James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
detained. The Solicitor-General has been consulted, and concurs in the measure as one of policy, though not of strict law. We shall thus test the law and, if we have to pay damages, we have satisfied the opinion which prevails here as well as in America, that that kind of neutral hostility should not be allowed to go on without some attempt to stop it. If you do not approve, pray appoint a Cabinet for Tuesday or Wednesday next [the 8th or 9th]. Palmerston did not dissent and therefore called no meeting of the Cabinet. But Russell was not content to bide the slow course of the post or the approval of the Prime Minister, and on the same day [September 3] telegraphed to Layard to give direction to stop the iron-clads as soon as there is reason to believe that they are actually about to put to sea and to detain them until further orders. On September 4, he sent word to Adams that the matter is under the serious and anxious consideration of Her Majestys Government; but this Adams did not receive until after he had despatched his note, saying, It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war. On September 5 Russell ordered that the vessels be prevented from leaving Liverpool on a trial trip or on any other pretext until satisfactory evidence can be given as to their destination, and on the same day he sent a confidential note to the chargé daffaires in Washington requesting that Secretary Seward be apprised that they had been stopped from leaving port; but for some unexplained reason he did not advise Adams of this action until three days later.
At the same time the Foreign Office made a systematic and careful investigation, demonstrating, to a moral certainty, that the French ownership was a blind, and that the iron-clad rams were intended for the Confederates. On October 8, by order of Earl Russell, the vessel the more