No. 277.
Mr. Phelps to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 55.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a published copy of General Caceres’ letter to General Iglesias, in reply to one of his, a copy of which I sent you, appealing to Caceres to submit to this Government.

* * * * * * *

The country had erected Caceres into a sort of hero, being the only one about whom the nation could throw any of the halo of military glory or of patriotic persistence in the defense of the country. Had he come here at any time in the past few months, he would have been received with a grand ovation. In the absence of the Chilian troops, he could have come triumphant to Lima without firing a shot.

This letter shapes out no line of policy, enters into no details of resources and means of resistance, offers nothing around which the country might rally in the hope of forcing better terms from an unrelenting foe.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 55.]

General Caceres to General Iglesias.

[El Brin Publico, Lima, January 17, 1884.—Translation.]

Señor General: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your esteemed favor of the present month, the contents of which had been made known to me through publications of the Lima press.

In replying to it I shall endeavor to avoid, as far as possible, the hateful field of recrimination to which usually tend endeavors to harmonize ideas and sentiments touching the grand international contest in which the Republic is engaged. Thus, perhaps, I may not altogether avoid certain expressions which, from poverty of language, will awaken and wound susceptibilities.

I perfectly understand that peace is the first necessity of the people, but this once broken I also comprehend that a state of war does not justify every means to re-establish peace.

Although you flatter yourself with having realized your noble purpose of pacifying the country to the satisfaction of the national patriotism, I either deceive myself or fear that the treaty of peace made with Chili, the conditions of which are yet unknown to me, may be, in the disguise of a decorous arrangement, the text of an ominous law imposed by an implacable and haughty victor upon the vanquished, who, on bended knee, implored his clemency.

Amongst the reasons prompting disconsolate views is the conviction that Chili, blinded by sordid avarice for territorial aggrandizement, far from modifying her onerous demands, will sustain them unaltered, if not augmented, flattered by the grand spectacle offered her of a government owing its establishment exclusively to the ignominious work of her bayonets, and which does not dispose to forgetfulness of its ignoble origin, destroying the obligations, and purposes you gained by dint of perseverance and self-denial.

Such is the sad way in which the force of logic compels us to view the course of events.

But, be this as it may, in order to give a categorical answer to the call which you have seen tit to extend to me in your letter, it is necessary to make me acquainted with the conditions of the treaty made with Chili. Should these conform to what self-respect and the well-understood interests of the Republic require, believe me, general, I shall hasten to offer, in good faith, the modest contingent of my services [Page 407] and to share with you the arduous and glorious task of saving the country, for I shall then secure the satisfaction of my most vehement desires and I shall have attained the object which I have incessantly pursued in four years of bloody contest; but, on the other hand, nothing can make me renounce the convictions and well-settled purposes with which I have been inspired by the line of conduct followed step by step, and with no ambitious personal views, in the long course of the war, without taking into account the dangers and difficulties of the contest, for there is no sacrifice that I am not ready to make for the service of my country, it being better to perish in the endeavor rather than to see one’s self humiliated under the yoke of an ignominious peace.

In this thorny path I am accompanied with an unyielding faith and perseverance by the self-denying people under my jurisdiction, who are full of the convictions I here express, since, should fate be adverse, defrauding our efforts of the hoped for success, we shall at least not appear, in the eyes of posterity, unworthy of the cause we profess and defend. Meanwhile, I shall endeavor to keep alive the torch of faith and patriotic enthusiasm, preserving by this means unalterable in the bosoms of the brave people who sustain the beautiful banner of resistance, under whose shadow alone can now take shelter those social guarantees which would soon be overthrown by the whirlwind of popular sentiment, violently opposed in what it holds most sacred, the love of country.

Your obedient servant,