European News.

From our late Northern files we continue to extract from the latest European intelligence as follows:

The American question — Attitude of France.

The correspondent of the New York Times, writing from Paris, under date of Jan, 24th, says:

‘ The French Government has probably protested against the closing of the Southern ports with stones, but if it has, it is done in more becoming language than that employed by the English Foreign office, for the same purpose. In London they continue to write to Paris that the French Government is taking the lead in the matter of a recognition of the Confederacy, and declaration of the nullity of the blockade, while in Paris they write to London that it is the English Government which is taking the lead. The statement so often repeated, that in July last the French Government proposed a recognition to the English Government, continues to circulate uncontradicted, and yet it would be important to know what foundation there is for such a report.

It would be difficult to say upon what fact or facts the irritation against us al Paris is cased. The commerce at Rouen and at Lyons is arrested, and a hundred thousand workpeople at least are now living on contributions from the Government and from private individuals; but to provoke a war with the people of the United States, or even the ill-will of its people, would not be a remedy, since we suppose that in such a contingency there would be a total prohibition of trade with France, and that while gaining the trade of eight millions of people, they would lose the trade of twenty millions--facts which the public men of France must perfectly comprehend. But the people seem to be irritated because of the inactivity or incompetency of the army, and the constant boasting about triumphs in perspective. They disapprove also of the sinking of obstructions in the ports of the South, on the general principle that it is an unnecessary abridgment of the resources which, nature has offered for increasing the world's riches. They are irritated, also, because the Government of Washington does not boldly declare the abolition of slavery.

The Emperor's source of information.

The Paris correspondent of the London Star, writes as follows:

‘ It will, doubtless, be interesting to your readers to hear that the Emperor does not in any way consult these oracles on the subject, any more than does generally the public here. His Imperial Majesty, I can with the greatest confidence assert, derives much of his information on American subjects from an American gentleman with whom he is in the habit of conversing frequently on Transatlantic affairs, and who has lived so many years in Europe as to enable him to take a less prejudicial view of men, parties, and political events in America than he could under any other circumstances. Yesterday, this gentleman had the honor of being summoned to the Tuileries, where he was, in the course of a long interview with the Emperor, interrogated, with evident interest, about the probable effects on the Charleston harbor of the sinking of the granite blocks; the geographical features of the region round the Potomac, the probable chances of the Secessionist party succeeding in breaking up the Union, and more especially the parentage, education, character, and general antecedents of McClellan.

The person of whom his Imperial Majesty demanded this information is acquainted thoroughly with the South and the coast line along the Southern States. He is a fellow-townsman of McClellan, was on intimate terms with the General's father, an Irish surgeon, who settled at Philadelphia, and who was noted for his kindness of heart, shrewdness of character, and straightforward, original manners, as well as his great success as a medical practitioner. Surgeon McClellan was also celebrated for the good advice he was in the habit of giving to the young folk of the city in which he lived, and gave, years age, to the gentleman who yesterday enlightened the Emperor as to his habits and manners, some that was followed, and by being followed brought in Europe a young and unknown American, after a few years steady industry, to a position honorable in the highest degree.

After listening to the history of the respectable old Irish emigrant, who, His Majesty was also informed, from the rapid manner in which he performed the old-fashioned operation on those afflicted with the Dolores was nicknamed ‘"Core tic doloreux instanter,"’the conversation turned to the Commander-in-chief of the United States army. If Napoleon was not already aware that Gen. McClellan was trained in the art of war at the military academy of West Point, and in the Crimean war with the ‘"Jeunesse strangere,"’ which attached itself to the French army, he was on this occasion informed of it, as well as the high probity and unflinching strength of character which, irrespective of great intellectual qualities, would be sufficient to mark him out as one of the leading men in the American Union.

Circumstances illustrative of them were brought for ward, and the narrator of the previous history of the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal army, with an honest pride, laid great emphasis on the fact, that if his parents were not obscure, they were the opposite of illustrious, in the sense generally attached to that word. The conversation then turned upon Charleston harbor. His Imperial Majesty seemed to blame the recent course of the Federal Government in relation to it, and said, if I remember rightly, that France would not think it necessary to pursue such a course were it at war with a neighbor.

The arrival of Mason and Slidell.

