Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Seward.
Sir: Yesterday, a little before 2 o’clock in the afternoon, Count Bismarck called for me and took me to the King’s country residence at Babelsberg, this side of Potsdam, where I was to be received in a private audience.
As soon as we entered the palace the count presented me to the King, to whom I delivered my letter of credence from the President in the simplest manner and without any speech.
The King at once opened a conversation and remained conversing with me, expressing of himself his satisfaction at the perfectly friendly relations which had ever existed between the two countries, and making inquiries respecting the President. Afterwards he spoke of several of my predecessors, asking about them or their families, even as far back as the time of Mr. Wheaton and Mr. Donclson.
Dinner was soon served, and the place assigned me at the table was next to the King. The party was of twelve. The conversation was certainly marked by respect for the sovereign, but was wholly free from the stiffness of formality, and conversation was as easy and unrestrained as at the house of a country gentleman.
After dinner the King again came to me, and his words and his manner expressed everything that could be wished, alike in the way of regard for my country and of courtesy to me as its representative.
On returning to the railroad station it appeared that the King was also on his way to Berlin. He beckoned to me to enter his private car and to take the seat nearest to him, and conversed all the way to the city, so that during the day I was in his company for about three hours.
This reception, while it was very agreeable to me personally, pleased me more as an evidence of the ever-increasing consideration for the government of the United States. It is seen that in the event of a war in Europe the assertion of the rights of neutrals would devolve very much on the United States. At the same time I report to you with confidence that, while France is continuing to arm and Prussia holds itself ready to call out six hundred thousand men at the shortest notice, there is no present danger of a war between France and Prussia. This government pursues its course toward German unity without jealousy and without fear or present apprehension, and though no one can foretell into what relations the uncertain policy of other powers may drift, it plainly appears that the government of France is now as little disposed to war as that of this country.
The meeting of the Emperors of France and Austria at Salzburg has passed [Page 585]away without any important result whatever. Instead of forwarding an alliance between the two powers, it has made such an alliance more difficult than ever, for in German Austria it has roused a distrust that cannot be disregarded by the Austrian government, which now seeks a reconciliation and harmony between itself and every branch of it’s people.
It is also a matter of public importance that Count Bismarck enjoys robust health and goes through his enormous labors with ease and cheerfulness. His popularity is at this time very great, and no one doubts that in the elections to the new Parliament a great majority will be composed of his supporters.
The circular from the department on the subject of uniform was duly received, and I have conformed to it exactly, wearing in my audience with the King precisely the same dress which I should have worn on an invitation from the President.
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I remain, sir, yours, sincerely,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.