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The Times newspaper on the 1861 Trent Affair
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|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Fr 13 December 1861||General Scott.- General Scott [Winfield Scott, 1786-1866, former general-in-chief of the Union army], who came to Europe only a few weeks ago for the restoration of his health, returns to America in order to aid the work of peace by the weight of his character and the sagacity of his counsels. The General re-embarked on Wednesday night for Now York in the steamer Arago. On Tuesday he had a long interview with Prince Napoleon, and, if we are correctly informed, he will carry to Mr. Lincoln an expression of the desire of the Emperor of the French to do his part, should an opportunity arise, towards bringing the present disagreement to a favourable issue. - Express.|
|Fr 13 December 1861|
THE CIVIL WAR IN AMERICA.
... The tone in which England is spoken of is unfriendly enough, but it would be wrong to think that the press represents public feeling without large exceptions on that point. Still, the leaven is working; every opportunity is taken to stir it up, and actual warfare could scarcely engender more menaces and threatenings. The Mason and Slidell affair seems to be dismissed from men's minds, but they are waiting anxiously for the account of the reception of the news from England, and affect to believe it must be received without irritation or surprise there.
Captain Wilkes is, as I said he would be - and, indeed, not a shred of the prophetical mantle was needed to inspire the prediction - a hero at once, and the photographers are upon him. He has been receiving a dinner and making a speech, which in mercy or in justice is not reported, but it is described as rapid and compendious, and the paragraph relating to it states - mark this - that Captain Wilkes declared he would not have removed Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason if "they could have shown a pass from the Government (perhaps Governor) General." Of what? Of Cuba or of the Confederate States? The statement is inexplicable, but if Captain Wilkes said anything of the kind it shows clearly he felt he had no right to seize Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason as common enemies, as contraband of war carriers, or as "ambassadors;" but that he made them prisoners because they were not provided with some mysterious document or another, of which no one ever heard before. It is quite evident why Captain Wilkes is made a hero. The discharge of an ordinary well understood duty does not entitle any man to such honours even in America. If the act were not one of defiance and outrage, let us say not on the law, but on the well understood principles regulating international comity and usage, there would have been no heroism about it. It is remarked with something like an air of astonishment, or with satisfaction, according to the tone of the reporter, that Mr. Mason, is not uproariously convivial, or that Mr. Slidell is not in tears in the prison. One is reminded of Dickens's story about the cockney who denied that the French were at all lighthearted or gay, because he had seen 2,000 of them prisoners in an English hulk, and not one had a smile on his face. The captives are treated, it is said, in the same way as other prisoners; but I must really protest against the notion which is prevalent here - if I am to judge from the assertions in some of the principal papers - that political offenders in England are "thrown into the dungeons of the Tower, heavily chained and ironed", or that they are used like felons. Mr. O'Connell had what our American friends call "a very nice time of it" in Richmond gaol, and even Brigadier-General Meagher could testify that he and his fellow prisoners were not treated with harshness or indignity in their Irish prisons by the "myrmidons" of the British Government.Do not he in the least alarmed at the statement in one of the malignant enemies of the peaceful relations of the United States and England, that Lord Lyons has in the smallest degree violated the letter or the spirit of the most honourable neutrality. The "excited President and Cabinet", who stared over the "rebel documents" brought by a distinguished military officer from Fortress Monroe, and discovered that Lord Lyons in his official capacity was a mere agent for forwarding despatches from the Confederates through British Consular agents in the South, must really feel rather ashamed of these falsehoods at their cost. As to the British Minister, it would seem that certain American journals of the type which has reduced the Cis-Atlantic press to a degree of powerlessness without a parallel in journalism, imagine that he is a mere peg to hang scandals upon, and that he is bound to notice every lie which the poverty of intelligence or the richness of imagination of their agents may lead them to invent. There are the most positive orders in the Chancellery of the Legation prohibiting the Attache's, or others, from even writing to any of our own Consuls in the South or sending letters under any pretence to the Southern States, and the Consular agents are ordered most positively not to affix their seals to any private correspondence. One of these gentlemen, without authority, sent a few commercial letters to Lord Lyons for transmission. But the British Minister at once sent them to Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, and informed him that he would have nothing to do with forwarding them. Nothing, however, can abash or shame these scandalous mythologists. Confute a hundred times, the "creature's at his dirty work again." The French Consul at New Orleans, as I am informed, still sends commercial letters for French subjects by the cruisers, without any difficulty or restriction, and not a word is said.
|Fr 13 December 1861||The route having arrived at the Sheet-street Barracks, Windsor, yesterday morning for the immediate departure for town of 200 rank and file of the 1st Battalion of Scots Fusileer Guards, who have been doing garrison duty at Windsor Castle since October last, the men were in readiness as early as 10 o'clock in the forenoon. They marched through the town in high spirits to the South-Western station en route for Paddington, headed by their fine band, playing "I'm off to Charleston early in the Morning," and were loudly cheered by the inhabitants. On arriving in town they will join the 2d Battalion of Scots Fusileer Guards, in order to make up their full complement of 1,000 men, who are to sail immediately for Canada.
Telegraphic instructions to charter the Royal Mail Company's steamship Magdalena were received at Southampton last night, and to-day large numbers of workmen have been employed in getting her ready for this service. It is understood that the Guards will be sent out in the Adriatic and the Parana.
Yesterday morning a detachment of the Rifle Brigade, accompanied by a battery of Artillery, arrived in Liverpool by the London and North-Western Railway, and marched to the south landing-stage, whence they embarked on board the Australasian steamship. At the same time a large quantity of ammunition, baggage, and military stores was also sent on board of the Australasian. In course of the forenoon the Dublin Steam-Packet Company's steamers Windsor and Trafalgar arrived in the Mersey, containing the head-quarters and most of the 1st battalion of the Rifle Brigade. They immediately proceeded alongside the Australasian and transhipped the troops into the latter. The whole of the arrangements were made under the superintendence of Captain Leyster, R.N., Admiralty agent for Liverpool. It was intended, if the matter could possibly he accomplished, that the Australasian should sail by the evening's tide; if that could not be accomplished, she was to sail by this morning's tide.
The 18th company of Royal Engineers, commanded by Capt. Hewitt, has been reinforced with 60 men from headquarters, and is hold in readiness for immediate embarkation for Canada. No vessel has yet been named to convoy them to their destination, but it is expected they will embark in a man-of-war.
War-office instructions were yesterday received in the carriage department of Woolwich Arsenal, ordering the hasty manufacture of 2,000 pack saddles, and a proportionate number of store and ambulance waggons and carts of various descriptions, for despatch to North America. The Royal Laboratory department is also engaged in extra work in order to execute a heavy demand for Armstrong cartridges, which are ordered to be prepared with separate lubricating wads.
Nos. 1, 2, and 3 batteries, forming the 1st division of the 10th Brigade Garrison Artillery, will leave Woolwich garrison this morning per rail for Liverpool, in command of Col. Cleaveland, to embark on board the Niagara mail packet for Halifax. The strength of the brigade under orders for departure is about 1,000 of all ranks. It will be commanded by Col. P. Dunlop, C.B.Yesterday orders were received at the head-quarters of the Royal Engineers, Chatham, by Col. Harness, C.B., directing the non-commissioned officers and men of the companies at Brompton who have been transferred to the 15th (Capt. Maquay's) company, to proceed this morning to Liverpool, to embark the following day, with the 15th company, on board the Persia, for Canada. The company goes out 120 strong. The detachment of non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Engineers who have been doing duty at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, joined head-quarters yesterday. They are all picked men, and each thoroughly perfect in the various branches of sapping and mining and other engineering operations. They will be the next to proceed to Canada. A notification was also received at Chatham yesterday, that in addition to the companies of Royal Engineers already under orders for Canada, the 4th company, now at Dover, employed on the fortifications at that part of the coast will also be despatched to Canada. The 15th company will leave the Curragh today so as to be in time to embark also in the Persia. By direction of the Deputy- Adjutant-General, a number of non-commissioned officers of the Royal Engineers were yesterday placed under orders to hold themselves in readiness for Canada. It was yesterday stated at Chatham that no fewer than 10 companies of Royal Engineers were to be sent to British North America.
|Sa 14 December 1861|
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - The intimation in yesterday's Times of "a yearning in this country after" American views upon the new complication of our relations with England, followed this morning by relaxing and even kindlier strictures, tempts me to submit briefly some thoughts which an occurrence profoundly embarrassing suggests; not, however, upon "international law", for, as an humble journalist, I have been accustomed only to the common-sense interpretations of public questions; and, were I at all qualified to enter into the legal argument, I should be inclined to accept your own view of the question - viz., that time and circumstances have so far changed the practice and reformed the principles of international maritime law as to render the earlier precedents and authorities largely inapplicable to existing cases; and, further, while the concession, in proving my candour may impeach my patriotism, I am constrained to admit that in the ventilation of the Laurens seizure, as cited by Mr. George Sumner, the bottom has fallen out of our strongest precedent.
Dismissing, therefore, the legal considerations of the Trent and San Jacinto question, I confess to a very strong "yearning" that the English Government, its press, and its people, may be disabused of an impression which has so generally obtained, that our Government seeks occasions for disagreement, or cherishes other than such feelings as belong to the relations of interest and amity that blend and bind us together. I am even less surprised at the belligerent sensibility which the Trent affair has awakened here, than with the pervading antecedent impression that our Government entertains hostile purposes towards England, and that our Secretary of State has actually designed the disruption of relations which I had supposed, and still believe, almost universally regarded as essential to the welfare of our country and the happiness of our people.
An alleged conversation of Secretary Seward with the Duke of Newcastle, referred to in The Times, conflicts with these assurances. Without precise information as to the language used by Mr. Seward, I cannot be mistaken in assuming that its spirit was misapprehended. The conversation occurred, I believe, at a dinner given by Governor Morgan to the Prince of Wales. The avowal of a prominent senator, who had reason to suppose that he might be called to a more responsible position in the Government, of a deliberate intention to "insult your (the Duke's) Government," could not but have been highly offensive. But while I can readily excuse an English nobleman for misinterpreting idle or "loose talk" in an American statesman, to all Americans the badinage of Mr. Seward would have been readily understood. Perhaps it would have been wiser not to attempt to "play with edged tools." Indeed, from the mischief an attempted pleasantry has occasioned, any departure from the gravities of conversation is certainly to be regretted. After disclaiming, as I feel quite authorized in doing, for Mr. Seward, unfriendly intentions and feelings towards England, I beg to refer such English gentlemen as have acquaintance with, or opportunities for consulting, Mr. Adams, our resident Minister, for a true reflex of American sentiment and sympathies. That distinguished statesman, whose eminent father and grandfather at different epochs represented our country - first at the Court of St. James's, and subsequently as President of the United States, - enjoys, in the best and broadest sense of the term, the confidence of his Government; and, resigning his seat in Congress to assume diplomatic responsibilities, he is also familiar with the views and feelings of our public men.
Until I saw the accusation against Secretary Seward standing out prominently in the London press the idea had not entered my mind, nor can I now persuade myself that it has any real foundation to stand upon. After the settlement of the Maine and Vancouver boundary questions, in their final action upon both of which the course of the English Government was characterized by enlightened justice and wisdom, I had supposed that no cause of misunderstanding remained, and that we might look forward to a long period of exemption from conflict or dissension. Subsequently incidental occasions for interchanges of national courtesies occurred calculated and tending to confirm and strengthen feelings of goodwill. These were succeeded by that memorable visit of the Prince of Wales, whose advent among us afforded to the American people an opportunity to mark, in heartfelt ovations, both their regard for the future monarch of Great Britain and their high estimate of, and their personal admiration for, a Queen whose eventful and illustrious reign, in advancing civilization, in promoting public and private virtue, and in hallowing household shrines, will enrich the archives and brighten the pages of England's history. I often thought, while witnessing, as I did, in several of our cities, the spontaneous demonstrations of unmistakable regard from hundreds of thousands of hearts warmed by remembrances of Saxon descent, that if all England could be "there to see", we should thenceforth as nations, dwell together in peace and friendship. In that triumphal journey, extending many thousand miles, through cities, towns, villages, hamlets, and wilderness, nothing occurred to jar its enjoyment. The American people, though enthusiastic, were considerate and respectful. The Prince, either from intuitive or inherited good sense and taste, while observing all the proprieties of his position, was so naturally gracious as to win nothing but "golden opinions," and to leave everywhere agreeable and enduring impressions; and even now, so universal is the homage of our people for the Queen, that were Her Majesty to deign us a visit, Earl Russell and Secretary Seward, were either or both of these eminent statesmen disposed to perpetrate a great national wrong, would find the bonds of affection stronger than ambition or strategy.
Upon the course which our Government shall deem wise or expedient in this abrupt emergency it is scarcely necessary to speculate. We shall not remain long in suspense. Nor could I add to the calm, well-considered views contained in the letter of Lieutenant-General Scott, in whom America has no more devoted patriot, nor England a more sincere friend. That distinguished and veteran General led our army creditably through one war with England. I, in humble positions, shared in that conflict; and I speak for both - enjoying the confidence and friendship of our great Chieftain - in saying that neither cares to survive another struggle so revolting to all who rejoice in a common ancestry and commingled blood, with kindred memorials and associations.
Of the exact nature of the despatch from the English Government I am ignorant; but, I am constrained to express the opinion, that if that despatch has taken the form of a peremptory demand it will be met by as peremptory a refusal; for in temper and pride we are as unreasoning as the bad examples of our mother country, absurdly intensified, can make us. But I devoutly hope that the mastiff mode of diplomacy will not, on either side, be resorted to. There are no real interests of either country to be promoted or protected by a contest for the championship. Nor is it necessary to determine questions of relative prowess or courage. The battle of Lundy's-lane [on 25 July 1814, one of the bloodiest battle of the war of 1812 took place in present-day Niagara Falls, Ontario], in Canada, fought upon a fair field, with forces nearly equal, which consigned the remains of 700 British and 700 American soldiers to "dead men's beds," should be accepted as a satisfactory solution by both nations. This Slidell and Mason imbroglio, which has been sprung upon us, places both Governments in false position. England is running upon all fours across the track of her life-long practices and precepts, while America is forced, in maintaining the act of Com. Wilkes, to ignore a policy earnestly insisted upon - a policy which, at the conclusion of the war of 1812, was left to be determined by the future good sense and forbearance of both Governments. In this "muddle," should either nation be too tenacious? I do not say or think that in this matter we have done quite right, or that we are wholly wrong. The temptations in this case were far greater than can be understood abroad. Messrs. Slidell and Mason were responsible leaders in the unnatural and causeless rebellion which set brother against brother in fierce and brutish civil war. As senators in the Congress of the United State, while unanimous millions supposed men incapable of such perfidy, they committed acts of treason far more flagrant than the offences which have consigned the heads of British noblemen, through the Tower, to the block. It will require, therefore, calm deliberation and a large measure of forbearance in our Government and people to bring them to an acquiescence in the views taken of this question here - views which, I am compelled to admit, have obtained across the Channel.
But if events are not precipitated; if time is given for reflection, so that the cost and consequences of war may be calculated, my apprehensions would be greatly relieved. I quite concur with the New York Tribune in the opinion that these rebel emissaries are not worth a war, and, individually, would not hesitate to make large concessions, in feeling, for peace. With England, whose canvass whitens every ocean and sea, "catching the dawning rays of the rising and mellowed by the departing beams of the setting sun," the honour of her flag is everything. In defence of this flag England, with her blood heated, will not sacrifice the "avoirdupois of a hair." Surely, then, if appealed to in a neighbourly spirit, we can afford to do for England what we should, touched in the same tender point, expect England to do for America.Respectfully, your obedient servant,
London, Dec. 12.
