James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
in accordance with its law and precedents. Four days after the seizure of Mason and Slidell, but fifteen days before the news of it reached England, Adams, on the invitation of Palmerston, had an interview with him in his library [November 12]. The Prime Minister supposed that the Confederate commissioners were then approaching England as passengers in the West Indian packet, and that a United States vessel of war, then at Southampton, was on the watch for her with the intention of taking them from her by force. I am not going into the question of your right to do such an act, Palmerston said. Perhaps you might be justified in it or perhaps you might not. Such a step would be highly inexpedient. It would be regarded here very unpleasantly if the captain should within sight of the shore commit an act which would be felt as offensive to the national flag. Nor can I see the compensating advantage to be gained by it. It surely could not be supposed that the addition of one or two more to the number of persons who had already been some time in London on the same errand would be likely to produce any change in the policy already adopted.1
Palmerstons friendly advice was a mystery to Adams and remained so to American writers until 1908 when the Life of Delane was published. Delane was the editor of the London Times and had a close political friendship with the Prime Minister, who thus wrote to him on the day before the interview with Adams: My dear Delane, It may be useful to you to know that the Chancellor, Dr. Lushington,2 the three law officers, Sir G. Grey,3
Note 1. O. R., II, II, 1078; C. F. A. M. H. S., XLV, 53. I have changed the third person to first. [back]
Note 2. Judge of the High Court of the Admiralty and Dean of the Arches, a famous judge. [back]