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The Times newspaper on the 1861 Trent Affair
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|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Th 9 January 1862|
CORK, Jan. 8.Shortly before the Washington left New York a telegram was received at Inman's office from Washington saying that the Commissioners would be surrendered, and leave for England by the next mail. The prisoners were to be set free on the 29th.
|Th 9 January 1862|
NEW YORK, Dec. 27, Evening.
An Associated Press Washington despatch says it is reported and generally credited that the Trent affair has been adjusted. The terms of the adjustment are not, however, stated in this despatch.
The New York Times announces that it has authority to state that the matter has been adjusted.
A false rumour of the release of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, which was set afloat yesterday, caused rather a feeling of relief than indignation in the popular mind at a settlement of the question.
The New York World is of opinion that people will submit to the surrender of Messrs. Mason and Slidell as a necessity of the present position, but with the hope of avenging their surrender hereafter.
General Scott is still in New York. It is supposed that he brought no official offer from France.
NEW YORK, Dec. 23, Morning.
Messrs. Mason and Slidell have been set at liberty by the Federal Government.The New York Associated Press publish the following telegram:-
"The surrender of Messrs. Mason and Slidell will be better accepted as a political necessity on the seaboard than in the interior and in the West.
"It is unquestionable that in the agricultural portion of the Union the popular sentiment at this act of the President will be profound and lasting.
"On the eastern rim of the Atlantic slope, his declaration that he could not have two wars at once on his hands will be accepted as the justification of his policy."...
|Th 9 January 1862|
LONDON, THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 1862.
Twenty-four hours after the Message from Washington which we reported yesterday the Cabinet of the Federal States' Government broke its silence, and the Old World is no longer at enmity with the New. In the afternoon of the 27th of December Lord Lyons received an announcement from the United States' Government that they consented to deliver to him the four prisoners when and where he pleased. We draw a long breath, and are thankful. The suspense which has endured so long, and has weighed so heavily upon our peaceful avocations, has at last terminated. We are once more able to subside from the bustle of preparation, to withdraw our attention from the mustering of squadrons and the equipment of vast engines of destruction, and to busy ourselves about our own domestic affairs. With a clear conscience and a placid self-respect we can congratulate ourselves that in doing what is right we have done also what was expedient. The straightforward course of honour and of duty always has its compensations, but in this case it has had the unusual reward of a signal and immediate success.
Crotchetmongers and charlatans of every kind have hung upon the footsteps of the men who conducted this great affair, and have attempted to force upon their attention their importunate conceits. The owls of wisdom and the bats of ill augury filled the atmosphere with their shrill cries and dull flappings. But, keeping within the circle of manly sense and international precedent, the trusted chiefs of the British people have succeeded in conjuring away this storm and in bringing back a tranquil sky. Thanks, under Providence, to them, we have come out of this trial with our honour safe and no blood spilt. It is a great victory though it is but an escape from being obliged to conquer. We are but where we were before we were so grossly insulted. We have but curbed for a moment the insolence of a neighbour who took pleasure in continually provoking us, and had permitted himself at last to go beyond the possibility of sufferance. We have done nothing to set up monuments to commemorate; we have only held our own in the great community of nations, and read a necessary lesson to an ill-mannered companion. There have been times in our history - times when we had not the strength we could now put forth - when we should have had no such real joy as we now feel in the hinderance of such a conflict. There are other nations which even at this age of the world would not have thought it consistent with their renown to manifest such patience and long suffering under outrage as we have exhibited. If the same experiment had been tried upon France, we question whether the same forbearance would have been afforded to the aggressor, or the same readiness to receive a tardy and grudging reparation. We have manifested a deliberation and a tranquillity under insult which even we could not have shown towards a people for whom we thought it right to make fewer allowances, or whom we feared more. The Government of the Federal States had done in mere wantonness what no nation of the Old World had ever dared to do. They had invaded the sanctuary which England extends to all political exiles who seek her protection; and to this wound, inflicted on her most sensitive pride, they had added an insult to her maritime flag and a menace to her security in traversing the seas. On all hands it is now admitted that the offence was at once insult and wrong, and it is no great triumph, therefore, that it should have been followed by reparation. If we had had to deal with a friendly and courteous people, we should have had no occasion for preparations of war. If a French or an English captain, while the two nations are upon their present terms were to gratify a crack-brained freak or an insane thirst of notoriety by some piratical outrage against the foreign flag, neither Government would wait to see whether any miserable advantage could be gained by the circumstance. The act would be at once disavowed, and the booty returned, with apologies and compensation. This was the course which, if Federal America had been courteous or even shrewd, Federal America would have pursued. Mr. Seward missed a great opportunity when he failed to act as a European statesman would have acted under similar circumstances. At this moment there is no great sympathy here for either party. The attraction we feel towards a weaker nation invaded by a stronger and a richer nation is repelled by the very general detestation of slavery; and, if Mr. Seward had seized the opportunity for a graceful and a courteous act, we would not answer for how far our countrymen might have been tempted from their rigorous neutrality. It was a gross blunder for the shrewd Minister of a shrewd people to miss the chance of a great advantage only to do the same act at last under circumstances of unavoidable humiliation.
But we are told that a very elaborate Note of protest accompanies this surrender. This voluminous gloss upon a very simple fact is still upon its way from Queenstown. We cannot say we are very impatient for it. We have long since learnt to value Transatlantic statesmen less for what they say than for what they do. It is by deeds, and not by arguments, that the fact we today announce has been brought about. It is not Vattel and Bynkershoek, and Stowell and De Hauteville, who have influenced this controversy, but the promptitude with which we reinforced Admiral Milne's fleet, and poured battalion after battalion into Canada. They loudly proclaim this in America, and Mr. Seward's Note will very probably be found to bear marks of the same sentiment. We make up our minds in advance, therefore, to accept with unruffled equanimity any quantity of words. Even if there should be muffled threats and expressions of ill will we shall humbly hope to outlive them. The aggressor is making retribution. It never has been held of much consequence whether he does it with a good grace or no. The substantial apology lies in the fact of the surrender of the thing taken. We hope to find in Mr. Seward's Note an expression of regret that he should ever have employed so inconsiderate a commander as Captain Wilkes, or should have been so ill-advised as to persevere in a tacit recognition of his act; but we shall be neither surprised or discomfited if this hope is not fulfilled.To-day, however, it is enough that we congratulate ourselves that the danger is past, and all present apprehension of war at an end. Let us also especially congratulate ourselves that the crisis found this united nation and her loyal Colonies so well prepared, and that it leaves us so well protected. We have every reason to be satisfied with the position which this country has held throughout. We have never deviated from grave and courteous discussion, and have never descended to retort the wild invectives which came from the other side of the Atlantic. The War Departments have manifested an efficiency which gives us confidence in ourselves, and will give us security from future insult. The Government have acted with a rare courtesy and temper, but have displayed, together with dignified deliberation, firmness, promptitude, and courage. Nor will we refrain from adding, what every one will feel while he reads this news, that the man upon whom the nation instinctively relied while the crisis lasted deserves our warmest gratitude now that the peril is overcome. It is indeed a rare triumph to grace the latter years of a life so happily prolonged, that Lord Palmerston has found, and has used, the opportunity to curb the arrogance of the only people which has in this generation entered systematically upon a course of offence towards England.
|Th 9 January 1862||While the country may fairly congratulate itself on the happy results which have attended the firm policy of its Government, and may look with satisfaction on this new proof that a bold attitude and straightforward demand form the safest course of action in international difficulties, it would be ungracious to forget how much our cause has been strengthened by the approbation and good will of the other Powers of Europe. To fulfil strictly the duties of peace, but to be ready to assert our rights even by war, is true wisdom, and we may hope that the national policy of late years has been such as to convince all our neighbours that we will neither commit nor suffer aggression. In spite of the wars which have, unhappily, made the last few years a time of anxiety for Europe, it is easy to perceive that there is a steady elevation of public morality and an awakening of national conscience The most irresponsible rulers are anxious to stand well with the world, and every faction uses the language of moderation, and endeavours to clothe its acts with the pretexts of virtue. To the old contempt which would await a pusillanimous nation would now be added a general indignation and a spirit of resistance against any community which should break through the laws devised for the common security. It is to the feeling that England in her demands at Washington was supporting the cause of civilization and insuring the safety of the seas that we owe the unanimity of approval which has been shown during the last few weeks. Not only have foreign nations expressed no jealousy at the display of those enormous armaments which sprang so suddenly into existence at our great ports, but they have plainly told us that nothing less could be expected of England if she cared for her own honour, or was willing to uphold the principles which are a security to all.
