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Letter to Bishop Bedell
Charles Petit McIlvaine
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letter, McIlvaine, Bedell
Dec. 23, 1861
My dear Bishop,
I am here (with my daughter) once more with my [?] & most kind friends, whom I have personally known more than twenty five years, the Bp. of Winchester. Yesterday, in the Chapel of the Castle, I preached for the third time the sermon at his ordination, first in 1853, then in 58. There were seventeen for [?], & fifteen for Priests, [?]. The Sunday before, I had preached in Trinity Ch., Cambridge. I have plenty of [applications[ to preached great many more than I can [?] in the [?]. The whole land is in mourning for the death of the Prince [?], & a most sincere mourning it is. All people seem feeling[ly] [impressed] with the greatness of the loss as well as they may be; for it is great indeed, to the Queen, her children, & the nature. Nothing is more interesting to use than the [?] & strong loyalty of the people to their Sovereign & their earnest leader effective for their Queen, for whom, in every praying family, there is daily prayer, as well as in every Church. The poor Queen is [beaming] her loss far better than was feared, while she is relieved by much weeping, she her strength given her not to sulk with her load. This, with an anxiety all through the country about the relations with our govt, [?] out of the Trust affair, makes it a most interesting & anxious line for me to be in England. Before that affair, the feeling of the great body of the [?] was decidedly with the Union against the rebellion. At present, until the question of the release of the captured man is decided, that feeling is checked, but not changed. I am persuaded there has been no intention in the part of the English Govt. to interfere with our blockade, even while hearing very unfavourable accounts from their [march] officers of its sufficiency, & therefore of its reality. I firmly believe that if the [Trust] affairs be amicably settled, there will be no interference with us in favour of the South. They really do not want the cotton except for the employment of labourers. The other night, at a large company at the Hon. Arthur [?] invited to meet me & at which I was asked to address them about our affairs, one of the clergy present (a Canon of St. Pauls) remarked how [forbearing] England had been in not breaking the blockade when so many of her factories wanted the cotton of the South. I was spared the necessity of answering, by my old friend, the Hon. & Rev Baptist [?], who said the blockade had been the greatest benefit to the manufacturers; for the market was glutted with their fabrics, & they had this an appro[?] of getting them off without loss. The same I heard from the Earl of [Shaftsbury].
The deep & wide feeling of the nation is that of strong aversion to a war with us about the [Trust] affair, & of hope it may be amicably adjusted. Sermons of that almost have been preached all over the [?] & meetings for prayer against the awful [?] of war are very numerous. Indeed, almost wherever you hear a prayer, that [?] us. It is especially the feeling of the religious part of the people, & they affectionately welcome what [compliance] I [try] to use in that direction. It is not a mere selfish feeling. It is not that they have any fear of us, or any doubt of their own strength. Their preparations for war, especially [march], [?] never greater. It is because they [?] what war would be between two people so much alike & so very related be-cause, moreover, they (I speak of course of the thinking & [conscientious] part of the nation) they realize what such [?] would be, not only to the interests of both [?], but to those of the world. But it will be a great mistake of, on our side, this state of mind should be misinterpreted as indicating any a [?] of united determination to support the Govt. if the letter shall see cause to make war. [Pencil markings.] They look on the [trust] matter as an insult to their [fly], a breach of neutral night I am. They have me groomed at least against in which true cannot [?]. We have vindicated Capt. Wilks on international law, which applies only to belligerents, while [sue] have clung regarded the seceded people as not belligerent but rebels to whom therefore only our municipal law applies. They can not be treated as both rebels & belligerents; we cannot justify ourselves by both municipal & international law. Up to the capture we had made our election & must abide by it. They are rebels, not belligerents, in our sight, hence our act is undefensible, for we cannot invade a neutral ship to execute [?] our municipal law any worse than we can invade England for such purpose. For this reason, not to speak of others, I cannot defend the capture, & hope the prisoners will be placed back again under English protection, & that then the question of international law, as to belligerents & neutrals, will be [?] clearly defined for the future. It will be a good time; for much of the complaint in England against the Capture is an [?] [?ment] of what she her [?] maintained, & an adoption of the precise governed which our Govt. with France ]?] her for many years been trying to bring her to.
I have stated here, in [?], [?] that it would have been a more hopeful procedure, if [?] of a demand [?] in moderate & respectful terms, the Queen had sent a strong [remembrance], which would have admitted of exchange of views & would not have [shut] up the conclusion to a few days. In one company I said that brother [Jonathan] was so much like John Bull, they were so much of one blood, that if a neighbour had [?] against him &, instead of kindly stating his case, should [?] & with me hand in his collar & another with a whip over his shoulder, should demand satisfaction, brother [Jonathan], like his brother Bull, would find the difficulty of seeing the right case [?] [?], & would be very much tempted to say, take off that hand & put away that whip, & then we will think about it. Still I do hope that, as our case is not clear (far from it) our Govt will not suffer any mistaken national [humour] nor any misery of [?] pride, or offence, to prevent the righting of [relatives], which have been so seriously endangered. The aspect of things [?] is that should Ld Lyons withdraw from [?] Parliament will be called in [?] to consider the question of war & that if then he not surrender of the prisoner, then war will be declared. First however the independence of the Confederacy will be declared, otherwise war against the United States could embrace them. Then what because of all over expense of many & life to put down the rebellion? Can we fight both them away, & England? Can we blockade their ports & carry troops to their coast & fight also the fleet of England? Can we raise money for [?] such war? Shall we sacrifice the whole cause of the government against rebellions for the sake of retaining two such [?] & [?] such wounds to our honour as would be inflicted by yielding where our cause is [?] & our defence is [?] in consisting, as well with all that we have been contending for, the last fifty years, as to belligerent rights, as with all that we have maintained as to the status of our enemies?
English people contemplating the possible (& as some think the probable) prospects of a war, feel deeply the thought that it would be on their part the setting up of a Govt. based really & avowedly in slavery; & such war they are most earnest to avoid. I speak, of course, in all this of the nation as a whole, not meaning that there are not people & especially such as here [?] under the influence of the many [?] agents here, (who are most active & skillful as creating a feeling on their side) who desire a war. What joy! would such a war be to them! How earnestly those agents would work to promote it! How evidently they [assert] that it [?] be! But I trust they are to be disappointed. Most ever, [?] [?] pray that God will disappoint them.
Now I think of the diocese, the clergy, the congregations, the College - the Seminary God mercifully bless & prosper them all. I am full of work in various ways, & well assured that it was right & wise & well for me to come. Thus my mind is at ease. My health is good, & I am surrounded in the friends & kindness. Christmas I expect to spend with my friend Canon at Winchester. Christmas & New Year’s will fall one with [thoughts] of you all & with prayer for you all. Good [Year], my dear Bishop.
Yours most affectionately,
Charles P. McIlvaine
McIlvaine, Charles Petit, "Letter to Bishop Bedell" (1861). Charles Pettit McIlvaine Letters. 266.
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