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features of the American character; and thenceforward the statesmen of the North were a little more cautious in their language, and a little more vigorous in their actions. But at the moment the evident inability of the North to subjugate the South strengthened the hands of those who thought the European powers might intervene in the contest. Though the interests of France were less immediately concerned than those of England, the French were from the first less ready to play a neutral part than the English. M. Mercier, a man of ability, who represented the French at Washington, from the outset recommended a more decisive policy. In March he advised his Government to recognise the Confederate States; and in May he expressed a strong opinion in favour of raising the blockade. On the 17th of October Lord Russell wrote to Lord Palmerston— There is much good sense in Mercier's observations. But we must wait. I am persuaded that, if we do anything, it must be on a grand scale. It will not do for England and France to break a blockade for the sake of getting cotton. But, in Europe, powers have often said to belligerents, Make up your quarrels. We propose to give terms of pacification which we think fair and equitable. If you accept them, well and good. But, if your adversary accepts them and if you refuse them, our mediation is at an end, and you must expect to see us your enemies. France would be quite ready to hold this language with us. If such a policy were to be adopted the time for it would be the end of the year, or immediately before the meeting of Parliament.
Lord Palmerston, whose answer to this letter has been printed by his biographer, thought that “our best and true policy [was] to go on as we have begun and to keep quite clear of the conflict.'
In the meanwhile an event was about to occur in the Atlantic which made the question of intervention merely of secondary importance.
The Confederate States appointed two gentlemen Messrs. Mason and Slidell, to proceed to Europe, accredited to the English and French Governments respectively. These gentlemen embarked at Charleston on the ‘Nashville, succeeded in running the blockade, and landed in Cuba. It was correctly assumed that they would embark at Havana on the ‘Trent,’ a West Indian mail steamer, and travel in her to Europe; it was believed that the Government of the United States had issued orders for intercepting the ‘Trent’ and for capturing the envoys; and it was noticed that a Federal man-of-war had arrived at Falmouth and after coaling had proceeded to Southampton. Lord Russell laid these facts before the law officers; and was advised that a United States man-of-war, falling in with a British mail steamer, would have the right to board her, open her mail bags, examine their contents, and, if the steamer should prove liable to confiscation for carrying despatches from the enemy, put a prize crew on board and carry her to a port of the United States for adjudication. In that case the law officers thought she might, and in their opinion she ought to, disembark the passengers on the mail steamer at some convenient port. But, they added, “she would have no right to remove Messrs. Mason and Slidell and carry them off as prisoners, leaving the ship to pursue her voyage.’ A few days before the law officers gave this opinion the ‘San Jacinto, an American war steamer, intercepted the “Trent, and did the very thing which the law officers had advised she had no right to do. Without capturing the steamer and carrying her into port for adjudication, she arrested Messrs. Mason and Slidell and their two secretaries. The law officers, consulted on these facts, adhered to their
* The “Nashville,' on which Messrs. Slidell and Mason had sailed from
Charleston to Cuba, ran the gauntlet of the Federal navy, captured and burnt at sea a Havre United States packet ship, and, placing the crew of the latter on board, arrived at Southampton for coal. Acting on the clear opinion of the law officers of the Crown, Lord Russell decided that the vessel of a power which had been recognised as a belligerent had a right of shelter in British waters, provided she took on board no munitions of war, or committed any other breach of neutrality. But the incident soon afterwards became more complicated from the arrival of a Federal war steamer—the ‘Tuscarora’—at Southampton, with the evident object of watching and capturing the “Nashville.” Directions were issued to the Admiralty, on the advice of the law officers, to take vigorous steps to prevent any act of war in British waters by stationing a vessel of superior force at Southampton, and by not allowing one vessel to put to sea until a clear twentyfour hours after the sailing of the other. The commander of the ‘Tuscarora,' the stronger ship of the two, endeavoured to evade these orders; but, after weeks of anxious watching and correspondence, both vessels sailed at intervals which accorded with the prescribed arrangement.
previous opinion, and pronounced the conduct of the com: mander of the ‘San Jacinto illegal and unjustifiable by international law.
These grave facts were naturally at once considered by the Cabinet, and it was decided at a meeting on the last day of November to demand immediate reparation. The despatch which was drawn up by Lord Russell for that purpose has a peculiar interest. It was the last official document ever laid before the Prince Consort, and its language was modified in accordance with his suggestions. In its ultimate shape it declared that the British Government “was willing to believe that the United States officer who committed the aggression was not acting in compliance with any authority from his Government, or that, if he considered himself so authorised, he greatly misunderstood the instructions which he had received.'