Such good will deserves recognition, and will not be forgotten by the British people. It shows that even great power does not provoke envy when it is exerted in a good cause. There are States which, from their history and traditions and policy, are predisposed to take the part of America against ourselves, and which in any quarrel where the right was not plainly on our side might be unconsciously affected by their old prejudices. But in this case our rivals both past and present, together with those States which differ most from ourselves in political principles, have combined to give active encouragement or tacit assent to our proceedings. Above all, the acknowledgments of Englishmen are due to the French Government. To the position taken by the Emperor from the outset of this discussion the Americans may, perhaps, owe it that they have not plunged into a mad and ruinous warfare. The blindness of their politicians and the ignorance of their people from the beginning of the war have, indeed, been truly wonderful. Either from a fond belief that France would support them in all their schemes, or with a wish to flatter the self-love of the French by contrasting their openness and generosity with the alleged perfidy of England, the Northern Americans have never failed to assort that, whereas we were disposed to take advantage of their dissensions, and had recognized the Confederates in order to break up the Republic, the French had shown a steady friendship for the Northern cause. It has long been evident to the world, and is now proved by the publication of the correspondence, that France and England were acting in unison, or at least on the selfsame principles. But until the affair of the Trent took place the completeness of this accordance was not yet made manifest.
it must now be admitted by the most steady adherents to old maxims of policy that, of the two great States of Western Europe, one can see the other enter into a dispute without an overwhelming desire to thwart and circumvent its rival. When the demands of England were despatched early last month France did not want advisers in the American interest. There were those who saw with jealousy the prospect of a war in which the ships of the United States would be swept from the seas, and the flag of England made more powerful than ever by the destruction of one of the second-rate navies. In the highest society the cause of the North was defended by a Prince in close relationship to the Throne. Besides this there was the usual American colony at Paris, reinforced at the moment by the veteran General Scott, whose military career might be supposed to recommend him favourably to the Court of the Tuileries. It will be doing no injustice to any one if we say that all the efforts of the American party were used to induce the French Government to give some aid or comfort to the Northern States. But the Emperor at once made up his mind. Sharing the conviction of his people that the act of Captain Wilkes was an outrage on the Law of Nations, he caused to be conveyed to General Scott and the Americans such an expression of his opinion that the General at once set off for America, where he happily arrived soon enough to give his advice to the vacillating Cabinet. Not content with this indirect aid to the cause of peace, the Imperial Government addressed to its Minister at Washington the remarkable despatch dated the 3d of December, pointing out in the clearest manner the violation of law committed by Captain Wilkes, and warning the President that not only could the Federal Government expect no countenance from France, but that France would be obliged to give her full moral support to the cause in which England was arming.The good effect of this communication cannot be doubted, nor are we inclined to under-estimate its importance in causing the Cabinet of Mr. Lincoln to yield to our just claims. It is not as a military ally that we have counted on the help of France in this matter. We are able, as the last six weeks have proved, to maintain our own rights and vindicate our own honour, without the assistance of any other Power. The Federal Government knew that if it refused reparation the consequences would have been terrible to its people, and completely decisive of the war in which it is now engaged. Had France never rejected the advances of the American party; had M. Thouvennel's Note never been despatched, the surrender of the four prisoners would, in all probability, have taken place. But perhaps this would not have been done with the same readiness, or until further steps had been taken by England to assert her rights, which would have embittered the animosity and humiliated the pride of a people whom she was unwilling to regard as enemies. By his good feeling and sound judgment the French Emperor has aided in bringing this dispute to a close. He has convinced the Americans from the first that they had no chance of engaging the sympathy or the ambition of any European nation on their side, and that hereditary rivalries do not keep their ground against the dictates of public morality and the opinion of the community of nations in which France holds so high a place. Thus, not only have the Northern States escaped the losses and the humiliations a war with England must have entailed upon them, but they learn a lesson which will be useful to them during the rest of their struggle with their alienated fellow-citizens. They now know that neither the desire to embarrass a rival State, nor the remembrance of former passages in their history, will seduce European nations into sympathy with an unjust cause, or into endeavours to prop up a failing power. If the chill of adversity cools the heated imagination which sees nothing in war but a succession of triumphs, the lesson will have been worth the learning.
|Th 9 January 1862||Preparations for a naval war continue to be made with undiminished energy at Portsmouth. Nearly 4,500 men are at present employed in the dockyard alone, and this number is exclusive of seamen riggers and men from the Steam Reserve. The foregoing number of men at work in the yard comprises 1,279 shipwrights, 879 of whom are of the established class, and the remainder are hired hands; 80 established and 13 hired caulkers, 147 established and 90 hired joiners, 11 wheelwrights, 200 established and 89 hired smiths, 76 established and 60 hired millwrights, 59 coppersmiths, 47 at the wood mills, 90 sawyers, 181 established and 764 hired labourers, about 60 locksmiths, braziers, and painters, and in the steam factory department about 750. All this crowd of men are fully employed, and many of them are working extra hours to complete some of the most pressing portions of the work, as in the mast-making department, which is now working up to 8 p.m., to complete the masts and yards for the Black Prince, Glasgow, and Octavia. The smiths' shop, with its 102 fires, seven furnaces, and seven Nasrnyth's hammers ranging from a 10 cwt. to a 5-ton head - the latter having attached to it an hydraulic crane with a 50-ton lift, - is as busily employed throughout as the other departments in providing for the wants of the ships preparing for the pennant. The ten docks possessed by the yard, are all occupied in one way or another, and in the majority of them swarms of workmen may be seen engaged on every part of the vessels, in carrying out the necessary repairs, &c. In No. 1 is the Coquette, 5, screw, now nearly complete for commission. In No. 2 the remains of the Meteor, iron-cased floating battery, are being broken up as rapidly as possible to render the dock available for the general work of the yard. In Nos. 3 and 4 are the Highflyer, 21, screw, and the Rosamond, 6, paddle; the former unopened, but requiring heavy repairs, and the latter partially repaired and destined for a floating steam factory. From both these vessels the men hitherto employed on them have been withdrawn, and placed upon more pressing work. In No. 3 is the Esk, 21, screw, with stem out, and partially stripped of bow planking, disclosing a very rotten and defective state. Her time for being out of the dockyard hands is given for the 9th of May, but at present she has not quite 50 hands upon her. In No. 6 is one of the harbour steamtugs. In Nos. 7 and 10, the double dock, is the Black Prince, the great trouble of the dockyard officials. Internally she is a vast workshop, in which artisans of every kind are busily at work with but little hope of finishing their labours by the time given for her to be out of hand - the 30th of April next. The teak lining forward and aft of her armour plating is being completed, and the scuppers leading to the "main sewer" are being enlarged and increased in number. Another bridge is also being constructed across the quarter-deck. In addition to the construction of the model for her fish-head, and the general fitting of her main and upper decks, an immense deal remains to be yet done - such as the construction of her hammock-nettings, alterations and additions to her head rails, netting, and fitting of her cabins below. In the Black Prince, as in the Warrior, the crew sleep and mess on the main deck, in lieu of the lower deck as in ordinary frigates, owing to the iron ships below the main deck being divided into compartments. These consist of, in the after part of the ship abaft the armour plating, -1st compartment from stern, store-rooms; 2d compartment, the officers' mess-room and cabins, or ward-room; and the 3d compartment, next to the armour plating, containing the clerks' office in the centre, with a mess-room on each side, one for the midshipmen and the other for the engineer officers. The next compartment, inside the armour plating, contains the magazines, store and light rooms, succeeded by five others within the armour plating, containing respectively the engine-room, chain and shot lockers, shell-rooms and coal-rooms, after boiler space, fore boiler space; and, lastly, the fore hold and fore magazine. Forward of the armour plating is the cable tier, prisons, and provision-rooms, the warrant officers' cabins, the sick bay, and lastly, in the bows, warrant officers' store-rooms. Outside the ship the bilge pieces on the bottom are nearly affixed to the angle irons, and the scraping of the ship's bottom has been begun, to prepare it to receive a coating of the patent composition, prepared by the Admiralty chymist, Mr. Hay, with which also the bottom of the Resistance, at Chatham, is ordered to be coated. One serious defect, of an almost if not quite irremediable character, exists in the construction of iron-cased ships as constructed at present, and is fully exemplified in both the Warrior and Black Prince. This evil is the penetration of water between the teak and armour-plates. This water naturally forces for its exit a passage between the joints of the armour plates, and the opinion at present is that nothing can remedy this under the circumstances of tongued and grooved edged plates hung on a ship's sides by through