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ling to believe that it could be the deliberate intention of the government of the United States unnecessarily to force into discussion between the two governments a question of so grave a character, and with regard to which the whole British nation would be sure to entertain such unanimity of feeling.
"Her majesty's government therefore trusts that when this matter shall have been brought under the consideration of the government of the United States, that government will, of its own accord, offer to the British government such redress as alone could satisfy the British nation, namely, the liberation of the four gentlemen, and their delivery to your lordship, in order that they may again be placed under British protection, and a suitable apology for the aggression which has been committed."
At the same time, Earl Russell sent private instructions to Lord Lyons:
VIEWS OF THE ENGLISH GOVERNMENT.
"In my previous dispatches of this date I have instructed you, by command of her majesty, to make certain demands of the government of the United States.
Peremptory instructions of Earl Russell.
"Should Mr. Seward ask for delay, in order that this grave and painful matter should be deliberately consid ered, you will consent to a delay not exceeding seven days. If at the end of that time no answer is given, or if any other answer is given except that of a compliance with the demands of her majesty's government, your lordship is instructed to leave Washington, with all the members of your legation, bringing with you the archives of the legation, and to repair immediately to London.
"If, however, you should be of opinion that the requirements of her majesty's government are substantially complied with, you may report the fact to her majesty's government, and remain at your post until you receive farther orders."
CHAP. LXII.] VIEWS OF THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT.
The French government interposed its offices, its Minister for Foreign Affairs writing (December the French govern- 10th) to the French minister at Washington, informing him that "the arrest had produced in France, if not the same emotion as in England, at least extreme astonishment and sensation. Public sentiment was at once engrossed with the unlawfulness and consequences of such an act." He says "the desire to contribute to prevent a conflict, perhaps imminent, between two powers for which the French government is animated by sentiments equally friendly, and the duty of upholding certain principles essential to the security of neutrals, and of placing the rights of its own flag under shelter from any attack, have, after mature reflection, convinced it that it could not, under the circumstances, remain entirely silent."
He concludes: "There remains, therefore, to invoke, in explanation of their capture, only the pretext that they were the bearers of official dispatches from the enemy; but this is the moment to recall a circumstance which governs all this affair, and which renders the conduct of the American cruiser unjustifiable.
"The Trent was not destined to a point belonging to one of the belligerents. She was carrying to a neutral country her cargo and her and her passengers; and, moreover, it was from a neutral port that they were taken.
"The cabinet at Washington could not, without striking a blow at the principles which all neutral nations are alike interested in holding in respect, nor without taking the attitude of contradiction of its own course up to this time, give its approbation to the proceedings of the commander of the San Jacinto. In this state of things, it evidently should not, according to our views, hesitate about the determination to be taken."
The Austrian and Prussian governments, in like man
INSTRUCTIONS TO MR. ADAMS.
ner, presented their views, which were to the same ef fect.
In England, those journalists who had been occupied during the summer in creating an anti-AmerCaptain Wilkes in ican sentiment, exerted themselves to produce as much s much exasperation as possible. They took it for granted that Captain Wilkes had acted by or der of his government, and yet assailed him intemperately. "He is, unfortunately, but too faithful a type of the people in whose foul mission he is engaged. He is an ideal Yankee. Swagger and ferocity built up on a foundation of vulgarity and cowardice-these are his characteristics; and these are the two most prominent marks by which his countrymen, generally speaking, are known all over the world. To bully the weak, to triumph over the helpless, to trample on every law of country and custom, willfully to violate all the most sacred interests of human nature, to defy as long as danger does not appear, and, as soon as real peril shows itself, to sneak aside and run away--these are the virtues of the race which presumes to offer itself as the leader of civilization and the prophet of human progress in these latter days. By Captain Wilkes let the Yankee breed be judged."
Mr. Seward's in
On the same day that Earl Russell was writing in London to Lord Lyons, Mr. Seward was writing structions to Mr. in Washington to Mr. Adams, drawing his attention to the fact that Captain Wilkes had not acted under instructions from his government, and desiring him to read the dispatch to Lord Palmerston and Earl Russell. It is to be regretted that, considering the state of feeling, these facts were not promptly made known in England.
The American government had no easy task to perform in doing its duty. If there was bitterness of feeling in England, there was no less bitterness of feeling in
America. Captain Wilkes's act had met
the transaction in with popular approval-nay, more, the Secretary of the Navy had commended it; and in the House of Representatives a motion had been made tendering the thanks of Congress to Captain Wilkes for his arrest of the traitors Slidell and Mason." In the communications which ensued, Mr. Seward, in a letter to Mr. Adams, reviewed the whole subject, reiterating that no orders had been given to any one for the arrest of the four persons named, that Captain Wilkes had acted in conformity with the law in relation to neutrals as expounded by English authority, but that he had not exercised the right of capture in the manner allowed and recognized by the law of nations, since it was not his busi ness, but that of a court of admiralty, to decide on the validity of his prize. It was for him to have carried the Trent into port. But," wrote Mr. Seward, "if I decide this case in favor of my own government, I must disallow its most cherished principles, and reverse and forever abandon its essential policy. Our country can not afford that sacrifice. If I maintain these principles and adhere to that policy, I must surrender the case itself. It will be seen, therefore, that this government can not deny the justice of the claims presented to us in this respect upon its merits. We are asked to do to the British nation what we have always insisted all nations ought to do unto us." He therefore declared that the British deThe American gov-mand would be acceded to, and the four per
sons cheerfully liberated.
RESTORATION OF THE CAPTIVES.
The Confederate authorities had expected that the Trent question would lead to war between the United States and England. Their disappointment at its ending in the manner it did was very great. After this time all hopes of European aid in their affairs were abandoned. The two agents
Disappointment in the South at this decision.
LORD LYONS ON THE STATE OF AFFAIRS. [SECT. XIII.
who had thus been delivered up were personally unpopular in England. It was affirmed that they had been in the habit of reviling Great Britain. They were declared to be "most worthless booty," and that "England would have done just as much for two negroes."
During the Civil War the views taken by the French and English governments, and the attitude they assumed, depended on a misconception of the state of affairs in America. They did not understand the patriotic determination of the people, which rose far above all party ties. Lord Lyons, the English minister at Washington, though never wanting in a courteous relation to the government to which he was accredited, was not, as those who were intimately acquainted with passing events perceived with regret, a friend of the republic. But if he misconceived the patriotism of the American people, he was not without some justification. They can not peruse his correspondence with his government without pain.
In a letter to Earl Russell (November 17th, 1862) he describes the position and intentions of the Democratic leaders. He says that several of them had sought interviews with him in relation to foreign mediation. They were exulting in their recent successes in the elections, hoping that the His communica- government would be constrained to desist tions with certain from the extraordinary powers it had assumed, and that the President would increase their party element in his cabinet, and endeavor to effect a reconciliation with the people of the South, and renounce the idea of subjugation or extermination.
He adds that McClellan had been regarded as the representative of their principles in the army, and when intelligence arrived that he had been dismissed from com
Mistaken views of
Lord Lyons on American parties.