Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward

No. 4.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that J. G. Walsh, esq., our consul at Nagasaki, having heard that J. D. Buckley, charged with the murder at Shanghai of Captain MacKinnon, of the Emily Banning, an American citizen, and for whose apprehension a reward of 5,000 taels had been offered by the United States consul at Shanghai, was at the port of Nagasaki, a passenger for Havre in the French ship Jeanne and Joseph, under the name of Rayley, applied to the French consul for permission to effect his arrest.

Mr. Dury, the French consul, instituted an inquiry, and satisfied himself that the man was Buckley, but declined to surrender him, or permit his arrest, without the permission of the French minister, for which he applied; meanwhile arresting the man and placing him in the French prison, and suffering the ship to leave without her passenger.

On the receipt of Mr. Walsh’s letter I immediately waited on the French minister, who came to the conclusion he had no authority to give up Buckley. I had no copy of our treaty with France for the surrender of fugitives from justice, but the French book of Consular Instructions evidently contemplates a demand by government, and a surrender by the Emperor on the report of the minister of justice.

The French minister was very willing I should get the man, but was unwilling to assume any responsibility. He disapproved of the consul’s proceedings in making the arrest, as he was guilty of no crime against French law, and was willing to direct his discharge. If the United States authorities should make no arrest, he was also willing to send him to France to be surrendered there on the proper application. Against this I urged the delay and the dispersion of witnesses, &c., &c.

Finally, learning that there were no French ships at Nagasaki, and having arranged that Mr. Walsh should be apprised of the time of Buckley’s discharge from the French prison, I directed him to arrest Buckley at all hazards, and to employ the necessary guard for his safe-keeping, and his delivery to George F. Seward, esq., United States consul at Shanghai, and hope that such measures will be taken as will prevent his escape.

I have the honor to inform you that Captain Sir Roderick Dew, of her Britannic Majesty’s steamship Encounter, who took my letter to our consul, kindly said he would take the prisoner when arrested, and such guard as might be necessary, to Shanghai, to which port he was bound, after touching at Nagasaki.

I shall advise you of the result when I receive the report of our consul, in order that if the person shall be arrested, and taken by the Encounter to that port, the proper acknowledgments may be made in requital of Captain Dew’s courtesy.

I invite your attention also to the probability that many similar cases will arise in these distant ports as the frequency of intercourse increases, and crimes, as it is very likely, will multiply, so that, if the President shall think further treaties necessary, provision may be made for the surrender of a fugitive by a minister on the application of the minister of the power of which the fugitive is a subject or citizen, without reference to or action by the home government.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

ROBERT H. PRUYN, Minuter Resident in Japan.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.