Mr. Fairchild to Mr. Blaine.
Madrid, November 19, 1881. (Received December 9.)
Sir: In the senate yesterday the minister of state replied to a request, presented some days before by the Marquis of Sevane, for information concerning the instruction addressed by you to the diplomatic representatives in Europe on the question of the proposed European guarantee of the neutrality of the Panama Canal. The following is a translation of his reply, as published in the Gaceta de Madrid of to-day:
I have been asked a question by the Marquis of Sevane, through the secretaryship of this chamber. I must tell him that the government is acquainted with the communication of the Government of the United States on the subject of the Isthmus of Panama to which he refers; but the question is of such gravity, and the powers concerned in it are so many, that his lordship will comprehend that I must confine myself to saying that that communication has been received, that it is being considered, and that, in accord with other powers, Spain will do all that maybe necessary to be done for the protection of her interests. I trust, therefore, that his lordship will be content to await the solution of the question, in common with other countries also interested in it.
The Marquis of Sevane replied as follows:
I thank his lordship for his answer. His lordship has acknowledged that my question was neither amiss nor useless, since he has corroborated the gravity of the matter referred to in it. I could never demand during a negotiation that explanations should be publicly made which might injure its proceedings, and much less when the matters at issue are international questions between nations with which some complication might intervene, nor that words be pronounced giving preconceived ideas which would afterwards have to be changed. Therefore I declare myself quite satisfied with his lordship’s reply, and at once declare that I am sure he will proceed with all the care and circumspection required in the matter, and, at the same time (with the patriotism so prominent in his lordship), uphold the rights of the nation which has possessions in both worlds, and which, in having to choose between the two courses that may present themselves (according to the statements of the press that have dealt with the question, i. e., to act collectively or separately), his action will be in accordance [Page 1067] with his well-known prudence, always avoiding for Spain, as a matter of course, all complications, but securing her rights both in the peninsula and the ultramarine regions, where we have so many interests to defend.
I have, &c.,