to Mr. Evarts.
Santiago, Chili, November 15, 1878. (Received December 26.)
Sir: The mail which leaves Valparaiso to-morrow will be closed here in about an hour, and I must therefore make my dispatch exceedingly brief. It refers to the ship Devonshire, and the boundary dispute with the Argentine Government.
I neglected to say in my former dispatches that when I was informed by the minister of foreign relations that an American vessel was loading with guano at Monte Leon, I addressed a note to the captain in which I informed him of the claim made by Chili to that territory, and suggested that it would be well for him to avoid a conflict with the authorities of either the Chilian or Argentine Governments. This note was left with the minister of foreign relations for delivery, but from some cause it failed to reach its destination.
In a conference which I had with the minister a few days since, I called his attention to this fact and suggested that, inasmuch as the legation had taken such steps as prudence seemed to dictate to prevent the vessel from coming in conflict with the authorities of Chili, and that inasmuch as the letter to that end failed to reach its destination through no fault of the legation, it seemed to me that, in view of the friendly relations existing between our respective countries, Chili could well afford to release the ship unconditionally.
The suggestion was well received, and the minister yesterday informed me that the government had determined, if I would embody in a note the ideas which I had suggested to him verbally, to place the vessel at liberty. This I did yesterday, and the orders were, the minister has just informed me, soon after issued directing the governor of Magallanes to permit the Devonshire to go to sea. The formal answer to my note has not yet been received, but there is no doubt of the facts stated. A government vessel leaves Valparaiso to-day for Punta Arenas, conveying necessary orders. The release is made unconditionally.
The Chili Navy is moving in the direction of the Straits of Magellan, and it is understood here that the Argentine Government is sending its war vessels in the same direction. Negotiations are, however, being carried on here looking to a peaceful settlement of the dispute, and I have reason for believing that actual hostilities will be avoided.
I have, &c.,