Mr. Hay to Mr. Bridgman.
Washington, January 4, 1900.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 154, of the 30th of November last, in which you state that you explained to the Bolivian Government that you were asked to temporarily assume the duties of chargé d’affaires, as diplomatic interests might require, over the subjects and interests of Great Britain, until the appointment of a representative by that Government, and that it was desired that Mr. Zalles might act temporarily as a consular officer of Great Britain, where consular interests were concerned, until the appointment of a consular officer by that Government.
You add that the Bolivian foreign office replied that the Government would recognize you when furnished with the usual documents.
In reply I have to say that it is somewhat unfortunate that in your request to the Bolivian Government you announced your temporary assumption of the duties of British chargé, and also Mr. Zalles’s temporary assumption of British consular representation. So presented, the Bolivian Government may not unnaturally have attached a formality to your official position which would not have been the case had you followed the general rule of stating that you had been asked to continue your good offices in behalf of British subjects and interests pending the designation of British officers. The object was, not to invite your recognition in the character of British chargé d’affaires ad interim, but to ask that in the absence of any British representative you, as the United States minister, might be permitted to speak, unofficially and by way of good offices, in favor of any British interests which might appear to deserve that kind of mediation on your part. The latter is the usual way of proceeding when unrepresented foreign interests are provisionally intrusted to a representative of the United States in a foreign country. The officer whose good offices are thus permitted is [Page 110] in no sense an officer of the unrepresented Government—he does not report to it, nor take its orders. His communication with it is indirectly effected through his own Government. Upon your making this clear to the Bolivian Government it is thought there can be no difficulty in the way of your exerting your good offices in the manner asked by the British Government and contemplated by the instruction sent to you.
I am, etc.,