bolts. Caulking is stated to be useless, and that cannot be wondered at considering the slung weight to be dealt with, and the ship's motion at sea. But the effect of the action of the water in the grooves of the plates and upon the iron bolts can only be expected to be such that in four or five years from the time of commission each ship will require replating. In No. 8 dock, the Glasgow, 51, screw, is being caulked and prepared to receive her copper. Her time for being out of the dockyard hands is the 28th proximo. No. 9 dock has been used of late, for breaking up old ships, but it has been cleared during the past week, and yesterday received the Chanticleer, 17, screw, Commander C. Stirling, and is therefore now added to the list available for general service. In the steam-basin are the Prince Regent, 89, screw, complete in machinery; the Octavia, 50, screw, ordered to be finished by the 1st of March; the gunboats Swinger and Savage received their 100-pounder Armstrongs to-day, and were to be ready for sea this evening; the gunboat Jasper, of 89-horse power, being brought forward as quickly as possible by the shipwright and factory departments; the Hazard, with Capt. Cowper Cole's shield model, and the Wallace, steam tender. Alongside the north wall of the basin is the Dart, 5, three-masted screw schooner, nearly complete in rig stores and armament; and the four gunboats, Earnest, Foam, Cracker, and Pheasant, only requiring each their 40-pounder (they have their carriage and equipment on board) to make them ready to proceed to sea as soon as their crews and powder could be sent on board. In the ship basin the Tribune, 28, screw, has her machinery in order, and is being hurried forward in the other parts of her outfit; the Fancy, gunboat, is completing heavy repairs to her hull; the Sultan is fitting for a receiving ship, and the Juno fitting for a police ship. Her upper deck seams have been payed on opposite sides by the patent waterproof glue and ordinary pitch, to test the merits of the former, of which much is expected. The poop of Her Majesty's ship Victory is also to be caulked with it, as are two ships to be named by the Admiralty, one of which will be despatched on service in a hot climate, and the other in a cold one. The Britannia, naval cadet ship, Capt. R. Harris, is to be taken into this basin on the 14th inst. to complete her outfit for Portland. Alongside the shear jetty of the ship basin the Duncan, 101, screw, is carrying on her outfit, to be completed by the 28th inst., and yesterday shipped her Griffiths propeller; while off in the stream, moored in a line with each other, at about a cable's length apart, lie, ready to proceed to sea at an hour's notice, three of the finest 50-gun screw frigates in the world - the Euryalus, Shannon, and Sutlej. In the building slips there is no great bustle, all the labour of the yard being devoted to bringing forward the craft most urgently wanted. In No. 1 slip the Helicon, paddle-wheel despatch vessel of 835 tons and 200-horse power, has her timbers in position, with the exception of a portion of her stern. In No. 2 the Harlequin, 17, screw, 950 tons, 200-horse power [cancelled in 1864], is in frame and nearly ready for planking. ln the next slip the Dryad, frigate, of 51 guns, 3,027 tons, and 600 horse-power, is complete in her framing, getting her deck beams in position &c. The next slip is empty, but is designed for the Kent, iron-plated frigate [cancelled in 1863]. In the last slip stands the Royal Alfred, laid down for a 91, but now converted to a frigate of 50 guns, and to be cased with 4½-inch plates from the manufactory of Messrs. Brown and Co., the Atlas Steel and Iron Works, Sheffield. One peculiarity in these plated frigates will be that they will have a stem falling inboard from the water line, and carry no projecting figurehead. In addition to the number of men we have quoted as being employed in the yard by the Government, there are also a number of others employed by private contractors in the construction of No. 11 dock (to be capable of receiving ships of the Warrior class) and other works. The only part of the yard, however, which is really inactive in the midst of all this bustle is the coaling jetty erected by a contractor at the south end of the yard. This work projects some 60 feet from the dockyard into the harbour for a length of 600 feet and upwards, and its cost for the jetty alone (saying nothing of the expensive hydraulic machinery, not yet erected) was 15,000l. Its professed purpose was to fulfil the duties of a grand embarkation and disembarkation stage for troops from large transports, and to coal two such ships as the Warrior and the Black Prince at one and the same time. Its fulfilled duties have been that a merchant transport discharging troops on one occasion grounded at low water and proved it to be at present totally unsuited for the purposes for which it was constructed. It may be rendered serviceable, and perhaps for the duties for which it was originally intended, but at the present time it is useless. The work consequent on the outfit of the ships and gunboats at Portsmouth is not confined to the dockyard alone, the Royal Clarence Victualling Yard at Gosport and the ordnance and military store department having also their share of the work to carry out.
The steam transport St. Andrew, Capt. Dutton, now embarking materials of war for America at the Royal Arsenal pier, Woolwich, has shipped 300 tons of heavy Armstrong guns, shot and shell, 900 tons of light stores, consisting of cases of small arms, bales of warm clothing, accoutrements, hospital comforts, and other miscellaneous articles, and 85 tons of powder. Notwithstanding her superior cabin accommodation no positive orders had been received up to last night for the embarcation of any passengers.
The hired steamship Brunette yesterday, moored off Woolwich Arsenal, and will take up the berth of the St. Andrew to ship 500 tons of shot, shell, and other stores for Bermuda.The steam transport Parthenon yesterday commenced receiving about 500 tons of heavy cargo, - namely, shot and shell, for Jamaica.
|Fr 10 January 1862|
LONDON, FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 1862.
There is little mystery in modern diplomacy. The bees work under glass hives, and seem to find pleasure and advantage in the transparency of their toil. There is not a step in the proceedings which have just led to the re-establishment of amicable relations with Federal America which is not as well known to the most humble member of the British public as it is to a Cabinet Minister. Everything that is mysterious is mysterious alike to all on this side of the Atlantic. By what means Captain Wilkes came to commit his, now disavowed, act of violence on the high seas none of us can tell; nor how it came to be adopted by the American Admiralty, or countenanced by the close custody of the captives. It is enough for us to know that the responsibility of the act was repudiated on the 28th of last month by the Federal Government. Nor is it possible to surmise why the American Cabinet were so long in stating their convictions that the act was indefensible, and that the men must be given up, seeing that by this long concealment of their convictions they destroyed their own financial credit in Europe, and put us to the expense of rendering Canada secure against any present or future contingency. Neither is it plain to us why the news of the surrender of the prisoners should have been unknown in Washington when it was on its way to England, or why the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, should have been allowed to thunder away in the Senate against the supposition that England had demanded reparation, at the moment when Mr. Seward was elaborately proving that he had no possible course before him but to surrender the prisoners. All this secrecy is explained by several hypotheses. Mr. Seward's friends explain it by a reason very favourable to that gentleman's prudence and judgment, and say that, notwithstanding he had that clear course before him which he has mapped out in an unmeasurable despatch, yet he had also a patriotic President before him, who would not yield until many of the advantages of yielding had been lost, and a patriotic populace behind him, who would have rendered it difficult for him to yield if they had been let into the secret.
What mystery there has been, however, has been found in the Republican Government, and, what is a still stranger lesson, the mystery has all been used in favour of peace. The proceedings of the British Government have been throughout carried on in the broad torchlight of the public Press. The act itself was no sooner announced than the Law Officers were set to work upon it, and their decision was made public. The substance of the despatch demanding reparation was known throughout the kingdom before it had left these shores. It was tracked on its way by the public eye; we knew when it would arrive, and with what deliberate delays its tenour was to be communicated before it was actually delivered. We also knew that Mr. Sewards attitude towards Lord Lyons had been for some time previous so threatening that our Minister had avoided as much as possible all interviews with him, lest he should find himself the subject of some affront which his duty would compel him to resent. Therefore it was that the Government telegrams not only announced from day to day the proceedings of Lord Lyons, but also noted the lapse of time after the demand had been delivered, and kept us informed of the unpromising silence of the American Cabinet. During the whole course of the crisis the British nation have been admitted, as it were, to the Cabinet, and every step has been taken with the full acclaim of the country, Now that it is ended, we have nothing to look back upon with regret. We believe we may say that Mr. Seward himself has expressed to Lord Lyons his sense of the manner in which this very delicate negotiation has been conducted, and has admitted that hi very difficult task was greatly facilitated by the extreme courtesy of the British Minister and his Government, and by the considerate manner in which the question had been presented to him for solution. All this we looked on upon as it passed, and, looking on, we all approved. Perhaps we may think that, if Mr. Seward's course had been equally frank and public from the first, his people, like our people, would have seen in what has now happened the natural sequence to the transaction. If he also had published the opinions of his Law Officers, he might have saved Boston from so stultifying itself, and New York from such sad exhibitions; he might have prevented his countrymen from making a hero of the author of this vapouring outrage, and saved them from the sting of sharing his humiliation. If, as our Correspondent anticipates, Mr. Seward has now to suffer for doing right, he will owe much of the unpopularity he has to endure to his own procrastination.
