Deposition of the accused, George Frederick Masterman, made on the 11th of September.
Says he has resided seven years in Asuncion, where he was engaged by the government as apothecary, and continued the business till September; that he was arrested for disobedience to the orders of the commander of the city, in not giving up letters directed to Dr. Rhind, that should have passed through the post office; that he is a Protestant in religious belief.
Says the minister of the United States procured his release in September to attend his lady in her confinement, and Doctor Rhind, who is also an Englishman in the service of Paraguay, having told him that the government would not prosecute him, he remained in Mr. Washburn’s family as physician, and lodged with the secretary of the legation in the second court of the house.
Believes he was imprisoned because suspected of knowing of a conspiracy in the city; that Dr. Carreras told him, when he went to live at the legation in February, at the time the enemy’s iron-clads came up, that the war was nearly over, and a revolution was organizing to put an end to it and establish a more liberal government; that a committee of eminent men had been chosen to form it, but he did not say who they were, or give the plans of the new government; and he heard Carreras and Rodriguez, both of whom were in the legation, talk to Minister Washburn about the conspiracy, and he heard them say that Washburn was interested in it, and intended to act with the committee in favor of the revolution; and he had often heard the minister say that Lopez was no general, for he lost many men for want of skill and by mismanagement, and it would be well to change the government, and he was in favor of it. Says that when Dr. Carrera spoke to him of the revolution, he invited him to take part in the conspiracy, but he gave him an evasive answer, and said he thought a change of government would produce beneficial results, yet he did not wish to take an active part in the revolution.
That the minister was constantly lamenting that he could not make money in the country; only a few days previous to the deponent’s arrest, speaking of the war, the minister said: “I could be of great service to Lopez by bringing about a peace with the enemy, and I would do it if only the marshal would treat me well;” and the deponent understood this to mean a good sum of money, for the minister is very covetous, and complained that the government of Paraguay had never given him anything but a few bales of native tea.
Mr. Bliss was also mixed up with the revolution, and always spoke contemptuously of Paraguay and in favor of the revolutionary movement, but deponent cannot say what part he would have taken, for he did not often converse with him, being much occupied with his scientific researches. Previous to the evacuation Bliss lived in front of the legation, and only came there in March, with Mr. Manlove, another North American who lived near the legation, and had been arrested for riding in the streets after the order of evacuation, and also another time for opening the house of Mr. Narciso Lasserre, a Frenchman, without giving notice to the police, and taking some things out of it after the evacuation. Mr. Bliss was then at the legation and passed his time in teaching Mr. Rodriguez English, rooming with him and Carreras, and in translating the notes of the minister of foreign relations into English, said notes being on the subject of asylum in the legation, and about persons engaged in the conspiracy to stop the war and form a new government for the republic.
That on the 10th instant, at eleven o’clock in the morning, before going out, Minister Washburn called Mr. Bliss aside and spoke to him for a quarter of an hour; and then told the deponent what he had said to Dr. Carreras and Rodriguez, and charged him not to say anything about it; the minister appeared excited and anxious.
All he knows about the affairs of the American legation is what Mr. Washburn told him, as follows:
That soon after the minister’s visit last year to the enemy’s camp, under pretext of effecting a compromise with the allies, and thus bring about peace, he told him it was all a sham, as he went to see which side would give him the most money. Caxias offered him 20,000 gold ounces, ($340,000,) but he thought Paraguay would offer more; but disappointed there, he was inclined to favor the allies; and for that purpose went to see Caxias to inform him of the situation in Paraguay, and advise him to take his forces by Encarnacion to make an attack, so as to avoid Humaita; but Caxias said he was afraid to do it without the support of the squadron. Washburn then asked him why he did not attack Humaita with his iron-clads; Caxias said he was afraid of torpedoes; the minister said he would show him how to make a machine to catch the torpedoes without risk; Caxias accepted the offer, and the minister instructed him how to make the machine. Some time afterwards the minister told him he had received a note from Caxias saying the machine was successful. The minister also expressed his surprise that troops were not sent by way of Mato Grosso, as it would produce such a fright that the city could easily be captured.[Page 701]
The deponent did not see the letters Caxias wrote to the minister, but the latter told him they were about the war and his promises to aid the allies; and this was why Washburn took such an active part in the business of the revolutionary committee composed of Doctor Carreras, Rodriguez, Benigno Lopez, José Berges, and Saturnino Bedoya, with Bliss and Coriolano Marques as his assistants in trying to put an end to the war and set up a new government. The minister said he always burned the letters from Caxias.
