[Being the correspondence between the Minister of the United States and the government of Paraguay, from March 26th, 1868, to the close of Mr. Washburn’s mission.]
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: In a recent interview which I had the honor to hold with your honor, you were kind enough to remark that it might be of advantage tome in making excursions into the country if I had a passport from your office. Though I have never suffered any inconvenience as yet from not having a passport, but have always experienced either with or without one the same courtesy and kindness from all, both officials and private citizens, yet, as your honor remarked, at this time, when extra vigilance and care are required, it is quite possible that a passport from your honor might be of service in preventing any misunderstanding on the part of officials and consequently avert anything that might cause annoyance. I will therefore thank your honor if at your earliest convenience you will send me such passport as may be of service in preventing any difficulty or misunderstanding.
I take this occasion to renew to your honor assurances of distinguished consideration and esteem.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister for Foreign Relations.[Page 724]
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 26th instant, in reply to my suggestion that you should have a passport to go to the country, that you had never been molested without one. I said in times like these, a passport would be of no disadvantage, and might be of service to you; you asked for one.
In reply I must say to you, that when I offered to give you a pass to go out of the city, it was to protect you from molestation by the patrol and sentries or other officers to whom you might not be known; and one would have been sent to you immediately, if you had told me where you wanted to go.
If you will tell me where you wish to go, one will be sent you. This question is asked, not because we care where you wish to go, but to save you trouble on the way, though it seems from your note that you do not wish to betray the place of your destination.
I embrace the occasion to repeat the assurance of my consideration and esteem.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your note of the 26th instant, in which, referring to my observation on the expediency of your carrying a passport, in case you went into the country, you were pleased to say that you had never yet been molested for want of one, but had ever been treated with civility by everybody, citizens as well as soldiers; yet, at my suggestion, that in these troublous times, when double vigilance was required, a passport might be of service to you, to prevent you being molested by officers, and to prevent other difficulties, therefore you requested a passport of that character to be sent to you as soon as possible, to prevent any misunderstanding. In reply, I must say to you, that when I offered you a passport for the special occasion of an excursion into the country, when you would have to go out of the capital, it was done with the intention of preventing any misunderstanding with the patrol and military sentinels of the military post where you had your residence, and with officials outside of those limits to whom you might not be personally known. I would have sent you the passport immediately, if you had been civil enough to inform me where you wanted to go.
I beg, therefore, that you will indicate this circumstance, with the understanding that this department has no other interest in knowing it than to save you from trouble, and if you do not see fit to do so, as [Page 725]appears in your note, to which this is a reply, we will not insist on its acceptance.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn..
I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your note of the 19th, in which, after alluding to a former interview about sending the correspondence for your government to the representative of the United States in Buenos Ayres, you state that every day makes it more necessary to send on that correspondence, and then you give me the reasons therefor, and end by asking me to make this known to the President, that he may order it to be sent by a flag of truce.
I have communicated the contents of that note to my government; and knowing it to be your duty to correspond with your government, I am ordered to inform you that the correspondence of the legation will be received in the department and transmitted by the secretary general in the same manner as your other communications.
I embrace the occasion to renew to you the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your note of yesterday asking an interview with the President of the republic, and requesting me to make the desire known to him, with other particulars in the note.
In reply I am pleased to inform you that the President will receive you at his headquarters; and I am authorized to place at your disposal the first idle steamer, which order I communicate this day to the minister of war and marine.
With these remarks, I remain yours, &c.,
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.[Page 726]
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
The Portuguese subject, Don José Maria Leite Pereira, having disappeared some days since from his ordinary residence in Trinidad, in contravention of orders in force, I have the honor to inquire of your excellency if it be true, as the police has been informed, that the said individual is now in the American legation, and for how long since; hoping your excellency will also please inform me of the nature and motive of his remaining in that legation.
At the same time I beg your excellency will remit me a list of all the persons who, without belonging to the legation, are sheltered in it.
On this occasion I have the honor to renew to your excellency the assurances of my most distinguished consideration and esteem.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 20th instant, in which you advise me that the Portuguese subject José Maria Leite Pereira had disappeared from his ordinary residence by evasion of the police orders, and you request me to inform you if, as the police had reported, he was in this legation, and how long he had been here; and you add that I am also to inform you in what quality and with what motive he remains in this legation.
You also request me, at the same time, that I will send you a list of all the persons that, without belonging to the legation, are sheltered by it.
You will permit me to observe that all these questions pertain to the internal affairs of this legation, and that therefore I am under no obligation, except as a matter of courtesy, to return any answers to them. Nevertheless I shall give you the desired information, so far as I have it, though the note of your honor calls for it in terms so peremptory as would justify me in withholding it.
The individual mentioned by you, Don José Maria Leite Pereira, whom I had always known as the acting consul of the King of Portugal, and so recognized him on various official occasions, came to this legation, accompanied by his wife, on the 16th instant. They have remained here ever since in the quality of guests of Mrs. Washburn and myself. Of his motives in coming here I am not further informed than that they are founded on the representation of Mr. Cuberville, at present in charge of the French consulate, after his return from his late visit to San Fernando.
I give, as requested by you, a list of the persons not belonging to the legation, but whom I have nevertheless received within its premises, some as guests and some in other capacities. In my note of the 24th of February, which was not sent but as an accompaniment of that of the [Page 727]4th of April, I gave a list of the persons belonging to the legation. None of these are included in the present list, which is as follows:
Mr. and Mrs. Eden, Mrs. Thomas (widow) and three children, Mrs. Cutler (widow) and two children, Mr. and Mrs. Watts and four children, Mr. Newton and four children, Mr. Miles, English; Don Antonio de las Carreras, and Don Francisco Rodriguez Larreta, Oriental; John A. Duffield and Thomas Carter, Americans; José Maria Leite Pereira and wife, Portuguese; Adolph Brose, German.
I take this occasion to tender to your honor assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesutdo Benitez, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
Gumesindo Benitez, first official in charge of the department of foreign affairs, presents his respects to the minister resident of the United States of America, the Hon. Mr. Washburn, and has the honor to inclose to him a sealed package, sent to him by the commander of the gunboat Wasp. Gumesindo Benitez embraces the occasion to renew to the honorable minister the assurances of his distinguished consideration and esteem.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note of the 22d instant, in which is confirmed the fact that the Portuguese subject, José Maria Leite Pereira, is sheltered in the legation of the United States in contravention of all governmental dispositions.
Reserving for another occasion my answer to the various points touched upon in your excellency’s note, I limit myself for the present to request of your excellency that since the aforesaid Leite Pereira is accused and has to appear before the proper tribunal, you will have the goodness to cause him to be delivered to the police officer who will present himself for that purpose at your house two hours after the delivery of this note.
I take this opportunity to renew to your excellency the assurances of my most distinguished consideration and esteem.
His Excellency Mr. Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.[Page 728]
Señor Fernandez to Mr. Washburn..
Major Fernandez has the honor to salute the honorable minister of the United States, and to thank him, in the marshal’s name, for the notices in relation to the Wasp which he intrusted to me for his excellency.
Major Fernandez is ordered by the marshal to request you to tender his thanks to Mr. Kirkland, commander of the United States steamer Wasp.
Major Fernandez has inquired for papers and packages to be sent to Mr. Washburn by Mr. Kirkland, and has learned that the enemy’s truce-boat only delivered the note of the 20th instant, at Timbo, which he has the honor to make known to you, with his respects.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: At 6 o’clock last evening the note of your honor of the same date was left at this legation. Being absent at the time, it was not delivered into my hands till some time after. In this note you state that mine of the 22d instant has confirmed the fact that Don José Maria Leite Pereira is sheltered in this legation in contravention of all government orders.
Your honor adds that, reserving to a suitable occasion your answer to the different points embraced in my note, you limit yourself for the present to ask that the said Leite Pereira being accused and required to appear before the proper tribunal, I should deliver him to the police official who was to call for him two hours after the delivery of your letter.
The official came within one hour after the note of your honor was received by me, and I advised him that I would not then deliver the said Leite Pereira, but would to-day write an answer to your note of yesterday, giving my reasons therefor.
I must confess to a very great surprise on reading this note of your honor, as I conceive that on two very material points it does not show the respect due to an accredited minister of a friendly nation. I am requested in a manner almost peremptory to deliver up a guest of mine, against whom no specific crime or charge is laid, and who, like myself, is entirely ignorant of the nature of the accusation that you say has been made against him. I am also requested to deliver him to a police officer, who would be sent to take him. This request that a foreign minister should deliver a party to the police appears to me of so strange a nature that under any and all circumstances I must decline to accede to it. All that I could do, even were a grave and specific crime laid to his charge, would be to advise him that my house could no longer give him an asylum; and when he was out of it, then he might deliver himself up to the police, or wait till he was arrested.
I find that all the writers on international law that I have been able to consult agree both in regard to extradition from one country to [Page 729]another, and to the delivery of persons who have fled for asylum to the legation of a foreign minister; that he is not under any obligations to deliver them, except for some definite and high crime against the state or sovereign. This being recognized as the law in such cases, it follows that before surrendering Mr. Leite Pereira I must first ask for the specific offence or offences of which he is accused. Says Vattel, in speaking of the rights of asylum: “When we treat of certain common offenses, of people often more unfortunate than guilty, or whose punishment is not very important to the repose of society, the hotel of an ambassador may well serve as an asylum; and it is better to allow offenders of this class to escape than to expose the minister to see himself frequently disturbed under pretext of domiciliary visits—than to compromise the state in the inconveniences which might arise.” (Vattel, Law of Nations, book iv, chapter 9, section 118.)
Your honor will observe that according to this doctrine the mere allegation that a person is accused without stating his offense is not sufficient reason why he should be delivered up, and will do me the credit, I trust, to believe that if I did not surrender the individual in question it was from no wish or intention of shielding any accused person from the penalties of violated laws. It was simply to conform to the law established for such cases so exactly as to be my own justification in so grave a matter to my own government and the world.
The case for me is one of greater delicacy and responsibility from the fact that up to the day that Mr. Pereira came to my house he had been known to me and recognized by the government of Paraguay in an official capacity, that of acting consul of Portugal. His offense or crime, therefore, must have been committed when he still held that character; and the case presents grave doubts whether a consul of one nation has not exceptional and stronger claims on the protection of the minister of another than a person holding no public position. In the few authorities I have at hand I find no reference to any analogous case, as it appears that there is no precedent for a person holding a consular capacity being demanded as a criminal from the minister of another nation. Indeed, it has been held by many writers of high repute on international law, that in their persons they were entirely privileged, the same as ministers. One of these, Pinheiro Ferreira, in his commentary on Martyrs, says: “It may be affirmed in general that consuls, and commercial agents assimilated to consuls, as well as the persons forming part of the consulate, enjoy, like public ministers, inviolability as to their persons, though they have not the privilege of exterritoriality. Other modern authors of much celebrity go still further in support of the immunities of consuls, while some do not go so far. But as your honoris doubtless familiar with the principal authorities on international law, it is not necessary that I should quote further, and in giving the above extracts it has only been to indicate the gravity of the situation in which I am placed. A too ready acquiescence would bring upon me, I am convinced, the contempt of the government of Paraguay, as it would the censure of my own government and the obloquy of the civilized world. Under such circumstances I most respectfully request that the specific charges against Mr. Leite Pereira may be made known to me, when, if they shall be of the grave character that shall require it, he will be advised that this legation can no longer give him an asylum.
I will only add that Mr. Leite Pereira has at all times expressed his entire willingness to leave this legation, and even surrender himself to the authorities of the country, whenever I shall indicate that my house can give him no longer protection; that, conscious of no offense, and [Page 730]relying on the justice of the tribunals of Paraguay, he will be ready to meet and disprove any allegations that may be brought against him.
I take this occasion to tender to your honor assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have received the note of your excellency, dated the 28th ultimo, in reply to that which I, on the 27th, had the honor to address your excellency, acknowledging the receipt of your note of the 22d, in which you confirmed the fact that the Portuguese subject, José Maria Leite Pereira, was sheltered in the American legation, in opposition to all governmental arrangements, and limiting myself to request the delivery of the said individual, accused of a grave offense, and who was to appear before the appropriate tribunal.
As in the same note I announced to you that I reserved to another time my reply to the different points touched upon in your excellency’s note of the 22d, and as, besides, the last dispatch of your excellency of the 28th contains other points not less important, and which, like the former, directly affect not only unquestionable rights, but also the principles which govern the conduct of nations in their mutual relations under the empire, of reason, of justice, and of law, you will permit me to consign in this note my reply to the two above-mentioned notes of your excellency.
Referring to my note of the 20th, in which I begged for information as to the fact which had been stated of the shelter given to Leite Pereira in your legation; the character and motive of his staying there; as well as concerning the request I made to be informed by list of the persons who, without belonging to the legation, are sheltered in it, you say that all these questions belong to the internal affairs of the legation, and that, consequently, your excellency is not under obligation to give any reply to it, except as a matter of courtesy.
You add that Leite Pereira went to that legation, accompanied by his wife, on the 16th ultimo; from that time he has remained as a guest; and that of motives of his going there your excellency is not further informed than that they were founded upon the representations of Mr. Guberville, at present charged with the French consulate, after his return from his late visit to San Fernando; and close the note of the 22d giving the list asked for of persons, and stating that although not belonging to the legation, your excellency has received them within it, some as guests and others in other capacities.
First of all, I must manifest to you that the expressions referred to as from Mr. Cuberville prove, although in a very unsatisfactory manner, that the refugee in question sought the house of your excellency to escape from justice, and, for the same reason, the title of guest given him by you with that knowledge does not appear to afford a very correct [Page 731]explanation. And, respecting the declaration of your excellency, that you were under no obligation to give the explanations called for by my government, concerning a subject of vital interest under present circumstances, I must declare in my turn that you can have no right in the present case to deny the information and the explanations solicited in my note of the 20th, for the reasons which you will find in the present; but before going further I will make a summary of your note of the 28th. In it you state that at 6 o’clock, on the 27th, my note of that date was delivered at the legation, and that one hour after its receipt arrived the officer alluded to in my note; that you informed me that you would not then deliver up the said Leite Pereira, but would write a reply to my note, adding that the reading of my note had caused you great surprise at seeing that, concerning two very prominent points, it did not show the respect due to the accredited minister of a friendly nation; that your excellency was requested in an almost peremptory manner to deliver up a gaest; that this request to deliver up one of your guests to an officer of police, sent to take him away, appears to you of so strange a nature that under no circumstances whatever could you accede to it; that all which you could do, even when the imputed crime was grave and specific, would be to notify the party that the legation could no longer shelter him.
And, after other observations made from this point of view, after citing Vattel and other writers upon international law, your excellency closes, requesting that the specific charges made against the said Leite Pereira may be communicated, in order that, should they be of the grave character requisite, he may be informed that that legation can no longer shelter him.
Having thus summed up the most essential points of your excellency’st wo notes, to which I have the honor to reply, I will immediately state to you that, according to the letter and spirit of said notes, your excellency has not chosen to give all your attention to a subject of such importance, looking from a very limited stand-point at the high principle son which the international code is based, and even refusing to recognize the legitimate right which my government has to take the measures which you so much wonder at, and which I doubt not you will reconsider.
It is painful for me, Mr. Minister, to find that your excellency has discovered in my notes any ground for the complaint made of lack of respect towards the accredited minister of a friendly nation, when my desire has been to abound in the contrary, according to the constant policy of my government, much more when this ministry had grave motives of complaint concerning the lack of consideration shown by you towards this ministry, and, what is more, toward the government itself; and since your excellency has chosen to provoke this controversy, you will allow me to mention these just motives.
You will remember that when the state of the war in which the republic is engaged against its pretended conquerors demanded that the city of Asuncion should be abandoned by its inhabitants, and declared a military post, the government ordered its entire evacuation, as was communicated to you at the proper time, which order was scrupulously obeyed by natives and foreigners without distinction; but you, making yourself the only exception, thought it your duty to contravene the said disposition of the government. It was then that this government expressed the hope that this circumstance, regrettable for it, would not be the cause of any contravention of the government’s orders. Notwithstanding this, and the official statement made by you of having admitted[Page 732]temporarily into the legation several English families, your excellency has thought it your duty to continue maintaining in it a large number of foreigners of different nationalities, whom you admitted at a moment when, though without any foundation, they might believe themselves in danger from the approach of two hostile vessels; and you ought to be persuaded that although the government was not obliged to do so, yet, in pursuance of its usual policy of moderation, it chose to tolerate this conduct, in order that, since they were already within the American legation, they might not be troubled, confiding that the minister of the United States would dismiss them as soon as the grounds for fear had passed. Nevertheless, it is nearly five months since the two hostile vessels appeared and were momentarily in the port of Asuncion, and since all peril towards these individuals ceased.
Since that time, disagreeable circumstances have occurred between this ministry and the legation of your excellency, through the provocations given by your refugees, and, nevertheless, not one of them has left that residence in fulfillment of the orders of the government, and, on the contrary, others are received, as is proved by your notes.
Besides this, you ought to remember that your excellency has not had the goodness to communicate to this ministry even the simple acknowledgment of its note of the 23d of February, in whieh, among other things, it was said that in the desire of avoiding whatever disagreeable incident, it consented to the residence of the American citizens Bliss and Manlove in the dwelling of your excellency, but with the warning that, not belonging to the class of servants in which they appear in the list of the American legation, they cannot go out of it, in which case the police ought to arrest them, as was repeated to you in the posterior note of 4th March; but your excellency has been pleased not only not to acknowledge the receipt of that note of this ministry, but has regarded its request with little consideration, allowing the said individuals to go into the streets of the city, and, nevertheless, expressing in your note of March 24 that you did not recognize any violation of law or culpability on the part of Manlove, when, without any competent permission, he went to open the house of a French subject who was absent from that point.
When the consecutive cases of Manlove, Watts, and Bliss occurred, involving direct provocations to the authorities, this ministry, seriously calling the attention of your excellency, instead of proceeding to other measures, which it might rightfully have adopted, requested of you an assurance that these insults would not be repeated, but you did not choose to offer any. Nor did you see fit to acknowledge the receipt of the note of February 22, although it was accompanied by the governmental edict of the same date, ordering the total evacuation of the capital, it having been declared a military post, nor that of the 28th of the same month, in which your excellency was notified, by an authentic copy, of the supreme decree, which declares all the territory of the republic in a state of siege.
In spite of these antecedents, this ministry, being guided by the grave and circumspect policy of the supreme government of the republic, has guarded a conduct full of moderation towards the representative of the friendly nation of the United States, who cannot, without injustice, fail to recognize this fact; and it is indeed owing to this circumstance that I much regret that your excellency attributes to my note of the 27th any lack of respect towards the accredited minister of a friendly nation; and I can assure you that it is beyond my power to conceive that by the act of soliciting the delivery of a culpable person, who had [Page 733]taken refuge in the legation, and of having sent an officer to seek him, two hours after the delivery of the note, there can be inferred any offense to justify any such complaint.
I cannot but express to you my sincere thanks for the acquiescence or courtesy which your excellency supposes yourself to have used in giving me an account of the persons sheltered in your hotel, and you will permit me to declare, in turn, that this ministry cannot recognize in you the right to refuse to reply to the query made in its note of the 27th ultimo, since if this information belongs to the internal affairs of the legation, it does not less appertain to the territorial sovereignty of the place of your residence, as is demonstrated in the case of Leite Pereira, whose disappearance was not accounted for until your excellency’s note of the 22d ultimo.
Returning to the subject of sending an officer of police to accompany the person demanded, I cannot understand the reason which you can have had for so imperiously declining to deliver up the person in question. Although there may be no precedent for it, it is in the natural order of things, as derived from common practice; but your excellency shows conclusively that you are in no case disposed to give up to the authorities any of your refugees, but at most to say to him that your house can no longer give him asylum. If there could be any offense in the sending of the said officer, I consider it well washed out by your excellency’s negative and the sending away the same officer without having fulfilled his commission, it being, for that matter, very indifferent whether Leite Pereira be delivered up or dismissed from the United States legation, to be arrested in the street by a less distinguished functionary.
Your excellency says that, according to all writers upon international law, a foreign minister is not obliged to deliver up his refugees, except for some high and specific crime against the state or the sovereign, and adds, that this being recognized as law in such cases, it follows that before giving up Leite Pereira you ought first to call for the manifestation of the specific offense or offenses of which he is accused. Without recognizing in an absolute sense this principle, it is incumbent upon me to say upon this point that when the government of the republic solicited the delivery of Leite Pereira, clearly expressing that he had violated governmental dispositions, which is evident and notorious to your excellency yourself; besides the statement that he was accused, and that he must appear before a tribunal, you should not have hesitated a moment in recognizing that the criminality of the said individual is not of the character of the common offenses mentioned in your quotation from Vattel. From this point of view, I do not perceive any obligation to give you any more explanations concerning the crime of the accused person, whose appearance before the appropriate tribunal is imperatively necessary; and, on the contrary, I have reason to be much surprised at your pretension to be informed of the specific charges against Leite Pereira, in order that, should they be of the grave character requisite, he may be advised that he can no longer be sheltered; that is, constii tuting yourself the only judge of the question, and of the case of the delinquent in this country. To recognize in you this attribute would be to abdicate on the part of my government its rights and prerogatives, to the lowering of its honor and national dignity.
Please accept my special thanks for the transcription of a part of the paragraph 48 of chap. 9, book iv, of Vattel, and believe that it is precisely in view of this same quotation, and of what follows in the work of that celebrated author, that I have requested of your excellency that [Page 734]Leite Pereira should be placed in the hands of justice. And this is, Mr. Minister, as much as I think myself authorized to say in the matter of the guest who has provoked the discussion, trusting that you will consider yourself sufficiently informed to do justice to yourself in the case.
It has been precisely in order not to be obliged to molest you by following the course indicated by strict law, that this ministry has more than once expressed the desire that you would not shelter in your hotel, nor in its rear premises, so many persons of different nationalities, to the degree of depriving the public workshops of their artisans for many months, such as George Miles, prisoner of war, placed in the pay and service of the arsenal upon the same footing with the contracted operatives, John Watts, engineer, and William Newton, director of the foundery, all of them English, who like others are sheltered in your hotel.
Besides, the privilege of asylum, so long maintained without apparent motive, in a purely military post, without other inhabitants than the American minister, his guests and refugees, as your excellency calls them, might justly have given rise to a serious discussion concerning the extension which your excellency wishes to give to the immunities of your hotel; but the government has carefully endeavored to avoid it, and has limited itself in the matter to slight and friendly indications.
In what relates to the official character which you attribute to the refugee, I must say that before reaching the house of your excellency he received in the morning of the 16th ultimo a note from this ministry, in which, by virtue of a declaration of the chargé d’affaires of his Most Faithful Majesty the King of Portugal, he was notified that in the question which arose between him and the vice-consul of that nation long since, the latter alone would be recognized as the person with whom to treat in matters concerning the consulate of his Most Faithful Majesty, and that the former could not be recognized in the character of administrator of the consulate, which was solicited for him by Mr. Consul Madruga, by a note addressed to this ministry, but not answered. This fact leads me to omit all discussion of the question, especially since the same guest of your excellency will have informed you in detail of all that occurred with the government in this respect, in view of the official documents.
And I must ingenuously say to you that, although I am far from knowing the motives which led you to refuse to allow Leite Pereira to carry into effect his express desire to leave that legation to go and deliver himself to the authorities, I desire to respect the reasons which may have influenced you.
Although I do not propose to discuss here the incompetence of the location of the American legation within a military post, I must observe that I trust you will not fail to perceive that since Asuncion was converted into a military establishment, and the government and people, as well as the foreign agents and subjects residing in other places, not only the laws of the state are affected, but also a formal embarrassment has been created to the internal management of that post, by the existence of a diplomatic hotel within its limits.
Leaving aside, then, the question of the residence of your excellency in Asuncion, where there are no objects of diplomatic attention, I proceed to state to you that the ostensible motive of the asylum given by the American legation having ceased, that asylum must also cease, especially since it has begun to seriously affect the military regulations of the post and the most precise Orders of the government; that if at the moment of the evacuation of the city that asylum was tolerated, [Page 735]there is no reason, nor is it to be permitted, that such a state of affairs continue as a place for refuge; and declaring that I am under no obligation to give any explanation either respecting the individuals comprehended in it, nor of those who in future may take refuge there. Without any fear of committing myself, I can assure you that you cannot cite any precedent, and that, on the contrary, no one can fail to recognize the reason and justice which characterize the loyal and prudent conduct of my government in a question of great political transcendency; and you yourself must recognize that, under all its aspects, such a house, with diplomatic immunities, affords the greatest inconvenience and peril in a strictly military post. In a word, Mr. Minister, I cannot for a moment doubt that you, weighing in your mind these grave considerations, will find that the exercise of your ministry and of the immunities of your legation is incompatible with the condition of the place of your residence; and that by the simple fact of having placed it in a military post your excellency has relaxed a part of its privileges, and especially the right of asylum.
But these circumstances assume a still graver character when your excellency declares officially that Leite Pereira, like yourself, is totally ignorant of the nature of the accusation made against him, and since your excellency constitutes yourself the judge who should determine upon specific charges against your guest, whether the asylum should cease or continue.
Notwithstanding, my government, always disposed to observe every consideration toward the friendly nation of the United States, and to do in favor of its minister all that the welfare and the best defence of the state may permit, must declare that the refugees of your hotel can no longer be indefinitely tolerated in a military place without fear that, abusing their asylum, they may become dangerous to the state, if not agents of the enemy; and taking into consideration the situation of the republic and of the city of Asuncion, as well as the circumstances expressed in relation to the declaration made by you in your note of April 4th, that you cannot offer any securities that occurrences like that of Manlove, or others similar, will not be repeated, this government must call your serious attention to the point.
In attention to what has been stated, I request you will please dismiss from your hotel to-morrow, before sunset, the said Leite Pereira, as well as all the other individuals who, not belonging to the legation, are at present in it, some as guests and others in other capacities, as your excellency expresses it.
I will not conclude, Mr. Minister, without making another observation of high interest, which is, that when in general native and foreigners have religiously complied with the order for the evacuation of the city, and the government affords them all protection and assistance possible in the state of flagrant war existing within the country—struggling hand to hand with the enemy which tenaciously strives to exterminate them—when public order, the morality of the people in all parts, and governmental dispositions guarantee persons and interests, the indefinite permanence of these persons in the American legation cannot be taken in a favorable sense, these circumstances being in themselves sufficient, without referring to other antecedents, to call seriously the attention of the government upon it in the solemn moments in which we are living.
These powerful considerations constitute the fullest justification of the request of my government, and I cherish the most positive confidence [Page 736]that you will recognize not only the justice, but even the moderation of this petition, and that that asylum will cease.
I embrace this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurances of my distinguished consideration and esteem.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday, in which you review at great length the circumstances that have arisen and the discussion that has taken place in consequence of the protracted residence in the legation of certain persons who do not belong to it, and conclude by saying that it is expected by this government that all such persons will leave it before sunset this day. Being thus restricted to a few hours, it is impossible for me to even allude to the many points touched upon in your note, and I am, therefore, compelled to defer a more formal answer to another time. I will here remark, however, that I dissent entirely from the opinions and conclusions advanced by you in relation to the rights and immunities of foreign ministers and legations. But this does not affect the practical view of the case in relation to all the persons whom you mention by name as remaining against the wishes of the government. They have all advised me, including Mr. Leite Pereira, notwithstanding his exceedingly infirm state of health, that, to relieve me of any embarrassment on their account, they will voluntarily leave the legation to-day; and of those whose names were not long since given as not belonging to the legation there will only remain Dr. Carreras and Señor Rodriguez, and their servant, and Mrs. Leite Pereira. To the residence of this lady here, as the friend and companion of Mrs. Washburn, I presume no objection will be made. These gentlemen, however, like the others, have expressed their willingness to leave if the government shall insist upon it. I, however, should greatly prefer that they remain. Such is also their desire, and I have therefore requested them to stay till I may be further advised of the final determination of the government. I do not understand that any offense is charged against them, except the bare fact of remaining in the legation, and if the government insists on their leaving it, then it will assume that I have no right to have guests or visitors in my house. This would place me in so anomalous and singular a position as would compel me to take different action than what I had intended, and therefore I hope the government will not insist upon it. I shall deeply regret the departure of Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Eden, as their assistance to Mrs. Washburn is very necessary to her comfort and health.
Mrs. Thomas has served as a nurse, or “ama de leche,” for nearly all the time she has been in my house, and at this time is in a very feeble state of health. In case that I do not hear of the return of the American gunboat (which I am now hourly expecting) within a very short time, it will therefore be my duty to my family to ask passports for them, [Page 737]and facilities for their passage through the military lines, and thence to Buenos Ayres.
I take this occasion to renew assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note of this afternoon, in reply to that of yesterday from this ministry, in which your excellency is pleased to say that, being limited to a few hours, it was impossible to allude to the many points touched upon in my note, and your excellency was therefore obliged to defer a more formal reply until another occasion, observing, nevertheless, that you cannot entirely agree to my opinions concerning the rights and immunities of foreign ministers and legations. But as this circumstance does not affect the practical view of the case in relation to all the persons whom I had mentioned by their names, they had all, including Leite Pereira, stated that, in order to relieve you from all embarrassment on their account, they would voluntarily leave the legation; and of those whose names were given in as not belonging to the legation there would only remain Dr. Carreras, Mr. Rodriguez, and their servant, Mrs. Leite Pereira, presuming that no objection would be made to the residence of that lady in your house, as a friend and companion of Mrs. Washburn; that these gentlemen, nevertheless, have, like the others, expressed their desire of leaving if the government should insist upon it, and that you would much prefer they should remain, this being also their own desire, and for this reason your excellency has requested them to remain until informed of the final determination of the government, as you did not understand that any offense was imputed to them, except the simple fact of their stay in the legation, and that if the government should insist upon their departure, it would assume that your excellency has no right to have guests or visitors in your house.
Your excellency adds that this would place you in so anomalous and singular a position that you would be obliged to assume a different attitude from that previously intended, and consequently you hope that the government would not insist upon it—regretting very much the departure of Mrs. Thomas and Eden, as necessary for the comfort and health of Mrs. Washburn—and conclude that in case of not learning of the return of the American gunboat within a very short time, it would become the duty of your excellency towards your family to request a passport and facilities for their passage through the military lines, and then to Buenos Ayres.
Restricted, also, in point of time at my disposal in sending this communication, I shall limit myself to the principal points, and to those of moment, deferring to another occasion the reparation of any fault or [Page 738]omission whenever you may do me the honor to send the formal reply announced.
I regret, Mr. Minister, that my opinions and conclusions concerning the right of immunities have not merited your excellency’s approbation; but I will make new efforts whenever you shall please to manifest your own.
I am grateful to you for having wished, in spite of this discordance of opinion, to meet the desires of my government in permitting the departure to-day, from your hotel, of all the persons whom I had mentioned by their names, including Leite Pereira. But if I have mentioned some names in my note of yesterday, it was not with the intention of limiting myself to them in my request; and if I have used the names of some of the workmen, it was only to remind you that they still remain there. But I ought to hope that your excellency has arranged the matter satisfactorily, since you have had the courtesy to cause the Mrs. Thomas and Eden to depart, notwithstanding the fact that Mrs. Washburn needs their services.
It never was my intention to cause the least trouble to this lady, nor to her friend, Mrs. Leite Pereira, who, as your excellency has very justly presumed, may remain with her without any objection, as well as the Mrs. Thomas and Eden, whose departure to-day from your hotel I therefore regret; but, since it has been so, they will be informed to-morrow that they can return.
I have been pained, Mr. Minister, that you have thought proper to announce to this ministry that if my government should insist upon the departure of the Orientals, Dr. Carreras and Mr. Rodriguez, you would be obliged to take a different attitude from that previously intended, expressing the hope that for that reason I would not insist upon it.
The phrase appears to me so obscure that I should have troubled you for some explanation, in order to answer it, did I not believe that it was only dictated by the belief that those individuals were chargeable with no offense beyond their residence in the legation. It is not, however, the case. And I must now inform you that they are also demanded by justice, and in so peremptory a manner that I am forced to beg you to dismiss them before 1 o’clock to-morrow.
It is painful to me to have to solicit of you within so brief a time the dismissal of two guests more, who are urgently demanded by the tribunal of justice. I did not make this declaration in my previous notice, supposing that you would have no motives of preference towards them than towards other refugees; nor did I think it my duty to exchange another communication with you upon a subject of this nature, which has already given rise to a correspondence which my government has desired to avoid, preferring that the action of justice should find them in the street.
You will perceive that there exist offenses on the part of these Orientals, and that not only must they be brought before the tribunal, but that it is urgent that they should; and I trust that, though your excellency has examined them, and requested them to remain in your hotel, that whenever they shall show themselves disposed to leave it, now that you know that they are guilty, you will hasten to dismiss them.
This reply and the present conditions of the place of your residence relieve me from the necessity of entering into the question whether your excellency has or has not the right to have guests or visitors in your house.
I thank you for the information that within a short time you intend to send your family to Buenos Ayres.[Page 739]
I improve this opportunity to renew to your excellency the assurance of my distinguished consideration and esteem.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday, in which you advise me, after a brief resumé of what had passed in relation to certain persons who for some time past have been domiciled in my house, that in requesting all such persons who did not belong to the legation to leave it, I was correct in my presumption that there had never been the least Intention on the part of the government in regard to those ladies the Señora de Pereira, Mrs. Eden, and Mrs. Thomas, whose longer residence in my house was desired by Mrs. Washburn, for reasons stated in my note of yesterday, to molest them or interfere with their remaining here. To this it is added that the two latter will be advised that they may return to-day. For this promptness and consideration of Mrs. Washburn you will please accept my sincere thanks.
You then add that, in regard to the longer residence of the Señors Carreras and Rodriguez, instead of being in no other way culpable than for remaining in this legation, they are claimed by the tribunals of justice, and in a manner so peremptory that it is expected they will leave this legation by one o’clock to-day.
Having advised these two gentlemen of the contents of your note, they manifested much surprise, but expressed their readiness to go at once and meet and refute any charges that may be made against them, and they actually left before the hour indicated.
It is with as profound regret as I ever experienced in my life to have two friends whom I very much esteem, and who have been my guests for some five months, leave my house under such circumstances, as I am fully persuaded that no accusation can be brought against them from which they will not triumphantly vindicate themselves. During their long residence with me we have naturally talked with entire frankness on every manner of subject, and it appears to me that if they had either of them ever committed or connived at any act criminal or offensive to the government of Paraguay I should have learned something of it. But I have not. The first-named, Dr. Garreras, it is well known, came to Paraguay to give any assistance in his power to the cause of this country against Brazil, risking his life and fortune to arrive here; but as, his services here have not been made available, he has desired to leave it for the same object, believing that by going abroad he could have an influence in enlisting the sympathies, if not the active assistance, of one or more of the Pacific republics in behalf of this country. How such a man, whose innermost sentiments I know so well, could have committed any offense against a government he was so anxious to serve is beyond my comprehension. The same interest in the cause of Paraguay has always been evinced by Mr. Rodriguez. This gentleman, you will recollect, came to Paraguay in a diplomatic capacity, that of secretary of the [Page 740]Oriental legation, of which he was left in charge at the departure of the minister, Señor Vasquez Sagastume. After the fall of the government which he represented his diplomatic functions were suspended, and he then desired to leave the country, but as yet has not been able to do so. Yet, as you are well aware, it is laid down by all writers on the rights of legation, that until they can depart from the country the members of a once accepted legation are entitled to certain immunities; and if any one commits an offense, the government to which he had been accredited is not authorized to try him, but may send him out of the country, and demand his punishment of his own government.
As both these gentlemen have held official position, Dr. Carreras the highest, save one, in his own country, their case will naturally excite great interest, and my own conduct in the matter will be severely criticised by my own government, and very likely by others, and should any grave and serious injury befall them I shall most likely be censured for not advising them to remain in the legation, unless taken out by force. But you are aware how exceedingly anxious I have always been to avoid anything that might lead to a rupture between this government and my own, and as I am convinced they will be able to vindicate themselves, I therefore have not done so. But I am exceedingly anxious that no serious evil shall befall them, for then I can have little desire to continue in a diplomatic career, but shall have much to leave it, and not expose myself to another so painful experience.
I have only to add that if these gentlemen or Señor Leite Pereira remain in this city, it will be a great gratification to me if I may be permitted to send their meals from my house, or other things necessary to their health or comfort. Will you please advise me on this point at your earliest convenience?
The colored servant of Dr. Carreras still remains with me in the capacity of a servant.
