Mr. Thayer to Mr. Seward

No. 23.]

Sir: A very marked stimulus has been imparted to the production of cotton in Egypt in consequence of the continued failure of the supply from America. The crop which is now coming in, and which loads almost every freight train and boat from the agricultural districts, will probably exceed a million of cantars, (each cantar being about 99 English pounds.) This, though a larger yield than was ever before known here, is not one-fifth of the annual capacity of the country.

The Viceroy has exerted his influence to aid in the increased cultivation. During his recent visit in England he assured the manufacturers of Manchester that the next year’s crop should be at least one-half greater than on any previous year; and he has accordingly advised all the large native proprietors hereafter to sow one-fourth of their land with cotton. As the advice of his Highness is practically equivalent to a command, the proprietors have commenced by importing large quantities of seed and various labor-saving machines for the planting and irrigation of the soil, and the many steamers and sailing vessels which arrive in this port are constantly bringing the most improved patterns of cotton-gins and other inventions calculated to expedite the great agricultural revolution now in progress.

In June last there were finished, or in process of construction in Egypt, twenty-four steam cotton-cleaning establishments, containing 1,100 gins. At the present date the number of these establishments has augmented to about fifty. According to the statement of practical men, the wooden cotton-gin, in ordinary use among the peasantry, can only perform, in the same time, one-tenth of the work of the improved machine of Macarthy. The fellahs themselves are beginning to see that the high prices now ruling at Alexandria render desirable a more rapid preparation of their great staple, and the prospect is, that before the markets of the world recover from the effects of the war in America, the old-fashioned hand machinery will have passed out of use.

In my despatch dated July 20, of last year, the ruling price of cotton here was quoted at $13 50 a cantar, which was considered very high. The change since that time may be seen in the subjoined table covering the last five months prior to this date.

Average price of cotton in the Alexandria market.

1862. Per cantar. 1862. Per cantar.
June 1 $18 00 September 17 $48 00
June 15 20 00 September 18 49 00
July 1 25 00 October 1 40 00
July 15 29 00 October 15 37 00
August 1 30 00 October 29 34 00
August 15 31 00 November 1 32 00
September 1 35 00 November 4 33 00
September 15 45 00
[Page 1194]

The fluctuations of prices vary principally in accordance with the spirit of the daily telegrams from the Liverpool market and the impressions as to the probabilities of peace in America entertained by the mercantile community of Liverpool and Alexandria. A decided victory on the part of the Union forces tells ordinarily in a depreciation of price.

Sir Henry Bulwer, the British ambassador at Constantinople, has arrived here this afternoon. The King of the Belgians and his son, the Duke of Brabant, are expected this winter to make the voyage up the Nile.

A railway six hundred miles long is projected by an English company, between Cairo and the ancient harbor of Berenice, on the Red sea. This route, it is said, will shorten, by two days, the journey of the overland passengers to and from India, who embark and disembark now at Suez, a point on the Red sea four hundred and fifty miles north of Berenice. The French company which has lately established a rival line of steamers to that of the P. & O. Company, trading at Mauritius and Cochin China, will send their passengers across this railway. The road, according to the engineers who have surveyed it, I am told, will open to cultivation vast and hitherto unimproved provinces of Egypt, and will save to Nile travellers the tedium of the slow boat-voyage between Cairo and Keneh, which is a short distance below the wonders of Thebes. The railway will start from the west bank of the Nile, opposite Cairo, and, passing by Benisooef and crossing the river at Keneh, will touch the Red sea at Kosseir. From Kosseir it will follow the coast southwardly to Berenice. Two years are required for its construction. The expense is estimated at £25,000 a mile.

The sentiments of the people here, and, as I learn from trustworthy sources, throughout the Levant—with the exception of some of the English residents—are unequivocally in favor of the United States government in the effort to maintain its integrity. In a visit I made the other day to his excellency Cherif Pacha, who has been for a long time the very capable minister of foreign affairs, I found he entirely sustained the positions taken by our government in the war. He had on his table a late number of the Revue des Deux Mondes, containing a sympathetic and intelligently-written account of the campaign of the army of the Potomac, which he had read with much satisfaction. I have also held conversations on the state of our affairs with several of the consuls general of Europe, and their comprehension of the nature of our war, and outspoken good wishes for the preservation of our Union were very gratifying.

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


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