An English paper says:

‘ It appears from the statement of a gentleman who has accompanied them home that Messrs. Mason and Slidell left Fort Warren, at Boston, where they had been, confined, on the 1st of January, the first intimation of their release being conveyed to them by the arrival of a tipstaff to tell them to go out of their prison. Mr. Slidell asked him for his papers, to show his authority for the course he was taking. The tipstaff replied that he had none, on which Mr Slidell declined to leave; but he at length yielded to the solicitations of Col. Dymock, the commandant of the fortress, who begged him to go, as he knew the man, and that no papers could be produced. The four prisoners were taken from Fort Warren in charge of the tipstaff and six marines, without any officer, and conveyed forty miles in a steam tug to Cape Sable, where they were transferred to Her Majesty's gunboat Rinaldo, Captain Hewitt, which was lying off to receive them. The Rinaldo bore up for Halifax for four days, and was then driven by the violence of the storm that was raging to Bermuda They all landed at Bermuda, and remained there one day. Admiral Milue ordered the Rinaldo to take them on to St. Thomas to catch the mail steamer for England, offering the Commissioners, however, if they preferred it, to send them on in Her Majesty's ship Racer, but they expressed themselves well satisfied with the Rinaldo, and accordingly proceeded in her. She left Bermuda on the 10th inst., and arrived at St., Thomas on the 14th, about two hours before the Fleta sailed for this port.

The health of the prisoners has not suffered in any way by their confinement in Fort Warren, although they describe both the prison and the treatment they received as being very bad. Capt. Hewitt, of the Rinaldo, did everything in his power to testify the kindly feelings of the British Government towards the prisoners, and to promote their comfort on board his ship; and they speak in the same manner of the behavior and conduct of all the British officers, both of the naval and merchant service, with whom they have come in contact.

Mr Slidell left here by the 11.30 A. M. Train for London, whence he proceeds to Paris, where Mrs. Slidell and family are awaiting his arrival. Mr. Mason followed by the 2 o'clock train, a telegram having been received from Captain Pegram, who is in London, that he would wait there to meet him.

There was a considerable crowd of persons collected on the dock-quay when the Plata came alongside, as, indeed, there always is on the arrival of a West India mail steamer, and the number was undoubtedly increased as the news spread that Mason and Slidell were on board — curiosity to see the four men whose case has figured so prominently before the world during the last two months, and who are said by the Times to have cost this country a million sterling apiece, having drawn some people to the spot. There was, however, not the least attempt to get up any sort of demonstration on the part of the spectators; not a cheer was raised, and when the released prisoners left the Plata they passed on shore, and to their hotel, just as any ordinary passengers.

Some of the officers of the Nashville waited upon Messrs Mason and Slidell to pay their respects, immediately on the arrival of the Plata.

Reward's letter to Smith O'Brien.

Washington, Dec. 24, 1861
Mr. Dear Sir.
I have received your letter of these of Livingston, it is a pleasant stream.

stance, in these times of care and anxiety, to know that the generous friendship which was so long ago formed between us has, on your part, as it has on my own, survived the accidents of time and distance. I thank you sincerely, moreover, for the interest in the affairs of my country which prompted your communication, and I have not the least disposition to complain that you gave it to the press before it could reach my hands. The subject in not a private, but a public one.--You had a right to suppose it ought to be publicly known, while if, from want of recent knowledge of American affair, or any other cause, it was unwise, the intelligent masses in Europe and America, whose consideration it should receive, would be able to discern the error.

You would hardly expect me, even if official restraints were removed, to discuss with you the questions you have raised. I would rather send you copies of such public papers as I have had occasion to write recently upon the condition of affairs in the United States. You will find therein the reasons which explain my own position, which is in important respects so different from your own, namely, that society on this continent could encounter no reverse of its progress so disastrous as the division of the American Union. It would be war henceforth. continually, and forever. So, also, I think that society in Europe has no evils before it equal to what would result from a revive of ambitions on the part of European States for dominion across the Atlantic You view the dangers of war very differently from myself.--While I believe war, waged without necessity and without motive, is not only a calamity but a crime, I think, also, that the State that being just, equal, and tolerant in its Government, as the United States, by force of their political Constitution, and their settled convictions and habits, must always be, can and must bear with wars unnecessarily forced upon it by sedition within its jurisdiction. We shall never, with my consent, make a war unnecessarily or unjustly against any foreign State. Standing always, not only in the right, but upon the defensive, we shall, while our virtue lasts, be adequate to defend, maintain, and preserve institutions, the subversion of which could not increase the freedom or happiness of one human being in the world, either in this generation or in any that are to come.

No, my dear sir, if you would promote the cause of America, of Ireland, of Great Britain, of humanity itself, speak and act in every case, and without quantification, for the American Union.