I avail myself of this occasion to renew assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
Again called upon by the judicial authorities, I beg your excellency will excuse me for molesting you once more, to request you to dismiss from your hotel the North American citizen Porter Cornelius Bliss, and the British subject George Masterman, accused of crimes not less grave than the others whose dismissal I have already had the honor to request.
I embrace this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurances of my distinguished consideration and esteem.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.[Page 741]
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday, in which I am requested to send from my house the American citizen Porter C. Bliss and the English subject George Masterman, who you say are as gravely accused as the others that I have been asked to cease to shelter in the legation.
Respecting these two individuals, I have to say that I have always considered them as belonging to the legation. Mr. Masterman came to reside in it as medical attendant of my family in September last, and in my note dated February 24, but forwarded with my other note of April 4, his name is included as one of the legation. As no objection was then made, I considered that he was recognized as such by the government as much as any one in my house. The name of Mr. Bliss was likewise given as of the legation in both of the lists above referred to. In reply to my note of February 22, his excellency Señor Berges said that Mr. Bliss, not being in the class of servants, would confine himself to the legation premises, as he would be liable to arrest if found outside of them. For the last three months he has scrupulously done so, and besides has been of great assistance to me in my official duties, and so long as I remain in Paraguay I desire to retain him. Considering, therefore, as I do, both of these persons as members of the legation, I can have no discussion in regard to delivering them up or sending them from my house. Were I to do so, I should abdicate all my functions and rights as minister; for if I acknowledge the right of the government to take away one person whom I consider a member of my legation, I must concede it for all, and thus if it so pleased the government I might be left not only without a servant but without wife, child, or secretary. According to the reasoning of your honor in your note of the 11th instant, if it is only alleged that they are accused, I have no recourse but to deliver them up.
It is with a regret such as I have seldom experienced in my whole life that I observe, after so long a residence in Paraguay, where I have experienced so much kindness and courtesy from both government and people, and to which I have endeavored to respond in a manner that has nearly brought on a war between my country and your country’s enemies, and which is still threatening hourly to do it, that I seem to have lost the confidence and respect of this government. That I had enjoyed them to a high extent until within a short period is amply shown both in official correspondence and in the columns of the official newspaper. But owing to my having received other persons into my legation than belong to it, or to my remaining in the city after its evacuation, or to some other cause of which I am ignorant, I seem to be regarded so differently that I do not see how I can be of any service to my own government, to that of Paraguay, or to any individual in it by longer remaining here. I had hoped to remain to the end of the war, and not to bid farewell to the people of Paraguay, who have carried on a war with a bravery and endurance that must render it one of the most remarkable in the pages of history, and give its illustrious chief magistrate and commander of its armies one of the most conspicuous places in the annals of the war, till I could do so seeing them in the enjoyment of that peace and prosperity that their valor and devotion had so nobly earned. But that hope I now see myself compelled to abandon. The course which I have felt it my [Page 742]duty to adopt seems to have been so at variance with the views of the government that I do not see that I can be longer useful. I therefore have the honor to ask for passports for all persons belonging to this legation, and that facilities for leaving the country, such as comport with the character of an accredited minister, may be furnished with as little delay as circumstances may permit.
I avail myself of the present occasion to tender to your honor the assurances of my distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note of the 14th instant, refusing to dismiss from your hotel Porter Cornelius Bliss, North American citizen, and George Masterman, English subject, the first as belonging to the legation and as being very useful to you in your official duties, and the second as physician of your family, desiring therefore to retain them as long as you remain in Paraguay; and you say that the names of these individuals were presented to this government ministry as belonging to the legation; that in fact Masterman came to reside in your house in the above capacity in September last; that in your note of the 24th February, detained until the 4th of April and sent with another of the same date, this name is included as belonging to the legation; that as no objection was made you considered him as recognized by the government; that the name of Mr. Bliss was also given in both lists as belonging to the legation; that in the note of this ministry of the 22d of February it was stated to you that as Mr. Bliss does not belong to the class of servants he should be confined to the rear of the legation premises in order not to be subject to arrest in going out, which he had scrupulously done during the last three months; that considering these two persons as members of the legation, you cannot enter into any discussion relative to delivering them up or sending them out of your house; that if you should do so, it would be an abdication of all your functions and rights as minister, since if you were to recognize the right of the government to take away any person whom you may consider a member of the legation you would have to cede it in respect to all, and thus might be left not only without a servant, but also without wife, child, or secretary; that according to my humble reasoning of the 11th instant, from the moment that I should allege that they are accused, your excellency has no other resource than to deliver them up.
You say that it is with regret, such as you have rarely experienced in all your life, that after so long a residence in Paraguay, where you have experienced so much kindness and courtesy from both government and people, and to which you have endeavored to respond in a manner which has almost caused a war between your country and the enemies of mine, and which is still hourly threatened, it should yet appear that you have lost that confidence and respect of this government which you still enjoyed to a high degree until recently, as is amply proved as well by [Page 743]official correspondence as by the columns of the official paper; but that through having received in the legation persons who do not belong to it, or through having remained in the city after its evacuation, or for some other unknown cause, it seems to you that you are regarded so differently that you say you cannot see how you can be of any utility to your government, nor to that of Paraguay, nor to any individual in it, by longer remaining here; that you had hoped to remain until the end of the war, and not say good-bye to the Paraguayan people, which has sustained a war with a bravery and abnegation which must render it one of the most notable in the pages of history, and give to its illustrious magistrate and commander of its armies one of the most conspicuous places in the annals of war, in which you had hoped that your name would have a place as honorable as you could make it, leaving the country in the enjoyment of peace and prosperity so nobly acquired by its valor and abnegation; but that now you see yourself obliged to abandon this hope, and that the course which you had thought it a duty to follow appears to have been so opposed to the views of this government that you do not see that you longer can be of any use. And you conclude by saying that for this reason you have the honor to ask passports for all the persons comprising that legation, and that as soon as circumstances may permit, facilities may be given to you such as belong to the character of an accredited minister, in order to leave the country.
In fact, Mr. Minister, along with your note of the 4th of April there was delivered another, under date of February 24th, in which appears George Masterman, apothecary, dismissed by this government from its service, without specification of his quality in the legation; and being already aware that you had obtained his complete liberty in order to perform a certain service, I did not hasten to have his character specified, nor to refuse to recognize him. I confided that although having antecedents very little honorable, you would cause him to comport himself well in your hotel, and that the case now presented would not have offered. Besides, there was no objection, since I have considered Masterman as continuing in the service for which he had been put at liberty, and it will be very painful to my government that on account of a gracious concession on its part in favor of and for the service of a minister of a friendly nation, he should have gained access to the hotel of your embassy to become criminal with impunity, pretending to shield himself with the immunities so justly respected in the representatives of nations. I cherish the hope that you will not see in this a recognition by my government of Masterman as a member of the legation of the United States, with immunities.
Mr. Porter Cornelius Bliss arrived in the country for the second time two months after the breaking out of the war with Brazil, and solicited a contract for a literary labor with the government, and it was conceded to him. From that time he remained in its service and pay. This ministry has seen with surprise that its contracted servant, without having fulfilled his promises, and with pecuniary liabilities on account of this same service, and without previous notice, was enlisted by you as a servant.
It was then that, knowing that Mr. Bliss was also of no small utility to you, it was permitted that he should remain in Asuncion with you, but not in the quality of servant, which was not recognized in him; and it was then inexplicable for this government that Mr. Bliss, being received in the best society—that which you yourself cultivate—he should show such abnegation as to engage as your servant. I wish to hope that this [Page 744]account cannot be alleged as a recognition of immunities for the person demanded.
When you spoke of but three months of scrupulous fulfillment of the conditions imposed, you doubtless overlooked other months in which Bliss lived outside of the legation, to which he only came after the imprisonment of Mr. James Manlove, also enrolled as a servant of the legation of your excellency at the same time with Bliss, enjoying the same social treatment, and to-day also on trial for the same crime.
Leaving aside the circumstances under which these two individuals have arrived in the country, does not your excellency find something irregular and not easy to be explained in this conduct? But as you refuse to enter into any discussion relative to the giving up or the dismissal of these individuals, I will leave aside all that I might say, appealing to the justice of your excellency with the simple narrative of facts which I have just made, and the information that Masterman and Bliss are important members of a combination which, by agreement with the enemy, was to have broken out shortly in the country for the overthrow of its government, and the extermination of the army which combats for its existence, which information will undoubtedly suffice to cause the minister of the United States of America to expel such infamous criminals from his hotel.
This declaration, made after that which I had the honor to set forth in my note of the 11th instant, when you asked for a specific statement of the charges against the culprit Leite Pereira, and after what I have said above, is certainly not the discharging of a duty, but a friendly information, that the intruders in your legation have sheltered themselves there, abusing the good faith and generosity of your excellency, in order afterwards to abuse criminally its immunities.
I would have wished to spare you so great an annoyance, but the reminder which you make of your long stay in Paraguay, the apprehension with which you seem to be possessed of having lost the confidence of my government, the fear expressed of being no longer useful, neither to the government of the United States nor to that of Paraguay, nor to any individual in it, along with the doctrine that by permitting the trial of George Masterman and Porter C. Bliss you would have to yield all privileges, and might be left without a servant, without wife, without child, or without secretary, are the causes which have decided me to it.
I cannot understand the opposition which you find between your conduct and the views attributed to my government, and still less can I understand the reason of the fear that the name of your excellency will fail to occupy an honorable place in the history of our war, though indeed I presume it will be painful for you as it is for me to find in the hotel of your excellency criminals of such a character.
Certainly my government did not regard as an act of cordial friendship the permanence of your excellency in Asuncion for an indefinite time, with such a number of refugees, and without apparent motive, after its entire evacuation; but with frank friendship it has manifested its regret, and if you did not find it convenient to accede to the desires of the government, this circumstance has not sufficed to cause a withdrawal of confidence.
A proof of this is found in the fact that this ministry made no complaint except when it became my duty to accuse you of lack of respect to my note of June 28th, in thinking it your duty to refuse the delivery of the culprit Leite Pereira, then recently arrived for shelter in your hotel.
A rapid review of all the correspondence of this ministry, and of the columns of the newspaper which your excellency cites, will suffice to [Page 745]destroy the idea of lack of that confidence and respect on the part of my government which it has taken pleasure in demonstrating towards the representative of the American Union and his worthy family, who for the first time broke the blockade.
Strengthening thus my note of the 13th concerning the dismissal of G. Masterman and Porter Cornelius Bliss, to be delivered up or sent away, I am persuaded that you, thus informed, will hasten to expel from the hotel of your legation those who, bathing the national soil with fratricidal blood, pretend to undermine the just title to the sympathy of your excellency which the abnegation and great sacrifices of my country have acquired, as well as those which the singular and conspicuous services which its supreme magistrate and general-in-chief of its armies, Marshal Lopez, has conquered in this struggle.
As your excellency is pleased to base upon the fears already mentioned the painful situation in which you find yourself, of having to renounce your desires of not leaving Paraguay until the conclusion of the war, and your consequent request for your passports, I shall await to know if I have not been fortunate enough to have dissipated them, and shall afterwards ask the orders of his excellency the Marshal President of the republic respecting the said passports and facilities.
Having offered you in my note of the 12th instant that the Mistresses Thomas and Eden would be advised that they may return to the house of your excellency, it is now my duty to mention that having informed them of this concession they have replied that they would by no means return, perhaps because you yourself have not spoken to them, and for whatever may occur I inform you that concession still remains in force.
I improve this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurance of my distinguished consideration and esteem.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I had the honor to receive your note of the 16th instant on the following day, a little before noon. In this note, which is in answer to mine of the 14th, you, after giving a resumé of the contents of mine, proceed to give an account of the circumstances under which Mr. Porter C. Bliss and G. F. Masterman came into this legation.
In regard to Mr. Bliss you remark that soon after coming into the country he sought a contract for literary labor with the government that was conceded to him, and that from that time he had remained in its service and pay. Mr. Bliss informs me that he never had any written contract with the government, but was told he should receive certain compensation for the literary labors he was to perform; that from time to time he has received certain sums of money in payment of labor already performed, and that the amount received has not exceeded the sum due him. Such being his circumstances, I cannot see any good reason why I should not have admitted him into the legation and given him employment. You express surprise that I should have received a man of Mr. Bliss’s attainments and social position into the legation in [Page 746]the capacity of servant. You will permit me to observe that I think a wrong construction has been put on the word “service,” as employed in my note of the 22d of February. In saying that I had found it necessary to take more persons into my service than I had previously employed, I did not say in what capacity they were engaged. Mr. Bliss I needed as translator, and Mr. Masterman as medical attendant to my family, and as the peculiar qualifications of each were so well known I considered that it would have been entirely superfluous to state in what capacity they were employed. Nor do I find in consulting the most eminent authors on international law that ministers are ever required to state the capacity or character of the persons pertaining to their legations. It is enough that their names are given in, and, if not excepted to, they are thenceforth entitled to all the privileges of the legation.
In answering my note of 22d February, his excellency Señor Berges expressly recognized Mr. Bliss as belonging to the legation, but requested that, as he would not be known to the police as one of my servants, he would confine him self to it. In fact, he is the only person now in my house who ever has been recognized formally and in an official note. For some time after the order of evacuation was issued, Mr. Bliss and the most of those who came at that time to reside within my premises did not strictly confine themselves to it, though they never went far away from it. Mr. Bliss even continued to sleep in his own house opposite, and used to come and go in full sight of the police, and as he was never molested, concluded it was a matter of indifference to the government whether he still occupied his own house or confined himself to the legation. Indeed, when our unfortunate countryman, Mr. Manlove, came to grief, he went to the police office with him as interpreter, and, after his detention, took his meals to him for several times, so that I never could suspect his being a member of the legation could be questioned. He did not, as you intimate, seek refuge in my house. On the contrary, it was at my express request that he entered my service, though not as a servant, at a time that I thought his services would be most useful and necessary. You will, therefore, I trust, admit that, having accepted him as a member of this legation and given official notice of the fact, which notice was acknowledged, I cannot now repudiate him.
Respecting the case of Mr. Masterman, you say that it will be very painful to your government that, on account of a gracious concession to the minister of a friendly nation, he should have gained accession to this embassy to become criminal, and with impunity, under the immunities which are justly respected by the law of nations.
It cannot be so painful to you or to your government that anything of that kind should occur, as it is to me. To have my confidence abused in that way would show a degree of ingratitude of which I would fain hope no man is capable. But, if it has been so abused, and all that Mr. Masterman has been accused of shall be proved true, the law of nations prescribes a course for me entirely different from that proposed by your honor.
The law of nations, as you are aware, is very clear and explicit, not only in regard to the rights and immunities of ministers, but to all persons pertaining to their legations. “Such persons,” says Martens, (Law of Nations, book vii, chap. 9, note,) “are placed under the protection of the law of nations, and are consequently not submitted to the jurisdiction of the country which they inhabit, even though it may be their own. They cannot be tried for any of their civil or criminal actions, except by the state represented by the minister. The legislation of the principal states of Europe is positive on this point. * * * From the time that [Page 747]the persons of the minister’s suite leave his service they can be tried by the laws of the country where they are, if they are not subjects of the sovereign represented by the minister; in the contrary case the minister cannot consent to their extradition or to their being put in judgment for things done previous to their leaving him.” Thus you will see that if Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman were accused of specific crimes or offenses committed while in my legation, and had left it, according to this great writer, who, next to my own countryman, Mr. Wheaton, is generally regarded as the highest authority of modern times on matters of international law, I “could not consent to their extradition or to their being put in judgment,” except in their respective countries.
Says Wheaton, (part iii, ch. 1, sec. 15,) in speaking of the immunities of a minister: “This immunity extends not only to the person of the minister but to his family and suite, secretaries of legation and other secretaries, his servants, movable effects, and the house in which he resides. (Section 16:) The wife and family, servants, and suite of the minister, participate in the inviolability attached to his public character. * * * In respect to criminal offenses committed by his domestics, although in strictness the minister has a right to try and punish them, the modern usage merely authorizes him to arrest and send them for trial to their own country.”
Vattel, and all authorities on international law, so far as I have been able to consult them, agree substantially with those I have quoted; and the law being thus clearly and explicitly laid down, I would ask you whether you would have me respect or violate it? Of course you will say respect it. How, then, shall I send these members of my legation from my house, even though they be accused, without a direct and palpable violation of my duty as a minister?
Your honor adds that after the representations made, you lay aside the question whether or not these persons belong to the legation, and leave it to my sense of justice to expel them from my house after your narrative of facts, and the information that both Bliss and Masterman are important members of a combination which by agreement with the enemy was to have broken out shortly in the country, for the overthrow of its government and the destruction of the army that combats for its existence. That neither Masterman nor Bliss are members of such a combination of course I cannot prove, for to prove a negative is generally impossible. But if it shall be proved on full investigation that they are members of such a combination, I shall be more astonished than I ever was before. Ever since the evacuation of the city, Mr. Masterman, who is much addicted to scientific studies and investigations, has lived the life of a recluse, and had scarcely any communication with any one outside the precincts of the legation; while if Mr. Bliss, who has been all the while so intimate, so frank, so confidential on all matters with me that I supposed I knew every thought, and hope, and aspiration of his existence, has, as is alleged, been engaged in a great conspiracy all this time against the government, he is such an actor as would do infinite credit to his own dramas. He should at once drop the pen, and assume the sock and buskin.
Your honor will permit me to observe that the assumption that a person is guilty because he is accused, is in direct opposition to the principles of the common law. It is a maxim of this universal law that every man is innocent till he is “proved” guilty; but you appear to take the ground that as soon as a man is accused he is necessarily guilty, and you ask me to treat Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman as being so before a trial [Page 748]or before an examination, and before a particle of proof of their guilt has been given me. I must be governed by the laws of my own country, and according to them I must have the proofs of the offenses charged against a man before I can treat him as being guilty. You, however, adduce no proof, nor do you give me a particle of the evidence on which your charges are founded, and ask me to treat them as if guilty of high crimes.
The law of nations clearly prescribes the course to be followed when persons, members of a legation, are found to be engaged in any unlawful acts. It says that the government which it has offended may ask that they shall be sent to their own country to be tried, when the minister will be bound to comply with the request. Therefore if the charges and proofs against Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman shall be furnished me, with request that they should be sent to their respective countries to be tried, I shall then have no alternative but to comply, and at the first opportunity send them away—the one to the United States, the other to the custody of the English minister in Buenos Ayres. This course, it is hoped, will be satisfactory to the government of Paraguay, as it will remove persons obnoxious to it from the country, and will subject them to trial according to the laws of their own countries; and as there is little doubt that an American gunboat will soon be in these waters, there will probably be but little delay in carrying it into effect.
You will admit that I had good reason to be surprised at the statement in your last note that a combination had been formed which, by agreement with the enemy, was to have broken out shortly in the country, for the overthrow of its government and the extermination of the army which combats for its existence. That something of a dangerous character had been discovered I had previously supposed from having learned that certain energetic and unusual measures had recently been taken by the government. But of its form or extent, or of the persons implicated in it, I had not the most remote idea. Such conspirations not unfrequently happen during long periods of war, but I did not suppose there were men enough in Paraguay to make such a combination at all formidable who would have the folly to attempt it. There may have been men bad enough to attempt it, but I did not suppose there were any so foolish as to engage in a combination that could not offer any other issue than their own ruin. Your note of the 16th, however, convinces me that something of the kind has been attempted. But I cherish the hope that it will be found, after full investigation, that it is not so extensive as may have been apprehended; and I am very anxious to know, as I now confidently believe, that it will appear to be confined to a circle with which no person who has ever lived in this legation had any relations, connections, or intimacy, and I am fully persuaded that such a result of the investigation is the one that is most desired by his excellency Marshal Lopez.
Having thus reviewed at length the contents of your note of the 16th, I regret to find that my views of my duty differ as widely as ever from those expressed by you, and that, consequently, I see little prospect of being able to be personally useful by longer remaining here. For reasons your honor can well appreciate, I should have preferred to await at least the solution of the question of the passage of the American gunboat above the blockading squadron. Of course, if I remain, it will come sooner or later, if it takes the whole American navy to force its way. I apprehend, however, that rather than provoke a war with the United States the gunboat will be permitted to pass unmolested, and you will readily believe that I have no desire to save the allies from another such [Page 749]humiliation as they were subjected to at the time of my last arrival in Paraguay.
I improve this occasion to tender to your honor assurances of high regard and consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
Your excellency not having chosen to send away, up to sunset to day, the accused individuals, George Masterman and Porter C. Bliss, nor reply to my note demanding these criminals, and being pressed by the requirements of justice, I for the third time request their expulsion or delivery, begging you to take into consideration the urgency of the case and the grave character of their crime, in view of the situation of the country, informing you that the persons in your service who are sent outside of the plaza to procure provisions are accused of being conductors of communications of the enemy to the refugees of your hotel, and their replies.
As I fear I shall molest you, and not being so pressed in this matter, it may be that I shall not solicit the appearance of those persons before the tribunal, thus offering you a new proof of high consideration and respect; and not doubting that you will take the necessary measures for the internal service of your house to put an end to such a grave abuse of its just immunities, I improve this occasion, &c., &c.,
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, United States Minister.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: Since closing my note in answer to yours of the 16th instant, I have had the honor to receive your note of yesterday, in which, after again requesting me to send Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman from my house, you state that the persons in my service who have been accustomed to bring provisions from beyond the limits of the town are accused of having conveyed communications between the enemy and the persons sheltered in my house. You add that, in order not to molest me, you do not solicit their appearance before the tribunals, thus giving another proof of high consideration and respect for myself, not doubting that I shall take the necessary measures to put a stop to such abuse of the legation immunities.
For these expressions of a desire not to molest me, you will please accept my sincere thanks. I have advised the only servant I have, who [Page 750]is accustomed to go beyond the city limits, that he must not bring or carry any note, message, or communication of any kind, to or from any other person than myself or Mrs. Washburn. This servant tells me that he has never carried any messages or notes of any kind except the requests of persons living in the legation to the occupants of the houses where they had before resided, to send them books, clothes, and such other things as might be necessary for their use and convenience. Even that service I have now prohibited him from doing, and should he be found to disobey me I trust I may be informed of it, that I may instantly discharge him from my service. Respecting the case of Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman, I beg to refer you to my other note of this date, in reply to yours of the 16th.
I avail myself of this occasion to express my distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your two notes, in which, under date of yesterday, you acknowledge receipt of mine of the 16th and 19th instant, and refuse to permit that the criminals accused of high treason to the country, in combination with the enemy, George Masterman and Porter Cornelius Bliss, appear before the tribunals.
In anticipation of the occasion of forwarding my formal answer, I notify you that, by agreement of the traitors with the enemy, the latter was to execute certain movements on or before the 24th instant; and as it appears probable that these criminals may escape from your house, if they should not be previously imprisoned, I have the honor to say to you that my government would view with the greatest pain an occurrence of so much importance, which would once more surprise the good faith and confidence which Mr. Washburn pleases to manifest towards these criminals, thinking it his duty to discuss and delay up to the present time the apprehension of individuals so dangerous to the national cause, without having been sufficient all the moderation and courtesy with which this ministry has treated so grave a question. I beg of you the honor of the speediest possible answer, and I improve this occasion to renew the assurances of my distinguished consideration.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday, in which you advise me that the treasonable combination with the enemy was to have made certain movements on the 24th of this [Page 751]month, and it was apprehended that the persons in my house, accused of being engaged in it, would seek to escape from it if they were not previously made prisoners, and you add that your government will view with great regret that they should escape and thus abuse my confidence again, and in conclusion you ask an immediate reply.
To the apparent haste in which you seem to have been I may probably attribute the fact that you make no mention of the reasons given by me in my note of the 20th why I could treat no one as criminal till I had the proofs of his guilt. Nor do you, probably for the same motive take into consideration the reasons I gave why in conformity to the law of nations I could not surrender for trial by the authorities of the country these two members of my legation. But as you say that the combination of treason was to have broken out on the 24th, and that it appeared probable that these persons would then attempt to escape from my house, it appears that further security is desired that they will not do so.
Though not participating in your opinion in regard to the criminality of these individuals, and being entirely ignorant of the nature and extent of the combination to which you allude, I am nevertheless disposed to do all in my power, and all that is consistent with my duty and respect for the law of nations, to facilitate the government in all measures of prevention or security. I will, therefore, undertake to hold Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman close prisoners in this legation, till I can send them out of the country, or till such time as the government may not object to their being set at liberty.
I take this occasion to renew assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to request of you the immediate delivery of a sealed package of communications, which the ex-minister of foreign affairs, José Berges, delivered to you in his residence at Salinares, when, on the afternoon following the arrival of Berges from San Fernando to Asuncion, you visited him in that house, where you personally took charge of the said packet in order to keep it, as in fact, on arriving at your legation at nightfall, you went with it to your office.
This packet being, Mr. Minister, of great importance to my government, you will allow me to request its delivery to the officer who bears the present communication.
I improve this occasion to salute your excellency with distinguished consideration.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.[Page 752]
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: The note of your excellency of this date has this moment been received. In it I am requested to deliver to the bearer a sealed package of communications that was delivered to me by Señor Don José Berges at his house in the Salinares the day after his return from San Fernando. In answer to this I have the honor to advise you that I did not know of Señor Berges’s return till several days afterwards; and that when I did hear of it I learned also he was very sick at his quinta, and called, according to my diary, the 22d of June upon him, as I was going to take a paseo, and found him in bed in his house. I do not remember how long that was after the return of Señor Berges, but I think it was a week or more, but he never gave me any package or communication, or letter or message of any kind. We talked about the condition of the war and of other things of a casual nature, and the only thing that I remember is that he said the Brazilians could not hold out much longer; that their credit was exhausted, and several provinces were already in revolt. On taking my leave he begged me to come and see him often, which I promised to do; but I never called but once afterwards, and that was with Mrs. Washburn, according to my diary, on the 3d of July, when I found him still in bed. His talk then was very similar to what it had been on the previous occasion, but neither then nor at any time has he ever given me any package or communication whatever. You must, therefore, be entirely misinformed in regard to the package concerning winch you inquire. I have never received anything of the kind, nor have I received from him any communication, either verbal or by letter, since his return from San Fernando.
I avail myself of this occasion to tender assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
Before having had time to reply to the note of your excellency bearing date 20th instant, as I had offered in mine of the 21st, I have received the reply which you have given to this last, and I proceed to reply to both.
First of all, I must explain the apparent haste, of which you accuse me with so little politeness in your reply of yesterday. Since my haste was not apparent, but real, and moved by the friendly interest of preventing a complication by a new abuse of your confidence, by the criminals whom you protect, I have considered that confidence real and noble, and not apparent, as you classify my haste, and that is the explanation of my conduct in respect to that note.
I have not forgotten in it, as you think, that you had just given me [Page 753]your reasons, declaring that you would not give up Masterman and Bliss for their trial by the authorities of the country, considering them as members of your legation. I only wished to point out to you a traitorous possibility, hastening to forewarn your excessive confidence towards the criminals of your house, while I proposed to offer to you a detailed reply upon the points on which you appear to base your resistance in your note of the 20th.
I have not permitted myself to request of you to keep as close prisoners in your legation Porter Cornelius Bliss and George F. Masterman, and it belongs exclusively to you to do what is most befitting the internal service of your house.
I have fulfilled a duty which I judged to be one of courtesy. It is now my duty to express to you that from your own house correspondences from the enemy’s generals are received and replied to, treating of the details of the plot; and when you insist withal in the terms employed, and do not wish to believe in an ingratitude, I am obliged to fear that the same conduct is still observed in your house, in which they have been before shut up as well as now, I suppose, since they have not appeared on the street.
It is not I, Mr. Minister, who have said to you that the complot had been combined to break out to-morrow, but I thank you for the intelligence.
I should have much to say concerning the account which you have received from Bliss, respecting his contract with the government, and its fulfillment on each side, but that is not the question of the moment, and your excellency knows that my government makes no question of interest, nor can it recognize you as its judge in the matter.
Your excellency says that, in fact, the only person formally recognized in an official note, as a member of the legation, is Porter Cornelius Bliss, referring to the note from the department of the 23d of February; but I cannot attribute this assertion, except to some painful mistake on the part of your excellency, since I have before me that note, and I find nothing which authorizes me to believe so. On the contrary, the third paragraph of that note expressly and virtually disclaims the quality of members of your legation in the citizens Bliss and Manlove; and if the condition of not appearing upon the street was imposed upon them, it was assimilating them to the refugees in your hotel, without its appearing that they were considered in any other capacity.
In corroboration of this assertion I will remind you that in my note of the 29th of March last I had the honor to say to you that the said Bliss and Manlove could not go out of the legation, and that only on that condition were they tolerated in the house of your excellency.
Besides, as you know, the specialty of the case, the circumstances of the country, and the residence of your excellency in a purely military post, showed the necessity of the express consent of the government, in order that individuals proposed for members of that legation might be recognized in that capacity.
For the rest, if I have reminded you that Porter Cornelius Bliss has not lived up to the conditions recommended in the note of the 23d of February, it was only to remind you that more than the three months of which you spoke in your note of the 14th instant, and that that recommendation had not been so scrupulously fulfilled. If there were any words badly translated in the notes exchanged at that time, the responsibility of the error falls upon you for not having rectified it at the time.
I will not trespass on you by undertaking the task of persuading you still that your confidence has been abused by the criminals demanded. [Page 754]since my official declarations have for you less importance than their own statements.
As little do I wish to weary you with a long series of transcriptions from international law to satisfy your scruples, for fear that you might accuse me of not wishing it to be enforced in favor of your “protegés,” Porter Cornelius Bliss and George F. Masterman, and also because I do not consider this to be the place.
Nor shall I give you more specified details concerning the accusations against the said criminals, since I am notified beforehand that you will not permit them to be tried by the authorities of this country, but Porter Cornelius Bliss only in the United States, and George F. Masterman in England, as members of the American legation.
Nevertheless, I will observe that your excellency appears completely to confound the condition of the country in fall and exterminating war, with an absolute blockade and a horrible and atrocious crime, with a normal and not very pressing situation, and an ordinary crime of less danger and less immediate consequence. Could you, who are so familiar with the great authors, cite me a case analogous to that which you sustain? Does it not seem to you that if the immunities of a minister were to reach such an extreme as that to which you pretend to carry yours, there would be no nation in the world which would wish to accept an embassy?
Since the national justice does not seek the suffering of any man, but the investigation and chastisement of the crime, in order to put an end to the fatal development of a plot as wicked as inhuman, does it not seem to you probable that when the republic shall be saved the government will excuse itself from sending its attorneys, (fiscales,) one to the United States and another to England, to substantiate an accusation, and call for the chastisement of Porter Cornelius Bliss and George F. Masterman, who, without any character whatever, and begging their bread, have arrived at the shores of this country to constitute themselves later the agents of the enemy and instruments of commotion and intestine revolt, and who had not appeared before the tribunal, because, after having become criminals, they had obtained access to the legation of a friendly power, in order to continue thence with impunity so iniquitous a work?
Does your excellency think that the minister who shelters such criminals under his flag and his immunities is in the perfect exercise of international-law privileges? The exercise of that law thus understood, for the safeguard of such individuals, can it be considered as an act of obliging friendship?
Let your excellency add to this that Porter Cornelius Bliss has signed in a secret committee of reciprocal obligation, swearing the treacherous assassination of the President of the republic.
I cannot but declare categorically to you that this ministry does not recognize, nor has it ever recognized, Porter Cornelius Bliss, American citizen, and George F. Masterman, British subject, as members of your legation, and consequently I cannot accept a discussion with your excellency upon that basis. I regret, Mr. Minister, that my friendly representations in previous notes have not been able to avoid the present statement, and I am under the unavoidable obligation of again requesting the expulsion of these criminals from your hotel before sunset on the 25th instant, in doing which you will not only act with justice, but according to the law of nations.
I also regret to see that your excellency has so little hope of being personally useful by remaining longer in the country. I thought that [Page 755]the representative of a friendly nation would take pleasure in seeing frustrated a great conspiracy formed to facilitate the triumph of the enemies of my country, whose cause has merited the sympathetic interest of the government of the American Union.
I will not conclude without thanking your excellency for the mention you have made concerning the American fleet forcing a passage, as well as for your opinion that, rather than provoke a war with the United States, the gunboat will be allowed to pass without molestation, and, above all, the security given that your excellency has no desire to spare the allies another humiliation such as that experienced upon the occasion of your last arrival in this country.
I improve this occasion, &c.
His Excellency Charles Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 23d, in which, after discussing some points of courtesy, you proceed to give your reasons why Porter C. Bliss and George F. Masterman should not be regarded as members of this legation, and should be expelled from it by me. As regards the questions of courtesy, I have no wish to enter upon them at this time. If the danger is so imminent as you allege, it is better to leave all discussion on points of courtesy until more quiet times, when on review of what is past it will doubtless be easy to explain, justify, or excuse anything that may have appeared hasty or inconsiderate at the time. I therefore come to the more serious matter of your note.
In this you tell me that from my house correspondence from the enemy’s generals are received and replied to, treating of the details of a plot, and expressing a fear that the same conduct is still continued. You then add that it is not you who have said to me that the complot had been combined to break out on the 24th instant, and that you thank me for the information. Certainly your note of the 21st gave me the first information that I had that anything particular was to be attempted on that day. From that note I make the following quotation: “Mientras pueda dar á Y. E. la debida contestacion vengo á prevenir á V. E. que por la combinacion de la traicion con el enemigo, este debia ejectuar ciertos movimientos para el dia 24 del corriente.” This is all the information I have had on this point, and in my reply on the 22d I say that you advise me that the treasonable combination with the enemy was to have made certain movements on the 24th, thus giving in an almost literal translation of your own words the “noticia” for which you thank me; certainly it appears to me that the thanks are due from me to you, rather than from you to me. The first knowledge I had of the matter was contained in your note of the 21st.
Respecting the question whether Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman are or are not rightfully and legally members of this legation, I waive all discussion at present; I have assumed, as I believe correctly, that they [Page 756]are; and if now I were to recede from that position, it would appear weak, and would be a confession that I had acted illegally in sending them away, for which act I should be arraigned and censured by my government. I may be in error in my judgment, but holding the opinions that I do, I have no other course to pursue than give them the protection of my legation until I can send them to their respective countries to be tried. If the government of Paraguay should feel itself justified in taking them away by force, all nations of the civilized world will be called upon to pronounce upon the legality of the act. I may be condemned for error of judgment, but I shall certainly be commended for insisting to the last on the rights of legation.
In thus insisting on the rights of legation, I trust you will believe that it is from no desire to shield criminals. If the parties to whom I have given shelter and hospitality have, in the mean time, been engaged in a plot or conspiracy against this government, there is no person in the country, save those whose lives were threatened—and, for any thing I know, I may have been included in the number—who has so much reason as I have to desire that justice should be done, or the criminals punished. And it is due to myself and to my government that I should give all aid in my power, that I can legally and consistently do, to aid in the discovery of the criminals; and if you have any questions to ask respecting any suspected person, and I can give you any information that might be of use in ascertaining the truth, I shall be most happy in a friendly and unofficial way to do so.
I regret to observe that you remark your official declarations have less weight with me than the statements of the accused parties. I do not assume the character of a judge; I only say that being, as I consider, members of my legation, they are not liable to be tried by the tribunals of Paraguay.
The government, however, if convinced that they are not members of this legation, may pursue them as criminals and fugitives, and the writers on international law have prescribed how such characters may be lawfully and properly taken from the house of a foreign minister. It will not be for me to complain that any criminal is taken by force from my legation; but the responsibility of the act will then be upon the government of Paraguay, and not on the minister who had surrendered them, believing that he ought not to do so.
To the specific charge made against Mr. Bliss I will not allude, lest again you should thank me for information that I had only derived from you. I can only say in regard to him, that if the charge be substantiated there is no person in the world who will have so good reason as myself to demand his punishment. And I have full confidence that my own government will administer firm and inflexible justice. Does the government of Paraguay doubt it?
To the remarks of your honor that you regretted that I had so little hope of being longer useful by remaining in the country, and that you thought that the representative of a friendly nation would take pleasure in seeing frustrated a great conspiracy formed to facilitate the triumph of the enemy, I would reply that I fully agree with you. As I said before, I have more reason than almost any other person to desire that the whole affair should be thoroughly investigated, and the guilty parties punished. When I wrote my note of the 14th instant I had no idea of the accusations that would afterwards be brought against the persons to whom I had given shelter and hospitality. But when I was asked to deliver up or Send from my house two persons whom I had considered [Page 757]as members of my legation, I thought that if the government insisted on that, and my legation privileges were to be denied, I ought not longer to remain in the country.
