Mr. Hale to Mr. Seward

No. 20.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that at midnight on the 26th February, being at Cairo, with all the other consuls general in Egypt, for the purpose of attending the official reception by the Pacha, appointed at the citadel at eight o’clock the following morning. I received by a special messenger from Alexandria a note brought by the English mail, arrived that afternoon, from Mr. Dudley, United States consul at Liverpool, of date of the 16th, informing me of the launch in the Mersey on the preceding day of a steamer, to which was given the Arabic name of Noor-el-Huda, and which was said to be designed for the Egyptian government, but which he feared was for the rebels. It was impossible to speak to the Pacha on the subject on the 27th, as his day was given to various formal receptions, but I saw his chief of ministers that day, and ascertained that they had no knowledge of the steamer; and on the morning of [Page 317] the 28th I obtained an audience of the Pacha, when he gave me full information to the effect that he had four steamers building in England, all with Arabic names, which he gave me, none of them resembling that given to the vessel launched at Liverpool Two of these vessels are building for his own use in the Thames, and the other two for the Azizich company (a government establishment) by the English Peninsular and Oriental Company, also in the Thames, as I subsequently learned from the agent of the latter company. This full information from his Highness I was able to transmit to Alexandria by telegraph the same morning in season to be forwarded to Mr. Dudley by the British mail going out that day, the 28th, and thus the answer to Mr. Dudley’s note left Egypt forty eight hours after the note came into the country.

I afterwards prepared a more formal memorandum, which I transmitted to Mr. Dudley by the next post. On account of the proof it affords of the friendly disposition of the Pacha towards the United States, I think proper to transmit to you herewith a duplicate of this memorandum. You will observe that to save future questions of this sort the Pacha has promised to tell me whenever he orders a new steamer.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.


The consul general said that he had been informed that a steamer had lately been launched at Liverpool, which was reported to be designed for the Egyptian government, or for an Egyptian company, but which, he feared was for the use of the confederates, and he had come to ask his Highness if he had steamers building in England.

His Highness replied that he had four steamers building in England; that none of them are war steamers; that one of them, a yacht, for his own use, and one other, are building on the Thames, near London; that the two others are building by the Peninsular and Oriental Company for the Azizich Company of Egypt. His Highness was unable to state where these two steamers are building.

The consul general inquired whether these steamers had names, and whether his Highness would give the names?

His Highness replied that the steamers had names: he stated the name of the yacht, and caused his excellency Fiki Bey to be summoned, who wrote all the names in Arabic characters on a paper now in possession of the consul general. His Highness repeated the names, and said they are the true and only names of his vessels, namely: for the yacht, Mahroussa; for the other steamer building at London, Bahira: for the two steamers building by the Peninsular and Oriental Company, Charkieh and Daeablieh.

The consul general mentioned the name Noor-el-Huda, given to the steamer launched at Liverpool, and his Highness said he had no knowledge of that name.

In the course of the conversation his Highness remarked he had a frigate undergoing repairs somewhere, but she is an old vessel; and, further, that in view of the unauthorized use that had been of his name and that of his government, that he would not fail, if now informed that such course would be agreeable to the consul general, to give him information whenever he (his Highness) should have occasion to order any war steamer to be built; which the consul general accordingly requested, and his Highness thereupon promised.

The conversation was held in the French language. This memorandum faithfully gives its substance. Everything here set down was explicitly stated without reserve or hesitation.

In testimony of the truth whereof, the aforesaid Charles Hale, agent and consul general of the United States of America, and Victor Barthon, vice-consul for Alexandria, who was present during the whole interview7, and heard the whole conversation, hereto set our hands at Cairo, Egypt, on the day first herein mentioned; and the said Hale hereto affixes his official seal.[l. s.]