Mr. Pike to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have received your despatch of 11th December last, No. 36.
The telegraph of to-day announces the settlement of the Trent affair in the interest of peace. I can hardly express to you the feeling of relief afforded to Europe by this news. It may seem to some a paradox, but it is nevertheless true that the act of surrendering Mason and Slidell will vastly elevate and improve the position of the United States government at every court in Europe. It paves the way for a genuine sympathy in its efforts to subdue the rebellion.
It has been only the friends of the United States abroad who, for more than a month of gloomy forebodings, have steadily and alone maintained that our government had the strength and the virtue to treat a momentous crisis in the national life with wisdom and self-denial. Everywhere has it been believed and avowed by ruling classes that at such a crisis a headlong democracy was sure to drive the government into the broad road to national ruin. That it should act upon the counsels of discretion in such a delicate and critical emergency is a surprise that will extort their involuntary respect and admiration.
Whether England be right or wrong in her late demands, the universal conviction among wise men of all shades of political opinion, so far as my experience goes, has been that the only true course open to our government, under existing circumstances, was to yield to them. It was and is believed that the decision of the question of their justice could be safely left to the future; and that whatever that decision might be, under no circumstances could we be the loser.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.