Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.
Sir: Your despatch No. 109 encloses a copy of Mr. Thouvenel’s note to you of the 19th of January, 1862, and your reply of the 7th of February, 1862.
Both of these papers are in the best tone and spirit, and I confess I feel now and have felt (since the address of the Emperor in opening the Chambers) in the best hopes and spirits for the future. A speech just delivered in the French senate by M. Billault, minister without portfolio, and herewith inclosed, is most satisfactory as respects American affairs. These ministers, it is said, represent the Emperor on the floor, and are understood to express his views and the views of the government. This speech, I am informed, is universally regarded as closing, for the present, all hopes on the part of the secessionists of France’s interfering to break the blockade. M. Billault, you will recollect, was, last summer, minister of foreign affairs ad interim. I think I can see from the British press how this thing has worked itself out. England and France have been coquetting a little with each other on this question. We have had what seemed to be the most reliable assurances from England that the Emperor was urging them to interfere. In the meantime, the British press was urging France to interfere; it was giving out that the blockade was a paper blockade, and the south should be recognized; thus working France and themselves up to the point of, at least, a joint interference. Then came the Emperor’s address; it was not what they expected. They said that just before its delivery “the switch had been turned off,” and forthwith the London Times and other portions of the English press ran off along with it. Now, all hands seem opposed to interference. How long this will last no human power can tell. If, in the midst of our successes at home and abroad, some reasonable hope could be given of opening two or three cotton ports, it would greatly mollify the feelings of that class of persons abroad who constantly agitate these questions against us. And I cannot help thinking that (excluding things contraband) the trade would not seriously affect our interests.
I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,
His Excellency William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.