Mr. King to Mr. Hunter

No. 38.]

Sir: The terrible catastrophe of the 14th of April, at Washington, still occupies all thoughts and tongues on this side of the water, and has called forth from the courts and people of Europe an expression of heartfelt sympathy and sincere sorrow unparalleled in history. Appropriate religious services were held in the United States legation rooms here, which were largely attended by Americans and others. * * * * * *

Our latest advices from home to the 22d of April encourage the belief that both the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of State have escaped the fate designed for them by their brutal and cowardly assailant, and still live to serve their country. I need not say with what unfeigned gratitude and joy this news has been received, not only by the Americans, but by men of all nations in Rome.

I had an official interview with Cardinal Antonelli a day or two since. His eminence embraced the opportunity to express to me, for himself and for the Holy Father, the horror with which they regarded the bloody act which had struck down the head of the American republic, and aimed a like blow at the life of his chief counsellor, and of their earnest sympathy for the American government and people in this hour of trial and affliction. His eminence further begged that I would make known these sentiments to the authorities at Washington.

In my despatch of April 22 I mentioned the arrival in Rome of an accredited representative of Victor Emanuel, charged with the reply of that monarch to the autograph letter addressed to him some weeks since by the Pope, in reference to certain matters at issue between them. This gentleman, Mr. Vegezzi, has been in Rome upwards of a fortnight; has held several conferences with the Pope and with Cardinal Antonelli; has received visits from the French ambassador and other members of the diplomatic corps, and only left on his return to Florence yesterday. I have very good reasons for believing that he is greatly content with the issue of his mission, and goes back in high hope that a reconciliation between the Pope and Victor Emanuel, which would bring with it peace and union throughout the peninsula, will ere long crown the ardent wishes of the friends of a united Italy. Such a result, it cannot be doubted, would be hailed with delight by the mass of the Italian people. On the other hand, it is wholly [Page 158] repugnant to the views and wishes of that formidable body in the Catholic church known as the ultra-montane party, and they, of course, will oppose in all possible ways the desired consummation.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William Hunter, Acting Secretary of State, &c., &c.