Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward
Sir: The reception of the diplomatic corps by the Emperor, on the first of January passed without any incident deserving special comment. The Papal Nunico, on behalf of himself and colleagues, tendered to their Majesties and the Prince Imperial the usual salutations of the season, to which the Emperor replied as follows:
“Every year at the same period we take a glance at the past, and then turn our thoughts towards the future; happy if we are able, as at present, to congratulate ourselves in having escaped dangers, put an end to apprehensions, and drawn closer the ties which unite populations and kings! Happy above all if the experience of events accomplished permits us to augur for the world long days of peace and prosperity! I thank the diplomatic body for the congratulations which they have the kindness to address to me on the occasion of the New Year.”
The political significance of this discourse was traced in such a shadowy outline that it entirely escaped the observation of the public till pointed out, rather tardily, this morning in the Constitutionnel by the faithful Paulin Limayrac.
His Majesty then addressed every member of the diplomatic corps a few words, but nothing which has been thought to possess special significance, unless his inquiry of the Turkish ambassador if the Sultan observed New Year’s day as he did, marked an absence of mind which entitled it to be considered an exception. He said to me that he hoped that the relations of France and the United States for the coming year would continue as favorable as they had been for the year just closed. I replied that no disposition was wanting on the part of my government to make them so. I then presented Colonel Hay and Mr. Pomeroy, the secretaries of this legation. The Emperor asked Colonel Hay if he had been previously engaged in the diplomatic service. The colonel replied that he had not; that he was secretary to the late President Lincoln when named for this post. The Emperor asked if the colonel was present at the President’s death, and on learning that he was, characterized the crime of the President’s assassination in suitable terms.
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It is suggested also in official quarters that the representatives of the different governments for the universal exposition of 1867 will unite in requesting him to resume the presidency of the imperial commission; and if so, that he will do so. I hope and incline to believe that this report, in all its length and breadth, is true.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.