CHAPTER XIV. ROEBUCK'S MOTION
In the mid-period during which the British Government was seeking to fulfil its promise of an altered policy as regards ship-building and while the public was unaware that such a promise had been given, certain extreme friends of the South thought the time had come for renewed pressure upon the Government, looking toward recognition of the Confederacy. The Alexandra had been seized in April, but the first trial, though appealed, had gone against the Government in June, and there was no knowledge that the Ministry was determined in its stand. From January to the end of March, 1863, the public demonstrations in approval of the emancipation proclamation had somewhat checked expressions of Southern sympathy, but by the month of June old friends had recovered their courage and a new champion of the South came forward in the person of Roebuck.
Meanwhile the activities of Southern agents and Southern friends had not ceased even if they had, for a time, adopted a less vigorous tone. For four months after the British refusal of Napoleon's overtures on mediation, in November, 1862, the friends of the South were against "acting now," but this did not imply that they thought the cause lost or in any sense hopeless. Publicists either neutral in attitude or even professedly sympathetic with the North could see no outcome of the Civil War save separation of North and South. Thus the historian Freeman in the preface to the first volume of his uncompleted History of Federal Government, published in 1863, carefully explained that his book did not have its origin in the struggle in America, and argued that the breaking up of the Union in no way proved any inherent weakness in a federal system, but took it for granted that American reunion was impossible. The novelist, Anthony Trollope, after a long tour of the North, beginning in September, 1861, published late in 1862 a two-volume work, North America, descriptive of a nation engaged in the business of war and wholly sympathetic with the Northern cause. Yet he, also, could see no hope of forcing the South back into the Union. "The North and South are virtually separated, and the day will come in which the West also will secede."
Such interpretations of conditions in America were not unusual; they were, rather, generally accepted. The Cabinet decision in November, 1862, was not regarded as final, though events were to prove it to be so for never again was there so near an approach to British intervention. Mason's friend, Spence, early began to think that true Southern policy was now to make an appeal to the Tories against the Government. In January, 1863, he was planning a new move:
"I have written to urge Mr. Gregory to be here in time for a
thorough organization so as to push the matter this time to a
vote. I think the Conservatives may be got to move as a body
and if so the result of a vote seems to me very certain. I
have seen Mr. Horsfall and Mr. Laird here and will put myself
in communication with Mr. Disraeli as the time approaches for
action for this seems to me now our best card."
That some such effort was being thought of is evidenced by the attitude of the Index which all through the months from November, 1862, to the middle of January, 1863, had continued to harp on the subject of mediation as if still believing that something yet might be done by the existing Ministry, but which then apparently gave up hope of the Palmerstonian administration: