to Mr. Fish.
Santiago de Chili,
December 27, 1873. (Received February 5, 1874.)
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 19, having reference to my own dispatch No. 16, in which the information of the request of the Chilian government that the undersigned should act as arbiter in its dispute with Bolivia is conveyed to you.
The impression made upon you that I had purposed accepting the [Page 198] trust without the consent of my Government surprised me, and I referred to my dispatch at once for the purpose of noting its exact language. A careful rereading of the dispatch, which I remember was hastily written, in order to be on time to catch a closing mail, has shown me its incompleteness, and the just cause for your misapprehension. I beg you to believe, however, that nothing was further from my intention than doing an act so unbecoming my official position.
The matter at that time had been only broached, and I advised you of it at once, in order to put you in the earliest possession of information as to the progress of affairs in this part of the world, as well as to allow ample time for the arrival of the sanction to your representative, permitting him to act as arbiter “should the proper time arrive;” which sanction I intended to ask in the concluding line of the dispatch. This is very obscurely done, as I now; see; but as it is my custom in writing to rather prefer too great prolixity than encounter the risk of want of perspicuity, I trust you will overlook the error.
What my real intention was, and what the answer I gave the minister, may be seen clearly by the following language contained in my dispatch No. 33, dated December 13:
In my dispatch No. 16 I had the honor to inform you of the request made by the minister of foreign relations that the undersigned should act as arbiter in the matter of the boundary dispute between Chili and Bolivia, and of my assent thereto, conditioned upon the approval of my Government.
And again: “I await your official sanction, however, before formally accepting the trust.”
I greatly regret that the mistake should have occurred, but I hope this explanation will rectify any false impression my dispatch may have produced.
* * * * * * *
I have, &c.,