One afternoon in March, while the minister was walking in the hall of the house with the deponent and Mr. Menké, the secretary of the legation, he said to them: “Do you know there is a plot to assassinate Marshal Lopez, and end the war? Some daring men are to go to his camp with some message and then kill him, while the revolutionary flag is to be hoisted in the capital.” The conversation was here interrupted, and we heard no more about the assassination conspiracy.
The deponent did not hear from Washburn directly what sum of money he was to get, but he heard him say to his wife, one night, in the parlor, that Benigno Lopez had offered him 2,000 ounces of gold, and much more in bills, for his aid in the revolution.
Besides those mentioned as engaged in the revolution, deponent says there were Mr. Menké, the secretary; Vasconcellos; Leite Pereira; Fidansa and Antonio Rebandi; whom he often heard spoken of as engaged in it.
The minister said he was in favor of making Carlos Saguier president of the republic because he was a Paraguayan; but the other foreigners were in favor of Count de Eu.
On the 25th September the deposition was continued as follows:
Minister Washburn always blamed the French consul for sympathizing with the government of Paraguay, and even called him a fool when he drank to the health of Lopez; ridiculed him for quitting the city when the proclamation for evacuation was issued; said the government could not compel him to leave, and he was simple for obeying the order; and showed that he thought more of his hide (meaning his skin) than he did of the honor of the French nation; that he was a drunken beast, uneducated, and entirely disqualified to represent worthily a great nation like that of France.
Note.—The prosecuting attorney allowed George Masterman to write to his mother in England. The translation of the letter is as follows:
“September 12, 1868.
“My Dear Mother: In my letter to you of the 8th instant, sent through Mr. Washburn, I mentioned the terrible conspiracy to destroy the government of Paraguay and its President, who by his skill and bravery in this war had defied the power of Brazil and gained a reputation unexampled in America. The conspiracy was suggested and chiefly arranged by Mr. Washburn, who was in league with the enemy. As I was living in his house I could not help hearing about it; and I am sorry I did not denounce him to the government, but I have done all I could to make up for the neglect. I have candidly confessed all I know of this terrible business; and I hope I will be pardoned by the President. I hope my life may be spared, so I may see you again.
“Your affectionate son,
On the 7th of October the examination was continued, and the deponent declared as follows:
Washburn said he hoped to save the deponent by taking him away with him; but when his passport was made out without deponent’s name being included, the minister advised him to declare his innocence of all complicity in the conspiracy, and to sign no paper that he had not read, for there was no faith to be put in the tribunals of the country; and the deponent promised to do as Washburn advised him.
One day, when Washburn, Bliss, and the deponent were together in the dining-room, the former said he supposed his Congress would order his conduct to be inquired into, and he hoped the two gentlemen would give proper testimony; and then, turning to Bliss, said: “As you are living with me like a brother, and know all about my affairs, your evidence will be very important.” And then Washburn proposed to Bliss to publish the work he had written on the Indians and their languages, and promised to eulogize him in the introduction he intended to write for the book, and laud him as a man of talent and capability. The three houses mentioned, belonging to Luis Tara, were rented by Charles Ulrich, a German. The deponent went to live in them with Manlove because the English engineers had taken the house where he formerly lived, and subsequently Mr. Bliss came to live with him. He did not know what Washburn had to do with the houses, but he heard Mr. Menké, the secretary, say that Ulrich had made a written agreement with Washburn to extend the protection of his flag over the houses, and it was done. As deponent was physician to the legation, where Washburn had invited him to come, with the promise to attach him formally, he was always treated as a member of the legation, in official notes, so as to prevent him from being demanded by the public authorities to answer a charge of complicity in the conspiracy. But, in reality, Mr. Washburn treated him with contempt, afterwards abused him, and finally drove him from the house. If Washburn did keep him at the legation, it was only to [Page 702] prevent him from being tried publicly, and then his confession would tell all about the conspiracy in which Washburn was engaged.
