The cabinet have carefully considered your telegram. We cannot understand the precipitancy of the United States in this matter. The news is really contradictory; while Mr. Fish maintains that the vessel was an American, our minister of the colonies informs us that she carried false papers, there being contradiction between the description of the vessel and her papers; that the captain declared that she had been fitted out and manned for the exclusive purpose of aiding the insurrection in the island of Cuba.
If this were true, we would have a right to present reclamations and complaints, and we could affirm that the United States do not observe toward the Spanish Republic the reciprocal friendship to which it is entitled.
But in the same way that we suspend reclamations on this point we would wish that the United States would suspend them also on what they consider their complaints and injuries, and we think they might consider as an anticipation of the redress that may be due to their flag our fixed and firm resolve to make reparation by salute and restitution of the vessel and the survivors of the crew of any offense that may be proved against the flag by the act of capture from the proceedings established in order to ascertain whether the vessel had the right or not to carry the American flag, independently of the other questions which, in reference to these facts, the governments of the two republics reserve the treatment of by diplomatic negotiations.
You are authorized to make this declaration, but you will understand, and should endeavor to make Mr. Fish understand, that no satisfaction would be possible if we are not first made sensible of the right with which it is demanded on account of the Virginius.