Mr. Jay to
Vienna, December 26, 1873. (Received January 15, 1874.)
Sir: In my No. 683, acknowledging your confidential circular in regard to the affair of the Virginius, I appended an extract from some [Page 17] comments of the New Free Press upon the subject, which, while showing a high appreciation of the fairness exhibited by the Government at Washington, exhibited also some inaccuracies of facts due, perhaps, in part to the telegraph.
The New Free Press, in a second article on the subject, remarks: “The Virginius affair has, in its further course, been exactly developed according to the protocol lately communicated by us, which has been signed by the American minister, Fish, and the Spanish ambassador, Don Polo de Bernabé. * * They have proceeded on both sides in the ease, move by move, as promptly as in a game of chess. Now, according to the same protocol, there has been instituted a trial of the surviving prisoners. Spain at the same time has bound herself in the same protocol to examine on her part whether the action of the authorities at Santiago has been in strict accordance with the Spanish laws, or with her international duties of the two parties. As it is announced, the honesty of the American Congress, who declare their own state to be in the wrong, caused great satisfaction in Madrid and in the Havana. This can, perhaps, lead to a more intimate friendship between the two reconciled republics; so much the more as Castelar, altogether a pure character, is just the statesman to make a wise and moderate use of his moral victory.”
As far as I have had an opportunity of judging, the course of the United States in the matter thus far commands general approval. I have been congratulated on the wisdom, moderation, and success with which the affair has been managed under difficulties of peculiar delicacy. The further development and conclusion of the matter will, I think, be watched with attention by the European powers, as involving questions of common interest touching the reciprocal rights and duties of nations in cases of domestic insurrection where no belligerent status has been conceded to the insurgents.
Some differences of opinion have been expressed in regard to the opposite positions assumed at Madrid and Washington, and it is thought that the adjudication of these points by the American judiciary will go far to determine the international rule for the future.
I have, &c.,