Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1125, p. 3.
January 4, 1862
By the arrival of the Africa we have news from New York to the 10th ult. This steamer was detained for thirty-six hours by Lord Lyons in order to take out dispatches.
The steam-ship Europa arrived at Halifax on the morning of Sunday, Dec. 15, bringing European advices to Dec. 2. A very full summary of the opinions of the English press on the Mason and Slidell case, and the important decision of the British Government, as well as the opinion of the law officers of the Crown, was telegraphed to New York and Washington, where the news was received on Sunday afternoon. No journals were published, however, on Sunday; but the nature of the news gained currency through private circles, and caused intense excitement—the more so as the previous advices per Hansa had led the public to believe that there would be no difficulty with England on this question.
A full telegraphic summary was published in the American journals of Monday, Dec. 16, and the Mason and Slidell case became the absorbing topic of the day. The press and the public generally seem to deprecate war with England, and to cling to a vague idea that the matter would be settled by some diplomatic arrangement. Unanimity at first, however, appeared to prevail among the press and public upon the most important part of the question—namely, the surrender of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, and the universal opinion was that the "national honour" of the country could never permit the surrender of the prisoners under any circumstances whatever.
The following day, Dec. 17, the feeling universally was much calmer and quieter throughout all circles, and the general opinion was that war would certainly not ensue; the idea of giving up Messrs. Mason and Slidell was even discussed, and its probability entertained, the argument being, if the Federal Government was in the wrong in taking these men, there is no disgrace in surrendering them; and if they were right, the question can be discussed or settled by arbitration.
The Europa's mails were delivered in New York Dec. 18, and their contents closely scrutinised. Captain Seymour, Queen's messenger, and Mr. Cooke, messenger from Mr. Adams, arrived in New York on the morning of Dec. 18, and at once left for Washington by special train, where they arrived at midnight.
The tone of the New York morning journals of Dec. 18 was materially changed on the Mason and Slidell question, and a degree of moderation was observable in discussing the subject very different from the articles of the few previous weeks.
On the afternoon of the 18th news from England to Dec. 6 was telegraphed from Portland, and the announcement of the formidable warlike progress being made in Great Britain again created great excitement.
The bankers began to discuss the propriety of suspending cash payments, and held a meeting immediately to come to a decision thereupon. The New York Bank statement of the 16th showed that a large decrease of their stock of specie (to the amount of nearly 3,000,000 dols.) had taken place, although there had been no shipments to Europe. It was perceived that hoarding had commenced; nevertheless, the banks of the three chief cities agreed to continue for the present to meet their obligations in coin if demanded.
In the Stock Market there was a general fall of about three per cent, and in some instances of from five to six per cent. Sterling exchange rose to 111. In the Produce Market saltpetre advanced to 15c. per pound; and at the public sales brimstone, tea, and coffee were withdrawn.
On the 18th Secretary Chase arrived in New York, and was closeted with the bankers all day. What passed at the interview was studiously concealed from the public except that Mr. Chase assured the bankers that the demands of England would not be made an occasion of war by the Cabinet of Washington.
Lord Lyons had not had any interview with the Secretary of State up to the hour of the steamer's leaving; but the American Cabinet had had several protracted sittings, the spirit of which, according to public rumour, tended towards a peaceful settlement. It is observed that the Ambassadors of England, France, and Prussia did not attend the President's levee.
The proceedings of this body have been important, both in a domestic and international point of view. Mr. Lovejoy's motion censuring General Halleck for his order forbidding slaves to enter his camp was defeated in the House by 78 against 64. This is regarded as a triumph of the Administrative and Conservative Republicans over the Emancipationists. In the Senate a motion to inquire into the conduct of the Secretary of State in causing the arrest of persons in the loyal States was defeated by 25 against 17. The bill to grant 1000 dols. to the owners of the British ship Perthshire, for wrongful detention, was passed by the House. Mr. Cox, in introducing the measure, said "that the prompt action of Congress in awarding it is intended as an earnest to Great Britain that this Government will he as earnest to indemnify for a wrong as to defend a right." On the 16th, Mr. Vallandingham [sic] , of Ohio, a pro-slavery Democrat, introduced resolutions calling upon the President to maintain the stand already taken in regard to Captain Wilke's action, and pledging to him the full support of the House in vindicating the courage of the Government and people of the United States against a foreign Power. He moved the previous question, but the resolutions were referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs by a vote of 109 against 16, the mover and his seconders voting in the negative. Nothing has yet been done by either House towards carrying out the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury concerning the emission of a national currency in lieu of the bank-notes now in use.
The Federal armies have made no movement of importance during the week. The popularity of M'Clellan is decidedly on the wane. Ship Island, at the mouth of the Mississippi, has been occupied by the Federals. Neither General Burnside's expedition nor that which has been organised to descend the Mississippi had yet sailed.
A terrible fire had broken out in Charleston, attributed to negro incendiarism. Five hundred and seventy-six building [sic] were consumed, including a majority of the churches and public buildings. The loss is set down at 7,000,000 dollars. The case has been brought before the Confederate Congress by a special message from President Davis, and a sum of 250,000 dollars appropriated to the relief of the sufferers.
In Nashville gold is at a premium of 40, and silver of 35, per cent.
Public opinion in Canada supports the stand taken by the British Government. The Canadian papers brought by the American mail are full of military news. Preparations for war are being made on all hands, and volunteering is being carried on with admirable spirit.