Mr. Tassara to Mr. Seward.

The undersigned, minister plenipotentiary of her Catholic Majesty, has had the honor to receive the notes of the 24th and 27th, from the department, in answer to his of the 24th and 25th, about the detention of the Meteor. The honorable Secretary of State ad interim replies in both that prompt attention will be given to the affair, and the undersigned hopes this may be done with the urgency which the case requires. At the same time, and referring to his previous note of the 9th about what was said in the World, of the 6th, of the departure of two vessels, armed with torpedoes, for Chili, the undersigned feels bound again to call the attention of the department to a correspondence, dated at New York the 30th December, and published in the Herald, from London, and which has been copied in the papers of this country, referring pointedly to the same facts which had already been published in the World.

It is hard upon the undersigned to be obliged to dwell upon such suppositions, and he now repeats his security in respect of the high responsibilities which, calumniously no doubt, are compromised by them. Whatever may be the origin of them, notwithstanding, and strange as may be to the government of the United States acts like those mentioned, their transcendence is so much the greater when, in many minds, they are mixed up with facts, such as the explosion at Taboga, and prove more and more the movements of the conspiracy which, under the shade of neutrality, exists in this country to violate that very neutrality adversely to Spain. In the face of such facts, the government of the United States cannot remain indifferent, and supposing orders, which doubtless have been given on these matters, and the investigations which have been made into them, the undersigned can do no less than call the attention of the department to the necessity of disavowing, in some manner, the opinion that the neutrality of the United States can be publicly and with impunity violated by preventing, among other things, floating about, without correction, notices such as that which assumes the possibility that Vessels of the navy—the ram Dun derberg, which is still in the hands of its builder, Mr. Webb—may be sold to the agents of the Chilian government.

The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to reiterate to the Secretary of State ad interim the assurance of his highest consideration.


Hon. William Hunter, Acting Secretary of State.

[Page 599]

the chilian question—alleged american aid and comfort to the chilians—effect of the capture of the covadonga in europe, &c.

[Correspondence London Herald.]

An expedition has already sailed from this port, the object of which is to make a direct attack—an attack which, if successful, will put an end to the blockade—upon the Spanish fleet in Chilian waters. The design of the inspirers and leaders of this expedition is to destroy the Spanish vessels with torpedoes; and what is most important, the enterprise receives at least the covert sanction of the United States government, as represented in one of its highest officials. A few weeks since, Señor McKenna, the Chilian special agent, waited upon Secretary Welles, and represented to that officer the necessity for the destruction of the Spanish fleet. He spoke of the benefits that would result to the United States from such an event, and finally enlisted the sympathies as well as the more practical assistance of the honorable Secretary. The Chilian ambassador told Mr. Welles that the American civil war afforded a striking example of what might be done in the way of annoying a hostile fleet, and declared, in plain language, that his government was determined to try the virtue of torpedoes in the work of opening its ports. He therefore entreated the Secretary to give him the name of some person then or formerly in the employment of the federal government upon whose experience and sagacity the Chilians could rely. Mr. Welles consented, and furnished him with a letter of introduction to an engineer, then residing in New York, who had served the United States during the war, and the efficacy of whose inventions had been thoroughly tested Señor McKenna put himself in communication with this officer, and the upshot of the whole affair is that one vessel, conveying a cargo of torpedoes, has already sailed for the Chilian coast. Others are to follow in due time. These submarine shells were made in the Novelty Iron Works in this city; the vessel was loaded at the company’s wharf. No attempt at concealment was made. The torpedoes passed, to those who witnessed the shipment, as well as to the workmen engaged in their manufacture, as “soda-water fountains.”, The engineer who has undertaken the task of raising the blockade is the brother of an enterprising American who has long enjoyed the confidence of the Chilian government, and who has accumulated a handsome fortune in the construction of railways in Chili. All parties concerned in the work of blowing up the fleet have been promised the protection of the government they seek to benefit; all bear regular commissions, signed by the Chilian authorities. The leader in the enterprise is to receive thirty thousand dollars in gold as soon as the Spanish admiral’s flag-ship is destroyed, and he has, in addition, a regular salary of five hundred dollars per month in gold. His assistants also receive five hundred dollars per month. What is quite significant is the fact that the torpedo vessel used by our enterprising Yankees was sold to them by the United States government at a merely nominal price. In fact, the whole affair is winked at by our government. I understand that the British consul here has been placed in possession of the more important of the facts above related. The matter cannot long be kept a secret here; indeed, in a few weeks it is highly probable that it will be made public in the most startling and convincing manner.