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tion of the proposed seizure of the Alabama was 'communi-
Now, we submit to the Attorney-General, this puts an ugly aspect on the British side of the Alabama question, at the start; that the Government, having decided that she ought to be seized, and having given the necessary orders for seizing her, are compelled to admit, that she escaped by treachery, official or ministerial.
But since penning the above article, a sight of the English Blue Books for 1863 — to which we then had not access, but as to which we borrowed our information from an English publication of “ Correspondence relating to the Alabama," which we supposed complete — shows us a patent conflict of statement between the Attorney-General and the Liverpool Collector, Mr. S. Price Edwards, as to the date of the order for the seizure of the Alabama. We find Collector Edwards writing to the Commissioners of Customs, under date of August 1, 18621:—“ The “290' has left the port; but should an opportunity offer, she shall be seized in conformity with telegram of yesterday,” [31st.]
So that, according to Collector Edwards, he did not get his order (by telegram) till July 31st. Is not this a pretty important variance from Sir Roundell's assertion, made with so much circumstance in the face of the British and American nations, that Earl Russell “ got their [the law officers'] opinion on the 29th, and that very same day a telegraphic message was sent down to stop the ship?” Was it “treachery,” again, we would inquire, that prevented the communication of this order to the Liverpool Collector for two days, or is there a question of veracity between the two Governmental officials ?
We suspect that the Collector is in the right, and that Sir
1 " The Alabama Correspondence between the Commissioners of Customs, &c., relating to the vessel No. 290, since known as the Alabama,"-"printed by vote of H. C., March 24, 1863," p. 10.
Roundell has inadvertently made a mistake, which he will have at some day to correct; but with such a grave mistake lying at his door, we should hardly have expected him (in candor) to reiterate the error in this Georgia debate, and then hope to justify it by generalities from Judge Story, or by 'counter charges of Irish recruiting by the Kearsage. Had he read an able English criticism in the London Law Magazine for May, 1863, on the importance of these dates in this great international law-suit, to say nothing of the New York-journal article, which possibly may have been brought to his notice, we fancy he could not heedlessly have repeated his old error in such terms as he made use of in his late speech of the 13th of May: “ As to the next ship, the Alabama, I need not repeat what was said upon a former occasion, as to the steps which were taken by the Government, after full consideration of the evidence laid before them, with a view to arrest that vessel. It is well known to the House and to the country, that orders to that effect were given, but the ship in the mean time, made her escape.”
Is it true, that the Alabama escaped “ in the mean time?” - i. e., as Sir Roundell would imply, between the issuing the order, and the time when it ought to have reached her ?
We have already noticed, that Mr. Collector Edwards says thať the order reached him (for the first time ?) July 31st, two days after she left the dock, and some hours after she had flown from Moelfra bay. Now, looking at the diplomatic correspondence which passed between the two governments relating to her, we find Earl Russell writing to Mr. Adams, under date of September 22, 1862,1 “ the report of the law-officers was not received until the 29th of July, and on the same day, a telegraphic message was forwarded to Her Majesty's Government, stating that the vessel had sailed that morning. [That is, news came from Liverpool, that she had already escaped.] Instructions were then despatched to Ireland to detain the vessel should she put into Queenstown, and similar instructions have been sent to the governor of the Bahamas in case of her visiting Nassau. It appears, however, that the vessel did not go to Queenstown, as had been expected, and nothing has been since heard of her movement."
1 "American Papers relating to Foreign Affairs,” p. 200.
In the Blue Book for 1863, containing correspondence respecting the Alabama, &c., ut sup. we also find, at page 10, the following:
“ 31st July, 1862, at about half-past seren, P. M. Telegrams were sent to the Collectors at Liverpool and Cork, pursuant to Treasury Order, dated 31st July, to seize the gunboat (290) should she be within either of those ports.
“Similar telegrams to the officers at Beaumaris and Holyhead were sent on the morning of the 1st August. They were not sent on the 31st July, the telegraphic offices in those districts being closed."
Reading these two citations from the diplomatic documents, in connection with Collector Edwards' affirmation, that he did not receive liis order to seize the Alabama till July 31st, we are compelled to conclude that the Attorney-General is wrong, and the Collector right, about the disputed and important fact in controversy. The telegraphic message was not “ sent down to stop the ship on the 29th of July," and she did not“ escape in the mean time.” We trust, then, that the Attorney-General will take occasion the next time that he revives the Alabama contention, to correct his inadvertence (if it be such) as to the date of the first effort made to detain her, and not attempt to strengthen the case of his Government as to the use of due diligence, by the misstatement that the Government moved two days sooner than it did.
