The late debate in the British Parliament.
a charge on the Yankee
race by Mr. Roeback
--they are Uncivilized, and unfit to Receive International Court sales.
In the House of Commons, on the — thault., Mr. Roebuck
said he wished to ask a question of great importance.
[Hear, hear] He alluded to the proceedings of an Admiral in the United States
service, with respect to an English merchant ship going from an English port to a neutral port.
[Hear, hear,] He wished to preface his question with one or two observations.
rose, amid some confusion, to put it to the speaker, whether the honorable and learned member was not infringing the rules of the House
[Cries of "good" addressed to Mr. Roebuck
, followed this interruption.]
Lord Palmerston interposed. He said, "May I be just allowed to answer my honorable and learned friend's question?" [Loud laughter.]
I know the noble Lord
is an older man than I am; but still, older as he is, he will not take me in that way. [A laugh.] I wish to make a few observations before I put the question to the noble Lord
The question relates to the conduct of Admiral Wilkes
Sir, when the American
war broke out I may say the large majority of the English
people felt a shock of opinion in regard to the quarrel between the various States of America
[Hear, hear.] I may say for myself that shock was of a very strong character, for all my early notions were that in America
a great experiment was being made in government.
I thought they had entered on that experiment in a way that mankind had never done before, and that fortune would prevail in their favor, for they were worthy of governing themselves.
When the news came, and that great experiment was at an end — for it is at an end [hear, hear,]--my heart failed me, for then I was compelled to acknowledge that men, under the most favorable circumstances, had proved themselves unworthy of governing themselves.
That was my feeling at that time, and my feeling was in favor of the North
Time went on, and their whole conduct was such as proved them not only unfit for the government of themselves, but unfit for the courtesies and the community of the civilized world.
[Oh! oh! and cheers] Oh!
yes, sir, I know there are degenerate Englishmen [cheers] who take the part of the North
against their own country, [cheers] and whenever matters come into collision between America
, their voice is raised on the side of America
.--[Cheers and oh!
oh!] I can perfectly understand — I am very glad to find that what I say touches the honorable gentleman opposite.
It appears that the question of which I have given notice creates a great sensation among them.
[Hear, hear.] Well, sir, the conduct of the North American
has been such as is humiliating to the people of England
[Cheers.] The noble lord has shown himself hitherto a friend of the honor, the dignity and the prosperity of England
.--He never showed that more than in his conduct as the head of the Administration in the circumstances connected with the Trent
.--[Cheers.] We have been subject to every species of violent language; [cheers;] not of insinuation, but of accusation.
We were threatened with war, and King Cotton was to crush us; he has tried his power, and King Cotton has failed.
We resented an act, insolent and overbearing; we called them to account, and they truckled in their answer.--[Cheers.] Another outrage has taken place, and by the same man who perpetrated the insult offered to our flag in the case of the Trent
A vessel leaves the English
shore; the honorable member for London
, opposite, [Mr. Crawford
,] says he has seen her papers, and they are perfectly harmless.
She was bound to a neutral port; she was seized by an American man of war, taken into an American port, and the expectations of the English
merchant in his honorable trade have been utterly destroyed by the conduct of the American Government
I say that conduct of the American Government
you ought to resent.
[Cheers.] But not only was this done.--There were persons calling themselves English merchants, who applied to the American Minister
for a permit to allow their ships to proceed in safety to its destination.
That permit is granted, and why?
Because that ship carried out arms to the Mexicans to be used against our ally, France.
--[Cheers.] Since then, other men calling themselves English merchants have applied to the same authority for the same permit.
They have been refused because they are Englishmen, and because they are not carrying out arms to aid the Mexicans in the war, though they were trading to the same port.
[Cheers.] The permit, I repeat, was refused, and now I must say that Mr. Adams
, the American Minister
, is the Minister
for commerce in England
[Loud cheers.] Sir, I would put it to the noble Lord
—— the man who has hitherto shown himself alive to the honor and dignity of England
— I would ask him whether the Government
of which he is the head has come to any determination in this matter, and if they have, whether he is able to tell Parliament what that determination is?
Sir, I know the consequences of the action he may take.
It may lead to war, and I, speaking here for the English people, am prepared for war!
[Loud cheers; and "Oh!
oh!"] I know that language will strike the heart of the peace party in this country, but it will also strike the hearts of the insolent people who govern America, and we shall have justice done to the honor and dignity of England
, and the commerce of this country will no longer be subject to the sneering insolence of an upstart race.