On the 27th or 28th September he went to Mr. Washburn’s house to attend his wife in confinement, and Mr. Washburn said if he would live there he would make him surgeon of the legation, and he agreed to remain; but, so long as he was in the house, he never was treated as attaché to the legation. From the very first day Washburn treated him as meanly as a servant. One day, when talking of certain American customs, the deponent ridiculed some of them, more in jest than in earnest, and Mr. Washburn became very angry, and deponent left him to become quiet.
He called to see Mr. Washburn the next day, and said to him, “You were too angry yesterday when conversing with me to weigh your words; I hope you think differently of me to-day.” To which Washburn replied, “No, I am still of the same opinion.” Then deponent said, “Then I am to blame, and, having found out how sensitive you are, I will behave differently hereafter, to avoid disputes.”
Soon after this Mr. Washburn went to Mr. Manlove’s house and said to him, “I have treated Masterman badly, and I am sorry for it, but I cannot apologize; you must do it for me.” Mr. Manlove told me that the same day.
Deponent went that evening to sup with Doctor Rhind, and told him about Washburn, saying he was so irritable a man he was sorry he went to live at his house. Rhind said, yes, Washburn was a coarse, uncivil man, but as deponent was there he had better stay. Deponent consented to stay only till he could get some situation under the government, for he had no other way to live. After this deponent was never on good terms with Washburn, but continued to live in one of the rooms of the house till November, when Washburn and his family went to live in Saturnino Bedoya’s house, in Trinidad, and deponent made two professional visits per week to the family there.
About two weeks before the evacuation of the city Washburn returned from Trinidad with his family, and took up his residence at the legation. Mrs. Washburn said she hated to leave Trinidad, as she expected to remain there till ready to quit the country, but she had to leave on account of Madam Juaua Carrillos. It was then that deponent left the legation and went to live with Mr. Bliss, not far off, and again in another house, in the same square. While he was there the evacuation of the city took place, and the English machinists took refuge in Mr. Washburn’s house. There were eight men and their families, six women and a dozen children, in the house; and, as there was no room, he had to move elsewhere.
The next day Mr. Washburn invited him to breakfast, and introduced him to Doctor Carreras, whom he had never seen, and to Rodriguez, whom he knew only by sight. Mrs. Washburn and the four men were at table, when Mr. Washburn told his wife that one of the English machinists, with his wife, refused to live with the others because they were low and vulgar people. The deponent thought this singular, as he had lived with them, and found them to be very respectable people.
Mr. Washburn must have misunderstood what was said, for, on leaving the table, he said to deponent angrily, “So you think Benjamin Franklin ought not to have taken a seat in presence of George III,” meaning to place the machinists above deponent, who replied, “On the contrary, sir, I think Franklin greater than any king in the world.”
Afterwards, while walking in the garden, Washburn came up to the deponent and said angrily, “Mr. Masterman, I will bear no such remarks as you made at table;” and deponent replied, “I did not intend to offend you by my remarks.” “Yes, you grumbled because I put you with the arsenal men; if you are better than they are, the sooner you leave my house the better.” Deponent attempted an explanation, but the minister would not listen to him, and ordered him away. Deponent then said: “I will go, for Mr. Manlove invited me to stay with him, and I will take this opportunity to tell him you have treated me most shamefully. You have done this because I am poor and in your power; if I were in other circumstances you would not dare to treat me so.”
Just then one of the machinists passed and deponent asked him if he had not treated him respectfully, and the machinist said, certainly; and then deponent began to move his baggage to the corner house.
