to Mr. Evarts.
Madrid, February 1, 1878. (Received February 21.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 47, I have now the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of Mr. Silvela’s note in answer to mine of the 7th December last, in relation to the whaling schooners Ellen Rizpah, Rising Sun, and Edward Lee.[Page 778]
Not long after receiving my note Mr. Silvela informed me that the Spanish Government had every disposition to satisfy the just demands of the United States, and to do its utmost to prevent the repetition of similar outrages. He told me that he was ready also to admit the claims for damages and to settle them, but that he should feel bound to make some slight diminution in the total amount claimed.
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He did not say definitely how great a reduction in the damages he proposed to make, but assured me that I should receive an answer to my note with all dispatch. Under these circumstances I thought it better to await his note with a definite proposal than to trouble you with a report of his statements to me, perhaps before he had quite made up his own mind as to the precise terms of the compromise he proposed to make.
A much longer delay than I expected has intervened, a part of which is possibly due to oversight or negligence in the foreign office here, for though the date of Mr. Silvela’s note be the 16th January, it was not received at the legation till eight o’clock last evening.
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Even as it is, the Spanish Government has acted with extraordinary promptness in the matter, if I may judge by the experience of my colleagues here; thus giving a further proof of its disposition to maintain friendly relations with the United States.
I at once telegraphed to you the offer of Mr. Silvela and am now awaiting your reply. Had it been my own affair, I should have accepted it at once, on the general principle that claims will bear paring down better than most things, and that $10,000 divided between the two vessels, even after deducting the claim of the mate of the Rising Sun, would probably give to each a quota as large as the average profits on the voyage of a whaling schooner.
You will observe that Mr. Silvela, for the reasons stated in his note, takes exception to the claim of the owners of the Edward Lee. But as he leaves the case open to discussion, I have thought it best to await further instruction from Department in regard thereto.
A copy of my note in reply to Mr. Silvela is hereto annexed.
I have, &c.,