Yet, if the diplomatic note which he delivered to Lord Lyons when announcing his readiness to surrender the prisoners is to receive anything more than a credence of courtesy, there never could have been a moment when he had any doubt as to the entire illegality of the proceeding of his officer. With a verbosity never equalled even in diplomacy, and with an inconsequential vagueness never surpassed even in Congressional debate, Mr. Seward in this long document wanders through the history of all past transactions. Inasmuch, however, as he concludes that, notwithstanding all he has so lengthily and so vaguely premised, he can come to no other conclusion upon the circumstances of the present case than that the act was indefensible, and that the prisoners must be restored, the obvious course was to accept the fact of the reparation and to disregard the comment. Such, we believe, has been the course adopted by our Government. A Cabinet Council was held yesterday, at which this very elaborate document was considered. An answer will, we understand, be returned, expressing the gratification of Her Majesty's Government at the disavowal of the act of Captain Wilkes, accepting the satisfaction rendered, and assuming that the precedent in the case of the Trent will rule the more recent case of the seizure made by the captain of the Santiago de Cuba on board the British schooner Eugenia Smith. As to the general discussion of the law of neutrals, into which Mr. Seward enters at so much length, the Government will decline any answer until they have had an opportunity of submitting the whole Note to their Law Officers. There are propositions laid down in this Note which are not at all admissible, and it is of the highest importance that we should not suddenly bind ourselves to the abolition of belligerent rights which may be to ourselves at some future time of vital importance; nor that we should, on the other hand, admit the right of any foreign State to carry our Mail Packets into their ports and submit them to the arbitrament of their Prize Courts. After the delivery of the prisoners all these points may be very properly raised, and can be conveniently discussed; but it is expedient to separate this discussion entirely from the settlement of the misunderstanding which has so nearly precipitated us into war. Whenever the proper time comes we shall probably insist, with all authority in our favour, that a belligerent has a right to communicate with a neutral Power in a neutral ship; and that it is a presumption that in such communication there is nothing inconsistent with the character of the neutral nation, and therefore nothing injurious to the other belligerent.Let the business of the day, however, suffice for the day. The quarrel being over, we are now rather better friends than we were before it commenced. Mr. Seward and Lord Lyons know each other better than they did some time ago, and are more conversant with each other's views and instructions. The tone of the American papers has, we are glad to remark, become very much more reasonable. Perhaps, in the face of the declarations made to our Correspondent, that a Northerner hates England twice as much as he loves the Union, and that America would give a million of men for a war with us, it might be imprudent to offer a temptation to strife by decreasing our force in Canada. We may hope, however, that whatever irritation now exists may gradually subside, and that we may experience no more of those fractious and splenetic annoyances which engender ill feeling and lead at least to great perils.
|Fr 10 January 1862||To all intents and purposes, except the actual shedding of blood, we have been for the last month at war with the Northern States of America. We have been spending money at a war rate; we have been moving troops, completing and equipping ships, preparing arms and ammunition, employing our minds and hardening our hearts, as if for impending and inevitable war. Till the moment of collision, till the pickets are driven in, the guns fired, and the men begin to drop, the greatest war is little else than what we have been waging since the capture of the Confederate Commissioners. In the United States two immense armies are collected and brought face to face, where they have stood for months, and all with as little loss of life as we have suffered by our military and naval preparations. Had the Australasian foundered in the snow-storm off the Island of Anticosti and been lost with all souls on board, our war would have cost nearly as many lives as the war hitherto has cost either side in the United States. It is war to be engaged as if for war, to be compassing and contriving the destruction of our foes and the protection of our friends, to be counting upon honours and preparing for losses, and to be occupied in the subject to the exclusion of our ordinary thoughts and cares. Already they talk of our having spent two millions, but when the bills are all in, and the works denoted in the daily columns of our Naval and Military Intelligence all completed and paid for, we shall be prepared for twice the sum. Ships cannot be finished in a hurry with men as thick as they can stand, regiments cannot be brought up to the full complement and carried comfortably across the Atlantic and back, without incalculable cost, and nobody dreams that his Income-tax will be less next year. This, then, is war. It is war, too, when the Christmas circle is broken up by the absence of the best man on a distant errand of destruction across a stormy ocean, off a dangerous coast, or in forests and snow-tracks. It is war in a form to strike all eyes, when the hunt, the dance, the theatricals miss the best riders, the best partners, the only manager, and any post may bring the news of another use, and perhaps another doom, for noble qualities. So virtually we have been at war all this Christmas time, and now suddenly Peace is proclaimed, and we are at war no longer. We have to suspend operations, to bring home our forces, and do everything as if after a war of two or of thirty years.
How, then, do we, and how do the British people, take an announcement which heretofore has been celebrated with processions and proclamations, with bonfires and bell-ringing, with feasts and holydays, with illuminations and fireworks? We do not suppose that the national delight will be so ecstatic and unqualified as when we had been supping full of Crimean or Indian horrors for two years, and knew by recent experience what war really was. The most rational among us had speculated on the probable length of the war and its other contingencies; but that was only a speculation, and the gloomiest speculation can never strike the mind like the terrible fact. When we have imagined a thousand horrors, and come to understand that we could not escape them all, or most of them, one of them actually comes to pass surpassing them all. We have only to suppose a blockading squadron driven on shore and compelled to surrender, a military force cut off and frozen to death or submission, or some unaccountable reverse like the tale of Bull's Run, and we shall see at once that England is not likely to have the same hankering or Peace now as if she had been at actual war for a year or two. They who can look forward into the black future, and who have friends or incomes to be decimated, will rejoice with a rational and patriotic rejoicing. But it is no great injustice to the popular mind of this country to suspect it of a shade of disappointment. The public have made up their mind to the game of war; they have given up their other engagements; they have paid their money, and taken their places, when the manager comes before the curtain and tells them that the principal actor has sent his apologies and cannot attend. It is possible to be disappointed even of misery or disaster. We have heard of a man who had so persuaded himself he had a cancer that he felt annoyed to find himself mistaken. When you have screwed up your courage, it is provoking to find it uncalled for. Litigants with ruin staring them in the face have felt themselves hurt by a timely compromise or concession. The Americans themselves assure us that the popular feeling on their side is quite as much a mad desire to exchange blows with the mother country, for any or no reason, as a sense of wrong; and one cousin is too like the other not to be liable to a purely bellicose and combative excitement.
The knowledge on the part of our statesmen that the British people are only too ready and too able to fight for any cause, and to defend their interest and their honour whenever at stake, has, no doubt, contributed to our patient and forbearing policy hitherto with the United States. As regards this froward child, we have always felt a difficulty in setting our interest and our honour itself against those of our own offspring, and have relied on our power of defending them whenever it should be absolutely required. In a word, we could always wait for the hour when this painful necessity should arrive, and meanwhile we could comfort and assure ourselves with a merited confidence in our justice and safety. We felt that a war between two States of the same origin and language, and in many respects so similar and so connected, would be a public scandal, for which any amount of triumph would hardly compensate. Thus, the higher feeling of the parent, the brother, and the gentleman have been permitted to step in between the decidedly combative qualities too apparent on both sides of the Atlantic. Our statesmen have held back the people, knowing well that this people would be able to defend and avenge itself.
But our recent preparation has not been thrown away. Nine-tenths of the operations of real war are without any immediate and actual result. The demonstration which costs immense efforts, marching, countermarching, conveyance and abandonment of stores, constructions and destructions, and even the loss of many lives, may completely answer its intended purpose of deceiving or dividing a foe without in the least answering its apparent end. We have set all our naval and military forces in full current for Canada, and the current is already flowing thither at a much quicker rate than we can recall. That such a current should be suddenly arrested and brought back without a blow being struck may seem to realize an utter nullity. If, however, it has assured and will assure the Americans of our sincerity and earnestness, it has answered its purpose as much as if it had encountered the full tide of American war, and written its loss, not only on the mind, but on the bloody battle-field and the wreck-strewn wave. Less decision, a less rapid movement of soldiers, a less hurried equipment of vessels, might have been interpreted into a makebelieve, and Lord Palmerston might have been complimented on an effective "demonstration". As it is, the Americans will hear all that has been done. They may be assured that it has not been a little war they have escaped, even though its actual course has been bloodless and short.In earnestness, in determination, and in magnitude of purpose, it would have been a very great war. It has, too, like an inspection or a review, or rather like a night alarm for practice against surprises, left much instruction. Prepared as we are, we cannot but find it a difficult task to concentrate and direct all our resources at a day's warning to any one point. Mistakes must be made or discovered. Ships, arms, and even men, are found not so readily as they seemed. The capacities of establishments are probed, as also the vigour and skill of officials. It has been a great field-day, such as nothing less than an Empire in danger can give us. All England has turned out to resist an outrage and vindicate her flag. Fortunately for all, the assailant has been wise in time, and England returns to her quarters with the feeling that her preparations have not been thrown away.
|Fr 10 January 1862|
THE CIVIL WAR IN AMERICA.
