Page images

sular Corps, are Spaniards, how, then, can the object of the war be the obtaining of satisfaction from Chili, so generous and hospitable, or reparation for offences which have never been committed? How can they make a pretence of vindicating Castilian honor which has never been offended, and which, on the contrary, has been respected in all that really demands respect? Truly, either the Spanish Government is wilfully blind, or her agents have put a traitorous bandage over their eyes; because, by the war which she has undertaken, she will reap only calamity and disaster, instead of the benefits which a long and honorable peace have furnished.

"I ask again, how is it that this war exists, and threatens the two countries who are engaged in it with injuries without end?

"I do not wish in this place to discuss the events with which the Press in Spain and America has already occupied itself, and which have brought things to that deplorable state in which they are to be found, and which have been judged according to their real value, which amounts to nothing after discarding Pinzon's boasts and Mazarredo's fears.

"I will only permit myself to show you how, in relation to Chili, there has risen from such slight causes, so insignificant, so accidental some of them, so entirely free of bad intentions, and so unworthy, all of them, of occupying for more than an hour the attention of two civilized countries—a tumult of recriminations which have dragged us into a war lamentable for both.

"I am going to place before you, with the sincerity of a righteous mind, the truth-the sad, but stern truth-of all that has happened, I fulfill thus the principal_object of this letter, and conform with the promise which I made at the commencement, to explain the almost fabulous events which are unfolding themselves in the Pacific.

"Unfortunately for Spain and Chili, there existed in the latter country a diplomatic agent of the former, whose character-generous, but without energy or judgmentwas found subject to the influence of any one, and easily prevailed upon to take any particular course. Señor Tavira, with whose personal friendship I have been honored, had these defects among his numerous good qualities, and consequently he was involved in disgrace.

"In the first days of the Chincha troubles, there arose, as was natural, a violent party among the Spaniards resident in Santiago. This was principally composed of three doctors-two of some merit, and a homoeopathist who, we know not why, has had bestowed upon him the Cross of Charles III, which to-day he would have deserved to lose, on account of his contemptible adulation to the Chilians since war was declared. These men made themselves the head of a party, and united night after night in gatherings, at the house of a bookseller, also a Catalan, who should have had nought but feelings of gratitude and respect towards a country in which he counted many friends, and in which he had made his fortune.

"By that circle, and through the means of accomplices, Señor Tavira was urged to get up claims, to raise charges, to invent accusations to blow the flame between the two countries, these leaders forming a party, by means of letters written to Spain, combinations with the Spanish squadron then lying off the Chinchas, and an active propagation among the Spaniards of all classes, not only in Chili, but in all the republics of the Pacific, and even those of the Plata. This was the more incomprehensible in the leaders of this agitation in Chili, inasmuch as all of them were married to Chilians, and had children in the country. Now they wander scattered, and anathematized as ingrates, to a country to which they have done innumerable wrongs, in return for its having given them wives, homes, and respect.

"Moved by these strong but unworthy influences, Mr. Tavira qualified the position which Chili took in the Peruvian-Spanish question in a way completely false, exaggerated, and odious. And permit me to make known here, that if the Spanish Government had not possessed aught but the notes of ner Minister, and the perfidious private communications which had been written to Madrid from the Pacific, in demand of crosses or lucre, by which to judge of what had passed, she would not have formed an opinion different from that which she has manifested, nor have followed a line of conduct different from that which she has followed. But since, joined to these accusations and claims-sometimes puerile, sometimes senseless, and always unfounded-there have gone to Spain the replies of our Chancellor, it was necessary to be wilfully blind in

order not to see, overthrown and confuted, all those imputations. So certain is this, that Mr. Tavira himself, turning from his first impressions, formed through the opinions of others, and hidden intrigues, voluntarily called the convention which bears his name, and whose violent condemnation neither in Chili nor any country of the globe could be understood or explained, because in it the question of mutual honor was settled beyond all susceptibility.Thus at least they made haste to declare it, for the justification of Chili in Spain, to all the Cabinets of which was given official knowledge of that settlement.