There are other points in your note to which I may hereafter have occasion to allude, but as they do not affect the immediate question I will not now discuss them. But, as I have said, I am not only willing, but anxious to lend any assistance in my power to discover the truth in regard to the combination of which you have made mention. I therefore will here add, what I more properly might have said in my note of the 23d, in answer to yours, asking the delivery of a certain package. As to the package I have nothing more to say, as I never saw nor heard of it. But as you say on the day after the return of Señor Berges from San Fernando I visited him at his quinta, and brought away such package, which on my return at nightfall I deposited in my office, I will add a few words to what I said yesterday.
As I said in my note of the 23d, I did not see Señor Berges for several days after his return. But I find in my diary the following, which I literally transcribe, notwithstanding my bad Spanish in which I keep my journal, for the sake of learning the language:
A la tarde fui a visitar Berges en su quinta. Le encontré muy enfermo en cama. Despues pasé hasta la casa de la Señora presidenta á quien encontré en buena salud pero triste; volvi por la casa de Leite adonde encontré Vasconcellos enfermo con chuchu. El mandó por me algnnos billetes para Leite. Nada de nuevo de abajo.
Translation.—That evening I visited Berges at his country seat. I found him sick in bed. Then I called at the house of the President’s lady, who was well, but looked sad. I returned by way of Leite’s, where I met Vasconcellos, suffering from influenza. He sent some letters to Leite by me. No news from below.
I had been requested by Mr. and Mrs. Pereira to pass by their former residence and bring them certain things that they needed, among which was some money, Paraguayan currency. To oblige them I took with me the saddle-bags [alforjas] of my friend Traunefeld, that I had borrowed some days before. On returning at nightfall I put the saddle-bags into my office; and the next morning, after Señor Pereira had counted the money, he delivered it to me to keep; and the larger part of it is now in my possession.
You will admit that this is not a very dignified nor elevated matter to put into a diplomatic correspondence, nevertheless I give all the particulars, hoping that I may thus be useful in arriving at the truth, and that the information will be received in the same spirit in which it is offered.
It is with profound regret that I find myself compelled to differ with the government of Paraguay in regard to the case of Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman; but if any man has reason to respect firmness it is his excellency Marshal Lopez, who, after having maintained a struggle almost unparalelled in history for national independence, and having endured years of toil and sacrifice to defend his country and maintain a principle, cannot but regard in another the same firmness, and the same adherence to conviction and duty, with respect and approval.
That the plot of which you speak has been detected and frustrated, I would ask you to convey my most cordial and earnest felicitations to his excellency Marshal Lopez. I well remember what a thrill of horror ran through the civilized world when the great and good Abraham Lincoln fell before a foul assassin, and the universal execration that the deed provoked. That any person should be found in Paraguay engaged in a similar plot is to me horrible beyond expression. Will you also felicitate his excellency the President for the returning of his birthday, and express my regret that I was unable yesterday, owing to the pressing [Page 758]duty of preparing this letter, to visit his excellency the vice-president at Luque and formally offer my congratulations.
I improve this occasion to tender to your highness assurances of high regard and distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have just received the inclosed communication from Mr. P. C. Bliss, which, at his request, I forward to your honor. It treats of a matter that occurred before my return to Paraguay, and of which I never heard till the day before yesterday, when he told me he would write this statement. Whether it will be of any use to the government I am unable to say. Hoping, however, that it may be, I comply with Mr. Bliss’s request, and forward it immediately.
I avail myself of this occasion to renew assurances of distinguished consideration.
Hon. Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Bliss to Mr. Washburn.
Sir: When I have learned at various times within the last few days that I was accused of a grave charge; that I was designated as a member of a combination formed by agreement with the enemy for the overthrow of the government of this republic, and afterwards guilty of high treason, I have expressed the most unqualified amazement that charges of such a nature should be made against a person whose whole career in Paraguay forms an eloquent contrast to such imputations, and I have most sincerely and unqualifiedly denied that there exists the least foundation for such charges. To-day, however, when I have seen the charges made in a more specific form, stating that I have set my name to a secret compact as a member of a committee having for its object the assassination of the President of the republic, the mode of stating this charge has been for me a ray of light, explaining how such an idea could have arisen, and affording me the eagerly desired opportunity not only of clearing up a mystery, but also of completely exculpating myself by making known an antecedent of my career which places in evidence the strength and sincerity of my attachment to the glorious cause of the liberties of the Spanish American republics, menaced by Brazil, and so heroically defended by the republic of Paraguay, under the guidance of the first warrior of South America.
I have belonged to a small circle composed of five individuals, who, nearly two years ago, proposed to form themselves into a committee, or rather into an intimate society, not with the object of overthrowing the government of the republic, but for the precisely opposite purpose—that is, to co-operate with the noble efforts of the government in its grand crusade against the slaveholding empire, and against the success of its enormous ambition. It was an association of five friends, enthusiastic for the great cause of the American republics against Brazilian aggression, whose first proposition was mutually to swear an eternal hatred against the common enemy of all republics, and whose only object was to seek the most efficacious means of putting into action our combined talents for that purpose. Unforeseen circumstances prevented that project from being carried out, and it was abandoned directly after being conceived. But such as it was, it was the only association of any kind whatever to which I have belonged in the republic of Paraguay, and has undoubtedly been the occasion that erroneous information or suspicions of persons foreign to it have misrepresented it to such a degree that what was [Page 759]but the effect of indiscreet zeal has appeared under colors as opposite to the truth as heaven to hell.
To explain this circumstance, in what relates to myself, requires that I begin from some time previous, and beg your attention to the following statement:
You excellency knows that, during the year 1864, I edited in Buenos Ayres an English monthly review called the “River Plate Magazine,” principally devoted to historical investigations. In the articles of current politics I made myself a subject of remark, as the only writer in Buenos Ayres who uniformly sustained the legal government of Montevideo against Brazilian aggression. I wrote several biographical articles upon the chieftains of the Spanish American war of independence, such as Bolivar and San Martin. In preparing them, I learned that a secret patriotic association called the “Society of Lautaro” had played an important part in that movement, having extended itself to all the new republics. I obtained information concerning this society from the mouths of General Tomas Guido and General Anbonio Diaz, as well as others, who had belonged to it, and at last I had what I considered to be the good fortune to obtain a copy of its regulations, and from the autograph manuscript of a deceased general, in No. 12 of the magazine, I published a part of it, accompanied by a historical sketch in reference to it.
When, at the beginning of the year 1865, I came to Paraguay, impelled by a desire of becoming better acquainted with a country in which I took so much interest, especially at so interesting a moment, I casually brought with me this manuscript, which afterwards played a part in the subject of which I now treat.
I omit entering upon proofs of the cordial support which I have uniformly given to the Paraguayan cause, and of the constant efforts I have made to keep up the public spirit of natives and foreigners in this struggle. The facts are too notorious to require such proof. I will, however, say that one of the first ideas which engaged my attention was that of working upon the sentiment of the Pacific republics in favor of the cause of the balance of power in the Rio de la Plata, as represented by Paraguay; and as early as April, 1865, I made suggestions to the ministry of foreign affairs, with a tendency to be employed myself for that purpose. In August and September, 1866, after the great Paraguayan victories over the enemy, and the revelation of the iniquitous designs of the enemy by the publication of the “secret treaty,” and particularly after learning the state of opinion in the Pacific republics, as manifested by the celebrated protest of the quadruple alliance, my interest in the same project was quickened. It was at that time that I made a formal proposition to be employed in an agency in the service of the government, proceeding to Bolivia, and thence to Europe. The 22d of September, (date of the battle of Curupayti,) the Bolivians, Drs. Roca and Peña, arrived here, and I soon became intimate with them, consulting them respecting my ideas, and indoctrinating them into principles and antecedents of the present crusade against Brazil. I presented them to several members of the government, and to my friend, Dr. Carreras, who participated in many of my ideas. As the result, Dr. Roca commenced that series of patriotic manifestations by which his name has become so prominent in the republic. Those were days of patriotic effervescence over the whole republic, and, in particular, they were for me days of congratulation, since the government had honored me by ordering my drama of the “Triple Alliance” to be magnificently represented at the festivals of the approaching anniversary of the second presidency. Moved by a desire to repay so much honor, but undoubtedly badly advised as to the opportuneness of such a step, I took an active part in promoting a combination among a few friends, in order to guide our common efforts in favor of the national and American cause. It was agreed to form a small circle of five individuals, who were to organize for that object, under the name of “Hesperian Society,” and the manuscript to which I have alluded was consulted as being likely to afford some useful ideas in the preparation of the regulations. After one or two previous consultations, the only meeting at all formal took place in my room, in Calla Pasode laPatria, No. 8. Those present were Drs. Roca, Pena, and Carreras, the Oriental citizen Don Antonio Tomé, and myself. The occasion was the evening of the 12th of October, 1866, anniversary of the first armed aggression of Brazil in the Oriental Republic, and also a native festival of Paraguay, which had been celebrated that day by the departure of the committee which went to carry the national album to his excellency Marshal Lopez.
A formula was agreed upon, expressing that the object of the society was to promote, by all means within our power and by common accord, a sort of South American crusade against Brazil, against its ambitious designs and its slaveholding propaganda, contracting a mutual compromise of eternal hatred towards the empire, which we regard as the common enemy of all republics. This formula, drawn up in several copies, (upon blue letter-paper,) was to have been signed by all, each one preserving a copy, but the signing was never effected, and two or three of the copies remained in my possession. The preparation of the regulations was left for a future occasion, which never arrived; and it was then proposed to send memoirs, prepared by two of the individuals, to his excellency Marshal Lopez, proposing the sending of a commission to the Pacific republics, where they (in case of the mission falling to the lot of one or more of us) were to initiate other associations for the same object among influential men hostile to Brazil. [Page 760]These memorials, written by Drs. Carreras and Roca, were sent to their destination. A letter was also approved of, written by Dr. Roca to President Malgarejo, of Bolivia, exhorting him to become a champion of the American cause against Brazil, and promising, in that case, to lay aside the political enmity which he had against him.
I will add that we did not propose to establish such an association formally, without previously soliciting the approbation and support of members of the national government. All that was done was merely provisional, and finding inconveniences in its realization, no second meeting was held, nor was even the record of the first signed —that is, each one continuing to act individually in favor of the common object. In December occurred some differences of opinion between the persons who had formed part of the projected circle, concerning the convenience of a certain manifestation on the part of the foreign residents towards Marshal Lopez, and there was even a rupture of social relations between some of us, which, in part, subsists till the present time.
Such is the simple statement of a fact which, I doubt not, has, after so long a time, originated a suspicion that it was of an entirely different character. The truth of my statement can be proved by the testimony of the other persons mentioned, the only ones who, so far as I know, have had any knowledge of it. Such was the only combination to which I have belonged, in thought, word, or deed, and I am absolutely ignorant of any combination whatever for a contrary purpose, or for a repugnant and atrocious object, as well as of who may be its authors. I have never been sounded by any person for such a purpose, since my patriotic principles are very notorious in this republic, and who would have dared to make me the depositary of so horrid a secret? If such a circumstance had come to the knowledge of any one of us, I have the pro-foundest conviction that he would have hastened to denounce its criminal authors to the just vengeance of a country wounded in its most sensible fiber, and, for my part, I am most anxious that all the infernal plot which is said to have been lately formed may be discovered.
Having had the misfortune to attract the hatred of a considerable part of the foreign population by the conduct which, along with Doctor Roca, I observed in December, 1866, receiving for it the explicit approbation of the official newspaper, it would be very singular that I should afterwards enter, with my personal enemies, into an intrigue to undo all the titles which I had so carefully endeavored to obtain, to the confidence of the government of which I have always been an ardent partisan.
I forgot to say in its proper place that, after having abandoned the idea of the society above mentioned, I had no hesitation in employing the information contained in my manuscript of the “Society of Lautaro” as an element for the preparation of an entire act of a second drama, which I presented to the government, and which has not been published. Would not such conduct have been the maddest caprice on the part of a person who had an understanding with the enemy?
Not doubting that the preceding facts may be a ray of light for the supreme government of the republic in its investigations to clear up the present grave accusations, and to distinguish the innocent from the guilty, in an affair in which, by means of incorrect information, two series of facts of a totally opposite nature, as well in object as in date and in authors, have evidently been confounded. I beg your excellency will communicate this rapid statement of facts to the supreme government of the republic, and assure that government that I am most anxious to give it all the assistance in my power to clear up the truth in what relates to myself and to the other persons whose imprudent but patriotic reunion has drawn upon us such unfounded suspicions.
I have the honor to be, Mr. Minister, your attentive and humble servant,
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, United States Minister Resident in Paraguay.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have had the honor to receive your note of the 23d instant, in reply to that which I addressed you, bearing the same date, requesting the delivery of a sealed package of communications, which was delivered to you by the ex-Minister Berges. You state that neither in the two visits which you made to Berges, nor upon any other occasion, did he ever [Page 761]give you any package or communication of any kind, and that therefore I must be very ill-informed in that respect, since you have never received anything of that class, nor have you received from him any communication, either verbal or by letter, since his return from San Fernando. I have also received two other later notes, of the 25th and 26th instant, the first being in reply to my other note of the 23d, concerning the question which relates to Porter Cornelius Bliss and George F. Masterman, whom you consider as members of your legation, setting forth that, as to the question whether they are or are not justly and legally such, you waive the point, but that as you consider them as members of your legation, they are not subject to be judged by the tribunals of Paraguay; that if the government is nevertheless convinced that they are not members of the legation, it may prosecute them as criminals and fugitives, and that the writers upon international law have fully prescribed how such individuals may properly and legally be taken from the house of a foreign minister, but that the responsibility in this case will be upon the government of Paraguay, and not upon you. At the same time you make a fuller statement respecting the package of papers asked for in my note of the 23d, giving an extract from an entry in your diary. The last note of your excellency is accompanied by a communication from Porter Cornelius Bliss, who, you say, requested it to be forwarded; the said communication containing some revelations which suppose the existence, at a former time, of a secret committee composed of himself and other foreigners, the form and text of this communication appearing to be intended as a justification of his pretended innocence.
I shall reply to these notes together, as being coherent parts of the principal subject.
Although there are some points in these notes which I have read not without surprise, and which deserve to be immediately replied to, yet, not to lose precious time, I leave them aside to treat of the principal topics.
I would also have entered into further considerations concerning the question of Bliss and Masterman, but as you decline all discussion as to whether they are or are not justly and legally considered by you as members of your legation, I also ought, after what I have already said upon the subject, to abridge my reply. Nevertheless, I will observe that this act of your excellency is not in harmony with the benevolent manifestations which you have made in favor of justice, since it being in your hands, and a matter of the strictest duty to send away those individuals who ought to appear before the proper tribunal, you preferred to shield them with the title of members of your legation, without having proved, or being able to prove, that quality which has been officially disclaimed by my government.
You do not choose to give all the assistance which you might legally afford towards the investigation of the grave crime of high treason; and the fact of acceding in respect to some, and refusing in respect to others, to accede to the request to dismiss from your hotel the criminal refugees, as in the case of Bliss and Masterman, to which you interpose difficulties, although you have superabundant means to give them a decided protection, which circumstance assumes a more pronounced character, by referring to the fact in your note of the 20th instant, respecting your servant, you have stated your intention to dismiss him instantly from your hotel in case of being informed that he has not complied with your orders not to bring or carry any note, message, or communication of any kind, or from any person beside yourself and Madame Washburn. And [Page 762]the fact is so much the more characteristic, since you, in the exercise of your discretionary powers, might give up to the justice of the country your servants accused of crimes, and might renounce all privileges of that nature, respecting persons of your suite, with the exception of those who have been appointed by your government as secretaries of legation, &c.
The more I have sought in your notes for a plausible motive for your firm determination of not granting my request concerning those criminals, the more I have found that your refusal is based only upon these points: 1. That you think to have correctly denominated them as justly and legally members of the legation. 2. That if you were now to recede from that position, it would appear weak, and would be a confession of having acted illegally in dismissing them, for which reason you would be accused and censured by your government.
I ought to express to your excellency that I have in this respect a different opinion, based upon reason and justice. Is it not evident that this government has not recognized your protegés as members of the American legation, and that this fact is proved by official documents? Or how many times must the government make known to you its resolution? But even if you believed in a tacit recognition after your last attempt, was not the official declaration sufficient, which was made to you later, that this ministry has never recognized nor recognizes them as members of your legation, to modify your opinion and respect the justice of my petition?
There is not, then, the exactness which you invoke in your behalf that they are legally members of your legation; and it is out of my power to understand how, by receding from that position on the strength of a maturer reflection, you will appear weak, or how it would be a confession of having acted illegally in dismissing them, since the mission of a public minister is based upon political morality, and the exercise of his functions requires a respect for law, reason, and justice, preferring the general interests of nations to private interests; and it is starting from this principle that I am far from believing that you would be accused, or even censured, by your government, whose enlightenment, love for justice, and respect for international law are beyond all question; and my government takes pleasure in recognizing this fact.
You will allow me to make the following quotation from Vattel, who, speaking of a foreign minister, says:
He ought not to avail himself of his independence to oppose the laws and usages, but rather ought to conform to them so far as they concern him, although the magistrate has no power to compel him to do so. He is particularly bound to observe religiously the universal rules of justice.
But what most particularly draws attention is that the persons sheltered in your legation proved to be really the principal members of the plot, and that there still remain in it two individuals who are as criminal, as appears from documents of the case, as the other refugees whom you, at my request, dismissed from your house, and who have already appeared before the competent tribunal.
It is to be regretted that such individuals still remain in your house, protected by the American flag, since you cannot but admit upon your own conviction, that far from being members of your legation, they are improperly housed in it, and as you know and have declared that your hotel ought not to serve as an asylum to criminals, I again demand of you the fulfillment of this duty, urgently required by justice and law.
When you say in your note that the government can do what it chooses in the matter, upon its own responsibility, I ought to observe that you [Page 763]may tranquilize yourself concerning this point, and at the same time manifest that—
The question of the right of asylum is already resolved by public law and modern practice. If the inviolability of the foreign public minister extends to his residence, his hotel can no longer, as formerly, serve as an asylum for individuals, guilty of crimes, to evade the competent jurisdiction. It is now admitted that when a criminal has taken refuge in the hotel of an embassador, the state may, in case of his extradition being refused, order him to be taken out by force.—Modern European Law of Nations, vol. 3.
According to this principle of international law, your insistance in your refusal is destitute of all foundation, and can only give rise to the formation of other judgments.
The pretext is specious upon which you base your refusal. How could the recognition of Bliss, in the character desired, be hoped for, simply on account of having been presented for the second time along with Manlove, in the list of your suite, having been already refused by this ministry upon your first request? Besides, it is evident that you have recognized this, when, in your note of the 4th of April last, with which you send the list referred to, bearing date of February 24, containing the names of the persons of your legation, you make this statement:
I have duly advised all the persons who have not been accepted and recognized as attached to this legation, and consequently with a right to all its privileges and immunities, that if they go outside of the limits of the legation it will be at their own risk and peril, and if in doing so they should be arrested by the police, I shall not have to interfere in their favor.
This sentence sufficiently demonstrates that you have recognized that Bliss and Manlove have not been accepted as attached to your legation.
I ought to mention here the form in which you communicated to this ministry the said list of the persons of your legation, in which you inserted, for the first time, the name of George F. Masterman, and for the second time, those of Bliss and Manlove. It came along with your note, already referred to, of the 4th of April, as a sort of satisfaction to mine of March 31, saying that you had written a similar note on the 24th of February, which you had endeavored to send to the ex-minister Berges.
By what has been set forth, it will be seen that you did not, on the 4th of April last, consider as members of your legation Bliss and Manlove, nor Masterman; not only because you did not send your note of February 24, but, above all, because they had not been recognized in the proposed quality, to augment the number of persons belonging to your legation. Besides, when Manlove, who was in the same case with Bliss, was arrested by the police, you did not consider him as a member of your legation, because you recognized the non-existence of any right to invoke, which fact comes in to corroborate, in the strongest manner, the reasoning and the right which I have alleged in my request respecting these individuals, whom you now pretend to include legally among the persons of your legation.
As to the other statement of your excellency, that Bliss has gone into the streets without being molested by the police, you ought to persuade yourself that he was confounded by the policemen with those who are really members of the legation; but this error of fact cannot confer any right in the sense of the pretense and argument of your excellency upon the matter.
With these explanations of my previous observations, the question is entirely cleared up, and I cannot hesitate a moment in thinking that you will immediately proceed to expel these two criminals, who have [Page 764]abused, to an extreme degree, the confidence of your excellency and the hospitality which has been generously given them in my country.
You have made several quotations from Yattel upon this matter, and must know that this celebrated author says in his work:
The embassador’s house ought to be exempted from all insult, and under the especial protection of the law of nations; to insult it is to become culpable to the state and to all nations.
But the immunity and exemption of the house has only been established in favor of the minister and his servants, as is evidently seen by the very reasons upon which it is founded. Could the minister avail himself of them to convert his house into an asylum whither the enemies of the prince and of the state might shelter themselves, as well as malefactors of all classes, and thus evade the penalties which they have merited? Such conduct would be contrary to all the duties of the embassador, to the spirit which ought to animate him, and to the legitimate motive which caused him to be admitted. No one will dare to deny it; but we will go further, and establish as a positive fact, that the sovereign is not bound to suffer an abuse so pernicious to his state and so prejudicial to society; * * * and in the case of a criminal, whose detention or punishment is very important to the state, the consideration of a privilege, which was never conceded for the purpose of being converted into the prejudice and ruin of states, cannot detain the action of the prince.
Bello says, in his Principles of the Law of Nations:
The minister, moreover, ought not to abuse this immunity by giving asylum to the enemies of the government, or to malefactors. If he should do so, the sovereign of the country would have a right to examine how far he ought to respect the asylum, and, in matters concerning crimes of state, could give orders for the minister’s house to be surrounded by guards, to insist upon the delivery of the criminal, and even could take him out by force.
I did not intend to trouble you with citations of this kind, but, in the interest of supporting the reason of my demands, I have had to recur to them, being very much surprised that hitherto my just and necessary requests for the expulsion of these two great criminals from your legation have not been complied with, as well as concerning the delivery of the package of communications which you took charge of; but I cherish the hope that you will not choose to make any further delay, which could but be a grievance to my government, since you understand the serious nature of the case, and know so well the ulterior results which such a resolution may bring about in this question, by sheltering criminals, who, as I have officially informed you, are accused, with full proofs, of being important members of the combination of high treason; there being, besides, the precedent of the conduct properly observed by you respecting other criminals, giving credit to my official statement, and forming a favorable judgment respecting the national courts of justice.
As you say in your note of the 25th instant: “But if any man has reason to respect firmness and strict adhesion to duty, it is his excellency Marshal Lopez. After having maintained a struggle for national independence almost unparalleled in history, and having supported years of labors, perils, and sacrifices for the defense of his country and the maintenance of a principle, he cannot but regard with respect and approbation in another the same firmness and the same adhesion to conviction and duty.” I ought to express to you my thanks, and manifest at the same time that you may rest secure that his excellency the marshal President, firm and persistent with the principles of sound policy, and of his noble sentiments, will never fail to appreciate good actions, and attribute due consideration and respect to really meritorious acts, which involve a respect for justice and law, as he has never approved of actions or proceedings which depart from such holy principles.
I also thank you for your expression of sympathy and compliment towards his excellency the marshal President of the republic, and it will [Page 765]be my duty to transmit to his excellency, as you desire, your cordial congratulation for the discovery and frustration of the plot, as well as your congratulation upon his birthday.
I think it my duty to consign in this place the notable circumstance to be observed in the fact that you, in your note of the 25th, which I had not received when I made my trip to the capital, offered to aid in the discovery of the criminals, and that if I had any queries to make concerning any suspected person, or if you could give any information of consequence for the confirmation of the truth, you would be most happy to do so, in a friendly and confidential manner. You had thus written precisely at the time when I had resolved upon an entirely friendly step in the interest of putting upon a better footing your relations with this ministry, in virtue of our official notes exchanged; but, unfortunately, neither your spontaneous offers, nor the official step which I took, have produced the results which I had hoped for.
Being obliged to take especial measures in consequence of your conduct, so little in conformity with the principles of universal practice and mutual convenience in official intercourse, I made you a visit at your house on the 25th, in the afternoon, which if in fact, and I regret to say so, it was entirely without result, at the least it will imply always a positive testimony of distinguished consideration towards your excellency; my government exhausting in this manner all the means counselled by friendship, consideration, and respect for the friendly nation of the United States of America and its government.
You will remember that I then said that I had left my post to come and visit you, and inform you in a friendly manner that I considered the ground you had taken in your official correspondence as very serious, and that I desired that I might not be obliged to say in it things which I wished to avoid for your own honor, Mr. Minister, and that I should be obliged to do so to prove officially the reasons which the government has for being exigent with you in the pending questions.
I also said that I knew that you had received from Berges papers with certain precautions and declarations, and labelled them with your own hand, and that I attributed only to forgetfulness what you said in your note concerning this matter, adding that I should infinitely regret to be obliged to make use of the declarations of the criminals in official notes, since that would carry this ministry upon a ground which it has not wished to enter upon with you, Mr. Minister.
You said in reply that in your note of the same day you had stated all you had to say upon the matter, and on your inquiring if I had received it, I replied that it had not yet reached me. You then replied, saying that the truth was that you had not received any paper from Berges; that what had happened was, that upon that same occasion, the 22d of June, you had gone from Berges’s house to that of Doña Juana P. C. de Lopez, and from them to that of Vasconcellos, who sent some saddle-bags, some paper money to Leite Pereira, and some other things for his lady, who, at that time, were refugees in your legation. You brought me, of your own accord, your diary, for me to read the entry containing this statement, and also brought the saddle-bags referred to, stating that you had brought them in person, and had them in your office, but that you had received absolutely nothing from Berges; that he had never been at all confidential with you, but, on the contrary, preserved towards you a constant reserve; that you had stated the same thing once to his excellency the marshal President in Paso Pucú; that for the same reason you wondered that you should be thought upon confidential terms with him; that some time later you made him another visit with Madame [Page 766]Washburn, but that she remained in the parlor, and you alone went in where Berges was in bed; that on the two occasions that you visited him, it was for a very short space of time, and that your conversation was only what you had already mentioned in your official note; that nothing further occurred, nor had you forgotten anything; that what you had stated is the truth.
In reference to the question about Bliss and Masterman, you said that you held an opinion different from that of the ministry, and for that reason should leave the government to act as it might judge proper, again referring to your note of the same date, and regretting that I had not received it. In relation to this point, I replied that I referred you to what I have already said in my notes upon the subject. You continued, stating that you understood the grave nature of the case, and that if you assumed the ground you had officially taken, it was from a sense of your duty to act so that your government would approve of your conduct, and in the manner that appeared to yourself most proper, especially after having declared that Bliss and Masterman are members of your legation; that far from wishing to shelter criminals, you had already sent away others, and that if you had not done so (in this case) it was only for the reasons stated, but that government could do what may appear to it most proper in this respect, assuming the responsibility. In reply to which I manifested to you, Mr. Minister, that you should convince yourself that the government does not need other people’s advice, and that it would do what was just and convenient; that these affairs having arrived at the delicate and important state in which they now are, it could not but be expected of you, Mr. Minister, who has always manifested your sympathy in favor of Paraguay, that you would act in a manner to prove well your sincerity and sentiments of right and justice in this grave business. You replied that no one could make any charges against you in this matter; that it might be that criminal acts had been committed which you had not understood, or which had not come to your knowledge, but that you were tranquil. Then I said that you, Mr. Minister, ought to understand that we are in possession even of your confidential communications with the criminals from a very early period; that we did not wish to state this in notes, at least not in all its fullness, unless, unfortunately, we should be obliged to do so. Your reply was to inquire who were these persons, and I continued the conversation in the same strain, without specifying persons. You repeatedly said that you were tranquil; that you remembered nothing, and that if anything had come to your knowledge, you would not have kept silence. You repeated that it was not true that you had ever received such a package from Berges, since you had received nothing from him. You added that you were surprised to learn that Berges was accused of high treason; that you had supposed him to be a good citizen, but that you must declare that he has never communicated anything to you concerning the crime attributed to him, nor had you conversed with him of anything beyond what you had already manitested.
You also alluded to the manner of Leite Pereira’s coming to your house, saying that you had only admitted him until he should be demanded by the authorities; that you had expressed to Carreras and other persons in the legation the same thing, and that Leite Pereira had done badly in acting as he did.
After this digression, I again called the attention of your excellency, more than once, to the importance of those papers which Berges gave you, and that, in order to be able to reply to your note about them, I had made you this visit, in order to see if in my reply it would be enough to [Page 767]appeal in a friendly manner to your memory, or if it would be necessary to aid it in a more convincing manner. You replied, losing your serenity, that it was false; that there was no such thing; that whoever had so stated had stated a falsehood, a lie to the government; that if there should be any such calumnies as that referring to papers of Berges, you would answer them well; that if there are bad men who wish to lie, it could not be helped; that, concerning this or anything else relating to the matter in question, you had no reason for reserve, and, on the contrary, would aid in clearing up the truth; thanking me for my friendly step, and turning your eyes towards many objects, trunks and boxes closed and sealed up, which there were in your parlor, you said that you had taken charge of them to serve various persons, but that you were ignorant of their contents.
On taking leave, I said that I retired with regret that a friendly step had been without result; and that doubtless also his excellency the marshal President would regret it, since his orders were to guard always towards you, Mr. Minister, all the consideration possible. You replied that you also regretted it, but that you could do nothing more in the matter, requesting me to thank his excellency, and to say to him that you much desired to be useful to him, and that you were disposed to do all that may be possible with the best good-will, and that you would do anything to serve him compatible with your duty.
This is essentially what passed in our conference; and although it produced no satisfactory result, I nevertheless hoped that, in consideration of the grave nature of the case, I might have had the good fortune to avoid for you the consequent painful results; but I see with regret that you have not yet been pleased to give the matter due consideration, and have placed yourself in a very especial situation.
In your note of the 23d instant, demanding the sealed package given you by the ex-minister, Berges, you say that he never gave you any package of communications, letter, or message of any kind, adding that you had talked about the state of the war, and other casual matters; that the only thing which you remember that he said was that the Brazilians could not hold out much longer; that their credit was exhausted; and that several provinces were in revolution; that on taking leave he requested you to come and see him afterwards, which you promised to do; but that you only went once more, accompanied by Madame Washburn, according to your diary, on the 3d of July, when you found him still in bed; that his conversation on that occasion was very similar to that of the previous occasion; but that neither then nor upon any other occasion did he ever give you a package or communication of any kind; that I must then be very ill-informed respecting the package referred to.
In your other note of the 25th, after speaking of the question of Bliss and Masterman, you add that as you had said you were not merely desirous but anxious to lend whatever assistance might be in your power to discover the truth respecting the combination which I had mentioned, that for this reason you would add what you might more properly have said in your note of the 23d, in reply to mine soliciting the delivery of a certain package; that as to this matter you had no more to say; but that, as I had stated that on the day after the return of Berges from San Fernando you visited him in his quinta and brought away that package, you would add that, as stated in your note of the 23d, you did not see him for several days after his arrival; and you then insert the entry from your diary, by which it appears that the same afternoon of your visit to Berges you went also to the house of Leite Pereira, where you found Vasconcellos; and that he sent by you some paper money for [Page 768]Leite himself, adding that you had been requested by Leite and his wife to go to their old residence, to bring several things which they needed, among which were some money and Paraguayan notes; and that on your return, about dark, you placed the saddle-bags in your office; stating, in conclusion, that although this matter is not very decorous for a diplomatic correspondence, you nevertheless gave all these details, hoping that they might be of use in arriving at the truth.
These are the points embraced in your two notes referred to concerning the very grave matter of the package of communications delivered to you by the ex-minister, Berges.
When I visited you, the 25th of this month, for the purpose of making the friendly suggestions referred to, I was animated by the best disposition towards you; and I hoped that, if not by my words, at least through regard to your own convenience, you would have given to my government a motive of gratitude, and also a proof of the sincerity of the desires and anxiety manifested by you to give whatever aid might be in your power to discover the truth, and to aid in the discovery of the criminals, offering to reply to questions concerning any suspected person, according to your expression; but the result of that conference has defrauded my most legitimate hopes, and has obliged me to transfer to my notes certain declarations of the criminals, which, as I said to your excellency, I much desired to avoid.
When the crime of high treason on the part of the ex-minister Berges had been discovered and investigated, he declared before the tribunal that he has had the following communications with the Marquis of Caxias: One original letter from Caxais himself, dated in Tuyucué, whose date he does not remember; that this letter was delivered to him through the American legation, and that his answer was sent by the same channel, the draught of which he says is to be found in the original (package?) That afterwards, at the time of the arrival of the gunboat Wasp, another letter came from the same marquis, dated the beginning of June, which Berges did not receive until the beginning of July, after returning from the army to the capital, on the occasion of the first visit of your excellency, who carried it to him personally. That with the letter was included a project of a reply and a proclamation, stating that these documents were sent to him and submitted to his consideration, since, having already forced the first fortifications and being about to take Humaita, he believed the end of the war to be near. That this letter was not replied to, since Berges could not write, on account of an impediment in his hand, for which reason you aided him to double or fold up this letter and its accompanying documents, as well as the previous one and the reply to it, putting them all in a wrapper, which was closed with a wafer, and was labelled by you with the inscription, “Papeles de Berges;” you took charge of and carried them to keep in the legation, offering to serve Berges in every way as minister and as friend.
And Berges himself adds, in his second declaration, that it was, in fact, at the time of the first visit which you made him at his house in Salinares, about the middle of the afternoon, that you personally carried him the second letter written by Caxias to him, when you said: “These papers came by the gunboat Wasp, and I received them under cover to me; it would seem that they are of importance.” That Berges took them and said, “Let us see,” reading them thereupon in your presence; and that, after a short time, you observed to him that the papers were long, and that therefore you would retire, as you had something to do; that to this he replied, “I shall claim a little more of your time; you might take a walk for a little while in the quinta.” That you said: “Your quinta is very [Page 769]sorry at present; rather give me a book to read.” That he then said to your excellency, “There are some,” pointing to a few books upon a small table, “such as the Count of Monte Christo, La Garota, a work by Ascasubi, &c.” That you got up to take one of them, he does not know exactly which, and read awhile, until Berges interrupted you, saying, “I am going to deposit these papers in your custody;” to which you replied, “Vaya! they are then from Caxias;” and he replied in the affirmative. You said to him, “These are delicate matters; I would prefer to take charge of jewelry or other things which you may wish to deposit in the legation, and I would do it without asking the so-much per cent. (without saying how much) which I ask from other persons; but these papers may involve me in a compromise with my own government for abetting correspondence with the enemy’s camp; for the rest I have no fear.” Berges then replied, “How can a thing be known which has passed between us? I will fold them up with the previous communication, (which you knew of,) and give them to you now to carry away.” That you, after thinking a moment, said, “I will take them, but if anything should happen, I will burn them, and say that I have received nothing.” That Berges then got up and took from a secret place in a red writing-desk, where he kept it, the first letter and the reply to it, and set about folding it up with the second one and the accompanying papers, as he had said in his before-mentioned previous declaration, the form of the package being quadrangular, about the size of a sheet folded in three; and having been closed with a wafer by Berges himself, you labelled it with the inscription already mentioned, “Papeles de Berges,” and put it in the inside pocket of your coat, over your breast, taking leave of him afterwards, and starting off in the direction of Trinidad. That about a week afterwards you visited him a second time, along with your lady, who remained in the parlor; and you went into Berges’s sleeping-room, he being in bed; on which occasion it was that you made him in more detail the offer of your services as minister and as friend.
These are, Mr. Minister, the foundations which this ministry has had for soliciting of your excellency the delivery of the package mentioned by the ex-minister Berges.
And I will conclude, stating to you that my government, which has never avoided the responsibility of its acts of whatever character, will not fear to assume it now before the enlightened government of the United States and the civilized world, by making use of the means prescribed by the writers upou international law, to take possession of the criminals, Porter Cornelius Bliss and George F. Masterman; but it costs me much, Mr. Minister, to persuade myself that you will continue to refuse to accede to the solicitation of the national courts of justice; and I would fain hope that you, weighing my considerations, will at last not refuse to hear them, and will give up the criminals to appear in judgment, not as members of the legation of a friendly power, but as men who have abusively gained access to it to shield themselves by it from punishment.
Your excellency inquires if my government doubts that that of the United States would administer full and inflexible justice, and I take pleasure in stating here that I have not the remotest shadow of doubt of it; but I will in my turn inquire of your excellency, if the American government can be in full possession of the case, as the national court of justice is, would it send the record of its trial for a new substantiation of the case? Could it do so? Would the firm and inflexible administration of American justice be sufficiently timely?[Page 770]
I request of your excellency to consider the state of the country and the character of the case at issue.
