No. 693.
Admiral Polo de Bernabé to Mr. Fish.


The undersigned, minister plenipotentiary of Spain, has the honor to inclose to the Hon. Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State of the United States, a literal copy of a telegraphic dispatch which he has received from the minister of state, with express orders to communicate it to him.

The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to reiterate to the honorable Secretary of State the assurance of his most distinguished consideration.


Secretary of state, Madrid, to Spanish minister at Washington.


(Received at 1.30 p.m., November 18, 1873.)

I am anxious for you to say to Mr. Fish, and that you should endeavor to make him understand in the way you may deem most expedient, all the reasons Spain has for proceeding as she does in the matter of the Virginius.

We are resolved to abide by the principles of justice, to observe international law, to punish all those who shall have made themselves liable to punishment, regardless of their station; to ask reparation for offenses that may have been done against us, and in our turn to make due reparation if right and our own conviction should so advise us. But a knowledge of facts is necessary to proceed with the tact and judgment required by the gravity of the case, and the news which reaches the United States must be confused as that we receive here.

We are informed that a conspiracy has been discovered in Cuba, which was to have acted in concert with the arrival of the vessel, which had already, on former occasions, landed supplies of war and filibustering expeditions, and, on this very occasion, had not her papers in order. That the declaration of the captain affirms a new conspiracy directed against the integrity of our soil in a vessel passing for American, and covered by a flag of a friendly nation. If, therefore, on the one hand, such facts as these have come to light, and we, before making any complaint, await conclusive intelligence, the United States, on the other hand, if they complain that their flag has been insulted, that one of their vessels has been captured, that executions have taken place, and that in these executions treaty stipulations have been ignored, should wait until everything is made clear.

The reparations we may have to make, or those we may ask for, require time and the knowledge of facts. Assure, therefore, the Government of the United States, in the most positive manner, that, resolved upon the preservation of the integrity of our territory and the dignity of our nation, we are also determined strictly to comply with the principles of international law, the letter of treaties with all nations, and, consequently, with the American Republic.