No. 129.
Mr. Denby to Mr. Bayard.

No. 229.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that I was lately informed by the British minister that the Chinese authorities at Chungking desired Mr. Bourne, the English consular agent, to settle the claims of the American missionaries for damages. Sir John Walsham informed me that he had directed Mr. Bourne to compromise the claims of the English missionaries, and that if desired by me he would authorize Mr. Bourne to settle our claims also. I replied that I had no authority to direct Mr. Bourne to compromise the claims of the American missionaries without their consent. I stated that would see the superintendent, Mr. Gamewell, and get his consent to such deduction as he might see fit to make, and that Mr. Bourne must be limited to the amount that Mr. Game well might fix.

Yesterday I saw Mr. Game well. He very strongly insisted that the sum of 28,000 taels, which he had formerly indicated to the local magistrate, was small, and he was not at all inclined to consent to any reduction. [Page 166] I represented to him that I had had large experience in the trial of tort cases, and that I had always found that if the responsible party at the beginning of proceedings offered respectable compromise, it was better to accept it; that securing the amount in a lump was an advantage which enabled the recipient to use the funds in supplying lost articles at wholesale prices; and besides, the certainty of recovery in any case was an element that ought not to be overlooked. Mr. Gamewell finally consented that Mr. Bourne might, by way of compromise, accept a reduction of 10 per cent., or, at the lowest, 25,000 taels in full, being a reduction of 3,000 taels. I thereupon notified the British minister, who telegraphed to Mr. Bourne that, the estimated losses being 28,000 taels, he might accept 10 per cent. less than this amount, but should not go below 25,000 taels, as a compromise.

Thus the matter stands at present. * * *

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.