The Government of the United States must be fully aware that the British Government could not allow such an affront to the national honour to pass without due reparation. . . . Her Majesty's Govern. ment therefore trust that, when these matters shall have been brought under the consideration of the Government of the United States, that Government will of its own accord offer to the British Governmentsuch redress as alone would satisfy the British nation, namely, the liberation of the four gentlemen, and their delivery to your Lordship, in order that they may be again placed under British protection; and a suit. able apology for the aggression which has been committed.
In a second despatch Lord Lyons was told that—
should Mr. Seward ask for delay in order that this grave and painful matter should be deliberately considered, you will consent to a delay not exceeding seven days. If, at the end of that time, no answer is given, or if any other answer is given except that of a compliance with the demands of her Majesty's Government, your Lordship is instructed to leave Washington with all the members of your legation, bringing with you the archives of the legation, and to repair immediately to
you should not take my despatch with you, but should prepare him for it, and ask him to settle with the President and the Cabinet what course they would propose.
The next time you should bring my despatch and read it to him fully.
If he asks you what will be the consequence of his refusing compliance, I think you should say that you wish to leave him and the President quite free to take their own course, and that you desire to abstain from anything like menace.
I think the disposition of the Cabinet is to accept the liberation of the captive commissioners, and to be rather easy about the apology. That is to say, if the commissioners are delivered to you, and allowed to embark in a packet for England, and an apology or explanation is sent through Mr. Adams, that might be taken as a substantial compliance. But if the commissioners are not liberated no apology will suffice.
These despatches and letters, if they had been sent alone, would have been sufficiently grave. Their gravity was emphasised by the hurried despatch of the Guards and other troops to Canada, and by the fact that instructions, in consonance with them, were sent to Sir A. Milne, who commanded the British fleet in American waters.
In 1862 science had not bound the United States with England by the compelling force of electricity, and forty anxious days passed before Lord Russell received the answer to his ultimatum. The strain of expectation would, under any circumstances, have been extreme. It so happened, however, that, while Court, Cabinet, and country were anxiously waiting the answer to Lord Russell's question, Is it peace 2 the Prince Consort died at Windsor.
The death of the Prince greatly affected Lord Russell.
* Lord Russell wrote after the Prince's death to his daughter Lady V. Villiers,
who had recently lost her father-in-law, the Bishop.– December 25, 1861.
My dearest Toza, You will have guessed why I did not write before; and now I have another letter to thank you for. Amidst all the desolation of the Queen, and the public loss to the nation, I feel for Henry and you in the great loss you have sustained since your marriage.
Every day tells us that neither strength, nor vigour of age, nor ease of position, nor virtuous exertion gives any certainty against the unforeseen summons of God. But we know not what is best for us, mor when it is that the thread of life is complete--at twenty, at fifty, at seventy, or later still. We can only bend [?], and
Though on many questions of foreign policy he differed from his Royal Highness, he had a high opinion of his character, his motives, his conduct, and his abilities. Long tenure of office had thrown him into such constant communication with the Court that the Prince's death was the loss of a friend. Private sorrow was intensified by a sense of public misfortune. For, though the Queen expressed her determination to act in everything as the Prince would have wished, the weight of her grief justified and enforced a temporary seclusion, which could not otherwise but cause inconvenience to the public service. Lord Russell did not see the Queen for seven weeks after the Prince's death. Twelve months more elapsed before Lord and Lady Russell paid a visit to the Queen at Windsor. And in the meanwhile the progress of civil strife in America, and other matters to be afterwards mentioned, kept the Foreign Office abnormally active. During the summer of 1862 the Federal cause seemed to grow more and more gloomy. To quote Lord Russell's own words— Great efforts have been made. An immense army, carefully drilled,
and abundantly supplied with stores of ammunition, clothing, and provisions, were advanced by the James River towards Richmond. After a week's severe fighting, this army was driven back to the Potomac, with a diminution of their numbers, it is said, from 140,000 to 60,000 or 70,000 men. Sickness, losses in battle, and captures by the enemy, produced this fearful reduction. General Pope, who endeavoured to make a diversion in front of Richmond, fared no better. His rear was surprised, his baggage cut off, and his whole force, after being defeated in a pitched battle, retired hastily to Washington. The Confederates attempted in their turn an aggression upon Maryland and Pennsylvania. But the invasion likewise failed ; and, after the severe and bloody action near Sharpsburg, the Confederate army retired across the Potomac. In these various movements both armies have displayed great courage, and have sustained immense losses. But neither has obtained a decisive superiority, and, as the war is aggressive on the part of the North, and defensive on the part of the South, this result must be considered as favourable to the Southern CauSe.
endeavour to perform our own part as those who have gone before us have worthily
performed theirs. . . .-Yours affectionately, RUSSELL.