I improve this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 31st of July, on the evening of the 1st instant. In this note you discuss at great length the various points on which I have been so unfortunate as to differ with your government on questions that have arisen during the last month.
In this note you, after a long discussion on the points of difference as to whether or not Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman are rightfully members of this legation, give me the most startling information in regard to the declaration of the ex-minister of foreign affairs, José Berges. This notice has caused me so much surprise and astonishment, and is of so serious and grave a nature, that I trust you will pardon me if I first reply to that part of your note, leaving the other question to another day.”
And, first, you will permit me to observe that I deeply regret that in a case of so serious a nature you should assume for facts what at best must be doubtful, and reiterate positively, as if on your own knowledge, what I, on my own better knowledge, as positively have denied. When a minister is told virtually that his words are not believed, that they are known to be false, he would certainly be excused if he declined any further correspondence. But, as I have already promised to give any aid in my power to clear up the terrible mystery in which I am surrounded, I shall pass over this matter of form, believing that what I have to say will be of service in eliciting the truth.
You express regret that in the personal interview held with me on the 25th ultimo, you were unable to elicit such facts as would render it unnecessary to include in an official note your subsequent statements. But that you were seeking impossibilities, I think I shall be able to convince you. Your statement of what Señor Berges has said before the tribunal, has led me to reflect and call to mind every incident and circumstance that I can remember which can throw any light on his strange conduct. Regarding the package which you say again and again that he delivered to me, I say again and again I never saw, nor heard of till I received your note of the 23d ultimo. But when to this he has added that it was through means of this legation that he carried on his treasonable correspondence with the enemy, I have endeavored to discover or imagine how it was possible for him to do so. I will therefore relate in detail, as far as my memory, with the assistance of my journal, will permit, everything in relation to the transmission of my dispatches.
On the 28th of April last I sent away my last dispatches for Washington, to be forwarded below, and thence passed by flag of truce through the military lines. Whether I sent letters for other persons or not I do [Page 771]not remember, but I presume I did, though I do not recollect for whom. I have sometimes sent letters for the Portuguese vice-consul, Señor Vasconcellos, but I do not recollect whether on that occasion I did or not. A few days after sending away this package of dispatches, that is, on the 6th of May, a clerk and translator in the Foreign Office, Gaspar Lopez, came to my house, bringing a small bag of dispatches. On opening it I found it contained two or three dispatches from Washington, two or three private letters from the United States, and an official and also a private letter from Captain Kirkland, commanding the United States steamer Wasp, who advised me that he had come up to take me and my family away. There also came at the same time a package of letters addressed to me, with the name of the English secretary of legation at Buenos Ayres, G. F. Gould, on the corner. On tearing off the outer wrapper of this package, I found it was addressed to the Portuguese vice-consul, Vasconcellos, and was accompanied by a note to me from the Portuguese chargé d’affaires in Montevideo, the Baron de Sousa. A copy of this note I inclose herewith. As my own letters contained no news from below, and I supposed that those for Vasconcellos would have a great deal, I went out in the afternoon of the same day to his chacra to deliver the package and learn the news it contained. He did not open it in my presence, but he afterwards brought out one or two private letters, which he read to Leite Pereira and myself, when, for the first time, I learned of the revolution in Montevideo, and the death of ex-President Berro and of Flores. This news, I suppose, was made known to the government soon after, as the next number of the Seminario contained the same. I ought to remark that the tone of these letters was very favorable to this country, representing the allies to be in a desperate condition, and the writer as convinced that they could never conquer Paraguay. This package also contained a letter for Dr. Carreras, which I brought in and delivered to him. It was read to me afterwards, and contained the same news as that of Vasconcellos, and was equally friendly to Paraguay.
This is the only correspondence that has ever passed through my hands for many months from any person whatsoever from beyond the enemy’s lines, and if Señor Berges tells the truth, (which I have reason to doubt, as on another point he states what I know to be false,) the communication he says he received from Caxias through this legation must have been in that package from the Baron de Sousa. At the time, you will remember that Berges was not here, and a few days after I went to San Fernando to see his excellency Marshal Lopez, in order to make such arrangements as would induce the commander of the Wasp to come up to that point. I had not been recalled by my government, though a gunboat had been sent to take me and my family away, and until a successor should arrive to take my place I was disposed to remain in Paraguay. I had written as early as January to be recalled, and insisted that another minister should come to succeed me, as it would look like the abandonment of a brave and gallant people if the only accredited foreign minister were to be withdrawn. Whether this letter ever reached Washington I have great reason to doubt, as, ever since my visit to the camp of the Marquis de Caxias, he seems to have done everything he dared do to stop my communications and supplies. I venture the assertion that if he has been engaged in a plot with traitors in Paraguay, I am almost the last person he would wish to know anything about it. I flatter myself that he considers me, whatever you may do, a friend to Paraguay, and such a friend as Brazilian gold is powerless to seduce.[Page 772]
From San Fernando I wrote to Captain Kirkland, telling him that the allies had no right to prevent him from passing their blockade, and that for other reasons I could not avail myself of the presence of the Wasp unless he would come higher up the river. Afterwards, I returned to this place, and on the 30th of May I received another letter from Captain Kirkland, in which he informed me that the Marquis de Caxias refused to allow him to pass his squadron, but offering to furnish me facilities to go by land from Pilar or Tayi to Curupayti. This offer of Caxias I took as an insult to me and my government, and so advised Captain Kirkland, telling him to force the blockade and let the Brazilians tire upon him if they chose to do so. It seems, however, that he did not feel authorized under his instructions to take such violent measures, and on the 10th of June he wrote me that he should start that day for Montevideo in order to get such instructions as would require him to pass the blockade or fight the whole Brazilian squadron. I then believed that he would be back within a month, but now nearly two months have passed and I hear nothing of him. It may be that the admiral does not wish to take the responsibility of commencing a war on Brazil without orders from the government, and that, instead of sending back Captain Kirkland with orders to force the blockade, he has sent to Washington for instructions. Was it not for the delay, this would be the course I would prefer, for I have no doubt the orders would be that the entire squadron should come at once to Paraguay without as much as asking permission of the Brazilians. The delay, however, is what I deplore. While my government is debating whether to make war on Brazil, by reason of my representations and situation, the government of Paraguay refuses to credit my positive statements as against those of an accused, convicted, and confessed traitor.
Neither of these last letters from Captain Kirkland to me were accompanied with any letter to anybody else, and I sent no letter from anybody else with my letters to him. I expected him to come up here to take away my family, and therefore I did not send away a single letter except my own official letters to Captain Kirkland himself.
I cannot find words to express my surprise at the account which you give me of the declaration of ex-Minister Berges. It is all false from beginning to end, and that I believe I shall easily convince you, and that he has evidently ascribed to me a part which was performed by another person. I do not imagine he is a person of the ingenuity to make up out of nothing his story about the package which he says he delivered to me, but that he should try to screen some one else by imputing to me the acts of one of his accomplices is quite possible. I do not suppose he would do that out of malice to me, for I have no reason to think that he ever cherished any such feelings towards me. Yet he might think to screen another by ascribing his acts to me, and at the same time imagine that my official character would prevent inquiry into my own acts. Yet, whatever his object or motives, the whole declaration is, as far as it relates to me, a monstrous fiction.
You express regret that it should have become necessary to put this declaration in an official note. I also would have preferred to have been privately advised, and given my explanations in an unofficial form. But, notwithstanding this, I am glad at last to know what has been the ground of the action of your government towards me which has hitherto been entirely incomprehensible. Had I been advised earlier of this declaration of Berges, very much of this long and unpleasant correspondence would have been avoided. But I have been groping in the dark, without the least idea of what the government knew or suspected. I seemed [Page 773]to have lost its confidence, but I knew not for what reason. But this declaration of Berges, though entirely false, explains all. After a man who has held such high positions as he has occupied, has accused me of knowing of his treachery and aiding in it, it is not at all strange that the government should regard me and all near me with suspicion. But, now I know what his declaration is, I shall be able to show, by a careful reference to dates and other well-known or easily ascertained facts, that it is all false from beginning to end.
I will now examine his statement somewhat in detail. First, he says he received a letter from the Marquis de Caxias, the date of which he does not remember, and that he received it through this legation. The date is important, as if it passed through my hands it must have been in that package from the Baron de Sousa to Vasconcellos, or must have come as early as December last, when the Italian consul came through the military lines, for between the arrival of the Italian consul and the arrival of the Wasp I received nothing whatever from below. But as Berges says it was the second letter that came by the Wasp, the first must have come several months before. He also says that his answer was sent by the same channel. Of that I can only say that if he did send through this legation, it must have been under the cover of somebody else. I remember of his asking me on one occasion, when I was about sending off my dispatches, to include some letters for him. But I refused to do it, giving as a reason that it would be an abuse of the faith and confidence of the allies to do so; that I could only send correspondence with their assistance, and to take advantage of that to send the letters of their enemies, would be such an abuse that, should it be discovered, they would be justified in refusing to allow any more of my correspondence to pass either way. Therefore, if he sent anything through this legation, it must have been by getting some one else not connected with the government to give it to me as a letter to his family. But, if he did impose upon me in that way, it must have been as long ago as the middle of January last, for between that time and the depart ure of Berges for Paso Pucu I sent no correspondence away.
It appears from the note of your honor that Berges made two declarations, and that the two are very inconsistent with each other. In the first he says that the second letter from Caxias, which was brought by the Wasp, was dated the beginning of June, but that he did not receive it till the beginning of July, when I delivered it to him personally at his house. If that letter, dated near the beginning of June, passed through my hands, it must have come with the last letter to Captain Kirkland, which was dated the 10th of June, at Curupayti, and which I did not receive till the 23d, as appears both from my diary and the verbal note of your honor, which you were kind enough to send me with the letter. The 23d was the day after my first visit to Berges, so that I could not by any possibility have had any such letter at that time in my possession, as no communication reached me from the 1st to the 23d of June, the day after my first visit.
In his second declaration you add that Berges says that it was at the time of my first visit to him after his return from San Fernando that I delivered this second letter from Caxias, and then he pretends to relate very minutely everything that took place on that occasion. That visit took place on the 22d of June. How long that was after his return I do not know. I only know that several days before I had heard of his return, and that he was at his house in the Salinares, very infirm. I thought it a duty of courtesy to visit him, and as I was passing by to go to the Trinidad and back by way of the house of Vasconcellos, I called for a few [Page 774]minutes to see him. He was lying in his east room, apparently very feeble. He was, or pretended to be so, paralyzed in his limbs, that he could hardly move in his bed. I expressed regret at finding him so, and we talked on general subjects, and nobody could have talked more loyally than he did on that occasion. But he did not rise from his bed; in fact, he appeared unable to do it; and after asking him if I could do anything to alleviate him, and inviting him to visit me when he got better, and promising to visit him again shortly, I took my leave, not having been, according to the best of my recollection, more than fifteen minutes in the house.
Such is the true and exact account of that visit. All that Berges says in his declaration about my giving him a letter from Caxias and waiting for him to read it, my taking up a book to pass the time, the conversation that passed, the taking of papers from a secret place in a writing-desk, the folding and labelling of the papers, all, every word is false— false as false can be.
I apprehend, however, as I have already said, that he has not the ingenuity to make up such a tissue of lies out of nothing, but that what passed between him and somebody else he has declared to be the transactions between himself and me. How that mysterious letter from Oaxias was brought I do not know. I can think of no other way than that it came ill that package of the Baron de Sousa. But if it came in that way, you can divine as well as I can by whom it was delivered.
It does not appear from the declaration of Berges that, at my second visit to him on the 3d of July, anything passed but expressions of courtesy. On that occasion, as on the former, I expressed sympathy for his sufferings and a desire to be of service to him. But I had no idea that he was then a traitor, plotting with the enemy against his own government; and at this time, as on my former visit, our brief conversation was carried on with doors and windows open, and servants passing to and fro at their pleasure. On neither occasion did Berges leave his bed.
If you will carefully scrutinize the dates of the occurrences that happened about this time I think you will find everything to corroborate, not only what I have stated, but my theory or explanation of the strange declaration of Berges. In your notes of the 23d you positively state that on the day after his arrival from San Fernando he delivered to me a certain package at his house in the Salinares. In his later declaration he says that it was at the time of my first visit, not specifying the day. That visit, however, was many days (I do not know how many) after his return, and I think (though it is only a speculation) that on closer investigation it will be found that the incidents about the package, that Berges alleges to have taken place between him and me, actually took place between him and one of his accomplices, before I had seen him or even knew of his return.
There is one other thing in Berges’s declaration which, though not of much importance, will nevertheless serve as proof of its entire falsity. He says that I told him I would prefer to receive jewels or other things to keep for him in my legation rather than the papers which he wished to deliver me, and that I offered to take such things from him without charging the same per cent or commission that I charged others. That this is a pure and malicious invention is evident from this fact, that though I have received since the order of evacuation money and other valuables from a great many people, I have never charged nor thought of charging a single person one penny for it. Many things left with me about the time of the evacuation have since been taken away, but I have never asked nor received from any one any commission, percentage, or [Page 775]compensation. How, then, could I make allusion to such a thing to Señor Berges?
From this statement you will see that if I have in any way been the means of conveying intelligence to and fro between the enemies and traitors to Paraguay, I have myself been the victim of the most damnable treachery and ingratitude. But I yet cherish the hope that of those who have abused my confidence the number will be found the smallest possible. I cannot yet bring myself to acknowledge that I am of a nature so credulous, and so unfit to be a minister, as to have in my house for near five months persons with whom I was on the most intimate terms, and all whose thoughts I ought to have known, and yet who were at the same time engaged in a plot against the government, without my suspecting it. I yet cherish the hope that a full investigation will clear this legation of having given shelter to such parties. But, if there be any who have thus abused my confidence and hospitality, it is not for me to ask for their pardon, but rather to demand their summary punishment.
As I have before said, I do not think it strange that, after the declaration of Berges, the government should have regarded me, and those around me, with suspicion. But I do think it was not showing me the respect to which my position and my long-known character and friendship for Paraguay was entitled, to accept without question as true the charges and accusations of a confessed traitor in the face of my positive denial. This matter, however, I shall leave to the sense of justice of the government of Paraguay.
After this long and explicit statement of all that I know or even suspect in regard to the treason of Berges and his accomplices, I trust that your government will believe that this legation is not so dangerous a place as it may have at one time been suspected. I have not in this note taken into consideration the case of Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman, as I was anxious to clear up the other matter as soon as possible, and with your permission I will delay any further discussion on that point until I shall again hear from your honor.
I avail myself of this occasion to renew assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I had the honor to receive the note of your excellency of the 3d instant, in which, referring to mine of the 31st of July last, you say that after a long discussion concerning the points of difference as to whether or not Messrs. Bliss and Masterman are legally members of the legation, I gave you the most suprising information concerning the declaration of the ex-minister of foreign affairs, José Berges; that this note has caused you so much surprise and astonishment, and was of a character so serious and grave, that you confided that I would pardon you for first replying to that part of my note, leaving the other questions for another occasion—[Page 776]concluding in what relates to these that you have not taken into consideration in your note the case of Bliss and Masterman, as you were desirous of clearing up the other matter as soon as possible, and, with my permission, would delay all ulterior discussion on this point until you should hear from me again.
Respecting the grave matter of ex-Minister Berges, you observe that you profoundly regret that in a case of so serious a character I should take for facts what at best must be doubtful, and reiterate positively as if on my own knowledge what you on your own better knowledge have positively denied; that when a minister is virtually told that his words are not believed—that they are known to be false—certainly he would be excused if he should decline all further correspondence; but that, since you have promised to make known all that may be in your power to clear up of the terrible mystery by which you were surrounded, you would pass over this question of form, hoping that what you had to say might be useful to ascertain the truth.
Alluding to the declaration of Berges, you then say that it has led you to reflect and to call to mind all the incidents and circumstances which you could remember, and which can throw any light upon his strange conduct. You then go on to detail, with the aid of your diary, all that relates to the transmission of your dispatches, saying that on the 28th of April last you sent your last dispatches to Washington, passing them by flag of truce through the military lines; that you do not remember whether or not you sent any letters for other persons, but you presumed that you did, although you do not remember for whom; that you have sometimes sent letters for the Portuguese vice-consul, Yasconcellos, but that you did not remember if upon this occasion you did so.
That, on May 6, you received along with your communications from Washington a package of letters directed to you, with the name of the English secretary of legation in Buenos Ayres, G. F. Gould, on the margin; that on opening it you found that it was directed to the vice-consul of Portugal, accompanied by a note from the Portuguese chargé d’affaires in Montevideo, the Baron de Sousa, of which you send me a copy. That the said package also contained a letter for Dr. Carreras, which you brought and delivered to him, and which contained the same news as that of Vasconcellos—equally friendly towards Paraguay. That this is the only correspondence which has passed through your hands for many months from any person beyond the enemy’s lines, and that if Berges speaks the truth, the communication which he says he received from Caxias by means of your legation, it must have been in that package from the Baron de Sousa.
That none of the last letters from the captain commanding the Wasp to you were accompanied by any letter for any other individual, nor had you sent with yours to him any letter for any one else.
That you cannot find words to express your surprise at the account given you of the declaration of ex-Minister Berges; that all is false from beginning to end, and that you believed that I would easily convince myself of this. And you continue to treat of the matter at length— impugning the declarations of Berges—concluding that all which he has said in it about the delivery of a letter from Caxias, of your waiting for him to read it, of your taking up a book to read, and all the rest, every word false, as false as false can be; that you presumed, nevertheless, that he had not the ingenuity to have made up from nothing this tissue of lies, but that what really passed between him and some other individual he has declared to be the transaction between himself and yourself, reiterating that you cannot conceive any other method for the letter of Caxias [Page 777]to come, if it were not included in the above-mentioned package from the Baron de Sousa.
Your excellency adds, that if by any means you have been the channel for conveying intelligence between the enemy and the traitors, you have yourself been the victim of the most infamous perfidy and ingratitude, saying finally that you did not consider it strange that, after the declaration of Berges, the government should have regarded you and all around you with suspicion, but that you considered that it was not showing you the respect demanded by your position, your character, and your friendship, long recognized, towards Paraguay; but that, nevertheless, you would leave this matter to the sentiment of justice of the government of Paraguay, trusting that after your long and explicit statement of all you knew or even suspected concerning the treason of Berges and his accomplices, I would believe that your legation is not so dangerous a place as I had at one time suspected.
In reply to this note of your excellency’s, I must say in the first place that it is not the fault of this ministry that it has had to register in its official correspondence the declaration of the culprits, after all that I officially stated to you in the friendly visit which I made you on the 25th ultimo, and which is substantially contained in my note of the 31st. You will allow me to remark again that at the time I made you a verbal statement of all which I have since written down with regret, and that I then deplored the necessity of having to consign in notes that which you now also deplore. I had a greater interest then than any one that this should not happen, but at that time you expressed yourself very differently, and I do not wish to attribute this to any doubt of my word.
I do not think your judgment correct when you attribute to my government convictions which it has not manifested, since, without stating any opinion upon so grave a matter, I limited myself to make known to you the things which were communicated to this ministry by the proper tribunal, to support the demands required of me in the name of the national courts of justice, in the name of the preservation of the country and of its government; and you ought to persuade yourself that in fact it was very difficult for this ministry to reconcile the sentiments of friendly interest which had always been expressed in official notes by the representative of the friendly nation of the United States with the proceedings which the traitors attribute to your excellency.
I regret that you have interpreted in a sense different from the true one the significance of the just representations addressed by this ministry to the chief of the American legation upon the subjects which, in discharging its duty, it has had to treat of, and whose importance and urgency are notorious. You say that proper consideration has not been manifested to your position and character, and this ministry believes itself to have abounded in such respect as it has never done towards any minister, and that if there were any reason for complaint it would belong to this government to make it, since all that has been said to you, Mr. Minister, in demand of the criminals whom you shelter, has not been enough; and nothing more could have been said in the initiatory steps of a trial which, by its monstrosity, was scarcely creditable. I ought also to observe to you that even to-day I ought not, perhaps, to continue to make mention of the information supplied by the tribunal, for fear that something which I may say will appear to you inconsistent, not having in my power the originals of the processes; but I wish to run the risk rather than fail to give you all the light which the tribunals communicate, thus satisfying your desires, Mr. Minister, in order that you may understand the grave nature of the matter, and in order to dissipate [Page 778]by all the means in my power the darkness in which you say that you were groping.
I cannot doubt, Mr. Minister, that it will be very painful for you to learn that the persons whose honorable character and purity of sentiment you so much vaunted in your note of the 13th of July now appear before the tribunal, not only as fully acquainted with your sentiments, tendencies, and intentions, but also as having been supported by you in a directly contrary sense, as you may judge by their own words as communicated to me by the court of justice.
Dr. Antonio de las Carreras has, in a solemn declaration, said the following:
That, as to the terms of these conversations about the revolution, reference was made in the early period of his stay in the legation to the project of the revolution, to the means which were counted upon, and the probabilities of the result, and afterwards to the stupidity of the allies in their manner of conducting the operations relating to it, viz., to appear upon the Tebicuari with twelve thousand men, which was not done within the time agreed upon; to the failure or cessation of the probabilities of the success of the project; and, finally, when the imprisonment of some of the persons compromised became known, to consider the affair as discovered and its consequences as palpable.
That, speaking of the plan in general, Mr. Washburn always thought the idea a good one, and as to the details he also thought them good, provided the Brazilians (as Mr. Washburn always said, using but rarely the word, allies) should pass the Tebicuari; that is to say, that in Mr. Washburn’s opinion Marshal Lopez and the national cause were lost, and that he believed the success of the revolution easy, since when Humaita should be cut off—there not being elsewhere sufficient forces to resist a column of twelve thousand men—and the forces in the capital and other points depending upon persons who were compromised in the revolution, the pronunciamiento would be easy, since there could be no resistance, and consequently the submission of the rest of the country.
That as to the part which Mr. Washburn has taken in revolution he [the deponent] knows by what Washburn himself said to him that he [Mr. Washburn] had undertaken to forward the correspondence of the revolutionary committee to the enemy, under the seal of the consulate of Portugal, in order thus to save himself from the responsibility; telling him also that he had fulfilled his part by always sending the correspondence every time that he has had occasion to send his own to his government by flag of truce, except the last time, when he only sent a letter to the commander of the Wasp, ordering him to come up to San Fernando. That Washburn also told him that he had offered his house to Berges as an asylum for all the parties compromised in the revolution, and that he notified Berges himself of the occasions when there would be sent a flag of truce, in order that he, as well as the other members of the committee, might prepare their communications for the enemy, the deponent being one of those who had written to Caxias more times than those previously declared.
That, besides what has been said, they conversed upon the assurances which Berges and Benigno gave of counting upon the forces in the capital by bribery or other means, which project Mr. Washburn approved as a sure mode of success, avoiding the effusion of blood.
As to the time agreed upon, that in the first place it was to be when the squadron should pass above Humaita, which event had been announced by correspondence several months before, (five or six,) and after its passage the movement was announced for two or three occasions, until at last the time was fixed at about the middle of July. All which gave rise to some sarcastic expressions from Mr. Washburn; as, for example, “They are brutes;” * * * “They are more Brazilian than the Brazilians themselves;” * * * “Caxias is nothing but a good military organizer, but, for the rest, is a complete nullity;” manifesting the little confidence he had in Caxias’s promises, and regretting that the time should be lost by such stupidity on the part of the Brazilians.
That, suspecting by the imprisonments that the government had got hold of the thread of the affair, Mr. Washburn said that he lamented the fate of many persons compromised, such as Berges, Bedoya, Benigno, the deponent, Rodriguez, Bliss, and others, and that he considered the end of the war postponed, since, the revolution haying failed and the Brazilians not making any movement, affairs would return to their previous state; that he offered to the deponent, to Rodriguez, and to Bliss, to make a stand for the right of asylum in their behalf, knowing them to be compromised in the affair of the revolution, which, says the deponent, he himself, and Rodriguez, did not wish to accept.
That the reason why the deponent and Rodriguez did not wish to accept the asylum [Page 779]in which, at the last moment, Mr. Washburn wished to uphold them against the demands of the government was, precisely, because they held an opinion different from that of the minister, which opinion he (the deponent) says he made known from the day when Leite Pereira presented himself in the legation, on the occasion of consulting them (the deponent and Rodriguez) as to whether he had a right to resist the delivery of a refugee in case of being demanded as a criminal by the government; to which they replied that they thought he had no such right, citing some authors of note, such as Vattel, Martens, Wheaton, Pinheiro, Ferreira, &c., and that notwithstanding this opinion of the deponent and Rodriguez, when they had to leave on the demand of a court of justice, Mr. Washburn said to them, “If you wish to remain here I will resist;” to which, as already stated, they did not agree, having resolved to defend themselves before the authorities, making head against the charges that might be against them; that Mr. Washburn then said to them, “I hope that you will not say anything to compromise me;” to which both replied that there was no occasion to fear that, and that he might rest easy in that respect; adding the deponent, that by this was understood that they were not to betray anything relating to the revolution, and that the minister would besides hold his ground, as there was no written proof against him.
That when Mr. Washburn returned from San Fernando he said to the deponent that he had been informed that Berges was very ill, with the half of his body paralyzed, which induced him to believe, as Washburn himself said, that the revolution was not discovered.
By these detailed statements, and others relating to this grave affair, I ought to hope that you, Mr. Minister, will doubtless see with pain that far from being but a small number who declare in this sense, they comprise all those persons who have given rise to correspondence from this ministry to obtain their departure from their asylum.
It has never been my intention to seek impossibilities, as you attribute to me for my friendly visit of the 25th ultimo, whose object and tendencies were most cordial and benevolent; and as you assure me that you intended to convince me of it in your note, I have eagerly sought in it the foundation for such conviction; but I have only been able to find reiterated exception, along with some incidental circumstances relating to your correspondence with the exterior (of the military lines.)
When your excellency says that you flatter yourself that whatever may be my opinion, the Marquis de Caxias considers you as a friend of Paraguay, and such a friend as Brazilian gold is impotent to seduce, I ought to declare in my turn that whatever may be my opinion, I have never failed to recognize the friendly acts which you have performed before now in behalf of my country; and as to what Caxias may think, I can say nothing of the matter, and that I think I ought to call your attention to my correspondence with you, since, in my opinion, I have used no expression tending to depreciate you, nor emitted any opinion which can be interpreted in the sense attributed by your note, nor yet the gratuitous interpretation of your words being false, since I have not said to your excellency that your assertions were false, and that they deserved no credit. It has been precisely with a proper respect for you, Mr. Minister, and giving credence to your official words, that my government has proceeded in this grave affair with all possible circumspection and decorum, probably to the detriment of the urgency which the case demanded.
And your complaint is so much the more to be regretted when you blame my government for refusing to give credit to your positive statements as against those of an accused, convicted, and confessed traitor, while your government was debating whether or not it would make war on Brazil on account of your representations and your situation. It is beyond my power to comprehend the reason which you have for consigning in an official note an accusation as gratuitous as grave against my government, for the simple fact of having used its right in a demand which interests in a lively manner its legitimate defence, and when the [Page 780]country is in a state of open war in defense of its independence, which is menaced with destruction by the empire of Brazil and its allies, and also menaced by an internal conspiracy by agreement with them.
It is true that you, when requested to give up the package of communications which Berges says he delivered into your own hands, have stated verbally and in writing the falsity of the “assumed” fact, but the ex-minister Berges affirms and ratifies it in his sworn declarations, at the same time that you say, respecting him, that you do not suppose that he would do so through malice towards you, since you had no reason to believe that he ever cherished such sentiments towards you.
My government could not regard with indifference that statement, of so important a nature, concerning the package of communications referred to, and it could not give any ground for complaint by making use of it in official communications, much more after what has passed. I repeat that there is no reason for making such a complaint as is contained in your note.
I will ingenuously confess that I have not sufficient light on the subject to be able to interpret properly, in view of what has passed, what you say to the effect that, if you had been earlier informed of the declaration of Berges, much of this long and disagreeable correspondence might have been avoided, for even now, with a full knowledge of the facts, you oblige me to maintain this same correspondence indefinitely upon this subject, and, what is more, upon the demand made for the criminals, Bliss and Master man, whom you retain there against all justice.
In your note of the 25th of July, in giving explanation, you have had recourse to your diary, where you had recorded even the circumstance that, visiting Señora Doña Junana Carrillo de Lopez, you found her well, but “sad.” I will observe that that same diary now appears deficient, when you do not remember whether or not you sent with your correspondence of the 28th of April any letters for other persons; and supposing you to have sent such, you do not remember for whom. With your permission, I will consign here some declarations which are not foreign to the case.
Antonio de las Carreras declares—
That, on the 28th of April, he sent a letter to Caxias, under cover to D. Juan Francisco Gowland, in Buenos Ayres; that under this cover he sent a letter to Don Juan Jacinto Berges, in which was contained the said letter for Caxias; that the deponent delivered this letter to Mr. Washburn, in person, to he sent on that occasion, and that in fact the minister did send it with his correspondence, under his own seal; that when he wrote this letter the deponent said to Mr. Washburn, “I am going to improve the opportunity to write my correspondence for below;” to which the minister replied, “All right, and that he should hand in the letters the next day, as he was then going to close up his own;” the deponent stating here that although he did not expressly say to Mr. Washburn that he was going to write to Caxias, he [Mr. Washburn] so understood it to be so—that is to say, that if he did not express that idea, the minister could not be ignorant of it; but that he did not expressly state it “because” Mr. Washburn was not ignorant of it, since Mr. Washburn always knew of the correspondence exchanged between the enemy and the revolutionists; that the contents of the letter written to Caxias was an account of the situation of the country, and of the change wrought in the circumstances by the retreat of Marshal Lopez to the line of the Tebicuari, which, to a certain degree confused the previous plans of the revolutionists, and the consequent necessity of remedying this by a bold operation as soon as possible, demanding of him in that respect to send the column offered, and to move up the squadron without loss of time.
That by the gunboat Wasp he received the last letter of Caxias, which was delivered to him by Mr. Washburn, who then received a package of letters for Vasconcellos, and having gone personally to take it to him in his chacra in Trinidad. Vasconcellos there opened the package, and found in it a roll of letters for the deponent, which he delivered to the same conductor, (Washburn,) to be conveyed to the deponent at the legation; that in the roll came a letter for Anavitarte, another for Tomé, and three for the deponent, one of which was that from the Marquis of Caxias, dated the 16th or the 18th of March, and the others were, one from his brother Eduardo, and another from Bargas, the letter of Caxias coming in that of the latter.[Page 781]
This statement harmonizes with that of Vasconcellos, who says, “that he lately received by the gunboat Wasp a large letter for Carreras, which might contain about four sheets of letter paper, which came to him in the package from the Baron de Sousa, and the Minister Washburn carried it to him in his chacra at Trinidad, and, opening it in his presence, he found the said letter for Carreras, and gave it him to be delivered at the legation, as the minister did immediately upon his return,” thus resulting that correspondences have been carried on with impunity between the revolutionary conspirators and the enemy in arms against the republic. I leave to the just appreciation of your excellency this fact, and pass on.
You mention in your note that, on one occasion, when you were about to send your letters, Berges requested you to include some for him; that you refused to do so, giving for reason that it would be an abuse of the faith and confidence of the allies. I recognize in your excellency the principle of strict neutrality, which you observed in this case, by your refusal to allow Berges to send letters of the ministry which he occupied; but I ought to protest to your excellency my surprise at seeing by your own declaration, Mr. Minister, that this principle, justly observed as towards the allies, has not been so well kept in favor of the Para-guayan government and people, and that the flags of truce, afforded to the minister of a friendly nation for his official correspondence with his government and colleagues, have come to be the guaranteed sate conduct to carry on the correspondences of the enemy, and stir up treason under the guise of family letters, as you style those which you received and sent away under your seal.
“How that mysterious letter of Caxias was brought,” says your excellency, “I do not know,” adding that you cannot conceive any means but that it may have come in the package from the Baron de Sousa. On this point you will allow me to transcribe the following declarations, in addition to those which have been previously inserted from Carreras. Berges declares anew:
That Mr. Washburn, having received among his communications brought by the gunboat Wasp the last letter of the Marquis de Caxias, (directed to the deponent,) and he being in this encampment, he did not deliver it at the time of his (Mr. Washburn’s) visit to the same point, but awaited his return to the capital to carry it to him personally, as he did at his house at Salinares, as he has already declared before the tribunals, a circumstance which reveals the motive of Mr. Washburn’s knowledge (circunstaneia que revela el motivo del conocimiento) of the correspondence of the deponent with the enemy’s general.
That his reply to the first letter of Caxias went by the same channel, viz: by Mr. Washburn, to whom the deponent delivered it, (on an occasion when he had come to visit him in the ministry,) with the address to one Señor Brito, successor of Octaviano, in Buenos Ayres, not doubting, says the deponent, that Mr. Washburn knew that there was contained in it the reply to Caxias, since he already understood these communications, although they did not then speak with so much frankness and confidence on the subject of the treason to overthrow the government as at a later time, when Mr. Washburn had gone to reside in the country-house at Trinidad.
Carreras declares as follows upon this point:
That he has the most profound conviction, and would be willing to put his hands in the fire to assure that there exist in the office of the American minister, and probably in an iron safe there, the papers brought from the house of Berges, as he has previously declared.
You observe that it does not appear from the declaration of Berges that anything but expressions of courtesy passed upon your second visit of July 3. That upon that occasion, as upon the previous one, you expressed sympathy for his sufferings and desired to be of some use to him. Certainly the deponent has stated nothing very special concerning the visit of that day, except your offer as minister and as friend, [Page 782]understanding by this an offer of asylum for any unlooked-for event. Notwithstanding, he has, in his declarations, made a series of revelations of importance, which I shall allow myself to transcribe so far as they relate to your excellency with the object already mentioned. He says:
That at the time of the severe illness of his excellency the marshal in Paso Pucú, in 1866, the American minister called upon him, or wrote to him, daily, to learn his excellency’s state of health; that for this reason their relations became very frequent, and began by indicating to him the necessity of coming to terms with the allies, indicating as a person very proper for this object General Bartolomè Mitre, since he could speak with him with more frankness than with the other chieftains. That he (Mr. Washburn) went so far as to say that the motive of the war was nothing but the question of limits; that Paraguay had not the means of peopling the great deserts of her territory without calling in European colonization, which was very unlikely to come to these missions or retired places until the republics of La Plata were settled up; that the line from the Apa to the Igatmé, which was claimed by Brazil, ought to be ceded to that empire; and the Misiones beyond the Parana, as well as a part of the Chaeo, to the Argentine Republic.
That when Mr. Washburn paid his visit to the Marquis de Caxias to treat with him about peace arrangements, he carried neither the spirit nor the desire of laboring in favor of the interests of Paraguay, and, on the contrary, cherished the conviction that Paraguay would be conquered and subjugated by the allied forces; that (he said) they had great resources, being in contact with all the world, and that Paraguay, however she might rely upon the abnegation and valor of her sons, who deserved to enjoy greater liberty, could never be victorious on account of the lack of resources, and that it was pitiful that this race of brave men should disappear from the face of the earth; that if Washburn left the capital ill-disposed to treat with the enemy’s general, he returned from that camp with even worse dispositions, which that general had succeeded in producing.
That it is the deponent’s opinion that when Mr. Washburn made such efforts to return to this country it was all a farce, in order to deceive the Paraguayan government, and that his real desire was to labor in behalf of the allies, by agreement with his colleague in Rio Jeneiro, the general who is the American minister at that court. In addition to the conversations which the deponent has had with Washburn, who always endeavored to discourage him, there are the revelations which the English minister, Mathews, made to his government, and which certainly place Washburn in a tight place, (dejan colgado á Washburn.) To which should be added that here he has never been willing to give credit to the papers of the country when they gave news of the brilliant feats of arms and partial episodes of the war, saying that they were not only incredible but ridiculously fabulous, and that these exaggerations could pass current only among the Paraguayans, who were for the most part a rustic and ignorant herd. He would never credit any news favorable to Paraguay in all the course of the war; even at the time of the defeat of the enemy at Curupayti he pretended that it was simply a retreat of the enemy, referring to information given him by Mr. Cochelet, who had received it from the French agent, who was present at that combat.
That, in fine, the spirit of Mr. Washburn is completely hostile to Paraguay and to its government, and that he constantly sought for some occasion of controversy in order to get away from the country, which the deponent has been able to elude by calming down, by means of his personal friendship, Mr. Washburn’s constant tendency to produce a breach.