THURLOW WEED [1797-1882, New York newspaper publisher and Republican party politician].
|Sa 14 December 1861||It is very seldom in the present polite and decorous age that we are able to accumulate so much evidence of a deliberate and long-cherished intention to do us an injury as we are able to bring against Mr. Seward, the present Prime Minister of the Northern States of America. During the visit of the Prince of Wales to the United States, Mr. Seward took advantage of an entertainment which was given to the Prince and his suite to tell the Duke of Newcastle that he was likely to occupy high office, that when he did so it would become his duty to insult England, and that he should insult her accordingly. A few months after this sally Mr. Seward found himself in the position he had anticipated, a quarrel between North and South was imminent, and the advice which Mr. Seward tendered to the hostile parties was to abandon their dispute, and combine their forces in a wholly unprovoked attack upon the British colony of Canada. The next step of Mr. Seward was to publish a circular, calling upon the States to fortify the sea and lake frontier - a circular which was understood by everybody to refer to Great Britain, and was, indeed, capable of no other construction. An English packet is then boarded by an American ship of war, four passengers are removed from the packet by violence and placed at the disposal of the American Secretary of State. He orders them into strict confinement, without any diplomatic communication with the English Minister at Washington, and by so doing appears to adopt and ratify the action of the American commander. This is all we know at present of the feelings, intentions, and proceedings of Mr. Seward. But it is quite enough to lead to a general persuasion that upon his ability to involve the United States in a war with England Mr. Seward has staked his official, and, most probably, also his political existence, and that whatever may be the advantage to America of a war with this country to him it has become an article of the very first necessity. It is no business of ours to speculate on the motives or to enlarge upon the guilt of a man who has deliberately plotted, and, perhaps, by this time actually accomplished, this great crime, the greatest, perhaps, of which a human creature can be guilty, - the bringing war upon his own country and upon us, who have never wilfully or intentionally done him or it any evil. The facts are as we have stated them.
An American gentleman, Mr. Thurlow Weed, now resident in this country in a quasi diplomatic capacity, thinks it necessary, under these circumstances, to come forward in defence of Mr. Seward, and certainly we must admit no one ever stood more in need of an able and discreet apologist. Whether Mr. Seward has found such a person in Mr. Weed our readers will be better able to judge when they have read the letter with which he has favoured us. For ourselves, we must confess we have arrived at the conclusion that Mr. Weed has made the case of his client and his country considerably worse than he found it.
Mr. Weed begins by an admission that the present quarrel is an occurrence profoundly embarrassing. Not at all to us, we beg to say, for we never remember an instance where the line of duty was clearer or better defined; but profoundly embarrassing to Mr. Weed, because he is very much inclined to think that we are right in our view of the law, and that "in the ventilation of the case of Mr. Laurens the bottom has fallen out of the strongest precedent." Dropping, therefore, the legal question, Mr. Weed seeks to show that we are entirely in error in supposing that the American Government in general, and Mr. Seward in particular, is actuated by any ill-feeling towards us. That we should think so is to Mr. Weed even more wonderful than our "belligerent sensibility" with regard to the Trent. As for the conversation with the Duke of Newcastle, of which Mr. Weed says he knows nothing, he says it must have been a bad joke - that kind of agreeable badinage which passes after dinner between Dukes and embryo Secretaries of State. As to the chain of facts which connect this bad joke with what we fear will turn out to be a much worse earnest, Mr. Weed says nothing, but refers us to the present American Minister in London, Mr. Adams, as a true reflex of American sentiment towards England, the misfortune being that Mr. Adams, who has the goodwill, has not the power, and Mr. Seward, who has the power, has not the goodwill. Perhaps, thinking that something was yet wanting to the vindication of Mr. Seward, Mr. Weed proceeds to argue that he must be our friend, because, we having settled all our boundary disputes with the United States, there is nothing left to quarrel about. It would be exceedingly agreeable if Mr. Weed could convince his countrymen of this fact, and he will excuse us if we do not find, in his admission that there is nothing left to quarrel about, any palliation of the conduct of Mr. Seward in fastening a quarrel upon us. The Queen has won the respect and the Prince of Wales the regard of the American people, - good reasons why they should respect her Government, but surely no extenuation of conduct which our correspondent admits to be, in his view, a violation of the Law of Nations. If the Queen would only pay America a visit, there would be no chance of a rupture. But, then, the Queen most certainly will not pay America a visit, and we therefore derive but little comfort from this suggestion. After that indispensable appeal to our common ancestry which has hitherto availed us so little in dealing with our Transatlantic relatives, we come at last to the real point. Mr. Weed, who believes us to be in the right, and who has tantalized us with all this show of ardent affection, and who has proved so entirely to his satisfaction that the best feeling exists towards us in the American Government and people, informs us that if, relying on the right he admits and the affection he asserts, we demand that the persons who have been taken by violence from our protection be restored to us, we shall meet with a refusal. The affections of America may be lacerated, but once having begun to insult us, she will continue to do so. In his own pleasant, familiar way, Mr. Weed tells us that America is as unreasoning as the bad example of her mother country can make her. But if, instead of requiring as a preliminary to any further discussion the restoration of the captives, we are content to give the American people time for deliberation; if we are willing to forget that the discussion began by seizing the thing in dispute, and to recognize a debate commenced under such circumstances as having nothing in it either degrading or unusual; if, in fact, to use the expression current in America, we will enter into "protracted negotiations", there is reason to hope that America may yet relent, and condescend to the opinion that, after all, Slidell and Mason are not worth a war. We fear Mr. Weed in this is over-sanguine, and that, so long as America is allowed to retain what she has taken from us at the cheap price of an interminable correspondence, she will too keenly appreciate her own gain and our degradation to put an end to so agreeable an interlude.
But her forbearance will never be tried. We can, we think, convey to Mr. Thurlow Weed the sentiments of every Englishman on this painful subject. We do not ask from America courtesy or affection, respect for our Queen or regard for our Prince. These things are hers to give or to withhold. We do not even ask that amount of fair treatment which we are in the habit of receiving from other nations. We have long ago made up our minds to dispense with that; but we do demand that she shall abstain from actual outrage, or that, if it is committed, she shall make reasonable reparation. If she will do this, it is well; if not, the alternative will not come in the desired form of "protracted negotiation."
|Sa 14 December 1861||The Adelaide and Mauritius, two magnificent screw steamships, hired by Government for the transport of troops and war stores to North America, yesterday went up to Deptford to receive their troop fittings and provisions. At an early hour yesterday morning the non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Engineers who have been selected for transfer to the 15th company were assembled on the parade-ground at Chatham, and after inspection were marched off to the railway station, whence they proceeded to Liverpool, at which port they will join the main body of the 15th company, from the Curragh, to embark on board the Persia, for Canada. The whole of the men at head-quarters turned out to witness the departure of their comrades, to whom they bade a hearty "farewell."|
|Ma 16 December 1861||War Rumours and Probabilities. - In Liverpool, and no doubt in most seaports of the kingdom, much anxiety prevails with respect to what may be the result of the British demand for reparation of the insult committed on our flag by the forcible abduction of the Confederate Commissioners from the mail steamer Trent. In the meantime every reasonable preparation for the worst that can happen is being made with the thoughtfulness and intrepidity which becomes a great people. A notification has been made in the rooms of the Liverpool Underwriters' Association, that shipowners should instruct the captains of their outward-bound ships to communicate, by signal or otherwise, to any English vessel they may meet the information that war is probable between this country and America; and this suggestion is said to have been greatly approved. While private associations are thus taking precautionary suggestions, the Government is not by any means remiss. For some time past Liverpool has been in a state of lively excitement in observing the preparations made to meet the worst emergency which can arise out of the present complication. The splendid steamer Australasian was despatched from Liverpool on Friday evening, for Canada, carrying out 831 men of the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, under charge of Colonel Lord A. Russsell and 27 officers. She also took out 254 men and non-commissioned officers of the 4th Brigade of Artillery, under the charge of Captain Leslie. On Saturday the Royal Mail steamer Niagara sailed for Halifax, having on board Major-General Rumley, together with 350 men and 20 officers belonging to the Military Train. The Persia also, as has been previously stated, has been taken up and fitted as a transport, and this splendid vessel has now, for the first time, had four of her boats fitted with Clifford's patent lowering apparatus. Her first complement of troops is to consist of 1,100 men, of whom the 16th Regiment of Foot is to form the principal body; she will also take out 120 men of the Royal Engineers, under command of Captain M'Quay. Besides the troops mentioned, each of the vessels named also takes out a large amount of military and commissariat stores, amounting, it is said, to 380 tons each. The Persia and Australasian take of ordnance stores 500,000 rounds of ball cartridge, besides 100,000 rounds each for the troops. ln addition to the Liverpool steamers named, the Cleopatra, belonging to the African Royal Mail Steamship Company, has also been taken up by Government, and will, it is expected, have despatch in about a week. The Pacific Steam Navigation Company's new steamer Peru will, it is understood, in about 10 days sail from Liverpool, taking with her 60 sailors and 40 marines, as reinforcements to our squadron in the Pacific. The steamers Imperatrice, Imperador, and Bahiana have been ordered for survey by Government, and have also, it is said, been favourably reported on. It has been currently stated that the mail steamer America, which sailed from Liverpool on the 7th inst., was ordered to diverge on her route to New York, and to call at Halifax. In the present state of feeling the slightest incident is caught at as important.|
|Ma 16 December 1861|
Queenstown, Dec. 15.
The Royal Mail steamship Asia, from New York on the 4th inst., arrived here at 8 a.m. She brings 66 passengers.
WASHINGTON, DEC. 4.
The following is a summary of the Message delivered to-day by President Lincoln to the Federal Congress:-
"The Message recommends an appropriation to satisfy the legal demands of the owners of the British ship Perthshire, detained under a misapprehension by the United States' steamer Massachusetts.
"'Under the Confiscation Act the legal claims of certain persons to slaves are forfeited, and numbers thus liberated are dependent upon the Federal Government, and must be protected, for it is possible that some States will pass similar enactments, by which persons of this class will be thrown upon them for disposal.
"President Lincoln reviews the course of the Government since its inauguration, and says: -
"The President states that in the present position he would scarcely be justified in omitting to raise a warning voice against the approach of returning despotism, but denounces the effort to place capital upon an equal footing with labour in the structure of the Government.
President Lincoln's Message makes no allusion whatever to the Trent affair.
The following is the text of that portion of President Lincoln's Message to Congress which refers to the foreign policy of the Federal Government:-
The New York Herald of the 4th inst. says that the President's Message forms a good chart of sailing directions for Congress, and that by it both Houses can scarcely go astray.
NEW YORK, Dec. 3, Evening.The Federal Navy Department has expressed it emphatic approval of the capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell.
It also states that Captain Wilkes displayed too much forbearance in not capturing the Trent, but that this must not form a precedent for any future similar infraction of neutral obligations by foreign commercial vessels.
|Ma 16 December 1861|
ON OUR NAVAL PREPARATIONS FOR WAR.
Sir, - The courtesy I have always met with in your columns induces me to trouble you with the following re. marks, which I have written from a strong sense of duty to the country.
Should England most unfortunately find it necessary to go to war with the Northern States, to prove to the world that the honour and dignity of the nation will he upheld at all hazards, I take it that the people of this country would wish to teach the lesson in a short, sharp, decisive manner and with as little cost of blood and treasure as possible. I have noticed with regret that the tone of the press is to undervalue our probable antagonists; but there never was a greater mistake, the Americans especially have shown their energy and activity in war; and history moreover teaches us that a Republic even in its direst extremity proved itself the most formidable of foes. Add to this the well-known fact that the Northern seaboard is perhaps the most dangerous and stormy in the world, and I think it will readily be admitted that we must enter upon an American war with all the caution and care the gravity of the case demands.
Your paper, it may fairly be presumed, gives us the most authentic information of the movements and preparations now being made in contemplation of a war with the Federal States. A perusal of the naval intelligence convinces me that our late experience gained in war with so much cost is already lost, and that our Crimean mistakes will probably be again committed unless this time we act in accordance with that wise old saying, "Prevention is better than cure."
I observe that none but heavy ships, of considerable draught of water, are brought forward to meet the probable contingencies which may only too soon arise. A fleet of that class of vessels is the last needed, - no doubt eminently useful to protect our mercantile marine, to capture the Federalist blockading force, and to raise the blockade of the Southern States; but for the effectual shutting up of the Federal ports they are next to useless, and small vessels must be employed. The gunboat is essential, and I hope will be brought forward at once, and not allowed to lie idle until the time is past for doing good service.
We are already priding ourselves on our fleet, and no doubt we have enough material to strike a decisive blow at the very outset of the coming war. That blow ought to be at one stroke as follows:-
Such a blow, which we have the spirit and power of striking, only wants a system and an organization to insure the desired effect, and if we are only equal to such a system and organization there is no doubt the proceedings I have sketched would bring our antagonists to their senses quickly, cheaply, and effectually.
I cannot conclude without remarking on the doubts and fears expressed about the ascent of the St. Lawrence; every one is in the dark. Does the country quite forget that she possesses a trained body of ice officers well versed in all that pertains to a successful contest with that element? How is it, then, that the opinion of some of our experienced officers has not been obtained as to the state of that river? How is it that the services of such officers have not been secured to point out practically the use of the ice saws and other appliances which it is rumoured have been supplied to the Melbourne, but which will, I suspect, share the fate of the green coffee of the Crimea?I am. Sir, your obedient servant,
Junior United Service Club, Dec. 13.
|Tu 17 December 1861||The 18th company Royal Engineers (Capt. Hewitt's), which has been recalled to Portsmouth from the Isle of Wight, is ordered to embark during the present week on board the Parana steamship at Southampton, for conveyance to British North America. Several lighters have been despatched from the Royal Clarence Victualling-yard at Gosport, with stores and provisions to Southampton for the use of the troops on board the chartered steamships. The War Department at Portsmouth are working extra hours
and up to 2 p.m. on Sunday, in preparing stores, &c., for the troops. All the Dockyard Departments are also working extra hours to hurry forward the ships preparing for sea.
The heavy baggage belonging to the 1st battalion Military Train, at Woolwich, in command of Major Hill, was yesterday packed in readiness for the hasty departure of the battalion for embarcation at Southampton on board the Adriatic, for Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Adriatic also takes out Capt. Gabbett's No. 4 battery, 10th Garrison Brigade, Royal Artillery, now in readiness for departure from Woolwich.
A War-office telegram was yesterday received at Woolwich Arsenal ordering the preparation for shipment of 10 Armstrong 100-pounder guns to be embarked with the earliest despatch for the sea and land defences of Halifax, and a report was ordered to be transmitted by the authorities of the dockyard to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, stating what ships would be available for their transport. A measurement having been made of the vacant storeage room on board Her Majesty's steam sloop Devastation, Commander MCrea, under orders for British North America, an answer was returned to the effect that the Devastation could stow away six of the guns, together with their slides, carriages, shot, &c,, and the fore hold, now appropriated for the ship's provisions, would secure the ammunition. The Devastation yesterday bent sails, and will leave the basin at Woolwich this morning for the river, to await the decision of the Admiralty. Orders have been transmitted to the laboratory for the manufacture of 10,000,000 rounds of small arms' cartridges and 100,000 charges of Armstrong 100-pounder ammunition for sea service. The preparation of the various descriptions of gun carriages, principally 100-pounders, is likewise ordered to be increased. The work is consequently to be continued night and day until further orders.
