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had learnt, by reliable information, that hostilities had actually begun here between the allied forces and those of Mexico.
The next question discussed was that of the special claims of each nation, their amount, and the manner of presenting them; and after in vain endeavouring to persuade the French Minister to modify the demands he had drawn out, it was finally resolved, as neither General Prim nor myself could sustain them as they stood, to refer the whole question to our respective Governments, with the recommendation that a Sub-Commission of competent persons, with an Accountant, should be appointed by the 3 Governments to examine into and settle the amount of the special claims pot included in the general terms of the Treaty.
We then agreed that each Commissioner should present his ultimatum to his colleagues, in order that these documents might be transmitted to our respective Governments, who would then be able to judge of their fitness, and whether they should be sustained or not.
As before said, neither General Prim nor myself could compromise our Governments by sustaining the ultimatum of M. de Saligny as it then stood. We again urged him to withdraw it, and only to present, in conjunction with ourselves, a demand for the fulfilment of all existing Treaties and engagements entered into between Mexico and the 3 Powers, leaving the others meanwhile in suspense; but he said that his instructions prohibited him from separating the recognized from the unrecognized claims: and then it was that we agreed to withhold the presentation of any sort of claim until this question should be decided on at home.
Hereon followed a conversation as to whether each of the 3 Governments was bound to see the claims of the two others satisfied as well as its own, and the Spanish and French Agents stated their conviction that such must be the meaning of the Treaty.
It having been rumoured that General Doblado had come down to Orizaba to treat with us, we all agreed that in such a case we would inform him of our intention not to press our claims at present, but to use our best efforts to secure the existence of a firm and respectable Government, and that in the meantime a more healthy and convenient position should be granted to the allied forces than Vera Cruz, where, from the agglomeration of troops, sickness was much to be feared.
If such could be peaceably obtained, Commodore Dunlop expressed his desire to accompany the allied forces with the battalion of British Marines, for the sake of removing them from the danger of yellow fever on the coast.
The conference closed by deciding to send a merchant-vessel, escorted by war-steamers, to the port of Alvarado, down the coast,
for the purpose of purchasing cattle, mules, carts, harness, &c., which would be required to enable the troops to march into the interior, Earl Russell
C. LENNOX WYKE.
No. 30.—Sir C. Wyke to Earl Russell.-(Received March 2.) (Extract.)
Vera Cruz, January 19, 1862. In my despatch of yesterday's date, I allude to conversations which took place at the Conferences on the 13th and 14th instant, on subjects of great delicacy and importance which should be brought to the separate notice of our respective Governments with a view to our obtaining special instructions thereon. .
I will now endeavour to relate, as correctly and concisely as possible, what occurred on those occasions, in order to give your Lordship an idea of the difficulty which at present exists to cripple our combined action in a matter requiring the most perfect concord, provided always that the Treaty between the 3 Powers binds each of them to exact from the Mexican Government the acknowledgment and satisfaction of the claims brought forward by the other two. As your Lordship's instructions to me do not bear on this point, I beg to be informed whether my French and Spanish colleagues are correct in supposing and asserting, as they do, that such is really the case.
We come here, as I understand the intervention, to oblige the Mexicans to fulfil all the obligations they have contracted by their Treaties and Conventions with us, as well as to obtain from their authorities better protection for the persons and properties of our subjeets residing here. So far all is elear and easily understood ; but besides this, when each Agent had to send in an ultimatum embodying all the demands of his Government, it became necessary to bring forward the claims against this Government arising from losses and injuries inflicted on our countrymen for a long time past, and which still remain unsettled.
Now these claims are, as your Lordship is aware, of two sorts, that is to say, those already acknowledged by the Mexican Government as just, and those which are not so acknowledged, or which have not yet been examined into and duly presented for payment. The great difficulty an Agent has to encounter here is the management of this latter class, from the difficulty he experiences in arriving at a correct opinion as to their real validity.
Amongst the body of foreign residents in this unfortunate. country, 19 out of every 20 have a claim of some sort or other against the Government: inany of them are really founded in justice, whilst others have been trumped up and fabricated as good speculations to obtain money as compensation for some imaginary
injury, such as a 3 days' imprisonment, which they have brought on themselves, purposely, for the sake of establishing a claim, which they then bring forward at some exorbitant rate. If the Minister supports these, he is accused, of course, of great injustice by the Mexican Government; if he refuses to do so, he brings down the most lavish abuse on himself and his acts by the disappointed claimant, as your Lordship will have recently seen was the case with me in the columns of the “Mexican Extraordinary," so that, act as he will, he is nearly sure to be in hot water either one way or the other.
I have prefaced what I am about to say relative to such claims with this explanation, as it was necessary to do so in order that your Lordship may fully understand what took place in our conferences on the 13th and 14th instant, with reference to this subject of " claims."
