to Mr. Evarts.
Brussels , January 2, 1879. (Received January 20.)
Sir: The customary New Year’s receptions were yesterday in this city almost universally observed, the central point of interest being, of course, the one held at the palace. The ladies of the diplomatic corps were received by the Queen on the evening of the 31st. At noon of the 1st the chiefs of missions, with their secretaries and attachés, were received by their majesties the King and Queen. Afterward, in the order named, were received the senators and representatives, the judiciary, the officers of the army, the garde-civique, and citizens for whom permission had previously been obtained.
All countries having ministers at this court were represented save that of England, whose officers remained away on account of the recent death of the Princess Alice. An order temporarily suspending the court mourning for this special occasion was considered sufficient absolution by the rest of us.
As is their majesties’ custom, they talked briefly with each of the ministers, beginning with that one longest accredited to this court and closing with the latest arrival. Fortunately, however, the proper estimate of a country’s worth and greatness neither depends upon the rank nor length of service of its representative.
The King to me was as cordial and gracious in his manner and language as possible, and it gives me great pleasure to make known to you his kindly expressions. He assured me at once of his kindliest sentiments toward our country and people, and said emphatically that he wished “the greatest prosperity and continuous blessings for your truly great country, and every happiness and success for its people.” In this one sentence I have given probably his words, but in subsequent conversation he was neither less cordial nor kind, and I very gratefully expressed to him my thanks. I assured him that I felt I not only reflected the sentiments of those in authority, but that of all thinking Americans, when I said to him his good wishes and friendship were cordially and sincerely reciprocated.
His majesty concluded by saying, “I greatly hope that your Congress will continue the mission at Brussels, and I should be pleased to learn that such was its determination.”
I have, &c.,