Mr. Pike to Mr. Seward.

No. 48.]

Sir: Since my last I have had the honor to receive your despatches Nos. 48, 49, and 50.

The new liberal cabinet of M. Thorbecké is already proposing important modifications in the administration of the internal affairs of this country. Here, as everywhere else in Europe, the American experience of iron-clad ships-of-war is instituting a radical change in naval affairs, and disturbing that most sensitive of all balances, the balance of power in Europe. Even Holland feels she can again be defiant in maritime warfare by the aid of newly-developed forces of attack and defence.

The experience of the Monitor has reassured the secondary naval powers, and nowhere is the sentiment of increased strength enjoyed with a more lively satisfaction than among this commercial people. Though their own soil is destitute of every raw material but sand and muck, they are among the most skilful of workers where wood, coal, and iron are the agencies of production. When Holland shall be iron-clad, she will, with her feet under the sea, be the turtle among the nations.

Europe groans daily more and more under the growing dearth of cotton. This country feels that want less than almost any other, for wool and flax are here extensive domestic staples, and universally in use. But the cries of England, France, and Belgium are sufficiently audible to attest the severity of the calamity. In other respects the war largely affects the industrial interests of Europe. In Belgium the wages of manufacturing workmen in some departments are reduced to 25 centimes (five cents) per day, and work difficult to be found. The fact is but a sample of the many bearing upon this point.

It is these aspects and bearings of our affairs that cause them to be still regarded with undiminished interest, while in other respects they still attract great attention. For example, some of the bishops in France have lately issued instructions to their clergy, saying that while it was manifestly improper for them to meddle with the concerns of foreign nations, it could not be objectionable to pray for the emancipation of the four millions of slaves which the President of the United States had proposed should be liberated— a circumstance indicating at once the healthiness of European sentiment, and showing the very general character of European information on American affairs.

The more popular branch of the legislative department of this kingdom [Page 607] is now in session to act upon the ministerial propositions of M. Thorbecké. It is not a large country, but it is deemed necessary to have from six to a dozen legislative sessions a year, in order that its concerns may be properly cared for.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.