Mr. Fairchild to Mr. Blaine.
San Ildefonso , July 22, 1881. (Received August 13.)
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your instructions Nos. 146 and 147, relating to the alleged intention of the Republics of Colombia and Costa Rica, to invite the great European Powers to join in the execution of a treaty guaranteeing the neutrality of the proposed [Page 1062] interoceanic canal across the Isthmus of Panama, and expressing the views of the United States thereon.
Before the reception of the last-mentioned instruction (No. 147) the minister of state had departed for this place, where the court is passing the summer, and as he was not to return to Madrid until the last days of August, I deemed it my duty to come here. I arrived on the night of the 18th instant, accompanied by Mr. Reed, and on the following afternoon, at three o’clock, and by appointment, had an interview with his excellency, the minister of state, during which I read to him your instruction No. 146, and at his request left a copy of it with him.
His excellency listened very attentively to the views of the United States therein expressed, and after the reading was finished, informed me in the frankest manner possible, that up to the present time the Government of His Majesty had not only not received any invitation to join in the execution of a treaty guaranteeing the neutrality of the proposed canal, but that this was the first information it had had of any such proposition. His excellency further assured me, in as frank a manner, that should any invitation be received to take part in such an undertaking, the views of the United States will be taken into the most careful consideration.
During the interview his excellency asked me if a similar instruction had been sent to all our representatives in Europe, adding that it was a most important and interesting question, and worthy of the gravest consideration. I answered that I did not know, but presumed that it had been.
I have, &c.,