Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.
Sir: In connection with the subject of your despatch No. 1889, of the 14th of December, I have only to observe that from the decision of Vice-Chancellor Wood, a copy of which has doubtless been transmitted to you by the consul at Liverpool, you will perceive the necessity of taking early measures to prevent Mr. Prioleau from becoming an object of public sympathy in the courts, as unreasonably oppressed by litigation procrastinated on purpose by a powerful government. The vice-chancellor is well known to me as having had sympathies with us during the war, which makes his present declaration the more significant.
My own impression is that an advantageous settlement might now be made with all the parties concerned in this suit should an agent well qualified for the duty be sent out. Never having had much confidence in the courts here in cases in which a government of a foreign nation is a party against British subjects, the alternative appears to be the payment of heavy costs to both sides, or an agreement which may save Mr. Prioleau from the risk of ruin on the condition of a frank and full exposition of the truth. I think he has it in his power to restore all the property remaining unclaimed in Europe. The error of Mr. Morse appears to have been an unaccountable degree of precipitation, and over, reliance in the good faith of those with whom he was dealing. From the little observation I have had of them, I should think that much acuteness and little scruple were their prominent traits. The disclosures incidentally taking place in the courts through the bankruptcy of Barned’s bank furnish some clue to the extent of the speculations carried on during the war, and to the sympathies so strongly felt in Liverpool with the rebel cause. I have reason to suspect that Mr. Benjamin is now one of the chief legal advisers of the parties in the suits. All that his ingenuity can do will be exerted, if necessary, to procrastinate and to defeat the course of justice. This will not, however, be practicable without great hazard to the mercantile credit of the house of Fraser, Trenholm & Co. Hence the dilemma of which it may be possible to take advantage at this moment.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.