Mr. Seward to Mr. Motley.
Sir: Your private and unofficial note of February 1 has been received, though not until this very late day.
In regard to the condition of our affairs in Europe, it may, perhaps, upon the whole, be considered fortunate that the Trent affair occurred, even with all its exasperations. Passion is as natural a condition for nations as for individuals. Secession is a popular excitement, disturbance, passion. It must needs have occurred here, for this country had submitted itself to the counsels of prudence and reason, in regard to disputed points of administration, as long as even so very practical a country as this is could submit. Human nature, it is now seen, could be content no longer. It was needful that the new popular passion should culminate before it could be expected to subside, and to do this it must have time. As no one could tell how high the passion must rise, so no one could tell how long it would require for culminating. The culmination would be the point of danger, the crisis. All other nations being in some sort related to us, must be affected by the passion which disturbed us. The more intimately related, the more profoundly they must be disturbed. Great Britain and France, most intimately related, must be the two states most vehemently excited. Excitement would rise later in those countries than here, and would subside more rapidly. The culmination at home or abroad could be hastened or delayed by accidents. The Trent affair was such an accident. It has served to bring on the crisis. The crisis has been reached and passed at home, and, of course, abroad. Reason is beginning to regain its control here, and with it the government is beginning to recover its authority. We are having, and we shall continue to have, successes at home, and so we may reckon on peace abroad.[Page 551]
I send you a copy of an instruction I have given to our representatives in London, Paris, and Madrid, concerning the new aspect of the Mexican question. * * * * * * * *
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
J. Lothrop Motley, Esq., &c., &c,. &c. Vienna.