In addition to the non-commissioned officers wad men of the Royal Engineers transferred from the companies at Chatham to those about to embark for Canada, orders have been received at head-quarters, directing 45 men to be selected from the depot and other companies to augment the 4th Company at Dover, which, is the next to be despatched to British North America.
The greatest activity is now observable at the Royal Engineer establishment, Chatham, in the instruction of the officers and men of the Royal and Indian Engineers in the several branches of engineering operations. Advantage is taken of every hour of fine weather to assemble the Engineers on the field-works in order to expedite the instruction of the men in the formation of batteries and earth works, &c., information having been received that the demand for well-trained engineers will be very great for some time to come. In order to strengthen this branch of the service additional recruiting parties will be despatched from head-quarters to obtain young men accustomed to some trade or profession, well skilled mechanics, photographers, electricians, telegraphists, and surveyors being now in request for the corps. Volunteering has also been reopened from the various regiments of the line.In accordance with orders received at Chatham, the War Department transport Bomarsund has shipped a number of camp equipages and tents, together with 2,000 blankets from the stores at Chatham, with which she proceeds to Woolwich, for the use of the troops now being despatched to Canada.
|Tu 17 December 1861|
ROYAL NAVAL RESERVE.
The Naval Reserve enrolled in the ports of Whitehaven, Maryport, and Peterhead, have, like their brother sailors in other ports, spontaneously signified their offers of service to the Inspecting Commanders of Coastguard in the following letters:-
"Whitehaven, Dec. 5, 1861.
"Maryport, Dec. 7,1861.
"Peterhead, Dec. 10,1861.
|Th 19 December 1861||A notice has been posted at the entrance gates of Portsmouth dockyard for the entry of an additional number of shipwrights, caulkers, and labourers. Work is being pushed to the utmost in every department of the yard to complete the outfit of the ships ordered to be prepared for sea, the officers for which, it is stated, have been named by the Admiralty, from the captain downwards, their crews being held in readiness to send on board at an hour's notice should their services be suddenly required. The military store department and the Royal Clarence victualling yard have also both been taxed to an extraordinary degree during the past week, having had, in addition to the ordinary, or rather extraordinary, duties of the port consequent upon the war preparations, to supply the necessary provisions, bedding, and stores required for the troops ordered to embark at Southampton.|
|Th 19 December 1861|
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - In May, 1859,I addressed two letters to The Times on the subject of defending the ports and harbours of this country by adapting ferryboats, tugboats, and coasting vessels for service as gunboats. On the 7th of July following I wrote to the Admiralty, submitting my plan to them, but more in detail than in the letters addressed to The Times. The Admiralty instructed Captain Mends, R.N., and Mr. Luke, surveyor in the Controller of the Navy's Department, to report upon the proposal.
The reports of both these officers were of the most favourable character, as is shown in a Parliamentary paper containing the whole of the correspondence and reports, ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on the 30th of July, 1860.
The very defenceless state of the river Mersey in case of war taking place between this country and America is at this moment exciting great interest in this neighbourhood, and, considering the large amount of valuable property in Liverpool and on board the ships in its docks, some steps must undoubtedly be taken, and very promptly, to prevent a chance of surprise, or the damage that would be caused by even one enemy's vessel successfully entering the river.
I again bring my proposal before the public, as, if adopted, we may have on the Mersey, at a moderate cost, 40 or 50 auxiliary gunboats in the course of a few weeks; and they could be easily, efficiently, and economically manned by the crews at present working on board these vessels, aided by the numerous Artillery Volunteers, retired seamen, flatmen, boatmen, and others, - a class of men who would not volunteer for service abroad in Her Majesty's Navy.
Requesting the favour of your inserting this communication, I am, Sir, your obedient servant.JOHN LAIRD
Birkenhead, Dec. 17.
|Th 19 December 1861|
TROOPS FOR CANADA.
The embarcation of the first portion of the troops appointed to leave this port for service in Canada took place this afternoon. Previous to their arrival the Adriatic and the Parana were inspected by Colonel Somerset, accompanied, by Captain Patey, R.N., the Admiralty Superintendent at Southampton, and other officers. It was only a week ago that these vessels were officially accepted for this service, and the expedition with which they have been got ready for sea is highly creditable to all parties concerned. They have been completely fitted for officers and men, coaled, and supplied with water, &c, and an immense quantity of stores shipped, including three mouths' provisions for both troops and crew.
Shortly after 3 o'clock a special train arrived from Woolwich, bringing the No. 4 battery, 10th brigade, Royal Artillery, and also the 1st battalion Military Train. They were met at the terminus by the fine band of the 2d Hants (Southampton) Rifle Volunteers, and as soon as the Artillery had formed in marching order they proceeded from the station to the docks, the bands at their head, and marched direct on board the Adriatic steamer. The band immediately returned to the terminus, and paid a similar fraternal compliment to the Military Train. The battery of artillery is under the command of Captain H.P. Gabbett, the other officers being Captain H.S. Elliot, Lieutenants W.H. King Harman, G.A. Prench, and E. Bradley, Assistant-Surgeon F.R. Hogg, with seven sergeants, four corporals, two trumpeters, and 100 gunners. The Military Train consists of 300 non-commissioned officers and men, under command of Major Hill, the other officers being Major Johns, Captains Buller and Harris; Lieutenants Lane, Williams, Clarke, Benthall, and Roberts; Ensigns Crawford and Winckworth, Lieutenant and Adjutant Cummin, Paymaster Bryson, Quartermaster Mitchell, and Surgeon Fox, with two staff clerks. The whole of the troops marched direct on board the steamer, and were all safely housed within half an hour after their arrival in the docks. Thousands of people were assembled on the quays, who enthusiastically cheered the brave fellows as they passed along.
The 18th. company Royal Engineers, 120 in number, also arrived in two divisions, and embarked on board the Parana which was lying at another part of the docks. The first party, consisting of 53 men, under Lieutenant Heriot MaitIand, arrived from Chatham about half-past 1, and the other, comprising 67 men, commanded by Captain Edward Osborne Hewitt, with Lieutenant Tovey and Sievewright, arrived from Portsmouth about 3 o'clock. These gallant servants of their country were also welcomed with a share of the popular enthusiasm as they proceeded to the steamer which will carry them across the Atlantic.
To-morrow (Thursday) the 1st battalion of the Grenadier Guards, who go out in the Adriatic, and the 2d battalion of the Scots Fusileer Guards, who ship in the Parana, are expected to arrive here and embark about 11 o'clock. Generalised Frederick Paulet, in command of the Grenadiers and his staff, also go out in the Adriatic. The two vessels will go out of dock immediately after the embarcation, and probably proceed to sea the same night or early on Friday morning.The Magdalena has nearly completed her equipment for sea, and will, it is expected, embark the main body of her troops on Friday,
|Th 19 December 1861||Defences of Liverpool. - A " Shipowner" writes to the Liverpool Albion as follows:- "Now that we are spending about a million of money in preparations for war, it may be well to consider in what position Liverpool stands for repelling an attack in the event of a wrestle with America. That some adventurous Yankee, ready to sacrifice everything for fame and the credit of doing a 'smart thing,' would 'guess' his way into Liverpool some dark night, and by means of rockets and inflammable shells endeavour to fire the shipping, is a probability that must not be overlooked. Naval men of experience have spoken with scorn of our two principal batteries - the Rock Perch and North Fort - and have expressed an opinion that a heavy frigate, moving under steam, would speedily render them untenable. The Rock Perch Battery is being improved by the displacing of the old guns and the mounting of heavier ordnance, including a 100-pounder Armstrong (formerly the guns were en barbette now they are en embrasure). But after all these improvements the gunners are exposed to any shell which may explode in the quadrangle. It is true that some protection might be afforded the gunners by the erection of earthworks in rear of the guns. The guns in the North Fort are old 68 and 32 pounders, which, have already seen more than enough service, some of them indeed having been declared dangerous. Their range, moreover, is extremely limited, owing to the position of the battery. Then we have the earthwork battery at Liscard, which, according to rumour, having been built upon an unstable foundation, is in a shaky condition; it is also mounted with old ordnance. No doubt, in the event of war, the Government would send us some block-ships; but as that class of vessel is somewhat unhandy, and, would probably be placed at the entrance of the river, and not in the channel, they would, after all, be of comparatively little service in preventing the approach of vessels the long-range guns of which might inflict damage from a distance. Captain Inglefield, R.N., of Her Majesty's ship Majestic, I believe, recently expressed an opinion to this effect. Then, again, we have Mr. Laird's proposal to arm the river boats, which, no doubt, would be manned by Volunteer Artillery. To complete the defences of the port we require not only the batteries which are to be erected on the dock quays, but earthworks at Crosby and New Brighton, which, mounted with the heaviest ordnance, would command the Crosby Channel. Liverpool, fortunately, has, among her other Volunteers, a large body of Engineers, well officered, and comprising a number of able-bodied men, accustomed to construction, and who, I am convinced, are willing to respond to the call, if the Government would only intimate its wish for their services in throwing up batteries at Crosby, and, if also necessary, along the shore from the end of the dock quay. Our engineers should not let this opportunity pass of showing their patriotism and their ability to do what they undertook when enrolled. At present there are a very large number of labourers out of employment, and they might be employed with advantage on these works. There will be no lack of artillery to occupy the fortifications when ready for service." This subject, which has already occupied considerable attention, and which a year or two ago was thought of sufficient importance to call for the attention of a special committee of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, has again been brought prominently under the notice of that board. It is understood that a special meeting of that body will be held, to-day to adopt measures in relation to it.|
|Ma 23 December 1861||Admiralty instructions were received on Saturday directing the whole of the screw gunboats, attached to the first division of the steam reserve at Chatham, to be removed from the several ports on the Medway for immediate service. Instructions were also received from the Admiralty for a report to be made to the Controller of the Navy of the names and number of the gunboats attached to the reserve at Chatham which can be brought forward to replace those removed. The screw gunboats attached to the first division of the steam service, all of which are armed with two Armstrong pivot guns on the upper deck, and fully equipped for sea, are the Bullfrog, the Cochin, the Britomart, the Griper, the Carnation, the Julia, and the Sandfly. Each of the above gunboats is of very light draught, and will therefore prove of the utmost advantage in ascending shallow rivers, while, from their lightness and the easy way in which they can be handled, they may be placed in positions impracticable to a frigate or even a 21-gun corvette. The other gunboats attached to the reserve at Chatham are the Mistletoe, the Spanker, the Herring, the Sepoy, and the Snipe, which belong to the second division and all of which could be made ready for sea in a very short time. The flotilla of gunboats attached to the third division of the steam reserve in the Medway are the Manly, the Mastiff, the Fidget, the Thrasher, the Pelter, the Tickler, the Spey, the Thistle, the Dwarf, the Linnet, the Pigeon, and the Phoenix. In addition to the above there is a large squadron of mortar-boats lying in Yantlett-creek, besides a number of iron mortar-boats hauled up at Chatham Dockyard, all of which a very short time would suffice to make ready for active service.|
|Tu 24 December 1861||Navigators tell us that there is an area in the middle of a circling hurricane where all is calm and peace. To the well tutored eye there are signs which show what wild weather reigns all around. Fish and seaweed are cast down upon the deck, mists and darkness bound the stinted prospect, the waves have not their accustomed roll, but the waters are almost preternaturally calm, and in the gunroom and the cockpit and between decks all is as quiet as if the good ship were crossing the Line or sailing away leisurely before a light, warm trade-wind. Such was the state of Washington on the 9th of this present December. "All is quiet along our lines." "The river blockade still continues." "Reviews go on with their accustomed regularity." "The weather is wonderfully warm." The only bit of news to stir the monotony of the ice-eaters was that Mr. Sickles was working away on board the Pensacola, which lay motionless off Alexandria [Frederick Ellsworth Sickles, 1819-1895, inventor of the Sickles cut-off valve, had provided, for a large sum, the engines for this US Navy Steam sloop, but they did not work, and the Navy refused to let him off the ship until he got them running]. So, also, at New York everything seems to have been as still as in the days of Walter the Doubter [a fictionalised governor of New York during the early Dutch period of the city, invented by the author Washington Irving, 1783-1859]. But that the report of Mr. Chase [Salmon Portland Chase, 1808-1873, United States Treasury Secretary] had supplied some topics for conversation among the bankers who are expected to supply the money, we might imagine that the old times had come back again when the comfortable burgomasters measured the time by the periodical filling of their pipes. Nay, we are told by the veracious historian that the Dutch did then meet in some alarm at the prospect of a war with England, and solemnly decide in full conclave to destroy the British fleet by public contract; whereas, in this December, 1861, the people of New York were luxuriating in the indifference engendered by a long impunity, and were as little mindful that they had outraged the honour of Old England as if they had merely kicked a cur out of their path, or had pushed a Negro from the pavement of the Broadway.
If we had to deal with a country where the direction of the State is in the hands of the thoughtful, the educated, or even the rich, we should have no misgiving as to the temper with which Washington and New York have endured the surprise that has already come upon them. And, even remembering that the masses of mankind in Federal America dictate the policy of the nation, we still cannot resign ourselves to the belief that a mob can be so ignorant as to call in upon them those tremendous powers which are already in action near them. No passion can so entirely banish reason as to leave nothing to prudence. If there be many who, as our Correspondent says, worship the Union with the senseless affection with which a Pagan worships his idol, they must see that the last unlikely chance for their brittle god is peace with England. If there be a merchant or banker in New York who sees a hope of safety through the chaos of financial disaster which Mr. Chase has just exhibited, he must know that little hope hangs solely upon peace with England. If there is a statesman who believes that event the existing Federal States will remain without subdivision, the condition of that belief must be peace with England. In peace or in a war, to prosecute an attempt at subjugation or to negotiate an advantageous treaty of partition, the essential necessity of the Federal Government still is peace with England. Mr. Lincoln must know this right well, Mr. Seward must be thoroughly convinced of it, and none know it better than that base portion of the press of New York which so powerfully plays the game of the South by hounding on the populace of the North to violence and fury. It is Scarcely conceivable that even the rabble of the Atlantic cities can be blind to such self-evident facts. They have the credit of being shrewd, if not very scrupulous or very conscientious, and, if they are worthy even of the credit of shrewdness, they cannot but see that, in order to carry out any project they may have, they also must take care to preserve peace with England.
A State paper which we publish to-day will arrive opportunely at Washington to offer an honourable path out of a great difficulty. A few sanguine people, in the overweening pride of their benevolence, have been pressing us to refer the insult we have received to arbitration. Their prayers are answered before they could have hoped for such a fruition. The arbitration has already been entertained, and the award has gone out contemporaneously with our demand. If we could possibly have so abated ourselves as to put our national honour out of our own guardianship, to whom would it have been possible to refer such a question but to a nation great as ourselves, sensitive of renown, and enlightened upon all the punctilios which are the laws and safeguards of international comity? If we could have named an arbitrator beyond the suspicion of partiality towards ourselves, whom could we have chosen but the one nation which has always been our rival upon the seas and the vehement opponent of our former claims to exclusive Maritime Empire? Well, that nation has entertained this case uninvited by us; and, there being no facts in dispute, has, with the authority of a great and impartial position, enounced the law. France has spoken unanimously. She has spoken by her press, which upon this matter has been singularly undivided; by her jurists, who had already achieved reputation and authority far beyond her frontiers; and, lastly, by a solemn national act| of State. The despatch of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs is conclusively argued, and the deduction is not only logical, but decisive. M. Thouvenel Edouard Antoine de Thouvenel, 1818-1866, Minister of Foreign Affairs] points out that, whatever be the claims of the Federal Government, whether to treat the persons who were seized as belligerents or as rebels, the pretension to seize them upon a neutral ship trading from neutral port to neutral port is equally illegal and offensive. The whole question is summed up with so much conciseness that it needs no abstract, and the decision is given in a few lines:-
|Tu 24 December 1861||Captain Wilkes, of the San Jacinto, had made the following report to the Secretary of the Navy respecting the Trent affair:-
"United States' steamer San Jacinto, at Sea, Nov. 16.
