War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 1126 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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your own is a new and gratifying proof lordship's desire for the preservation of harmonious relations between the Government of Her Britannic Majesty and that of the United States.

I avail myself of this occasion to say that although I have received from our consulate at Havana some complaints founded on reports of conduct on the part of Mr. Crawford unust toward the United States I have refrained from entertaining them in the absence of some authentic and reliable evidence.

I have, &c.,

W. H. SEWARD.

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

Berlin, December 14, 1861.

Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: * * * The principal topic of discussion at this time among the diplomats and others is the pending difficulty between the United States and Great Britain growing out of the seizure of Mason and Slidell and what will be its result.

I have had conversation upon that subject with a majority of the representatives of other governments residing at this capital and have found no one who does not appreciate the serious consequences to the commerce and business of the would occur in case of a war between the United States and England and who does not deprecate such a result, some of them on account of the present condition of the United States and others from a selfish motive connected with the mercantile and commercial interest of their respective countries.

The newspapers are filled with rumors and speculations as to the action of England, among them on as follows: That England has made two propositions to the parties to the Paris confederence about American matters-first, that the blockade should be declared ineffectual and therefore raised; and second, that those powers should acknowledge the independence of the Confederate States; and it was further asserted that all the powers had assented to the first proposition, Russia with a declaration that it was not to be construed into a disposition to war with the United States.

I had an interview by appointment yesterday with Count Bernstorff, minister of foreign affairs. * * * He expressed regret at the threatened diffuculties with England and hoped war might be avoided. I then said to him, "Why don't your Government keep the peace?" To which he replied by asking if the Governmetn of the United States would not object to their interference. I told him that the friendly relations that had always existed between the Governments of the United States and Prussia would authorize any friendly act of that kind; that I had no advice or instruction from my Government upon the subject and that I was only expressing my own feelings.

I stated further that unless England had some ulterior object for war and only made the Trent affair a pretext there was no necessity for the hasty action that was threatened; that the honor of England was safe while she was listening to the voices of the powers that were represented at the treaty of Paris. He said that he did not think there was any ulterior motive, and when I expressed to him my views of the legality of the act when considered in the light of the British construction of international law he replied that there was sufficient ground for argument upon either side to cause the parties to hesitate before becoming involved in a war for that cause.