Mr. Hay to Mr. Seward.
Sir: The Abend Post of yesterday contained the following communicated announcement:
We have already indicated, in our last number but one, that the meeting at Salzburg had found a conclusion wholly in the interest of peace.
It is now impossible for any unprejudiced person to understand the matter in any other light than that the interview of the two sovereigns affords an open manifestation and clear proof of their reciprocal confidence and mutual affection; that at present no divergence of interests exists between their empires, and that the respective governments regard pending questions from the same point of view.
We have before shown that this interview had in no direction an offensive character: that is, to speak more clearly, that no combinations were made, nor any intended to be made, against any other power whatever. With this statement fall to the ground all together the announcements of various journals which, for example, assert that other powers were to agree to a convention; that a recent one had fallen through on account of the opposition of South German States; that stipulations had been entered into for the proper observance of the treaty of Prague, and other reports of the same nature.
This official statement was clearly needed to convince intelligent and impartial men that the Salzburg interview was destitute of political character and results. The only idea that probably influenced the Emperor Napoleon was, by renewing the friendly personal relations with the Vienna court which had been apparently weakened by the events that found their culmination at Queretaro, to endeavor to assure the friendship, or at least the neutrality of Austria, in view of possible European complications. But since the announcement of the visit undertaken with this purpose and intention, many rather startling rumors of active and even offensive alliances have been set afloat by the public press. At Berlin especially, a statement, where the wish was the evident prompter to the thought, has obtained general credence that the South German states had refused to consider a formal overture to enter into a confederacy at the head of which Austria was to place herself. The illogical character of such a position has been no impediment to its popular circulation. It would be absurd for Austria to form a combination, in violation of the treaty of Prague, of which the only ostensible object was to be the maintenance of that treaty. It was almost equally improbable that Austria should form an alliance with France, of which the Emperor Napoleon would reap the entire profit in case of a war between Prance and Prussia. Yet so generally has this rumor been circulated in Austria that it has been for the past fortnight the cause of the gravest popular preoccupation. So that the apparently gratuitous announcement in yesterday’s Abend Post seemed to the government to be demanded for the purpose of quieting the apprehensions thus excited, and formally denying the inferences of the Prussian press.
There seems to be no war party in Austria at present. There is felt in all quarters a pressing need of years of peace and quiet, to recover from the losses and fatigues of recent wars. It is painfully recognized that the new constitutional system is notas yet thoroughly rooted throughout the empire, and that, in spite of all plans and temporary expedients as yet tried, the financial situation is as far as ever from satisfactory. The demands of the Hungarians are considered extravagant and unreasonable, yet it is hard to decide between the evils which will result on the one hand from refusal, and on the other from concession. In the face of all these perplexing and difficult questions, it is thought that it would be in the highest degree imprudent for Austria to bind herself by any alliances which would compromise her liberty of action and inevitably retard and perhaps fatally impede the work of reparation upon which she is at present entering. Especially unwise would it be to place herself at the orders of the Emperor of the French in case of a war between France and Prussia, where for all her toils and sacrifices there would be nothing to gain but revenge in the case of success, and much to lose, either [Page 560] in success or failure. An alliance with France in any European question would surely alienate the already lukewarm sympathy that exists for Austria among the South German states.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.