War a Fixed fact ?
--Speculation is very active as to what is to be the final upshot of the Trent
There can be little doubt that the British Government
has made a demand upon Seward
which he cannot and dare not comply with.
If the announcement of the London Observer,
a ministerial organ, be true, the demand of the British
ministry is extreme and peremptory.
It is, that immediate restitution of the captured Ambassadors be made, and an apology offered for the outrage.
No time is allowed for explanation, or none for excuse.
The persons of the prisoners are to be put again under the protection of the British
flag, accompanied by proper ceremonials and apology, or Lord Lyone is to demand his passports.
If half of this be true, compliance is impossible.
The Yankee Government have adopted the act of Wilkes
Their House of Representatives have passed a resolution of approbation and thanks.
Their Secretary of Navy
has not only approved the conduct of his officer, but expressed a regret that the vessel had not been captured and brought into port as a prize.
Their Secretary of State
has written a letter of commendation to Wilkes
; and their President
has alluded, approvingly, to the act in his annual Message.
Their Government has received the captured persons as prisoners, and placed them in close confinement.
And lastly, the whole expression of popular sentiment at the North
, through their press, and all other organs of utterance, has been in approval, in hearty and cordial commendation of the boarding and the seizure.
On the other hand, the British Government
cannot think of putting up with the outrage.
The ingenious sophistry and false analogies of the lawyers cannot explain away an insult.
Here was an insult of the most offensive character.
A British mail steamer, sailing between neutral ports, carrying passengers, amongst them refugees, as guests of the British
flag, is rudely stopped by cannon shot in her career, boarded by force, and four of her passengers taken from her. From time immemorial have England
and English vessels been a refuge for the exiled of all lands.-- Never has Great Britain
permitted the right of asylum she has thus vouchsafed to be questioned or impaired.
In all her treaties for the delivery of persons charged with crimes, she has jealously excluded those charged with political offences from the lists subject to arrest and delivery.
Treason, rebellion, sedition are not crimes such as subject men once under the protection of her laws to apprehension and surrender.
To expect her to submit to the violent capture of such persons on her decks or on her soil, is to expect her to abandon the policy of centuries, and at the same time to submit to an indignity which she never yet failed to meet with the most summary action.
Neither party to this quarrel, therefore, can back down.
It is an ugly quarrel and most angry complication.
No other mode of adjustment has been suggested, because none could be imagined, but a reference of the matter of dispute to the arbitration of the French Emperor
Such a reference might be readily acceded to by the Yankee Government
; but how can Great Britain
afford to refer an insult ?
There is where the shoe pinches.
It is not a question for the lawyers.
Nor is it a question for arbitration.
It is not a question of mere right or wrong.
But it is a question of honor and high spirit.
Will that haughty and proud English gentleman, John Bull
, allow a snivelling Yankee to slap him in the face, and consent to refer the case to arbitration.
There are suits at law which admit of no settlement but judicial contest to the bitter end. The case at bar is one which does not belong to the class admitting of arbitration.
A flagrant insult has been inflicted; and will John Bull
consent to refer it to any third person whatever to exact reparation?
It is not a matter for lawyers or for arbitration; it is a case of pistols and coffee for two.
If Jonathan insults John, the latter being a gentleman, it is only John who can exact the reparation demanded by the code of honor.
Fifty clowns may cudgel Jonathan, and scores of lawyers propose articles of adjustment; but John's honor still remains unsatisfied.
Nothing but a meeting or a direct and complete apology will meet the case.
Such is the nature of this quarrel.
It must come to gunpowder, saltpetre has risen.