“... He proved incontestably to his visitors that, though he has been charged with forgetting the vigour of his prime, he can in old age remember the lessons of his childhood, by telling them that
They who in quarrels
Will often wipe a bloody nose (laughter)—
a quotation which, in
the mouth of the Prime Minister of the
British Empire, and on such an occasion, must be admitted as
not altogether unworthy of Abraham Lincoln himself.”
Spence took consolation in the fact that Mason had at last come into personal contact with Palmerston, “even now at his great age a charming contrast to that piece of small human pipe-clay, Lord Russell.” But the whole incident of Lindsay’s excited efforts, Mason’s journey to London and interview with Palmerston, and the deputation, left a bad taste in the mouth of the more determined friends of the South—of those who were Confederates rather than Englishmen. They felt that they had been deceived and toyed with by the Government. Mason’s return to London was formally approved at Richmond but Benjamin wrote that the argument for recognition advanced to Palmerston had laid too much stress on the break-down of the North. All that was wanted was recognition which was due the South from the mere facts of the existing situation, and recognition, if accorded, would have at once ended the war without intervention in any form. Similarly The Index stated that mediation was an English notion, not a Southern one. The South merely desired justice, that is, recognition. This was a bold front yet one not unwarranted by the military situation in midsummer of 1864, as reported in the press. Sherman’s western campaign toward Atlanta had but just started and little was known of the strength of his army or of the powers of Southern resistance. This campaign was therefore regarded as of minor importance. It was on Grant’s advance toward Richmond that British attention was fixed; Lee’s stiff resistance, the great losses of the North in battle after battle and finally the settling down by Grant to besiege the Southern lines at Petersburg, in late June, 1864, seemed to indicate that once again an offensive in Virginia to “end the war” was doomed to that failure which had marked the similar efforts of each of the three preceding years.
Southern efforts in England to alter British neutrality practically ended with Lindsay’s proposed but undebated motion of June, 1864, but British confidence in Southern ability to defend herself indefinitely, a confidence somewhat shattered at the beginning of 1864—had renewed its strength by July. For the next six months this was to be the note harped upon in society, by organizations, and in the friendly press.
[Footnote 1129: Mason Papers.]
[Footnote 1130: Ibid.]