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Under these circumstances, M. Mercier, the French representative at Washington, restated the arguments which he had from the first used in favour of intervention ; the Emperor Napoleon adopted the views of his representative, and finally Lord Palmerston himself wrote to Lord Russell, who was attending the Queen at Gotha
94 Piccadilly : September 14, 1862. My dear Russell,—The detailed accounts given in the ‘Observer' to day of the battles of August 29 and 30 between the Confederates and the Federals show that the latter got a very complete smashing ; and it seems not altogether unlikely that still greater disasters await them, and that even Washington or Baltimore may fall into the hands of the Confederates. If this should happen, would it not be time for us to consider whether in such a state of things England and France might not address the contending parties and recommend an arrangement upon the basis of separation ? . . . —Yours sincerely, PALMERSTON. Lord Russell replied— Gotha: September 17, 1862. My dear Palmerston, Whether the Federal army is destroyed or not, it is clear that it is driven back to Washington, and has made no progress in subduing the insurgent States. Such being the case, I agree with you that the time is come for offering mediation to the United States Government, with a view to the recognition of the independence of the Confederates. I agree further, that, in case of failure, we ought ourselves to recognise the Southern States as an independent State. For the purpose of taking so important a step, I think we must have a meeting of the Cabinet. The 23rd or 3oth would suit me for the meeting. We ought then, if we agree on such a step, to propose it first to France, and then, on the part of England and France, to Russia and other powers, as a measure decided upon by us. We ought to make ourselves safe in Canada, not by sending more troops there, but by concentrating those we have in a few defensible posts before the winter sets in. I hope to get home on Sunday, but a letter sent to the Foreign Office is sure to reach me. If Newcastle' has not set off, you might as well speak to him before he goes.
* The Duke of Newcastle succeeded Lord Russell, as Minister attending on the Queen, pending Lord Granville's arrival.
The Queen is, I think, much the better for the new interest which
has opened for her."—Yours truly, J. RUSSELL
Broadlands: September 23, 1862. My dear Russell,—Your plan of proceedings about the mediation between the Federals and Confederates seems to be excellent. Of course, the offer would be made to both the contending parties at the same time; for, though the offer would be as sure to be accepted by the Southerns as was the proposal of the Prince of Wales by the Danish Princess, yet, in the one case as in the other, there are certain forms which it is decent and proper to go through. A question would occur whether, if the two parties were to accept the mediation, the fact of our mediating would not of itself be tantamount to an acknowledgment of the Confederates as an independent State. Might it not be well to ask Russia to join England and France in the offer of mediation ? . . . We should be better without her in the mediation, because she would be too favourable to the North ; but on the other hand her participation in the offer might render the North the more willing to accept it. The after communication to the other European powers would be quite right, although they would be too many for mediation. As to the time of making the offer, if France and Russia agree, —and France, we know, is quite ready, and only waiting for our concurrence— events may be taking place which might render it desirable that the offer should be made before the middle of October. It is evident that a great conflict is taking place to the north-west of Washington, and its issue must have a great effect on the state of affairs. If the Federals sustain a great defeat, they may be at once ready for mediation, and the iron should be struck while it is hot. If, on the other hand, they should have the best of it, we may wait awhile and see what may follow . . .-Yours sincerely, PALMERSTON.
In the meanwhile Lord Russell had reached England, while Lord Granville had joined the Queen at Gotha. On his arrival Lord Granville received a message from Lord Russell announcing the probability of the question being brought before the Cabinet. In a very long letter he expressed his conclusion that—
* The Prince of Wales's approaching marriage.
It is premature to depart from the policy which has hitherto been adopted by you and Lord Palmerston ; and which, notwithstanding the strong antipathy to the North, the strong sympathy with the South, and the passionate wish to have cotton, has met with such general approval from Parliament, the press, and the public.
Lord Russell forwarded Lord Granville's letter to Lord Palmerston, who, writing on the 2nd of October, admitted that it contained much for serious consideration.
The condition of things which would be favourable to an offer of mediation would be great success of the South against the North. That state of things seemed ten days ago to be approaching. Its advance has been lately checked ; but we do not yet know the real course of recent events, and still less can we foresee what is about to follow ; ten days or a fortnight more may throw a clearer light upon future prospects.
