No. 600.
General Sickles to Mr. Fish.

No. 823.]

Sir: Mr. Carvajal, accompanied by the under-secretary of state, called at the legation last evening. The minister stated that a partial report had been received of the incidents attending the capture of the Virginius. It appeared that the vessel was seen on the coast of Cuba attempting to land her passengers and cargo; that the pursuit began in Spanish waters, and somewhere about twenty-three miles from Jamaica she was overtaken and captured. It was also alleged that the Virginius exhibited no papers; but this was subsequently qualified by the statement that her documents were not authenticated by the visa or certificate of any consul, and were, besides, irregular in other particulars; and although the report was incomplete, yet enough was known to indicate that the case would be less difficult of adjustment than was apprehended at the outset, and this was a matter for sincere congratulation. Mr. Carvajal proceeded to observe that Admiral Polo’s dispatches alluded to the excitement and irritation manifested in the United States when the news of the capture was first received, which had now, however, perceptibly diminished in view of more accurate information since published. His excellency said it was gratifying to learn, through the same channel, that my reports of the friendly disposition of this government had impressed you favorably, and he had read with much satisfaction the Spanish minister’s resume of his conversation with yourself. Mr. Carvajal, in conclusion, invited me to a conference on this subject this afternoon at four o’clock, at the palace, when he would be prepared to make a further communication to me.

I remarked that whatever popular agitation might have been provoked in the United States by the news of the capture of the Virginius, it [Page 933] would not influence tile action of the President in a matter affecting our relations with a friendly power. In this respect the conduct of my Government might perhaps be observed with advantage by several European states I might mention. When, for example, the rebel agents Mason and Slidell were taken from the Trent, the uproar in England was reflected in the impatient action of the British cabinet, while the, decision of Mr. Lincoln to reprove the act and return the men was adopted and executed in the face of a public opinion which desired a different course-to be followed. Unfortunately the Spanish authorities in Cuba had hitherto failed in restraining the passions of a turbulent element in the population of the large towns, so that whenever our citizens were known to have fallen into the power of the mob at Havana or Santiago de Cuba, public opinion was justly apprehensive of their fate. I had received a further communication from you, containing additional particulars of the capture and its consequences, of which we would speak this afternoon when I should have the honor to meet his excellency at the ministry. It was, however, quite certain that no demand would be made by the President until trustworthy information was received of the whole case. Meanwhile, it would be satisfactory to know that this government had spontaneously taken such action in the matter as would facilitate a prompt solution of any question that might arise.

I am, &c,