How much of all this do you ever hear from the people who remember the Alabama?
Strictly in accord with Beecher's vivid summary of the true England in our Civil War, are some passages of a letter from Mr. John Bigelow, who was at that time our Consul-General at Paris, and whose impressions, written to our Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, on February 6, 1863, are interesting to compare with what Beecher says in that letter, from which I have already given extracts.
"The anti-slavery meetings in England are having their effect upon the Government already... The Paris correspondent of the London Post also came to my house on Wednesday evening... He says... that there are about a dozen persons who by their position and influence over the organs of public opinion have produced all the bad feeling and treacherous con- duct of England towards America. They are people who, as members of the Government in times past, have been bullied by the U. S.... They are not entirely ignorant that the class who are now trying to overthrow the Government were mainly responsible for the brutality, but they think we as a nation are disposed to bully, and they are disposed to assist in any policy that may dismember and weaken us. These scars of wounded pride, however, have been carefully concealed from the public, who therefore cannot be readily made to see why, when the President has distinctly made the issue between slave labor and free labor, that England should not go with the North. He says these dozen people who rule England hate us cordially... "
There were more than a dozen, a good many more, as we know from Charles and Henry Adams. But read once again the last paragraph of Beecher's letter, and note how it corresponds with what Mr. Bigelow says about the feeling which our Government (for thirty years "in the hands or under the influence of Southern statesmen") had raised against us by its bad manners to European governments. This was the harvest sown by shirt sleeves diplomacy and reaped by Mr. Adams in 1861. Only seven years before, we had gratuitously offended four countries at once. Three of our foreign ministers (two of them from the South) had met at Ostend and later at Aix in the interests of extending slavery, and there, in a joint manifesto, had ordered Spain to sell us Cuba, or we would take Cuba by force. One of the three was our minister to Spain. Spain had received him courteously as the representative of a nation with whom she was at peace. It was like ringing the doorbell of an acquaintance, being shown into the parlor and telling him he must sell you his spoons or you would snatch them. This doesn't incline your neighbor to like you. But, as has been said, Mr. Adams was an American who did know how to behave, and thereby served us well in our hour of need.
We remember the Alabama and our English enemies, we forget Bright, and Cobden, and all our English friends; but Lincoln did not forget them. When a young man, a friend of Bright's, an Englishman, had been caught here in a plot to seize a vessel and make her into another Alabama, John Bright asked mercy for him; and here are Lincoln's words in consequence: "whereas one Rubery was convicted on or about the twelfth day of October, 1863, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of California, of engaging in, and giving aid and comfort to the existing rebellion against the Government of this Country, and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, and to pay a fine of ten thousand dollars;
"And whereas, the said Alfred Rubery is of the immature age of twenty years, and of highly respectable parentage;
"And whereas, the said Alfred Rubery is a subject of Great Britain, and his pardon is desired by John Bright, of England;
"Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, these and divers other considerations me thereunto moving, and especially as a public mark of the esteem held by the United States of America for the high character and steady friendship of the said John Bright, do hereby grant a pardon to the said Alfred Rubery, the same to begin and take effect on the twentieth day of January 1864, on condition that he leave the country within thirty days from and after that date."
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