Early the next day Manlove came to deponent and said he had rented two rooms of Ulrich, and laid out three hundred dollars for beef, pork, and fowls, and if he would pay half of it, he would give him a room where he could read at his ease. Deponent accepted the offer and did not see Washburn for fifteen days, when he was called to see Mrs. W., who was unwell.
During this time, Anabella Casal, a Paraguayan, and friend of Mrs. W., was living at the legation, and as Parodi had treated her badly when she was sick, deponent was called to visit her.
A short time afterwards Washburn came to Manlove’s door, where Bliss and deponent were sitting, and said to the latter: “When I want your services I will send for you; till then you need not enter my house again.” Deponent replied: “It was pity for Anabella that brought me before, and as she is not your servant, I supposed she [Page 703] had a right to send for whom she pleased; however, I will do as you hid.” Washburn had already engaged Parodi to attend to the sick in his family.
The next day deponent sent this note:
“Mr. Masterman presents his compliments to Mr. Washburn, and would thank him to pay the subjoined account.”
The account was for one hundred and fifty dollars, more or less, for attending Basel, a servant, who had an attack of cholera, and other sick in his house. The note was sealed with wax.
Washburn sent this open note back by Scotty, his English servant:
“Mr. Washburn has the honor to inform Mr. Masterman that he wants the room he occupies, and begs he will quit it with all his things before four o’clock this afternoon; for he can no longer bear the insolence of a vulgar, ignorant, pitiful pill pedlar; and as to the account sent, he must inform Mr. Masterman that he owes him ten times as much.”
Washburn had the brutality to read that insulting letter to three of the English machinists—Watts, Eden, and Newton—before sending it, and told them if Masterman did not instantly leave his house, he would send for the police and have him put out.
As soon as deponent got the letter, he went to Manlove to show it to him and ask him if the house was his or Washburn’s. Manlove was furious on reading the letter; said the house was his, and deponent should not be driven out; and then went to Washburn’s room, where deponent heard them talking loudly for half an hour. When Manlove came back he told deponent he could not help him and he would have to leave, for Washburn had entered into a written agreement with Ulrich to rent the corner house, and of course it belonged to the legation.
Washburn took a ride that evening on horseback, and on his return he sent for Manlove and said to him, that if Masterman left the house he would certainly be sent to jail, as he had no permit to appear in the street; and therefore he had better stay in the house, but under the express condition to keep in his room. Deponent was obliged to accept these hard conditions, and remained in his room for two months.
Deponent next day wrote to Doctor Rhind and told him all that had happened. Rhind came to the city the next day to see the minister, who quarreled with him too, and ordered him out of his house. Then deponent told Doctor Rhind of his grievances, and begged him to speak to the Vice-President about his case, or write to Doctor Stewart and get him a situation in the general hospital as surgeon. Doctor Rhind fell sick about that time and could not attend to business.
About three weeks after, Washburn broke with Manlove about the corner house; each claiming the property. Both were drunk at the time.
After this deponent spoke to Manlove and advised him to write to Washburn the next day and try to make up with him. Manlove did write very politely, and Washburn answered rudely and told him to leave the house; and as he had the keys of Lasserre’s house, with license to enter it, he had better go there and live.
Manlove then wrote to the minister and begged him to get permission from the police to live in Lasserre’s house. Washburn said he would do no such thing. So the next day Manlove attempted to move into Lasserre’s house and was arrested for it.
After this, deponent had nothing to do with Mr. Washburn, until he sent for him to see his sick daughter, who was growing worse under Parodi’s treatment. On reaching the house Mr. Washburn extended Ms hand, but deponent refused to take it, and did not make up with him until he was summoned by the court to be tried for conspiracy. Two days after the first note, while deponent was supping with Meink and Bliss, Washburn came in and asked Bliss if he had given Masterman the notice. Deponent asked what notice; and Washburn said deponent and Bliss were to be tried by the national government for conspiracy; that he had not told them of it sooner, because Master-man was not well, and he thought he might die if confined in a close jail. The deponent then said he hoped Mr. Washburn would send his microscope to his sister, as a memento, if he was executed; and Mr. Washburn said, what foolishness to be talking about microscopes when your life is in danger! The instrument is worth four hundred patacones, or sixty pounds sterling, replied deponent, and I have had it with me half my life. The minister said he would make no such promise, for he did not know if he would get out of the country alive.
