to Mr. Christiancy.
Washington, January 25, 1881.
Sir: I regret that a report which has been communicated to the Department obliges me to request that you will make a strong representation in the premises to the Peruvian Government, should you find on inquiry that the report is well founded. This report is that the Peruvians have made use, during the present war with Chili, of “boats containing explosive materials” which have “in some instances been sent adrift on the chance of their being fallen in with by some of the Chilian blockading squadron.” How far the case of the launch to which you refer in your No. 183, which was loaded with concealed dynamite, comes within the description of cases mentioned, the Department has not the requisite data to determine.
It is sufficiently obvious that this practice must be fraught with danger to neutral vessels entitled to protection under the law of nations, and that in case American vessels are injured thereby, this government can do no less than hold the Government of Peru responsible for any damage which may be thus occasioned.
There is no disposition on the part of this government to act in anywise nor in any spirit which may be construed as unnecessarily critical of the methods whereby Peru seeks to protect her life or territory against any enemy whatsoever; but it will appear, I think, to the high [Page 858] sense of propriety which has in times past distinguished the councils of the Peruvian Government, and which without doubt still abides therein, that in case it is ascertained that means and ways so dangerous to neutrals as those adverted to have been for any reason suffered to be adopted by her forces, or any part of them, they should be at once checked, not only for the benefit of Peru, but in the interest of a wise and chivalrous warfare, which should constantly afford to neutral powers the highest possible consideration.
It is understood that the British minister at Lima may be instructed to make like representations on the part of his government.
I am, &c.,