[Cheers.] The question I have to ask the noble Lord
is, whether the Government
of which he is the head have formed any determination with regard to the conduct of Admiral Wilkes
; whether they have addressed any remonstrance to the American Government
, and whether he is prepared now to state the course the Government
have determined to pursue?
Lord Palmerston said the House
would at once understand, from what had fallen from his honorable friend, that the matter to which his question referred was of the utmost possible importance.
All he could say was, that it was receiving due consideration from Government; but he was not prepared at present to state at what result.
Her Majesty's Government might arrive.
Mr. G. P. Bentinck
, at some length, called attention to the correspondence in the Times
with respect to the seizure of the Peterhoff
, the conveyance of the mails to Mexico
, and the conduct of the American Minister
in granting permits for the conveyance of arms for the use of the Mexicans against the French
This conduct ought not to be passed over tacitly, but called for a strong expression of opinion from Government.
Mr. R. Crawford
said that at the proper time lie he was prepared to go into the case of the Peterhoff
; but after the speech of the noble Lord
at the head of the Government
, it would be most improper and dangerous, considering the character of the subject, to continue the debate on the present occasion.
He must express his regret for the language of the honorable member from Sheffield
said it was very inconvenient to discuss a question of such importance without having more authentic information than a newspaper correspondence.
He therefore moved an amendment for the production of all the official correspondence relating to the matter.
denounced Mr. Roebuck
deprecated a continuance of the discussion, and hoped that the House
had confidence enough in the Government
to leave the matter in their hands.
With regard to the conveyance of the mails the question had not been fairly represented to the merchants, who had requested that a mail agent should be placed on board vessels carrying mails to Mexico
, or that they should be relieved of the obligation of carrying them lest they should be likely to be seized from having hostile correspondence in the mails, and in compliance the Government
had relieved them of the obligation.
Sir H. Cairns
asked if it was to be understood that vessels carrying mails to a neutral port were regarded as liable to seizure on account of the correspondence in the mails?
If that principle was to be laid down the mail packet between Dever
was liable to be seized by an American cruiser.
, in common with all English men, was humiliated at the unaccountable timidity of Government in not making the rights of English merchants respecting, and in protecting English vessels in, their legitimate trade.
The mail question.
In the House of Lords, on the 24th, Lord Ridesdale referred to Mr. Seward
's instructions to the naval officers of the United States
cruisers, directing that the mails should not be opened when seized on board any ship, but should be either given up to the Consul
of the nation to which the vessel belonged or sent to the United States Government, but that any correspondence found in them would be referred to a prize court to be used in deciding the condemnation of a vessel.
This seemed to him to indicate that the United States Government either claimed the right of opening and using the mails, or expected that the English Consul
should do so, and hand over to them any correspondence which they suspected.
He wished to know if it was with these instructions the noble Earl
had expressed himself satisfied.
Earl Russell, who was all but inaudible, was understood to say that this order had been modified, but that the practice was in a great degree sanctioned by the decision of Lord Stowell.
said that nothing could be more monstrous than this claim on the part of the American Government
; what was still more astonishing was that her Majesty's Government should in any way acquiesce in it.
of Claricarde hoped the Government
would take the matter into their serious consideration.
Lord Chelmsford asked if there was any truth in the report that four more British vessels had been seized, as stated in the evening papers.
Earl Russell said that Government had received information that vessels had been seized in the act of breaking the blockade.
He wished to explain that, in answer to Lord Lyons, Mr. Seward
had written a letter to Mr. Wells
modifying the instructions issued by the latter to the officers of the Federal
navy, and it was to this letter he referred.
He would, however, consult the law officers of the crown.
said that the vacillation shown by the Government
would, as a matter of course, be attributed to fear.
He hoped that the Secretary of State
would rise in his place and say that the pretensions of the Federal Government
Lord Taunton could not agree in any censure on the Government
, which, as long as it pursued the same dignified and prudent course, would, whatever was the result, be supported by all classes.
In reply to Earl Maimesbury, Earl Russell said that he would endeavor to lay on the table the opinion of the law officers of the crown on Monday.
In the House of Commons, on the 24th, Lord A. Churchill
asked whether merchant ships in the prosecution of a voyage between neutral ports would be legally justified in defending themselves by the use of arms from capture by the cruisers of the Federal States
said that merchant ships under the circumstances mentioned would certainly not be justified in defending themselves from capture by the use of arms.
If any such attempt were made on the part of merchant ships it would expose them not only to capture, but to just condemnation.