WASHINGTON, December 31, 1861.
(Received January 15, 1862.)
[Earl RUSSELL, London.]
MY LORD: After some consultation with Mr. Seward I have fixed noon to-morrow as the time and Povincetown as the place at which Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Macfarland and Mr. Eustin are to be restored to the protection of the British flag. I have accordingly requested Commander Hewett, of Her Majesty's ship Rinaldo, to go at once with that ship to Provincetown to receive the four gentlemen. The United States Government will convey them hither from Fort Warren in an American steam vessel. Mr. Seward assres me that this arrangement is acceptable to the Government of the United States and well calculated to secure the gentlemen themselves from inconvenience and annoyance.
I have the honor to transmit to your lordship a copy of the dispatch which I have written to Commander Hewett. Your lordship will perceive that I have requested him to proceed with his passengers in the first instance to Halifax. This will no doubt be in onformity with their own wishes. I consider that as the four gentlemen lost their passage on board the Trent, in consequence of their not obtaining from the British flag the protection which it ought to have afforded them, we are now bound to facilitate the prosecution of their voyage to Europe if they request us to do so. They will no doubt on their arrival at Halifax confer with the lieutenant-governor respecting their future proceedings.
It may perhaps be desirable after all that has occred that whatever may be the place to which Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell and their companions may desire to proceed they should persue their voyage in a Government vessel; for it would be most unfortunatye if the whose question should be reopened by any attempt to capture a vessel with these gentlemen on board and bring her in for adjudication before an American prize court. I do not believe that the Government of the United States would contenance such a proceeding, but an officer of the U. S. Navy who had not been recently in communication with his superiors might from a misconception of their wishes and of his own duty and deem it right to capture a private vessel on the same grounds on which Captain Wilkes seized the four passengers on board the Trent.
I have, &c.,
WASHINGTON, December 30, 1861.
Her Britannic Majesty's Ship Rinaldo.]
SIR: You are no doubt aware that the Government of the United States has declared that it will cheerfully liberate Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Macfarland and Mr. Eustis, and has requested me to appoint a time and place for receiving those gentlemen. I have agreed with the Secretary of State of the United States that the four gentlemen shall be replaced under the protection of the British flag in the habor of Provincetown, Cape Cod, as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made. I consider it to be of very great importance that every facility should be afforded by Her Majesty's officers for effecting this without delay.
I therefore deem it to be my duty to request you to proceed as soon as possible in Her Majesty's ship under your command to Provinencetown Harbor and there take the four gentlemen on board. They will