to Mr. Evarts.
Berlin, July 1, 1878. (Received July 18.)
Sir: The tenor of your circular of 23d May, 1877, to my predecessor, Mr. Bancroft Davis, instructing him to use his official position to render agreeable in every way the visit of the distinguished American citizen, General U. S. Grant, Ex-President of the United States, to this capital, allows me to infer that I may with propriety report to the Department of State the circumstances attending and following his arrival here.
It had been announced in various journals that General Grant would proceed directly from Amsterdam to Copenhagen without visiting Berlin, and my first intimation of his coming was through a letter from my colleague, Mr. Birney, United States minister resident at the Hague, received on the 22d ultimo. I communicated immediately with him and with Mr. A. M. Simon, the United States vice-consul at Hanover, and ascertained the day and hour of General and Mrs. Grant’s arrival here. It was then impossible—since the stay of the distinguished visitors would be brief—to arrange in advance for such interviews and honors as might be procured for them at a time when both assumed an exceptional importance. The Emperor is unable to receive any one, and I was informed by the proper officials that the Empress, for this reason, would probably feel bound to maintain her privacy in the palace. Prince Frederick Charles is absent on a visit to England, and Count Moltke is residing on his estate in Silesia, at some distance from Berlin. Furthermore, the presence of the European congress, and the number of prearranged dinners and social assemblages arising therefrom, seemed to limit the amount of attention which, at any other time, would have been so freely accorded to the Ex-President.
On Wednesday, the 26th ultimo, after having arranged for a reception by his imperial highness the Crown Prince, and by Prince von Bismarck, I traveled as far as Hendal (about sixty-five miles), there met General and Mrs. Grant, and accompanied them to Berlin. The secretaries of this legation, the consular officials, and a number of the American residents were at the station to welcome the distinguished guests; the hour was too late for any other testimony of respect.
The following afternoon I accompanied General Grant to the palace of the Crown Prince, where he was first received by all the adjutants and court officials of the latter, and conducted to the audience room. The Crown Prince then entered, in his uniform of field-marshal, greeted General Grant most cordially, and conversed with him for three-quarters of an hour. At the close of the interview he invited him and Mrs. Grant, together with myself, to dine at the new palace in Potsdam the next evening.
On returning home I was surprised to find a letter from Count Nesselrode, [Page 224] court marshal of the Empress, informing me that Her Majesty would receive me on Friday afternoon. From the absence of certain customary formalities on reaching the palace and the quiet manner of my reception, I suspect that it was meant to be private quite as much as official. The Empress took occasion to express to me the Emperor’s interest in General Grant’s history, his desire to meet him personally, and his great regret that this was now impossible. Her words and manner implied an authorization that I should repeat these expressions to General Grant. She then spoke very freely and feelingly of the disturbances occasioned by the distress of the laboring classes, declared her belief that a period of peace would be the best remedy, and finally said: “The Emperor knew that I should see you to-day. He has the peace of the world at heart, and he desires nothing so much as the establishment of friendship between nations. I ask you to make it your task to promote the existing friendship between your country and ours. You cannot do a better work, and we shall most heartily unite with you in doing it. This is the Emperor’s message to you, and he asked me to give it to you in his name as well as my own.” She bowed and left me. The deep, earnest, pathetic tones of her voice impressed me profoundly. I kept her words carefully in my memory, and have repeated them with only such changes as the translation makes necessary.
The same afternoon I accompanied General and Mrs. Grant to Potsdam. The fact that the dinner was given specially in their honor was evident on reaching the station. They were ushered into the imperial waiting-room, from which a carpet was spread to the state car. On reaching Potsdam, the first court equipage conveyed them, together with Mr. von Schlözer, German minister at Washington, and myself, to the palace, the other guests following us. Before the dinner General Grant and Mrs. Grant and myself were received by the Crown Princess in private audience. The company numbered about fifty, including the Prince of Hohenzollern, Prince Augustus of Würtemberg, the members of the imperial ministry, and all the chief officials of the court. Mrs. Grant was seated beside the Crown Prince and General Grant opposite, beside Mr. von Bülow, both being the places of honor. I did not consider it consistent with the dignity of the government I represent to make any stipulation concerning etiquette in advance, or even to ask any question, and I am consequently all the more gratified to find that it would have been unnecessary. During the return to another station, by a longer drive through the park and city, General Grant received every mark of respect from the people, who crowded the streets to see him pass.
Early on Saturday morning I sent a private letter to Prince Gortchakow, who is still unable to walk and can pay no visits, asking whether he could receive the Ex-President. His reply was so cordial, that I conducted the latter to him the same day. The interview was necessarily somewhat brief, on account of the prince’s condition, but it was of the most friendly and satisfactory character. * * * * *
I have arranged that General and Mrs. Grant should receive the American residents in Berlin, together with such of our countrymen as are temporarily staying here, on Saturday evening. So far as I can learn, there were not more than four or five who failed to attend, and the company, numbering about seventy, was a gratifying representation of the intelligence and refinement of our citizens.
Yesterday afternoon, according to the arrangement I had made through Mr. von Bülow, General Grant visited Prince Bismarck, who had previously made a personal call at the hotel during the former’s absence. [Page 225] The meeting of the two distinguished men was as informal, frank, and cordial as if they had been friends of long standing.
The Crown Prince appointed Major Igel, of the general staff, to place himself at the disposition of General Grant during his stay, in order—as the official announcement of the honor made to me by the minister of foreign affairs states—“to consult his excellency’s wishes in regard to the inspection of everything which his excellency may consider worthy of notice in the department of military science.” Major Igel has accordingly arranged for an extended review of troops, illustrating every branch of the service, to take place to-day.
This evening Prince Bismarck entertains General and Mrs. Grant at a dinner, to which the members of the American legation are also invited. In fact, at so disturbed and excited a period as the present, it would scarcely be possible for the imperial government to show greater or more cordial attentions. As General Grant leaves for Hamburg tomorrow, his presence to-night at the soirée, given by Lord Odo Russell to the members of the European congress and the diplomatic corps, will be his last opportunity of receiving special honor in this city.
I need not assure you that everything in the power of this legation has been done to make the visit agreeable. Mr. Everett and Mr. Coleman have given their most zealous services, without allowing any official duty to be neglected. The number of cases requiring careful examination and much correspondence does not diminish, and the demands for information, which the legation does not feel at liberty to decline, although not strictly obliged to furnish, tax both time and research. I would most respectfully ask, therefore, that the failure of Congress to make any appropriation for the salary of a second secretary at Berlin may not result in an actual abolishment of the office, but that some means may be adopted for continuing the latter until the next meeting of Congress. Mr. Coleman’s services are absolutely indispensable; no temporary clerk could be found possessing his perfect knowledge of every technical detail and his mastery of German legal forms. Should he be obliged to leave here immediately, it would scarcely be possible for Mr. Everett and myself, even by the utmost devotion of time and energy, to perform other than the most important duties of the legation.
I have, &c.,