Mr. Iddings to Mr. Hay.

No. 471.]

Sir: Referring to the ambassador’s No. 426 of April 13, 1899, about the difficulty which the Rev. William Burt, presiding elder of the mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church at No. 38 Via Firenze, Rome, is having in trying to collect a legacy left to him, as presiding elder, by one Carlo Giovane, for the founding of an evangelical school in San Marzano, Italy, I have now the honor to send to you, with a translation, a copy of the reply to General Draper’s note to the foreign office, dated April 12, last, on the same subject, a copy of which was inclosed in his No. 426, above referred to. I have allowed the Rev. Mr. Burt to read this reply. He is well satisfied with the attitude of the Royal Government, and hopes that the meaning of the opinion is that if he does not get justice in the court of cassation, the department of grace and justice will then examine the case. Mr. Burt has taken steps to have his claim to the legacy well presented before the court of cassation.

I am, etc.,

Lewis M. Iddings.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Mr. Iddings.

His excellency the keeper of seals, to whom I hastened to communicate the contents of your note dated April 12, last, concerning the mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church at No. 38 Via Firenze, in Rome, has expressed himself to me as follows regarding the matter:

“As it is known, there are two opinions regarding the status and capacity of corporations legally established abroad, some writers holding that civil recognition in the Kingdom is indispensable in order to insure to them enjoyment of the practice of the rights pertaining to national corporations, while others hold that a new recognition is useless and even contrary to the principles of international right as accepted by our legislation.

“The ministry of grace and justice constantly followed this last opinion, in conformity with repeated similar opinions of the counsel of state, among which the original ruling of the 7th of June, 1884, in full bench, in which it was held that the recognition of the foreign corporation touching only its rights of holding property should be considered as implied in the very act by which the Government grants the authorization of purchase (requiring) to this end only being required the proof and official declaration that the corporation making the demand has a legal existence and power to hold property in the county of its origin.

“And as it results that the said missionary society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of New York was legally incorporated in the United States and was therefore authorized, by the terms of the law of June 5, 1850, to receive legacies and donations, and also in the case under examination it was authorized to receive the legacy of 7,000 lire, left by the late Carlo Giovane for founding an evangelical school in S. Marzano, as a special decree of civil recognition was not considered necessary.

“In the suit, however, instituted against the Giovane heirs for the payment of the aforesaid legacy, the tribunal of Asti, by the sentence of March 25, 1898, following the first of the above-mentioned opinions, absolved the Giovine defendants from this demand, holding that the society has not made demonstration of its legal existence in the Kingdom, and that the decree of authorization already cited was not sufficient to that end.

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“The court of appeals of Casale, by a judgment of February 17 last, confirmed this opinion, but, as has recently been stated by the attorney-general of that city, exceptions will be taken to that sentence.

“In this condition of affairs no steps can be taken in behalf of said corporation, but if the court of cassation is of the same opinion as the judges on the merits of the case, then the ministry of grace and justice, after having heard the counsel of State, will not fail to examine whether, at least in this case, a formal and explicit recognition should be granted to the foreign society in question to enable it to again take legal steps against the Giovane heirs, the judgment already given not, apparently, having prejudiced its merits.”

Pray accept, etc.,

Malvano, for the Minister.