Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward

No. 24.]

Sir: I have the pleasure to report to you that the most cordial relations exist between the ministers of France and Great Britain in Japan and myself.

Lieutenant Colonel Neale, the present chargé d’affaires of Great Britain, who [Page 1030] has only been here a few days, and Mr. Winchester, who occupied that post on my arrival, I found to be frank and courteous gentlemen, animated by the most sincere desire to cultivate the most friendly relations; and Monsieur de Bellecourt, the minister plenipotentiary of France, has been unceasing in his good offices. On the departure of Mr. Harris he addressed me a private note, asking whether it would be agreeable to me that the Dordagne should salute our flag, and this courtesy was only prevented by Mr. Harris leaving in the steamer during the night. Subsequently he insisted on my visiting the Dordagne, so that a salute might be given, which would testify to the Japanese the cordial relations which exist between our governments.

Shortly after the Dordagne left the port, and when about one hundred leagues out, encountered a terrific typhoon, which carried away her masts, nearly put out her fires, and left her, when she again reached this port, almost a wreck.

The commandant, officers, and crew exhibited such skill and bravery in saving the vessel, under the most adverse circumstances, and against every human probability of success, as to induce me to address Monsieur de Bellecourt on the subject. I have the honor to enclose No. 1, copy of my letter, and Nos. 2 and 3, copies of the minister’s and commandant’s replies, with translations.

I have the honor also to report to you that the most perfect accord exists between my colleagues and myself on the subjects in which our governments have a common interest. During the past month we have held two official meetings, for the purpose of deliberation and to insure harmonious action, and I entertain no doubt of the permanency of this very desirable cordiality, the result of personal good feeling coming to the aid of the desires and instructions of our respective governments.

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

ROBERT H. PRUYN, Minister Resident in Japan.

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


No. 74.]

Sir: I scarcely know whether to express my regrets to your excellency, or to offer my congratulations, on the recent disaster to the Dordagne.

His Imperial Majesty has sustained a pecuniary loss by the damage to the vessel. He will also mourn the loss of a brave seaman, who died in discharge of his duty. But another opportunity has been afforded the naval officers of France for an exhibition of consummate skill and seamanship, and of heroic bravery and endurance, which will no doubt prove highly gratifying to his Imperial Majesty, particularly in view of his intense solicitude for the development of the naval power and glory of France.

The wonderful progress made in the creation of a navy, not only in respect to the number, but also to the efficiency, of vessels acknowledged to have no superiors afloat, and which is to be principally attributed to the genius of his Imperial Majesty, has attracted the attention of the world, and will add greatly to the lustre of his reign.

Will your excellency allow me, through you, to offer my most respectful congratulations to Monsieur Fancon, le capitaine de vaisseau, on his return to Kanagawa. I hear his praises everywhere, and that, under the good Providence of God, the safety of the Dordagne is to be attributed to him, and I congratulate you that his Imperial Majesty has so brave and accomplished an officer.

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I avail myself of this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurances of high consideration with which I have the honor to be, your excellency’s most obedient servant,

ROBERT H. PRUYN, Minister Resident of the United States in Japan.

His Excellency Duchesne de Bellecourt, His Imperial Majesty’s Minister Plenipotentiary, &c., &c, &c., in Japan.


Sir: I received the very cordial letter, dated yesterday, which your excellency did me the honor to write to me on the occasion of the return of his Imperial Majesty’s ship Dordagne, providentially escaped in the typhoon of the 29th of this month, (of last month,) and I hastened to communicate to Mr. Commandant Fancon the expression of your sympathy, upon whom, like myself, it made a deep impression; and he intends addressing your excellency, returning thanks, and also for his staff and crew.

The government of the Emperor, whenever informed of this courteous attention by transmitting a copy of your excellency’s letter, will, I feel fully convinced, highly appreciate, as I do, the sentiments about his Imperial Majesty, as well as those about the French navy, from the representative of a power with whom France entertains relations of the most sincere cordiality.

Permit me, sir, while returning you my warmest thanks, to renew the assurances. of the high consideration with which I have the honor to be your excellency’s most obedient, humble servant,

DUCHESNE DE BELLECOURT, Minister Plenipotentiary of his Majesty the Emperor of the French, in Japan.

His Excellency Mr. Pruyn, Minister of the United States in Japan, Yedo.


Monsieur le Ministre: With a strong feeling of gratitude I read the letter which your excellency was pleased to write to Mr. the minister of France on the occasion of the disaster which the Dordagne recently experienced at sea. I have the honor to return your excellency my very sincere thanks for the kind interest shown us.

I also thank you in the name of the imperial navy for the very flattering manner in which you speak of her. These praises are the more precious as coming from the representative of a great naval power, whose navy has always distinguished itself among all others by the beautiful construction and the magnificent condition of its squadrons, testifying in every sea to the accomplishments of the distinguished seamen who command them.

May it please your excellency to allow me to express how greatly moved I feel by your kind courtesy, still more increasing my strong sympathy for the United States, which, during my long career, my numerous and cordial relations with their civil or military representatives inspired.

With profound respect, I remain, M. the minister, your excellency’s most obedient servant,

CHARLES FANCON, Post-Captain, Comd’g the ship Dordagne, of the Imperial Navy.

His Excellency Mr. the Minister of the United States in Japan.