Judging from present appearances just what was required of us by foreign nations with unreasonable impatience is now in good time being accomplished. Federal forces, strong, wel appointed and superior in numbers, with all needful material and means for effective action, confront the insurrection on every side. Its resources and strength are inadequate to resist the pressure, and it is expected son to give way. * * *
We hear continually of purposes entertained by portions of the British people to induce their Government to lend itself to the aid of the insrrection. Our arguments against such an injurious proceeding have been already made known. We have moreover put ourselves upon the practice of justice and liberality toward the British nation and people in all our intercourse with them.
I do not know therefore that we can do more than wait for the threatened development and meet it as we best can, if it must come. Happily every day that passes finds us a people more united and determined in maintaining and preserving the integrity of the Republic.
I am, sir, your obedient servant.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] January 23, 1862.
[LORD LYONS, Washington.]
MY LORD: I mentioned in my dispatch of the 10th instant* that Her Majesty's Government differed from Mr. Seward insome of the conlusions at which he had arrived, and that I should state to you on a future occasions at which he had arrived, and that I should stake to you on a future occasion wherein these differeI now proceed to do so. It is necessary to observe that I propose to discuss the questions involved in this correspondence solely on the principles of international law.
Mr. Seward himself speaking of the capture of the four gentlemen taken from on board the Trent says; " The question before us is whether this proceeding was authorized by and conducted according to the law of nations. " This is in fact the nature of the question which has been but happily is not longer at issue. It concerned the respective rights of belligerents and of neutrals. We must therefore discard entirely from our minds the allegation that the captured persons were rebels and we must consider them only as enemies of the United States at war with its Government, for that is the ground on which Mr. Seward ultimately places the discussion. It is the only ground upon which foreign governments can treat it.
The first inquiry that arises therefore is as Mr. Seward states it, "Were the persons named and their supposed dispatches contraband of war?" Upon this question Her Majesty's Government differ entirely from Mr. Seward. The General right and duty of a neutral power to maintain its own communications and friendly relations with both beligerents cannot be disputed.
A neutral nation [says Vattel] continues with the two parties at war in the several relations nature has placed between nations. It is ready to perform toward both of them all the duties of humanity reciprocally due from nation to nation.
In the performance of these duties on both sides the neutral nation has itself a most direct and material interest; especially when it has numerous citizens resident in the territories of both belligerents; and when its citizens resident both there and at home have property of
* See Russell to Lyons, p. 1170.
75 R R-SERIES II, VOL II