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 The officers detailed to go in the boats with Lieutenant Fairfax received their instructions, and Captain Wilkes walked forward to the mainmast, and gave the order “Beat to quarters.” It was fifteen minutes after one o'clock when the boats were called away, Mr. Fairfax in the second cutter, and Lieutenant Greer commanding the third cutter. Before the boats were shoved off, the Trent had steamed well up toward the “San Jacinto,” and was in mid-channel, when the gun on the topgallant forecastle, loaded with a round-shot, was fired in a line across the bows. Immediately the red cross of St. George went fluttering to her peak, but she kept on her course. “Put a shell in that gun,” called out Captain Wilkes, “and let it go across her bows, so she may not mistake our intention this time.” The shell exploded about one hundred fathoms ahead of the steamer, and immediately her engines stopped, and she rounded — to within two hundred feet of the man-of-war, and under the muzzles of our broadside, that would have sunk her at the word “Fire!” There was much confusion on the mail steamer, and the passengers could be seen running about the decks in the greatest state of excitement. As our men were going into their boats, Captain Moir, of the Trent, hailed us. “What do you mean,” shouted he, “by stopping my ship? and why do you do it with shotted guns, contrary to usage?” Lieutenant Breese sang out, in reply: “We are going to send a boat on board of you. Lay-to.” At this instant the order to shove off was given to our boats, and the second and third cutters went dancing over the blue waves toward the Trent. Lieutenant Greer pulled up to the port gangway, and Mr. Fairfax went to the starboard side, and boarded the ship alone. The first officer met him as he came up the side, and asked what he wanted. “Are you the master of this ship, sir?” “No, sir; first officer.” “I would like to see the captain;” and Captain Moir, at this instant, walked out of his cabin, and coming forward said, in angry tones: “How dare you come on board of my ship? What right have you here? This is an outrage the flag there (pointing to the red cross aloft) will make you pay for.” Lieutenant Fairfax bowed, and said: “I have instructions to effect the arrest of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, and their secretaries, Messrs. Eustis and McFarland. I have information that they are on board, and I would like to see your passenger list.” “For a damned impertinent, outrageous puppy, give me, or don't give me, a Yankee. You go back to your ship, young man, and tell her skipper that you couldn't accomplish your mission,  because we wouldn't let ye. I deny your right of search. D'ye understand that?” “ I am sorry,” quietly returned the officer, “to say I shall use force to carry out my orders, and, thanking you, sir, for your advice, I decline to return to the ship in any such a way as you propose.” The passengers, some forty or fifty in number, had gathered aft around the officer, and the crew also stood about. As Captain Moir made his assertion regarding the right of search the passengers applauded, and a young lady, whom I afterward learned was Miss Slidell, sprang on to a companion-way skylight, and said: “Quite right, captain; very right!” Lieutenant Fairfax then came to the side of the ship to summon the boat crews, but the tones of the discussion had been highly pitched, and his call had a response before he made it. The blue jackets, twenty in number, and the marines, of whom there were ten, the former with cutlasses and pistols, and the marines with muskets and bayonets, sprung aft at once. A detachment was ordered to the lower deck, and the rest of the men formed in a line across the main deck, cutting off communication from abaft the mainmast to the forecastle. During this movement there appeared on the deck an officer, with a parrot-like voice, wearing the uniform of the Royal navy. Strutting up to Lieutenant Fairfax, he said: “I am the Queen's representative, sir, and I protest against this unwarrantable action under Her Majesty's flag, and on the deck of a British ship.” The lieutenant paid no attention to this speech, delivered with great pomposity of manner, but turned to Captain Moir, and said: “You see I have force enough to carry out my orders;” and at this juncture Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason came out of the cabin and stood in the crowd. Amid cries of “Piracy!” “Did you ever hear of such an outrage?” “They would not have dared to do it had there been an English man-of-war in sight!” Mr. Slidell stepped forward, and said: “Do you wish to see me?” and Mason, just beside him, echoed “to see me?” Mr. Fairfax vainly tried to induce them to accompany him to the “San Jacinto,” and as they positively refused to go, he said: “Gentlemen, you may as well prepare to go at once, peaceably if you want to, but by force if necessary, for in twenty minutes you shall be on board that ship.” The excitement was intense, and cries of “Shame!” from the passengers, in shrill crescendo, mingled with the stern tones of the boarding officers, as they ordered the men on guard at different points of the ship. In three minutes, Mason and Slidell, having the while stood hesitating before the cabin, turned and walked into their state-rooms. Mr.  