No. 536.
Mr. Christiancy to Mr. Blaine.

No. 263.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatches Nos. 254 and 256, I have the honor to say that when those dispatches were written I had only received the facts by general public report. I now inclose to you the letter of Señor Manuel de Odriozola, the director of the Biblioteca National del Peru, dated March 10, but received only on the 19th, showing the spoliation of that library by the Chilian authorities, together with a translation of the same.

Referring to my dispatch No. 256, in which I stated the value of the laboratory, &c., of the School of Medicine taken by the Chilian authorities at $500,000, I have now to say that I think the value was overstated. I now understand that the laboratory was purchased in Paris for 600,000 francs. I cannot get reliable official evidence in these matters. But the fact of the laboratory having been taken by the Chilian forces (whatever may have been its value) is beyond doubt.

I have, &c.,

[Page 887]
[Inclosure No. 1 in No. 263.—Translation.]

Señor Odriozola to Mr. Christiancy.

The undersigned, director of the national library of Peru, has the honor to address himself to your excellency, in order that you may bring to the knowledge of your government the fact of the crime against civilization committed by the Chilian authorities in Lima.

To take as their property libraries, archives, cabinets of science and anatomy, and others which symbolize the intellectual progress of a nation, or help to facilitate its development, is to restore to war a character of barbarism foreign to the civilization of the age and the practices of Christian and enlightened belligerents, and to the universally recognized principles of right.

The Library of Lima was founded in 1822, a few months after the declaration of independence, and was considered by all the literary travelers who have visited it as the best among the libraries of Latin America. Being enriched through the protection of subsequent gevernments, and the gifts of private persons, it had, at the close of 1880, very nearly 50,000 printed volumes (not reckoning duplicate editions), and over 800 interesting manuscripts. True bibliographical curiosities, among which were not a few unreplaceable, or books printed during the first century after the discovery of printing, and which, as your excellency knows, are priceless works at present, very rare, either from the copies being exhausted or for not having been reprinted, especially in the branch of literature and history, the production of nearly all the chroniclers of America, a section in which the establishment was unrivaled, and books presented by foreign governments, among which the United States of America figured largely. Such, Mr. Minister, was the Library of Lima, a library of which we, the sons of Peru, were justly proud.

The capital of Lima having been surrendered to the Chilian forces the 17th January, more than a month elapsed, during which the invaders respected the institutions of learning; no fear was felt up to that time that the Chilian authorities would dare to consider as spoils of war the cabinets of the School of Medicine and university, the apparatus of the School of Arts and Mines, or the important collection of the national archives, and of other institutions of purely scientific, literary, or artistic character.

On the 26th of February, at 3 p.m., the keys of the library were demanded of us, and from that day forward the most scandalous robbery was carried on, the books being carried to Callao in carts, and, I understand, they being shipped to Santiago. The library has been sacked as though it represented war material, and but a few more days will be necessary to finish this act of rapine, carried on under the shadow of the flag of a people considered as civilized and enlightened.

In addressing myself to your excellency, I do it in order that the protest which I make in the name of cilvilization, morality, and justice may appear before America and humanity, complying in this with a double duty imposed upon me, by my duty as the director of the library, and my patriotism.

With sentiments of high consideration and respect, I have the honor to subscribe myself, your excellency’s obedient servant,


His Excellency I. P. Christiancy,
Minister of the United States in Lima.