Mr. John Slidell to the Duke de Persigny.


[334] *My Dear Duke de Persigny: To whom but you, the only decided and consistent friend of the confederacy whom it has been my fortune to meet in France, can I apply for advice and assistance under the very disagreeable and embarrassing circumstances in which I find myself?

There is, however, another grievance, comparatively of very minor importance in a material point of view, but of the greatest gravity, inasmuch as it trenches the honor of the confederate flagfor the removal of which I invoke your good offices.

The confederate steamer Rappahannock put into the port of Calais to repair damages which had occurred at sea; she was hospitably received, and completed her repairs with the approbation and under the surveillance of the commissary of marine, acting under the instructions of the minister of marine.

[335] Her commandant desiring to proceed to sea, applied, on the 17th February last, for the necessary permissions, which was denied. The ship is still detained, and up to this moment every explanation of the cause of her detention has been refused. In the month of April the [Page 52] question of her detention was referred by the minister of foreign affairs to the “comité consultatif du contentien” for examination and report. That committee, provided by the president of the senate and composed of distinguished jurisconsults and diplomatists, has, as I am informed within a few days, *decided unanimously that there was no sufficient cause for the detention of the Rappahannock, and has so reported. I have good reason to believe that the report would have been made much sooner had it not been intimated to Mr. Troplong that it would be well to defer it until the chambers should have adjourned.

I cannot permit myself to believe that in this matter M. Drouyn de Lhuys is acting in strict accordance with the wishes of the Emperor; sure I am, at least, that the Emperor cannot desire that insult should be added to injury, as it unquestionably is, when the minister, although repeatedly asked, will not even condescend to give a reason of any sort for the course he thinks proper to pursue; a course which is in direct opposition to the neutrality which he professes his resolution to maintain.

Am I expecting too much, my dear Duke de Persigny, when I express the hope that your great and well-merited influence will be exercised to obtain, if not redress for what I consider a flagrant wrong, at least some explanation, which will relieve me from the humiliation of finding my remonstrances systematically unnoticed by the minister of foreign affairs.

Believe me, most faithfully and respectfullv. your friend and servant,