Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward.

No. 211.]

SIR: It appears only too probable that a terrible crime has just been attempted in Prague. The public journals will have brought you by means of the telegraph, long before the arrival of this despatch, full details of the event, and of the results of the examination now in progress. On inquiry of the minister of foreign affairs yesterday, I found it considered hardly doubtful that a foul attempt upon the life of the Emperor had been made—a sovereign ever most conscientious in the discharge of his great office, who at that very moment was engaged in dispensing very liberal charities with his own hand throughout the provinces lately desolated by a cruel war, which he and his ministers had done their best to avert. For the moment I can do no better than translate the paragraph referring [Page 685] to this deplorable affair in the official gazette of yesterday mornings as nothing further or more accurate than this account is thus far known.

I am conscious that my despatch will of necessity be antiquated before it comes to hand.

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


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


On the evening on which his Majesty visited the Bohemian National theatre, the 27th, the English captain, Hugh P. F. Palmer, (lodging in the Hotel d’Angleterre,) was waiting to see his Majesty drive away from the theatre. At the moment in which the Emperor was getting into the carriage to take his seat, Captain Palmer asserts that he observed a man who was raising his right hand, armed with a pistol, against the carriage. Captain Palmer, examined on oath before a court of justice, declares that he, when leaving the theatre, saw two men walking up and down before it, one of whom, by an accidental movement of the hand, allowed an object to be noticed, which seemed to resemble a pistol; that it really was one, witness could not declare on oath. He asserts, however, in that moment to have acquired the conviction that the man had a pistol. This conviction had induced him to keep a close eye upon the man in question. After the second person had retired in the direction of the chain bridge, the other one had come forward towards the carriage door of the Emperor at the instant he was entering the carriage, and had not stretched out the right hand, but had bent it in the elbow-joint, (Sic: Soudern im ellbogengelenke gebogen,) aiming with a pistol towards the interior of the carriage. The captain saw that the pistol was cocked, but did not see whether it was furnished with a percussion cap. He now threw his left arm around the neck of the suspected person, seized his right arm and pressed it downwards, whereby it seemed to him that the man let the pistol slide into his pocket. At the same moment his Majesty’s carriage rolled by, upon which the captain pressed the man across the street towards the theatre and gave him into the custody of the police guard, (communal wache.) On the way the arrested man let a small parcel fall, which afterwards proved to be a bit of worn-out silk stuff, containing in a little bag some powder, and in a paper a small leaden bullet and three percussion caps. At the police office it appeared that the suspected individual was a journeyman tailor, Anthony Pust by name, employed at the Bohemian theatre. He obstinately denies the charges made against him. It soon became known, however, through the police, that a pistol had been found the same evening before the theatre by some young people. The pistol was loaded and at full cock, but there was no cap upon the nipple. Those who found it had no knowledge of the whole transaction. They had, indeed, seen the English captain, but had not observed the arrest of Anthony Pust. It is to be remarked that the coat-pocket of the accused is torn, and he might, therefore, have lost the pistol while Palmer was pushing him across the street.

Such are the facts, so far as known. I repeat, there is still much, almost everything, to be explained before one can come to the mournful conviction that here lies, in very deed, an attempt at the horrid crime which one might be inclined by some of the circumstances to believe; at any rate, the hand of the Almighty has decided. Scarcely could the ruthless deed be carried beyond the criminal intent, even had it been really conceived and undertaken. To the honor of humanity we hope that the examination will give a different result.