§ MR. WARNER
said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether there is any truth in a Report of the removal of Mr. Magee, late British Vice Consul at Mobile; whether any conduct inconsistent with neutrality has been alleged against him; and whether his removal has been demanded or suggested by the American Government?
§ MR. LAYARD
said, the facts of the case were these. The House was probably aware, that when the blockade of certain ports was established by the Government of the United States, full liberty was given to English vessels of war to pass through the blockade and to communicate with those ports, but it was on the distinct understanding that they should only be employed on official Government business, and that they should not engage in any private or commercial transactions. Mr. Magee was not the British Vice Consul at Mobile; but from the year 1861 he had been acting as Consul, in the absence of the Consul from his post. On the 12th of November Mr. Magee, it appears, communicated to Mr. Coppel his intention to send away a large amount of specie, but he made no mention of the fact to Lord Lyons. After more than a month Lord Lyons, when he came to hear of it, telegraphed to Mr. Magee to stop the transaction, but, as Mr. Magee alleged, the telegram was received on the same day that he had shipped the specie, but after he had done it. However, for twelve days afterwards, during which Mr. Magee was in communication with Lord Lyons, writing despatches to him, he made no mention of the fact of the English vessel of war the Vesuvius having come in, and of his having shipped a large sum of money on board of her. As soon as the transaction was brought to the no- 1953 tice of Her Majesty's Government, they at once dismissed Mr. Magee from his post. They felt that his conduct was not becoming the agent of a neutral State, and was in violation of the pledge given to the Government of the United States; and that the fact of his not having made any mention of the subject to Lord Lyons, and not having waited till he received some communication from Lord Lyons, rendered him so open to grave censure that there was no course open to them but to remove him from his post. At that time no demand and no representations had been made by the American Government on the subject, but he hoped the House would feel that Her Majesty's Government had done no more than their duty in at once marking their sense of Mr. Magee's conduct.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he wished to know whether money which had been placed on board one of Her Majesty's ships was not the interest due to British subjects on the Alabama State bonds, and whether it was not placed on board Her Majesty's ship because it was the only means of conveyance. He wished also to know, whether other Consular Agents had not taken the same course without being visited with a similar censure?
§ MR. LAYARD
said, he was unaware to what uses the money was destined. Some said it was to pay the interest on those bonds, others that it was intended to purchase privateers in Europe. It was quite evident that the United States Government having admitted our vessels into their blockaded ports on the strict understanding that they should engage in none but official business, it was a point of honour that that understanding should be adhered to. He did not know what other Consuls might have done, but he felt certain that in this case the Government had taken the right course.