London, May 20, 1863.
My Dear Governor, — I have your long and interesting letter of Tuesday, May 5, with hopeful views of Hooker's battle. God grant they may have been realized, though his situation seemed critical at last accounts. I have just had Mr. Bright to breakfast, and have since seen Cobden. I tell them both that either a great success or a great disaster will stir up our people, and if they hear to-morrow that Hooker is driven back, it will only mean that it will bring out our people. Like the pine-tree, it may be said of the North: —
“The firmer it roots him,
The harder it blows.”
I only wish I were at home to do my share there, if the news is black; but my work here is but half done, and I can only give you my good wishes and my children.
How you would like John Bright! He is a man after your own pattern, — genial, warm-hearted, frank. I am busy just now trying to see the Quakers, and to bring them up to the mark of doing something for peace, by petitioning for the suppression of ironclads and other Confederate pirates. Cobden is confident the ironclads will not be allowed to go out, and they have certainly checked up the work upon them. I think the case looks better, but still the calm seems to me too uncertain to trust to. I would avail of it to prepare for the possible storm. I note what you say of guns. I hope you observe in the prices sent you the very extravagant ones are for all steel, which are deemed unnecessary. The Russians take iron spindles and steel jackets. I fear our army and navy are a little too much governed by those most excellent riders of their hobbies, — Rodman and Dahlgren, for whom I have the greatest possible respect; but you must not forget that to pierce an ironclad you need velocity of shot, which cannot be had with your cast-iron guns; they will not stand the powder. Sumter drove off our ironclads with Blakely guns and round steel shot. Benzon and I, as I wrote you before, have gone in for two ten-and-three-quarter, and one nine-inch gun, cast-iron spindle, steel jacket, which will cost £1000, £1000, and £750, more or less. If you decide not to have them, I hope you will say so, and we shall try to resell them here with as little loss as possible. If only as patterns, it seems to me you ought to have them.
J. M. Forbes.
SOURCE: Sarah Forbes Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Volume 2, p. 15-6