Upon this point, I may be allowed to make an earnest protest against one of the basest calumnies which have been forged by bad Spaniards against the dignity of Chili, and Spain herself. I allude to the senseless but widely circulated rumor, that M. Tavira had received a heavy sum of money to make the referred to settlement. Such a charge is beneath discussion. Spain has not such vile sons as would sell her honor for gold, nor is Chili so mean-spirited as to seek peace by bribery. There was, in truth, an incident, traitorously distorted, which might have given rise to that imposture. When, on the first of June of the present year, Deputy Matta, objecting to the paragraphs of courtesy in the Annual Message of the President of the Republic to the Spanish Government and to her Minister in Chili, as an excessive condescention, said, in his discourse, "that perhaps these manifestations were the fruit of a secret understanding between the Spanish Envoy and the Chilian Chancery." But that secret understanding about the phrases of a public document could never be interpreted as a suspicion or an allusion to base fraud. It is also said now, by the public voice of those countries, that the partisans of the war are interested in the negociation of the heavy debt which Spain claimed from Peru, and that that is the cause of her aggression upon Chili, and of her policy resolutely hostile to America. But be it said, in honor of the race to which we all belong, such calumnies are only worthy of the obscure adventurers who invented them for a speculation. The humblest politician in Chili would be above such an imputation, and we have no reason to believe that such is not the case in Spain.

Thus I have briefly treated, but with chivalrous fidel


[ocr errors]

ity, the true history of the first part of this affair, otherwise almost incomprehensible. It appears that there were intrigues on the part of the discontented and violent who created, by means of the unwary spirit of the Spanish Minister, an imaginary diplomatic quarrel, and the storm, which afterwards increased by evil winds, by the agency of unsettled and ambitious characters in the Spanish squadron, by innumerable manifestoes indiscriminately signed, by the pure spirit of companion and countrymanship (and probably by motives less noble) has become a positive war between two countries which yesterday were living in the most perfect harmony.

Now permit to me consider the second part of this lamentable affair, or rather its denouement, for it is almost impossible to imagine that causes so insignificant should have produced such disastrous results, unless in this same denouement there may have intervened circumstances equally peculiar and no less incomprehensible to a dispassionate critic, than those which I have hastily mentioned.

In this unfortunate conflict, all has been a question of words. As, at the commencement, the bland and indecisive disposition of Mr. Tavira gave origin to the difficulty, so, in the end, the persistent obstinacy of Admiral Pareja has provoked the war. He was the most active promoter of the dissatisfaction with the Tavira-Covarrubias settlement, and since his arrival on the shores of the Pacificwhere he was born-has manifested such an inimical spirit to Chili, that many have been led to believe that he was prompted in his actions by the singular idea of avenging the death of his relative, General Pareja, who fell in the War of Independence, commanding a Spanish army on our coasts, fifty years ago.

The Tavira settlement, disapproved by the Spanish Government, through the influence of her Admiral in the Pacific, and Tavira himself dismissed from office, the error was committed of urging to the utmost reparation for the offence given and of replacing the Minister who was responsible for it. This was a signal evidence that Spain herself intentionally sought a war with Chili. The same thing had been done in Peru respecting the assault of Pinzon. Mazarredo was sent to make right his misdeeds, and, entrusted with the curing of the disease, had only made it worse. It was desirable to put an

end to the difficulties caused by the Tavira Convention, and so Admiral Pareja was sent to Chili-the very man who had been its bitterest censor, and who was interested in condeming it under all its phases. Could this fail to kindle the flame which threatens to embrace us all, if the wood or the fire are approached to the pile already prepared?

And not only that; as an individual, as a character, Admiral Pareja has done all that was in his power to make a settlement impossible. He chose the glorious day which we celebrate as the anniversary of our independence, to arrive in our ports, without any intimation whatever tending to reunite the diplomatic relations which had not yet been broken, he sent us a peremptory and offensive ultimatum, to which there was no reply except war, and in fact commenced this by establishing, with four men-of-war, a blockade over the seventy or more ports of our coasts, without any previous notice to neutral comcommerce; seizing all Chilian property within reach of his guns, and jesting at all positive law of the public right of nations, as has been made evident by the unanimous protests of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps accredited to the Republic.

Thus it has been not events, but characters, not the offences of one nation against another, but the isolated acts of individuals, not mutual advantage nor the demands of the law of nations, but the personal defects of the emissaries of Spain, which have brought about this sad conflict, whose consequences it is given to none to foresee. The weakness of Mr. Tavira in getting up accusations destitute of all foundation, and the violence of Admiral Pareja in aggravating them by unjustifiable acts-in them you have the only cause of this war of individuals, of imperfect organizations, of inconsiderate elections on the part of the Spanish Government, so far, unfortunately for her, from the theater of events, and consequently incapable of comprehending their true character.

And it is necessary, sir, that you should understand that I speak here under the hypothesis, honorable and rational, that all Spain seeks in Chili is reparation for an imaginary grievance, and that such a claim may have been made in the most complete good faith.

I ought to declare to you, with the moderation which I

« PreviousContinue »