Mr. Woodford to Mr. Sherman.

No. 47.]

Sir: I beg to acknowledge receipt this day of your dispatch No. 43.

In reply to your suggestion that owing to the change of ministry in Spain the answer to the tender of good offices on the part of the United States may be somewhat delayed, I think the Spanish Government will answer before the 1st of November proximo.

In further reply to your request that I take early opportunity to communicate the condition of affairs in Spain and the probable attitude of the new ministry, compared with that of the preceding one, I can only say that I believe the present Sagasta ministry is to-day somewhat in doubt as to just how it will reply to our note, and is seeking to sound public opinion in Spain and in Europe. I do not expect that Spain will accept our tender of good offices. My best judgment is that the note, when received, will prove to be a general offer of somewhat indefinite autonomy, with a general expression of hope on the part of Spain that the rebellion in Cuba will be practically ended at an early day. I do not think any date will be fixed. I doubt whether the Spanish official mind comprehends real autonomy as Englishmen and Americans would understand autonomy. I doubt whether Spain could give in theory or enforce in fact such autonomy as Canada has. You are in closer touch with Cuba than I am, and can better judge whether Cubans will be satisfied with such autonomy as they will probably get.

The best judgment I can form to-day is, after all, but speculation. The tenor of the Spanish reply is likely to be changed at the last moment, and until it is delivered I prefer not to express very positive convictions as to its probable contents.

I thank you for your generous and cordial approval of what I said to the Duke de Tetuan about the fidelity of our Government in observing our international obligations to Spain. I shall not admit, directly or indirectly, in any manner or for any purpose, that my Government has been at all derelict. Indeed, I believe that under very difficult conditions we have done our duty so faithfully that Spain owes us gratitude and not criticism for faithful observance of our neutrality duties.

I will try to keep you advised fully as to the situation, but I prefer to report facts rather than speculative theories.

I have, etc.,

Stewart L. Woodford.