Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Olney.
Washington, February 19, 1896.
Sir: With reference to Mr. Gresham’s note, No. 20, of the 26th January, 1895, and to previous correspondence calling attention to the [Page 311] large number of fires that occur on board cotton ships in United States ports, I have the honor to forward to you herewith, in accordance with instructions which I have received from Her Majesty’s principal secretary of state for foreign affairs, copy of a letter which has been received at the foreign office from Mr. James Knott, of the Prince Line of steamers, Newcastle-on-Tyne, reporting the discovery of a box of matches and a pin-fire cartridge in a cargo of cotton shipped at New Orleans for Genoa.
Mr. Gresham, in his above-mentioned note, informed me that an investigation of the causes of the New Orleans fires was not yet completed.
If there be no objection I should be glad to be favored with a copy of a report on that investigation, which must since then have been concluded.
In view of the importance of suppressing these continued incendiary fires, I venture to request that you will be good enough to bring the facts contained in Mr. Knott’s letter to the notice of the State authorities.
I have instructed Her Majesty’s consuls at New Orleans, Galveston, and Charleston to keep on the alert in case any similar incident should come to their knowledge.
I may mention that I have received a further communication from the Marquis of Salisbury containing copy of a second letter from Mr. Knott, stating that he had been in communication with the various underwriters in Great Britain who are now writing to the National Board of Underwriters at New York requesting them to go thoroughly nto the matter.
I have, etc.,