The following is a copy of the orders issued by Captain. Wilkes, of the San Jacinto, to Lieutenant Fairfax, executive officer of that vessel, for the arrest of Messrs. Mason and Slidell:-"United States' Steamer San Jacinto, at Sea, Nov. 8.
"Sir, - You will have the second and third cutters of this ship fully manned and armed, and be, in all respects, prepared to board the steamer Trent, now hove to under our guns. On boarding her you will demand the papers of the steamer, her clearance from Havannah, with the list of passengers and crew. Should Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Eustis, and Mr. Macfarland be on board, you will make them prisoners, and send them on board this ship immediately, and take possession of her as a prize. I do not deem it will be necessary to use force - that the prisoners will have the good sense to avoid any necessity for using it; but, if they should, they must be made to understand that it is their own fault. They must be brought on board. All trunks, cases, packages, and bags belonging to them you will take possession of and send on board this ship. Any despatches found on the persons of the prisoners, or in possession of those on board the steamer, will be taken possession of also, examined, and retained if necessary, I have understood that the families of these gentlemen may be with them; if so, I beg you will offer some of them, in my name, a passage in this ship to the United States; and that all the attention and comforts we can command are tendered them, and will be placed at their service. In the event of their acceptance, should there be anything which the captain of the steamer can spare to increase the comforts, in the way of necessaries or stores, of which a war vessel is deficient, you will please to procure them; the amount will be paid by the paymaster. Lieutenant James A. Green will take charge of the third cutter, which accompanies you, and will assist you in these duties. I trust that all those under your command, in executing the important and delicate duty will conduct themselves with all the delicacy and kindness which becomes the character of our naval service.
"I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"Lieutenant D.M. Fairfax, United States Navy, Executive Officer, San Jacinto"
|We 25 December 1861||In the event of a war with America we should suddenly find ourselves engaged in hostilities with a powerful and adventurous people, strong in maritime resources, and participating in our own national familiarity with the risks and dangers of the deep. Such an enemy is not to be held cheap. It is quite true that the Americans have at present no fleet which could pretend to cope with the Royal Navy of England, and we may even say, perhaps, that they have hardly a single vessel which could be matched for speed and armament against the best specimens of the same class from our own squadrons. The supremacy of the seas, therefore, in a general sense, would certainly be ours; and it is equally certain that we could blockade all the chief ports of the Federal States without the slightest difficulty. But the Americans possess maritime resources of no ordinary kind, and they are second to none in the skill with which they can employ them. The Northern States are full of building-yards, and abound with timber and all other materials required in naval arsenals. We may depend upon it that our adversaries will lose not a moment after the declaration of war in pressing forward the construction and equipment of cruisers, and it must be expected that many of these vessels will, as in the last war, elude the blockade and prowl about the ocean in quest of prey. They may hope, in any case, to snap up our merchantmen and derange our commerce, but the more adventurous spirits among them may not improbably fly at higher game. It is quite possible that while England is ruling undisputed mistress of the waves a Yankee frigate may appear some fine morning off one of our ports and inflict no slight damage upon us before anything could be done to stop her. We have a long coast line to defend, and our enterprising enemy might quietly mark out his point of attack, and try the chances of the adventure. It would be rather a desperate service, no doubt, but it is precisely by such exploits that the Americans would attempt to establish a reputation, and redress the balance of loss and gain in the incidents of the war.
We happen, it is true, at the present time, to be unusually well prepared for such contingencies. Our coast defences have been reorganized, our fortifications have been greatly strengthened and extended, and our ordnance as well as our navy has been reconstructed. We have a very large flotilla of gunboats especially fitted for service on our own coasts, and we have an efficient Naval Reserve fully competent to meet the demand for seamen. Besides this, in every maritime county we have Militia Artillery, and we have also Volunteer Artillery, and even Volunteer Engineers. There is not a port in the kingdom but has recently taken thought how to defend itself against attack. At many points new batteries have been thrown up and new guns mounted, while the local Artillery is always at hand to turn these defences to account. These are incalculable advantages, but it still does not follow that at some one point an enemy's frigate might not detect an opportunity for mischief, and we have lately published some communications purporting to show that one of our principal ports is actually exposed to a visitation of this very kind. It is declared that an American cruiser, if she could get across the Atlantic and thread her way through St. George's Channel, might undoubtedly enter the Mersey, and so hold the shipping of Liverpool at her mercy for some hours together.
We take this case, then, as a good specimen of the whole, and it would be easy, we think, to show that we have most effective means of defence at our command. Liverpool has abundance of vessels available for service, and abundance of sailors to man them. The Mersey swarms with tugboats, ferryboats, and boats of every description, so built as to be perfectly capable of carrying a heavy gun or two. The population of Liverpool is already enrolled in brigades of Infantry and battalions of Artillery and Engineers. The town, in fact, contains within itself all those materials out of which the Northern States of America have formed a Federal Navy. The expedition to Port Royal was composed, for the most part, of vessels not a bit stronger than could be procured by the score in the waters of the Mersey, and those vessels were manned in haste by New England fishermen. Some months ago Mr. Laird, who has just addressed us afresh on the subject, called the attention of Government to the extraordinary resources for self-defence which Liverpool possessed, and his suggestions for turning these to practical account were approved by the officers deputed by Government to inquire into the matter. Here, then, we have exactly what we want - good ships, good men to man them, and good will for the service. All that is asked of Government is that it should furnish guns, of which there can be no lack, and make compensation for the equipment and occasional use of the vessels employed.We introduce this subject to the public because we are sure that it indicates the true principles of national defence. It is quite impossible that the Royal Navy can furnish a squadron for every sea and a guardship for every port. Something must be left to local resources, and, indeed, it is exactly this combination of voluntary service with national action which constitutes true power. The Queen's ships can scour the seas and keep the Channel, but enemies like the Americans will now and then run the blockade, especially if enticed by an easy prey at the end of the voyage. Against these visitors it will be quite sufficient to establish local defences. An American cruiser would not run the risk of an engagement by which she might be crippled or delayed. She would mark out spots left unprotected through carelessness or confidence, pounce upon her prey, and be at sea again before any ship could get on her track. She would find her reward in the credit which such success would bring her, and in the renown which would attend an enterprise so intrepid and audacious. It is useless to urge that this would be a barbarous and useless system of tactics, for it would, in fact, be the only system open to the Americans in a contest with a navy like ours. They have no line-of-battle ships, and they cannot keep the sea by powerful fleets. Their blows would be aimed at our commerce and our pride. They would endeavour to intercept our merchant vessels, and to alarm us on our own shores. If some smart San Jacinto should actually succeed in entering the Mersey or the Humber in defiance of a Channel squadron, the exploit would be set off, and not unreasonably, against our displays of force along the Federal coasts. The Americans would tell the world that all the maritime power of Britain could not secure its ports against their cruisers, and we should be left to infer that an enemy so successful in spite of such odds had better be conciliated than encountered. Of course, we could spread alarms and inflict injuries in our turn, but that would count for little in the estimate. We, as the stronger Power, should be expected to do so, but it would be the weaker Power which would get credit for the achievement. These peculiar risks we can only meet by a system of local defences. When the Americans know that our ports are at least so far protected that they cannot be attacked with impunity or damaged without a struggle, they will not venture on making the attempt. Their only hope of success lies in the chance of a surprise. Take away this chance, and their opportunities are gone. Nothing is wanted beyond such means of defence as may be always and immediately available. If there is a flotilla of gunboats which can be sent out, or a battery which can be manned at the first appearance of a hostile sail, enough will have been done. No enemy will then run the risk of the adventure, and the necessary precautions ought to be taken without delay. Even if we may indulge the hope that the Federal Government will not persist in refusing our present just demands, we can never be sure that the convulsions and quarrels of the disunited States may not bring an American war to our doors.
|We 25 December 1861|
OUR NAVAL PREPARATIONS FOR WAR.
Sir, - Reverting to my letter published in your impression of the 16th inst,, I would again call public attention to the absence of any preparation for the employment of our gunboats in the coming struggle with America. I shall not attempt to enlarge upon the great utility of that class of vessel in all warlike operations, nor enumerate the many cases where their great value has been abundantly proved, nor shall I enter upon a description of the national outcry for them in 1854, the enormous outlay upon them, and the trouble and expense bestowed upon carefully stowing them away, but simply draw the attention of the public to the words (the result of long experience) of our probable foes on the subject, and I trust that the lesson read to us by the Secretary of the Federal Navy will not be thrown to the winds.
In his report to Congress he alludes to the difficulty of maintaining "a blockade as rigid and effective as the peculiar nature of our maritime frontier, which has through a large portion of its entire length a double coast, inner and outer, would admit." And then he points out the reason, viz., -"Our principal naval vessels are not, from their great draught of water, adapted to blockade a shallow coast, which has been guarded with extreme difficulty." Again, - "Most of the public armed vessels being of such a size and draught of water that they could only render imperfect blockading service, immediate measures were taken by the department to carry into effect the policy of the Government in advance of the special Session of Congress, by contracting for the construction of 23 vessels, which should be of light draught, but heavy armament. Many of those first ordered are already in commission, and the others are in rapid progress towards completion."
The Secretary of the Federal Navy concludes by stating that there will be "an addition, when they are completed, of 52 new steamers peculiarly adapted to the required blockade."
I cannot conceive anything more strikingly opportune and valuable to us at the present moment than the above practical opinion of the highest naval authority in the Federal States.
I would ask even the most unthinking what, in all probability, will be our condition, as strangers quite ignorant of the intricate American navigation, with only large ships and with all the hardships and difficulties of a notoriously stormy season before us, when the natives themselves, thoroughly conversant with the coast and during a favourable period of the year, could render only imperfect blockading service, and blockaded "with extreme difficulty."
It will be a bitter reproach to us hereafter if we fail to profit by the experience thus liberally bestowed upon us by the Secretary of the Federal Navy, and I am the more urgent in bringing this matter before the public because the majority of our gunboats have been so carefully and elaborately hauled up on shore, under shelter, that I fear a month or six weeks must necessarily elapse before they can be ready for sea.
Very lately I had hoped to have the opportunity of personally bringing the subject of our naval resources, &c., before the House of Commons, but for the present my wishes are postponed. In the meantime, should there be room in your columns, I shall be glad occasionally to offer a few remarks on this most important matter.I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
Holmewood, Tunbridge-wells, Dec. 19.
|We 25 December 1861||The gunboats in the first-class reserve at Portsmouth are ordered away to the following stations, for the protection of the coasts and harbours, in the event of war with America: - The Highlander, to Kingstown; Escort, Blazer, and Rose, to the coast of Ireland; and the Amelia and Raven to Greenock. They will be commanded by lieutenants from Her Majesty's ships Victory, Asia, St. Vincent, and Excellent, and manned by crews told off from the same ships - all of whom have been, named for service in the boats for some time past under the "gunboat flotilla" regulations. The second-class gunboats at Portsmouth have been taken in hand to be brought forward as first-class reserve at the port.|
|We 25 December 1861||The Pandora, 6, screw, in the first-class reserve at Portsmouth, has been brought down the harbour and berthed alongside the dockyard, to complete her armament, sails, &c., for sea. She is ordered to proceed round to Liverpool and will be stationed in the Mersey for the protection of the port.|
|Th 26 December 1861|
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir,- In one of your leading articles of this day you discuss, in a congratulatory spirit, the declaration of the French Emperor to the Federal Government at Washington in reference to the affair of the Trent.
It is a most important circumstance at this crisis, and is well deserving of the expressions of gratification you bestow upon it. You, however, I presume, think that there is something in it which completely disposes of the question of a reference to arbitration, and you challenge the friends of that mode of settling international disputes to say what they think of this. I am a very humble advocate of that opinion, but I have no difficulty in responding to the appeal, and at once reply that it gives us the most unmixed satisfaction. You do not inform us why you think this piece of news makes our cause untenable. I wish you had done so, because it would have made my task more easy; as it is, I must fairly own that I am unable to discover the reason, If we are to make a commencement of the new system, surely a moment when an arbitration is quite certain to end in our favour is that of all others its supporters would most gladly select and such is a time which I should imagine would be most likely to recommend it to the nation at large.
No doubt this wanton aggression on the part of what I fear I must now call (for they have approved the act of their officer) the Federal Government has made the arrangements for arbitration unusually difficult; but I must be permitted to say that there never was an opportunity in other respects more golden than our present difficulty with the Washington Government. The subject is so like that of duelling that the arguments run upon all fours. There might be cases where a demand for arbitration, coming from a weak nation to a strong, or where both parties were nearly on an equality, might seem like pusillanimity - the dread of which suspicion we know, by more than one instance, has led, most necessarily, to fatal results. But in the case before us there is no equality at all. America is now utterly incompetent to cope with such an adversary as England, in all the plenitude of her power, and no one could for one moment suspect the motive for a proposal for arbitration on our part. When I say this, don't throw the New York Herald and its abettors at my head; for that party is publicly disavowed by all honest Americans, and is the laughing-stock of the civilized world. I wish some one would inform us what we are to lose by arbitration. Was it ever heard that any powerful nation lost caste by moderation, or is there something so inherently foolish in a resort to such a method of arranging international differences that those who earnestly urge it upon the country are to be considered as of a kind of harmless idiots? I can hardly think this, inasmuch as the distinguished men who framed the Treaty of Paris, acting under the direction of their respective Governments, thought the principle of such importance that they placed upon record with all due solemnity their approval of it; and my firm conviction is that if England would have that true courage which prompts patience, and carry out the recommendations of the Treaty of Paris in this instance, she would go a long way towards putting an end to the chances of war; and if any one desires to know what war is, I refer him to the great Duke who passed away from us nine years ago [The Duke of Wellington, 1769-1852], and whose opinion of it no one will, I suspect, be bold enough to attempt to controvert.
