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letter, McIlvaine, Bedell, peace



Bp: McIlvaine

London. Jan. 13 1862

My dear Bishop,

I wrote you last when we were in uncertainty about the [results] of the question between England & our dear country, as to the [?] & [?] affair. My hope amounted [almost] to [?] that the aclaim of our government would be to the frozen stars of peace; but I could not help some anxiety, especially be so many here expected & [feared] themselves. Americans were in great doubt, & it was to all a [friend] of [amusing] waiting. Last Wednesday night, where I was sitting in a [?], with a member of clergymen, the [lite] are from [?] needed us, that the government had truly & unanimously, [surrendered] the [prisoner]. It was received with thanksgiving to God by all present, not as a matter of triumph to England in the best, or of humiliation to our country, but as a subject of thankful [?] that God had spared both people from war with one another. Our Government had ardently [risen] in that extinction of the present by the act, while the reputation of our country for [?] to stand for all right, & against all wrong, had not descended the least in their view. Next morning, at half past ten, I met nearly 300 clergymen of the Ch. of England. It was the annual clerical meeting at which in 1830, I was present for the first time, in company with Dr. [?]. In 1835, I again attended it, there as before in the [spacious] study & library of Daniel Watson, Vicci of [Hampton] & the late Bishop of [Calcutta]. In 1859, I had again the privilege. It was then held in the Church [?] [?]. This last time, it was in the Bp. Wilson Memorial Hall. It had grown from one hundred to three hundred clergymen, met together to spend a day in prayer & the hearing of elucidation of Gospel truth in appointed subjects. It was a most important meeting not only on account of what was taught & the earnest prayer offered, but because of the high character & position of those present & the extensive influence they exert on the religious mind & the public opinion of England. Many of them had heard the peace news before they came. Others heard it first at the meeting. As I entered, my hands were taken by one & another with a glow of joy & thankfulness in each face, as we exchanged congratulations & [exchanged] our thankfulness. When the Chairman, the present [?] of [?], took the chair, he began with the tidings. At once the whole meeting showed its [?] feeling, the [?] [?] William offered the first prayer & began it with thanksgiving for God’s goodness is not [?] the deprecated war. He then prayed earnestly for the continuance of peace & that the two nations might be more & more closely united in all brotherly fellowship. All the prayer during the [?] of the meeting hallowed the same “spirit,” especially that of my dear friend, so well known amongst us, the Rev. [?] [?] [?] of Winchester. All that I have seen & heard since, among those with whom I come in contact is of the same mind, not implying any doubt of the [?], of the position taken by their Government; not implying that that had their Government in consequence of a retention of the promises, give to war, such [?[ may such as England would not have sustained the step; but that they looked in the prospect of such war as most deeply to be [lamented], that they deeply realized the [awfulness] of two nations so nearly related in blood & religion & almost every intent of mankind, being involved in such strife; & that as, in [?] with so many as England they had earnestly prayed it might not be, so now that it is not to be, they praised God for the blessing. I know that the like spirit was very widely manifested. The men came during the week of special prayer, when meeting for prayer was being held all over England; in parishes of the Established Church, & among the [?] [?]. Before the news came, I had attended no such meeting at Ryde (Sole of [?]), & another at [?], near Winchester in the parish of the Rev. [Alexander] [?]. There the prayers were for such a result. The middle of the week came & then it was thanksgiving that such result had come. Among those with whom I have [mingled], I have not only seen no appearance of a spirit of triumph as if we had yielded to a demand because it was backed by a [power] which we were afraid to meet. But I have [witnessed] a positive sympathy with us, because of the sacrifice of feeling it must have cost us, in reference to the Rebellion States, & in view of the [respect] which our people might apprehend it would have on the sight of those men worthy of consideration. One thing I have been especially glad to see: unity, that the demand of England & the pleasure of its success have nothing to do, in the minds of those whom I meet, with [?] & [Mason], either personally or officially or because of any connection between these individuals & the [cause] they represent. It is regarded simply as the success of a [claim] for what is considered as international justice, & which would have been used just as earnestly & would have been hailed in its success, with the same pleasure, if instead of those [?]. [?]! [If] it had been the case of two of the humblest [?] that could have [?] the deck of the Front, white or black. This may not be what those [?] will expect when they get here; but they will find it nonetheless. And another thing-I have heard every Clergyman [?] with whom I have conversed about it, express the hope & belief that when they arrive here, there will be no [victims] or [?] about them, as if England, in going to so much expence to get them restored, cared for them particularly. There is a capital leader in the Times of the 11th to that effect, commanded indeed with the peculiar [offensiveness] of that belligerent [?] towards us, but evidently commanding in order that it might give the greater force to what it concludes with its regard to the reception of these insurgent [?] in England. Such being the new of the [?], you may be sure of the public feeling of England generally in that [?] not that the [?] [expresses], or leads any more than a section of that opinion: but that having been, till last Saturday, apparently the least likely of all [?] to come out in such a [vein], nor [?] of any importance will be beheld at [?] the same [?]