Fairfax followed, and here he encountered an obstacle in the person of Miss Slidell who, filling the doorway, said: “Mr. Fairfax, I met you as a gentleman in Havana on Thursday. You outrage our hospitality by this proceeding, and I swear to heaven you shall not go into this cabin to my father.” At this there was more excitement, and the passengers clustered in little groups, and spoke in loud tones. From where I stood I saw Mrs. Slidell approach the door and beg Mr. Fairfax to go away. He replied: “Madam, my orders are imperative. I shall obey them;” and just then Mr. Slidell began a most ungraceful movement out of the window of his cabin, which opened into a small gangway. It was evident that Mr. Slidell was scared, perhaps excited is a better word, for his fingers twitched nervously, and for a minute or two he was unable to speak. Then Mr. Mason came out of his cabin, and Lieutenant Fairfax asked him if he was ready to go on board the “San Jacinto.” Mason was cooler and more collected than his confrere, and replied with moderation in his tone: ] “No, sir; I decline to go with you.” Fairfax, turning to his own officers, said: “Gentlemen, lay your hands on Mr. Mason,” which we accordingly did. Mr. Mason then said: “I yield to force.” Whereupon Commander Williams shouted: “Under protest, Mr. Mason, under protest.” “Yes,” said Mr. Mason, in the. same tone as before, “precisely, under protest,” and then walked down the companion ladder to the boat. Meanwhile, Mr. Slidell had recovered his equanimity to an extent which enabled him to say: “I will never go on board that ship.” Mr. Fairfax took him by the collar, Engineer Houston and Boatswain Grace taking each one of his arms, marched him to the gangway; Miss Slidell in the meantime being in the enjoyment of an aggravated attack of hysterics. Other lady passengers were similarly occupied, while the gentlemen on board the ship had retreated in sullen silence to the taffrail, where they scowled defiance at the boarding party. There is no doubt in my mind that, had the Trent been an armed ship, she would have manifested a resistance of no small energy. The spirit prevailing on her decks may, without any stretch of truth, be called warlike. Captain Williams, Royal navy, who was in charge of the Central American and Mexican mails, now came out of his cabin, and passing to Mr. Charles B. Dahlgren, master's mate, handed him an unfolded paper, which Mr. Dahlgren declined to receive. Lieutenant Fairfax was on the lower deck, and Captain Williams, finding no officer who would accept the note, finally shoved it in his pocket; subsequently, it fluttered to the deck, and a marine stationed inside the cabin door secured it, and after  reading handed it to me. I presented it to Captain Wilkes, but after a consultation we agreed that as the letter had no signature, and the manner in which it reached us was unofficial, that we would consider it as never having been written. Among my papers I found this redoubtable letter recently, and the following is an exact copy thereof: In this ship I am the representative of Her Majesty's Government, and I call upon the officers of the ship and passengers generally to mark my words, when, in the name of the British Government, and in distinct language, I denounce this an illegal act; an act in violation of international law; an act, indeed, of wanton piracy, which, had we the means of defense, you would not dare to attempt. Mr. Eustis, one of the secretaries, was more violent than either of the principals, and made a demonstration in the direction of striking Lieutenant Greer with his fist. He passed into the boat sans ceremonie. McFarland had previously taken his seat alongside of Mr. Slidell in the stern-sheets of the boat. Our object having been accomplished, we bade the Trent good-bye, first bringing the personal effects of the prisoners to the “San Jacinto,” and we were soon headed north, our mission in Bahama channel being au fait accompli. We arrived at Port Royal too late to take part in the attack. Having been ordered home, on the 18th of November we steamed into the Narrows, where we were met by a steam tug, on board of which was the United States Marshal, with orders to proceed to Boston and deliver our prisoners at Fort Warren. We did not anchor until the 21st, and the cruise of the “San Jacinto” ended when we deposited the Confederate diplomats in the casements of that prison. On the 3d of December, on the motion of Congressman Odell, Slidell and Mason were ordered into close confinement, in return for the treatment that Colonels Wood and Corcoran had received in Southern prisons. It was some time before the diplomatic correspondence that ensued between England, France, and the Unitel States was made public. The United States agreed to release the prisoners, but declined to apologize to the English flag for an alleged offense where none was intended. Mason and Slidell joined their families in London in January, 1862, and their further actions passes out of the ken of the writer.
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