That no one is ignorant of the hostility which the ex-consul of France, Mr. Cochelet, always manifested, delighting in creating obstacles of every kind for the government of the republic, and Cochelet was an intimate friend of Washburn’s, who lamented that he had been replaced by a man so null, so informal, and of so little credit as Mr. Cuverville; that he also regretted that the Italian consul, Mr. Chaperon, should be so much under the influence of Cuverville, who carried him always in tow; that he also regretted that there was no agent of the English government in Asuncion, since a concert of the four might have made a fine opposition to the evacuation of the capital, and would have put the Paraguayan government to its trumps (hubieranpuesto en prensa) before they would have abandoned their posts.
That, in the opinion of the deponent, Mr. Washburn has received money from the government of Brazil, and desired to get some out of the Paraguayan government, to make his market with friend and foe, and since he has not succeeded in this, his constant and daily views have been to work against the interests of the country, endeavoring to produce discouragement among its sons.
That after the return of Mr. Washburn from the enemy’s camp, on the occasion of having gone there for the peace arrangements referred to, in one of the visits which he made to the deponent in the office of his ministry, he asked for a map, and pointed out the ease with which Caxias could extend his line of circumvallation so as to leave Paso Pucú and Humaita blockaded by land, adding, “When Humaita is taken, all is over.” [Page 783]That to this the deponent replied, “We should still have the line of the Tebicuari, that of the Paray in Villetta, the Cordillera, and, finally, the war of resources such as Juarez waged against Maximilian,” and that Washburn replied, “Juarez deserved the sympathy of all the world, and, above all, that of the American government, and you have not; he received supplies from all parts, which you are destitute of.” That the deponent again insisted on the advantages of the line of the Cordillera, saying, “that we should there be in contact with the agricultural departments, the most productive of the country, and that it is on the Upper Paraguay that we have the greatest abundance of cattle, to which he added the nature of the ground, which would afford a defensive position at every step,” and Washburn, picking up his hat, said, laughingly, “You are very brave,” (es V. muy guapo,) and withdraw.
That he frequently came to the ministry to ask news from the army, its state, and that of the war; and as the deponent generally replied that there was nothing of importance, he used generally to say something calculated to discourage us, as, for example, “that he knew there was much desertion in the Paraguayan army; that Caxias had received great reinforcements; that more iron-clads had arrived from Europe to the Rio de la Plata; that the war was very popular in Brazil; that public spirit in the Argentine Republic had arisen; that the allies could get all the money they wanted; that the national cause had no sympathy in Europe, where the enemy’s press drowned the voices of our few agents beyond the sea.” That the deponent asked where he got such items of information, and Washburn replied, jokingly, “The birds have told me,” and that the deponent some time afterwards made use of this expression, asking him, “What do the birds say?” To which Washburn sometimes replied, “The birds are dumb at present, but they will have much to say about our bad situation.” That since Mr. Washburn went to live at Trinidad his visits became less frequent to the ministry, but his relations were more frank. That the object of his visits was to ask for news from the army, and when the deponent said to him that he knew of nothing decisive, but only partial engagements, he, Washburn, would reply furiously against the allies, with the following or similar expressions: “They are unworthy to conquer; they lose the best opportunity of subjugating Paraguay, now that you are ready to support them, or rather to do all; Brazil ought to be struck from the catalogue of nations for the nullity of its rulers and generals.” That he could not understand why they did not improve the rise of the river to bring up a force in their iron-clads and other vessels to land in the neighborhood of the city; that he also marvelled and lamented that the movement by land against Caapucu by the pass of the Tebicuari should have failed: that sometimes he thought Caxias distrusted the persons who had written to him; and, after all, said he, these are old men’s proceedings, men who are incompetent to undertake anything of consequence.
That several visits passed after this fashion, Washburn always deploring the inactivity of the allies, until one day he came to the ministry smiling and in good humor, saying to the deponent, “So then, at last, they have made the movement by the Tebicuari, for I have learned that the allies have taken two ‘partidos’ on the coast of the Tebicuari (Guazuca and San Juan) without any resistance from the Paraguayans; we now look for the movement of the fleet, and you (the revolutionists) ought not to go to sleep, but get ready to formally second the movement.”
That on this same occasion he inquired of the deponent if Caxias had not written to the committee or to Don Benigno to inform them of this movement, and when he replied in the negative, Washburn doubted what he said, remarking, “You have no confidence in me: you always make use of Paraguayan distrust, although you have been in North America, where you ought to have learned something of our frank and sincere habits.” To which the deponent replied that his information was, that there had only been a scouting party to bring in cattle; and the minister replied, “Incursions into an enemy’s country always begin in that manner, by sending small bodies to explore the ground and calculate the resistance which may be made;” and that although the deponent endeavored to show that this was hot the movement waited for by the revolutionists, the minister was so blinded with this idea, that he continued to expect the prompt appearance on the Tebicuari of the principal body of the allied force which was announced.
That on another occasion, after the minister had gone to his country residence, he had another conversation with the deponent in the ministry, and said to him that by a strange coincidence all interests were placed outside of the country; that he (Washburn) remained here to support the insurgent Paraguayans, doing without the most necessary things, such as sugar, brandy, coffee, wine, maccaroni, and even clothing, and that he had nothing to drink but the cana of the country; that the deponent replied, “As I have been told, you do not fare so badly at Yvyray, and, besides, with money and yerba you can buy a turkey,” alluding to the fact that Washburn frequently asked the deponent for yerba, and received it in tercios from the treasury to buy fowls and eggs, and that the expression a turkey was one of the minister’s ways of expressing himself, the deponent here adding that this is a genuine Yankee expression.
That in one of his visits to the deponent, in his house in Salinares, after returning [Page 784]from his last visit to the army, the minister, said to him, “Don’t you see how this is?” (alluding to the fact that the line of the Tebicuari was already fortified without having giving time to the revolutionists.) “I shall perhaps be obliged to leave the country temporarily, to accompany my wife, but there [out of the country] I can be more useful to you [the revolutionist] by laboring in your behalf, [in favor of the revolution, as was understood, says the deponent, since the minister did not wish to use openly the words revolution or conspiracy;] and I hope to be back within a year;” that the deponent replied, “When you are out of the country endeavor to be sent to Chile as minister, as you yourself told me you had written to Mr. Seward, proposing that exchange;” to which he replied, “By no means would I do such an act of baseness, being compromised with you to support the movement,” (revolution.)
That Mr. Washburn said to the deponent, after returning from the enemy’s camp, that he was going to write to Mr. Seward, and say to him that the government of Marshal Lopez was losing much of its popularity through the events of the war, and that even its best friends were falling off from it; which, according to the deponent’s opinion, Mr. Washburn intended to write, in order to prepare his government for the revolutionary movement agreed upon.
That, in referring to this incident, deponent wishes to make known how far Mr. Washburn was then opposed to this republic and its government, after his conversation with the enemy’s general, under pretext of a peace arrangement.
That at the same time he also said that the war ought to be terminated; that the Argentine government, in case of the triumph of the allies, which he regarded as sure, would necessarily take all the missions up to Tebicuari, and the country would be left about as big as my hand, (opening his hand at the word;) and Brazil would take the rest of the country for the expenses of the war, adding that Brazil spent a million a day; adding that Paraguay having to pay this immense debt, it would fall to Brazil, and form part of that empire, and would thus be better off than when a colony; that the deponent objected that it was not possible that Brazil should spend a million a day, since even North America in the great civil war had not spent more; to which Washburn replied that that was at the beginning, but that later the expenses had amounted to three millions a day; adding, “Above all, they steal a great deal in Brazil, so as to make up the million a day, and they will show for it the accounts of the Great Captain.”
I thank your excellency for having had the kindness to make known to me the note of the Baron de Sousa, chargé d’affaires of Portugal, and for all which you have been pleased to set forth in your long communication, in fulfillment of the desire which you have manifested of clearing up the facts relative to the treason of Berges and his accomplices.
I confidently hope that with these new items of information, taken textually from the declarations of the criminals, you will become convinced of the grave nature of the affair which forms the subject of our correspondence, and that, taking into consideration my previous note of July 31, will also admit the reasons alleged by this ministry to show that Porter Cornelius Bliss and George F. Masterman are not members of the legation of the United States of America, but treacherous criminals, who, like others, have attempted to abuse your good faith, and that, as such, they will be expelled, to appear in satisfaction of the requirements of justice, fulfilling in this manner also your excellency’s desires, that if there have been persons who have thus abused your confidence and hospitality, it did not become you to ask for their pardon, but rather to demand their summary punishment.
I embrace this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurance of my distinguished consideration.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.[Page 785]
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note bearing date of the 6th instant, but not received by me till the evening of the 7th.
In this note you advise me that ex-Minister Berges has made another declaration, giving at great length conversations with me, from which he inferred I knew long ago of his treason, and his reasons for believing I never had been a friend of Paraguay, but rather a friend to him and his fellow-conspirators. I am likewise informed that Dr. Carreras has also made a declaration, in which he acknowledges that he was in correspondence with the Marquis de Caxias, and that he sent his letters through this legation, and that I was at the time aware of the fact. You also take occasion to protest that in your previous note you had no intention to express any doubt as to the truth of my words, but had limited yourself to giving the declarations of criminals.
Regarding this last matter, the correspondence itself will show whether or not I had reason to complain. But you will remember that after I had distinctly, and in language as clear as I could use, declared that I had never received any package, or letter, or communication of any kind from Berges, you repeatedly expressed in your note of the 31st ultimo your regret that, in spite of all your friendly efforts, I still refused to, deliver up—not the package that he said he delivered to me, but the package which he did deliver, thus assuming, as it appears to me, that, in spite of my absolute denial, he had done so, and you knew it. But I have no wish to discuss technical or verbal questions. Your disclaimer, that it was not your intention to question the truth of my statements, I shall accept as satisfactory.
You then state that it is not your fault that you have been obliged to put in your official correspondence the declarations of criminals, as you had in a friendly manner, in the personal interview of the 25th of July, informed me of all that you afterwards wrote in your official notes. To this I must object to this extent: You told me that you knew all; that you knew I had received such a package from Berges; and that you also knew of my relations with the traitors. I told you that you could not know of things which did not exist. But you did not tell me of any specific declaration of anybody, and I had no more idea of what you were alluding to, or of what might be the purport of your next note, than I now have of the questions to be discussed this evening by the Parliament of England. As I knew of no such package, and as I had never heard the words conspiration, combination, collusion, or correspondence with the enemy, and did not believe there were any persons in the country so utterly reckless and foolish as to engage in any such desperate enterprise, I think I was justified in saying that in coming to me for information you were seeking after impossibilities. You were looking for proof where it did not exist.
The report of the declaration of Dr. Carreras, as given to me in your note, is so full of news, and contains so many statements of occurrences and circumstances that I never heard of or suspected before, that it seems to be unnecessary to examine them in detail. I will therefore give, to the best of my recollection, all that I know of him or his doings in this country.
A long time ago—I think nearly a year—at a time when, owing to certain rumors, it was believed that the war was not going on favorably [Page 786]to the cause of Paraguay, Dr. Carreras came to my house, and in the course of conversation expressed his apprehension that if the allies were to succeed he would be in very great danger; that he was very obnoxious to them by reason of the active part he had taken against them, as head of the government of Montevideo, at the commencement of the war. I told him that, in such emergency, whenever he felt the danger to be nigh, if he came to my house, I would give him all the protection that my legation and flag could afford. Nothing more was ever said on that subject till we received the news that a part of the enemy’s squadron had passed Humaita. The next day Rodriguez Larreta came to my house, and said that Carreras was then inclined to except my offer of months before, and that if it was agreeable to me, he would accompany him. I told him to act according to his own pleasure, and that I should do all in my power to aid and protect all persons who might be obnoxious to the enemy. The next day, if I recollect aright, they both came in, and I gave them shelter. We all believed that their residence here would be but a temporary affair—a few days more or less. Yet, when the ironclads came up the next day, and returned after making such a sorry exhibition of themselves, it appeared that though they had passed Humaita, the enemy were afraid to take the chances of a general and decisive battle. Then both Carreras and Rodriguez expressed their fears that they were an incumbrance in our family; but we told them to be easy on that score; the town having been evacuated, we wanted company, and as they were both men of education and intelligence, we preferred that they should remain with us. One important object in this was that we might learn Spanish. They remained, therefore, but never was a word, or hint, or expression made in my hearing or to my knowledge, by either of them, in regard to any conspiration, revolution, or political combination against the government. On the contrary, when I went down to San Fernando, Dr. Carreras requested me particularly to advise his excellency Marshal Lopez of the pecuniary loss he was subjected to by remaining, and to say that he came here as the determined enemy of Brazil and her policy, and that he had not changed his opinions since he had been here, and that if he could get away, it was his purpose to go to the Pacific States, to enlist them in behalf of the cause of Paraguay. These representations I made to his excellency, but as I saw he was not disposed to give a favorable answer, I so reported to Carreras on my return. But though he seemed to be disappointed, he never intimated to me any knowledge of a conspiracy, or gave me the least intimation that he had ever had any communication with Caxias.
A few days previous to receiving information of the arrival of the Wasp at Ourupayti, I had sent away my last despatches for Washington—that is, on the 28th of April. You express regret that I should not have noted in my diary the names of the persons for whom I sent letters. I also regret it. But such is the fact, and it is now too late to remedy it. The declaration of Carreras, however, calls to mind one circumstance that I had previously forgotten. It is, that he sent letters at that time under cover to John F. Gowland. That, I believe, is correct. He did send his letters thus addressed, thinking, or pretending to think, that being thus directed, there would be less danger that they would fall into the hands of the enemy than if directed to members of his own family. He professed to fear lest his letters would be intercepted or opened on the other side, and therefore sent them to a friend in Buenos Ayres, to avoid suspicion. I had known Mr. Gowland as the most enthusiastic friend of Paraguay I had ever met in Buenos Ayres or [Page 787]Montevideo, and as Carreras said his letters were only family letters, I could not imagine that any Paraguayan interest could be prejudiced by sending them. I may have been wrong in sending letters for anybody without first knowing their contents, but, as the minister of foreign affairs had already asked me to do the same thing for him, I could not suppose that the government would object to my sending family letters from persons holding no official position. If Berges, as minister, could ask me to send his letters at a time when I believed him a loyal man and a patriot, can’t his government complain with justice that I sent family letters for other persons? But why ask questions of this kind? The government does not complain that I did not send the letters of Berges, but that I did. I, on the contrary, say that I never did send a letter for him under, flag of truce, and I never could send any in any other way since my return from Paso Pucu, in March, 1867, at which time I presumed Berges was still loyal; and in sending through his letters and other correspondence I supposed I was doing a favor to the government.
After my return from San Fernando nothing occurred to vary the monotony until, on the 16th of June, Leite Pereira and his wife appeared here, to the surprise and regret of all, and asked permission to stay. I could not turn them away without exposing myself to the charge of inhospitality, and though in my judgment his coming here was an unwise step, yet, if he preferred to remain, and see if the government had anything against him, he might do so. This resolution of mine was approved by both Carreras and Rodriguez, and they both agreed, with me, that it was not a wise step for Pereira to take. We knew, or at least I knew, nothing of the relations of Pereira with the government, except what he then told me. And I remember well that on the day of his arrival Rodriguez told me he had told Pereira that if the government had anything against him—if he was in any way implicated in any transaction that might compromise him—he ought to confess all and everything to me confidentially before taking up his residence in my legation, and exposing me, my family, and all the other inmates of my house to the annoyance and pain that, if there were anything serious against him, would result from his coming here. But Pereira always said there was and could be nothing against him, except that he had spent all his own money, and all he could borrow, to relieve the necessities of destitute foreigners, trusting that they or their friends or their governments would repay him after the war. He always protested, however, that he had no security nor assurance from any government that a single shilling would ever be repaid to him.
When, on the 27th of June, you requested me to deliver up the said Leite Pereira, you will recollect I declined to do so, and in my note of the next day I took the ground that I was under no obligations either to deliver up or send from my legation any person who was not specifically accused of some grave offence against the government or laws. I have ever since strictly adhered to this position, and when I received your note of the 11th of July, repeating your request that he and all the others not belonging to the legation should be sent away from it, but making no specific charge against him or any one else, I told them all that they might go or stay; that I should turn no one into the streets till some charge was made. Pereira was of opinion, in which Carreras, Rodriguez, and myself concurred, that he had better go voluntarily, as, if the government had nothing against him, he would have nothing to fear, and if it had, it would certainly get possession of him, either by making a specific charge or by taking him away by force. The next day Carreras and Rodriguez were called for in still more urgent terms; [Page 788]but as no specific charge was made against them, I told them, as I had told Pereira the day before, that they could go or stay, as to them should appear the better course. They both said that the government had not, and could not have, any specific charge against them; that they had done nothing during their residence in Paraguay that could compromise either themselves or anybody else; and that, if every act of their lives were known to the government, not a thing could be discovered hostile to it. They, therefore, said that if I would promise to remain in Paraguay till the close of the war they would not leave the legation, as, if I refused to send them away till direct charge was alleged to them, which charge, they said, it was impossible to make, they did not believe that the government would take them by force. But I told them I could not promise to remain in Paraguay till the end of the war; I was every day expecting the American gunboat, that would probably bring me instructions to return immediately to the United States, and also very likely bring a successor to take my place as minister. Under those circumstances I could not promise to remain in Paraguay to the end of the war. They both said, then, it would be better for them to go away voluntarily, as a few days or weeks, more or less, would make little difference, and if the fortune of war were to be finally adverse to Paraguay, they would at last be exposed to fall into the hands of the enemy, from whom they expected little mercy. Carreras particularly dwelt upon the dangers to which he would be exposed if ever he fell into the enemies’ hands, and, I thought, did not, when he left, appear quite satisfied with my course. He seemed to think that I ought to have promised to stay till the end of the war. He may have felt a deep resentment towards me on that account; but it is hard for me to believe that from such motive he would fabricate a series of such monstrous falsehoods as appear in his declaration, and try to implicate me as knowing of a conspiration of whose existence I had not the most remote idea. But I can think of no other motive that could have induced him to make a declaration so false and so wicked. In fact, the more I know of this affair, the greater is the mystery in which I am involved. I can make nothing of it except that, directly under my eyes, there was a horrible conspiracy being formed, of which I knew or suspected nothing, and that the parties to it, after having abused my confidence and hospitality, have sought to divert the world’s indignation from themselves by implicating in their crimes the minister of a great, a powerful, and an honorable nation. I may be wrong in my suspicions. God knows I would not wrongfully or unjustly accuse or suspect anybody; but that there has been treachery, ingratitude, and villainy practiced upon me in some quarter is but too evident. All, however, will some day be made clear, and the guilty parties must hold a place in the history of infamy never before paralleled.
As this statement of mine is entirely inconsistent with, and directly contradicts, everything in the declaration of Carreras, it is not necessary to deny in detail the numerous falsehoods which it contains. The two statements are directly at variance. There is no possibility of harmonizing or mixing the two. One or the other is a string of monstrous falsehoods, and I leave it to the government of Paraguay to pronounce which it will accept as the true one.
There is one point, however, in this declaration of Carreras on which I would be glad to have further information. It is that where he says he has
The most profound conviction that there exists in the office of this legation—probably in an iron safe there—the papers brought from the house of Berges, as he has previously declared[Page 789]
Of course, I cannot know for a certainty that among the multiplicity of sealed papers, trunks, and boxes that have been left in my house within the last six months, that none of them contain the papers referred to. Yet I do not believe it. But if there be such papers here, and the person who left them or sent them will send me a written order for their delivery, and give such a description of the package that I may know it, I shall be most happy to deliver it. But I have no knowledge of any such papers.
The statement of Vasconcellos, that there was a letter for Carreras in the package sent by the Baron de Sousa, and that I brought it in from his chacra and delivered it, contains, so far as I can see, but two errors; and as these are not important, his declaration may be considered as truthful in comparison with the others. He says he opened the package of Baron de Sousa in my presence, and that the letter which he delivered to me for Carreras was a large one. Neither of these statements is correct. He took the package inside to open it, while I sat outside, and brought out some of his own letters, which he read, and afterwards gave me not a large, but a very small, letter for Carreras, which I brought in and delivered. But I do not mention this to correct the misstatements of Vasconcellos; I allude to it only to protest against the complaint made by you, that I have thus been a channel of communication between the conspirators and the enemy. I had received a package from the Baron de Sousa, Portuguese chargé d’affaires in Montevideo, for the Portuguese vice-consul in Asuncion. Was it not my duty to deliver it? I knew nothing, suspected nothing, of its contents, and I did as I had always done when letters had come to my care from beyond the lines—that is, I delivered it, asking no questions. When Berges was minister, I have received documents and communications for the Foreign Office that had been sent to me, and I promptly delivered them. What else could I do? If there were treasonable letters in his corre-pondence, was it my fault? If a gunboat should come to-morrow, and bring more correspondence for your ministry, shall I not instantly deliver it? Or shall I say that because one minister has been proved a traitor, and lest there be more treason in the letters sent to my care, I will believe nothing? I think that on further reflection you will admit that, in regard to the delivery of that package, I did only what in duty and courtesy I was bound to do.
But dismissing the declarations of Garreras and Vasconcellos, I pass to that of Berges; and I will remark that, were it not for the gravity of the subject, it would afford me much amusement to expose its contradictions and absurdities. I shall show from the declaration itself that it contains as many falsehoods and contradictions as it has sentences; that my best and most friendly acts towards Paraguay have been studiously and maliciously perverted, and that, so far from his bearing no malice towards me, he has for a long time been treasuring up the most innocent and harmless expressions, to misquote and misrepresent them, with all the devilish malignity of an inquisitor. What his original motive was I do not know. Whether it was that he had heard I had spoken to his excellency the President of his reserve and want of frankness with me, or whether he hated me from a consciousness that I would not be a party to his conspiracy, or whatever was his motive, it now appears that my charitable judgment that he had not acted from malice towards me was a great mistake.
I regret that Berges has not yet given the date of his first treason, and told us when, from a patriot, he turned traitor. Without the knowledge of that fact, it is scarcely possible to make anything intelligible [Page 790]from the whole of his long, confused, and contradictory declaration. At one time he represents himself as talking to me like a loyal man and a patriot; then he talks of the plans of himself and his fellow revolutionists; and then again is acting the part of a patriot and friend of his country, changing thus his character as readily as a harlequin in a pantomime.
I will now proceed to examine in detail this jargon of contradictions, this medley of patriotism and treason.
And first I will take up his statement that when I made my second visit to him at his house in the Salinares I expressed my sympathy for him in his sickness, and my desire to be of service to him, he understood by that that I would give him asylum in my legation in any unlooked-for event. He afterwards speaks of that, not as an asylum against the enemy, but against the government of Paraguay. This is a self-evident absurdity. If there were to be a revolution, or “pronun-ciamento,” and it were to be successful, there would be no need of asylum for any of the parties engaged in it; and if it were unsuccessful, was he so stupid, or I so ignorant, as to suppose that the conspirators could escape the punishment of their treason by taking refuge in my legation? How, then, could he understand a simple expression of courtesy to mean an offer absurd and ridiculous in its very terms? It is impossible.
I next pass to his very grave accusation—that when his excellency Marshal Lopez was sick at Paso Pucu, in 1866, I often went or sent to inquire after his health. He also says that I spoke to him, about that time, of the necessity of making terms of peace with the allies, indicating General Bartolomè Mitre as a proper person to negotiate with; to which he adds that I made various remarks on the questions involved in the war, and the terms that Paraguay ought to make with the enemy. Of any such conversation I have not the faintest recollection. Yet that the whole statement is so absurd as to prove its falsity you will see by reference to dates.
It was not till the 8th of November, 1866, that I arrived at this place on my return from the United States. To get here I had spent a year and two months, during which I had been exposed to almost every inconvenience and annoyance imaginable. I had been rudely treated in Buenos Ayres by the Brazilian minister, Octaviano; I had had my letter from the Argentine minister of foreign affairs, Elizalde, repudiated by General Mitre, though he had previously promised to respect it; I had been rudely told by Admiral Tamandare that I should not pass through his lines; and, what was worst and most mortifying of all, I received no support or sympathy from any representative high in the confidence of my own government except from my late colleague in Buenos Ayres, the brave and noble old soldier, (Heaven rest his soul!) General Ashboth. Yet I forced my way through, greatly to the disgust of both Mitre and Tamandare. I had not seen Mitre for four months before, or since I had written him a strong protest against my detention and against his duplicity and bad faith towards me. And yet Berges says that I had no sooner got here than I proposed Mitre as the proper person with whom to negotiate terms of peace. The mere statement of the facts is a sufficient refutation of this clause of his declaration.
The next allegation of Berges is, that when I went to visit the Marquis de Oaxias, to treat about peace, I had neither the spirit nor the desire of laboring for the interests of Paraguay, and in proof of it he then reports me as saying the very things in regard to Paraguay and its people that their best friends might and naturally would have said under the circumstances. He adds that if I was badly affected when I left to treat with [Page 791]the enemy’s general, I was still worse after my return. As he gives no reason for this opinion, I am led to infer that he judged me to be friendly to Caxias from the tone of my letter to him after my return from his encampment. From his captiousness and his complaints of my lack of zeal in behalf of Paraguay at that time, I conclude that he was then acting the patriot and not the traitor.
The next count in the declaration of Berges being only an expression of opinion that all my efforts to return to Paraguay were but a farce to deceive this goverment, and that my real desire was to serve the allies, I will pass it by with the simple remark that, should it ever meet the eye of the Marquis de Caxias, it will doubtless cause a grim sardonic smile, and that Admiral Tamandare will be surprised to learn that when the Shamokin forced the blockade, against all his protests and objections, it was doing so in the interest of himself and his allies.
To the charge that I never gave credit to the papers of the country when they published news of brilliant feats of arms, I have to say that I freely admit that I have thought some of the reports of victories in the Semanario were a little exaggerated. But this opinion I never expressed where I supposed it could dampen the spirit or hopes of the people. In conversing with the minister of foreign affairs I saw no reason why I should not express my real opinions. My object was always to endeavor to learn as much as possible of the actual situation, and to judge from that whether I could devise any means by which a peace, honorable and advantageous to Paraguay, could be effected.
But though there is a grain of truth in what Berges says of my not giving credence to all that was published in the Semanario, it seems he could not state even that without mixing it up with several palpable self-evident falsehoods. He says that I even discredited the news of the defeat of the allies at Curupayti, and that I said it was simply a retreat, and that I gave as my authority the late French consul here, M. Cochelet, who had received the information from the French agent, who was present at the combat. At the time the battle of Curupayti was fought I had not arrived in the country. I was still in Buenos Ayres, and I remember well that the Buenos Ayres papers spoke of it as a most terrible and disastrous defeat for the allies. It was six weeks after that before I arrived here, and yet Berges represents that after my arrival I tried to make it appear that it was no defeat at all.
The next point that Berges makes is, that I was constantly seeking for some occasion of controversy, and in order to get away from the country. I was not aware before that a foreign minister must get up a controversy or have a breach with the government to which he is accredited in order to leave the country. I had supposed that he had only to ask for his passports, and the government was not only bound to give them, but to furnish him with the means of going away. The exact contrary of what Berges says is the truth. I have indeed long been desirous of returning to the United States, but thought it my duty to remain, though much against my interest, either till the war was ended or my successor should arrive. But Berges says that by means of his personal friendship he was able to quiet me, and prevent me from having a breach with the government. I say, however, that previous to his leaving for Paso Pucu, in February, there was scarcely a wave or ruffle of discord between me and the government of Paraguay. Personally I had always been treated with marked kindness by both government and people, and it is impossible for him or anybody else to show the occasion that I tried to make a breach of our friendly relations.[Page 792]
Respecting the allegation that I was an intimate friend of M. Cochelet, and my opinions and remarks upon his successor and the Italian consul, I have only to say that though I have expressed the opinion to others that the latter ought not to have left their posts to which they were appointed for one not known to their respective governments, I do not see that such being my opinion why I should not express it.
Berges’s opinion that I have received money from the Brazilian government, and that because I have not succeeded in doing the same with that of Paraguay, I have therefore tried to work against it, is perhaps worth as much as that of any other man who knows nothing of the matter. I would ask, however, if it is quite just and proper to put such a statement in an official note when not a particle of evidence is, or can be, adduced to support it.
There are several conversations reported in this declaration of Berges of which I had no recollection. When I was in the camp of Caxias he told me that General Osorio would soon be at Itapua with 10,000 troops, and after my return I remember looking over the map with Berges in his office, and asking him concerning the forces that Marshal Lopez would have to oppose him, if he should attempt to march with that force directly on the capital. Berges remarked that if such a thing were attempted by Osorio not a man of his whole army would escape alive. When at Paso Pucu a short time before I had discussed the same thing with his excellency Marshal Lopez. I talked with Berges on various occasions of the prospects of the war, and the dangers to be averted, and supposed that all I said would be taken as the word of a friend, taking it for granted that if I said anything of sufficient importance to merit it, he would communicate it to his excellency at Paso Pucu. Many of his statements, however, such as that the war was popular in Brazil, that the public spirit in the Argentine Republie was aroused, that the allies could get all the money they required—which he alleges that I made at different times— cannot be true, as I had no information on which to base such opinions, and the little information I did have was entirely to the contrary, Many rumors used to be afloat—some false, and some that afterwards proved true. Whenever speaking of these rumors, if for any reason I did not wish to give the name of my informant, I sometimes said, if asked how I had obtained my information, that the birds had whispered it to me; and I remember that some days before I heard of the passage of the ironclads by Humaita, he told me we should soon have important news from below, and when I asked him his reasons for thinking so, he replied with the same expression—“that the birds had told him.” That led me afterwards to suppose that the news of the passage was known by him at the time, and several days before it was publicly announced.
The next point in this strange declaration of Berges to which I will call your attention, is that where he says I showed great indignation towards the allies because of their inaction. I think that every loyal Paraguayan was angry with them for the same reason. It was known, or at least it was constantly asserted in the Seminario, that the Paraguayan army was only anxious to be attacked—that the legions of Marshal Lopez were confident that if attacked in force at any point they would give the enemy another Curupayti; they were anxious to close in with their foes, and decide the contest by honorable and hard fighting. The allies, however, with their large army and immense squadron, always kept at a safe distance, and in my indignation at their mode of warfare, I remember to have said to Berges it was cowardly, it was barbarous; that if they could conquer Paraguay by fair fighting, it would be legitimate [Page 793]warfare; but if they attempted to exhaust and starve out the people by means of superior numbers and resources, it was infamous, and deserved the execration of all civilized nations. I wrote repeatedly to my government in the same strain, saying that other nations ought not to allow such a brave and gallant people as the Paraguayans had shown themselves to be thus exterminated. But the heart of Berges, it seems, was so full of treason, and his eyes so jaundiced by corruption, that in expressions of this sort he could only see allusions to his own treacherous plans.
The next statement of Berges is entire fiction, and therefore I can only oppose to it my positive and absolute denial. I had never heard of any combination or conspiracy in the country, nor of any committee of conspirators, nor did I ever suspect, till so advised by you, that Caxias was in correspondence with any person in Paraguay. The name of Don Benigno was never mentioned to me by Berges, unless it was casually and in connection with some matter of no importance whatever. Indeed, Berges and all his fellow-accomplices did me the greatest compliment in their power; they never directly nor indirectly confided to me anything of their plans, and, until so advised by you, I had no idea of the conspiracy that was on foot. I had always supposed that only by hard fighting could this war be brought to an end, and had never believed, since the efforts of my government at mediation had failed, that any other solution was possible.
I pass over several other of the statements of Berges in regard to conversations held with me, with this remark, that I remember nothing of them. I only know that I never entertained any such ideas or opinions as he attributes to me. Very likely I said to him that, notwithstanding I remained here, much to my own personal loss, and was exposed with my family to many inconveniences and discomforts, I was, nevertheless, disposed to remain to the end of the war. But it was that I might be of service to the Paraguayan nation and people, and not to the insurgents and traitors, as he represents. In fact, I never suspected there were any such in the country. All knowledge I have of their existence. has come to me within the last month. Of one thing Berges, notwithstanding he has been in the United States, seems to have been entirely oblivious or ignorant, and that is, that a minister of the United States, who should be known to have taken part in a revolution against the government to which he was accredited, would, whether it were successful or not, be thenceforward ruined and disgraced in his own country. His public career would be ended, and he would be held infamous, both by his government and countrymen. I observe that Berges declares that I did not like to use the word revolution in my conversation with him. That is true, and for the very good reason that I never had occasion to use it, as I never suspected that any such thing was in contemplation. His other statements, that I did not wish to leave the country because of my desire to be of service to the people here, will be both true and intelligible if, instead of insurgents and revolutionists, are used the words Paraguayans and patriots.
Regarding the assertion that after my return from the enemy’s camp, nearly a year and a half ago, I said to Berges that I should write to my own government that the cause of President Lopez was losing ground, and prepare it for the revolutionary movement that was to follow, I would be glad to know if I made this statement to him in the character of a loyal man or a traitor? In other conversations, held subsequent to that time, he assumes the character of loyalty. I will say, however, that all my dispatches have been of the same general tone and tendency, and [Page 794]they will show to my government that every charge thus alleged by Berges, as that I have never been in reality a friend to Paraguay, is utterly, basely, and scandalously false. All the testimony of all the conspirators united, if it were to this effect, would be utterly disproved by the dispatches that I have sent from time to time to Washington. Unless I am greatly mistaken, the effect of my representations to my government will soon be perceptible in the allied squadron. The allies will soon be compelled to allow an American gunboat to pass their blockade or detain it by force, and a forcible detention will be war with the great republic. Such a war, commenced under such circumstances, when taken in connection with this correspondence, will certainly be an anomaly and curiosity in history.
From one of the statements in the declaration of Berges, I am led to infer that this conspiracy, of which he seems to have been the master spirit, has been a long time smouldering. He says that his reply to the first letter of Caxias was sent by me. As I never sent any letters for him when I sent my correspondence under flag of truce, to be sent forward by the favor or courtesy of the enemy, this letter must have gone as long as a year ago last March, either when I went through to the camp of the Marquis de Caxias, or shortly after, when the commander of the American gunboat Wasp came through to bring me my dispatches. Those were the only two occasions I ever had of sending anything for this government without abusing the confidence of the allies, and on both occasions I sent numerous letters from the ministry of foreign affairs. If there was among them a letter for Señor Brita I was not aware of it, and it must have been under cover to some one else. If that letter passed through at the time of my last visit to Paso Pucu, it must have accompanied the copy of Berges’s long official letter to me of the 24th of March, 1867. If at that time he could send forward so elaborate a defence of Paraguay and her cause, and at the same time send a treasonable letter offering to betray that very cause, you must admit that conduct so infamous would merit universal execration, and that whatever declaration he might make when caught in the snares of his own plot, while it might be true, should be presumed to be false.
The last count in Berges’s declaration purports to be a report of conversation held with me a long time ago, soon after my return from the camp of Caxias. What he says that I told him in regard to the expenses of Brazil, I am inclined to think is in the main part true. But even this he could not tell without adding a transparent falsehood. He states that I said the Brazilians, to make up the million a day that they were spending, would show “las cuentas del gran capitan,” (the yarns of the grand captain.) What the meaning of this expression was I did not know when I first saw it in your note, and was obliged to ask my translator, Mr. Bliss, to explain it. Thanks to Berges, however, I have now learned its meaning, and in a way I shall not soon forget it.
There are other points in your note which I ought perhaps to allude to, but this letter is already run to such great length that I will bring it to a close. Had these declarations come from men of low, or even ordinary, position, you will admit that the only proper and dignified course for me would have been to have indignantly denied them. But when men who have held high positions, like Berges and Carreras, make such charges, it is due to myself, and is due to the government of Paraguay, that I should lend my assistance in exposing their falsity and arriving at the truth. It is fortunate for me that I had not left the country previous to the discovery of this plot. Though my dispatches to my [Page 795]government would have completely disproved the declarations of the conspirators, and though I have no doubt that the letters which they have sent below will show that I was entirely ignorant of their plans, and that they had not dared to confide them to me, yet the impression would still have prevailed among many people that I had been a party to the not only wicked but inexpressibly stupid plot. I make no complaint that these declarations have been included in an official correspondence, though had you informed me unofficially of their nature I would have given you in the same manner all the information that I have been able to give in this correspondence. But even then all the information I could have given would only have amounted to this: That if there was a conspiracy against the government I have never known it or even suspected it.