Omitting all matters of detail till next post, I hasten to announce that the Government of the United States has acceded to the demand of Great Britain and has consented to surrender Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, and their secretaries. This morning Mr. Seward sent to Lord Lyons a request that his Lordship would call at the State Department, and in the interview which took place Mr. Seward handed the British Minister an exceedingly voluminous note, which will no doubt see the light some day in England, and informed him at the same time that the captives were at his Lordship's disposal. Let us take this act as the expression of the conviction in the minds of the American Government that they were wrong in retaining their prisoners, and that the seizure was an outrage, nor let us, till we know the nature of the despatch, attribute any other motives to them than the desire to do what is right. The effect in this country, when it is known, will be exceedingly great, for such a dish of humble pie cannot be taken into stomachs which have been disordered by cocktail talking without a great deal of nausea. Do not imagine that the real intelligence and worth of the people will disapprove the act. The men I allude to are the writers in the "sensation" press, and the bunkum orators, as well as the more violent Abolitionists, who by insulting menaces and intemperate pledges have bound themselves to oppose the concession, no matter how just it might prove to be. Doubtless, Mr. Seward in the elaborate despatch he has written will seek to show that Great Britain has laid down some new principle in this transaction, and in swelling periods will endeavour to demonstrate that by yielding the prisoners the United States has gained some great point for herself and the world in general from Great Britain, which can never again take political offenders from neutral ships. Let it be so. The case is memorable enough and clear enough to serve as a precedent. No one can doubt but that the relations of both countries would have been much more satisfactory if the Government of Washington had restored the prisoners as soon as it heard of the capture, and if all the irritating writing and speaking to which we have been treated here, and the expense, anxiety, and sense of indignity to which we were exposed in Great Britain, had been obviated. I fear that the wrath to come will be greater than anything yet experienced by us, and that a terrible future is in store for Great Britain, at the indefinite time when so many great things arc to come to pass. The Government here, which has thus far got over its external dangers, will now have to face a tremendous ordeal. The sense of justice or right or even necessity cannot prevail over the cherished love of doing what they like among the masses. The Union can get more than half a million of men to fight for her, at a considerable expense, it is true, but moved in the main, let us admit, by love for the Union; but she could, I am assured, raise a million to fight against England. That is, the hate of Great Britain is at least twice as strong as the love of the Union among many millions of Americans. They will he disappointed this time. If Mason and Slidell he surrendered without any extravagant threats in the press, or without any indignation meetings, we may hope that friendly relations will be preserved for years to come, as it will be a token that in a crisis the sound sense, patriotism, and desire to do what is demanded by justice and right predominate in the United States over the violence of popular passion. Let us stand by and see if it will be so, and let us be thankful meantime that we are spared the war which would have been forced on us in vindication of our honour had the Government here been deaf to the voice of reason. The secret of the Government has been well kept. Mr. Seward must have enjoyed the pleasure of tantalizing Mr. Sumner and the other Senators and politicians who thought to worm out his secret, for he is fond of a joke, and could not have been indifferent to the pangs of the Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Relations of the Senate, who to the last persisted in believing or in stating that Great Britain had made no absolute demand which did not admit of either a deliciously long correspondence, or a delicate negotiation by mediator or arbitrator. Some of my good friends of the sword who have been very fierce and belligerent will, no doubt, be difficult to appease. Men like M'Dowell, Halleck, and General Scott, who appreciated the gravity of the question, have spoken of it with moderation. Some of them, indeed, have from the first maintained that the seizure was unjustifiable. As to the officers of the navy, I must do them the justice to say that those I have met were from the first willing to surrender the Southern Commissioners, and that more than one expressed the strongest disapprobation of Captain Wilkes's act, notwithstanding that the Secretary of the Navy had highly lauded him. Mr. Welles is of the same opinion still, and submits to "force majeure."Mr. Fox, the able and experienced Assistant-Secretary of the Navy - a naval officer who has seen the world, and has raised his head above the clouds and mists which dim the vision of the indigenous American who has never stirred out of his own country - differed from his chief. There were people who went about talking and writing in the most patriotic manner about never surrendering till death or afterwards, and seeing every city in a blaze before they would surrender the prisoners. These people will now most probably go about using the same language in another tense, and declaring that it would have been better to have done all sorts of things than to have performed an act of justice, and have averted much bloodshed and misery to two kindred nations, while they at a blow destroyed the possibility of success in the contest on which they had set their hearts. The interval which has elapsed since Monday, when Lord Lyons presented his note, of which he had at several previous interviews discussed the nature with Mr. Seward, was not unreasonably long, though it has given birth to a despatch which might not be characterized in the same way, and the press and the politicians were alike in the dark as to the demands of Great Britain, and the view taken of them by the Government. It was only the pressure of circumstances, and the convincing arguments founded on the state of the navy and the present position of affairs, which prevailed over the indisposition of the highest persons in the State to yield the prisoners. So late as yesterday a violent speech was made in the Senate by Mr. Hale, in introducing a resolution for the correspondence arising out of the Trent affair...
|Fr 10 January 1862|
LONDONDERRY, Jan. 9.
The Canadian steamer Jura, which arrived here this morning, was detained at Portland six hours for Lord Lyons' despatches, which she takes to Liverpool direct.
NEW YORK, Dec. 28.The diplomatic correspondence in reference to the case of Messrs. Mason and Slidell has been published.
It commences with a despatch from Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams in London, declaring that Captain Wilkes acted without instructions, and hoping that the British Government would consider the subject in a friendly temper. Mr. Seward says also that the British Government may expect the best disposition on the part of the Federal Government.
The next despatch is from Earl Russell to Lord Lyons, stating the outrage on the British flag, and hoping that the act was committed without instructions from the Federal Government, as that Government must be aware that Great Britain cannot allow such an affront to pass without reparation. Earl Russell expresses a hope that the Federal Government will offer suitable redress by giving up the four prisoners to Lord Lyons. Mr. Seward, who was furnished with a copy of Earl Russell's despatch, replied that the English Government rightly conjectured that the act was without the authority or knowledge of the Federal Government. He trusts that England will see that the Federal Government neither practised nor approved any deliberate wrong in the transaction, and declares that Great Britain has a right to demand the same reparation as the United States would expect from any friendly nation in a similar case. Mr. Seward says he is aware that he argues on the British side of the case, but in doing so he is only defending American principles. He quotes the instructions from Mr. Madison, Secretary of State in 1804, to Mr. Monroe, Minister to England, and says:-
"If I decide this case in favour of my own Government I must disallow its most cherished principles, and for ever abandon its most cherished policy; but the country cannot afford such a sacrifice. The Government cannot deny the justice of England's claim."
Mr. Seward, in conclusion, states that the four prisoners are at the disposal of Lord Lyons, and asks his Lordship to indicate a time and place for receiving them.
Lord Lyons, in his reply, says he will forward Mr. Seward's communication to the British Government, and will confer personally with him in regard to the reception of the four gentlemen.
The note from M. Thouvenel to the French Minister on the Trent affair is included in the correspondence.
|Sa 11 January 1862||No official notice has yet been given at Portsmouth respecting any discharge of hired mechanics or labourers, consequent on our renewed peaceful relations with America. It is, however, understood, both by the officials and the men themselves, and is further confirmed by an Admiralty order received yesterday morning, that the services of these men will not be required, in the present phase of affairs, beyond April next. It is to be hoped, however, that the authorities will not be too hasty in discharging a body of valuable men who have entered the public service at a period of emergency, and whose homes lie at some considerable distance from the place of their engagement. There is plenty of important work remaining to be done in Portsmouth yard, and there can be no reason why the wholesale discharge of men at the end of last year should be now repeated.|
|Ma 13 January 1862|
LONDON, MONDAY, JANUARY 13,1862.
The whole episode of the capture of the Trent lies now before us, and we may not unprofitably review the main features of this very remarkable transaction. We need not trouble ourselves with the law, for, although the violence of the proceeding led us to suppose that it could not be wholly unauthorized by some distant precedent, the result has been that our right has been conceded in as full and ample a manner as it was possible for us to desire. But the causes which led to the seizure and which have protracted the inquiry into its validity up to the present moment are well worth investigation. How came it, then, that Commodore Wilkes should, at a moment when his country was overwhelmed with the solicitudes and difficulties of a Civil War more than sufficient to occupy all its energies, venture upon an enterprise the direct effect of which would necessarily be to multiply those difficulties by creating a conflict with a Power many times more formidable than that with which America was already engaged? The answer is very plain. The Commodore knew little and cared less for the Law of Nations, of which he had just enough learning to enable him thoroughly to misquote it. But he knew very well something much better than the Law of Nations, and that was the humour of his countrymen. He thought it possible he might be disavowed or even cashiered, but he also knew that he would become a hero. In some countries heroism cannot be attained without a very severe sacrifice of personal convenience and some danger of personal injury. But the United States are content to set one kind of courage against another, and, provided a man is bold enough to despise the laws of civilized life, will not insist on the painful condition that he should incur danger to life or limb. Commodore Wilkes speculated on this well-known tendency of the popular mind, and he speculated justly. Had he led a forlorn hope, or headed the charge which decided the fate of a pitched battle, he could not have received a more brilliant or flattering reception. True, his act had no valour in it, for it was performed against an unarmed enemy; it had no wisdom, for it was fraught with the most disastrous consequences; but it was lawless and defiant, and as such dear to the feelings of the nation that he served. It has ever, been the nature of Democracy rather to find the law in its own will than to subordinate that will to the law, and had not this feeling been notorious the outrage on the Trent would never have been committed.