It is not "le droit du plus fort", or the niceties of some ancient Spanish punctilio, about which we are trying our issue, but upon the interpretation of a written code of laws, perfectly well-known and well-defined, and which actually forms the basis of our international communications. So that, irrational as duelling certainly is, to come to blows in such cases as these without attempting arbitration would be more irrational still, because in the matter of duelling there were no laws to which appeal could be made. The difficulty in both cases was the absence of a constituted tribunal. I say was, because I desire to call your attention to, and carry still further, the analogy between the two cases - "the duel national and the duel personal". It is hardly necessary for me to preface this by saying that, if you fly to the ultima ratio without having exhausted every other means of accommodation - success or failure in war or duel being no test of right, - after frightful losses and injuries the question at issue may still remain as undecided as ever. But let us look at what happened in regard to duelling some 20 years ago. Precisely the same objections were made to the arguments of those who had the courage to denounce the practice as now meet the advocates of arbitration. Providence willed that public opinion should be powerfully stirred against duelling by a hostile meeting under circumstances peculiarly shocking, in which a young officer who had won great distinction in our Eastern wars fell by the hand of his kinsman, almost on setting foot on his native shore. Lord Hardinge [Field Marshal Henry Hardinge, 1st Viscount Hardinge, 1785-1856, commander-in-chief from 1852, succeeding the Duke of Wellington], with the full assent of the Duke, made those now well-known changes in the articles of war constituting an appeal in case of wounded honour. It was confidently asserted no man would appeal to them. Happily, not long after, as if to show how Providence favoured the act, words of an offensive character were spoken by one officer to another, alas! now no more, - the late Captain Matson, R.N. He threw the weight of his high character into the scale, demanded a court of honour; the matter was settled without delay, honourably to both parties, and from that day to this duelling may be said to have been blotted out of our institutions. Duelling had no law to appeal to, - arbitration has. Duelling has with us a tribunal, - arbitration has no machinery quite at hand for the purpose. Do not suppose that I do not see the difficulty, or that I underestimate it, or fail to see how under such circumstances attempts at procrastination might be made which would be intolerable; but, difficulties as they are, no one will say they are insurmountable, or that our statesmen are not bound, if by nothing else, yet by the Paris Treaty, to attempt their solution; and excuse my referring, in conclusion, to the religious aspect of the question. The Almighty has said, "Blessed are the peacemakers", and - with, reverence be it spoken - His own honour is concerned in bringing to pass the counsel of those who strive in affiance upon Him.Your obedient servant,
EBURY [Robert Grosvenor, 1st Baron Ebury, 1801-1893), a Whig politician, M.P. for Middlesex until 1857]
Moor-park, Dec. 23.
|Th 26 December 1861|
LONDON, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1861.
When the answer of the American Government to our own is on its way; when, indeed, a few hours will bring us news of the temper in which our demands for reparation have been received by the American people, it seems like trifling to engage in speculation and abstract disquisitions. At so solemn a crisis, when the Government and people of this country have called a foreign Power to account for an act stigmatized by the unanimous opinion of Europe, and when all eyes are fixed on England, we should be glad to let the subject rest during the few hours of uncertainty that remain. We should have thought that the publication of M. Thouvenel's despatch might have quieted the Peace Society for a day or two. Here they had everything for which they had been calling during the last fortnight. Arbitration, an impartial declaration of the law, an intervention of a respectable neutral Power, such as might give the Americans an opportunity of withdrawing without loss of dignity from a false position, was what they declared to be necessary, and all at once it is found that they have it. Within a few days of the despatch of our note to Lord Lyons a note from M. Thouvenel followed, which probably reached Washington before the Federal Government was bound to return its answer, and which, if President Lincoln and Mr. Seward were disposed to abide by the opinion of an arbitrator, must have decided them to restore the captured Envoys.
One would think there was nothing more to be said; but it seems that there are some among us who are not yet satisfied. We print a letter from Lord Ebury, in which he takes exception to the statement that the action of the French Government was, in effect, an arbitration; at least, this is the only meaning which we can attribute to his letter, which wanders away into general discussions as to the sinfulness of war, the folly of duelling, and we know not what. To the greater part of what his Lordship says we can give the usual assent which men give to those truths which by repetition have arrived at the dignity of platitudes. His precepts would be excellent delivered, from the platform or the pulpit, but we cannot afford time or space for matters that have not a practical bearing. We would therefore simply ask Lord Ebury and his friends what it is that they want? It is of no use to repeat continually an unmeaning shibboleth, and to denounce all who will not echo it. When the first news of the American outrage reached England, the utmost endeavours of a party among us were used to prove that Captain Wilkes was right, or at the worst only erred on a point of form. Every falsification of history or law that American ingenuity could devise was endorsed by those who could not imagine that on an international question their own country could be in the right. When these pretensions were completely exposed, and every rag of legality stripped from off the act of the San Jacinto, then came the cry for "arbitration," and this word has been continually repeated, without any attempt as far as we can see, to give it a practical signification. Who is to propose arbitration? Who is to arbitrate? What is to be the subject of arbitration? What is to be the position of the prisoners pending the arbitration? Does Lord Lyons was like a challenge to fight a duel in private life? Was it the duty of our Government - is it the duty of every Government when an act of violence has been committed - to propose arbitration in the first place? A few zealots of the Peace Party may hold this opinion, but Lord Ebury will, probably, not go so far. He will allow that the first step of an injured State must be to demand reparation, and that the justification and the offer to submit to the judgment of a third party must come from the other side. So far, then, this country is in the right, and up to the present moment has acted in accordance with political morality. All this indignation of the Peace Party against our own Government is based on the totally unwarranted assumption that the Federal Government will propose arbitration, will put Messrs, Mason and Slidell at once in the hands of the arbitrator, and agree to be bound by his award Both Lord Ebury and Sir C. Eardley seem to think that the whole affair rests with the British authorities, and that what Exeter-hall and the attendants at prayer-meetings think kind and Christianlike can at once be accomplished. The Baronet even descends to details on the subject. "Arbitration by a Sovereign," he says, "has been suggested. But arbitration by a Sovereign would not secure perfect law. Moreover, every chief Sovereign in Europe is committed to our view. I would suggest a Sovereign nominating two accredited Admiralty Judges," &c. As for Lord Ebury, he talks of our "golden opportunity" for putting in practice his Christian substitute for the arbitrament of war.
But suppose these gentlemen should overestimate the willingness of the Americans to adopt their peaceable views. Suppose that the countrymen of Captain Wilkes should so far share the insane passions which the Peace Society attributes to Englishmen that the answer of the Washington Government should not be a proposal of arbitration and a surrender of the prisoners into the hands of a third party. What then? Must we propose to submit the justice of this refusal to arbitration, and ask them to appoint a neutral State to decide whether they ought not to have referred the original question to an arbiter? Because, if so, it is difficult to see how matters are ever to be brought to an issue. In short, suppose that the Government of the Federal States should maintain its own opinion and declare itself the supreme judge of its own rights; what is to be done? Mr. Bright and his friends, of course, would say, "Perish neutral rights !" but Lord Ebury and the more respectable members of the party will hardly echo this cry, and it would be well for them to consider what course they would take if the concessions on which they count should not be made by the American Government.The reductio ad absurdum is quite easy in this case. "Arbitration", cry the peacemakers; "cannot you settle the whole question by arbitration? Why think of steamers and gunboats and regiments for Canada? Can the use of such means ever decide a legal question?" But does any man in his senses believe that without the possession of military and naval strength it would be possible to get the American Government to listen to us at all? It is said now that there is a probability that the Washington Cabinet will make some concessions, though we observe by the very latest advices that the New York press continues to insult the British nation. If there be any foundation for the rumour, to what are we to attribute this change of counsel but to the growing conviction that England is too strong to be treated like the Government of New Granada, which was made the victim of a still more unjustifiable violation of neutral rights, still unatoned for? Cannot every one see, from what has passed in America since the capture of the Commissioners, that the men at the head of affairs have been preparing with sufficient cunning to receive the remonstrances of England? The outrage is so flagrant that they cannot believe it will be passed over, yet they are not aware of the storm they have raised. They have been probably expecting to receive a sharp remonstrance, but not an ultimatum. So the game is to play fast and loose with the question. The Secretary of the Navy gives his warm approval of the act, and the Republican lawyers echo Captain Wilkes's nonsense about embodied despatches. On the other hand, the President carefully avoids the subject in his Message. The Lower House of Congress, which the champions of an extended suffrage in this country now decry, as consisting only of the representatives of the people, votes unanimous thanks to Captain Wilkes; the Senate says not a word. It would be amusing were it not painful to see how the whole set of tricky politicians are preparing to meet the anger of the Britisher. It may be that information has filtered out that the Government at Washington will not stand the risk of a war, and that if England asks in a peremptory manner concessions will be made; but the spirit in which meek advances and proposals for arbitration would be received may be learnt from the conduct of the Americans during the few weeks of suspense. However, that part of the question, at any rate, is quite settled. We have not proposed arbitration. We have now only to see whether the Federal Government will propose it. Unless it do so, the whole hypothetical fabric of Lord Ebury and his friends falls to the ground. Would it not be as well for them to wait a few days, and defer their strictures on the refusal of arbitration by our Government until they have learnt that our opponents have asked for it?
|Th 26 December 1861|
The European advices brought by the Hansa to New York are generally interpreted by the New York press as favourable to the maintenance of peace between England and America.The New York journals publish some further diplomatic correspondence between Mr. Adams and Mr. Seward. In this correspondence Mr. Adams states that, while in conversation with Lord John Russell in June last, he referred to the fact of British troops having been sent to Canada. Lord John Russell replied that, as Canada had been denuded of troops some time since, it was only a proper measure of precaution, and said that he did not know what the United States might do. Lord John Russell also said something about a threat uttered by Mr. Seward to Lord Lyons, that British vessels would be seized on Lake Ontario without ceremony.
|Th 26 December 1861|
MOVEMENT OF TROOPS AND STORES TO CANADA.
Sir,- I have travelled in North America in winter, both from New Brunswick to Quebec, and, having the misfortune to be shipwrecked in January, 1851, below the Rivière du Loup, I marched up in four days to the latter city, over an icebound road, suffering little, except from cold winds and want of proper clothing. I have gone the other journey in spring and winter, both sleighing and marching it twice. If my practical experience in travelling in North America is worth, attention, I would propose the following expeditious method for moving the troops and stores from the seaboard to the rail, if they should be required in the Upper Provinces. The roads at present are icebound, and will be so till April, at the earliest.
Let the Government send out to either point - New Brunswick and the nearest road open at the mouth of the St. Lawrence - eight or ten steam traction engines, similar to Bray or Boydell's, to which, can be attached the Military Train waggons and Canadian sleighs. Each engine can with ease move at the rate of eight miles an hour, conveying from 600 to 800 men and stores, the former fully equipped. Let proper gear and parties who understand the movements of the traction engines be attached to them, under the direction of the Military Train, and 10,000, 20,000, or 30,000 men, with stores, can be forwarded within a week to the nearest point of the rail for service when required.
Those who are acquainted with the roads and pathways of America in winter can vouch, for the statements I put forth.I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
22, Regent-square, W.C., Dec. 26.
|Th 26 December 1861|
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES,
Sir,- In the event of war with America, much stress is laid upon the certain devastation to which our merchant ships will he exposed from privateers, and it is even apprehended that our first-class ports might he suddenly visited by the enemy's cruisers, and an enormous amount of damage inflicted upon our shipping. These apprehensions appear to be based upon what took place during the last war with America, and without due consideration being given to the vast change in the conditions of the two periods. I refer more particularly to the electric telegraph and steam. There are now few seaports of any importance in the United Kingdom or in France, Spain, or Portugal (where we have consuls) without telegraphic communication with the Admiralty, and there is no point in the kingdom or in the English and St. George's Channels to which a steamvessel of war could not be despatched at a few hours' notice from some one of the naval dockyards in the kingdom. I take it for granted that no sailing vessel of war of the enemy would venture on our coasts, and the difficulties which a war steamer coming from the other side of the Atlantic would encounter, even in the matter of "coaling" alone, ought not to be overlooked; for the use of our fleet in the North American waters we have vast stores of fuel at Halifax, Bermuda, &c, but where are the American cruisers to coal on this side of the Atlantic? A steamer with empty bunkers would scarcely be formidable to our merchant ships of the better class, for the fact should not be ignored that the superiority in speed which the American privateers formerly possessed no longer exists, at least, so far as regards our best class of merchant ships, and in all classes the disparity is not so great as it was. By all means let our ships and shores be defended, but there is no advantage in overstating the power of the enemy for mischief.Your obedient servant,
146, Leadenhall-street, Dec, 25.
|Fr 27 December 1861|
The Canadian steamer North American and the Inman steamer City of Baltimore have arrived this afternoon, the former from Portland in Maine, the latter from New York, both having sailed on Saturday, the 14th instant.
The New York Herald talks largely of "British bluster", and of "John Bull's second thoughts", and predicts that the British Government will lay to heart the recommendations of the Peace Party.
The New York Times also argues that, after the first outburst of indignation in England, a reaction had set in, it being almost unanimously acknowledged by the English journals that America had the law on her side. The Times concludes as follows:—
The New York World says Americans can afford to be unmoved spectators of the bluster of the English populace and press, inasmuch as they have right on their side. It concludes as follows:-
The Journal of Commerce says:-
"The Canadians are becoming excited about the chances of a war with the United States, and a general call to arms seems to be the order of the day. Volunteers are being drilled with greater exactness and constancy than heretofore, and certain of the storekeepers, especially those of Montreal, have agreed to close their stores at 1 o'clock on Saturday afternoons, to enable their young men to have extra time for military duties. The sedentary militia are to be called out, and one journal intimates that nearly 200,000 men could be raised in a very short space of time. Regular troops are marching from one part of the provinces to another, and a party of Sappers destined for Toronto arrived at Quebec, having marched the distance between that city and Halifax, Nova Scotia, overland, in 10 days and 2 hours. General Williams of Kars and his staff have been engaged inspecting the old and superintending the erection of new fortifications along the whole Canadian frontier, and left Toronto on the 10th for Montreal. Lieutenant-Colonel Robertson, however, remains to superintend the erection of the new works of defence at that place."
|Sa 28 December 1861|
LONDON, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1861.
The delay which winter gales have wrought in the transmission of news across the Atlantic causes us to be still in doubt as to the reception of the British demands by the Government and people of the Northern States. The Europa, which carried the British demand of reparation, passed Cape Race on the 13th, but did not communicate; she would, however, be at Halifax in some 36 hours after, and then her momentous news would be flashed through the country, having at least two days to do its work in the shape of "sensation" telegrams before the remonstrances and exhortations of the Americans in this country could reach the Government at Washington. In this, perhaps, lies the chief danger of an unfortunate issue. In a country where the multitude is all powerful and the Government timid to a degree unknown in Europe it is quite possible that the reception of the news by the great cities of the Union may determine the action of the Executive, or, at least, lead the chief men of the Republic into declarations from which they will find it difficult to draw back. We cannot doubt that when the demands of the British Government were made known to Mr. Lincoln, when he found that we are serious in our resolve to have reparation, and when, moreover, the deliberate and unsolicited judgment of France was given in the case, he or any other sensible statesman would be slow to refuse concession, and to take the alternative of a war, which, whatever its consequences in other quarters, must result in the independence of the South. There is in the acts of the Washington politicians enough to show that they were beginning to have some apprehensions of a dispute with this country, and were willing to leave open a door for escaping from the difficulty, though they had not the grace to acknowledge that Captain Wilkes's act was indefensible, or even to admit that there could be a doubt about the law. We cannot but hope that they will have had the power to use the prudence which they seem to possess, and that when the demand of the British Government arrived President Lincoln was not influenced by any warlike demonstrations on the part of his countrymen, or committed by any hasty language uttered by himself or his Ministers.
Most people will have been surprised that of late so little mention should have been made of the Trent affair by the American papers, and that it should have yielded place to speculations on the capture of Fort Pulaski or the efficiency of the "stone fleet." But this silence, during a time when all England has been convulsed, is easily understood when we recollect the conviction of Americans that this country cannot afford, under any circumstances, to go to war with them.
