Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Lord Lyons and Mr. Seward—More talk of War with England—William Howard Russell’s Diary.

Lord Lyons and Mr. Seward—More talk of War with England—William Howard Russell’s Diary.

December 23, 2011

My Diary North and South - William Howard Russell,The American Civil War

December 23rd.—There was a tremendous storm, which drove over the city and shook the houses to the foundation. Constant interviews took place between the President and members of the Cabinet, and so certain are the people that war is inevitable, that an officer connected with the executive of the Navy Department came in to tell me General Scott was coming over from Europe to conduct the Canadian campaign, as he had thoroughly studied the geography of the country, and that in a very short time he would be in possession of every strategic position on the frontier, and chaw up our reinforcements. Late in the evening, Mr. Olmsted called to say he had been credibly informed Lord Lyons had quarrelled violently with Mr. Seward, had flown into a great passion with him, and so departed. The idea of Lord Lyons being quarrelsome, passionate, or violent, was preposterous enough to those who knew him; but the American papers, by repeated statements of the sort, have succeeded in persuading their public that the British Minister is a plethoric, red-faced, large-stomached man in top-boots, knee-breeches, yellow waistcoat, blue cut-away, brass buttons, and broad-brimmed white hat, who is continually walking to the State Department in company with a large bulldog, hurling defiance at Mr. Seward at one moment, and the next rushing home to receive despatches from Mr. Jefferson Davis, or to give secret instructions to the British Consuls to run cargoes of quinine and gunpowder through the Federal blockade. I was enabled to assure Mr. Olmsted there was not the smallest foundation for the story; but he seemed impressed with a sense of some great calamity, and told me there was a general belief that England only wanted a pretext for a quarrel with the United States; nor could I comfort him by the assurance that there were good reasons for thinking General Scott would very soon annex Canada, in case of war.

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