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Imperial Parliament

The Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1132, p. 192.

February 22,1862

IMPERIAL PARLIAMENT.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.—MONDAY.

The Seizure of the Trent.-On the motion for going into Committee of Supply on the Supplemental Estimates (Army and Navy), Mr. Bright, in a speech of some length, adverted to the affair of the Trent. He expressed his approval of the tone adopted by Lord Russell in the despatches which he had addressed to the British Minister at Washington, but entirely dissented from the policy of warlike preparation, the cost of which the country was now required to defray. He defended the American Government from the imputation of being under the influence of a mob, showed how the menaces which had been indulged in had paralysed trade even to its farthest ramifications, and asserted that the real interests of this country and the progress of human freedom were bound up with the cause of the Federal States.—Mr. Baxter, while approving of the preparations made by the Government, urged that the North American colonies, whose wealth and public spirit had been made conspicuous by recent events, should pay the expense of their own military establishments.—Lord Palmerston defended the Government from the imputations of Mr. Bright. The policy which her Majesty's Government had pursued in reference to the affair of the Trent had met with the general approval of the country, because it was obvious that no other course could have been adopted to assert the honour and independence of the country. If the American Government really felt that they were bound by their own principles of international law to give up the Confederate Commissioners, why did they wait for a remonstrance from England, and why had they kept them for several weeks in prison? Her Majesty's Government had no information to lead them to believe that the prisoners who had been taken out of the Trent would have been given up. On the contrary, they were bound to arrive at an opposite conclusion, for Captain Wilks had been converted into a hero, and his act had been applauded at a public banquet, and had been commended by the House of Representatives and the Department of the Admiralty. So far from her Majesty's Government having incurred the censure of the House or the country, he submitted that they would have deserved the displeasure of both if they had simply rested their case upon a demand and had taken no steps to extort redress by the usual means. The Government had done what they conceived to be their duty, and, although they had done no more than their duty, they believed they had given expression to the feelings of the country at a moment of no ordinary difficulty.

HOUSE OF LORDS.—TUESDAY.

Arrest of British Subjects in America.—Lord Carnarvon again introduced the subject of the imprisonment of British subjects in the the United States, with especial reference to the case of Mr. Shaver, for whose incarceration he considered compensation should have been demanded.—Earl Russell in reply, said that Mr. Shaver had made no application to him for compensation. The gist of the case was whether this gentleman had or had not rendered assistance to the Confederates, as alleged by Mr. Seward. The noble Lord, in answer to the objection that the President had been guilty of an unwarrantable stretch of authority, said that the power of suspending the writ of habeas corpus was vested in him.

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