"We could not kick England into a war if we tried," said an American politician some years ago; and he did not mean to be particularly insulting, or to impeach our personal courage, for he went on to say that America commanded the three great staples of the world - corn, cotton, and currency, - the latter in the shape of Californian gold, - and that England was so completely dependent on the United States for the subsistence of her population and the maintenance of her artificial social fabric that she would undergo any indignity rather than take the risk of war. This has been the conviction and the boast of all classes in America, from Rowdies and Filibusters to the intellectual ladies and gentlemen who talk the cant of international brotherhood in London drawing-rooms. A very good instance of the reasoning employed is to be found in a recent article of the New York Times, which proves to its own satisfaction that England will never go to war for the Trent business, and that Americans need expect nothing but "a deluge of newspaper declamation." "America", says the writer, "can produce everything for herself; not so England: she is not self-sustaining. Isolate her for one year and she would cease to be England; cut off her importations of food, and a large portion of her people would perish of starvation. We shall send to that country in the present year $100,000,000 worth of grain and provisions, and meet a want which can be supplied from no other source." The writer goes on then to speak of the 650,000 men, who could take Canada in six months, and "the enormous fleet we are creating", which would "effectually destroy the commerce of England on every sea, and in this way seal her destruction." And then, with the true instinct of Pennsylvania and Michigan, he goes on to say, "And, perhaps more than all, she sees the immense investment in and with this country, which would be swept out of existence in a moment in the event of a war." In short, England, partly from dread of the Federal army and navy, but far more on account of her complete dependence on America, "can hardly be forced into a war with us on any pretext, - much less on that assumed."These arguments are precisely those which are most commonly repeated among the Americans, and, we think, account for the indifference with which the action of England in the matter of the Trent has been expected. What the Herald calls "British bluster" is looked for by the American public, but nothing more. The idea that so great a pressure will be put upon their Government that it may possibly be induced to give up Messrs. Mason and Slidell, never enters into the minds of the people. As our Special Correspondent says,-
"The discussions which succeeded the arrest have subsided, and all we hear now is praise of the action, the regrets of Mr. Welles that the Trent was not captured, and an under-current of apprehension that things will not be taken quite so quietly in England." But at New York there was among the people generally even less doubt of the irreversibility of the act than at Washington. Captain Wilkes was there, and was the lion of the season. A few days before the last steamer left he had been recognized at the theatre, and was obliged to come forward and receive the applause of an enthusiastic audience. Thus, we have two elements in the Federal States - one consisting of the thoughtful politicians and the anxious business-men of the country, who, if they can get the start and have their own way, will be disposed to settle matters amicably by giving up Mason and Slidell, and the other far vaster, and, when in commotion, far more powerful, consisting of the great mass of the people, who believe that England will never really dare to fight America, and that if she is caught in a war it will be ruin to her and a glorious triumph to the Stars and Stripes. As far as political motives are concerned the chances are equally balanced. True, a war with England will shut up the Federal ports and deliver the Southerners from all attacks on their coast, though the New York public will probably not believe even this. But, on the other hand, there is notoriously a large party which is disgusted with the present contest, and which may be inclined to jump at a war with England as presenting a chance of an easier victory over a more celebrated enemy. Thus the news which is fast approaching us is such as no man can venture to predict. We can only hope that wisdom and justice have prevailed, while, at the same time, we lose not a moment in preparing for a more unfortunate issue.
|Sa 28 December 1861||A Despatch from Mr. Seward on a serious, and possibly dangerous, dispute between the British, and American Governments is at this moment an extremely important document. It may also be an instructive one, for it is this very Mr. Seward who has written the Despatch which we are now hourly expecting, and the contents of which will determine the momentous question of peace or war. Such a document we published yesterday. Five months ago the Federal Government not only held itself aggrieved by the Queen's Proclamation of neutrality in the American quarrel, but discerned, as it thought, the germs of a possible collision on a question which had just arisen concerning the blockade of the Southern ports. Under those circumstances Mr. Seward addressed a Despatch to the American Minister in London, in which he discusses at great length the actual and relative positions of the two Governments, explains the general principles of President Lincoln's policy, examines the contingency of a war with England, and reveals the sentiments which have actuated his own rather equivocal proceedings. We can here see, therefore, what Mr. Seward had to say in July last upon a subject not without resemblance to that which is now occupying every man's mind, and the view will give us some insight into the policy by which the action of the Federal Government is regulated.
The Despatch before us bears the critical date "July 21, 1861," the very day of the Battle of Bull's Run, and if Mr. Seward had written but a few hours later he would perhaps have modified some of the terms in which he described the insurrection of the South. At the very moment when this letter was indited events were proving that England, in "assuming a certain degree of probability of success by the insurgents in arms," had made an assumption by no means unwarrantable; and that it was Mr. Seward, and not Lord Russell, who had taken up an erroneous position. In fact, the history of the campaign is the vindication of our policy, and that vindication is both simple and complete. It was perfectly natural that the Federal Government should disparage the importance of the Secession, make light of the Southerners' power, and persist in describing the whole affair as a mere domestic disturbance, of which it was neither needful nor fitting that any foreign Government should take cognizance. England, however, was compelled to take a practical view of the case, and when it was clear that a third part of the Union had seceded from the body politic, and was resolutely bent upon maintaining its independence, the fact so accomplished could not possibly be overlooked. Mr. Seward himself describes the objectionable feature in our proceedings by observing that the Queen's Proclamation, though there had been no previous or deliberate hearing of the claims of the United States, "took notice of the insurrection as a civil war so flagrant as to divide the country into two belligerent parties, of which the Federal Government constituted one, and the disloyal citizens the other." That was our offence, no doubt, but we can now ask with perfect confidence whether we went a step too far. Not only was our assumption absolutely warranted at the time, but it has been justified by the whole course of events from that moment to this. The description given by Mr. Seward is simply the description of a fact which could not possibly be otherwise understood or interpreted.
Still, at the time when the Despatch was written Mr. Seward entertained strong objections to the assumptions of Great Britain; he also thought things might become worse, and he speaks without reserve of the contingency of war. In what spirit, then, does he contemplate this prospect, and with what views does he appear to regard such an event? We are certainly of opinion that at that moment he had not the least desire to see his Government embroiled in a war with this country. His pretensions are somewhat lofty, and his declarations occasionally somewhat peremptory, hut, though he carefully avoids anything like a confession of apprehensions, and strives to maintain the tone of a powerful Government prepared for all hazards but wisely desirous of peace, he evidently wishes to escape any such disputes as would bring England into the struggle. He observes, with an obvious purpose of deterring us from interference, that "when a conflict on such a question " (viz., one of maritime international law) " shall arise between the United States and Great Britain, it is not easily to be seen what maritime nation could keep aloof from it;" and the peroration of his Despatch is based on this same argument. "If", he says, "through an error, on whatever side, this civil contention shall transcend the national bounds, and involve foreign States, the energies of all commercial nations, including our own, will necessarily be turned to war, and a general carnival of the adventurous and the reckless of all countries, at the cost of the existing commerce of the world, must ensue. Beyond that painful scene upon the seas there lie, but dimly concealed from our vision, scenes of devastation and desolation, which will leave no roots remaining out of which trade between the United States and Great Britain, as it has hitherto flourished, can ever again spring up." Throughout this argument there runs an assumption not only that the intervention of Great Britain in the American quarrel would draw after it the intervention of other States, but that those States might probably be ranged on the side opposite to ours, and we are thus menaced not only with the hostility of America, but with the consequences, necessarily formidable to a shopkeeping nation, of universal war. The reasoning, in fact, closely resembles that of certain State papers which we have seen more than once of late years, and in which the intervention of any foreign Power between a strong belligerent and a weaker one is deprecated, on the ground of public tranquillity. It is enough, however, for our present purpose to observe that this deprecation is made, and that President Lincoln is, or was, as anxious to keep the civil war all to himself as the Emperor Nicholas was to make a private quarrel of the whole Turkish question.
There are indications of a certain arbitrariness in the Despatch which might be thought ominous, if the policy thus delineated could be applied to the question now at issue. Mr. Seward claims for the policy of the Federal Government a certain deep and indestructible foundation, which places it in his eyes above and beyond the traditional politics of European States. It is based, he tells us, "on interests of the greatest importance and sentiments of the highest virtue, and therefore is in no case likely to be changed; ... while the policy of foreign States rests on ephemeral interests of commerce or ambition merely." In this spirit he "refrains from argument" on the question then under consideration, because "argument from a party that maintains itself to be absolutely right, and resolved in no case to change its convictions, becomes merely controversial." These views would bode ill for concession if what the Federal Government was asked to concede could be thought to come under the category of inalienable rights. It happens, however, that the pretension is here more on our own side than theirs. "Sentiments of the highest virtue" can hardly require that the Americans should assert a licence to capture passengers on board British ships, whereas "interests of the highest importance" do undoubtedly demand that we should vindicate the rights outraged by the attack upon the Trent. We have not asked the Government of Washington to acknowledge the division of the Union or the belligerent rights of the Confederates; and even Mr. Seward's unchangeable convictions need not be in any way shaken by the surrender of Messers. Mason and Slidell.Upon the whole, if we may assume that the policy of the Federal Government is at this moment what it was in July, we should have good hopes of peace. At that time President Lincoln and his colleagues, Mr. Seward included, were plainly anxious to avert war, ostensibly in the interests of humanity at large, but really in their own. Since then, too, the civil contest has gone ill for them, and it has become clear that the "great maritime nations," if they should participate in the strife, are not likely to do so to our disadvantage. War, in short, according to all ordinary calculations, ought to be shunned more anxiously by the Federalists now than it was in July last, but whether the very desperation of the case may affect the conclusions of the Government, or the Government be incapable of pursuing its own policy against the current of popular passion, we cannot attempt to decide. A few days will now terminate all suspense and conjectures together.
|Sa 28 December 1861|
THE CIVIL WAR IN AMERICA
The brief contents of the telegram which conveys to us the effect, produced in one day in England by the news of Mason and Slidell's arrest must be elucidated by the fuller details expected every hour, before we can form any opinion here as to the final result on the relations between the two countries. So far as can be judged, there can be no complaint made against the English people for intemperance or violence. In Washington there is a feeling of surprise at the moderation of tone and apparent calm of which we hear - not, indeed, among those who have all along affected to think Great Britain must bear this unexpected interpretation of the right of search with equanimity and with resignation, but among the doubters, who shook their heads and said there would be a tremendous explosion at the other side of the water. Lord Lyons has not received any despatches in reference to the subject, but it is likely the next mail will convey him instructions from the Foreign-office, and afford a base of communications between the two Governments on the subject, unless it be incontestably proved that the arrest was perfectly justifiable by international law, and that henceforth our mail steamers may be detained ad libitum by any captain of a belligerent man-of-war who may choose to say he has a reason to suspect the mail steamer is carrying an enemy's despatches or emissaries; and not only that, but that the bags and letters may be opened in prosecution of that search, and that persons reputed to be enemies proceeding as passengers under the flag may be seized and conveyed away by force. No Power in the world would gain so much as England by recognizing these principles. But since the Treaty of 1856 at Paris it may be held that England is bound to take the sense of her co-signataries in reference to any great question of international law affecting the maritime relations of the Great Powers with each other and with external Powers which did not assent to that treaty, and which have subsequently evinced such zeal in favour of its adoption.
If a United States' Government mail-bag or a United States' official henceforth be carried by any British steamer, we shall have committed a breach of neutrality, and the Nashville may prey upon the Cunarders as well as on the Havre steamers which are under such conditions. I do not know what French jurists and statesmen may think of the case, but I think I may state that the French Admiral on the North American station would have felt it his duty to take Slidell and Mason out of the San Jacinto by force, had they been taken by force out of a French steamer. It is affirmed, with every reason to believe it, that M. de la Gravière expressed himself to that effect when he was speaking of the transaction; but it is no reflection on an officer so sensible, so collected, and so firm as Admiral Milne to observe that he did not arrive at a similar conclusion. The report of Captain Wilkes, which is a curious exemplification of the terrible effects of legal studies on the naval mind, shows he had his doubts as to how he could get at Mason and Slidell, and that at last the bright idea started into his head that they were "living despatches." As Rousseau would have been thought a better Christian if he had died without his Confessions, so Captain Wilkes might have stood higher as "an interpreter of international law" if he had not written his disquisition on Wheaton and others. Nelson coming home from Trafalgar might have been received just as Captain Wilkes has been welcomed in New York after his tremendous "exploit." The discussions which succeeded the arrest have subsided, and all we hear now is praise of the action, the regrets of Mr. Welles that the Trent was not captured, and an under-current of apprehension that things will not be taken so quietly in England. In New York we hear stocks fell and exchange rose at once, and if exchange should continue to rise, the day of trouble for the New York banks is nearer than they or any one expected, though its coming has been regarded as sure.
Dr. Parsons, Professor of the Cambridge Law School, published a letter in the Boston Advertiser in which he expressed an opinion that Captain Wilkes was as much justified in seizing Mason and Slidell as the Government is in blockading the port of Charleston. He starts with the dictum of Lord Stowell, that you may stop the Ambassador of your enemy on his passage. That dictum is susceptible of qualification, and is not and cannot be absolute, and it is in effect impossible to admit that wherever an Ambassador is found at sea he may be seized. Could he be stopped on board a national ship, though the nation to which the ship belonged might be made amenable to the penalties of breaking its neutrality by the act of carriage? During the Russian war, when the English and French fleets lay in the Piraeus, the American Minister took the Russian Envoy to Greece on board an American man-of-war, which lay between the allied squadrons, and which received the Russian with every mark of honour and saluted the Russian flag hoisted at the main. It was proposed to the British commander to resent the affront, and to seize the Ambassador; but he never dreamed of doing so, even when he was on his passage to the shore. There are cases obviously where the principle does not apply, and this instance is only given as an ad absurdum reduction of the doctrine laid down in the dictum. Until any arguments come from the other side the people here are content with the decisions of their own lawyers and publicists, and if they are in harmony with our own there is no ground for anything more than a little surprise, such as may be felt by a man when it is proved to him that the slap in the face he has unexpectedly received was given in accordance with law. Mr. Seward, no doubt, is quite ready, if not eager, for the war of words, in which, it must be confessed, he is an able adversary.
In the meantime the public here are deluded by the semblance of successes in the North, and think they have killed the beast Rebellion already, because they have stuck a few arrows in his horny hide. Their politicians are wrangling over the spoils; they are fighting about the fate of the negro and his ultimate disposal before they have got him; and by a narrow majority the ultra black Republicans were defeated but the other day in a proposition which would have raised the most formidable issue. But will Mr. Chase be able to sustain the platform on which the warriors are standing? The most sanguine here admit that the finances of the United States cannot endure this expenditure for another six months. Much may be done in that time by active Generals, successful expeditions, and daring and happy enterprises. But I do not perceive the ingredients for these things. It is true Major-General M'Clellan, when he begins to move, may display on a large scale the qualities which did distinguish his little campaign in Western Virginia, and the scheme of operations developed assumes colossal proportions and a certain coherency, but one failure in any one part may cause the failure of all. The South is, in spite of all that has been said or done, exhibiting as determined a hostility as ever - nay, more, it warms as the fight goes on; the Southern heart has communicated its fires to its own cotton, and the coast is wrapped in flame and smoke at the approach of the invader. By slow degrees some offshoots may take root on the mainland, but as yet the unparalleled expenditure of the United States - an expenditure on credit and not yet realized - has produced but small impression on the enemy. The subscriptions to the national loan are tumbling down. They are by tens of thousands of dollars where the expenses are by hundreds of thousands of pounds. But if the United States will go on till they have come to their last dollar, which, is the cry that for ever meets me when the politicians talk of finance, they will do a good deal more than they have done yet or evinced a disposition to do. The burden of taxation has yet to be placed on those unaccustomed shoulders. Up to this moment the enormous amount of money circulated through the country has compensated for the cessation or diminution of ordinary trade and industry. There has been enormous profusion without any outcry for economy, and waste without efficiency. It is probable that this army of 600,000 men costs far more than an army of 1,600,000 European troops, and certainly, except for detachment and guerrilla duties, an army of 60,000 European troops could have settled the question of actual superiority in the field very speedily by marching on either Richmond or Washington, in spite of the long line of intrenchments, some time ago, though the task would not now be so easy. Notwithstanding the processes to which contractors are exposed, they pocket fortunes at every clutch. The ruin of material is enormous. Horses purchased by Government for $118, or about 23l., are so treated that they are sold in batches at sums varying from Is. to 4l., the latter being the average price at which 160 were sold a few days ago. In justice to the Americans I must say it is rather the foreign teamster and the city riff-raff who are so cruel, for as a general rule the native-born Americans are kind to animals and treat their horses very well, as is well attested by the gentle disposition of the animals themselves.But if the North suffer in purse the South is threatened with greater calamities, which she can only endure on the supposition that she does not require trade, commerce, or money to go on with the war. The States seem to conduct their internal government just as of yore, and one must feel some admiration for the system which, sorely tried, has stood so well against all external trials up to the present moment. Governor Brown, of Georgia, in his message to the Legislature, rather insinuates that the Secretary of War did not do all in his power to defend the coast, and says he was obliged to appropriate the funds in the State Treasury to the purposes of the Confederate Government in defending the forts, or let them fall into the hands of the enemy; the State has not been compensated for the outlay (§100,000) thus incurred. The volunteers seized the arms from Augusta and carried them off without his knowledge or consent. There were only 5,000 Confederate troops on the coast, to which an addition of 10,000, with a reserve of 10,000, was considered necessary. The State is called on for an appropriation of $5,000,000 accordingly, and the Secretary of War is censured by implication for neglecting to call out the State troops when the danger of attack became imminent. As the Government has not provided for the defence of the coast, the State is recommended not to count the cost, but to call out as many troops and give as much money - whether $10,000, or $20,000, whether $5,000,000 or §10,000,000 - as may be necessary to defeat the invader. Certainly all this reads like "no surrender". The message is dated November 19, from Milledgeville. It speaks of the United States very much as Russia spoke of the Allies in 1854-5,and in the Norfolk Daybook special fun is made of Mr. Saulsbury's proposition, on the meeting of Congress, for the appointment of certain commissioners to confer with a commission from the Confederate States for the preservation of the Union. That blessed Constitution is said to be "an excellent union for the Yankees, being composed of such despicable God-forsaken scoundrels as were never raked together in one parcel since the world began - a perfect dog-cat conglomeration of negro thieves and pirates". "What under Heavens should we want with a union with them? To share the debts caused by their folly? To share with them the contempt of the world ?" As to debts, however, there may not be much to choose. The Richmond Despatch proposes to punish with death any one who shall ask or receive a percentage for exchange of paper, to make all paper of bank or corporation receivable at par by the States' Treasury and by the Confederate Treasury, to authorize the Treasury Departments to use the public funds and securities for the redemption of paper money in the States, and to require all banks to redeem the bills of each other.
|Sa 28 December 1861||No. 8 battery of the 10th. Brigade Royal Artillery left head-quarters, Woolwich, by special train for Liverpool last night, to embark for British North America. The battery was in command of Major M'Crea, and consisted of the following officers and men:- Lieuts. D.N. Taylor and J.S. Bothwell, Assist.-Surg. Richards, and 117 sergeants and rank and file.|
The 5th company of Royal Engineers, in command of Capt. Gosset, arrived at Woolwich last night from Chatham, per steamboat, and having landed at the Royal Arsenal-pier, under the direction of Brigade-Major Milward, who awaited their arrival, marched to the North London Railway station, and proceeded to Liverpool for embarcation to North America. The line of march both of the Royal Artillery and Engineers was crowded with people cheering. The men appeared to be in excellent health and spirits.
|Ma 30 December 1861|
LONDON, MONDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1861.
The driblets of news we receive from day to day serve only to continue our uncertainty as to our future relations with the Federal Republic of America. When the last sparks of intelligence were flashed from New York to Cape Race the demand carried by the Europa was still on its way. Enough only was known to tell the character of what was coming. To the hope which had been raised by the expectant attitude of the English press at the first intimation of the outrage had succeeded the alarm produced by our announcement of the opinion of the Law Officers and the course taken by our Government. That "intense excitement" should be caused in New York by this sudden awakening from a stolid security is but natural. That the Cabinet of Washington should meet and remain in session for many consecutive hours is a matter of course, which scarcely required additional assurance by telegrams; but that the discussions should have been "firm and cool," or that they should have been conducted with "moderation," would seem to be beyond the probable means of information of those who manufacture the telegrams for Cape Race. The City of Washington left this side of the Atlantic subsequently to the Europa, and would carry the tidings of public opinion in this country up to four days later than the despatch of the British demand. The Washington Cabinet, therefore, would have had under its consideration the general scope of the demand while it was still on its way, and might, perhaps, even have received some intimation of the opinion of the French Government. It was not, however, deliberating upon the official demand when the last news left, nor was it within ten days of the date at which it would become necessary to render a categorical answer to the English Minister.
This necessary pause before decision is favourable to our hopes of peace. Even Mr. Seward cannot answer a despatch officially before he has received it. A nation which desires peace although it does not fear war did well to interpose a few days between the tidings of a demand of reparation and apology and the arrival of the demand itself. Passion will have time to cool, and discretion to regain its influence. The lawyers of the Supreme Courts, whose voice has never yet been allowed to pierce the din of small men's shoutings, will have time to speak. The history of every day which has elapsed since, the story of this outrage reached England will have tended to assure American statesmen that Canada is not a tempting morsel waiting to be swallowed. It will also have fixed it in the American mind that in this matter England is, for the first time in her modern American difficulties, thoroughly in earnest. Time also will allow the Banking Interests in the Northern States to make their influence felt; and will enable Mr. Chase, after discussions with the mercantile houses, to instruct Mr. Lincoln as to the imminent necessity of paying the Volunteers in a depreciated paper currency, and of the probable results of such a process. When, therefore, we are told that "the Federal Government has resolved that Mason and Slidell shall never be given up," we conclude, not that the uncertainty of the ultimate decision has ceased, but only that the phase of the discussions has for the moment been rather more warlike than peaceful. We, moreover, conclude that this warlike impression is not the impression of the Cabinet, but only of those outside, who, although they, doubtless, have greater influence in the Federal Republic than they would have in an European kingdom, are, nevertheless, not the immediate instruments of Government, and only the organs of a capricious and fluctuating opinion, We have not yet heard of the arrival of the French despatch bearing upon the point at issue. Perhaps the Cabinet of Washington would set small store by the opinions of Austria and Prussia, but it can hardly fail to be moved by the public declaration of France. We do not put it as a strong ground of hope that the mere conviction that they are in the wrong will decide the Federals' line of action, for if they had honestly intended to do only what was right they never could have approved the rash violence of Captain Wilkes. Nor should we be so sanguine as to expect that the public opinion of Europe would deter them from any safe infraction of the law of nations. We should not hope, for instance, that any expression of the disapprobation of foreign Powers would cause them to offer reparation and apology to the Government of New Granada for their violation of that neutral territory. But when consequences threaten to be serious the opinion of neutral States may have an effect rather politic than moral. It may serve as a convenient means of retreat from a difficulty. When the Ministers of France, Austria, and Prussia press upon Mr. Lincoln the expediency and propriety of acceding to the "just" demands of England, this intervention may, in the eyes of a prudent President and an embarrassed Minister for Foreign Affairs, take the character of a mediation or an arbitration. Such a fact might supply topics for a grandiloquent surrender. Some political capital might possibly be made out of an act of deference to France, who might be once more complimented as America's original ally and fast friend during the struggle for her liberties. Phrases of fierce defiance might be easily and safely coined against England, who would, of course, have been dared to battle but for France. Under this cover there is, we think, yet a possibility that some peaceable outlet may be found from the present difficulty. That it should be done in a graceful manner, because we are right and the American Captain was wrong, we scarcely have the courage to hope; but we have so little relish for war, that if Mr. Lincoln will do what we are compelled for our own character and station in the world to exact, we shall not he too critical as to the excuse whereby he may think it necessary to apologize for doing what is right.Every advice from America shows how impossible it would have been to live on the seas without teaching the Americans their obligations to the general law of civilization. Only the other day, when the Canada, one of the Cunard packets, was about to sail from Boston, Mr. Dana, the Attorney-General of Massachusetts, wrote to the Cunard agent in that city and informed him that Mr. Breckinridge [John Cabell Breckinridge, 1821-1875, 14th Vice President of the United States and unsuccessful Democrat presidential candidate in 1860; Confederate general during the Civil War] was about to take a passage from Halifax to England in the Canada, and that if he were taken on board Mr. Dana should consider it an act of hostility and a breach of the law of neutrality. Mr. Breckinridge, fortunately, did not offer himself as a passenger, but if he had done so it is highly probable that the Canada would have been stopped as the Trent had been. Very possibly the American officer who effected the seizure would, improving upon his precedent, have taken her, with all her passengers, into Boston, and there she might, perhaps, have been condemned by some Boston Judge, acting "from the instincts of his heart." This would not have been a more flagrant case than that of the Trent; nor, indeed, would it be more flagrant if the same thing were done between Calais and Dover, or between Marseilles and Malta. It is clear that the Federal States either think, as one of their people has said, that England "is not to be kicked into war," or else that it requires a certain amount of kicking to effect this, which they are ready to inflict. Which of these views pervades the minds of American statesmen we shall soon know, We are still inclined to the opinion that, in the face of our earnest attitude, they will restore these men; for whom, except so far as they are entitled to the protection of our flag, we care nothing. If we had to deal with any other than a Democracy we should have no doubt upon the matter. It would be impossible for any Monarch to deny a reparation which all the civilized world has declared to be just, for he would feel his personal honour tarnished by such a war. To a Democracy the same appeal cannot be made; passion may possibly have spoken before reason could be heard. It is a thousand times to be regretted that the two peoples could not speak to each other during all this time through the instantaneous medium of an electric wire. Unless there be some foregone conclusion in the minds of the American, statesmen to force a war at all hazards, we think we should have prevented these perils if we could have told them at once what we and Europe thought of this outrage before they had begun to make a hero of its author.
|Ma 30 December 1861||The Americans have persuaded themselves that their custom is absolutely indispensable to us, and that the British nation would be ruined without the supplies of raw material which they alone can furnish, and the demand for manufactures which their purchases create. There is no doubt that they have been very excellent customers indeed selling us what we want to buy, and buying from us what we want to sell. In fact, if the New York journals receive the last Trade Returns, and criticize the figures of our national ledger for the month of November, they might really make out a very plausible story. They might show that, instead of importing their cotton by shiploads, as in former times, we received from them only 286 cwt. They might then turn to the column of exports, and point out that in the value of cotton manufactures and cotton yarns exported there was actually a falling off of more than 700,000l. on the month. Our aggregate exportations, indeed, have decreased nearly 7 per cent, upon the whole year as compared with those of 1860, and that reduction might be described as expressing the paralysis of trade already created by the American disturbances. What, then, it would be asked, might be expected to happen if the Northern as well as the Southern ports were closed against us, and we were suddenly deprived of corn and gold as well as of cotton? We answer, that the consequences would certainly be afflicting, but by no means so ruinous as the Americans suppose. The very returns before us show that our trade is too universally distributed to be affected fatally by any single customer, however valuable. There is nothing that America sends us which we could not with more or less trouble procure elsewhere. There is nothing that we send to America which other countries may not, sooner or later, be expected to take.
Corn, cotton, and gold are the staple exports on which America relies, and it is quite true that without constant supplies of cotton, occasional imports of corn, and timely cargoes of gold, we could not get on as we do. But America has not a monopoly of any of these commodities. When our own crops fall short, it is not always from America that we replenish our granaries. Out of the enormous supplies, for instance, which we have imported during the last ten months only about one-third came from the States. We paid in that period upwards of 15,000,000l. for corn, but Russia and Prussia together received nearly as much as America. In the year 1859 we purchased far less of the Americans than of the French. Cotton is more of a specialty, no doubt, but the recent discussions on that subject have shown how precarious is the hold possessed by the Southern States upon the European markets. A score or more of competitors are eagerly straining to get a clutch at our custom, and the probability is that before America comes to market again she will find herself forestalled. We see in a column of these returns that though the United States sent us last October only 19,058l. worth of cotton, against some 400,000l. worth in October, 1860, and 700,000l. worth in October, 1859, yet India, instead of contributing supplies to the value of 200,000l., as in 1860, actually sent us in that month cotton valued at upwards of 1,500,000l. Gold, again, is not a production confined to California. It is so exceptional a commodity that we cannot speak of it as we speak of corn and cotton; and, indeed, high authorities have recently assured us that enough of that metal has been already brought to Europe, and that a continuation of the imports would tend more probably to the derangement than the benefit of commerce. However, without entering upon that intricate question, we need only observe, that for the last ten years Australia has rivalled California itself in the production of gold, and that British Columbia and Nova Scotia are likely in future to contribute to the supply.
With regard to the actual diminution of our cotton exports, as shown in the present returns, it must be remembered that it may be due as much to the glut in one market as to the scarcity in another. It was observed some months ago that our production had lately been excessive, and that it would be necessary to reduce it. At this moment the stock of cotton actually in store is not very low; it is only in our expectations that we are worse off than usual. We have been manufacturing, however, at such a rate that it is now advisable to slacken speed, and this consideration, combined with the uncertainties of the market, has tended to throw our mills out of work. If we look, too, at the figures before us in such a summary as was given in our impression of Saturday, it may be a question whether we are not actually experiencing almost as much embarrassment as an actual war with America would occasion. A rupture between the two countries would, at any rate, open the Southern ports to us and release the cotton crop, whereas our usual exports to the Northern States have already been so reduced by the effects of the war that there is not much more loss to come. If we were to moralize on the results, we should not be led to the same conclusion as the Americans. It seems to us that the events of the last six months have shown us not so much our dependence as our independence of the Transatlantic markets. We have felt nearly the worst that could happen, and with less suffering than we expected. The partial suspension of industry in the manufacturing districts has not been due solely to the lack of material, and the good sense of the working population, has enabled them to look at the case from the right point of view.
We are much disposed to believe that the custom of the Americans is far less indispensable to us than they imagine. It is valuable, no doubt, but, considering the prodigious extent of our trade, it can hardly he supposed that 20,000,000l. one way or the other could much affect the whole amount. The truth is, that the world is now too wide to leave any controlling influence of this kind in the hands of a single people. When one door shuts another opens. If we cannot get corn from Michigan and Illinois, we shall get it from the Black Sea and the Baltic; if the Southern States do not send us cotton, India and Africa will; if the Californian gold does not reach us, we shall receive all we want from colonies of our own. It is the same with our exports. New customers have sprung up within the last year or two. Italy, Turkey, and the States of South America will take largely from us, and it must not be forgotten that if we carry our custom to fresh producers it will enable those producers to bring their custom to us. If we pay India 20,000,000l. or 30,000,000l. for cotton, India will thereby obtain the means of buying liberally from the manufacturers of England.An old doctrine teaches us that countries intimately connected by transactions of commerce are not likely to go to war with each, other, and we should, be sorry to think that the theory was unsound. Yet it certainly must be taken with some qualifications. The Northern and Southern States of America, for example, were linked to each other by the closest and strongest ties, and yet they are fighting desperately, not only in spite of such connexion, but, as some say, because of it. It is notoriously maintained that Commercial differences arising out of conflicting commercial interests have created the Civil War, and we need only cast a glance over American journals to find that the commercial intercourse between the States and Great Britain has been actually perverted into an element of strife rather than of peace. The Americans have relied upon the extent of our trade with them to deter us from resenting even the grossest affronts, and they have conducted themselves accordingly. They have shown us less moderation than they would have shown to any people from whom they expected less forbearance, and if we are now dragged into a war we shall probably owe the calamity in no small degree to the mistaken idea that we could never afford to offend such excellent customers, and might therefore be insulted with impunity.
|Ma 30 December 1861|
THE CASE OF THE TRENT.