That same night Mr. Washburn asked deponent what he intended to do; if he would leave the legation; and deponent replied, that as he had taken no active part in the conspiracy, he would give himself up to the authorities, and Bliss ought to do so too, for there was no American vessel in the river to help them. Then turning to Bliss, he said, and what are you going to do? Bliss said he was going to stay where he was as long as he could. Washburn then said if they would remain in the legation he would say officially that they were members of the legation, and they might be saved in that way. To this the deponent replied that as his name was not on the first list, it was too late to put it on now; but Washburn insisted it was through mistake, and not intentionally, that his name was not put down at first as a member of the legation.
On another occasion Washburn told Bliss and deponent he would make a serious [Page 704] proposition to the government for them, which was that they should he kept at the legation until some American war vessel could carry them to Buenos Ayres and deliver them to the respective admirals of their nations. Both accepted the proposal at once, and promised to do as the minister told them while his word was pledged to the government to keep them in his house.
They remained fifteen days in the house under arrest, until the minister received a note from the government saying his proposition would not he accepted.
After this Washburn became reserved towards deponent and Bliss, but continued to make them believe he would try to save them by including them in his passport and thus taking them out of the country.
From that time Washburn showed great anxiety to get out of the country, and even expressed the fear that his house and papers might be suddenly examined by the police.
Deponent asked several times to send a message to the English minister, but Washburn paid no attention to his request, and Bliss was scarcely noticed by him.
Finally Mr. Washburn received his passport, and found that both Bliss and the deponent were excluded from it. He then said he would do all he could for him; that he intended to tell all of the foreign ministers in Buenos Ayres of the persecution of foreigners, and try to induce them to do something for them. As soon as he got up an excitement against Paraguay, he would go to the United States, for there was to be an election there for President in the autumn, and if General Grant, his intimate friend, was elected, the disturbances in Paraguay would certainly be settled satisfactorily, meaning those imprisoned for conspiracy would be released and satisfaction be demanded for grievances.
After detailing here all the mistreatments, slights, and insults from Washburn, in return for services willingly rendered, deponent declares, that so far from enjoying the privileges of a member of the legation, as Washburn asserts he did, he was used by him for his professional services, and treated most shamefully, as is seen in every part of this candid confession he has made in satisfaction to justice and in respect to truth.
On the 28th of November, when formally questioned and asked if he acknowledged the foregoing deposition to be his words and the signature at the bottom his handwriting, he answered and said that what he had heard read was his deposition, made before the court of justice in confession of the part he had taken in the conspiracy against the country and the supreme government. He affirms and ratifies all he has said, but makes this explanation of what he declared on the 11th of September, namely, that Caxias offered Washburn twenty thousand ounces of gold. This offer was made to Washburn before his return to this country, and while he was at Corrientes, by one of Caxias’s officers, who used these terms:
“Mr. Washburn, your expenses here must be very great, living as you do with your lady and servants in a hotel all the time you stay here. You will allow us to pay your expenses; we can furnish you all you want; the empire is rich enough to place twenty thousand ounces of gold at your disposal.”
This is precisely what Washburn told the deponent; and he also declares that all he has said in answer to charges against him for criminal complicity in a conspiracy against the government is true, and he affirms it to be the truth of what occurred; says the signatures at the foot of each interrogatory are his; that the names and surnames are correct, and the writing is that which he uses in all his papers and written contracts and agreements.
Another new ratification made on the 8th of December, as follows: And again appeared Mr. George F. Masterman to ratify the deposition he had made and in presence of F. M. Ramsey, commander in the American navy, W. A. Kirkland, lieutenant on the gunboat Wasp, who were sent by Rear-Admiral C. H. Davis, commander of the South Atlantic squadron of the United States navy, and before the undersigned, notary public, confirmed all he had said as the truth.