Mr. Foulk to Mr. Frelinghuysen .
Seoul, Corea , March 1, 1885. (Received April 27.)
Sir: On the night of February 23 ultimo a conflagration broke out to the district adjoining this legation on the north, and a quantity of valuable timber, together with the buildings which contained it, all the property of the Corean Government, were totally destroyed. The fire is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary, and to have some bearing upon the intended removal of the royal family to a palace, for repairing which the timber was intended.
Owing to the very close proximity of the fire to this legation, and the fact that fires are not unfrequently started as signals, or to draw people together as preliminaries to acts of violence in Corea, considerable apprehension was felt, more particularly among the natives of this district; this, however, appears to have been groundless. Several hundred soldiers were dispatched, and the fire subdued in an orderly manner.
The special object of this communication is to inform you that upon the breaking out of the fire the commandant of the Japanese force stationed [Page 346] here promptly dispatched a guard of soldiers to this legation for its protection. With my understanding of the times and this country, I deem this to have been a highly commendable act, and have addressed a special letter to the Japanese representative here, expressing for it my thanks and appreciation on behalf of our Government.
I am, sir,
Ensign, U. S. Navy, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.