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The Session of Parliament

The Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1130, p. 136.

February 8,1862


But, whatever else may betide, it is quite certain that grave questions of international law will arise for discussion. The delicacy of our relations with the contending States of America will render necessary the exercise of all the tact and judgment which the Government have at their command during the ensuing sitting of the Legislature. There is, we believe, little or no concealment of the fact that a section of the House of Commons, composed of men of all parties, will bring the subject of the blockade of the Southern ports, and even the recognition of the Southern Republic, formally before Parliament. It is hardly less surely ascertained that our Ministry has had to resist no ordinary pressure which has been put upon them in reference to these subjects from a quarter which is not generally famous for taking a denial; and it is no small tribute to the skill and temper with which the department of Foreign Affairs is at present conducted in this country that for the present, at least, the strictly neutral policy in American affairs which England has adopted has been triumphant. When, however, a movement which will not bear on the face of it the stamp of mere party motives becomes prominent in the Parliament of Great Britain, it would be too much to expect of human and political nature to suppose that the pressure from abroad will not be renewed with additional vigour of argument, caught from that which will be assumed to be a phase of public opinion in this country. In such a case, only too probable, it will need the binding up of every faculty of endurance and determination on the part of the Government to resist the force, the constraining power, and the influences brought to bear upon their policy towards America.

Above all things, there should be no dalliance with this question, no hesitancy on their part in their declarations as to the course which they intend to pursue. Already the trade and commerce of England has suffered enough by the disturbed condition of the American States; and in this, the beginning of the year, it would be a crime towards those interests if the attitude of the Government was such as to leave a doubt as to what line they propose to take in this important matter. At present our rulers profess and observe that strict neutrality which in embodied in a phrase of Earl Russell when he said that it was the duty of England to allow every nation to settle its own internal affairs.

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