Having thus declared so explicitly that I had never known anything about the conspiracy till advised of it by you, and that the conspirators never confided to me any of their plans, the correspondence for my part on this matter must here close. If the government accepts my words as true, it must admit that I can give no information. I have no information now on the subject except what I have obtained from your notes, and of course I can give none. If, therefore, the government accepts my statements in good faith as true, it must be willing to drop the correspondence here. But if it does not thus accept them, then respect to my own character and the dignity of my office would forbid me to continue it. Under these circumstances it appears to me that in justice to itself and to me the government of Paraguay should adopt one of two courses: It should accept my statement as true, and drop the correspondence, or, refusing so to accept it, should accede to my request in my letter of the 14th of July, and send me my passports, and provide me with the means of leaving the country.
I observe that this correspondence is being published in the Semanario. I observe, however, that one of my letters, that of July 22, has not appeared. Will you pardon me for calling your attention to this matter.
This note is already so long that I must again crave your indulgence for postponing the consideration of the case of Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman. As soon as I can prepare the letter, however, I will give my reasons at length why I have not sent them from my legation.
I avail myself of this occasion to renew the assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Actiny Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Señor Benitez to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to inclose to you the accompanying letter which the criminal José Berges has requested his judges to send to you on account of having declared that, besides the papers before mentioned, you had received in deposit the others to which the same letter alludes.
Berges considers this direct communication with you necessary, in order to fully satisfy the demands of justice, as he says he desires.[Page 796]
I improve this occasion to renew to you the assurances of my distinguished consideration.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: I have just received the note of your honor dated yesterday together with a paper signed by José Berges, in which I am requested to deliver, not one, as formerly represented in his declarations, but three packages, which he says he delivered to me at his house in one of the first days of July, at the time of my visit to him a few days after his return from San Fernando. Not having ever received any package, letter, or communication from him, as I have repeatedly advised you, I am unable to see the object in sending me this paper. In my note of yesterday I said if any person had ever sent or brought any such papers to my house, and would send a written order for them, and a description so that I could know which they were, I would be happy to deliver them. But I did not promise impossibilities, or to deliver papers I had never received, whoever might send for them, or however minutely they might be described.
I avail myself of this occasion to renew assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Benitez.
Sir: Excusing myself for the delay in answering that part of your note of the 31st ultimo, relating to the case of Mr. Bliss and Mr. [Page 797]Masterman, which I have deferred in order to answer the part of it which seemed to me of more pressing importance, and also to answer your subsequent very long note of the 6th instant, I will now proceed to give my reasons why I have not dismissed those two persons from my legation, and why I ought not to do so.
At the conclusion of your note of the 31st ultimo, you say that you have not the remotest doubt that full and inflexible justice would be done by the American government, and then ask if it can be in full possession of the case, as is the national court of justice; if it would send the record of its trial for a new substantiation, if it could do so, and would its administration of justice be sufficiently timely?
To these questions I will remark that there would undoubtedly be considerable inconvenience in sending these persons for trial to the United States; but that does not affect the law in the case in the least. Whenever an embassy is received from one government by another, the latter accepts it under the conditions imposed by the law of nations. This law is of such importance that its rigid observance is indispensable for the peace of the world. It is only under the protection of this law that nations can negotiate with each other, as to carry on their negotiations it is necessary, especially in time of war, that there should be some persons who should enjoy entire security and immunities from the local laws. This code, universally recognized as binding on all nations, has been of the greatest advantage to them all; but it also has its disadvantages. Under it the nations that receive foreign embassies are required to concede to them certain privileges which are not conceded to any other persons. They resign the sovereignty over the premises occupied by the embassador, and by the fiction of extra territoriality his legation is considered as the territory of his own government. Except under very extraordinary circumstances his house cannot be entered by the police, and no member of his legation can be cited before the local tribunals; and if they commit any offence against the laws of the country, all writers on international law declare that the minister shall either punish them himself or send them to his own country to be tried. These privileges and immunities, doubtless, frequently cause serious inconveniences to the local administration. But, is it not better to submit to such inconveniences rather than have the law abrogated? I have known, such instances of inconvenience in my own country; one of which I will mention. In the year 1856, an important witness of a homicide in the city of Washington, that excited great public attention, was an attaché of the Swedish legation. His testimony was very much desired by the tribunals, but he was never cited formally as a witness; and to the request that he would appear and testify voluntarily, he replied that he would not do so, and my government had no power to compel him.
Your honor asks, in your note of the 23d July, if it does not appear to me that if the immunities of a minister should reach to the extent claimed by me, that there would be no nation in the world which would be willing to accept an embassy? To this I will reply that all nations do, and are glad to, receive embassies on these very terms. What have I claimed? Simply this—that George F. Masterman, who came to my house at my solicitation as medical attendant of my family nearly eleven months ago, and has lived in my house ever since, and had his name given in as a member of the legation more than four months ago, to which no objection was made for three months afterwards, is to all intents and purposes a member of this legation, and entitled to all its privileges. I likewise claim that Porter G. Bliss, who also came to my house at my solicitation, to serve as translator, and to assist me in any other way [Page 798]that I might require, and whose name was given in at the time as a member of my legation, and no objection being then made to his remaining in it, but only to the capacity in which I had classified him, is also a member of this embassy.
You, on various occasions, speak of them as refugees who have sought asylum in my house. They did not seek asylum here. I sought them, and engaged them to come here because I needed their services. At the time they came there was no charge or accusation against either of them. How, then, can they be considered refugees? They were not refugees, and this is not a question of the right of asylum, but of the rights of legation.
You, however, allege that they have never been recognized by your government, but that, having refused to recognize them, I therefore have no right to claim them as exempt from the local jurisdiction. But this refusal was not made till after they had been claimed as criminals, and months after they had been tacitly acknowledged as belonging to the embassy. Such refusal was quite too late to affect the case.
The doctrine advanced by you, that a foreign minister cannot claim legation privileges for his servants, secretaries, and other members of his household, till the government to which he is accredited specially recognizes them by name, is something entirely new to me; something that I do not find in any writer on international law. If a minister gives in a list of his suite, and no answer is made, no objection is taken by the government, then it tacitly acknowledges that all included in that list are members of the legation, and it cannot afterwards plead its own failure to acknowledge the minister’s letter as a justification of its refusal so to recognize them.
That this is correct reasoning you must admit, if you will apply it to my own case. Though I have given two lists of the members of my legation, you have never recognized a single person now in it, unless it be Mr. Bliss, and Baltazar, the colored servant left with me by Dr. Carreras. But you have never recognized either my wife or child, or my private secretary, who has been in my service for more than a year and a half, or the servant girl that we brought with us into the country. According to your reasoning and logic, however, you have only to say that any one or all of them is accused, and that the government refuses to recognize them as belonging to my legation, and I have no remedy but to send them away. Such is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the premises and logic of your honor.
To the question whether or not the punishment that my government would administer would be timely, I reply I do not see why not. You cannot suppose that these two individuals, closely shut up as they are in this legation, and having no communication with any person outside of it, can be dangerous. If not, why will not their punishment, if proved guilty, be as timely some months hence as now? If they can give any evidence which is necessary to ascertain the truth in regard to other accused parties, they have both expressed their willingness to do it; and should the government choose to send a notary to my house to examine them, I will give him every facility for doing so. I will also say that Mr. Bliss has declared, in relation to the paper which you in your note of the 23d of July say that he “in a secret committee of mutual obligations” has signed to commit an infamous crime, that if any such paper signed by him shall be produced at this legation he will instantly leave it. To this I will add that while I shall still insist on my rights of legation, I will undertake that he keep his promise to me.
In my former notes to you I have called your attention to this maxim [Page 799]of law, that “every man is to be considered innocent until he is proved guilty.” Yet you, disregarding this principle, continue to speak of these two members of my legation as criminals and refugees, without ever having given me any proof of their guilt. You have also complained that I should not receive your official statement of their criminality in preference to their own protestations of innocence.
I have not allowed myself to question the sincerity of your belief in, their criminality, but as you do not pretend to speak from your own knowledge I may yet doubt the truthfulness of your informants. Certainly you will not allege that the witnesses against them are persons who have enjoyed higher honors, or had previously been more respected than Berges and Carreras, whose declarations I know to contain almost as many falsehoods as sentences. If declarations so false have been made by them, with the object of connecting me with an infamous plot, is it not possible that equally false declarations have been made for the purpose of implicating others? I, acting according to the laws of my own country, must presume them innocent till I have a proof to the contrary. From your own personal knowledge of these gentlemen, you must be aware that they are, from education and habit, the very last people that conspirators and complotters would take into their counsels. Mr. Bliss, you are aware, is a man of extraordinary literary acquirements, and his whole taste and ambition is in literary pursuits; and Mr. Masterman is a man whose tastes and desires lead him to pass his whole time in scientific investigations. Neither one of them has any of the detestable gaucho characteristics that would lead them to take part in a revolution; and as I have known them both long and intimately, I am bound to take their solemn asservations, not only of innocence, but of entire ignorance of any plot or conspiracy, in preference to the declaration of any or many confessed conspirators or traitors.
But with me this is not a question of guilt or innocence. It is a question of the rights of legation. Months ago I gave in their names as belonging to my diplomatic suite, and the government by not objecting to them as members of my legation tacitly acknowledged them as such; it acknowledged them as much as it has acknowledged any one in my house, and has now just as much right to claim any one else of my family or household as to claim either of them.
I will add another consideration. Both of these men are so indispensably necessary to me that even if they did not belong to my legation, and the safety of the state were not endangered by their remaining here, I should ask it as a courtesy that they might fee allowed to stay for the present. Without the aid of Mr. Bliss I could hardly have carried on the heavy correspondence I have had during the last month; and were Mr. Masterman to leave me, it would be, under the circumstances—when the aid of no other physician can be obtained—at the risk of exposing the lives of my wife and child and other members of my family; and I am sure that the government has no wish to expose me to any such calamity.
The position taken by you that until a government expressly recognizes the members of a legation they cannot claim its privileges, but are liable to be arrested like any other persons by the police, would, or might, at least, render his right of extraterritoriality virtually a nullity. The government might thus compel him to dismiss all his servants; it might prohibit his own subjects to enter his service, and thus leave him without any servant or assistant in any capacity, except such as it might suit its own purposes that he should have. I have never asked either you or your predecessor to recognize the members of my legation by [Page 800]name, or, in other words, I have not asked the privilege of employing them. I am to be the judge of the persons necessary to the discharge of my official duties and the health and comfort of my family, and not the government of Paraguay. Should a minister on entering a country take with him in his suite known criminals, or persons obnoxious or dangerous from their political opinions, a government might undoubtedly object to concede to them legation immunities, and could insist that they should leave the country. But it would have no right to molest them, and would be bound to protect them in every way until they had ample time for their departure. In no case has a government a right to inflict any other penalty on a person attached to a foreign legation than to send him to his own country to be punished. If, however, the ground assumed by you is correct—that no person can claim legation privileges until he has been expressly recognized by the government, but may be cited before the local tribunals—then if I comply with your request of to-day, I may be called upon to send away the other members of my household tomorrow, as you have never recognized them as belonging to my legation.
If all are not in the same category, and some are and some are not entitled to legation privileges, will you please advise me which of the names in the list appended to this letter are recognized as belonging to my legation.
In your note of the 31st ultimo you observe that it is the more strange that I should still decline to send Mr. Bliss and Mr. Masterman from my house, since I shall then have superabundant means to give them protection. What those superabundant means are you do not advise me, nor do I understand what means will be left me to protect them when once in the hands of the local tribunals. Will you have the kindness to give me further information on this point?
In my note of July 14, you will recollect that from the tone and tenor of your preceding notes, and from the fact that you had finally called for two persons whom I had always considered members of my legation, I said it appeared that I had lost the respect and confidence of this government, and that, therefore, as it did not seem that I could be longer useful either to my own government or that of Paraguay, or to any individuals in the country, I requested passports for myself and for the members of my legation. To this you replied on the 16th, assuring me in the strongest terms that I still retained the esteem and confidence of your government, and expressing the hope that such assurances would lead me to reconsider my previous resolution. Such expressions I accepted as satisfactory, particularly when in the same note you again requested the dismissal of Messrs. Bliss and Masterman from my house, but said you would waive all further discussion on that matter, leaving it to my own sense of justice. I then believed that the demand would not be further pressed; but while preparing my note of the 20th ultimo, giving my reasons for the course I had felt it my duty to pursue, I was surprised and pained on receiving your note of the 19th, which was closely followed by those of the 21st and 23d, to observe a tone and tenor of an entirely different character.
This sudden change I have attributed to the strange and false declarations of Berges concerning me, and, if I am right in this surmise, I cannot wonder that, false as the declarations are, the government should have changed from confidence and regard to distrust and suspicion. But if the government has accepted my words in preference to those of a convicted traitor, I cherish the hope that it will resume the position taken in your note of July 16, and leave me to pursue the only course [Page 801]that in my opinion will be approved by my government, by public opinion, and by the family of nations.
I avail myself of this occasion to give assurance of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Gumesindo Benitez, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
List of persons now resident in the legation of the United States in Asuncion,
The minister, wife, and child; Mrs. Leite Pereira; Carlos Meincke, private secretary; Kate Leahy; George F. Masterman, medical attendant; Porter C. Bliss, translator; George Hamilton, Baltazar Carreras, Bazilio Jara, Melchora Jara, Lucia Rivas, (lavandera.)
Señor Caminos to Mr. Washburn.
Having been intrusted with the department of foreign affairs, the undersigned, minister secretary in the department of war and the navy, has found a note of your excellency dated the 13th instant, not yet replied to, and in the interval of preparing a reply in the terms required by the occasion, I hasten to request of your excellency a specific list of the individuals of your legation for whom your excellency requests passports, in order to be able to make them out in conformity with your desire.
I embrace this opportunity to tender to your excellency assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday, in which I am requested to give you a list of the persons of this legation for whom I desire passports. Besides myself, Mrs. Washburn, and infant child, the following is the list of the persons belonging to my legation for whom passports are requested: Carlos Meincke, private secretary; Porter C. Bliss, translator; George F. Masterman, medical attendant; Kate Leahy, George Hamilton, Baltazar Carreras, servants.
I avail myself of this occasion to offer the assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Luis Caminos, Acting Minister of Foreign Relations.[Page 802]
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Sir: On the 11th ultimo I had the honor to address a note to your predecessor. Honorable Gumesindo Benitez, in which, after a statement of facts which it is unnecessary here to recapitulate, I remarked that it appeared to me that the government of Paraguay ought either to accept my statement in good faith as true and drop the correspondence to which it related, or else send me my passports and provide me with the means of leaving the country, as I had requested in my note on the 14th of July. From that time to this I have received no other answer than your note of the 28th ultimo, in which your honor requests me to furnish you with a list of the members of my legation for whom I desire passports. The only inference from this is that the government accepts the first of the alternatives presented by me, and does not accept my statement as truthful. I am, therefore, greatly surprised that the passports have not been given me, as I furnished the list as requested on the day that I received your note. I therefore have occasion to repeat the request made in my note of July 14, that passports may be furnished me and the members of my legation, and such facilities for leaving the country be provided as comport with the character of an accredited minister, with as little delay as circumstances will permit.
I take this occasion to render assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Luis Caminos, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Sir: I have this moment received a note from Commander Kirkland, commanding the United States ship Wasp, dated the 29th ultimo, Paraguay River, between the Tibicuari and Herradura, in which he advises me that he has come by order of our government to take me and my suite and convey us to such point on the river below the allied squadron as I may select, and requests me to inform him at what point on the river it will be convenient for me to embark.
I have accordingly written him a note which I inclose with this, advising him that I am still in this city, and that it will be most convenient for me to embark at this port, and which I beg your honor to forward as soon as possible. Commander Kirkland expresses the hope that he may be detained as little time as possible, and as the United States have now for the second time forced the blockade of the allies, against all their threats and protests, and is, besides, the only power that has done so, or ever shown any interest in Paraguay during the war, or any desire to see fair play between the belligerents, I am confident that the government of Paraguay will grant him every facility for carrying out his orders. For this second vindication of the rights of nations as against the unlawful [Page 803]pretensions of the allies, will you have the goodness to express my congratulations to his excellency Marshal Lopez.
I take this occasion to renew assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Luis Caminos, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Señor Caminos to Mr. Washburn.
Sir: I have received your note dated 29th ultimo, with the list of individuals, including your excellency, for whom you ask passports; and before replying to it I must give an answer to the one of the 13th ultimo, in which you state the motives for which you have not dismissed from the legation Messrs. Bliss and Masterman.
I am obliged to take into consideration some of those motives in order to follow you closely, but I shall not touch them all for fear that you should again complain of the length of my reply. I may be excused from any justification for giving you the trouble of having a great deal to read, since it is due to you that the matter, which was of easy solution on the ground of justice and right, has assumed so complicated a character.
My government, anxious to show its consideration and regard for your excellency, had moreover invited you to come to a verbal understanding, with a view of avoiding these long and unsatisfactory communications, a step which you cannot ignore, although you have not chosen to appreciate it as it deserved.
You were influenced in this by the same motive that induced you to give shelter in your residence to Messrs. Bliss and Masterman. Time will explain all. You have been sufficiently consequent as to extend your protection to these gentlemen in direct opposition to the dictates of a sound judgment, and to disregard any preferential consideration due not only to the justice and right of the case, but also to the peculiar conditions of the country.
In your note containing an explanation of your motives I have failed to meet those I expected, and which might somehow have justified your action in this matter. Far from this, that note is couched in dilatory terms; and I, therefore, consider myself free from the obligation of touching all the points it contains, or to allude more particularly to the profound erudition on the law of nations therein displayed by you.
The case of Bliss and Masterman does not admit of much digression. It is a very simple question. They have sought the asylum of the American legation when called upon by the courts of law to answer the grave charge of being accomplices in a revolutionary complot.
You have replied to the request of this department that they should be given up, stating that you consider them as members of the legation, without, however, justifying this assertion, but merely entering upon charges and arguments that can have but little weight in presence of the motives adduced by this department, more particularly in its note of the 31st of July.[Page 804]
This department certainly said then that if the immunities of a minister extended as far as you pretended, no nation in the world would receive a foreign mission; to which you replied that all nations do receive missions on those terms, and that you have only used a common right in refusing to give up Bliss and Masterman.
It is strange that the minister of a great and honorable nation, so familiar with international law, should allow himself to be so blinded by his anxiety to shield two criminals. I, for my part, must protest against similar assertions, and maintain that no nation can be desirous, as you state, to receive foreign missions that are disposed to protect criminals, by alleging that they belong to them.
I must first call your attention to the above-mentioned note of the 31st of July, referring to every part of its context, and then, by way of compliment, I will remark again that if you, in your note of the 13th ultimo, bring as a proof of Bliss being a member of your legation because you had requested him to go to your house, and had given him the character of being a member of said legation, and that the government had made no objection to his residing in your house, but only to the character under which you had classified him, I must repeat once more that from the beginning Bliss, as well as Manlove, have never been recognized by this government as members of your legation; and that they have only been allowed to reside with you in the same way as other individuals who at the time of the evacuation of the capital took up their abode in your house. No other interpretation can be given to what was stated on this head to your excellency by this department in its note of 23d February last.
You certainly stated in your note of 4th of April, by way of explanation, that you had written an answer to said note of the 23d February, under date of the following day, the 24th, but that you did not send it, as circumstances seemed to render it unnecessary, in your opinion, to occupy the attention of the government with purely personal matters of the legation, and adding that you wrote a note, and tried to forward to Berges a note similar to the one you inclosed. In this note you sent the following as the list of persons belonging to the legation, viz: Charles Meincke, German; Porter Cornelius Bliss, American; James Manlove, ditto; Concepcion Cazal, Paraguayan; Ana Bella Cazal, ditto; Dolores Caballero, ditto; Basilio Jara, ditto; Melchora Jara, ditto; and two washerwomen.
This note, dated the 24th February, was addressed to ex-Minister Berges, and contained an acknowledgment of the receipt of that of the 23d.
This department has not answered the note of 4th of April, and it could much less reply to the one sent as a mere inclosure, and as an explanation that there had been no want of courtesy or forgetfulness in not replying to the note in which the government announced its removal to Luque. On the other hand, Berges being absent from the Foreign Office at the time, obliged you to communicate directly with the chief clerk; and before this department could take into consideration the note of the 23d, it would have been requisite to have addressed it in the proper form. Moreover, you have not stated whether said note was to have been considered as still subsisting, or given any other explanation, whereas changes might have occurred in the very personnel of the legation between February and April. For all this, the note which you declare to have written on the 23d February, but to have sent only on the 4th April, addressed to an absent minister, besides the circumstances already adverted to, was in itself inefficient and defective; and I may add that when said note was received, the Paraguayan women, Concepcion Cazal [Page 805]and Dolores Caballero, were no longer at the legation; and they have stated that they never asked that their names should appear in the list of the personnel of the legation, or knew that they thus figured. I allude to this circumstance only to show to you that if you have been pleased to put their names in that list, no care has been taken to erase their names from it when they ceased to reside in your legation.
From this simple statement it may be clearly seen that you can have no just ground for insisting in considering Porter C. Bliss a member of your legation, as well as George F. Masterman, whom you consider as such from the mere fact of having put down his name in the list contained in the note of 24th February, to which no objection has been made till three months later.
The practical deduction to be drawn from your notes and pretensions, as far as I can see, is that an individual is to be considered a member of a mission from the mere fact of his being proposed as such to the government by the head of the mission. Acting upon this conclusion, you propose Bliss and Manlove in the list of your domestic servants, and on the day following the receipt of a note from the government refusing to recognize them as members of your legation, and therefore denying to them the privileges that they would enjoy as such by the right of nations, you again inscribed the names of these two individuals on the list, and moreover add to the personnel of the legation Masterman and another.
But if Bliss belongs to the mission as well as Masterman, how is it that they have not enjoyed nor do enjoy the privileges to which they are entitled? This is inexplicable. And why is it that the name of Manlove being alongside those of Bliss and Masterman in your note of 24th February, he has been left on one side, when, according to the principle laid down by you, they must all (or none) be considered as members of the mission? But the precedent of Manlove is a proof that you have only afterwards been pleased to grant to these two criminals the character of members of the legation.
With regard to what you say that Masterman is to be considered in that character in all and for all, because no objection was raised against him before the lapse of three months, I may remark that according to your own doctrine Masterman was from the very first day invested with that character, because if the following day this department had refused to acknowledge him, as was done in the case of Bliss, his name would have immediately appeared in a new list of your excellency’s.
I have thus shown clearly how inexact you are in considering said individuals as members of the legation. It is of little consequence to the question whether they have sought your house, or whether you have sought them to bring them to your residence, but I do not agree with you in looking upon them as refugees, because this would be a denial of a truth too clear and distinct. What are they doing there? Why are they in your house, when they have been indicted and are called upon by a court of law to answer the charges deposed against them?
It is clear they are not there because of their innocence or because they belong to the legation, but under the special protection of your excellency. You state that during several months they have been tacitly recognized as belonging to the mission, and that the refusal came too late from this department to be available. I must repeat that only by following your practice could the justice of this statement be admitted, since the express objection made by my government on your proposing Bliss as a member of the legation has not been considered by you as having any weight whatever. Since the objection made to Bliss on the day following his nomination has been considered too late by you, what [Page 806]wonder is it if the objection in the case of Masterman, which according to your excellency was sent in after the lapse of three months, should also be considered as much too late?
I beg you to reflect upon the mysterious note of the 24th of February, and endeavor to convince me that it meant to convey a legitimate presentation of the personnel of your legation, and that at a most solemn crisis of the republic, assailed as it is to the death by an invading enemy.
As you will understand from what precedes, I am very far from wishing to maintain that a foreign minister cannot claim the privileges of the legation for his servants, secretary, or other members of his family until the government recognizes them individually by name. I agree with your remark that if a minister sends a list of his suite (in due form) and receives no answer, no objection is made by government, which tacitly recognizes the persons included in said list as members of the legation. This is a just interpretation, and is what has happened with regard to the following individuals: Charles Meincke, German; George Hamilton, English; Katharine Leahy, English; Basilio Jara, Paraguayan; and Melchora Jara, Paraguayan, who were tacitly consented to; when, on their names appearing jointly with those of Bliss and Manlove in your note of the 22d February, exception was taken only to the two latter, who were simply allowed to remain in your dwelling with the special condition that if they went out of the legation the policemen would be prevented from carrying out in such a case the orders given to allow no person not invested with, official character to go about the streets; and on the same condition Ana Bella Cazal proposed in the above-mentioned list was also permitted to remain at the legation.
I must remind you once more that in your note of 4th April you alluded to individuals whom this department has not recognized as members of your legation. To whom else could you refer? At all events Bliss was one of them.
However much you may labor to give a forced interpretation to the motives brought forward in opposition to your views on this matter, you will never be able to justify your deductions. It is curious to hear it asserted that this department has only recognized Bliss and Balthazar, the colored servant whom you state was left by Doctor Carreras, but it is still more curious that neither your wife, nor son, nor private secretary, nor the servant you brought with you, have ever been recognized. If you have not chosen to put in the list of the personnel of your legation Mrs. Washburn and your son, this department is not to blame. I nevertheless cannot but admit the import-ant position occupied by the family of the chief of the mission.
You may rest assured that my government has sufficient conscience of its own dignity and duties not to commit itself by sending a notary to your house to examine the criminals, Bliss and Masterman, when they have never been nor are members of the legation, but the government will not hesitate in making them appear before a tribunal, because they are in all and for all merely refugees in your hotel.
You wish to apply in the case of Bliss and Masterman the principle of right that a person must be considered innocent until he is proved to be guilty, and you state that this principle is ignored when they are spoken of as criminals and refugees, whilst no proof of their culpability is forthcoming. I might have wondered greatly at your pretensions and language if in the following line you did not furnish me with the proper key, by saying that you doubted still of the veracity of the informants. Upon the criminality of the above individuals, and alluding to [Page 807]the depositions of Berges and Carreras, you state that you know they contain as many falsehoods as sentences, and that if these false depositions have been given by them with a view of making you appear mixed up in a shameful machination, it may have been done with a design of implicating others.
If you do not choose to credit my words, and can still doubt the veracity of those who have deposed that Bliss and Masterman took a leading part in the complot, I cannot offer to gratify you by showing to you the authentic documents which establish the reality of the fact, and you may act in accordance with the laws of your own country as you may think proper. But I would like to ask you, when is a person to be considered guilty? I understand that the principle of right invoked by you is one universally accepted, but also that the sworn depositions of witnesses are a sufficient proof in cases of more or less gravity. This suggestion may not be thrown away upon you to prove to you that, as this is what has happened with regard to your own protegés as well as to others included in the same accusation, you must not wonder if no attention can be paid to your reference to the above maxim to which you have repeatedly alluded.
With regard to your recommendation of the profession and standing of each of them, I can only say to you that they are almost identical with those which you were pleased to make in favor of Carreras when you were asked to dismiss him from your legation, and now it appears that you have not had much trouble in applying against him the words least honorable to any man.
You are right in thinking that my government has no desire to expose either you or your family to any calamity, and it is well known that during your long stay in the country you have been treated with every consideration, as you yourself have confessed in your correspondence. I cannot, however, conceive how your own convenience is incompatible with the expulsion of those individuals, whereas their stay there must give rise to appreciations less satisfactory from the fact of their being implicated in a vast conspiracy, the depositions with regard to which extend even to yourself.
Since the government of every nation has the right to admit or refuse a foreign minister according to circumstances, in compliance with which right he must be duly presented to the territorial sovereign, it follows as an indispensable consequence that the chief of a mission is bound duly to report the persons that belong to his household and those that may leave him subsequently, both in order to accept or refuse the former and to take note of the latter who may still enjoy the privileges attached to their previous position. And while on this point I beg to remind you that the list you inclosed in the note dated 24th of February comprised among others the names of Concepcion Cazal, Dolores Caballero, and Ana Bella Cazal, besides two washerwomen, whose names did not appear, and that none of those five individuals figure now in your new list, with the exception of Lucia Ribas, who appears to have been one of said washerwomen. But apart from this it would appear that you have not attached to this subject the importance it deserves, as is proved by the fact that after all the individuals, excepting three, contained in your list of the 22d of February, had been admitted, you added others without advising this department of this circumstance, or of your having dismissed any of those persons that were included in the original list.
With regard to Bliss it is satisfactorily shown that he was not a member of your legation, but since you state that Balthazar, Carreras’s [Page 808]servant, had also been recognized a member of the legation, I must point out to you that in your dispatch, of the 12th of July you said of those whose names had been given as not belonging to the legation there only remained Carreras, Rodriguez, his servant, and the wife of Leite Pereira; and although in your note of the following day—the 13th—communicating that Carreras and Rodriguez had left the legation before the appointed hour, you said that the colored servant of Carreras was still with you as a servant, you never alluded to the subject again, and after calling this person first Carreras’s, then Rodriguez’s servant, you only now style that his name is Balthazar. I am not aware how long you have had him as servant, and I have only seen by your unanswered note of the 13th of July that he still remained with you in that character, which leads to the supposition that for some time past he had ceased to be Carreras’s servant. As you seemed to require him, no objection has been raised, but I have only to remark upon the incorrectness of your statement that this individual and Bliss were the only persons recognized as members of your legation.
With regard to the concluding part of your note, to which I am now replying, I beg to refer to what has already been stated on the subject in the course of this correspondence.
Having thus replied to the principal points of the note above alluded to, I have only to beg that you will consider in its true light the one of this department under date of the 31st of July conjointly with this. And I may be allowed to add a few words more, to express frankly to you that if until now no notice has been taken of the ground assumed by you in your correspondence, by even casting a slur upon the good faith of the judicial department of my country, and denying the truth of the official assurances made to you with regard to the guilt of Bliss and Masterman, my government can only view such proceeding as an offense to its honor and its dignity.
The government of this republic, far from wishing that you should forfeit the approval of your government and of public opinion in the community of nations, will, on the contrary, rejoice to see that you do not step beyond the principles of sound policy and the dictates of reason and justice prescribed by the respect due to nations and their governments.
My government has ever been inspired by this wish, and it grieves it to see you advocating for traitors to the country as if you were one of them. They say so, at least, and it behooves you to weigh these assertions, made judicially, which I will here further complement with others.
I shall first bring forward one of the individuals of whom you have stated that you heard of for the first time. It is Benigno Lopez, who, among other things, has deposed textually as follows:
That on account of the first expedition to the north in 1864, they began to talk politics.
Washburn saying to deponent, the country appears to “shake itself.”
Deponent. Yes, but we do not know who will suffer the first blow, although it is probable that in the end we shall fare worse, seeing the power and great elements of our enemies.
To this Washburn perfectly agreed with him.
Then, from that time forward they continued talking whenever they met, condemning the system of government, because the policy of the government was arbitrary, instead of being liberal and constitutional, as befitted a country like Paraguay, rich for its climate and for its natural products of all kinds; that the government of the marshal thought of nothing but making soldiers; and that scarcely any private citizen was to be met with; and that such a state of things could not but help to keep back industry and retard progress and civilization in the country.
That all their conversations were in this tone until on the occasion of his accompanying [Page 809]Washburn in a trip he made to the front in March, for the purpose of crossing over to the enemy’s camp, they went more deeply into the matter, and mooted the idea of the necessity of a change of government to bring to a close the protracted war, due, in Washburn’s opinion, to a violent and inconsiderate act of the marshal, of which he certainly sorely repented.
To this deponent replied, “What he is sorry for is not to have taken the allies, one by one, to make them dance.”
That to this and other conversations they held together before and during the journey, deponent understood that Washburn wished that the alliance should triumph, rather than Paraguay, and that he would be disposed to work in this sense, on which account he had no scruple in laying open the plan of endeavoring to effect a change of government, not doubting that the Marquis de Caxias, as soon as he was made aware of the advantages that would follow a successful revolution, would send the bases of a final arrangement to enable them to begin the work.
That in Paso Pucu, and just before Washburn passed over to the enemy’s camp, deponent went to see him in his quarters, and being asked by him about the situation of the army, deponent answered that it was not bad, but that it would be rendered a very difficult one if Caxias stretched a line from Tuyuti as far as the Paraguay River, because it would be then inclosed. That while saying this deponent bent down and described this operation by marking on the ground the various positions of the two armies, and showing that in this way the interior of the republic remained exposed, and that nothing could obstruct a force from reaching the Tebicuari by Caapucu, and by making a rapid movement as far as Paraguay, which was not far, place itself in contact with the revolutionary force, and they both combined would then be able to command the principal departments of the republic and the capital by means of the railway.
That then Washburn, being interested to understand thoroughly the plan proposed by deponent, drew from his waistcoat pocket a pencil, which he handed to deponent, saying at the same time to his private secretary, Meincke, who was in the room, to go out for a short time, which the latter did at once, not, however, before having heard part of the conversation and seen the tracing made by deponent with his finger on the ground. That then, when Meincke was gone out, deponent concluded his description with Washburn’s pencil, after which the latter left for the enemy’s camp, most likely carrying with him the drawing made on paper by deponent.
That it was deponent’s intention, in making a drawing of the intended operation, that Washburn should show it to Caxias, and if he did not say so expressly, it was because he understood that Washburn would be sure to do it, which, in fact, turned out subsequently to be the case, not only because the enemy realized this very plan, but because Washburn himself on his return brought him Caxias’s communication, with the basis for effecting the change of government as deposed to previously.
That subsequently, after deponent came back from the army to the capital, towards the end of September, he went to see Washburn in his house, who asked him how he had left those people, (the army,) to which he answered, “Well in health, but not so as regards their position, which, as I have mentioned before, has become worse,” (alluding to the circular movement.)
That Washburn asked him again, “But are they going to fight?”
Deponent. Undoubtedly, but not much.
Deponent. Because some of them are worn out, and others have little faith in a general action, seeing the elements arrayed against them, and I have not tried to undeceive them. And then went on to say, I see with great pleasure that a great deal has been done here, and well, and that all is ready in anticipation of what may occur, and I think soon.
Washburn. Mr. Berges is a very able man; under his Jesuitism and apparent indifference, he works with remarkable activity.
Deponent. Indeed; I myself never thought he would have done so much.
Washburn. The fact is he has excellent coadjutors, and he is not niggard with his god money.
That then Washburn took up Dr. Graty’s book and they both looked out in the map attached to it for the river Tebicuari and the distances of the various departments from one another, all with reference to the military operations connected with the expected revolutionary movement.
That on the 16th of October deponent met Washburn near the columns of the government-house, and there they spoke of the events that had happened at the seat of war at the beginning of the month, deponent saying that the allies had been worsted, to which Washburn replied: “Unless it is an engagement as those described by the Seminario, in which one or two hundred kill several battalions without the loss of a single man;” that deponent also said on this occasion that the line of the besiegers did not reach yet as far as the river, and more in this sense.
That afterwards, deponent having gone to visit Washburn in his house, they talked [Page 810]about the news that the enemy had reached the river, sinking two vessels. Washburn said that they had done wrong in losing these vessels, because the army could not afford to be without them, and the Brazilian squadron would certainly come up. Deponent answered that these vessels did them much harm. On this occasion deponent also said that soon great events might he expected, alluding to the movement of which he (Washburn, knew, and which was the raising of the siege.
That subsequently, at the beginning of January, when deponent was casually visiting Washburn at the Trinidad House, the latter, after inquiring about the news, as was their wont, said that the situation was becoming every day more critical, and that it was necessary to put an end to this state of things, since there was a talk of even enlisting women to continue the war, and that this revealed the impossibility of arriving at an honorable treaty, (alluding to the different overtures of peace which the marshal had inflexibly rejected.) That such a thing (enlisting women) was ridiculous, and that his wife had told him that if this took place she would not remain any longer in a country that allowed such things; to which deponent replied that these demonstrations had no other object save to strengthen, if possible, the confidence of the public, adding, “If you go, you leave us in a pretty pickle;” and Washburn said, “If I remain, it is because I think that I shall be able to be of some service to you,” (meaning with regard to the revolution.)
That on another occasion they met in the Campo Grande, when Washburn, who was coming from the house of Fidanza, asked deponent what was the news, both at the seat of war and in town, and being answered none, showed himself little pleased with the calm that prevailed, and deponent thought that it was in consequence of the visit he had just been paying, in company with Manlove, to Fidanza, who was one of those implicated in the revolution, when doubtless they had discussed the matter.
That shortly afterwards Washburn proceeded to Tapua. Deponent was there with his mother, whom Washburn went to thank for having lent him a quinta in Trinidad to pass the summer, and say that he intended returning to town. On taking leave of deponent he said to him that the person in charge of the French consulate was a fool, because he talked of things that were compromising.
“What are these things?” asked deponent.
Washburn. He talks about a new order of things; he picks up and repeats everything, and talks also much about local politics.