The next step in the affair was that the persons so seized were accepted by the American Government and consigned to a prison, where they were treated, as we are informed, with the greatest rigour and harshness. Any other Government but that of America would have considered that the receiving of prisoners under these circumstances amounted to a distinct undertaking on their part to identify themselves with Commodore Wilkes, and to adopt his act as their own. It is so with the affairs of common life. The man who takes the profit of a transaction is not allowed to blow hot and cold -to assert that he never authorized what has been done. If the American Government were willing to accept the present offered them by Commodore Wilkes, they should also have been willing to take upon themselves whatever risk was implied by that acceptance. If he was wrong, they should not have received the men from him; if he was right, they should not have disavowed him. But here, again, we have another specimen of the propensities of a Government that relies on mere popularity. It lives on the breath of the moment, and cannot afford to do what the people would approve to-morrow because the people would disapprove it to-day. As soon as it was known that Slidell and Mason were captured one cry of delight resounded from one end of the Northern States to the other. The ringleaders in so many intrigues, the arch-originators of so many conspiracies, were now in their power, and ill betide those who would abstract them from their vengeance. The felon's cell, the traitor's death, were too good for them, and, as for restoring them to England, the thought was black with dishonour and foul with retreat. No matter how they were taken; the law was on the side of the Union, or, if it were not, England dare not assert her rights. Had not the Northern States six hundred thousand men under arms? Was not Canada within two or three days' railroad from the Federal Camp, and could they not spare a sufficient force for the invasion? Would they not build fleets to launch on the Lakes and cover the ocean with innumerable privateers, bearing wealth to those who equipped them and destruction to British commerce? England dare not, could not, must not, would not, ask for reparation for the injury. She might be starved for want of corn, revolutionized by the invasion of Ireland, or disposed of in any one of half-a-dozen ways of attack. But if she should demand reparation she would be only too happy to protract the case into endless negotiation. She knew too well that France would be certain to take part against her, that there was a strong American party in England, and a still stronger one in Ireland, and that in seeking a contest with America she only sought her own destruction. Next came the information that reparation had actually been demanded; and, just as the newspapers had succeeded in proving to their own entire satisfaction that England could by no possibility adhere to the demand for the giving up of the men, the men, after seven weeks' captivity, were given up, and America was left to put the best construction she could on so many confident assertions so signally falsified, on so many valiant resolutions so precipitately abandoned.
When all these things are considered, there can be no more interesting study than Mr. Seward's Despatch. There has been an "inadvertency by a naval officer." That is all. The Government of the United States is in no way implicated in it, although at the time of writing the Despatch the prisoners had been seven weeks in its custody. "If I decide this case in favour of my own Government, I must disallow its most cherished principles, and reverse and for ever abandon its essential policy." Such declarations are, to be sure, inconsistent with the course of action which was adopted up to the time of the peremptory demand by England. But, at any rate, they have, one would think, the advantage that they hold out to us a better prospect for the future. This hope, however, is immediately dashed to the ground, for we are told in the same breath that the claim is just, but that if the safety of the Union required the detention of the captured prisoners it would be the right and duty of the Government to detain them; - that is, it would be the right and duty of the Government to do towards a foreign State that which they themselves considered to be unjust. We have, then, fair notice that all who deal with the United States must guide themselves, not by the Law of Nations, but by what the United States may consider expedient at the time; and this, of course, depends upon their ability to resist. Thus, it was expedient to put these Commissioners in prison on November 10 and it was expedient to release them, when it was found that war would be the consequence of detaining them, on December 27. Mr. Seward, however, concludes by saying that the prisoners are given up, not because England demands them peremptorily, but because they are not worth keeping; because "the effectual check and waning proportions of the existing insurrection, as well as the comparative unimportance of the captured persons themselves, when dispassionately weighed," &c.; and this pretext is put forth by a Government which denounced these men to Congress as leading conspirators, which gave its official thanks to Captain Wilkes on account of the importance of the capture, and took seven weeks to discover that its prisoners were "comparatively unimportant!"We doubt if any nation ever committed blunders so palpable and so enormous. If they had disavowed the seizure and given up the men at once, the American Government would have done much towards placing its flag under the protection of right and justice. But they kept the men till they had done for the South services far greater than they could possibly have performed had they been left at liberty. The men, who in all probability would not have been able to effect anything by their advocacy with the Governments of England and France, became, when placed in prison, the most persuasive of missionaries, and made converts to Southern principles by mixing them up with the doctrines recognized by all nations. Messrs. Slidell and Mason could not, had they succeeded to the utmost of their desire, have effected more than they did from their dungeon. And all these misfortunes and disgraces have occurred simply because the American Government is not able to rule of itself, but must seek its direction, not from the wise and prudent, but from the ignorant and violent. It was not able either to persist with dignity or to yield with courtesy, and it has therefore brought upon itself all the discredit without the reward of lawlessness, and all the humiliation without the grace of submission.
|Ma 13 January 1862|
Southampton, Jan. 12.
The Hamburg and American Company's steamer Teutonia, from New York at 10 a.m. on the 29th of December, arrived off Cowes last night. She brings 37 passengers and $237,925 in specie, of which. $152,000 are for England, and the remainder for Havre.
The Teutonia spoke the following ships: -
The following is the full test of the diplomatic correspondence between the British and Federal Governments on the Trent affair:-
"Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.
"Earl Russell to Lord Lyons - The Demand of the British Government.
"Mr. Seward to Lord Lyons.
|Tu 14 January 1862||When the Duke of Wellington was asked whether he was not surprised before Waterloo, he is said to have replied, "No; but I am now." The same language would fitly express the difference between our position at the time when the outrage was committed on the Trent and that in which we find ourselves after perusing Mr. Seward's despatch. The former cannot be said to have taken us by surprise at all. "We could not, indeed, have foreseen it, yet we were tolerably prepared for it, for we knew how little a mere breach of international law would trouble the conscience of a patriotic American captain, and the Democratic organs of the North had so often assured us of their desire to pick a quarrel with us that we had almost come to believe them. It was far more astonishing that, after Congress and the Secretary to the Navy had expressed their approbation of Captain Wilkes, and the mob had pronounced in his favour, Mr. Lincoln's Government should have felt itself strong enough to avoid a war with England by a timely concession. But the document in which this concession is conveyed and justified is the crowning marvel of the story. Its length is portentous, its verbiage indescribable, and the assurance and confidence in our ignorance which it exhibits are indeed what the New York Herald calls them, - "masterly." Professing to be exhaustive, it leaves untouched three-fourths of the whole field of argument already familiar to the readers of this journal. Professing to be logical, it quietly "assumes" the most material of all the points to be proved - viz., "that the circumstance that the Trent was proceeding from a neutral port to another neutral port does not modify the rights of the belligerent Power." Professing to deal with a practical issue, it discusses at prodigious length a number of hypothetical cases, confessedly doubtful in themselves, and in no respect analogous to that of the Trent. It abounds in such platitudes as that "War is a terrible social evil," that "neutrality is the harbinger of peace," and that "human actions generally proceed upon mingled and sometimes conflicting motives." Calling itself "a very simple and natural statement of the facts, and analysis of the law applicable to them," it is, in reality, a vast and irrelevant preamble, ending with a dogmatic quotation from Madison, enunciating a principle amply broad enough to cover the whole case, and to render nugatory the tedious array of facts and arguments by which it is ushered in.
It is the less necessary to examine in detail the five queries into which Mr. Seward resolves the whole problem, because the preceding paragraphs sufficiently reveal the confusion existing in the mind of the Secretary of State between the rights of a belligerent Power and the rights of a Power engaged in suppressing a domestic revolt. He studiously characterizes the Civil War in America as an "insurrection" and a "local strife;" the emissaries of the Southern States are "citizens of the United States," and were proceeding on a "pretended mission" in the "affected character" of Ministers Plenipotentiary. If this be granted, then the United States are not at war at all, and are consequently not entitled to the rights of a belligerent Power, among which - and among these only - is to be found the right of visitation and search. Notwithstanding this little hitch in the argument, Mr. Seward proceeds with sublime self-complacency to apply to the question before him all the doctrines which belong to a state of war between two independent Powers. He even goes further than this, for he claims, while he ostentatiously waives, the right of treating natives of the South on board neutral ships in the very way in which Great Britain, in the pride of her naval supremacy, treated the deserters from her own men-of-war. The full enormity of this pretension can only be estimated when the inconsistency of the two presumptions on which it rests is appreciated. For the purpose of acquiring the right to board a neutral ship Mr. Seward consents to treat the Southerners as belligerents, for otherwise the North would have no enemy; for the purpose of justifying the seizure of Messrs. Mason and Slidell he deals with them as traitorous subjects of the United States. Both these incompatible theories of their character underlie this despatch, and the one or the other is allowed the greater prominence as it may serve the occasion. Upon the whole, however, Mr. Seward inclines to the former, and he has the best reasons for doing so, for how else could he avail himself of the liberal rules of International Law in respect of contraband of war? The right of seizing this is, at least, a purely belligerent privilege, and can only belong to a nation engaged in bonâ fide hostilities. Were Messrs. Mason and Slidell, then, contraband of war, as Mr. Seward "trusts" that he has shown? After all that has been said on this subject, our readers will hardly believe that his two chief authorities are the well-known dictum of Lord Stowwell, that "you may stop the ambassador of your enemy on his passage," which has been proved to sanction no violation of neutral jurisdiction, and another opinion of the same Judge to the effect that a vessel "let out" for the purpose of carrying persons in the service of an enemy, which the Trent was not, may be forfeited. Considering that by the time this despatch was written the fallacy of these two last positions had been clearly demonstrated in this country, and must have been known to Mr. Seward, we cannot think that the recurrence to them, without explanation or qualification, shows much candour on his part.