Thus the course of events was already making mediation more difficult. Eleven days afterwards Lord Russell circulated among his colleagues the confidential memorandum, some of whose opening sentences have already been quoted. In this memorandum Lord Russell reviewed the condition of affairs in America ‘under three aspects, military, political, and social,' concluding—
It has now become a question for the great powers of Europe whether, in the face of the present condition of America—military forces equally balanced, and battles equally sanguinary and undecisive; political animosities aggravated instead of being softened ; social organisation not improved by a large and benevolent scheme of freedom for four millions of the human race, but embittered by exciting the passions of the slave to aid the destructive progress of armies—it has become a question, in the sight of these afflictions, and the prospect of more and worse, whether it is not a duty for Europe to ask both parties, in the most friendly and conciliatory terms, to agree to a suspension of arms for the purpose of weighing calmly the advantages of peace against the contingent gain of further bloodshed, and the protraction of so calamitous a war.
With this memorandum in their hands the Cabinet assembled from all parts of the country on the 23rd of October. But the set of the tide was making against mediation. When mediation was originally suggested by the Prime Minister, and accepted by Lord Russell, the continuous success of the Confederate arms made the partisans of the South confident of victory. But the events of September showed that, if the North had hitherto proved incapable of defeating the South, the South was unable to follow up its own successes. Its victories excited admiration, but they decided nothing. It was gradually becoming plain that success must ultimately reward the side which could hold out the longest; and its population as well as its resources enabled the North to endure and suffer longer than the South. Members of the Cabinet, moreover, doubted the policy of moving, or moving at that time. Sir G. Grey, with much good sense, declared that it was inexpedient to offer mediation until we knew that the offer would be accepted; and the Duke of Newcastle thought that the offer itself should be postponed. Considerations such as these prevented the matter being pursued any further. The Cabinet was adjourned. In the following month it refused to join France in the offer to mediate, which the Emperor of the French made alone; the Emperor's unsupported offer was declined, and the war fought out to its bitter end. In the meanwhile another and a greater embarrassment had arisen out of the war. Straining every nerve to secure their own success in the struggle, the combatants were seeking in other countries for means to carry on the war. The North, ‘having a superiority of force by sea, and having blockaded most of the Confederate ports, was able ‘safely to receive all the warlike supplies which it has induced British manufacturers and merchants to send to United States ports in violation of the Queen's proclamation, and to intercept and capture a great part of the supplies of the same kind which were destined from this country to the Confederate States.'" The South, anxious to obtain means of retaliation on Northern commerce, tried to procure armed cruisers from British ship-builders. Early in the war, a vessel, known originally as the ‘Oreto,' equipped at Liverpool, sailed for the Bahamas, was seized at Nassau, released after a full judicial investigation, ran the blockade, was armed at Mobile, and thenceforward became | Lord Russell to Mr. Adams, December 19, 1862.
known as the ‘Florida.” Late in June 1862 Mr. Adams drew Lord Russell's attention to a vessel which had been lately launched at Messrs. Laird's yard at Birkenhead, which was fitting out for the especial and manifest object of carrying on hostilities at sea, and which he alleged was about to be “commanded by one of the insurgent agents, the same who sailed in the “Oreto.”’ Lord Russell at once forwarded this communication to the commissioners of customs, who, after referring the facts to their collector at Liverpool, and the questions involved in them to their solicitor, reported on the 1st of July that “at present there is not sufficient ground to warrant the detention of the vessel.” This report was communicated by Lord Russell to Mr. Adams on the 4th of July.
On receiving this report, Mr. Adams instructed the American Consul at Liverpool “to submit to the collector of customs at that port such evidence as he possessed that the suspicions he entertains of the character of the vessel are well founded.' The Consul complied with these directions: his statement was duly referred to the commissioners of customs, who told their collector on the 15th of July that ‘there does not appear to be prima facie proof sufficient to justify the seizure of the vessel.”
On July 22 and 24 Mr. Adams, confronted with these successive refusals, forwarded to Lord Russell some additional documents, as well as an opinion of Mr. Collier, in which that eminent counsel not merely declared that the collector of customs would be justified in detaining the vessel, but added—
If, after the application which has been made to him, supported by the evidence which has been laid before me, he allows the vessel to leave Liverpool, he will incur a heavy responsibility, a responsibility of which the Board of Customs, under whose directions he appears to be acting, must take their share.
It appears difficult to make out a stronger case of infringement of the Foreign Enlistment Act, which, if not enforced on this occasion, is little better than a dead letter.
Mr. Adams's letter of the 22nd of July, and the depositions
* The late Lord Monkswell. VOL. II. A A