No. 191.
Mr. Marsh to Mr. Frelinghuysen .

No. 1015.]

Sir: On the 31st of December last their Majesties the King and Queen of Italy gave to the diplomatic corps at this capital a formal reception in the mode prescribed by the new ceremonial for the New Year’s festivities. In the reign of Victor Emanuel, and before the creation of a corps of ambassadors at Rome, the chiefs of mission were received individually in audience, first by His Majesty and then by the crown prince and princess, the latter being attended by the ladies of her court; and on a subsequent day the secretaries of legation and the ladies of the diplomatic corps were all received at the same time by the crown prince and princess. By the present regulations, all the members of the diplomatic corps, of whatever rank, of both sexes, are received together by the King and Queen, who pass around the circle in opposite directions, each addressing a few words of compliment to all the chiefs of missions, the King conversing more or less with all the members of the corps.

The Emperor Napoleon III was in the habit of availing himself of these occasions for alluding to threatened or desired political events, and for hinting at the probable policy of France in respect to them. An expectation had been excited that the King of Italy, in imitation of the Emperor of the French, would take this opportunity to make some disclosures in regard to the possible results of the late visit of their Majesties at the court of Vienna, and to the relations between Italy on [Page 365] the one hand and the German Empire and the Papacy on the other. These expectations were disappointed. His Majesty was silent on these subjects, and as no official declarations of any importance have been made in reference to these questions, the public anxiety in regard to them has greatly increased.

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The difficulties between France and the other European as well as Mussulman states augment the chances of collision, and in my long political experience I have seen no crisis in the public affairs of Europe which seemed to me to threaten more serious evils to the cause of modern civilization than the complications which present themselves at the beginning of the present year.

Although American courts may perhaps in some circumstances take notice ex officio that there are elsewhere institutions claiming, by prescription or otherwise, the right to exist and to discharge important functions independently of legislative authority, yet, as according to-our generally accepted elementary law, no such bodies can permanently exist on our soil except as creatures of the state and as in all things subject to its control, we are at present exempt from those conflicts of jurisdiction which have so often, in European countries, shaken organized society to its very foundations. But like claims may, possibly, at some future day be advanced among us and with similar results. However that may be, the rapid extension of our commerce and of our political influence cannot fail to bring us in contact with conflicting interests, and our foreign relations will hereafter demand a much larger share of the attention of the Federal Government than they have hitherto done. We are not, indeed, necessarily involved in the complications which are now threatening the peace of the Old World, yet it will be very difficult in practice to avoid entanglements more or less serious, though it is to be hoped that the vastly greater interests of our internal commerce, industry, and government may not be sacrificed to considerations connected with our foreign policy.

I have, &c.,