I do indeed know that too many of my countrymen, heated by passion, think and feel differently; but for me, who have not only seen, but felt, in every hour of my life and in every condition the inspiring and elevating influence of such a political constitution and such a country, without seeing a single act of injustice committed on any one, or suffering a single injury myself, there can be but one loyal wish — namely that I may die, as I have lived, a citizen of the unbroken American Union, and may leave to those who come after me, as we received from those who went before us, all its honored institutions, unimpaired and reinvigorated.

I remain, my dear sir, yours sincerely and truly,

William H. Seward.
To Smith O' Brien, Esq., Killiney, county Dublin, Ireland.

The Emperor's speech.

The London correspondent of the New York Times writes as follows:

‘ The speech of the Emperor was rather a damper to those who expected immediate French intervention. Its saving clause, ‘"as long as neutral rights shall be respected,"’ is some comfort to Messrs. Manu and Yancey But he truth is, that the he just now has his hands full of his own finances. His speech was for the Bourse. It was peace all over. He left the neutral rights question open for future action. Beside, greatly interested as France is in the settlement of the question, England in far more interested. For the Emperor to interfere now, would be to be the cat's paw of England. Both want the chestnuts — the only question is, who shall first put his hand into the fire? ‘"You want them more than I do,"’ says the Emperor, "so pull them out, mon ami, Jean Bull!"

Parliament meets in a week. The leaders have issued their invitations. The merchants and manufacturers are ready to come down on the Government with an overwhelming force. Mr. Mason has nothing to do but stand by with his jocund face, and see the fun go on. He will doubtless pursue the policy of ‘"masterly inactivity"’ sketched out for him by the Times this morning, which has been followed by his illustrious predecessors. Mann and Yancey have taken things very easy. Mr. Mann talks graciously with all his visitors; Mr. Yancey smokes his cigar at the Conservative Club, like a philosopher, and both have left John Bull to fight their battle.

Mexico--Spanish and French Contentions.

The Journal des Debats says:

‘ We do not yet know what may be the feelings of Spain. Two or three of the Madrid journals have, however, spoken on the subject, and they state that the Spanish General in Mexico will not serve under the orders of the French General; and, as it is very improbable that the latter will receive any order from the former, this is a point on which preliminary negotiations are necessary to secure a common and efficacious action.--But, what is most singular, is the reception given at Vienna to the account whether false or true, of offers which are said to have been made to the Archduke Maximilian. ‘"Austria now,"’ says the Ost-Deutsche Post in substance,‘"is not yet so reduced as to accept such benefits."’ It will therefore be necessary, according to that journal, that Austria should consider herself humiliated to receive, for an Austrian Prince, an empire of 8,000,000 of subjects, like a gentleman, formerly rich, but now poor, would be insulted by alms being offered to him. What appears insupportable to the party of which the Ost-Deutsche Post is the organ, is the idea that the Archduke Maximilian could not reign in Mexico except under the protection of a non-Austrian carps d'armes; and on the other hand, a Belgian journal yesterday stated that the nearest friends of the Archduke advise him to refuse the throne of Mexico unless France will engage to keep its army of occupation at Mexico and at Vera Cruz for ten years, Thus, during the last two days, another King has been spoken of for the Mexicans. But so many contradictory rumors, if they do not throw much light on the definitive issue of the Mexican expedition, at least show that all the difficulties of execution inherent to a design of this kind have not at present been removed. This will explain the silence which the Emperor thought it proper to observe in his speech as to the ulterior destinies reserved for Mexico."

The offer to the Archduke Maximilian Declined.
[from the Vienna Ost. Deutsche Post]

Some French letters pretend that the treaty which is to confide the crown of Mexico to the Archduke Maximilian, is to be signed in the course of next week. We have no hesitation in thinking that this statement is a pure invention. Austria does not at this moment find herself equal to her normal position. She is in one of those states of disquiet so frequent in her history. But the dignity of the Empire and of its people has not yet fallen so low, that a proposition could be seriously made to a brother of its sovereign, to the grandson of the Emperors of Germany, and to a Prince of Hungary and of Bohemia, to accept a throne under the protection of French and English arms, in a distant part of the world, which has never in reality existed in a country where with a Federative Republic which does not even show attachment and respect for its elected President, a monarchy is to be founded, and that by the aid of a French expeditionary corps. Neither can we think that all this statement is devoid of some foundation, and the probability is that an offer has been made on this subject at Vienna by the French Government. Our conviction, however, is that such a proposition could only be met by a positive refusal, and that if the insinuating and flattering form of the other has not allowed of a brief No, at least an evasive answer has been given. We can never believe, like the writers of the letters in question, that a treaty can be on the point of being signed.

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