No. 29.
Mr. Kasson to Mr. Evarts.

No. 172.]

Sir: The foreign office has just communicated to the various missions at this capital a circular note, advising them of the possible brief detention of letters at the frontier, and the possible injury to their seals in the process of disinfection. The application of this process is limited, of course, to letters from suspected countries, and is confined to certain designated offices on the frontier. Recommendations are made respecting the mode of sealing in order to preserve the inviolability of the letters.

By the regulations of 1837 a simple fumigation only was allowed in the case of correspondence addressed to diplomatic missions. It is now announced that this correspondence will no longer be treated exceptionally, but will undergo the same complete disinfection to which other correspondence is subjected.

Accompanying this note are the original texts of the circular above mentioned, addressed to this legation, and of the announcement of the ministry of commerce, and the English translations of the same.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure I in No. 172.—Translation.]

circular to the foreign missions at vienna.

Among the measures adopted by Austria-Hungary against the danger of the invasion of the pest appears equally the disinfection of letters and transmissions by post, coming from the infected provinces of Russia.

[Page 51]

The ordinance of the minister of commerce at Vienna of the 28th of last month regulates this question.

The disinfection with which the post-office at the frontier at Podwoloczyska and at Szakowa are charged is made in the following manner:

The letters will not be opened, however, as the seals, if of Wax, will suffer by this proceeding whether by being softened or effaced; the said offices will apply to the letters before the disinfection gummed vignettes with the insignia of the government in order to secure the inviolability of the fastening. The vignettes offer the same advantages as wafers, since they do not suffer or detach by reason of the heat and the evaporation of carbolic acid.

For disinfecting completely single letters, that is to say such as have but half an inch thickness (1 cent. 3.2 mm.), it is necessary to expose them in the apparatus for three hours to the increasing effects of heat. The letters of greater thickness are subjected to this proceeding during four hours, which may sometimes cause a delay in their dispatch.

The regulation of 1837 which was in force until now in Austria-Hungary required for the correspondence of the foreign missions at Vienna the disinfection by means of simple fumigation. The experiments made since by science have demonstrated the insufficiency of this means, and intense heating as the only proper proceeding to obtain a radical disinfection.

The imperial and royal government could therefore not hesitate in causing to be applied equally to the correspondence of the foreign missions at Vienna, and to that which might be destined for transit through Austria-Hungary to foreign governments, the process of heating, and to cause the fastening of the letters to be assured by the official vignettes in question.

However, in order to increase the precautions taken by the post administration, it would be well that the said correspondence from the provinces of Russia should be closed exclusively by means of wafers and of gummed vignettes, and that in the interest of a prompt dispatch the packages of letters should not exceed half an inch in thickness, as is stated above.

The imperial and royal ministry for foreign affairs hasten to inform the missions of these measures, adopted in the common interest, and has the honor to request that the government may be advised of the same.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 172.—Translation.]

notification of the imperial and royal ministry of commerce of the 28th february, 1879.

[No. 5729. For the official portion of the Wiener Zeitung.]

The correspondence coming from the localities in Russia infected with the pest disease will be subjected to disinfection, not only by the Russian authorities at the respective cordon-posts, but also at the Austrian frontier by the post-offices in Podwoloczycka and Szezakowa.

This disinfection will be conducted on the part of the last-named post establishments so, that the single ordinary letters, postal cards, newspapers (freight letters) will be exposed in a disinfecting apparatus with evolution of carbolic-acid steam to an elevated heat during several hours.

Inasmuch as the procedure causes, in letters sealed with hard wax, a softening of the sealing-wax and effacement of the seal impression, therefore the assurance of the inviolability of that class of correspondence will be effected in this way: that before the disinfection of the letters fastened with hard wax, official sealing vignettes (guard seals), which are not affected by the carbolic-acid steam and do not detach, will be applied to the envelopes.

Transmissions of money from Russia will, for the purpose of similar disinfection, be opened at the indicated post establishments by persons commissioned thereto.

The contents (paper and metallic money), as well as the envelope, will therefore be-subjected to disinfection in the prescribed manner, the remittance provided with a new inclosure and address, and the post-office seal.

Sample transmissions and pieces of goods (packages and freight transmissions) out of the infected provinces will be treated like the baggage of travelers coming from these localities.

After performance of the disinfection, the letters and post transmissions will be forthwith forwarded by the next opportunity to the place of destination.