Mr. Marsh to Mr. Seward.

No. 203.]

Sir: I saw General Menabrea this morning at his weekly reception of the members of the diplomatic corps, and said to him, that, though I was not authorized to demand explanations in regard to the objects of the Italian naval expedition now fitting out, as is said, for the waters of the La Plata, yet I was sure that my government would receive with pleasure any information on the subject which he might choose to impart confidentially either through me or through Mr. Cerruti.

General Menabrea replied that he was quite willing to be entirely frank in relation to the objects of the expedition; that its primary purpose was to relieve the Italian squadron now cruising in the South American seas, but that a somewhat imposing character was given to it on this occasion, because it was thought that the presence of a considerable naval force would facilitate negotiations for the liquidation of the claims of Italian subjects against the republic of Uruguay; that claims analogous in principle, on the part of British and French subjects, had been allowed and paid by that state; and that the Italian government thought it due to itself and its subjects to insist on equal justice to its own people; but that no idea of conquest, or of intervention in the internal affairs of any South American government, or in any differences between any two of them, had been for a moment entertained. He added, that he did not suppose that there was any probability of the necessity of a resort to force, and he was convinced that the display of a material ability to maintain the national rights and honor was all that would be required.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


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

[Page 69]