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What will be done?

--It seems quite clear, from all we can see, that, contrary to what was at first believed to be the fact, the British Minister at Washington has presented no demand for the restitution of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, nor, as far as we are able to judge, is it at all certain that any such demand will be presented as long as the present Ministry continue in power. Lord John Russell has too often cringed to Yankee insolence to leave any hope that he, at least, has any care for the honor of the British flag; and the powers at Washington evidently knew with whom they had to deal when they committed Mason and Slidell to a Yankee prison, instead of returning them to a British deck. If we are to believe the London Post, Lord Palmerston's organ, the Emperor of the French has already offered his mediation, and it has been accepted at the very first offer. The same paper tells us that "the matter in dispute is a legal question." And so is a blow in the face, or a tweak of the nose; but, as private individuals, when they refer such offences to the decision of a legal tribunal, are generally content to put their honor in their pockets, so, we presume, the Ministers of the British Queen have determined that, so far as the honor of the Crown is concerned, it must be left to shift for itself. "The Attorney and Solicitor Generals are not infallible; they may be wrong, and it does not become the greatness and majesty of England to involve the world in war on a point of law, respecting which the most profound lawyers differ."--This is stepping down from a high horse with a vengeance. The London Times had just before declared that, before the question could even be touched, the honor of England must be satisfied by the restoration of Messrs. Slidell and Mason to the deck of an English vessel. So far as we are able to judge from the extract published above, it does not appear even that a demand for restoration will be made. At the very moment when the Yankees are preparing to comply with any demand the British Government may make, the British Government puts its honor in the hands of the lawyers, and goes to law for its character, like an alderman whose reputation has been assailed, or a play actor, who brings his action of defamation against the proprietor of a newspaper. Apropos of the umpire chosen on the occasion, the Post goes on to say, "the Emperor of the French having offered himself as a mediator, the obvious inference is that he will not join England in a war with America." And this is precisely the principal cause of Lord Palmerston's present attitude, in face of the insulted flag of his country. He once before attempted to prostitute the honor of the nation, to the desire to please the Emperor of the French, and would have succeeded in doing it, had not the English people forbidden the desecration.

There is, however, in England, a power behind the throne much greater than Lord Palmerston, or than the Queen who sits upon it. That is the British nation — the proudest, and let us add what is but bare justice, the greatest people of whom we have any account. Sensitive to a degree almost reprehensible upon the point of honor, we conceive it to be hardly possible that they will submit to an insult so palpable, so direct, and so out rageous, as that offered by Captain Wilkes to the flag which is their pride and glory — that "meteor flag" which one of their poets proudly and justly tells us has withstood "for a thousand years the battle and the breeze."--There have been, in her history, many instances of attempts on the part of ministers and kings, to degrade that flag; but not one in which the attempt has not been visited with quick and signal retribution. The last was when this very minister attempted to make it the tool of the French Emperor, and what followed, happened so short a time ago, and is so well known, that it needs not repetition here. When they read the significant hint conveyed in the passage just quoted from the Post, that England must not demand redress for an open insult to her flag, because the French Emperor will not join her in the war which may ensue, they will be apt to ask how long it has been since their Queen became the vassal, of Napoleon III. By a majority which defies estimation, they sympathise with the people of this country, and had they been aware of the oppression which the centrality of England worked upon it by cutting it off from all hope of obtaining arms and munitions of war from the English manufactories, while it opened them to our enemies, they would long since have insisted upon the prohibition to export these articles, which the ministry only thought of when they found that England was about to be deprived of the means of self-defence.

It is clear to us, that after all their hesitation, and sacrifice of the national honor, the ministry will be compelled to resign, or to break up the blockade of our ports, before the first of June next. The nation is not afraid of Louis Napoleon, although Lord Palmerston may be. The nation must have the cotton that now lies land-locked in the Confederate States, or it will break out into rebellion. It will not submit to be starved upon a punctilio, and the ministry will find it, when roused, quite as formidable as the French Emperor, whatever they may now think to the contrary. As to supplying the deficiency from India, that is altogether out of the question. The India staple is short, coarse, and so entirely different from the American that it cannot be worked up by the same machinery. The machinery already erected for manufacturing goods from American cotton, cost fifty millions of pounds sterling. Unless American cotton can be procured, it is useless. To work upon India cottton other machinery to the same extent must be substituted, and an English journal tells us that could not be done in a year.--While the grass is growing the steed is starving. What will the three millions of people connected with, and dependent upon, the cotton manufacture be doing in the meantime, while one set of machinery is being pulled down and another put up? We are arguing the point upon the hypothesis that the supply from India should be equal in quantity to the demand. This every man who ever examined the subject knows to be impossible. The State of Georgia alone, a few years since, produced more cotton than was furnished to the manufactories of Great Britain from all other sources than this Confederacy. The question is a very simple one, and the time is coming when it must be faced. Shuffling and equivocation will not do longer than the beginning of next summer. Great Britain must then have our cotton, or undergo a revolution based upon the want of the common necessaries of life. The people must have it, or must starve, or must rise upon the Government. Lord Palmerston knows this as well as anybody; but the Yankees seem to have persuaded him that they will open the ports and send the cotton. Otherwise, we presume, he would have done it long ago, and thus prevented much bloodshed, and a vast deal of ill feeling.

P. S.--The following is the extract from the Post, on which the above remarks are based.

[from the London Post.]

"The chances are against the probability of a war between England and North America. On Tuesday, we stated, on authority that excluded doubt, that in diplomatic circles it was understood that a references would be made to Louis Napoleon, and yesterday the telegram confirmed our statement. The Emperor of the French has already offered his services as media for, and they are pretty sure to be accepted. The matter in dispute is a legal question. Ministers themselves gave it that character when they submitted it to the law advisers of the Crown.--The Attorney and Solicitor Generals are not infallible; they may be wrong, and it does not become the greatness and majesty of England to involve the world in war on a point of law, respecting which the most profound lawyers differ. The Emperor of the French having offered himself as a mediator, the obvious inference is that he will not join England in a war against America. We will not infer that he would become the ally of the Federals."

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