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San Francisco Alta California, December 10, 1866


EDITORS ALTA: I wish, now, I hadn't advertised to lecture to-night on the "Sandwich Islands," because everything seems conspiring to discompose my mind. The telegraphic despatches about that Col. Perkins tangled me up a good deal, and now, right on top if it comes this dreadful correspondence between Secretary Seward and Minister Bigelow -- and yet, whether I got that straight in my head or not, I have got to preach. Do you know what Bigelow is driving at? Do you know if Bigelow drinks?

As I understand it, Bigelow says the Mexican troops have countermanded the order conveying to Austria the power to centralize her authority in the interim, and meanwhile we are to receive the policy of the French Government as pointing to ultimate repudiation of Enclosure No. 3, and the resumption of the principles set forth in Enclosure No. 1 -- and this in the face of the intimation that "Gen. Almonte, who was appointed to replace M. (Mike?) Hidalgo at this Court, has arrived." Also, as I understand Bigelow, per Enclosure No. 2, there are some Austrian tropps in question, but they are not Austrians now. They were Austrains formerly, but Austria has had no difficulty in explaining to Motley that they are partly Mexicans now, because they are serving in Mexico, and partly Frenchmen, because they are fighting in the ranks of the French auxiliaries. Next she will be wanting to convince Motley, that they are horses because they live on barley, in the conditon of soup. Here we have Austrian volunteers and enclosures so-and-so, and old Almonte, and Mike Hidalgo all mixed up together, and as if that were not enough, it appears that Princess Carlota, General Grant and Marquis de Montholon have got a hand in it. And Drouyn de Lhuys says he has been speaking with Bigelow, who has been spending some time at Ems! Our Minister cavorting around in that way, and such infernal questions as these to be ciphered out! I don't know who Em is, and I don't care --she is not any better than she ought to be, though, I expect -- but I do know that Bigelow might be in better business.

But the most tanglesome paragraph in the whole lot, is the one where Seward says to this libertine Bigelow, that he "has written to the Emperor Maximilian that the Austrian volunteers being only a contingent, and not a necessary interrognum within the meaning of international law, and the violation of treaty stipulatons not virtually depending upon the acceptance or dismissal of a proposition so fraught with vital consequences to both nations, whether of the Old World or the New, he does not so consider it."

I copper that document. It is altogether too many for me. I sort of got the hang of what Bigelow was driving at (though really I don't know, yet, what he was trying to worry through his head), but Seward is entirely too lively for me. I shall be tangled hopelessly for a week, now. But this shall be a lesson to me. I will never bother my head with diplomatic correspondence any more.


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