December 18, Friday. Had a letter from Commodore Wilkes Monday evening, complaining that injustice was done him in my Annual Report. The letter was studiously impudent and characteristic, was untruthful in some respects, and unofficerlike generally. He requested it should be sent to Congress with his correspondence. I replied that such proceeding would be improper, and that it would not, of course, be complied with.
I understand that before my reply left the Department he had furnished copies of his letter to me to the newspapers, which he knows is in violation of regulations as well as of decorum. He had, I see, prepared his letter with great care, while my reply was offhand and hasty. I find his letter in the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer. This discourtesy and repeated violation of regulations will necessitate a court martial with a troublesome man of a good deal of ability, of great leisure, and who is not delicate as regards means. Naval officers of experience have warned me that orders and favors to Wilkes would result in this, —that he is regardless of orders to himself, but tyrannical and exacting to others.
A charge of bribery against a Senator has resulted in John P. Hale’s admission that he is the man referred to, acknowledging that he took the money, but that it was a fee not as a bribe. “Strange such a difference there should be twixt tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.” This loud-mouthed paragon, whose boisterous professions of purity, and whose immense indignation against a corrupt world were so great that he delighted to misrepresent and belie them in order that his virtuous light might shine distinctly, is beginning to be exposed and rightly understood. But the whole is not told and never will be; he is a mass of corruption.
The steamer Chesapeake, seized by Rebel pirate mutineers, has been captured at Sambro, some twenty miles from Halifax. I was informed by telegram last night. Immediately sent word that she must be delivered over to the Colonial authorities, she having been captured in British waters. This order was sent within ten minutes after the telegram was received, the messenger who brought it waiting for the reply.