After this, our readers may be curious to know what is the precise ground upon which Mr. Seward has advised the President to restore the prisoners. It is not that he has any doubt that they were "contraband," or that Captain Wilkes might lawfully stop and search the Trent, or that he exercised that right in a proper manner, or that the persons in possession of the despatches were equally liable to seizure with the despatches themselves. It might, perhaps, strike some people that, as despatches reveal valuable information, whereas their bearers, unless subjected to torture, cannot be made to divulge what they may know, one good reason for making the former seizable has no application to the latter. But this does not occur to Mr. Seward; indeed, he hurries impatiently over his first four questions that he may concentrate himself on the last - "Did he exercise that right of capture in the manner allowed and recognized by the Law of Nations?" It is evidently upon his answer to this that Mr. Seward stakes his case. It is verbose and laboured in the highest degree, and well it may be, for the conclusion to which it leads up cannot be stated or read with a grave face. It is neither more nor less than this, - that Captain Wilkes, having the unquestionable right to carry the Trent and all on board into an American port, where she would certainly have been condemned, did nevertheless, "from combined sentiments of prudence and generosity," leave his capture unfinished, and make a present of the Trent to Great Britain, and that, since "it is of the very nature of a gift or a charity that the giver cannot, after the exercise of his benevolence is past, recall or modify its benefits," the United States' Government cannot, in honour, retain a part of those spoils, the whole of which, however, belonged to her of right.It would be well for Mr. Seward's reputation as a diplomatist if this despatch had never been published in extenso. The telegraphic summary had already given the only part of it that would stand criticism for a moment. There was some plausibility in the boast that in surrendering the prisoners America was carrying out her own cherished principles against her own interests, until we examined the frivolous, and worse than frivolous, reasons by which this assertion was bolstered up. We say worse than frivolous, for we will not conceal our conviction that the injustice of his cause was present to the mind of the writer throughout the composition of this pitiful State paper, and that all the finedrawn distinctions between contraband "things" and "contraband" persons were intended to disguise from the American people the fact that submission was inevitable. Mr. Seward cannot be ignorant that, so far from adhering to the American and Continental limitations of belligerent rights, the greater part of his despatch is based on the old English theory which recognized no other restriction than the interests of the belligerent. He cannot suppose that this will escape the penetration of Lord Russell or the Law Officers of the British Crown, but he probably calculates, with justice, that it will impose on the mass of his countrymen. It is to them that he is really speaking when he nominally addresses Lord Lyons, and we fear that it is their applause which he courts by the insolent declaration that the Envoys could not have been surrendered had State policy required that they should be retained. We will not so libel the nation which he represents as to accept this as a fair specimen of their political morality. We will rather, hope that when the history of the present war comes to be written in calmer times the error of delaying redress till it was peremptorily demanded, and then inventing fictitious reasons for granting it, will be admitted without reserve.
|Tu 14 January 1862||Increased exertions are still continued at Woolwich to supply munitions of war to the British possessions in North America. The screw steam storeship Spartan, Capt. Wiggins, at the Arsenal T pier, has shipped 300 tons of 100-pounder Armstrong shot and shell, 50 tons of medical stores, 100 chests of muskets, and a large amount of beds and bedding, hospital-clothing, and stores, and general necessaries for the garrisons of St. John's, New Brunswick, and Halifax. The Wisbech, a screw steamer of heavy tonnage, yesterday arrived alongside, awaiting a berth to ship for the same destination.|
|We 15 January 1862|
QUEENSTOWN, Jan. 14.
The Royal Mail steamship America, from New York on the 1st inst., arrived here at 8 a.m., with 24 passengers and $56,866 in specie for England.
NEW YORK, Dec. 31, Evening.(Per America viâ Queenstown.)
The excitement of the public on the Trent question has materially subsided.
Since the settlement of the question the American press has been much more moderate in tone towards England.
The New York Journal of Commerce thinks that Mr. Seward's answer to Lord Lyons does not settle the question of International Law, but leaves it open for England to withdraw from the subject without denying or admitting the law laid down by Mr. Seward. The Journal of Commerce considers, however, that England cannot honourably do this. The New York Evening Post considers that, although Mr. Seward states the informality of the seizure to be the reason for surrendering Messrs. Mason and Slidell, the real reason is that America cannot afford to go to war with England. The New York Times urges the assembling of an International Congress for the settlement of the question of International Law.
It is supposed that Messrs. Mason and Slidell will proceed to Europe in the steamer Niagara, which sails from Boston in a few days.
|Th 16 January 1862|
THE TRENT AFFAIR.
The following additional correspondence was published in Tuesday night's Gazette:-
"Earl Russell to Lord Lyons.
"Foreign-office, Dec. 19, 1961.
"My Lord, - Mr. Adams came to me to-day at the Foreign-office, at 3 o'clock. He said he came to ask two questions which concerned himself personally.
"Lord Lyons to Earl Russell, received Jan. 9.
"Washington, Dec. 27,1861.
"My Lord, - I have the honour to inclose a copy of a note which I have this morning received from Mr. Seward, in answer to your Lordship's despatch of the 30th of last month, relative to the removal of Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. MacFarland, and Mr. Eustis from the British mail packet Trent.>br>
"The note contains a very long and very elaborate dissertation on the questions of international law involved in the case. I have not time, before the departure of the messenger, to weigh the arguments or to estimate precisely the force of the expressions used. But, as Mr. Seward admits that reparation is due to Great Britain, and consents to deliver the four prisoners to me, I consider that the demands of Her Majesty's Government are so far substantially complied with, that it is my duty, in obedience to your Lordship's commands, to report the facts to Her Majesty's Government for their consideration, and to remain at my post until I receive further orders. I have the honour to inclose a copy of the answer which I have made to Mr. Seward's note. I have confined myself to stating that I will forward a copy of it to Her Majesty's Government, and that I will confer with Mr. Seward personally on the arrangements to be made for the delivery of the prisoners to me.
"Earl Russell to Lord Lyons.
"Foreign-office, Jan. 11.
"My Lord, - In my despatch to you of the 30th of November, after informing you of the circumstances which had occurred in relation to the capture of the four persons taken from on board the Trent, I stated to you that it thus appeared that certain individuals had been forcibly taken from on board a British vessel, the ship of a neutral Power, while such vessel was pursuing a lawful and innocent voyage, - an act of violence which was an affront to the British flag and a violation of international law. I concluded by directing you, in case the reparation which Her Majesty's Government expected to receive should not be offered by Mr. Seward, to propose to that Minister to make such redress as alone would satisfy the British nation - namely, first, the liberation of the four gentlemen taken from on board the Trent, and their delivery to your Lordship, in order that they might again be placed under British protection; and, secondly, a suitable apology for the aggression which had been committed.
"Earl Russell to Lord Lyons.
"Foreign-office, Jan. 11.
"My Lord, - Your conduct in the important matter of the Trent is entirely approved by Her Majesty. The discretion and good temper you have shown have contributed greatly to the success of our operations.
"'The next time you should bring my despatch, and read it to him fully.
"'If he asks what will be the consequence of his refusing compliance, I think you should say that you wish to leave him and the President quite free to take their own course, and that you desire to abstain from anything like menace.'"
|Th 16 January 1862|
LONDON, THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 1862.
The Gazette of Tuesday contains the whole of the official despatches which relate to the affair of the Trent. The greater portion of these have already met the public eye, and even those which have not been formally published lack the interest of novelty, for their substance has been given to the world long since. Their appearance, however, in this collected state affords us an opportunity of taking a general view of the whole transaction, and of weighing the offence suffered against the reparation received.
Of the offence committed there is not now much to be said. That the act of the Captain of the San Jacinto was a wound to the honour and dignity of this country was not only acutely felt throughout England, but was promptly declared by all the great Powers of Christendom. It has, moreover, not only been admitted, but actually asserted, by the Americana themselves. It was not a light wrong, nor an accidental wrong. It was not a mere injury from which we suffered damage in money or in territory. It was not even an injustice done to ourselves, and which we might therefore have some right to pardon or pass over. It was a wrong done to strangers who had placed themselves under our protection, and for whose safety we were, as a nation, pledged. It was a direct insult to that flag which is the visible symbol of our existence as an independent nation. All this now stands clear and undisputed upon the correspondence before us; and when future generations come to sift these documents, and to judge from them whether we have faithfully preserved the good name which had been transmitted to us; there can be no other conclusion than that in this instance we had received an offence which, while it remained uneffaced, must lower our self-respect and tarnish our reputation among other nations. This was known from the first moment. Every one knew it. The American Minister knew it, perhaps, better than any one else.
