Mr. Thayer to Mr. Seward.

No. 17.]

Sir: The agitation so adverse to American shipping, caused by the presence of the privateer Sumter in these waters, has sensibly diminished, owing to the arrival of federal men-of-war off Gibraltar. The recognition by European powers of the efficiency of our blockade, coupled with the late brilliant successes of our army at home, has also been most auspicious.

Public opinion here, which was somewhat unfavorably affected by the prolongation of our domestic struggle, has taken a better turn. This desirable result is enhanced by the publication of the State Department’s correspondence with foreign powers, which has dissipated many prevalent errors as to the nature and pretensions of our government, and as to the purpose and ability of our nation to maintain its integrity. The enlightenment of mankind on this subject [Page 856] will not be the smallest compensation for the evils which the insurrection has brought upon us. Many intelligent and influential Europeans are constantly passing through or sojourning here, and Egypt, therefore, affords excellent opportunities to obtain the average sense of the civilized world on our affairs.

Apprehensions of privateers having to some extent subsided, all but two of the American ships freighted here have cleared. Cotton, in consequence of expected peace in the United States, has fallen, and is now quoted at $15 the cantar.

The Prince of Wales, who arrived about three weeks ago, is in Upper Egypt. He was received with hospitalities by the government at Cairo, the prince making the first call at the palace of the viceroy.

An invitation to the viceroy to be present at the Great Industrial Exhibition at London, in May, has been accepted, and his highness has contributed to the exhibition from the agricultural and manufacturing products of Egypt.

A new railway, the carriages to be drawn by horses, is in process of construction from Alexandria to Ramleh, a sea-side resort some five miles from here. Thence it will, perhaps, be extended to Rosetta. Both in its charter and in common parlance it is known by the name of “The American Rail way.” It is the first of its kind attempted in Africa.

The American missionaries are putting in order the very large and handsome building (referred to in my despatch No. 12) which has been granted to them in fee simple by the viceroy. It fronts the Esbekieh, or public square of Cairo, the most eligible part of the city. It comprises not less than twenty-five spacious rooms, three of them measuring forty-five feet by sixteen each, and the estimated value of the property is not far from $50,000.

I mention this as an event which strongly testifies to the respect felt for the American name by the government of Egypt. The first motive of the gift was a suggestion made by this consulate general to the viceroy, that American missionaries had not shared in the bounty so generously accorded by his highness to the religious missionaries of Europe. There is no ground for such a remark now.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.