Mr. Hay to Mr. Sherman.

No. 69.]

Sir: In obedience to your instruction by cable, dated July 1, and after consultation with Mr. Foster, as suggested by you, I asked for a special audience with Lord Salisbury for the purpose of laying before him your proposition for a conference of the powers interested in the preservation of the fur seal, to be held at Washington in October next. I informed him that Russia had promised through Mr. Foster to take part in such a conference, and that we had reason to hope that Japan would also participate; and that the President especially desired that the Government of Her Majesty should also be represented in any such consultation that might take place.

Lord Salisbury asked me under what instructions the conference would meet. I had been told by General Foster that it was not contemplated that the representatives of any of the powers should be bound by imperative instructions, nor that the powers taking part should be considered as pledged to any positive line of action; that the meeting would be merely consultation as to the best means of preserving seal life in Bering Sea. I explained this to Lord Salisbury. He replied that before giving me a definite answer it would be necessary for him to consult his colleagues of the colonial office; that the question was essentially a colonial one; that England was in this, respect rather the trustee for Canada than the principal; that he hoped later to be able to speak more definitely; that in principle he was in favor of any practicable action which would result in the preservation of the seals, though he did not at present agree with us upon the facts bearing upon the question of the threatened extermination of the herd.

After some further conversation on the subject, I asked him if he would approve of our discussing the matter with the right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, the secretary of state for the colonies. He said he would be glad if we would do so. I have accordingly made an appointment for Mr. Foster with Mr. Chamberlain for next Saturday, “the first minute,” he says, “he has disengaged.”

As I have before observed to you in this correspondence, the attention of the Government seems to be devoted exclusively this year to the cultivation of the imperial idea in the colonies, and nothing will be done which will militate against this sentiment.

I have had some conversation with the Japanese minister at this court, in which he showed a favorable disposition to the project of a conference at Washington. Mr. Foster will converse further with him on the subject.

I have, etc.,

John Hay.