Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward.
Sir: Since my last despatch two steps have been taken in the Prussian Austrian quarrel, and apparently in the direction of peace.
Immediately after the arrival of the Prussian despatch of 15th April, (mentioned in my No. 163, of April 18,) intimating that Austria should take the initiative in disarming, a proposition was made by the Bavarian government to Austria and Prussia that the two governments should disarm simultaneously.
This was at once accepted by the cabinet of Vienna, and a statement to that effect, dated 18th April, was communicated to the Prussian government through the imperial envoy at Berlin. A reply from the Berlin cabinet was given to this government on the 23d, through the Prussian envoy at the imperial court.
This despatch, dated 21st April, authorizes Baron Werther to say that the armament in Prussia had been caused by the threatening demonstrations and movements of the Austrian army near the Prussian frontier; that the king will readily undertake to discontinue his preventive measures as soon as, and in the same proportion as, the causes which produced them shall be removed by the imperial government; that the royal government accepts with satisfaction the proposition contained in Count Mensdorff’s despatch of the 18th April, and that so fast as the King receives authentic information that the dislocations establishing a readiness for war against Prussia have been reversed, he will order the reduction of those Prussian military forces which have been increased since the 27th of March.[Page 660]
The Prussian government, in brief, will keep exact pace with Austria in disarming, and expects that all the other German governments will countermand their warlike measures, and that Austria will use its influence with them in that direction in the interest of peace.
You will observe that the tone of this last utterance from Prussia is more moderate than that of any of the late communications of that government.
It cannot be said, however, that the despatch has done very much to tranquilize the imperial government or the public mind. The day on which it was received happened to be signalized by very alarming rumors from Italy. Not only were exaggerated statements made of military preparations and movements of troops towards the Venetian border, but circumstantial accounts of positive conflicts near Rovigo were circulated.
The official Vienna Gazette of this morning declares all these rumors to be destitute of foundation, and announces perfect tranquillity as existing in the whole Lombardo-Venetian kingdom.
Nevertheless the southern army of Austria, in view of apprehended danger from Italy, is placed on a war footing.
It is superfluous to say that the Italian movements, whatever they may be, are considered here to he directly connected with the Prussian arrangements, and that the fact of the arming of Austria in the south may be interpreted by Prussia as an indication that the imperial government is prepared for a general war.
The situation is not thought to be materially improved. Obviously the great causes of conflict, the desire of Prussia to annex the duchies and the general German question, has not been touched in the recent correspondence.
I have the honor to remain, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.