Mr. Smith to Mr. Blaine.

No. 161.]

Sir: In the course of an audience with the grand duke the czarowitz, to which I had the honor of being summoned yesterday, his imperial highness spoke earnestly and with evident predetermination of the offering from the United States in aid of the people of Russia who are in distress from the insufficient harvests. The fact that he is not only the heir to the throne but the president of the special committee placed by the Emperor in charge of relief measures, and the direct representative of His Majesty in this work, attached special significance to his words.

The grand duke introduced the subject by saying, “We are all deeply touched by the shiploads of food which are coming to us from America.” In the form of his expression he evidently meant to be understood as speaking for the Emperor as well as for the Russian people. He proceeded to say that the American people were very generous and that the Russians were fully sensible of their kindness.

I replied that my countrymen were well aware that, measured by the need and by what Russuia herself was doing, these donations were small, but that they were at least an expression of sympathy and good will. The grand duke responded that it was precisely this consideration which was gratifying to Russia. I remarked to him that the contributions [Page 377] were spontaneous offerings from the people of the United States to the people of Russia who were in distress. He answered that he well understood that this was a popular movement, without Government action, and that this fact was fully appreciated. The conversation then turned on the Indiana, which had just arrived with a cargo of flour, and on the Missouri and other relief ships of whose speedy coming intelligence had been received. The grand duke made a number of inquiries on the subject, and I took occasion to thank him for the admirable measures which his committee had taken to carry out the wishes of the American donors, by which all of the cargo of the Indiana had been forwarded on its mission of charity within three days of the arrival of the steamer. During the conversation, which continued for some time, the grand duke referred to the visit which his uncle, the grand duke Alexis, made several years ago to the United States, and said that his uncle often recalled it with pleasure.

The circumstances and the terms of the grand duke’s whole expression gave it the character and significance of a formal acknowledgment, as manifestly earnest as it was direct of the American offerings, and as such I report it.

I have, etc.,

Charles Emory Smith.