“All these reasons rushing into my mind at the time, I gave it as my opinion that Napoleon would again be Emperor of the French, and again set the world by the ears, unless he may have learned a lesson from his adversity. But this cannot be expected. I fear we are apt yet to see a darker and more dreadful storm than any we have yet seen. This is, indeed, an age of wonders.
“Let what will happen in Europe, let us have peace at home, among ourselves more particularly. But the character we have acquired among the nations of Europe in our late contest with England, has placed us on such high ground that none of them, England least of all, will wish to embroil themselves with us.”
This was written just after peace had been established between England and America, and in a letter from his mother, written about the same time in March, 1815, she thus comments on the joyful news: “We have now the heartfelt pleasure of congratulating you on the return of peace between our country and Great Britain. May it never again be interrupted, but may both countries study the things that make for peace, and love as brethren.”
It never has been interrupted up to the present day, for, as I am pursuing my pleasant task of bringing these letters together for publication, in the year of our Lord 1911, the newspapers are agitating the question of a fitting commemoration of a hundred years of peace between Great Britain and the United States.
Further on in this same letter the mother makes this request of her son: “When you return we wish you to bring some excellent black or corbeau cloth to make your good father and brothers each a suit of clothes. Your papa also wishes you to get made a handsome black cloth cloak for him; one that will fit you he thinks will fit him. Be sure and attend to this. Your mama would like some grave colored silk for a gown, if it can be had but for little. Don’t forget that your mother is no dwarf, and that a large pattern suits her better than a small one.”
The letter of April 28, from which I have already quoted, has this sentence at the beginning: “Your letters suppose me in Paris, but I am not there; you hope that I went in October last; I intended going and wished it at that time exceedingly, but I had not leave from you to go and Mr. Bromfield advised me by no means to go until I heard from you. You must perceive from this case how impossible it is for me to form plans, and transmit them across the Atlantic for approbation, thus letting an opportunity slip which is irrecoverable.”
MAY 3. 1815—OCTOBER 18, 1816
Decides to return home in the fall.—Hopes to return to Europe in a year.—Ambitions.—Paints “Judgment of Jupiter.”—Not allowed to compete for premium.—Mr. Russell’s portrait.—Reproof of his parents.—Battle of Waterloo.—Wilberforce.—Painting of “Dying Hercules” received by parents.—Much admired.—Sails for home.—Dreadful voyage lasting fifty-eight days.—Extracts from his journal.—Home at last.