When it was proposed by General Prim that each Commissioner should communicate to his colleagues the ultimatum he was about to send in as an inclosure in our joint note to the President, they were severally produced and perused, and it then became evident at once that neither the General nor myself could for a moment think of supporting such an ultimatum as that drawn up and presented by M. de Saligny, the French Minister. We in vain endeavoured to make him modify it by withholding all mention of the " claims" properly so called, as we were both willing to do until the whole case connected with them could be referred home for instructions, and in the meantime we requested him only to press, in common with ourselves, for those demands specified in the Con. vention between our 3 Governments; but he persisted in saying that his instructions would not allow him to do so, and we were then, therefore, obliged to come to the conclusion that we had better each withdraw his ultimatum, until we could learn whether they were approved of and intended to be supported by the joint action of our respective Governments.
I herewith inclose copies of the ultimatum we each handed in, and your Lordship will then easily understand why neither General Prim nor myself could accept the responsibility, in the name of our Governments, of supporting that of M. de Saligny.
He fixes the amount of French unsettled claims at 12,000,000 dollars, stating that he has not examined into them, as it would take him, at least, a twelvemonth to do so; but his Government having instructed him to name some particular sum for the liquidation thereof, he has named the one above mentioned as being what he considers an approximation to their value by a million or two more or less.
Now, it becomes evident from such a statement, that this is a
very loose way of handling such a question as this, and the more so as the French demand is, that this and other sums claimed shall be paid without discussion by the Mexican Government, which is thus debarred from having the justice of the claims examined into either by themselves or by some third party.
As these discussions on the justice of our respective claims should be by all means avoided, we all came to the conclusion that, taking into consideration their vast importance, they should be carefully examined into and decided on by a Sub-Commission of 3 lawyers and an accountant, named by the 3 Governments, whose duty it should be to report to us the fair amount to be claimed by each Government, which, when thus ascertained, should then be insisted on in the name of all three. There is no doubt that this is the only practical solution of the difficulty we find ourselves placed in; for mutual recriminations between the Commissioners of the 3 Powers as to the justice of their respective demands against the Mexican Government can only lead to a total paralyzation of their joint action, and thus completely frustrate the intentions of the allies.
The next point General Prim and myself objected to in M. de Saligny's ultimatum was the demand founded on the claim of the Swiss house of Jecker and Co. in Mexico.
This I will endeavour to explain in as few words as possible, and I think your Lordship will agree with me that the claim is an extraordinary one, to say the least of it. When the Miramon Government were on their last legs, and totally penniless, the house of Jecker lent them 750,000 dollars, and received in return for the advance bonds to be payable at some future period to the amount of 15,000,000 dollars.
Shortly after this outrageous proceeding, Miramon was upset, and succeeded by his rival, Juarez, who was then called on by M. Jecker, who was under French protection, to pay the abovenamed enormous sum, on the plea that one Government must be held responsible for the acts and obligations of the other. Juarez refused to do so, and in this resolution was supported by the opinion of all impartial people in Mexico. I have always understood that his Government was willing to repay the original sum lent of 750,000 dollars, with 5 per cent. interest thereon; but repudiated the idea of their being liable for the 15,000,000 dollars.
I need hardly say that such terms as these could never have been accepted, and any attempt to enforce such demands must have brought on immediate hostilities between the Mexican Government and the allies.
General Prim's ultimatum appears to me to be a fair and just
one; and as to my own, drawn up in the absence of any special instructions bearing on the case in point, I trust it will meet with your Lordship's approbation.
Having, as already stated, agreed to suspend the presentation of our respective demands until we could obtain more explicit instructions relative to them, we then determined to alter the tone of our joint note to the President, which was finally sent in as I have now the honour to transmit to your Lordship. We made it as conciliatory and pacific as possible, with a view to getting the moderate and rational members of the Government to accept our intervention in a friendly instead of a hostile spirit.
As the Mexicans have determined to abandon their ports, and concentrate their forces in the interior, we lose all hold on them unless we follow them there, and by force dictate our own terms, which, with such a land force as the allies now have here, would be impossible, owing to the resistance we should meet with from the whole population against the Spanish portion of the expedition. To keep so large an agglomeration of European troops in this small town, with the sickly season rapidly approaching, would be worse than imprudent, and therefore it was determined to be absolutely necessary to move them into the interior, as far as the first tablelands, where are situated the towns of Jalapa, Cordova, and Orizaba. To arrive at these places, however, the troops would have to pass some most formidable mountain-passes, which the Mexicans have already fortified, and are determined to defend.
These considerations convinced both General Prim and myself that we must endeavour to obtain what was required by persuasion, instead of by force ; and hence the extremely conciliatory tone of our joint note to the Mexican Government, which was dispatched on the 4th instant by our three officers, as already stated. They were instructed verbally to demand a more healthy location for the allied troops, and to point out Jalapa and Orizaba as suitable places, should they not be objected to by the Government.
Having come to this resolution, the Commissioners determined to withhold the transmission of the joint note we had written about the expulsion of the Spaniards from Tampico until we received a reply to the one sent up by the three officers.
Although the French Commissioners finally adopted the line of conduct I have described, they evidently did so with reluctance, owing to the extreme hostility of M. de Saligny to the Juarez Government, which Admiral de la Gravière seems also anxious to get rid of, with the hope of establishing a monarchy in its place. Whether such a change would be beneficial or not remains to be proved; but if it does take place, it should proceed from the will of