Page images

dence, for the decision of the Tribunal of Arbitration, and could not be a question affecting the integrity or force of the Treaty.

No expression or even intimation of the question of “ direct or indirect” appears on the face of the Treaty.

And, in the long diplomatic correspondence which ensued on this subject, it was conclusively demonstrated by Mr. Fish, and was, in effect, admitted by Lord Granville, that no agreement, promise, or under.. standing existed on the part of the Commissioners to: qualify the clear and explicit language of the Treaty:

CAUSE OF THIS AGITATION. Hence we might well infer or believe that the superficial or apparent question, which so agitated people of high intelligence and practical sense like the English, was not the real or true one. It was not. And, in order to understand the causes of the storm of discussion which broke over England when the tenor of the American Case came to be fully apprehended there, and of the real consternation which seemed to prevail on the subject, it is necessary to take into consideration certain facts wholly independ. ent of the American Case and the Treaty.

On occasion of the rejection by the United States of the Johnson-Clarendon Treaty, with Mr. Sumner's speech as a commentary on that act, England came distinctly to comprehend, what she had been frequently told before but would not believe, that the United States attributed the prolongation of our Civ. il War largely to her premature recognition of the

belligerence of the Confederates, and to the consequent facility of the latter to obtain supplies; and also, though less so, yet in an appreciable degree, to the naval warfare which the Confederates carried on against us from the basis of operations of the ports of Great Britain.

Careful perusal of the instructions to Mr. Motley would have shown that the President of the United States, while persisting to claim reparation for all injuries done by Confederate cruisers, whether to individuals or to the nation, did not insist on the recog. nition of belligerence as a continuing subject of claim of Great Britain.

Conscious of this distinction, while the American Commissioners would not relinquish claim on account of any thing done by Confederate cruisers, the British Commissioners were content with stipulations of indemnity, which covered all national claims of the last category, but did not reach back to claims on account of the unreasonableness and prematurity of the proclamation of the Queen.

That is what is meant by Mr. Bernard in his lecture at Oxford, where he speaks of the specific character of the stipulations: they were specific, confined to acts of the Confederate cruisers. And the point is clearly evolved in the debate in the House of Lords on occasion of the presentation of the Treaty, when Lord Russell objected that it was no better for Great Britain than the Johnson-Clarendon Treaty, and Lord Granville replied that it was better, because, while it includes claims on account of acts of cruisers, it does

not include claims on account of the Queen's proclama." tion recognizing the belligerence of the Confederates.

Nevertheless, when, in England, the argument of the American Case had been read and pondered when it was perceived that this argument imputed to Great Britain constructive complicity with the Confederates by reason of the culpable negligence of the British Government to arrest the enterprises of such vessels as the Alabama, the Florida, and the Shenandoah,—and, finally, when it was thus understood that, in preferring claim for all the loss or injury growing out of the acts of those cruisers, whether to the Gov. ernment or to private citizens, the United States did, in express terms as well as in legal intendment, hold the British Government responsible for prolongation of our Civil War and the cost of its prosecution,when all these relations of the subject came to be understood, the public mind in England, and especially the commercial mind, recurred at once to the event which constituted at the time the dominant pre-occupation of Europe, namely, the war indemnity of six milliards so recently imposed by Germany on France.

In view of this, a panic terror seemed to seize upon London, similar to what occasionally occurs in New York and other great money centres, producing a state of demonstrative emotion, which, to calm observers outside of such centres, looks like the spasmodic agitation of men who have lost their senses, rather than intelligent human action. Such, indeed, is all panic terror, as exemplified by numerous historical incidents of the contagious influence, both in

[ocr errors]

peace and war, of the most trivial causes and the most absurd illusions.

On the present occasion, London appears to have been shaken and tossed by the intense fear of Great Britain being in turn called upon to pay some indefi- : nite milliards of war indemnity to the United States.

DISCUSSION BETWEEN THE TWO GOVERNMENTS. The British Government was very slow to take this infection of popular fear and commotion. The American Case was duly filed on the 15th of December. Many copies of it were in the hands of the British Ministers in a few days thereafter. We do not hear of any particular disturbance of mind on the part of the Ministers until the beginning of Feb. ruary, that is, the lapse of six or seven weeks, when the American Minister, General Schenck, telegraphed to Mr. Fish as follows: “London journals all demand that the United States shall withdraw claims for in. direct damages, as not within intention of treaty. Ministry alarmed.To which Mr. Fish responded by telegraph as. follows: “There must be no withdrawal of any part of the claim presented. Counsel will argue the case as prepared, unless they show to this Government reasons for a change. The alarm you speak of does not reach us. We are perfectly calm and content to await the award, and do not an. ticipate repudiation of the Treaty by the other side." And in these two telegrams we have the history of the whole interval of time prior to the next meeting of the Tribunal. Newspapers in England lashed themselves into a “fine frenzy.” Ministers and the Parliament, instead of manfully taking a stand at the outset in opposition to the popular current of delusion and passion, got alarmed and lost their heads, and said and did some things not creditable to the British Government. In the United States, on the other hand, sundry persons were officiously over-zeal. ous on the wrong side; the newspaper press was a little flustered; and some things were written and published which it would have been better not to write and publish; but the public mind maintained its equilibrium, content, on the whole, to await the progress of the arbitration : while the President, the Secretary of State, with his colleagues of the Cabinet, and the Congress, remained “perfectly calm,” standing always on the stipulations of the Treaty, and never believing it would be broken or disregarded by Great Britain.

In my opinion, the contrast at this time between the attitude of the British Government and that of the American Government deserves a few words of commentary.

It is not uncommon in England to suppose and to say that demagogy, that is, factious appeal to popular prejudice and passion, is a conspicuous feature of political action in the United States. It seems to be supposed also that demagogy here pleases itself especially with accusations of Great Britain. Mean. while, it is complacently assumed that self-possession and stability, with unexceptional amiability toward the United States, characterize political action in

« PreviousContinue »