CHAPTER X. KING COTTON
Nothing can exceed the selfishness of English statesmen
except their wretched hypocrisy. They are continually casting
about their disinterested magnaminity and objection of all
other considerations than those dictated by a high-toned
morality, while their entire policy is marked by egotism and
duplicity. I am getting to be heartily tired of Paris."
On August 7 Parliament adjourned, having passed on the last day of the session an Act for the relief of the distress in Lancashire by authorizing an extension of powers to the Poor Law Guardians. Like Slidell and Mason pro-Northern circles in London thought that in August there had come to a disastrous end the Southern push for a change in British policy, and were jubilant. To be sure, Russell had merely declared that the time for action was "not yet" come, but this was regarded as a sop thrown to the South. Neither in informed Southern nor Northern circles outside the Cabinet was there any suspicion, except by Adams, that in the six months elapsed since Lindsay had begun his movement the Ministry had been slowly progressing in thoughts of mediation.
In fact the sentiment of the Cabinet as stated by Gladstone had been favourable to mediation when "both parties were ready for it" and that such readiness would come soon most Members were convinced. This was a convenient and reasonable ground for postponing action but did not imply that if the conviction were unrealized no mediation would be attempted. McClellan, driven out of the Peninsula, had been removed, and August saw the Northern army pressed back from Virginia soil. It was now Washington and not Richmond that seemed in danger of capture. Surely the North must soon realize the futility of further effort, and the reports early in July from Washington dilated upon the rapid emergence of a strong peace party.
But the first panic of dismay once past Stuart sent word of enormous new Northern levies of men and of renewed courage. By mid-August, writing of cotton, he thought the prospect of obtaining any quantity of it "seems hopeless," and at the same time reported the peace party fast losing ground in the face of the great energy of the Administration. As to recognition, Stuart believed: "There is nothing to be done in the presence of these enormous fresh levies, but to wait and see what the next two months will bring forth." The hopes of the British Ministry based on a supposed Northern weariness of the war were being shattered. Argyll, having received from Sumner a letter describing the enthusiasm and determination of the North, wrote to Gladstone:
"It is evident, whatever may be our opinion of the prospects
of 'the North' that they do not yet, at least, feel any
approach to such exhaustion as will lead them to admit of
To this Gladstone replied: