to Mr. Evarts.
Vienna, February 7, 1879. (Received February 24.)
Sir: The alarm arising from the extension and fatality of the pest in Russia is somewhat diminished in presence of the more resolute and forcible measures lately adopted by Russia to prevent its extension within her own territory. The partial and threatened universal establishment of quarantine against her people and her commerce has already injuriously affected her trade. To save herself from further damages, she has herself instituted very strong measures for self-protection.
Nevertheless, the sanitary precautions proposed at this capital have been in the main adopted by Germany, Hungary, Servia, and Roumania, with special appropriations of money in some cases for the establishment of a close military cordon along the Russian frontier should the pest extend itself.[Page 44]
By order of the Austrian as well as of the Hungarian ministry, the transit of travelers from Russia across the frontier is only allowed when it shall appear that for 20 days previous they have not been in the Astrachan or other infected districts of Russia.
The following suspected articles of Russian commerce are also refused admission into Austria: Linen cloths, rags, furs, skins, leather, hair, bristles, feathers, caviar, fish, sarepta balsam, felt, and waste paper. Railway carriages from Russia and the elects of passengers are to be disinfected at the frontier.
The Hungarian ministry of commerce has also ordered that all letters coming from the infected districts shall be subjected to disinfection by steam of carbonic (carbolic?) acid (vapeur d’acide carbonique) at 130 degrees Celsius; or, as another report puts it, by the use of the steam of phenic acid (vapeur d’acide phenique).
It is now hoped by the authorities here that the energetic measures of Russia will render unnecessary further measures of precaution in this empire. Fears are entertained, however, that with the cessation of the cold weather, which is adverse to the propagation of the plague, the pest may revive with new vigor. In view of this possibility, the inquiry naturally presents itself whether the government of Washington has now sufficient warrant of law to take the unquestionably strong measures which will be required should the plague revive and extend itself in the spring so as to affect the lines of American commercial intercourse. In such an event, the isolated and incomplete action of State authority or city governments will prove utterly inadequate.
I have, &c.,