War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 1078 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, November 8, 1861.

Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State:

* * * Steamer Nashville escaped from Charleston. Was coaling at Bermuda on 3rd to leave for Liverpool on 5th. Slidell and Mason not on board. Supposed they left Saint Thomas for Southampton on 30th ultimo in English steamer.




London, November 15, 1861.

Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: * * * On Tuesday morning the 12th I received an informal pote from Lord Palmerston inviting me if convenient to call and see him at his own house between 1 and 2 o'clock of that day. I accepted and went. He received me in his library all alone and at once opened on the subject then evidently weighing on his mind. He said that information had come to him of the late arrival of a U. S. vessel of war, the James Adger. She had put into one or two places and finally stopped at Southampton where she had taken in coals and other supplies. But the day before his lordship had understood the captain had got very drunk on brandy after which he had dropped down to the mounth of the river as if about to sail on a cruise. The impression was that he had been directed to keep on the watch for the steamer expected to arrive on Thusday from the West Indies in order to take out of it by force the gentlemen from the Southern States, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, who were presumed to be aboard. Now he was not going into the question of our right to do such an act. Perhaps we might be justified in it as the steamer was not strictly a public vessel or perhaps we might not. He would set the argument aside for those whose province it was to discuss it. All he desired to observe was that such a step would he highly inexpedient in every way he could view it. It would be regarded here very unpleasantly if the captain after enjoying the hospitality of this county, filling his ship with coals and with other supplies and filling his own stomach with brandy (and here he laughed in his characteristic way) should within sight of the shore commit an act which would be left as offensive to the national flag. Neither could he see what was the compensating advantage to be gained by it. It surely could not be supposed that the addition of one or two more to the number of persons been some time in London on the same errand would be likely to produce any change in the policy already adopted. He did not believe that the Government would vary its action on their account be they few or many. He could not therefore conceive of the necessity for resorting to such a measure as this which in the present state of opinion in England could scarcely fail to occasion more prejudice than it would do good.

His lordship was about to proceed to another matter when I begged leave to interrupt him for the purpose of disposing of this case first. It is almost needless to point out how completely he had taken for granted from the outset that the intented to the Government in sending over the Adger was the true one. He did not even ask me whether he was correct in presuming it and directed all his reasoning