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Informal audience with Emperor.

I had thus an informal audience, not obtained through the regular official channel, and was received by the Emperor with the greatest courtesy. He bade me sit opposite him, and during the conversation which ensued evinced much interest in the progress of the war, made many remarks on details connected with the operations in the field, but the political side of the contest was never touched upon. All I could do was to assure him that the people of the South were determined to fight to the last in defense of the political doctrine of State-rights handed to them as an heirloom by their forefathers, and that in doing so they were only upholding the principles of Washington, and of the other founders of the first Union of States established with the aid of the French nation. To this the Emperor made no reply. In taking leave of him I asked permission to introduce an aide-de-camp of the Governor of Louisiana, the bearer of a letter to him. The Emperor hesitated a moment, asking (I well remember his words): ‘Que me dit il dous cette lettre?’ (What does he tell me in that letter?) I replied that I had not read the letter, but that it surely recalled the fact that Louisiana had originally been a French settlement, adding that the ties of blood had ever since kept alive a natural sympathy with France among the descendants of the first settlers. The Emperor granted my request, but more I think from courtesy to me than from any other motive, for it struck me at the time how guarded he had become the moment we approached the boundary of official [332] ground. However, the next day I introduced Colonel Miltenberger. He handed Governor Allen's letter to the Emperor, who, without opening it; laid it on a table near him. He received us standing and our conversation lasted only a few minutes.

This was my last interview with the Emperor. The news of General Lee's surrender reached us almost immediately afterward, and the briefness of the interval would itself suffice to disprove the allegations contained in the first editorial of the Washington Post on ‘A Lost Chapter of History’ (March 14, 1901), from which I quote the following extract:

‘At all events Polignac, accompanied by Moncure, went to Paris—via Galveston, we think—and though their mission was barren of result, so far as concerned the Confederacy, it leaked out when Moncure returned that Louis Napoleon had frequently consulted with Lord Palmerston and that so far from refusing to consider the proposition at all—whatever it may have been—the latter had given it a great deal of his time, and had finally dismissed it with reluctance. We have since been told that the Queen herself intervened, but we rather think that the appearance of the Russian fleets at New York and San Francisco—with orders, as afterward transpired, to place themselves at the disposal of the United States Government—cut at least some figure in Lord Palmerston's philosophy.’

So much for history! The wonderful array of political intrigues, negotiations, conflicting efforts, and warlike demonstrations, supposed to have taken place in the space of a few weeks, perhaps only of a few days, does infinite credit to the dramatic imagination of the author, as well as to the spirit of enterprise which distinguished this dramatic personage. Indeed, the tenor of the whole article, with the Queen and the Russian fleets thrown in, appeals so strongly to one's sense of humor that it seems a pity to mar by any commentaries the comical foundation of the scene.

Nor are the afterthoughts intended to supply motives for these imaginary facts less ingeniously contrived. I quote again from the aforementioned letter to the Editor of the Washington Post (March 16, 1901):

. . .‘There was a strong feeling at the time west of the Mississippi River that the Confederacy was doomed, and the [333] effort was to preserve the part of the United States west of the river to the PacificOcean as a slaveholding Confederacy. Of course, if the European nations adopted the plan, it was certain that the vast majority of the negroes from the Carolinas to the river would be moved across it and that section would be an agricultural free-trade community. It was, of course, an iridescent dream, but some of the ablest men in the South were dreaming it.’

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