Stael


On September 7, 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador in St Petersburg writes again about meeting Madame de Stael. He had met her for the first time on September 6 1812. The entries for both days are reproduced below:


6th. I received this morning a note from Madame de Stael, requesting me to call upon her, at- the Hotel de TEurope, at four o'clock this afternoon, concerning something relative to America. I found Lord Cathcart, the newly-arrived British Ambassador, with her ; also Admiral Bentinck, a young man who appeared to be an attendant upon Lord Cathcart, Madame de Stael's son and daughter, a son of Admiral Bentinck, a boy, and two or three other men, whom I could not ascertain. Ta every soul in the room I was a total stranger. Madame de Stael was in very animated conversation with Lord Cathcart, and expressing in warm terms her admiration of the English nation as the preservers of social order and the saviors of Europe. She also complimented his Lordship very highly upon his exploit at Copenhagen. My Lord looked a little awkward at the size and rankness of the lady's applause ; to the personal tribute oflTered to himself he made no answer, but to the besmearing of his nation, he answered that his nation was a nation which, as such, felt itself bound by moral obligations, which it would always fulfil, and to which it would never be false. I thought of the moral obligations of the Copenhagen expedition, and of the American Revolutionary War. Lord Cathcart had his share in both. 
The English talk much about their honor and national morality — sometimes without meaning, but generally with a mixture of hypocrisy and of self-delusion in about equal portions. Dr. Johnson, in one of his poems, honestly avows that in his lifetime English honor had become a standing jest ; and it has assuredly not since then improved. The Lord and Lady conversed also about his journey from Sweden to this place, upon which his carriage overset and rolled down hill; and upon her journey there, and her fears of a water passage. She is to leave the city to-morro\v. Admiral Bentinck seemed a  little uneasy under the close siege of compliments which was laid to the Ambassador, and when his Lordship took his leave and went away, said, as if he felt relieved, "Thank God, that is finished!*' The Admiral himself immediately afterwards went away to his lodgings, where the Baroness was to go and take him up to go somewhere together to dinner. 
She had then leisure for some conversation with me. She has lands in the State of New York, upon Lake Ontario, and stocks in the United States funds, and she wished to enquire how she could continue to receive her interest in England while there is war between the United States and Great Britain. This introduced a conversation upon the war, which appeared to be to her a topic far more interesting than the affairs upon which she had sent to consult me. But, as she was going out to dinner, she desired me to come again to-morrow morning, and asked me why I had not been to see her before, having known her father by reputation. She said she had read my father's book' with great pleasure, and that her father had often spoken of it with great esteem. 
7th. I called again upon Madame de Stael this morning, and had a second long conversation with her upon politics. She is one of the highest enthusiasts for the English cause that I have ever seen; but her sentiments appear to be as much the result of personal resentment against Bonaparte as of general views of public affairs. She complains that he will not let her live in peace anywhere, merely because she had not praised him in her works. She left the city this day for Stockholm.

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