That, moreover, deponent remembers that even before the evacuation of the capital, talking of the probabilities that this measure would be adopted in consequence of the affair of Tayi, and Asuncion declared a military post, Washburn said to him that such a step would be absurd; that the government had no right to inforce it, and that he could even protest if the measure applied to foreign residents; that, after the evacuation had actually been decreed, José Berges referred in the office, in presence of a third party, that had been the same night on a visit at Washburn’s, and talking about the evacuation of the capital, the latter had formally declared that he for his own part would do no such thing, and on that account he offered Berges an asylum if ever he required one, and begged him to say so to the government people. That Washburn maintained his right to protest against the evacuation, as he said to deponent, inasmuch as it concerned foreigners, and that the consuls were not discharging their duties when they withdrew, and that if he did not protest, it was because his own fellow-countrymen were few. That to declare the capital a fortress, with only one gun, and against iron-clads, running the risk of its being destroyed, was an unjustifiable error.
That deponent knows, also, that Washburn warmly maintained these same ideas with a view of being backed up by the French and Italian consuls, as they themselves said, but that they refused to support him; and the deponent, moreover, says that Washburn spoke in this sense to natives and foreigners, making the revolutionists understand that he did so in their interest; and, to inspire them with more confidence, he rented several houses, in which he began to give refuge to Englishmen, and then to Carreras and Rodriguez, who belong to the revolution.
That he remembers also that Washburn complained to him and others of his living in the capital, and said to him more particularly that the small consideration shown towards his person, and latterly towards his flag, would end by exasperating him and place the government in a situation even more critical than the actual one, letting one understand by this, deponent says, that he might break off abruptly the good relations between the republic and the United States.
That in Paso Pucu, after Washburn’s return from the enemy’s camp, bringing the bases and the letter of Caxias for deponent, the latter said to Washburn, that if they were successful he might reckon upon half a million and something more in order that, instead of going to Chili, he might go where he pleased, and that he said this because Washburn was always talking of going from hence to take charge of the legation in Chili, and that it was only this hope that made him put up with the Paraguayan legation.
That, besides this offer, deponent, about the end of October or beginning of November, delivered to Washburn, in two sums, the amount of one thousand gold ounces and [Page 811]$15,000 currency, telling him that if he required more he should not hesitate to say so, because there were three thousand ounces at his disposal.
That this amount was given to Washburn by deponent personally in Washburn’s house in the capital, where deponent went, carrying it himself, the first time on foot, and the second time on horseback, on both occasions at dusk.
That deponent’s object in giving Washburn this gratuity was on account of his official co-operation in the revolution.
That in the above-mentioned letter of Caxias, Washburn was said to have explained the plan intrusted to him by deponent; that Caxias was agreeable to it, and sent the required bases, urging that action should be taken in that sense; that the bearer (Washburn) would co-operate efficiently, and that he went bein cheio, (well paid.)
That these bases were the same as those proposed to the government by Mr. Gould, with the material difference that the change of government was the first in those received by deponent, whilst it appeared last in Gould’s.
That Washburn, as appears, bribed by Marquis de Caxias, was intrusted to him with the commission of proposing ex-officially to the marshal of his own accord to resign, in order to make peace, which, knowing beforehand that the marshal would not consent, was done in order that Washburn might be at liberty to talk on the matter and popularize the idea that the marshal was the only cause of the war, and consequently that the alliance, far from attacking the nation, had no other object in view except to save it by means of a new government.
That in pursuance of this purpose, Mr. Washburn, wished to take advantage of the army being besieged to offer his services to the marshal on the same basis as Mr. Gould, with only some accidental changes, with a view of being enabled to go over to the enemy’s camp, to hold an interview with the Marquis de Caxias, apprise him of the state of things with reference to the revolution, and urge him to move, in order to profit by the good dispositions of the nation.
That on another occasion Washburn said that probably when the war was at an end the country would give itself a constitution; to which deponent replied that he did not think it would be wise to do so when the nation emerged from so prostrate a condition.
Washburn. Do you intend going on with despotism?
Deponent. No, sir; laws will be given, but neither with the name nor character of constitution, viz., as is done in England.
Washburn. Mr. Berges is more constitutional than you are.
Deponent. That is because he has been in the United States.
That besides these conversations which deponent had with Washburn, the former knew, through Berges, that the latter was prepared to do anything he was asked or that was necessary in support of the revolution so as to secure its success, and Berges himself forwarded to him all the news that came from the army. In a word, that he was on the most perfect understanding with him, (Washburn,) and that the latter received and sent Berges’s and Carreras’s correspondence for outside, that had reference to the revolution, and also communicated all those he himself received.
That, in addition to all this, Washburn was bound, if the revolution was successful, to recognize the new government that should spring out of it, and in a contrary case give an asylum under his flag to the revolutionists.
That all the papers of the revolution which passed through deponent’s hands were put by him into a square envelope, which he closed with gum and sealed, and then took in person to the American minister, after writing upon it “Private papers,” and in a corner the initials “B. L.;” that on delivering this envelope to the minister he told him, “I do not wish to leave these papers in my house, and therefore bring them to you;” to which Washburn replied “Very well;” and taking the envelope, placed it on around table; that this happened when the papers in the government office began to be moved on account of the arrival of the iron-clads at Asuncion. It was about the 20th of February, about midday, deponent entered the drawing-room by the dining-room door, having been announced by the servant Katy; that during the few moments he remained with the minister they talked about the iron-clads, and the latter asked whether the city was to be evacuated. Deponent said, “Yes;” that when deponent entered the drawing-room the minister was drinking gin, and therefore asked him whether he preferred this or brandy, and on deponent saying he preferred the latter, he ordered Katy to bring some. She shortly afterwards came with a small tray, with some brandy and a wine-glass, and deponent took a little. Soon after deponent left, and Washburn accompanied him to the hall.
That the last conversation which deponent had with Washburn was on the 15th March. Deponent came to the capital on his way to the army; Washburn was going out of town, and they met two squares behind the church of San Roque, and stopped a few moments to converse. Washburn asked deponent where he was going, and being answered “To the army,” said, “What can I do for you?” Deponent answered, “I commend to you my family, and wish you may be successful;” meaning that I left my family under his protection, as he had offered to look after defenceless people and their [Page 812]fortunes, and that he might be fortunate in the share he (Washburn) had taken in the revolution.
Now you will have the kindness to listen, for the first time, to another individual who mentions you. Ex-Commander General of Arms Venancio Lopez says what follows:
That on the 1st of April the American minister went to visit deponent at his house in town, and told him, “Humaita cannot resist the iron-clads, and much less can the fortifications improvised do so;” and that “Brazilians being masters of the Parana and of Misiones, it is impossible to dislodge them, and the Paraguayans are so locked in that there is no possible escape; however, in my house, which is at your disposal, you shall be guaranteed, but it cannot hold all. Moreover, it is necessary to preserve what you have acquired,” (referring to the revolution,) “and it would be well for you to write to Caxias that your family and your interests may be saved. It is the only thing that remains to be done.”
That, moreover, he told deponent to let Caxias know that all the leaders of the revolution had been sent to the army, and that therefore the whole plan was discovered. That deponent at first refused, not having any intercourse with Caxias, to which Washburn replied that it did not matter; deponent then asked him by what means he could send a communication, and Washburn replied by way of Caapacu, saying that there was one Tilifer, adding that Vasconcellos (the vice-consul) also knew this individual, and promising that he, together with deponent’s letter, would send one.
That the American minister had stated the point at which the Brazilian advanced posts were stationed.
That deponent received Caxias’s through the American minister, by the Wasp, and its contents were to the effect that he was not to be afraid, since all that was meant was a change of administration to avoid the ravages of the war.
That deponent also wrote another letter to Caxias, dated the 10th or 11th of May, saying that, on the faith of the American minister’s assurance, he continued to work for the revolution, although with faint hopes of success, because the leaders had all been seized and their plans discovered; that it was forwarded by Washburn with his own dispatches, but no answer to it ever came.
That the American minister had taken charge of all the papers as a guarantee, it being understood that these papers are those that refer to the revolution. That those among them that were not thought of any interest were destroyed, as well as the rough copies. That deponent delivered to the minister himself the documents he found in Bedoya’s possession, the same that Benigno had shown him on the afternoon of the day he arrived the last time at the camp, saying that those were the papers of which Bedoya also had spoken when he came; that the deponent had found them when he went to look for some pens in Bedoya’s office, and that after Benigno’s return he had forgotten all about them.
That said documents were under a sealed cover, marked Documentos de Salinares, and that he gave them to the American minister, together with a sheet of paper on which Were written the names of the new administration; that he gave them on the 4th of July, about 10 a. m., in the house of the deponent’s mother, where he lived; that Washburn, on receiving the sealed packet, said, “This will serve as a duplicate,” showing that he was well aware of its contents.
That the words by which Washburn began to talk to deponent, and induce him to take part in the conspiracy, were as follows:
Washburn. What news? None, as usual?
Deponent. I know nothing.
Washburn. It is strange that your brother (the marshal) does not wish peace in spite of all I have done, and I cannot see any hope of victory, knowing the great power of Brazil, and its influence everywhere. Besides, all know the right of Brazil to sustain this war, into which it has been forced, and hence nobody dares offer its intervention, and your brother would be admired as among the most famous and valiant men if he were to resign, not because he is conquered, but for the sake of re-establishing peace, and allow Sanchez to take his place with a view of entering into negotiations. The great republic is the only one that ought to save Paraguay, and secure its autonomy. The secret treaty is ridiculous, and the United States will not recognize it. There are not many men of capacity here, and a few of the most prominent, who enjoy the confidence of the people, may be the means of salvation.
That deponent approved these ideas, and made up his mind to support the revolution, of which the minister was thus the principal promoter, and promised moreover to consent to become the organ of communication between the enemy and the conspirators.
That according to that Washburn himself told deponent, the object of his wishing to have the Wasp at Asuncion was that she might be there to protect his friends, and that he was surprised at Caxias’s refusal to let her pass, which he could only attribute to his unwillingness to establish a precedent for others.
That when deponent asked Washburn how the situation could be saved, now that his [Page 813]excellency knew of the revolution, he was answered, “It is that canaille Couverville, who is incapable of keeping a secret, who has discovered all. But Caxias will not lose any time; he will hasten to take Humaita, then he will send the fleet this way, and move the army towards the Tebicuari, so that you (the conspirators) will be able to save yourselves, because I shall then ask for an armistice and propose the commissioners who are to treat with the allies; that once this is obtained, the situation would depend on the revolutionary movement, and consequently the national army would not be able to act, but must submit, since Caxias is sure to send troops which he will land wherever he thinks best for calling off the attention of the marshal, who being surrounded on all sides, his retreat will be rendered very difficult, and he will be forced into coming to terms not so advantageous as they would have been at first; that with regard to Humaita, it was no impediment to Caxias, and it had not suited his plans to have taken it sooner; besides, he preferred a surrender.”
That after this revelation Washburn persuaded deponent to write to Caxias, saying that he and Comandante Fernandez were the only ones that could save the situation.
Next comes José Vicente Urdapilleta, ex-judge of second instance, who makes the following references to you:
That the American minister was compromised to guarantee the transmission of the communication which Benigno held with the enemy, who was to operate in combination with the revolutionary forces, and protect the movement by sending to Asuncion the iron-clads, with a landing force that was to be disembarked in the capital itself, or any other convenient spot, following the plan of operations to be agreed upon later on. That, moreover, Mr. Washburn undertook to employ his best efforts, and even go so far as to obtain the support of his government and make use of the material force at his disposal in the river Plata to assist in the realization of the intended movement, since among his instructions from his government was that of laboring for the maintenance of freedom among the South American nations.
That the moment or time when the revolution was to break out was to be announced by Mr. Washburn, as he had to come to an agreement with the commander-in-chief of the allied army, either by letter or by an interview.
That on another afternoon, about twenty days later, the deponent met, near the house of the Figueredos, Benigno Lopez, who was coming from his house in the Recoleta, and walked with him as far as the center of the town. On this occasion deponent asked how the revolution was getting on, and Benigno said that of all those who took part in it Mr. Washburn deserved more praise than all, and was lending very valuable services to the revolutionary cause, and that he was therefore entitled to great consideration both from the conspirators and the nation in general; and that in consequence he had given Mr. Washburn 1,500 gold ounces and $25,000 currency, to which deponent remarked that it was a great deal, and he must be well pleased, since he only received $5,000 annually from his government for his mission, which, according to his own declaration, was all the fortune he possessed. That then Benigno said that Washburn’s deserts were also very great, since he was disposed to favor the conspirators by all the means at his disposal, and that he had said that he intended to get two or three men-of-war of the United States stationed at Asuncion, in order to be able to protect under his flag the insurgents in case they were defeated or that their plans miscarried. That upon all those grounds he (Benigno) had given the above sum to Washburn, and would, on the termination of this transaction, give him an equal or larger sum, (this deponent does not recollect well,) and that for the $25,000 in notes he could purchase a piece of land well situated for a country residence, and for which purpose he might dispose of government land at a moderate price.
That a few days afterwards deponent met Mr. Washburn coming from his house in Trinidad, near the house of Belilla, who asked him the news of the war.
Urdapilleta. I know nothing these last days; do you?
Minister. No more do I; but I am going to the government house, and if I hear anything I will call on my way back at your house. He then went on: “D. Benigno tells me that you are initiated into the revolution, and I am happy that men like you should take part in such things.”
Urdapilleta. It is true; and you also have taken part in it to guarantee the communications with the enemy.
Minister. Yes; and something more than that. I have much pleasure in exerting myself for the project, and I shall even engage the name of my government, if necessary, because by instructions I am requested to do all I can to secure freedom to the nations of America. I propose going down the river to fetch my communications, which I have not received for some time past, and at the same time I will arrange matters between them, (Benigno and the enemy.)
Urdapilleta. I am glad to hear it, and hope you will do as you say.
Minister. Never fear; it shall be so.
That on another occasion, when deponent was standing at the door of his own house, [Page 814]and Washburn, as he frequently Used to do, passed by, deponent asked him how matters were going.
Minister, (rubbing his hands.) I am awaiting anxiously for my dispatches from my government, and with them the other, (from the enemy.)
Urdapilleta. And will this bring us any good?
Minister. Of course.
That after exchanging a few more words, they talked of the actual state of things, and Washburn said that it was well that Marshal Lopez should have rendered his country famous by his heroic defense of it; that when the war was over, many capitalists would come on a visit, and for the purpose of trading with it on account of its riches; but that, in spite of all this, and of Marshal Lopez having brought to light Paraguay, the government of the marshal in no way suited the nation, because a military chief is constantly inclined to war, and the alternatives of peace and war obstruct the progressive march of the country, because war destroys the wealth produced by peace; on the other hand, the country offered a large field for exploration, and by introducing improvements from abroad—such as machinery, &c.—great and rapid progress might be made if the government were not a military one.
That in one of their conversations Mr. Washburn told deponent that Saturnino Bedoya had offered him his quinta at Ibiray, a handsome two-story building, with furniture and everything necessary, even a servant, without charging anything for it. Deponent thought that this was not of mere friendship, but as a sort of return for Mr. Washburn’s services in the cause of the revolution.
Francisco Rodriguez Larreta, who according to your own testimony is known to have been on terms of intimacy with you, says as follows:
That with regard to the conditions of the secret treaty of the “triple alliance,” Minister Washburn said that although they were too harsh, Paraguay would sooner or later have to submit to them, because the Brazilians were very strong; and if this was later, the sooner it took place the better.
That, as a general principle of international law, Minister Washburn considered inadmissible the pretensions of the allies that his excellency Marshal Lopez should resign the supreme rule of the republic, and believed such a demand an attack on the independence and sovereignty of a constituted country; but in the present state of things he thought such resignation would afford the most efficacious means of bringing the war to an end, and that on this occasion he had resolved to support the revolution.
That when the minister came back from San Fernando he said that he had been able to do nothing with respect to the fate of Benigno Lopez and Saturnino Bedoya, and that he had only heard that Berges had been taken unwell in crossing the Chaco, which led him (Washburn) to believe that if Berges was ill in his house, it was so far reassuring as indicating that he was not a prisoner, and that therefore the revolutionary project was not to be considered as having fallen through, but, on the contrary, still practicable.
That, on the occasion of Leite Pereira presenting himself at the American legation for shelter, Washburn consulted Carreras and deponent as to what point the protection of his house could avail said Leite Pereira under present circumstances. That both deponent and Carreras said that he had in no way the right to give him shelter if he was claimed by the tribunal as being charged criminally; and in order more fully to convince him, they referred him to the principal authors on international law that treat this point, such as Vattel, Martens, Wheaton, Hausefeuille, and Andres Bello; and that, notwithstanding his conviction that he had no right to do so, and knowledge that he (Pereira) was implicated in the revolution, Washburn admitted him into his house.
That Minister Washburn has guaranteed to the revolutionary committee the protection of his house, and promised those who had already taken refuge with him that he would not deliver them up to justice unless compelled to do so by force, as he said himself to deponent, which proved the fact that up to the very moment when deponent and Carreras went out into the streets to place themselves in the hands of justice, Washburn repeated to them that if they did not wish to deliver themselves up they had only to say so, and he would never consent to their being taken away except by main force.
That Minister Washburn entreated deponent and Carreras not to reveal that he had any knowledge of the affairs of the revolution, and not to compromise him in their depositions, offering them every possible assistance in case they remained in Asuncion; that both deponent and Carreras assured him they would not reveal the secret, or in any way betray him.
That in different conversations they had during deponent’s stay at the legation, Washburn expressed his concern in the event of the revolution falling through without their being able to attain the end they sought, in order to put an end to the war, and lamented the probable fate of all those who had taken a part in the plot.
That Minister Washburn received the sum of $140,000 in notes, according to what [Page 815]Washburn himself revealed to deponent; that this money was given to him by Benigno Lopez, in the last days of February or beginning of March, (deponent does not recollect the date exactly;) that the money was carried by two women-servants of Benigno himself on their heads, in two journeys, about dark; that deponent was present once when one of these servants came in with the money; and that the minister placed the sum of $40,000 at the disposal of deponent and Carreras, according to a request he said he had received from Benigno himself. Deponent and Carreras, however, did not take the money, not knowing what to do with it at the time, and consequently the whole amount remained in the minister’s possession.
Dr. Carreras says also:
That Mr. Washburn maintains in principle that although the government of Paraguay is not bound to give in to the pretensions of the allies with regard to the resignation by his excellency Marshal Lopez of the presidency of the republic, still in the present state of things, and owing to the prolongation of the war and the consequent annihilation of the country, it is advisable to make a spontaneous and personal sacrifice, so long as the national independence is sacred; and since the marshal is determined not to give in, and is inspired by a fanaticism to carry on the war until the country is totally distroyed, he (Washburn) thinks that any means is good which will save the nation from so complete a sacrifice, and consequently has approved the plan of the revolution and taken part in it to overturn the marshal by hunger or by the dagger.
Your excellency is also alluded to by Leite Pereira, Antonio Vascon-cellos, and others of the revolutionary party, who have been more or less aware of the important part they say you have taken in it.
But I shall conclude these quotations with one more of ex-Minister Berges’s, who says that when you complained of the want of the necessaries of life, such as sugar, brandy, coffee, wine, and even clothes, as you could find nothing but aguardiente of the country, Berges had remarked that with money and yerba one might get on, (alluding to the fact that Berges himself supplied you with yerba and Benigno with money.) To this deponent goes on to say the minister replied, “It is true that you supply me with yerba, and Benigno has given me some money.”
Deponent said, “It cannot have been a small sum.”
The minister replied, “What Benigno gave me is, at the present rate of exchange, approximately equal to what you gave in North America to Ward and Carlisle.”
For all this, and for the antecedents of which your excellency is aware, my government would have been justified to have broken off some time back all intercourse with a minister who, in the critical circumstances through which the Paraguayan people is passing, figures, by the testimony of the infamous traitors of the country themselves, as one of them. My government, however, ever anxious to give the most unequivocal proofs of its high consideration and regard towards the government of the great American republic, has done no such thing, but only confines itself to remitting to you the passports which you have repeatedly solicited in order to leave the country, and I am happy to inform you that the Wasp, which has come to fetch you, is waiting for you in Villeta, and that a steamer will be in attendance in the port of Asuncion for you and your suite.
Among the individuals of the legation the accused Bliss and Masterman, as not belonging to it, cannot obtain their passports, and they must remain to answer the charges that are hanging over them before the local courts of justice. Neither can Balthazar, Carrera’s servant, leave the country, for which reason his name does not appear in the passport.
Having thus also replied to your note, dated 2d instant, relative to the arrival of the Wasp, I avail myself of the opportunity to renew to your excellency the assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Excellency Charles A. Washburn, Minister Resident of the United States of America.[Page 816]
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Mr. Washburn, the United States minister, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note of his honor Luis Caminos, of the 4th instant, in which, at his conclusion, he says that passports will be furnished as requested to all save Mr. Bliss, Mr. Masterman, and Balthazar, and that a Paraguayan steamer will be ready to-day to take the minister and suite to Villeta, where the United States gunboat Wasp is waiting to receive them on board. Mr. Washburn will endeavor to be ready, if he can obtain the peones or carretas necessary to carry his trunks, boxes, &c., to the banks of the river, and will be greatly obliged to his honor Señor Caminos if he could assist him in procuring them. He has in his possession a large quantity of patacones, belonging mostly to English, who have requested him to send it or take it away in case he should have the opportunity. Will Señor Caminos be kind enough to inform him if the government will object to his doing so?
Señor Caminos to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to notify you of the reception of your verbal note of this date in answer to mine of yesterday.
As Mr. Washburn is not anxious to leave to-day, the steamer will wait for him till to-morrow, so that he need not put his baggage aboard in the rain. I will give the necessary orders for this as well as for the drays he may need.
You will please give me the names of the persons who want to send off money by you, and the quantity that each wishes to send.
I embrace the occasion to offer you the assurance of my distinguished consideration.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Mr. Washburn, the American minister, in answer to your note of to-day, has the honor to state that, from a hasty examination of the contents of the bags and boxes left in his charge by certain English subjects, he has made out the following. Many of the bags and boxes not having their contents marked upon them, and being either sealed or nailed, it is not easy to give the exact amount of each. The list of those which [Page 817]have the quantity marked upon them by the owner is given, and the weight of the bags not counted is given as accurately as possible:
List of patacones.
1 bag of Dr. Skinner, 600 patacones; 1 bag of R. V. Treuenfeld, 287 patacones; 1 small bag. Dr. Stewart, 8 pounds; 1 bag, George Thompson, 291 patacones; another of the same, 800, marked; 1 bag, H. Volpy, not marked, 47½ pounds; another bag, George Thompson, 153 patacones; 1 bag, Charles Twite, 100 patacones; 1 large bag of Charles Twite, not counted, 70 pounds; another, sd., George Thompson, not counted, 48½ pounds; 1 parcel of George Thompson, not counted, 41 pounds; 1 parcel of George Thompson, marked 400 patacones, 500 paper; 1 tin box of Michael Hunter, weighs 52 pounds; 1 bag of George Thompson, weighs 10½ pounds; 1 box of Charles Schutt, weighs 26 pounds; 1 box of C. H. Thompson, not counted; 1 box of Michael Hunter, not counted, 19 pounds; 1 bag of Michael Hunter, not counted, 300 patacones; 1 bag of Dr. Skinner, not counted, 822 patacones; 1 bag of Alonzo Taylor, not counted, 60 pounds; 2 bags of H. Volpy, not counted, 300 patacones each; 1 bag of C. Twite, not counted 18 pounds; 1 bag more, large, of C. Twite, not counted; 1 bag more, small, of C. Twite, not counted, 200 patacones; 1 bag of C. H. Thompson, contents unknown; 1 bag of Michael Hunter, contents not marked; 1 bag of Mrs. Thomas; 1 bag of G. T. Maggs, contents unknown; 1 balize of G. T. Maggs, contents unknown; 1 balize of J. Cambridge, contents unknown; 1 box of J. Cambridge, contents not marked; 1 box of R. Y. Treuenfeld, contents not marked; 1 large box of Alonzo Taylor, contents unknown; 1 trunk, marked Dr. Stewart, contents unknown; 1 bag of Charles Twite, 200 patacones; 1 bag of P. Burrell, 260 patacones; 1 package of Dr. Skinner, 260 patacones; 1 bag of Michael Hunter, 300 patacones; 1 bag of Miss Eden, not counted; 1 bag of Mr. Volpy, 315 patacones; 1 bag of Miss Grant, 310 patacones; 1 box of C. H. Thompson, contents unknown; 1 box of R. V. Treuenfeld, contents unknown.
Others, not English, have left money in charge of this legation with the same request, but the above list contains the large part of what is in its possession. Some, however, have left their property in iron safes that the American minister will be unable to take, and these, with the trunks and boxes that he will be unable to deliver to their owners before his departure, he will leave in his house, to be given to their owners by his successor, or by such other persons as may be duly authorized by his government to deliver them, as also are left a part of the archives of the legation.
Señor Caminos to Mr. Washburn.
After answering your verbal note of yesterday officially, another note comes to me, and in it you say that other persons not English had left money with you to be taken away, but that the list you sent contained the most of what you had; and you add, that some may have left their property in safes that you could not carry, and that you left them in your house, to be delivered to the owners by your successor and some person [Page 818]appointed by the government, and that you were also going to leave a part of the archives of the legation.
I must say, Mr. Minister, that your manner of treating this matter verbally seems very singular to me, particularly as it is of such importance, and consequently I make the following reply:
1. The English alluded to are those who are in the government service and wish to aid their families abroad by their pay, and it is not meant as a particular favor to the English nation to the slight of other nations friendly to Paraguay.
2. Whatever commission you may have received from persons not mentioned to take away their money, you cannot do it without due obedience to the laws of the country in such cases made and provided.
3. It appears, from cases already decided, that several criminals deposited their robberies of the treasury in your house, when the money does not belong to them, and cannot be taken out of the country legally.
4. My government will not be responsible for effects at your legation after you have left it, particularly as it is in a hired house; nor is there any law to prevent the owner from taking possession of it whenever he pleases; and therefore, if you leave anything there, no matter what it is, it will be considered as abandoned property. It would be entirely different if your successor had arrived; but he has not yet been announced, and when you quit the house no person shall enter it, for then the evacuation of Asuncion will be complete, as you were the only person who refused to leave the city.
I cannot understand your reasons, Mr. Minister, for abandoning a house in a depopulated city, where you were the only inhabitant, and leaving the archives of your legation in it; but as it is not my business to demand your reasons for anything you do, in respect to the great American republic, I offer to receive under seal all the papers of the legation, and to hold them subject to the order of the American government.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday, in which your honor makes certain objections to my taking away money belonging to other people than those in the government employ, or for persons whose names are not given. In reply to this I will remark, that there are only two persons having money here to my knowledge, which I should feel authorized to take away. These two are Domingo Parodi, Italian, and Carlos Ulrich, German. The former has left with me two bags marked 800 pats, each, and a light box supposed to contain jewelry. The latter has left with me a box marked 709 pats. There is, however, a bag of patacones here belonging to Mrs. Grant, widow of the late Win. Grant, which I promised to send her, and for which I shall be held responsible. That is all the money not belonging to myself that I propose to carry away. I have no interest in it, and only wish to take it as a favor to the owners. But if your government objects, I shall only ask that its decision may be soon made known to me, for as soon as this matter is arranged I shall be ready to depart. In fact, my own affairs [Page 819]are ready, and I am anxious to be off, as I know the commander of the Wasp is very impatient to return to Buenos Ayres. Will you have the kindness to advise me at the earliest moment of the hour when the steamer is to start?
Should your government not object to my taking away the money above referred to, your honor will do me a great favor if you could advise the owners to send me a couple of strong boxes to pack it in, and at the same time send a clerk to take an account of it. A part of the sum mentioned in my list of yesterday was delivered to the order of Messrs. Hunter and Nesbet.
Respecting the archives of the legation and the former consulate, which I shall not take with me, I shall leave them in the office of the legation, not expecting any further care or responsibility on the part of the Paraguayan government than for the house or property of any foreigner.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the passports, for which please accept my thanks.
I improve this occasion to tender to your honor assurances of high regard and distinguished consideration,
His Honor Luis Caminos, Acting Minister of Foreign Relations.
Señor Caminos to Mr. Washburn.
Your note of this morning, in answer to mine of yesterday, is in hand, and as I have already answered you orally, I maintain what I said in my note to you yesterday.
In relation to the money which you said you thought you had a right to take away with you, I will inform you that you can only take Parodies and that belonging to the widow of Alexander Grant, after having satisfied the law. Charles Ulrich’s case is different: he received large sums from the treasury, and you will please deliver it to the police. On your last visit to the department I gave you the names of some ladies who heard you were remaining to deliver them the deposits they made with you, and now other persons have come to claim their deposits, and it is to be hoped, Mr. Minister, that you will delay your departure till their requests can be complied with.
I regret the occasion of this delay; but this is simple justice to families that would foe bankrupt if they lost the money they had deposited in the American legation. I will order the steamer to wait until you have refunded all the deposits, and if you will give me the names of the depositors I will assist you in finding them out.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.[Page 820]
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Sir: In my note of yesterday, in speaking of the money in my possession belonging to persons in the service of the government, I observed that if no objection was made I would be willing to take it away, but that in that case it would be a favor to me to have the owners send a couple of strong boxes to put it in, and to have some official to take an account of it. But as I have received no answer to this proposition I shall proceed, if not otherwise advised by you, to put it in such boxes as I can find, and, with your permission, will send it aboard the steamer.
Your honor will permit me to repeat my verbal request of yesterday, that Mrs. Leite Pereira may be furnished with a pass to go to her country house. I understood from your honor that it would be granted, but I sent my servant for it yesterday and he was unable to obtain it.
I improve this occasion to renew to your honor assurances of high regard and distinguished consideration.
His Honor Luis Caminos, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday, in which your honor informs me that the money left with me belonging to Señor Parodi, and that of Mrs. Grant, I should be permitted to take with me, paying the duty. Mr. Parodi has already taken his away, and I will pay the duty on the three hundred patacones of Mrs. Grant. Ulrich’s money will be left with the other things in my house. Your honor also informs me that many people who have left their valuables in my house are desirous of taking them away before my departure, and the hope is expressed that I will delay my voyage till they may be able to do so, as some of them will be rendered insolvent if unable to recover their property now in my possession. In answer to this, I will observe that all these things will be left in two or three rooms of this house, the keys of which will be sent to the care of your honor, so that I do not see why they may not recover them as well after my departure as before, and I shall therefore decline to delay my voyage a single hour for such purpose. I am ready to go now, at an hour’s notice, and have been so ever since I received my passports, and if I do not leave to-day it will be because I am unable to do so. Your honor will know at what hour the steamer will leave, and till near that time I shall be happy to deliver to their owners any things in my possession.
I improve this occasion to tender to your honor assurances of high regard and distinguished consideration.
His Honor Luis Caminos, Acting Minister of Foreign Relations.[Page 821]
Señor Caminos to Mr. Washburn.
I have received two notes from you to-day; one about taking away money belonging to persons in government service, and about a passport for Mrs. Leite Pereira. The first question has been settled, as you will find in my note, and a pass is not needed for the lady, as the police is informed of her intended departure with you for Trinidad.
The second note, in answer to mine of yesterday, says: Mr. Parodi has drawn his money, and will pay the duty on the three hundred dollars of Mrs. Grant, and Mr. Ulrich’s would be left in the house with the goods of other persons; and you said all the other property would be locked up in the house and the keys given to me, and you did not see why the owners could not get their property after you were gone as well as they could before, and you would not stop for that.
Allow me to disagree with you: First, Because only you and the depositors know anything about the deposits, their nature and value. Second, If locked in two or three rooms, who could deliver them but yourself? Third, Who could know anything about the claims, where no receipts had been given, but yourself? Fourth, In case of deposits missing, who could be responsible but you? Fifth, I will not receive the keys you propose to leave with me; who, then, will open the rooms and distribute the goods?
As to Ulrich’s money, I have already told you it must be delivered to the police, and not left in the house.
You are mistaken when you say I prevent your departure. The persons whose money you have demand your delay and the return of their deposits.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday, in which you express entire dissent from the course that I had proposed to take at my departure from Paraguay. Having received my passports, I can have no further discussion on points of a diplomatic character. All the persons who left their property with me did it at their own risk and responsibility, as I told them that neither I nor my government would be responsible for anything left with me. I certainly shall not assume any such responsibility now. As people have made infamous charges against me in connection with another matter, false in every particular, the same parties, or perhaps others, may allege that they have left untold sums of money with me that I have refused to deliver; or it may, for aught I know, be weeks before the parties who have left their goods with me come to claim them. In that case am I to be detained in the country till they are all taken away? In your earlier [Page 822]note of yesterday your honor observes that numerous persons have solicited my delay, both Paraguayans and foreigners, in order to withdraw their effects previous to my departure. Why have they not, in the meanwhile, come for them? A few foreigners have done so, but not a single Paraguayan. How long am I expected to wait?
Your honor remarks that persons having their property deposited in my house solicited my detention, according to the laws of the country, till they could take it away. Had those persons been aware that a foreign minister is subject to the laws of nations only, and not to the laws of the country to which he is accredited, they would not probably have made such a request.
In regard to the money left in my hands by Charles Ulrich, I will remark that three of the rooms occupied by this legation, numbered 97, 99, and 101, were rented by me from the said Ulrich, and that he has other property in them. Desiring to meet your views as far as I can consistently with my duty, this box of money will be left by me with the other things belonging to Ulrich in these rooms, over which I shall claim no legation privileges from this time, and the keys will be delivered to your honor, or to such person as may be designated to receive them, whenever they may be called for.
I am willing to do anything in reason, Mr. Minister, to facilitate persons in obtaining possession of their property; but as I only received it as a favor to them, at their own risk, I do not consider I am under any obligations to remain here on their account. The most of my trunks are already on board of the steamer, and we are left without many things absolutely necessary for health and comfort. In your note of the 4th instant you advised me that a steamer would be ready to take me away and put me aboard the Wasp on the following day, and in your note of yesterday you say that you will order the steamer to still wait for me. I trust that the offers thus made may be so far complied with that I may be able to leave to-day.
I am sorry, Mr. Minister, to feel that I ought not to conform to your views, and I therefore ask again for the means of going on board the Wasp, that has been waiting to receive me for more than a week.
With this note I send another for Captain Kirkland, commanding the Wasp, which I beg your honor to forward to him as soon as possible,
I improve this occasion to renew assurances of high consideration.
His Honor Luis Caminos, Acting Minister of Foreign Relations.
Señor Caminos to Mr. Washburn.
I have the honor to notify you of the reception of your note of this date, asking my assistance to enable you to get away. I answer briefly.
I intended to have no more diplomatic intercourse with you after I sent you your passport, and if I have exchanged a few notes with you the reasons were justified by their contents.
If the persons who deposited their property in your hands did so at their own risk, though you assumed no responsibility for yourself or [Page 823]your government, it does not seem to me to be very honorable in the minister of a nation so much respected by our people to abandon those deposits, unless compelled to do so by superior force.
To save you the delay of weeks, as you say, waiting for people to withdraw their deposits, I proposed to notify them as soon as you furnished their names to do so, or run the risk of their loss; but you did not accept my proposal.
As to false claims that may be made for fabulous sums, you are the best judge. You say a few foreigners have withdrawn their deposits, while no native has appeared, and you cannot account for it. I account for it in this way: As all the natives went to the country, they have not had the time to return and withdraw their deposits.
I will order the police to receive the keys of Nos. 97, 99, and 101, to which you refer, containing the goods of Mr. Charles Ulrich.
I regret, Mr. Minister, that you cannot have your carriage put on board; but this inconvenience might have been avoided had your own conduct been different.
To hasten your departure, and seeing that you are willing to give up the goods to their owners, let me suggest that you leave them with the agent of some friendly power, who will deliver them up according to your direction; or, if this does not suit you, select some trusty person of a mercantile firm to make the distribution. I will not object to your choice of any foreigner of your acquaintance, who may be in the service of the government, for that purpose.
Finally, I propose, in case you are determined to abandon the property, to send an officer of the government to take care of it, provided you will give a certified list of the goods, with the documents received with them, so that the owners may come and get them upon receipts you may have given, or meet together and decide among themselves who are the proper owners. I take no responsibility for the officer nor for the government, as neither knew of the deposits; and any future dispute must be between you and the depositors.
The Rio Apa is at your service whenever you choose to leave, and you can do so to-morrow if you like, if you will settle the little difficulty about the deposits, as you seem disposed to do.
If you still entertain a suspicion that I wish to delay your departure, I hope the tenor of this note will remove it.
I have forwarded your note to the commander of the Wasp.