. And now as to the act of our Government in releasing the promises, I trust it [receives] the strong [appreciation] of our people, simply because it is right; not only, right, because, under the circumstances, expedient; but right in itself. On any [?] with our [?] principles & claims as to nationals, we could not sustain the capture had it been even unobjectionable as to the not taking the ship into port for adjudication, or as to the character of the provinces as not [belligerents], but Rebels in our view & therefore subject to Municipal Law & not International. The surrender being Right & [?] the evidence in [?] [Bernard’s] dispatch to [?] Adams, received here Dec. 17, showing that before any information of the feeling could have reached our Government, [?] [Bernard] was seeing the case in the light which he afterward concluded in the release; I believe that instead of its being any [humiliation], or any cause of [northification], to Americans, it [?] [us] great humour in the sight of England & all Europe; more human far & of more permanent nature, than if we had gained a great victory in battle with the Rebellion. It was much more questioned here whether our Government could face what was so much talked about, “the [?]” (not pausing here to define what they meant) & which mythical [personage] it was supposed would bluster for war & threaten the Government with terrible vengeance if they dared to surrender the Capture; then whether our armies could vanquish the forces of the insurgents. The declaration here was heard in every side. The delivery will not be made. The matter how evidently the Government may see it to be right, or how mad, for the sake of such men, to take their hands another war & with such a power, they will not dare to release them in the face of the popular clamour against it. They will be hated from other places if they venture it! I laboured to who that popular impulses suddenly [?], reach our Government much more slowly, & tell with far less immediate effect in the measures & stability of the Cabinet, than in this country, because of the entire difference between the relatives of the Cabinet of the two countries to their respective heads & the representatives of the people. But “the American Mob,” especially “the New York Mob,” as if New York were, to all our vast country, what Paris is to France, was heard of on all sides as the great argument against all hope of an amicable adjustment. Good men, very good men, most earnestly denying the preservation of peace, denies also of doing all justice to our country & sympathetically with it, in its present calamities, were so affected by this constant talk, fed, as it was, by influential [?], & by agents of the rebellion who found their interest in such representation of our internal state, that while I received all confidence my spirit, as one of peace & justice, my strong [assurance] that our Government would examine the case simply as one of law & right & would do justly, whatever the popular clamour, was considerably discriminated, though not without its tranquilizing influence, that happy [?] & [?] have all [my] [assurance] have been made good; how straight forward, & calm & dignified have been the actors of our government; that tokens of the spirit in which it would [?] the question, had been sent to the Government have, before all the least tidings had reached our shores of the feeling erected in England by the capture; & that the [result] war so evidently the outgrowth of views of international law which had begun before any communication was received from the”Government” & which was matured independently of any menace of its power. All this is great gain. It certainly did require a struggle of feeling & pride for our people to surrender persons so prominently chargeable with the calamities of our country, [?] too, taken in such a [?] as than to surrender them, surrender, not only before the South, but when fleet & armies were hastening to our coasts to be ready for war in case of refusal. Blood [boiled] in thousands of hearts at the ideas of seeming to [?] because of those preparations of compulsion. It was little realized how those menacing indications were collected to obscure the vision of the right & trouble the waters of peace. It was a far greater trial to see the right & do it with that foreign fleet in our coasts, than if it had stayed at home. But the right was seen, & has been done. We have “stooped to conquer,” but we have conquered. We have mastered ourselves, & I shall be glad when our armies shall achieve a victory more to our honour & advantage. But as victims are generally attended with painful loss even to the victim; what, I may ask, have we lost in this? Literally nothing. As to the harm those persons could have done us in Europe, had they been [?] in their [?], I have no doubt a very exaggerated [extended] war formed at home. So have I been often assured by well advised people here. But now, they are still left to be apprehended. [?] of our importance to be kept, officially of our influence to be feared, we have lost nothing by their release. And can any body at home, or abroad, imagine that in doing right, under such circumstances of temptation to another course, the reputation of our people for [?] to merit any danger or sacrifice in a righteous cause has suffered in the least? But what have we gained? I answer the praise of [?], fairness, consistency, justice, love of peace & ability to pursue it, the praise of being able to see, acknowledge, & follow the right toward a foreign power under circumstances so trying that I venture to say nine/ten of the people of Europe, reasoning from what they supposed to be the impulses of our people & the dependence of the Government therein, scarcely ventured to hope it could surmount them. A great & honourable reputation has been given to a widespread & most dishonorable belief with regard to us. The result & benefit are manifest here. The reaction is wide & valuable. The capture had an evil influence on the public mind of England in reference to our war with the rebellion. The release will have a stronger in the opposite direction.