Having thus attempted to set right Sir Roundell Palmer's supposed inaccuracy, and so far seemingly admitted away the point of our own newspaper criticism, we are constrained to notice the still worse position, if possible, in which the correction leaves the Attorney-General's official principals, than the mistaken plea which he originally set up in their behalf. That plea left a heavy weight of responsibility at Collector Edwards' door:-“The ministry acted with due diligence and in good faith ; but the Alabama gave the Custom-house authorities the slip,” – was the tone of Sir Roundell Palmer's apology in March, 1863:—“The high officials were blameless."
Now let us look at the facts lying at the door of the high officials, and which Sir Roundell Palmer might justly imagine (without any great stretch of charity) would naturally irritate Americans, and without any “extravagant pretensions,” lead them to think that they had a just claim for indemnity against England on account of the Alabama.
It is entirely conceded, on the new version of facts, that no telegram went off from the Treasury or the Foreign Office for any interference with the Alabama, for nine, or at least seven days, after a confessedly sufficient case had been laid before the Government by Mr. Adams.) The Ministry allege, in excuse, that she escaped the fifth day after; namely, the 29th, of which they admit full notice on that same day, and probably within a few hours. — What steps did they take, thereupon, to repair the error ?
The vessel was expected to touch next at Queenstown, as Earl Russell says in his letter of the 22d of September, as we have quoted. Meanwhile, as was probable, she would linger on the North coast of Wales. Now, when was the telegraph put in motion to affect Queenstown, or the ports of Beaumaris, &c. ? — The State paper, just quoted, affirms that it was not till half past seven in the evening of the 31st, that “telegrams were sent to the Collectors at Liverpool and Cork (Queenstown), pursuant to Treasury Order, dated July 31, to seize the gunboat (290), should she be within either of those ports. Similar telegrams to the officers of Beaumaris and Holyhead were sent on the morning of the 1st August. They were not sent on the 31st July, the telegraph offices to those districts being closed.”
Now, was it “treachery” or “culpable slackness in the Executive” (within Historicus's admission of what would render England liable for the torts of the Alabama), which caused the neglect to send off the Welsh telegrams for two days,
-and till so late an hour of the second day, that the telegraph was not used till the third day, — after the information of the criminals escape from legal process had been communicated
1 Mr. Adams, it will be remembered, had forwarded his preliminary proofs of the illegal outfit of the Alabama, as early as July 22, and “completed his evidence" including Mr. Collier's (now the Solicitor-General's) opinion of the plain duty of the British Government to stop her, and put it into Earl Russell's hands, as early as July 24.
to the authorities? Might not any American justly conclude, that those two entire days and part of the third, were designedly given as lee-way to the Confederate cruiser, to make sure her escape
? But looking more particularly to the pretended effort to cause her seizure at Queenstown or Cork (the former being, as is well known, the outer port to the latter), what dispassionate observer could fail to draw the inference, that the Ministry, or those who had the execution of the Ministry's orders in charge, intended that the Alabama should escape being seized, if she should touch at Queenstown?
Earl Russell says, in his letter of September 22, above quoted, that she was expected to go to Queenstown. On the morning of July 29, the Foreign Office are notified that she has quitted the Mersey; probably, for the Queenstown destination. The Treasury Order for her seizure is already made out; and telegraphic communication with that point is instantaneous: How long will it take the Alabama to reach that port in the due course of steam navigation ? - Something less than twenty-four hours, as is well known. Now, can the Attorney-General, or any other person in the Cabinet secrets, explain to us, how — consistently with an honest observance of neutrality - there came to be a lee-way of a day and a half provided for the Alabama to reach Queenstown and get the news of the intention to seize her, before the message was sent off?
It seems, as Earl Russell admits, that treachery conveyed a message to her down in Moelfra Bay; did not Executive treachery, at head-quarters, take care, that a premonitory message of her danger should have time to reach her at Queenstown, before any arrival of the order for seizure could become possible?
We admit that we are treading upon delicate ground in thus raising suspicions about the hidden motives for Cabinet action. But there stand the ugly facts on record: The Alabama escaped, “a scandal and a reproach” to British neutrality. The order for her seizure was made out on the 29th day of July. No attempt to seize her was made while she lay a day and a half after that time, with full knowledge and within