I remain yours, &c.,
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Sir: I thank you very cordially for your note of this day, and accept your suggestion, to leave my house and the property which different persons have left in it in charge of a representative of some neutral power or to some other foreigner of established character and position. In accordance with this proposition I have selected the Italian consul, Señor Chapperson, dean of the consular body in Paraguay, as the most eligible and proper person for this office. I do not know whether he [Page 824]will accept the charge or not, and I have written a telegram to him which I send to the telegraph station at the same time I send this note to your honor. The conditions of responsibility are freely accepted by me, as I have never assumed any; and whenever I have given receipts, which has not been more than two or three times, I have expressly stated in them that the property was left entirely at the risk of the owners. Immediately after hearing from Señor Chapperson I will advise you, and probably shall then be able to inform you of the hour when everything on my part may be arranged for my departure.
I improve this occasion to renew to your honor assurances of high regard and distinguished consideration.
His Honor Luis Caminos, Acting Minister of Foreign Relations.
Señor Caminos to Mr. Washburn.
I hereby acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday, informing me that you had written to the consul of Italy, asking him to take charge of the archives of your legation and of the deposits of valuables left with you, and saying you would notify me of his acceptance of the charge by Mr. Chapperson.
You write me at noon to-day that the charge has been accepted, and that the archives and deposits will remain at the legation, as I suggested.
I cannot consent that the house you occupied shall continue to be the office of the legation after your departure, as it then will be like any other house in the deserted city. But you and Mr. Chapperson are at liberty to keep the archives and deposits in any house you please.
You will notify Mr. Chapperson that, as you have agreed that the deposits be delivered in presence of government officials, one will attend to witness the acts of delivery.
If Mr. Stewart, Skinner, Burrell, and Twite, or any other who has deposited money with you, presents to you, personally or by deputy, a legal permit to take their money away with you, the government will not object, provided the money is legally exported.
The Rio Apa is waiting for you, and I have ordered the necessary assistance in getting your effects on board.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Washburn to Señor Caminos.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday. I had never supposed or claimed that this legation would [Page 825]remain as such, or have any immunities or privileges more than any other house in Asuncion, after I had left the country.
In regard to the delivery of the property of other persons left in my charge, I have requested Señor Chapperson not to deliver it to its owners without the knowledge of the authorities; and as many of the trunke and boxes have no mark or name upon them, I see no objection to the presence of an employé of the government, to make sure that they ars delivered to their rightful owners.
I have no notice from any of the persons still having money in my possession, viz., Stewart, Skinner, Burrell, and Twite, that they have the permission of the government to send it out of the country. I have received, however, a letter from Dr. Skinner, requesting me to deliver his trunk to the minister of war and marine, and take his money away with me. From the others I have only verbal requests, made months ago, to do them the same favor. I therefore shall leave it all in charge of the Italian consul, to be delivered to its rightful owners.
Your honor will pardon me if I again say I am ready and impatient to leave, and as you say the Rio Apa is waiting to receive me, I will remark that as soon as I can send on board my remaining luggage I shall be ready to follow. I certainly hope to get away by 9 o’clock this morning, and get on board the Wasp by mid-day, as our situation hero is very disagreeable.
Will your honor please advise me to whom I am to pay the duties on the three hundred dollars belonging to Mrs. Grant, as payment was refused to be received yesterday at the Capitama del Puerto.
I take this occasion to renew assurances of distinguished consideration.
His Honor Luis Caminos, Acting Minister of Foreign Relations.
Señor Caminos to Mr. Washburn.
I hasten to answer your note of this morning by saying that the Rio Apa is ready to take you to the Wasp, and the commander has orders to start as soon as you get on board.
The three hundred dollars belonging to the Widow Grant are exempted from export duty, in consideration of the services of her late husband, just as a larger sum was exempted when that lady left the country.
Hon. Charles A. Washburn, &c., &c., &c.
Mr. Washburn to President Lopez.
Sir: When Captain Kirkland was about leaving this vessel yesterday to bid farewell to your excellency, I gave him a memorandum of certain [Page 826]things, to which I requested him to call your attention. Captain Kirk-land informs me that on reaching your headquarters he found he had omitted to take this memorandum with him, and therefore was unable to comply fully with my request, having only given the paper a hasty perusal. I therefore take the liberty, at the moment of my departure, of deviating from diplomatic customs, and sending a personal note directed to your excellency. In this memorandum I suggested that he might show you a letter from General Webb, our minister in Rio, from which it would appear that he had almost come to a rupture with that government, by reason of its refusal to permit this vessel to pass above the squadron. This he had done on his own responsibility, without waiting for orders from the United States government, which, on hearing of the outrage, has doubtless taken the most energetic measures to enforce its rights and extricate its minister from a most frightful position. This letter which you saw proves how much truth there was in the declaration of your ex-minister for foreign affairs, José Berges, that I was in collusion with General Webb, and in the interest and pay of the Brazilians.
I have in my possession several letters for Dr. Carreras, which I yesterday requested Captain Kirkland to deliver, but which he refused to do unless I would open them, lest he too should be accused of conveying treasonable correspondence. I herewith send the letters, however, as I do not believe that any treasonable correspondence has ever passed through my hands for or to anybody. In fact, I do not believe there has ever been any conspiracy.
The declarations of Berges, your two brothers Venancio and Benigno, and Sr. Urdepilleta, as given in the notes of your two last ministers of foreign relations, in so far as they implicate me as having any knowledge of a conspiracy, are entirely false, and you know it; and you know that not one of them would confirm or affirm the declaration imputed to him if he were out of your power, but would deny it “in toto,” and declare that he had never made it, or that he had done so under torture. Declarations of that kind, your excellency ought to know, will have no weight outside of Paraguay. Not one word of them will be believed, and that all may not be denied by them, you must not only kill off all the persons who have made them, but all by whom they were extorted.
Before finally leaving Paraguay, it is my duty to make my solemn protest against the arrest of those two members of my legation, Porter Cornelius Bliss and George F. Masterman. Their arrest in the street, as they were going with me from the legation to pass on board the steamer, was as gross a violation ot the law of nations as would have been their seizure by force in my house. It was an act not only against my government, but against all civilized powers, and places Paraguay outside the pale of the family of nations; and for this act you will be regarded as a common enemy, one denying allegiance to the law of nations.
You will also be regarded as a common enemy for having seized and made prisoners, and loaded with fetters, nearly all the foreigners in Paraguay, and afterwards entered their houses and taken away their money, on the miserable pretext that, finding less in your treasury than you expected, those who had any money in the country must therefore have robbed it from the government.
Your threat to Captain Kirkland, on his first arrival, that you would keep me a prisoner in the country, will be duly represented to my government, and I only wish to confirm his reply to you, that had you done so [Page 827]my government would have hunted you not only through all South America, but throughout all Europe.
Your obedient servant,
His Excellency Marshal Lopez, President of Paraguay.
Mr. Bliss to Mr. Goodfellow.
My Dear Sir: Appreciating the friendly interest you have always shown in me, and the kindness with which you have aided my family to obtain news from me during my long detention in Paraguay, I think it proper to send you the present letter by Mr. Washburn, who will doubtless make known to you in detail the unprecedented events which have recently transpired here affecting the rights of all neutral nations, and more especially involving an unexampled violation of the immunities of the American legation, and of the treatment due to an accredited minister of the United States.
You will learn, sir, with surprise, that in common with hundreds of foreigners and natives, comprising almost all the adult males of the country who were not bearing arms, I am accused of belonging to a conspiracy against the government of Marshal Lopez, with the additional aggravation respecting me that I am also charged with belonging to a secret committee, who have put their hands to a compact to assassinate the marshal. You can readily judge of the probabilities of both accusations, and will easily believe me when I say that there is not even the slightest foundation for them, and that, so far from knowing of any conspiracy, I have grave doubts whether any has existed, notwithstanding all the acts of this government, and the so-called confessions of criminals, to be found in the published correspondence between Mr. Washburn and the minister of foreign affairs. This doubt is, I believe, common to all the persons belonging to the American legation.
You will also see the herculean efforts which have been made by this government to fasten upon Mr. Washburn a complicity with the real or pretended revolutionary plot. You will see the false testimony which has been put into the mouths of prominent persons. Much of these statements are self-contradictory, and all of them conflict with each other upon the most essential points; and lastly, they all have this in common, that they furnish no definite information concerning the organization, objects, means, and occasion of action, nor even who were to take the decisive steps; besides, among so many revolutionary papers alluded to, apparently not one of that character has been seized by this government.
But I have no need to discuss the matter further; the truth is evident, and will be recognized by every one in Buenos Ayres. I hope some decided action will proceed from the ministers of neutral nations in Buenos Ayres, though I can scarcely hope that any such action can benefit me, as I am already declared guilty by the government, although not having the slightest idea of the nature of the testimony, necessarily false or forged, which has been or will be produced against me.
All persons in this legation have passed the last two months, since [Page 828]the extradition of myself and Mr. Masterman was demanded, in a state of continual agitation, alternating between hope and despondency, and following the course of the correspondence, which, on the part of this government, has steadily gone from bad to worse.
I desire to bear the strongest testimony to the fact that, as to all the statements implicating Mr. Washburn in the conspiracy, there is not one of whose truth I have any knowledge, and most of them I know to be false. I also wish to bear witness to the unswerving constancy with which he has insisted upon the rights of legation, and done for me all that could be appropriate under the circumstances. Whatever may happen to me, I can meet my fate with a stout heart and perfect confidence in the Great Architect of the universe, knowing that my Redeemer liveth. I have written at large to my family.
Accept my gratitude for favors received from you and Mrs. Good-fellow, to whom I send my love, and regards to all inquiring friends.
Yours, most truly,
Rev. William Goodfellow.
Mr. Bliss to Mr. Davis.
Dear Sir: You will learn from Mr. Washburn of the queer doings that have been going on here for two months past, or, at all events, will learn enough about it from the newspapers. I never thought to be accused of “high treason” by any government under the sun; for, being a musical genius, as you are aware, I am clearly not fit for “treasons, stratagems, and spoils.” Whatever comes of the affair, I desire to bear testimony to the persistent efforts of Mr. Washburn to save myself and Mr. Masterman, my fellow-rascal, (as the official correspondence of the ministry here politely designate us.) Mr. Washburn had liked to have shared the fate of the hero of his own novel, if the United States gunboat Wasp had not very opportunely come to his rescue. As it is, he escapes “by the skin of his teeth,” after all possible obstacles have been put in the way of his departure. The Wasp is now lying but a league below here, but is not allowed to come up. I suppose Mr. Washburn will leave to day, and I shall immediately be nabbed by the twenty or thirty “guardians” who have kindly “looked after me for the last two months.”
I hope for relief from our government in three or four months; that is, if it don’t come too late for any practical purpose, so far as I am concerned.
Please give my best regards to General Webb and family. I hope Mr. Washburn will arrange all little matters between us; please give him any letters or keepsakes of any little value for my family that I left in a trunk with you. I accompany some lines for Mrs. Davis.
Geo. N. Davis, Esq.[Page 829]
Mr. Bliss to Mr. Washburn.
Sir: Finding myself at length relieved from the restraint which your excellency has so long exercised over my will, I cannot do less than express freely and spontaneously the important part which your excellency has taken in the revolution in which you have involved many persons, and among them myself. I have declared (feeling deeply, because I would like to avoid such a scandal to your excellency, but following out the truth) that your excellency has been the soul of the revolution; and if this deed now appears to the light of Heaven confessed to by all its accomplices, to whom does it owe its existence save to your excellency, who has continued its direction up to a very recent period? I consider myself, therefore, completely absolved from the promise which your excellency extorted from me yesterday in your office not to reveal your proceedings, old or new. Even your brilliant speculations with the company of Hopkins, for which your excellency ought to pocket a hundred and odd thousand of patacones, have been put in evidence, as also the gilded pill you made Polidoro and Octaviano swallow, as also the last of Caxias, at the time of your excellency’s celebrated visit of mediation in March, last year.
The object of this letter is, to say to you that I have determined to request from your excellency the delivery to the bearer of my historical manuscripts, which involve a compromise with this government, and which are, without reason, in deposit with your excellency, you having taken possession of them during my illness last year, and because I have forgotten to demand them of you. They consist, as your excellency well knows, of a voluminous history of Paraguay till the year 1810, and some two thousand pages, or more, of notes in Spanish on more recent epochs, with the chronology up to our days.
Also, I beg that your excellency will have the goodness to send me the three letters written by express order of your excellency, for your justification regarding the affairs of the revolution, of which one is addressed to the New York World, another to Rev. Wm. T. Goodfellow, in Buenos Ayres, and the last to my father, Henry Bliss, of New York.
The truth having been fully displayed, these letters cannot serve your excellency for any object, and, since they are false, it suits me no longer to keep the mystery of hypocrisy, and for your own honor your excellency ought to comply strictly with these my demands.
I do not exact from you the English manuscripts which your excellency made me write in a spirit inimical to Paraguay, since these are the property of your excellency; but I advise you, as a friend, not to attempt to fight against the evidence given by infinite witnesses.
I take advantage of the occasion to salute your excellency with distinguished esteem and appreciation.
His Excellency Hon. Charles A. Washburn, United States Minister Resident.
Mr. Washburn to Mr. Stewart.
Sir: When I left Paraguay on the 12th instant, I regret to inform your excellency that nearly all the foreigners in that country, including [Page 830]several of your countrymen, were in prison, and as I am the only person beyond the reach of President Lopez’s power who has any personal knowledge of their situation, it seems to be my duty to give any information I possess to the representatives of the different foreign governments, that, knowing the condition of their unfortunate countrymen, they may take such action as may seem most proper in order to extricate them from their terrible situation. Unless speedy action is taken there may be none left to tell the tale of their annihilation.
To give an idea, therefore, of the situation there, and of the dangers and horrors to which all foreigners in that country are subjected or exposed, I propose to give a brief narrative of the events that have transpired since the 21st of February last. On the evening of that day, on returning from a duck-shooting “paseo,” I learned that several Brazilian ironclads had passed Humaita, and were on the way to the capital, On reaching my house, I was informed that the minister of foreign affairs, José Berges, had sent an urgent request for me to visit him at his office. I immediately complied, when the minister told me that the Brazilian squadron having passed Humaita, and being already half way to Asuncion, the government had ordered an evacuation of the city, and had declared it a military point. He also said the capital was to be removed to Luque, a little village some ten miles from Asuncion, and that he had invited me to visit him in order that I might have such accommodations provided for me at or near Luque as I might select. I replied that whoever else might obey the order of evacuation, I certainly should not. My legation was, for the time, the territory of the United States, and I should remain in it, giving such protection as my house and flag could afford to all who chose to resort to it. I told Señor Berges, also, that the government had no right to compel the foreigners to abandon their houses and property; that if they chose to remain and defend it, taking the risk of exposure to a bombardment of the town, they had a right to do so. He dissented entirely from this view, and on returning to my house I found it full of people, who were anxiously waiting to learn if I would remain in the capital or not. I told them that I should stay, and many more than my house could accommodate asked permission to remain within the legation. I told them that I could not give them all shelter, but if they chose to deposit their valuables in my house I would receive them, but always subject to their own risk; I should give no receipts for anything.
The same evening and the next day people came rushing in in large numbers, bringing their trunks and boxes and several iron safes, all of which were deposited in the different rooms of the legation. The next day people were hurrying terror-stricken from the town, not from fear of the Brazilians, but of a worse enemy, and towards evening several Englishmen came to my house and asked me to permit them with their families to occupy certain vacant rooms in the rear of my legation. As they were all in the government employ, I suggested that it would be more prudent for them to get permission to do so from the authorities. They accordingly asked and obtained the permission, and on the following morning they came with their families, twenty-one persons in all, and took shelter in the legation. The following morning Dr. Antonio de las Carreras, who was the former head of the Oriental government and a most bitter enemy of the Brazilians, fearing lest, if he fell into the hands of the allies, he would be treated as was Leandro Gomez after the fall of Paysandu, came to my house and asked for shelter. He was accompanied by Francisco Bodriguez Larreta, who went to Paraguay as secretary of legation with Dr. Vasquez Sagastume, the Oriental minister [Page 831]resident in 1864, and I gave them a cordial welcome, and they remained with me till July 13. At the time we all thought that the war was virtually over, and that within a few days Asuncion would be in the hands of the Brazilians. Such was the universal wish of everybody, Paraguayans and foreigners alike. On the 24th the iron-clads approached Asuncion, which was defended by a little fort having but one gun of sufficient caliber to do any harm to monitors or iron-clads, and this one so badly mounted, as I was informed afterwards, that it could not be depressed so as to be of any service. As the Brazilians approached this fort they began firing at it, but without injuring it. The fort replied with some half a dozen shots to some thirty-five or forty from the ironclads, when the latter, for some reason inexplicable to me, turned back and went away. No harm was done to the fort, and very little to the town. One shot struck the new palace of the President, but the damage done to it was very trifling. We then supposed that the iron-clads would soon return reinforced, but week passed after week, and month after month, and we could learn nothing of what was going on at the seat of war. Supposing that Lopez was shut up within his intrenchments around Humaita, and that it would be impossible for him to escape with any considerable portion of his army, we thought the duration of the war was only a question of time, a few days more or less. Thus things remained with us, till on the 1st of April we learned, for the first time, that Lopez had abandoned Paso Pucu, and had reached and passed the Tebicuari with the larger part of his army. Thus the end of the war seemed to be indefinitely postponed. Our situation in Asuncion was extremely disagreeable, as it was impossible to obtain many things elsewhere regarded as necessaries of life.
The town was completety deserted, save only that more or less people were permitted to come in occasionally to carry away things that, in their first fright and hurry, they were unable to do. Some incidents occurred which showed that the government, or rather Lopez, for Lopez is the government, did not approve of my keeping so many people in my legation, and therefore all of them who had not been recognized as belonging to it thought it prudent not to venture into the streets. But considering the circumstances, we passed the time more pleasantly than could have been expected. Carreras and Rodriguez were most agreeable and intelligent gentlemen, and Mr. Bliss was an encyclopedia of knowledge on almost every subject. Our Paraguay servant was able to obtain for us all the beef, mandioca, maize, chickens, and eggs required, and sometimes a duck or a turkey; the caña of the country could also be obtained at double the prices of Martell’s best brandy. But the gloom seemed to be darkening every day over the country; scarcely ever did a person come to my house to carry away anything deposited there, but he had to tell of other foreigners recently arrested and taken in fetters to the President’s headquarters at San Fernando. What it all meant no one of us could divine; there was a terrible mystery about it. At length, however, about the 1st of May, I received notice that the United States steamer Wasp had come up as far as Curupayti to take me away, and was there detained by the allied squadron. I knew that Lopez did not wish me to leave Paraguay; that he, like everybody else, was very anxious for me to remain. The foreigners of all nations were especially anxious that I should wait to the end of the war; and many of the better class of Paraguayans, those having most to lose, were exceedingly importunate that I should stay to give them the protection of my flag at the last extremity. Of these the mother of the President was one of the most solicitous. I told them all that I would not abandon them; that I [Page 832]would endure privations and loss to give them any protection in my power, and that if a successor did not come to take my place, or imperative orders from my government to return home, I would stand by them to the last. I knew also, or at least had no doubt, that if I had proposed to go away and had asked Lopez for means of conveyance to pass through the allied lines to embark on the Wasp, he would not have granted my request. I therefore wrote to the commander of the Wasp that if he did not come above the squadron my family could not get aboard of his steamer, and I therefore urged him very strongly to force the blockade. My great object was to get my wife and child out of the country, and if the Wasp was once above the military lines I could go or not, with or without the permission or favor of his Excellency Marshal Lopez, if, on the arrival of the steamer, it should appear to be my duty to do so. I was disposed, however, to remain, as I knew that if I left I should carry with me the last hope of hundreds or thousands. They all seemed to think that in any contingency my house and person would be inviolate. I did not fully share this opinion, but I nevertheless thought if I could get my family away so much would be gained, and then it would be my duty to remain. With this view I went down to San Fer nando to see President Lopez and confer with him in regard to the passage of the Wasp above the Brazilian squadron. I found him reserved and glum, though evidently desirous that the Wasp should come through; and before leaving to return to Asuncion he promised to forward my letter to Captain Kirkland by flag of truce, and gave me letters to inclose to his commanders at Humaita and Curupayti to allow the Wasp to pass without molestation. In my conversations with Lopez he expressed great dissatisfaction that I had admitted so many persons into my house. My communication to Captain Kirkland being dispatched, I returned to Asuncion. The Wasp, however, did not at that time go above the squadron, and we were then all left in uncertainty whether or not anything would come to our rescue ere it was too late. The arrests of foreigners continued, but for what object or for what offense no one could imagine. The few people I saw were more frightened and shy than ever. Nothing, however, of importance occurred till, on the 16th of June, we were surprised by the appearance of the acting Portuguese consul, José Maria Leite Pereira, and his wife, who came to ask the protection of my house and flag. Of the events that followed this I refer you for information to the correspondence I had in regard to it, published in the Sema-nario. First, the government desired to know if the said Leite Pereira was in my house. I replied in the affirmative, but denied the right of the government to question me as to the persons in my legation, and that if it knew or suspected any obnoxious person to be within it, a specific allegation of his offense must be made before I should be under obligations to send him away. Some two weeks passed after the first call for him was made before it was repeated, and in the mean while we all began to cherish the hope that he would not be molested. His whole offense, so far as I knew then or know now, was the crime which, among civilized men, would be considered venial, if not meritorious, of spending all his own money and all he could borrow to relieve the prisoners who fell into the hands of Lopez, relying on them or their respective governments to repay him after the war. On the morning of his coming to my house, however, he had received notice that his consular character would no longer be respected, and as he had previously been cautioned that Lopez was badly affected towards him, he considered the withdrawal of his exequatur as but a prelude to imprisonment, irons, and starvation; he therefore fled, with his wife, to the United States legation, hoping to [Page 833]find shelter and protection. It was accorded him without hesitation, though regarded by me as an unwise and imprudent step on his part. On the 11th of July, however, the dream of security was dispelled by the receipt of the letter from the acting minister of foreign relations, Gumesindo Benitez, published in the Semanario of July, in which the government demanded the dismissal, on the following day, not only of Leite Pereira, but of everybody else in my house that did not belong to the legation. Pereira and the English left accordingly, though “I told them all that I did not send them away, and that if they chose to remain they might do so, and I would never deliver up one of them until some specific crime was alleged against them.” They all thought, however, it was best for them to go, and the English requested me to go and see Colonel Fernandez, the military commander at Asuncion, the men offering to resume work in the arsenal, and requesting to be advised of the points to which the women and children would be sent. The house was surrounded by as many as forty policemen, and they were all afraid of being taken immediately to prison. Fernandez, however, pledged me his word of honor that they should not be molested by the police, but should be well treated, and said the men would be again taken into the service on condition of making new contracts. The men had made the offer only because they thought it better to go to work than go to prison. They accordingly left the legation in the afternoon, and were directed to the railway station, where they were most miserably provided for, notwithstanding that Fernandez had pledged his word of honor that they should be well treated. They remained in that situation for about a week, when they disappeared, and I know not what has become of them. I have heard that the women and children were sent to a village about four leagues from Asuncion, called San Lorenzo, and that the men had, like most of the other foreigners in Paraguay, been taken in irons to the army headquarters. Leite Pereira left about five p. m. of the same day, and was arrested as soon as he got into the street. Of his subsequent fate I know nothing. On the same day I wrote a letter to Benitez, advising him that the Portuguese consul and the English had left voluntarily, but that as no charge had been made against Carreras or Rod-riguez, and they preferred to stay in the legation, and as such was also my wish, I presumed no objection would be made to it. By sunrise, however, the next morning, I received another letter still more urgent, demanding that they should leave my house by one o’clock of that day. Still no specific charge was made against them, and I told them that they might go or stay as they thought best, but that they would have the protection of my house and flag until they were taken by force, or till some direct crime was laid to their charge. They both said that if I would promise to remain till the end of the war they would not deliver themselves up, as it was impossible for any specific charge to be brought against them, and they did not believe that Lopez would venture to take them out of the legation by force; but I could not promise to remain to the end of the war, and they therefore said it was better that they should go at once than to enrage Lopez by remaining, when at last they would probably fall into his hands. They accordingly left at twelve m. of the 13th of July, but not till I had shown them my letter of the same date to Benitez, in which I gave my reasons for believing that the government could have nothing serious against them, and that in regard to Rod-riguez, even if it had, they had no right to touch him, as he was entitled to diplomatic immunities.
This letter I sent the same afternoon to Benitez, and as all were then gone who did not belong to the legation, I thought that I should be left [Page 834]to a dismal peace. Before night, however, came another letter demanding that I should likewise send away two members of my legation, P. C. Bliss and G. F. Masterman, whose names as such had long before been given in to the ministry for foreign affairs.
At this point I made a stand, as you will see by the published correspondence, and, by fencing and fighting to the best of my ability, saying some flattering things about Lopez, I kept them with me till my final departure. I admit that I purposely prolonged the correspondence, in hope of saving these two men. They were arrested, however, as they started to accompany me to the steamer, at the moment of leaving the legation, taken by force from my side, and their subsequent fate may be guessed at from what I shall hereafter relate.
May none ever know the dreary uncertainty of the last two months and a half of my life in Paraguay. To see men with whom you have had the most friendly relations for months, with whom you have discussed questions of history and politics every day, varying the monotony of the days with billiards and of the evenings with whist, and yet to feel that of these very men with whom you were talking over the situation one or more might be in irons in one hour, and shot within twenty-four. Certainly you will allow that this was enough to render even the sleep of a brave man fitful and uneasy, and of a man like me, without such pretensions, utterly inadequate to “knit up the raveled sleeve of care.” And up to this time we had not the least idea of what it was all about. No such word as treason or conspiracy had, to my knowledge, ever been heard in my house. What could Lopez want? Was it his plan to kill off all foreigners, that no one may be left to tell the story of his enormities? Did he seek to blot out the record of his crimes? If so, the minister was no safer than the other members of the legation. But as Bliss and Masterman were not taken for several weeks after the departure of Garreras and Rodriguez, we gradually got into a more normal state. The conduct of persons accused in the time of the French revolution, whose levity in the prospect of death seems incredible, appeared to us, as we often remarked, no longer strange; but to the credit of Bliss and Masterman, though not to myself, as I did not consider my danger as great as theirs, I will say we scoffed at the dangers before us, and talked, joked, and laughed as freely as though we had nothing to fear. At this point I may remark that, from the time that Leite Pereira came to my house, it was always surrounded by at least a dozen policemen, and that frequently, on looking out in front, I have counted more than that number on one side. Probably fifty men, who might otherwise have been in the army, were kept night and day to watch me and the members of my legation. In the mean while we could hear scarcely anything of what was going on. With the exception of the consuls, who occasionally came in from Luque, no one ever came to my house, and my Paraguayan servants, if they learned anything, feared to tell it. I did learn, however, that about the time that the great sweep was made from my house, the brother of the President, Venancio Lopez, was carried off in irons to the army headquarters. His other brother, Benigno, had been called below long before, and when I visited his excellency at San Fernando, in the early part of May, Don Benigno and the minister of foreign affairs, Berges, were both close prisoners, as was the President’s brother-in-law, Saturnino Bedoya. The old Vice-President, Sanchez, who had previously been a prisoner, was then allowed to leave his house, but neither he nor any Paraguayan dared approach me or be seen with me.
For a time we feared it was the intention of Lopez to cut the throats [Page 835]of all the foreigners, as we knew but little of any arrests at that time of Paraguayans. If they were arrested, they were taken off so quietly that we might or might not hear anything of it for weeks or months. But while the English who had been in the legation were detained in the railway station, the train came in one night at midnight full of prisoners. The English could see nothing, as no light was allowed in the station, but the clanking of the chains and the sighs and groans of the prisoners as they were forced from the cars and driven forward towards the bank of the river were distinctly audible. They were all embarked in a steamer for San Fernando before daylight. A few days after I learned that this crowd of prisoners was almost entirely composed of Paraguayans; that nearly every man in the new capital, the judges, clerks, accountants, and all, save the chief of police, Sanabria, a man eminently distinguished for his brutality, Benitez, and the vice-president, were the only ones left there, besides policemen and soldiers; that there was a gloom over the place so deep and funeral-like that the women and children scarcely ventured out of their houses, and if they did, it was with fear, as if they had just felt the shock of an earthquake and were in dread of another.
For more than fifty years the country has been a Dionysius gallery. It was always the policy of Francia, and of Carlos Antonio Lopez, that everything said should reach the ear of “El Supremo.” But in the worst days of Francia the government was mild and paternal compared with what it has been under this younger Lopez. People have been thrown into prison not only for saying things perfectly innocent, and for not reporting what they have heard, but also for the crime of not reporting what they have not heard. It is made the duty of everybody to be a spy on everybody else, and woe to him whose ears are not open to every word spoken in his presence.
The arrest of all the civil magistrates indicated that it was not the foreigners alone that had made themselves obnoxious to Lopez. But what it was all for no one in my house, as I yet firmly believe, had the least idea. The published correspondence, however, will show that about the 18th or 20th of July the government suspected, or affected to suspect, a conspiracy, alleging that ex-Minister Berges was a traitor, and was in collusion with the enemy, and that under my official seal I had transmitted the correspondence to and fro between the conspirators. I must refer you to the published correspondence to show how they undertook to connect me with the conspiracy, or, at least, as knowing that a revolution was in contemplation. At first it would seem that they were so confident of implicating me that they began to publish the correspondence; but after receiving my letter of the 11th of August, in which I showed so many contradictions in the declarations that had been made by the accused, probably under torture, that they suspended further publications. But it was not in the nature of Lopez to show any magnanimity, or even justice, by acknowledging he had been lead into error by false depositions. Men who know him would as soon accuse him of ordinary courage as of magnanimity, and he never was accused of that, except in his own “Semanario,” of which he is virtually the editor. During all this war Lopez has never exposed himself to any personal danger; he has never on asingle occasion risked himself in any battle, and while he was at Paso Pucu he had an immense cave, or rather house, with walls of earth over twenty feet thick, from which he never ventured for weeks together; and at the same time that his organ was filled ad nauseum with accounts of the great Lopez leading with dauntless valor his legions to victory, he was sitting quaking and quivering in his cave, [Page 836]afraid to venture out lest a ball might reach him. On one occasion, some two years ago, when he was out with his bishop and his staff, a shell struck at a distance of half a mile or more from his excellency. Instantly the brave Lopez turned and ran like a scared sheep, with his staff, including the bishop, after him, the latter losing his hat as he fled affrighted after his chief. This is the only instance known of his ever having been in personal danger; he has not even the vulgar merit of personal courage, nor has he any other. His firmness, carried to obstinacy, is the result of personal fear. Many persons, his own people, who have escaped from his power, and whose families have been tortured and otherwise persecuted to death, have sent messages to him threatening to kill him at sight should they ever meet him; he therefore dares not treat with the enemy, for so many have sworn to pursue him, the world will not afford him a refuge if he once has no army between him and his enemies. He knows the country to be lost and ruined; he has no navy, and in my opinion not more than one-fifth of the land forces of the enemy. Why the latter do not attack him and put an end to the war I do not know; but they do not do so, and the war may not end for a long time. Lopez has recently said he expected to be compelled soon to fall back from the river, and then he would retire into the mountains, driving everybody, foreigners and Paraguayans alike, before him. In that case, at the rate the allies have been going on for the last two years, it will be long before he will be unable to present as strong a front to his enemies as he did when they landed above the Tebicuari, viz, one man to watch the telegraph.
It was not, however, till August that I heard, besides the conspiracy against the government, that there had been a great robbery of the public treasury. Of the particulars of this robbery I could never learn anything; neither did I ever have any knowledge of the details of the plan of the conspiracy. It was said in one of Benitez’s letters that Mr. Bliss, a member of my legation, had signed a paper, with others, in which they had engaged to assassinate President Lopez. I knew that was false, or, at least, had no doubt that it was so, and defied them to produce any such paper; but they never showed it. They never gave me any clue as to the manner of the conspiracy, or how the revolution was to be effected, and I do not believe to this day that anything of the kind was ever attempted. The declarations of prisoners prove nothing except the merciless cruelties of Lopez, for it is known that he freely employs the torture. He loads his prisoners with heavy fetters, sometimes two, three, or four pairs, and besides flogs them, if they do not give the testimony he requires, till they die.
The only explanation I can give in regard to the robbery of the treasury is this: since Lopez came into power he has never had a competent bookkeeper in his employ, and very probably has never known till recently how much money had been left by his predecessor. He has been spending largely ever since, and probably no accurate account has ever been kept of the amount paid out according to his order. After the city was evacuated, however, in February, he probably had occasion to count his money, and found a large hole in the bottom of his treasury. This discovery was not probably made till some months after the removal to Luque, as about the month of June we found that all those foreigners who had made any money during the past years, and were most likely to have any in their houses, were arrested and sent below. Among them were English, French, Italians, Spanish, Germans, and Portuguese. The plan of Lopez appears to be to get this money into his hands, and then by torture or threats to extort confessions of being either conspirators [Page 837]or plunderers of the treasury. On these confessions they will probably be executed, on the precautionary principle of footpads and other murderers, that “dead men tell no tales.” How Lopez expects to escape with the money thus obtained I do not know. Perhaps he thinks that some neutral gunboat will take him and his plunder away at the last moment. But I here give notice that the money thus taken does not belong to Lopez. It is the property of citizens of those powers that are able to pursue it and return it to its rightful owners.
Your excellency, as all the world, probably wonders how it is, if Lopez be the character I have described him, that he is served so faithfully and bravely. It is entirely through fear, for, save and except a few of the most willing instruments of his cruelties, like his favorite mistress, his bishop, Luis Caminos, Sanabria, and a few others, who have evinced most alacrity in doing his bloody work, there is not a man, woman, or child (I do not except either his mother, sister, or brothers) who would not thank God if he would take him to another world where his deserts could be more adequately rewarded.
Why then do the Paraguayans fight so bravely? It is not because of their superior courage, nor of their devotion to Lopez. That they are a brave and enduring people cannot be denied. But the reason why they fight so desperately is this, that, according to Lopez’s system of discipline, there is always more danger in giving way than in going on. He has no confidence in his troops, and always seems to act under the belief that they would desert if they could get a chance. He, therefore, in going into battle, advances his first lines, with orders to fight to the death. A little in the rear is a smaller body, with orders to shoot down the first man who gives way or attempts to desert. Behind these are still others, with orders to shoot any one who fails to bring down any one in front who does not fight to the death; and behind those again are others with like instructions, until at last the threads are all gathered in the hands of Lopez. If, in spite of all these precautions, a point is carried by the enemy, his unhappy officers who survive are shot and the men decimated. Under this system he has lost at least one hundred thousand men, probably more than the Brazilians, and yet this system, though it has not left six thousand able-bodied men in the country, has kept from three to six times as many of the allied forces at bay.
The country is entirely denuded of its male population. All the ploughing, planting, and sowing is done by women; women must yoke the oxen, do the butchering, and all the other work usually done by men. There are many women also with the army, to do the labor of men, and thus relieve the troops, but none, I believe, are forced to bear arms.
The next news that we shall probably hear from Lopez is that he has retired with his whole army to the mountains, and that he has driven every man, woman, and child before him. Had not the Wasp arrived till a month later, I have no doubt that I should have been forced to do the same. To the last moment Lopez hesitated whether to keep me a prisoner or not; he wants no one to survive him capable of telling the world of his enormities; and of all those whose declarations have been given in the correspondence lately published, not one will be allowed to escape, nor will any of those persons before whom they were made. For, once beyond the reach of Lopez, they would declare that they had never made them, or had made them under torture.
Since arriving in this city I have seen a letter that was brought by the Wasp, evidently written at the dictation of Lopez, in which some details are given of the nature of the plot or conspiracy. This is the first information I had of the kind of plot that had been discovered, and [Page 838]the absurdity of the whole thing convinces me more strongly than ever that there never has been any plot or conspiracy at all.
How long is this war to last? For more than a year and a half I have believed that Lopez would not hold out for two months longer; but I had no idea how slowly some people could move, if they resolutely set themselves not to fight.
With the hope that the war would end shortly, I remained a year longer than I intended, very much against my interest, and suffering great discomfort. I believe that at the final catastrophe I could be of great service, especially to the foreigners; and had Asuncion been taken in February, when the iron-clads went up there, as we then expected it would be, I should doubtless have been able to save the lives of many who now will never see their native land again. But when all of them had been killed or made prisoners, and nobody, native or foreigner, dared come near my house, and I was utterly powerless to do any service for anybody, I thought it time to obey the orders of my government and return to the United States.
Your obedient servant,
His Excellency Hon. William Stuart, Her Britannic Majesty’s Minister Plenipotentiary, Buenos Ayres.[Page ]