Page:The Fall of Maximilan's Empire.djvu/59

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a temporary cessation of operations, some sort of explanation seemed due to General Benavides, and Captain Roe addressed him a letter, giving a plain statement of facts and enclosing a copy of the Imperial Commissary's letter requesting the meeting. In making the offers of mediation, they had acted upon the supposition that the request had been made in good faith, which proved not to be the case, and the desire of the British and United States representatives to save loss and prevent bloodshed was therefore fruitless. They were therefore compelled to leave matters to their natural solution and to the course of war. "There is nothing more to expect in the way of a pacific solution to the question by way of mediation or friendly offers of service."

Benavides appreciated the situation thoroughly, and simply answered that in a few days he would have his batteries ready and heavy guns in position, and that within eight days the city would be bombarded. This is an extreme measure to take under any circumstances, and one that the General had not entertained at first. It is possible that he received orders from superior authority to mince matters no longer, or else he had come to the conclusion that the circumstances warranted a decisive course of action. The circumstances were indeed peculiar. The English Minister accredited to Prince Maximilian had stated in a despatch to his