Mr. Rale to Mr. Seward

No. 74.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch No. 52, dated December 20th, 1866.

It was received yesterday, and to-day I called on General Calonge, the minister of state and communicated the same to him. He expressed himself highly gratified at the offer therein made by the government of the United States for the arrangement of the difficulties pending between Spain and the South American states with whom she was at war, and he wishes me to express to you, in his name, on behalf of the government of her Majesty, their sincere and hearty thanks for the offer of mediation thus made. At the same time he suggested that the peculiar situation of Spain in this affair was embarrassing, owing to the mediation of France and England, of the result of which they had had no official or certain information; and while that was open and pending, and the Spanish government had no official knowledge of what had been done or was being done, perhaps it would hardly be decorous or proper for Spain to close at once with the offer thus made by the United States.

There was, he said, another embarrassing circumstance in this affair, and it was this: that while hostilities had been measurably suspended pending the mediation, the allied republics were improving the time for making preparations for recommencing the war with more vigor, and that imposed on Spain also the necessity of making preparations for such a contingency.

General Calonge, however, remarked that he only spoke for himself; but that to-morrow he should submit the matter to the council of ministers for their judgment and decision. He manifested a good deal of impatience at France and England not having given him any account of the result of their mediation, and said he would prefer to have that result stated, whether unfavorable or not to the present embarrassing position of uncertainty.

I have not pretended to give the precise language of General Calonge, nor indeed would that be possible, writing in English, for he spoke in the Spanish [Page 519] language; but I am entirely confident that I have given you fairly the substance and import of what he said.

If I may be permitted to add my own opinion, from the manner in which the proposition which you made was received, it is that the offer was very acceptable and grateful to the Spanish government, and but for the embarrassing circumstances before mentioned, would be promptly accepted.

I presume I shall hear from General Calonge after the propositions have been submitted to the council of ministers and they have acted thereupon.

Whenever I learn anything more on the subject, I will lose no time in advising you.

With much respect, I have the honor to be your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.