Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward.

No. 172.]

Sir: I write only a few lines to make record of the successive steps taken since my last towards the impending war.

On April 26th two communications were made by the Austrian to the Prussian government. The one related to the disarming propositions, and, together with the negative reply to it on account of the Austrian armaments against Italy, has already been mentioned by me. The other proposed a definite solution of the question of the duchies. To this no formal answer has yet been returned.

On the 27th April Prussia instructed its minister at Dresden to demand explanations as to the military preparations of Saxony, and to intimate that if they were not satisfactory Prussia would take such measures as she might consider necessary.

On the 29th April Saxony replied (by a note from its minister of foreign affairs to its envoy at Berlin) that its measures are only defensive and in order to enable it to comply with such decree as the Bund may issue. Article XI forbids hostilities between members of the Bund, and requires them all to submit their quarrels to its decree. What Saxony has done in the way of arming is in order that in her appeal to the Diet for protection against Prussia, she herself may not be found a defenceless but an armed member of the confederation.

This reply being declared unsatisfactory by Prussia, with the announcement that she would now carry out the measures threatened by her, and that the diplomatic correspondence was closed, the Saxon minister at Frankfort made, on the 5th May, this motion to the Diet:

That the Diet would, without delay, resolve to demand of the Prussian government that, by appropriate declaration on its part, full satisfaction might be given to the Bund in regard to article XI of the act of confederation. This motion is to be voted upon at Frankfort to-day, (May 9.)

It is understood that six Prussian corps, amounting in all to 220,000 men, are nearly ready for action.

The military preparations of Austria are on the most extensive scale.

It is expected that the first conflicts in the north will be for the possession of Dresden.

It is not doubted here that Italy will make soon an attack.

The late financial measure of the government is the most decisive proof of any, perhaps, as to the imminence of the war. It had been arranged that the bank should resume specie payment at the end of the current year.

The government has now decreed that bank notes of the denomination of one florin and five florins, now in circulation, should be struck from the books of the bank and become government notes, for which the government is responsible.

This will amount to about one hundred and fifty millions of florins, as a fund to begin the war. On the other hand, the bank has a right to issue a corresponding [Page 663] amount of its notes in twenties and larger denominations. Thus about one hundred and fifty millions may be added to the currency at once.

The consequence is that the premium on gold, which two months ago had almost entirely disappeared, is quoted to-day at 28, and is rising every day.

I have the honor to remain, sir, your obedient servant,


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