763.72/1671

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I take the liberty to report to you the following very remarkable coincidence. Your first long Note to the British Government reached us by cable in cipher on the 24th of December,33 which was the day before a week’s holiday—ten days’ holiday in fact—for they make much of Christmas here and everything is suspended for at least ten days. Your last Note to the British Government34 was received in cable the day before the Easter holiday, which is the other great holiday in English life. Under normal conditions everybody leaves London, official people and all, for nearly a fortnight during these two holidays; and most of all the principal papers skip an issue for about half the days in these holidays.

Of course we shall never send many more long notes, and of course it could never happen again that any one of them would come just on the eve of one of the two long holidays, so that there is no use in our making a note guarding against a repetition of these unfortunate dates, and I merely report this to you as one of the curiosities of life and as an explanation of the apparently unusual length of time that had to elapse before publication. The Englishmen take their holidays very seriously.

But the publication of this last Note, as you have of course been informed, came off all very well, and it has had an excellent reception from the Press. I have not yet had any discussion of it officially because Sir Edward Grey has gone off to rest a little to keep from [Page 701]breaking down, but I have just heard this morning that the Prime Minister remarked that as a lawyer he regarded it as a very able document, and he thought that the stress was laid on exactly the right places.

I do take the liberty, however, to make the following suggestion, that, in case of any future long notes, you might consider the propriety of sending them by mail. They would really reach me practically as soon as they can be made ready by cable. When you count the time required to put them in cipher, to translate out of the cipher and to secure corrections, I believe that we would gain time, and of course we would save expense, by sending them by the pouch, unless of course there was some special reason for wishing to save possibly a day. I should like an expression of opinion from you regarding this method of transmission of any answer, provided it is a long answer, that the British Government may give to your last Note. If we say nothing about the despatch of the Note, the newspaper people will of course have no reason to be inquisitive.

With my congratulations on the continued good feeling between this Government and our own, which was never better at any period since the war began than it is now,

I remain [etc.]

Walter H. Page