Mr. King to Mr. Seward
Sir: I have received from the State Department copies of the presidential proclamations of April 11, and May 2, 9, 10, and 22, as also of the notification issued by the Secretary of State, dated June 2, relating to foreign passports.
The festival of Corpus Domini was celebrated in this city on the 15th instant, with all the pomp and ceremony with which the church of Rome is accustomed to surround its public observances. The sovereign pontiff, whose health continues excellent, bore a conspicuous part in the imposing pageant, and was welcomed with every outward demonstration of affection and respect by the multitude assembled in the great square of St. Peter.
The anniversaries of the election and coronation of the present Pope, occurring on the 17th and 21st instant, were duly honored in Rome. In accordance with custom, all the members of the diplomatic corps now here called to offer to his Holiness their congratulations upon the happy return of these (to him) memorable days. During my interview with the Holy Father, he spoke with much feeling about American affairs, expressed the sincere pleasure which it gave him to learn that the war was ended, and desired me to convey to the President his best wishes for the success of the administration and the complete restoration of peace, prosperity, and public order. He asked several questions about our national debt, remarking, in the connexion, that ours was a country of wonders and of resources apparently so vast that even a debt of such magnitude need cause no disquiet. His Holiness seemed greatly interested in the probable fate of the leaders of the great rebellion, and especially of Jefferson Davis, expressing the hope that his life might be spared, and no victims offered up on the altar of the restored Union. But as for the conspirators and assassins who had struck down President Lincoln and attempted the murder of the Secretary of State, he was entirely content that, in their case, justice should do her perfect work. I repeated to his Holiness the assurance which I had heretofore given to Cardinal Antonelli that no life would be wantonly, vengefully, or unnecessarily taken, and that the greatest civil war the world had ever seen would close with the smallest number of victims recorded in history.
After taking leave of the Pope, I proceeded as usual to make a formal visit to the cardinal secretary of state, and conversed for some time with his eminence about American affairs. He, too, manifested great interest in the progress and results of the American state trials, and warmly congratulated me upon the final and happy termination of our great struggle.
M. Yegezzi, the representative of Victor Emanuel, has been in Rome, on his second visit, for two or three weeks past. He is here, however, in no recognized official capacity, but rather as a private and confidential messenger; and thus far his mission has been without any actual practical result. The influences for and against his success seem so nearly balanced that, as yet, it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict which way the scale will turn.
The papal court is about breaking up for the summer. Early next month his Holiness goes to his favorite retreat in the Alvan hills, Castel Gandolfo, and the diplomatic corps have already commenced dispersing. After St. Peter’s day, the 29th instant, very few will be left in Rome.
Bishop Lynch, of Charleston, South Carolina, late confederate agent, is still here. I had an interview with him at his request a short time since. He admitted that the cause of the south was hopeless, expressed a wish to return to his home and post of duty, and asked me on what terms he could be re-admitted into the United States. I told him that the first thing to be done was to take the oath of allegiance, and make his peace with the federal government. This [Page 162] he was willing and ready to do, if that would suffice; but he seemed apprehensive that if he returned to America he might be proceeded against criminally. I told him that the President’s proclamation, which was daily expected, would no doubt contain full information on this point. The proclamation has since arrived, and Bishop Lynch, I understand, considers himself included in the list of exceptions. His present purpose, as I learn from a mutual friend, is to proceed to Havana, and thence make his appeal to the federal authorities. I judge that he is effectually cured of his secession folly.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.