Sir,- Your Special Correspondent from Washington, in his letter which appeared in The Times of Saturday last, has alluded to an opinion expressed by the Professor of the Cambridge Law School, in the United States, that the seizure of Messrs. Slidell and Mason is justifiable on the dictum of Lord Stowell, "that you may stop an Ambassador on his passage." So far, however, from the dictum of Lord Stowell affording any real countenance to the act of Captain Wilkes, it will be found, upon a careful examination of the judgment in which it occurs, that it makes entirely the other way (6, Robinson's Reports, p. 468).
The case of the Caroline, which gave occasion for Lord Stowell's remarks, was the case of an American (neutral) ship captured by a British cruiser on a voyage from New York to Bordeaux, in France. She had on board despatches from the French Minister at Washington, addressed to the departments of government in France. Great Britain was at this time (1808) at war with France, and the counsel for the captors urged the Prize Court to condemn the ship and cargo, on the ground of enemy's despatches being found on board. Lord Stowell, however, decreed the ship and cargo to be restored, on the ground that the despatches, being the despatches of an Ambassador resident in a neutral country, must be presumed to be of an innocent nature, and that the interest of a neutral State required that the intercourse of correspondence should not be interdicted to an Ambassador of an enemy resident in the territory of the neutral State.
In the course of his judgment, Lord Stowell remarked upon Ambassadors being in a peculiar manner objects of the protection and favour of the law of nations. "The limits", he says,-
The meaning of Lord Stowell in the above passage is obvious, viz., that a State may exercise its belligerent right to stop the Ambassador of its enemy while he is still on his way to the State to which he is accredited if he comes within your jurisdiction, not, indeed, because he is de facto an Ambassador, but because he is not de jure an Ambassador, and privileged as such, until he has been received by the Court to which he is accredited, and so been formally admitted to his representative character.
Such also is the view taken by Vattel in the only passage in his work (B. IV., c. vii., § 85) in which he treats of the subject. "On the breaking out of a war", Vattel says,-
The French Envoy to whom Vattel in the above passage refers was the Due de Belle Isle, Maréchal de France, who was arrested at Elbingerode, in Hanover, on his way to his post at Berlin, six months after the declaration of war on the part of Louis XV. of France against the King of England, Elector of Hanover. The Duke and his brother, the Chevalier de Belle Isle, with their suite, were sent prisoners of war to England, and were there detained until the battle of Fontenoy placed so many British prisoners of war in the hands of the French King that the British Government consented to an exchange of prisoners. The affair of the Duc de Belle Isle is one of the Causes Célèbres du Droit des Gens in the first collection of the Baron Charles de Martens.
Lord Stowell, in the further course of his judgment, in commenting on the fiction of law by which an Ambassador, although de facto resident in a foreign country, is regarded as de jure resident in his own country, which is intended as a privilege, says,-
Dr. Channing, in his eloquent and able pamphlet On the Duty of the Free States, has remarked that a ship on the high seas may be called, without violence to language, an extension of the territory to which she belongs. Such being the case, Lord Stowell's judgment cannot be successfully invoked in support of the claim of a belligerent to enforce the rights of war against the Ambassador of an. enemy who is proceeding to a neutral country on board a neutral ship.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - In all controversies it is important that the real question in dispute should be kept well in mind; and if this is important generally, it is especially so in the case of the Trent, in which it is so easy for acute and zealous minds to raise fresh issues, and so to depart from the real question in dispute. It behoves the British public, therefore, not only to correctly understand, but also constantly to bear in mind the real nature of the complaint which our Government has made against the Federal Government of North America in regard to the seizure and imprisonment of the Confederate Commissioners.
As I understand the question, we have two chief grounds of complaint. First, we say that Captain Wilkes, as a naval officer, had no authority to act judicially in the matter, in ordering their seizure and imprisonment; and, therefore, we demand that his proceedings shall be disavowed. Secondly, we say that, as the original seizure and imprisonment by Captain Wilkes were illegal, their continued imprisonment by the Federal Government is illegal also; and, therefore, we demand that they shall be released. These two grounds of complaint are based, - first, upon the illegality of the mode of procedure; and, secondly, upon the illegality of the imprisonment consequent thereon; and they are quite independent of a third ground, of complaint which we make - viz., that the seizure was effected under the false pretence that the Trent had violated her neutrality by carrying the Confederate Commissioners.
It is understood that Her Majesty's Government have based their complaint and demand chiefly upon the first two grounds - viz., the illegal mode of proceeding, and consequent false imprisonment. In so doing I think they have acted wisely, for to these grounds of complaint there can be no possible answer made; though, undoubtedly, the false pretence under which they have been seized, and are now imprisoned, is an intense aggravation of the illegal acts. Our case is, that what has been done is illegal, and, as the lawyers say, void ab initio, and therefore we say that justice can only be satisfied by the immediate liberation of the prisoners, and their restoration to the status quo. It is like the case of a man who has been arrested and cast into prison under an illegal warrant, signed by a person who had no authority. In such a case, if the prisoner were brought up into the Court of Queen's Bench by writ of habeas corpus, with a view to his discharge from the illegal custody, the only question would be whether the arrest and imprisonment were lawful; and it would be no answer to the application for his discharge to say that, if the prisoner had been proceeded against in a legal way, and had been tried by a competent tribunal, it could have been proved that he had committed an offence for which he might have been legally punished with imprisonment. Nevertheless, such is the answer which is now set up by American lawyers and writers in justification of the seizure and imprisonment of the Confederate Commissioners. They do not pretend to say that the seizure and imprisonment were effected in a legal mode and according to the customary forms of international law; but they say that, if those forms had been complied with, and the ship, cargo, and passengers had been taken before a Prize Court, the captors could have satisfied the Court that the Confederate Commissioners were of the nature of contraband of war, and that the Court would have been bound to confiscate the ship and cargo and to deliver up the Commissioners to
the Federal Government to be dealt with as prisoners of war. Then they argue that, as no injustice would have been done to the Commissioners, and there would have been no insult to our neutral flag, if all the proceedings had been legal and regular, there is now no injustice and no insult, when every form of law has been set aside by a captain and crew who have acted like a band of pirates and handed over their plunder to the Federal Government. Happily in this country the forms of law are regarded - as they truly are - as the safeguards of our liberty; and it is lamentable to think that, in a country which has inherited with us the principles of the Common Law and the writ of habeas corpus, our reverence for the forms of law should be treated as a mere "pretence". Yet such is the case. General Scott, in his letter published in The Times on the 7th inst., says:-
With great respect for the veteran General, I entirely differ from his opinion; and though I quite agree that the great inconvenience attending the seizure of the ship in a legal way was a good reason why it should not be seized at all, except in a clear case, it constituted no reason whatever why the forms of law should be entirely set aside and the Commissioners seized illegally. The conclusion forced upon my mind is that Captain Wilkes found that he could not seize the ship and cargo in a legal way; and that, having determined to seize the Commissioners at all events, he determined to do it, as he did it, like a pirate. In his report to the Secretary of the Federal Admiralty he candidly admits that he first determined to intercept the Commissioners, and then consulted the authorities, to see whether he could do it legally. He says:- "I determined to intercept them, and carefully examined the authorities on international law to which I had access, - viz., Kent, Wheaton, Vattel, and various decisions of Sir William Scott, and other judges of the Admiralty Court of Great Britain which bore upon the rights of neutrals and their responsibilities". He decided first and considered afterwards, and it is therefore no wonder that he soon came to the conclusion that it was lawful for him to capture any vessel which had despatches on board, without any regard to whether the ship was a neutral ship, or whether it was sailing from and to a neutral port. He says, "There was no doubt I had the right to capture vessels with written despatches;" and he then adds, with undeniable truth, "but these gentlemen were not despatches in the literal sense, and did not come within that designation, and nowhere could I find a case in point." He agrees that the Commissioners were not despatches, and that he could nowhere find a case in point; but having, as he admits, determined to intercept them, he jumps to the conclusion that the Commissioners were "the embodiment of despatches", and so he resolved to seize the ship, and send it to Key West for condemnation, being confident that she would be condemned for carrying these Commissioners. So confident was he of this that he adds, "The cargo was also liable, as all the shippers were knowing to the embarcation of these live despatches". Captain Wilkes was confident the ship would be condemned as lawful prize, but, nevertheless, he forbore to seize her, and for this forbearance he gives two reasons - first, he says he was "so reduced in officers and crew"; and, secondly, he mentions "the derangement it would have caused to innocent persons". Let Captain Wilkes have all due credit for his tenderness to his crew, and particularly for his politeness to the lady passengers whom he allowed to proceed to England without their husbands and fathers; but, surely, he cannot expect the world to believe that those were the real reasons why he did not seize the ship? He wanted the Commissioners, and had determined to have them per fas aut nefas. He had found out from the authorities that there was no case in point, and that it would have been useless to take the ship, cargo, and passengers into a Prize Court, and, therefore, he constituted himself the Judge, and decided that the Commissioners, as "live despatches", were contraband of war. The uninviting portals of a Prize Court were thus avoided; Kent and Wheaton, and Vattel and Sir William Scott were all ignored; and the Confederate Commissioners, without trial, were lodged in a fort, under no other sentence than the rough-and-ready judgment pronounced by this sea Captain.
Upon his own quarter-deck he decided upon the view that these Commissioners were live despatches, and, as such, liable to imprisonment, or whatever worse the vengeance of his country might award. For piratical acts like these men were formerly hung in chains, and in our younger days we have seen the birds of prey hovering over their carcases on the gibbets at Blackwall; and the answer we anxiously await is, whether the Federal Government, with all its high pretensions, and glorious ancestry, intends to justify and defend this act, and so to descend from its high vantage ground and become the abettor of lawless violence and rapine on the High seas.
Let it be borne in mind that those high seas are the common highway of all nations, and ships of war are but the armed police of nations, whose duty it is to patrol the deep and guard the commerce of the world from pirates, who are declared to be the enemies of all mankind. It is the duty of this armed police, according to international law, to resist violence by force, and to hand over to the lawfully constituted tribunals those who are reasonably suspected of offence, to be dealt with according to law. Ships of war are the ministers of justice, like the police who guard our highways and homes, and woe to that nation whose policemen become robbers, or whose ships of war become the ministers of violence and rapine.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
"Despatches on board a neutral ship going from a hostile port to a Consul of the enemy resident in a neutral country, not a ground of condemnation." In that case the neutral ship was American, and the neutral country was America, and Sir William Scott (Lord Stowell) in his judgment says:-
"I take this to be a correspondence in which the American Government is itself interested. A Danish Consul-General in America is not stationed there merely for the purpose of Danish trade, but of Danish-American trade; his functions relate to the joint commerce in which the two countries are engaged, and the case, therefore, falls within the principle which has been laid down in the case of the Caroline (6, Robinson, 461), in regard to despatches from the enemy to his Ambassador resident in a neutral country. In the transmission of these papers America may have a concern and an interest also; and, therefore, the case is not analogous to those in which neutral vessels have lent their services to carry despatches between an enemy's, colony and the mother country."
|Ma 30 December 1861|
NEW YORK, Dec. 16.
The excitement caused on the New York Exchange by the City of Washington's news is intense beyond description.
(Per Bavaria, by Telegraph to Cape Race, and from Southampton.
NEW YORK, Dec. 17.
The City of Washington's telegrams, received at New York on the 15th inst., caused intense excitement.
The Confederates in Kentucky are stated to be jubilant at the prospect of a war with England.
(Later by Telegraph to Cape Race, by the same Steamer.)
NEW YORK, Dec. 18.
The news received from England to-day per Jura has created still greater excitement.
The Royal Mail steamship Canada arrived here at 4 30 p.m. to-day, embarked the mails, passengers, and latest telegrams, and proceeded for Halifax and Boston at 5 p.m.; all well.
|Ma 30 December 1861||The fine steam transports St. Andrew, Capt. Diitton, belonging to the Montreal Mail Packet Company, and the Calcutta, No. 8, Capt. Wright, chartered for the conveyance of troops and war stores to British North America, took up berths alongside the T-pier at Woolwich, on Saturday, from Glasgow and Deptford, and were officially inspected by Major Field, Deputy-Assist. Quartermaster-Gen. Royal Artillery. The Calcutta has been thoroughly fitted at Deptford, and both vessels afford excellent and roomy accommodation. The nominal burden of each vessel is 2,000 and 1,500 tons. The Victoria and Adelaide, vessels of a similar class, laden with victualling stores and ammunitions of war, were towed down to Greenhithe from Deptford on Saturday to be swung, preparatory to their departure. The Calcutta, the first for sea, yesterday embarked No. 8 battery of the fourth field brigade Royal Artillery, lately arrived at Woolwich from Aldershott, consisting of Capt. H.A. Smyth, Capt. W.J. Hall; Lieuts. E.H. Wickham, A.H. Maclean, and E. Clayton; Assist.-Surg. A.S.K. Prescott; Vet.-Surg. J.J. Meyrack, and 262 non-commissioned officers and men. The battery assembled on parade yesterday morning soon after 8 o'clock for inspection, and, having been addressed as to the nature of the expedition on which they were about to depart by Gen. Sir Richard Dacres, they marched on board at 9, in readiness to sail by the early tide this morning. Since the death of the Prince Consort the bands have ceased attending the embarcation of the troops. In addition to the above named battery of Royal Artillery, Mr. Bagnall, Mr. Greigg, and four sergeant-conductors of stores, belonging to the storekeeper's department at Woolwich, and a number of non-commissioned officers, appointed to drill the Canadian Militia, took passage in the Calcutta. The storekeeper's department was engaged during the whole of yesterday in shipping the residue of her freight, consisting of 120 tons of Armstrong shot, the 12-pound battery of rifled guns and their appurtenances. There was also embarked an ample provision of warm military clothing consisting of, for each man, two pairs of woollen drawers, one sheepskin overcoat, one pair of sealskin mits, one pair of Canadian boots, two pairs of worsted stockings, one sealskin cap with ear mufflers, one chamois leather waistcoat, one comforter, one jersey, and two merino under vests.|
No. 6 Battery, 10th Brigade, Garrison Artillery, at Woolwich, are under orders to embark at Liverpool on the 1st prox., in the Hibernian; Nos. 2 and 3 Batteries, 15th Brigade, Garrison Artillery, and No. 7 Battery, the last remaining at Woolwich of the 10th Brigade, are to embark on the 4th in the mail packet at Liverpool. 118 men belonging to the Royal Artillery, under command of Major Bantrun, Capt. Addington, and Lieuts. Mansfield, Isaacson, and Elwin, leave the Granby Barracks, Devonport, this day, at 7 10 p.m., for Bristol, by South Devon Railway. It is understood that they will embark at Pembroke for Canada.
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