With the beginning of the work of the administration, came trouble with the members of the Cabinet. The several secretaries were, in form at least, the choice of the President, but as must always be the case in the shaping of a Cabinet, and as was particularly necessary at a time when it was of first importance to bring into harmonious relations all of the political groups of the North which were prepared to be loyal to the government, the men who took office in the first Cabinet of Lincoln represented not any personal preference of the President, but political or national requirements. The Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, had, as we know, been Lincoln's leading opponent for the Presidential nomination and had expressed with some freedom of criticism his disappointment that he, the natural leader of the party, should be put to one side for an uncultivated, inexperienced Westerner. Mr. Seward possessed both experience and culture; more than this, he was a scholar, and came of a long line of gentlefolk. He had public spirit, courage, legitimate political ambition, and some of the qualities of leadership. His nature was, however, not quite large enough to stand the pressure of political disappointment nor quite elastic enough to develop rapidly under the tremendous urgency of absolutely new requirements. It is in evidence that more than once in the management of the complex and serious difficulties of the State Department during the years of war, Seward lost his head. It is also on record that the wise-minded and fair-minded President was able to supply certain serious gaps and deficiencies in the direction of the work of the Department, and further that his service was so rendered as to save the dignity and the repute of the Secretary. Seward's subjectivity, not to say vanity, was great, and it took some little time before he was able to realise that his was not the first mind or the strongest will-power in the new administration. On the first of April, 1861, less than thirty days after the organisation of the Cabinet, Seward writes to Lincoln complaining that the "government had as yet no policy; that its action seemed to be simply drifting"; that there was a lack of any clear-minded control in the direction of affairs within the Cabinet, in the presentation to the people of the purposes of the government, and in the shaping of the all-important relations with foreign states. "Who," said Seward, "is to control the national policy?" The letter goes on to suggest that Mr. Seward is willing to take the responsibility, leaving, if needs be, the credit to the nominal chief. The letter was a curious example of the weakness and of the bumptiousness of the man, while it gave evidence also, it is fair to say, of a real public-spirited desire that things should go right and that the nation should be saved. It was evident that he had as yet no adequate faith in the capacity of the President.
There was a first twanging cra&h as the flying figure hit the upright pianola and then, with an explosion of metallic discords and breaking wood, the dying instrument toppled over and, with McGonigle spreadeagled across it, thundered to the floor.
When the news of the capture of the commissioners came to Washington, Seward for once was in favour of a conservative rather than a truculent course of action. He advised that the commissioners should be surrendered at once rather than to leave to Great Britain the opportunity for making a dictatorial demand. Lincoln admitted the risk of such demand and the disadvantage of making the surrender under pressure, but he took the ground that if the United States waited for the British contention, a certain diplomatic advantage could be gained. When the demand came, Lincoln was able, with a rewording (not for the first time) of Seward's despatch, to take the ground that the government of the United States was "well pleased that Her Majesty's government should have finally accepted the old-time American contention that vessels of peace should not be searched on the high seas by vessels of war." It may be recalled that the exercise of the right of search had been one of the most important of the grievances which had brought about the War of 1812-1814. In the discussion of the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, the English and American commissioners, while agreeing that this right of search must be given up, had not been able to arrive at a form of words, satisfactory to both parties, for its revocation. Both sets of commissioners were very eager to bring their proceedings to a close. The Americans could of course not realise that if they had waited a few weeks the news of the battle of New Orleans, fought in January, 1815, would have greatly strengthened their position. It was finally agreed "as between gentlemen" that the right of search should be no longer exercised by Great Britain. This right was, however, not formally abrogated until December, 1861, nearly half a century later. This little diplomatic triumph smoothed over for the public of the North the annoyance of having to accept the British demand. It helped to strengthen the administration, which in this first year of the War was by no means sure of its foundations. It strengthened also the opinion of citizens generally in their estimate of the wise management and tactfulness of the President.
There are two ladies of whom I would fain say a word, though I feel that I am making my list too long, in order that I may declare how much I have admired their work. They are Annie Thackeray and Rhoda Broughton. I have known them both, and have loved the former almost as though she belonged to me. No two writers were ever more dissimilar — except in this that they are both feminine. Miss Thackeray’s characters are sweet, charming, and quite true to human nature. In her writings she is always endeavouring to prove that good produces good, and evil evil. There is not a line of which she need be ashamed — not a sentiment of which she should not be proud. But she writes like a lazy writer who dislikes her work, and who allows her own want of energy to show itself in her pages.
'Tonight, Le Chiffre, we know, has bought the baccarat bank from the Egyptian syndicate which is running the high tables here. He paid a million francs for it and his capital has been reduced to twenty-four million. I have about the same. There will be ten players, I expect, and we sit round the banker at a kidney-shaped table.
“Did your ladyship ever happen to see him at the Laird of Moorland’s?” enquired Mr. Graham, who had now got to the sofa on which Lady Morven lolled; “the laird, you know, is very short, and very fat, and you never saw such a figure as Sir Archibald makes in his clothes!”
It was either after this illness, or after another of the same type that she said, 鈥業 have felt that a beautiful Wing has been spread over me, which is lined with down and stitched with gold; and I am quite safe. Nothing can harm me so long as I remain under it!鈥 Somebody rather unnecessarily remarked, 鈥楤ut it is our own fault if we do not remain under it.鈥 鈥楴o,鈥 Miss Tucker replied, 鈥榳e can鈥檛 say that. Satan does give us a pull sometimes.鈥 She was reminded that God鈥檚 鈥榝avour is always towards us鈥橕 but again she asserted the undeniable truth that God does sometimes permit His servants to be thus tried.
'Of course.' Muir looked at his watch. 'Two-thirty am. Hell of a time to wake the old man up. But that's your business. Here, come into the cockpit, so to speak.' He walked across to the book-lined wall, took out a book and fiddled. There was a click and a small door swung open. 'Mind your head,' said Muir. 'Old disused lavatory. Just the right size. Gets a bit stuffy when there's a lot of traffic coming or going, but that can't be helped. We can afford to leave the door open.' He bent down to a safe on the floor, worked the combination, and brought out what looked like a portable typewriter. He set it on the shelf next to the bulky teleprinter, sat down, and clacked off the prefix and routing instructions, winding a small handle at the side of the machine at the end of each word. 'OK. Fire away!'