Mr. Hale to Mr. Seward
Sir: I received on the 19th instant your No. 13, under date of 21st September, and lost no time in writing to the minister of foreign affairs, who is now in [Page 331] Cairo, in the exact sense of your instruction. No answer has yet been received; but this is not remarkable, for the minister would naturally take the instruction to the Pacha, who has been making an excursion on the Nile so far as Minieh, from which he did not return to Cairo until the morning of the 25th.
Colonel Stanton, the British agent and consul general, to whom I had communicated the substance of my information at the end of August, and who had transmitted it to his government, called on me on the 20th instant (that is, the day after I had received your instruction) and informed me that he had the instructions of his government to remonstrate against any forcible and compulsory deportation of Nubians from Egypt to serve under the French flag in Mexico. I believe these are the exact words of his instruction.
I may mention that the British hold the Egyptian authorities to a very exact fulfilment of their promises for the abolition of slavery. It is certain that slavery still exists in Egypt; but any slave who can manage to get before the British consul is sent with the dragoman of the consulate to the local court where his free papers are demanded and are accorded. In this way Mr. Reade, British consul at Cairo, and Mr. Stanley, British consul at Alexandria, have secured the manumission of at least twenty each (probably a larger number) since I have been here. In one instance it was a slave woman who had escaped from a Pacha’s harem, and fled to Mr. Reade’s house. Her master followed and tried to persuade her to return. She was firm, and he was obliged to give her up, although, no doubt, she had cost him a large sum. Mr. Stanley, within a fortnight, has secured the freedom, in a similar manner, for two or three people escaped from the service of a high officer in the Egyptian navy.
It has, no doubt, occurred to Colonel Stanton, and the suggestion, no doubt, would be approved by Lord Russell, that the same principles which led Great Britain to object to forced labor on the Suez canal, and to involuntary domestic servitude in Egypt, apply to compulsory military drafts here for service in Mexico.
Soon after my despatch No. 41 was forwarded, one of the local papers here reproduced, in Italian, a letter, probably from the Independence Beige, connecting Nubra Pacha’s visit to Paris with this business. It was stated in this letter that the Egyptian government would place several regiments at the disposal of France to re-enforce the army of occupation in Mexico, and that the question of money was all that remained to be settled between the Egyptian and French governments.
The French local paper printed the day before yesterday some extracts from a paper, by the Count de Kératry, in the Revue des Deux Mondes, extolling the good service of the Egyptian troops in Mexico.
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Meanwhile there is no intelligence of the coming of the negroes. A considerable body of Egyptian troops, perhaps as many as four or five thousand, have just come to Alexandria, and are quartered in the barracks at Ras-el-tin. These, however, are not negroes; a considerable portion of them are new recruits, and it is said they are brought here for purposes of drill.
A detachment of French soldiers, from Cochin China, has also just arrived from Suez at Alexandria, and is said to be waiting the arrival of transports to take them back to France. Meanwhile they are quartered on board the hospital ship, which is the only French government vessel now in this harbor.
Three Austrian men-of-war lately arrived and still remain in the harbor.
I shall keep this despatch open until the latest moment before the departure of the mail packet, in order to be able to send any additional information which I may be able to obtain.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHARLES HALE.[Page 332]
Sunday Morning, October 29.
The mail packet is on the point of leaving. I have nothing important to add. I have as yet no answer from the minister of foreign affairs, and the position of things at the barracks of Ras-el-tin and in the harbor, according to reports received this morning, is not changed.