The copious extracts from American newspapers which I have the honor to inclose* will make your lordship acquainted with such particulars concerning this unfortunate affair as have transpired here. They will also convey to you a tolerably correct idea of the impression which it has made upon the American public. The evidence of the English witnesses on board the Trent will probably reach London about the same time as the present dispatch. Without a knowledge of that evidence it is impossible for me to from any correct of the character of the transaction. I have accordingly deemed it right to maintain the most complete reserve on the subject. To conceal the distress which I feel would be impossible nor would it if possible be desirable; but I have expressed no opinion on the questions of international law involved; I have hazarded no conjecture as to the course which will be taken by Her Majesty's Government. On the one hand I dare not run the risk of compromising the honor and inviolability of the British flag by asking for a measure of reparation which may prove to be inadequate. On the other hand I am scarcely less unwilling to incur the danger of rendering a satisfactory settlement of the question more difficult by making a demand which may turn out to be unnecessarily great.
In the present imperfect state of my information I feel that the only proper and prudent course is to wait for the others which your lordship will give with a coplete knowledge of the whole case. I am unwilling moreover to deprive any explanation or reparation which the United States Government may think in right to offer of the grace of being made spontaneously. I know too that a demand from me would very much increase the main difficulty which the Government would feel in vielding to any disposition which they may have to make amends to Great Britain. The Ameri more easily tolerate a spontaneous offer of reparation made by its Government from a sense of justice than a compliance with a demand for satisfaction from a foreign minister. +
* * * * *
I have, &c.,
U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO,
Newport, R. I., November 20, 1861.
Honorable GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.
SIR: I intended to send you the inclosed dispatch from New York; but on my arrival in the Narrows I was boarded by a steam-tug with Marshal Murray and his deputy on board. As soon as they came on board and handed me your and Mr. Seward's dispatch I headed the ship for Boston.
* Not found.
+ Some of the correspondence between the British authorities relating to Mason and Slidell's case herein arranged in its chronological order with the American reports, orders, correspondence, &c., on the same subject, is copied from an official British document. "North America, Numbers 5. " covering "Correspondence respecting the seizure of Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Macfarland and Eustis from on board the royal mail-packet Trent by the commander of the U. S. ship of war San Jacinto; presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty, 1862. " It was transmitted to the Department of State by Honorable Charles Francis Adams. See Adams to Seward, January 17, 1862, discussing some of this correspondence. Copies of the same document are also found on file in the Confederate archives, having been transmitted by the Confederate representatives in London to the authorities in Richmond. - COMPILER.