Mr. Marsh to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I enclose herewith a copy of No. 89 of the Official Gazette of the kingdom of Italy, for the present year, dated April 13, containing a royal decree on the subject of the entrance of foreign ships-of-war into Italian ports, and I forward in another envelope No. 90 of the Gazette, containing the report on which the decree in question is founded.
I have this morning called the attention of the minister of foreign affairs to the provisions of this decree, and inquired whether it was intended to apply them rigorously to our only vessel-of-war at present in the Mediterranean. The minister replied that such was not the purpose of the government, and that the decree would not, in the actual state of things, be held to apply to our small naval force in that sea, or to make any change in the extent of the privileges hitherto allowed to us for the convenience of our armed vessels in Italian ports.
The report, as you will observe, paragraph sixth, seems to imply that the decree would not be considered as extending to us under present circumstances, and the minister observed that the eighth article of the decree might be considered as embracing our case, we having no ships-of-war in the Mediterranean sent out for belligerent purposes.
For the present, then, we are not likely to be embarrassed by the provisions of the new decree; but if our force should be augmented, or if confederate cruisers should make their appearance within the straits of Gibraltar, a less liberal rule of action toward us might be adopted.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.