Whatever may be said of certain here who for any reason would be glad of a war with us ([moreover], I cannot learn they are; few I have been [assured] they are); it cannot be doubted, if I may trust what I see & am urged to believe by those who have the best means of knowing, that the great map of the people, especially the religious people of England, not only cherish a feeling of such meaning to their brothers with us, that war between them & us would seem, in their view, fraught with all the dreadfulness of almost a civil war; not only have they a strong desire to be always at peace with us & to go on with us in common efforts for the good of mankind; a desire remarkably exhibited of late in prayer & sermons, in large congregations & family worship, all over England, that God would avert the danger of war; but, so far as they comprehend our present cause against rebellion, they sympathize in our trials & in our vast effort to sustain government against unprovoked sedition & conspiracy. They are moreover most strongly opposed to any thing that would place the strength of England in any helping relation to a Confederation which, being [?], as well as really built on the claims & for the preservation of slavery, they religiously author. Of the large part of English population, those [?] which have dealt so largely on exculpatory articles towards us are most representative.

I must now close this long letter, praying for blessings in my [?] & beloved country. May God guide the Government & uphold the law.

Yours very affectionately,

Charles P. McIlvaine

P. S. As an example of much that I have said above, I have add a copy of a letter addressed to me by one of the eldest & most [?] of the English Bishops, dated the day after the good news was known in the countryplace of England.

Jan 10. 1862

“My very dear Bishop,

“I must send a [line] to join with you in thankfulness that the storm from the Atlantic has mercifully been averted; & that the two countries, so nearly allied in blood, may still be permitted to enjoying the blessing of peace with each other.

I can enter into the [?] of your own heart, & assure you that they are fully reciprocated by mine. On every public ground, I heartily rejoice; & in addition I feel deeply thankful on your account, for I can not but feel how sure [?] trial a different [?] would have been to your heart.

And so, my dear friend, let us write in praises to Him who is the Prince of Peace, & in prayer that He will continue to overrule the counsels of our statesmen on both sides of the water, & still the madness of the people. It has been a solemn crisis, & he must have been cold of heart who has felt it lightly.

Always very affectionately,


I add a [?] fact. A friend of mine: Secretary of the Colonial Church & School [?] received the day after the news in an anonymous letter 50 pounds as “a thanks offering for peace.”

To Bishop Bedell