Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward
Sir: So soon as the news of the proclamation of the empire in Mexico, together with the offer of the imperial crown to the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, reached Vienna, I requested an interview with Count Rechberg.
I saw the minister accordingly on the 11th August. As he was to leave next day for Frankfort to attend the conference at the diet of sovereigns, and as many other members of the diplomatic corps were waiting to see him, the interview was necessarily very brief; I merely begged him to inform me what was authentically known to him in regard to the Mexican affair.
He replied that the intelligence received by the government was hardly in an authentic shape. He said: We do not consider our situation essentially altered. We are not prepared to take action on what may prove to be an ephemeral demonstration. We regard all that is reported concerning the whole affair—so far as relates to his Imperial Highness—as not having occurred; (comme non avenu, was his expression, the conversation being in French.) I asked if he considered it true that a deputation was on the way from Mexico to offer the crown to the archduke. He replied that it [Page 1006] was possible, but that it was very doubtful whether such a deputation would be received.
I asked if it was true that a telegram had been sent by the Emperor Napoleon congratulating the archduke on the news. He said, yes; but that, from the tenor of the telegram, the Emperor Napoleon did not appear to attach much weight to the intelligence.
Under such circumstances, I said it was useless to ask whether any decision had been taken in regard to the offer, as such a question had already been answered in the negative by what he had already said.
He replied, “of course;” and I then took my leave, saying that I only wished to know the exact position of the affair up to the present moment.
I beg to be informed, at your earliest convenience, what language you wish me officially to hold on this very important subject. The recent conquest of Mexico by France seems to me fraught with future woe to our whole continent; but I cannot think it desirable, in the present condition of our own affairs, that we should hasten the evil day by taking any part in that most unhappy adventure.
It is generally supposed that the Archduke Maximilian is desirous of accepting the crown of Mexico, but I am not aware that there are many persons in this empire who regard the project with favor. It certainly is an unpopular one with all classes of society, so far as I have been able to observe.
The language of the press is, in some cases, guarded, but in general decidedly hostile on the subject.
As a specimen of Vienna journalism in this matter, I send you a translation of a portion of an article from a widely circulated journal, Die Presse. The tone, although bold and bitter, is not exceptionably so.
I have the honor, sir, to remain your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.