No. 11.

the treaty of washington.

The Earl of Derby: My Lords, before the order of the day is called on, I may be allowed to trespass on your lordships’ attention for one moment. I have received, since the debate of the night before [Page 604] last, a letter from my Right Honorable friend Sir Stafford Northcote, one of the Commissioners who negotiated the Treaty of Washington, which, as it involves a matter of personal explanation respecting a statement which had been made by him, and referred to in this House, I have been requested to read to your lordships. It is as follows:

86 Harley Street, W., June 5, 1872.

Dear Lord Derby: I observe that, in your speech in the House of Lords last night, you referred to a recent statement of mine with regard to the negotiations at Washington in a manner which shows me” that you, as well as many other persons, have misunderstood my meaning.

It has been supposed, and you seem to have supposed, that I said that an understanding existed between the British and the American negotiators that the claims for indirect losses should not be brought forward; and it has been inferred from this that we, relying upon that understanding, were less careful in framing the Treaty than we should otherwise have been.

This is incorrect. What I said was, that we had represented to our Government that we understood a promise to have been given that no claims for indirect losses should be brought forward. In so saying, I referred to the statement voluntarily and formally made by the American Commissioners at the opening of the conference of the 8th of March, which I, for one, understood to amount to an engagement that the claims in question should not be put forward in the event of a treaty being agreed on.

I will not enter into a discussion of the grounds upon which I came to that conclusion; but will simply say that we never for a moment thought of relying upon it, or upon any other matter outside of the Treaty itself. We thought, as I still think, that the language of the Treaty was sufficient, according to the ordinary rules of interpretation, to exclude the claims for indirect losses. At all events, we certainly meant to make it so.

I remain, yours, very faithfully,


The Earl of Derby.

Perhaps you will kindly read this in the House of Lords to-morrow.