What, under these circumstances, was the conduct of the offending nation? We will not recount as national acts the meetings which took place in all the great cities of the Federal States. We will not go back to the action of the municipal bodies in conferring civic honours upon the perpetrator of this unprovoked affront, nor will we refer to the speeches of high judicial officers and Governors of States teeming with hostility to this country, and triumphing in the shame which had been put upon her. Nor will we stamp with a national character the unanimous declaration of the American Press that what had been done should be maintained, by tricks of diplomacy if it might be so, but by force and by war if it were necessary. There were other acts, however, which no force of credulity and no simulated blindness could divest of a public and a national character. We may adduce especially the formal approval of the conduct of the Commander of the San Jacinto by the Minister of State for the Department of the Navy. Such, also, was the vote of thanks passed in Congress to the agent of this aggression; and such, above all, was the act of the President and his Cabinet in accepting the captives from the hands of their Captain, and making them their prisoners by committing them to a Federal fortress. All this was the conduct of the nation, which, as we now know, was thoroughly well aware that they were dealing with an act of illegal outrage, committed upon a friendly Power. These acts were notorious in England. Between the 8th of November, when the seizure on board the Trent took place, and the 19th of December, nothing had been heard here but the joy and triumph which reigned across the Atlantic. The American Government was up to that date silent, except by its acts. On that day, however, Mr. Adams came to Lord Russell, and made the first approach towards the commencement of those protracted negotiations with which we have been told by the American Press it was the intention to amuse us. The letter Mr. Adams produced was not a direct despatch to the English Minister, but a letter to his own representative written by the American Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is not a disavowal of the act committed by the naval Captain, nor does it offer the least hope of the surrender of the prisoners. "He affirms," writes Lord Russell, "that no instructions were given to Captain Wilkes which anthorized him to act in the manner he had done. Neither had the United States' Government committed itself with regard to any decision upon the character of that act. The Government would wait for any representation the British Government might make before coming to any positive decision." This is all. With the exception of the permission to Mr. Adams to read that letter, if he pleased, to Lords Palmerston and Russell, this was the notice which the American Minister thought proper to take towards a great nation of an outrage which had almost stunned it with surprise. Such a letter was of the kind which the Press had prepared us to expect, and it rendered it quite evident we had to deal with a Government from which we must expect our right, not from a sense of justice, but from a fear of consequences. How differently, under a similar circumstance, did one of our English Ministers act! We are indebted to the current number of the Edinburgh Review for the documents which show the conduct of Mr. Canning when a British officer had committed upon the American flag an outrage similar to that which the Captain of the San Jacinto committed upon the Trent. The affair of the Leopard and Chesapeake was not an attack by an armed ship upon a defenceless packet; it was an insult offered by one ship of war to another of equal rate; and, although the wrong was undoubted, it was not more indubitable than that which America had to answer. The intelligence reached London on the 25th of July, 1807. Mr. Canning did not lose a day. London did not vote the freedom of the city to the Captain of the Leopard, nor did the English Judges applaud him in Guildhall for disregarding the law; nor did the House of Commons vote him thanks, or the Secretary to the Admiralty officially approve his conduct. Mr. Canning, on the very same day on which he received the news, wrote to the American Minister expressing his deepest regret, his sincere concern and sorrow at the unfortunate collision, and promising, both for himself and for his Government, the most prompt and effectual reparation to the United States.We might pursue this contrast between these two cases into a review of the manner in which the insulted nation has acted. Extreme moderation in expression, accompanied by great energy in action, was probably never more fully exemplified than in the conduct of this affair by the British Government. The words, without the deeds, were so cautiously courteous that they would have read like pusillanimity, and might have tempted such an antagonist as we had found to believe that we were not in earnest. The despatch which was sent from London on the 30th of November, as soon as the opinion of the Law Officers had been obtained, contained not one word of menace, nor one word of demand which it was possible to omit. By the private letter accompanying it, extracts from which are now made public in these despatches, Lord Lyons was directed courteously to prepare Mr. Seward for the reception of that despatch, and to refuse, even if interrogated, to state that war must be the alternative of complying with its contents. If the Americans had done us some great favour for which we were sending an Embassy to thank them, we could not have been more carefully polite. Very different was the language of President Madison in the case of the Chesapeake. "A formal disavowal of the deed, and restoration of the four seamen to the ship from which they were taken, are things of course and indispensable." The American President demanded not only reparation for the past, but security for the future. In this case, however, Mr. Seward, while admitting the wrong, rather affects to make a bargain in redressing it; and Lord Russell, on behalf of England, is content to put aside these pretensions, and only drily to desire him to instruct the United States' cruisers "not to repeat acts for which the British Government will have to ask for redress, and which, the United States' Government cannot undertake to justify." When we, in the case of the Chesapeake, made reparation and apology, we did it in good faith. We withdrew our Admiral, and we punished, perhaps too severely, the over-zeal of our Captain. The President insisted that "the United States have a right to expect every solemnity of form and every other ingredient of restitution and respect which, according to usage and the sentiments of mankind, are proper in the strongest cases of insult to the rights and sovereignty of a nation; and the British Government is to be apprised of the importance of a full compliance with this expectation to the thorough healing of the wound which has been made in the feelings of the American people." Nor was there any hesitation on our part in complying with these demands, for Mr. Canning felt it to be as necessary to English as to American honour that the satisfaction should be complete. But what of all this has been afforded by the Federal States of America or exacted by England? America has surrendered the prisoners, we have accepted this act as reparation; Lord Russell has exerted all his ingenuity to extract an apology out of the tardy disavowal of Captain Wilkes, but we are proud, nevertheless, to contrast our own full and prompt acknowledgment and reparation of a wrong in 1807 with the manner in which Federal America has acted under similar circumstances in 1862.
|Th 16 January 1862|
LONDONDERRY, Jan. 15.
The Canadian screw steamer Nova Scotian, which arrived here this morning from Portland, brought $40,000 in specie.
NEW YORK, Jan. 3, Afternoon.
Messrs. Mason and Slidell and their Secretaries embarked on the 1st inst., at Providence-town, on board the British steamer Rinaldo, for England. Their departure caused scarcely any excitement. The comments of the New York press on the subject are unimportant.
(Latest by Telegraph to Portland.)
NEW YORK, Jan. 4.The New York Tribune states that Messrs. Mason and Slidell will only proceed to Halifax in the British steamer Rinaldo, and that from Halifax they will proceed to Europe in the next Cunard steamer.
|Fr 17 January 1862||Her Majesty's gunboat Rinaldo left Princetown on the evening of the 2d for Halifax, with Messrs. Mason en Slidell on board. It blew a hurricane the same night.|
The Boston Traveller of the 2d thus announces the departure of the Southern Commissioners:-
"The departure of Slidell and Mason from Fort Warren yesterday, was conducted as quietly as possible. The garrison, with the exception of the guards on duty, were kept from the side of the fort where the prisoners' quarters are, and there were but few persons upon the wharf when they embarked. The other political prisoners, as they bade them good bye, congratulated them on their release. Mr. Mason went off in good humour. Indeed, he has recently been in good spirits, and he has borne his imprisonment with the air of a philosopher. Mr. Slidell was somewhat sulky, and not at all pleased at going in such an unostentatious manner, and in such a vessel. He evidently expected that a steamer would come here especially for them. Part of his ill-nature may be owing to his health, which has not been good for some weeks, keeping him pretty close to his room, although he has not called for medical aid. The tug Starlight, with the four rebels, reached Princetown a little before 5 p.m., and immediately proceeded to the English sloop of war Rinaldo, and transferred her passengers. Commander Hudson, who was in charge of the arrangements, went with them on board the English war vessel, and remained on board for about 15 minutes, when he returned to the tug. At about 6 p.m. the Rinaldo got under weigh, and proceeded on her voyage. In about two hours afterwards a violent gale commenced, and blew all night at Princetown with almost the violence of a hurricane, but, as the wind was off shore, probably the safety of the vessel was not endangered. During the stay of the Rinaldo at Princetown no communication was allowed with the shore, nor was any boat allowed to come alongside." board. It blew a hurricane
|Ma 20 January 1862||The Rinaldo, with Mason and Slidell on board, sailed from Princetown on the 2d inst., a strong gale from N.E. blowing off shore. She had not reached Halifax on the 10th, and Captain Judkins supposes she has borne down south for Bermuda, or some other of the West India Islands.|
|Th 30 January 1862||The Royal Mail Company's steamship La Plata, Captain C.G. Weller, arrived, at Southampton yesterday at 9 30 a.m., with mails in charge of Lieutenant de Brock, R.N., naval mail agent. She left St. Thomas on the 14th inst., and experienced heavy gales from N.W. to S.W. during the voyage.... This steamer brought 75 passengers (viz., 62 first-class, 12 second, 1 child, 2 servants, 5 distressed British seamen, and 3 naval invalids), among whom were Messrs. Mason, Slidell, M'Farland, and Eustis, the liberated Confederate Commissioners and their Secretaries...|
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