Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

his way to lay down a blundering doc- Admiralty did not hesitate to stamp trine against which the entire Continent, with official approbation the act which in the name of neutral navies, would was the result of this seaman-like unanimously rebel. The cause of neutral investigation. The Chairman of the rights would have been less prejudiced Foreign Affairs Committee and the had the envoys never been set free, than Secretary of the Navy endorsed the they would be if the world were to accept general opinion.

general opinion. Judge Bigelow, at the propositions with which America Boston, assumed that the legal question accompanies their dismissal.

presented no knot which instinct might No great outburst of indignation in not solve, and passed lightly on to the the North at the Government conces more grateful and profitable task of sions seems to have followed the deci defying the British lion. Mr. Edwin sion of the Lincoln Cabinet. The New James, who has judiciously conferred York journals, which for some days had upon himself, since his arrival in the anticipated the necessary step, approved North, the proud title of a consummate it when taken; and even an American lawyer, took the same side. Golden public may be driven to the conclusion opinions were showered from all quarters that instinct is not the best guide in on the captain of the San Jacinto, not questions of international jurisprudence. for having braved, but for having apWe need not insist that the Confederate plied the law. Too much importance emissaries were merely given up because was not likely to be attached even England showed herself determined to re in Washington to the judicial imsent their capture. Prudence is perfectly partiality of the House of Representacompatible with courage, and, in spite of tives ; but the judgment of the House the braggadocio of a rowdy press, it is of Representatives, whatever it might pleasanter to be able to hope that our be worth, was at least in favour of claims were granted because they were Captain Wilkes and his interpretations based upon

undeniable good sense. Up of Wheaton. The silence of the Cabinet, to the last moment the North had been which it is not necessary to impute to gratuitously informed on all sides by a fear of the populace, since military those who pretended to be competent events have recently rendered Mr. Linjudges of law, that the act of Captain coln's Government independent of Wilkes was justifiable and praiseworthy. popular clamour, tended to confirm the What was here regarded as an outrage North in the erroneous impression that on the British flag, was there viewed as at least the question admitted of arbitrathe strict enforcement of a legal right. tion or debate. Misled by the crude asThere was much absurdity, ignorance, sertions of the semi-informed, the unand impatience about the manner in informed public had no conception that which American opinion at once decided they were applauding an act of interthat the Southern Commissioners had national piracy. The fierce indignation been properly seized. But only a few kindled in this country by the intelliof the most disrespectable newspapers gence of the boarding of the Trent dared to maintain at one and the same opened their eyes to the fact that it time the illegality and the propriety of was possible Captain Wilkes might not the seizure. Captain Wilkes had pro

have exhausted Vattel and Wheaton bably no idea that he was committing in a study of twenty-four hours. M. an outrage at all. He had studied Thouvenel's despatch arrived in WashWheaton for twenty-four hours on the ington while the question was under subject, with the confident honesty of a discussion, and contributed to calm sailor who imagines that anything, the enthusiasm of the entire Northern from a law-book upwards-can be stormed press. Suddenly, the strong feeling in twenty-four hours. His erudition against surrendering the Confederate was, at least, equal to the erudition of prisoners subsided. By the American his immediate superiors. The American Government-such are Mr. Seward's

words - they have been “cheerfully in her Majesty's proclamation ; but an liberated." Let us take it for granted edict which placed Southern privateers that they have been cheerfully liberated on a footing with Northern men-of-war, also by all the honest portion of the was itself, as the Cabinet of Washington American Commonwealth. Whether or not unnaturally complained, a semino the United States, in an hour of recognition of the South. While minisemergency, and on the eve of the dis ters assumed this attitude of ostentatious continuance of specie payments, could impartiality, most influential English have afforded to engage in an unneces journals declared their adhesion to the sary conflict with the first naval power cause of Confederate independence. War in the world, need not be discussed. It for the preservation of the Union was is no matter of reproach to them that pronounced iniquitous and unjustifiable. they could not afford to go to war in a The theory which the traitorous Cabinet wrong cause. In the midst of much of Mr. Buchanan had found so convenient exaggerated language and ill-feeling and so paralysing, that, though the Slave in this country and America, it is a States might have no right to secede, the pleasure to turn to Earl Russell's dig. Free States had no right to prevent them, nified, courteous, and Christian notes was generally adopted by the English upon the subject of the Trent. This semi-Liberal press.

That one-half of an country may be proud of the corre enormous empire should endeavour to spondence of her Foreign Minister on a conquer the other, was authoritatively question demanding both good temper, pronounced ridiculous. Unfriendly Congenerosity, and firmness. If the Ministry tinental observers, watching the anxiety are strengthened in the coming Session with which many among us prophesied by the recollection of their conduct in disaster to the North, cynically conso delicate an affair, it will be a reward cluded that the wish in this instance they have richly merited.

had been father to the thought. Though the imminent danger of war is Few people in this country have taken over for the present, the relations sub a broad and statesmanlike view of the sisting between this country and the origin and the justifications of the North are sufficient to warrant the American war. By a large minority of gravest anxiety. For many years the philanthropists and doctrinaires in the American press, and American politi United States, the outbreak had been cians of every grade, had made it their half welcomed at its first approach as business to brave and irritate the public an opportunity for hoisting the flag of opinion of England. The English press abolition. But the Boston friends of in return spared neither American in the negro, constituting as they did an stitutions, nor the American character educated and humane party, were but itself. A positive and mutual dislike a small and sentimental section of the sprang up, and separated not merely the great Northern community. Emancipatwo Governments, but the two rival tion of the slaves, with the great mass of nations. When the secession of the Americans, could neither be a cause nor South took place, it was regarded with a pretext for fratricidal conflict, for the suppressed satisfaction by a large portion simple reason that it had never yet been of the British public, who were weary a question in debate. For some time of Transatlantic arrogance, intolerant of past the two divisions of the Imperial Transatlantic manners, and glad to wit Republic had been diverging in more ness the embarrassment of a great and ways than one. Sprung from a diffenoisy democracy. Lord Palmerston's rent blood, and separated from the North Ministry proclaimed-perhaps with un by distinct domestic institutions, the amiable haste—that it would watch the Southern successor to the traditions of progress of America's internal difficulty the early cavalier colonists had long with the eyes of severe neutrality. A begun to view his manufacturing fellowcold justice was promised to the North citizens with contempt and dislike. The

clamour of the Abolitionists and philan- party were actnally pledged by the thropists of New England increased the Chicago platform of 1860 to the mainirritation of the slave owners, who, free tenance of the status quo Mr. Lincoln from all serious apprehensions for their in his inaugural speech had recognised property, were nevertheless exasperated the obligation, and declared that he had at finding themselves the victims of a neither the lawful right, nor, indeed, moral and evangelical crusade. To the the inclination, to interfere with the indivergence produced by dissimilarity of stitution of slavery in the States where manners and of race was added a new cause it already existed. A Republican Conof antipathy in the difference of material gress has since adopted the same view as interests. The South is agricultural, the the Republican President of the Union. North manufacturing; and the growing Emancipation may, perhaps, be ultipolitical preponderance of the Conserva- mately proposed as an extreme and detive Protectionists of the latter drove sperate resource by those who have the former into an alliance, based upon hitherto been its antagonists on prinidentity of interest, with the democratical ciple; but it will be at most a military Free-traders of the North. The Northern measure justified by the necessities of a democrats and the Southern agriculturists campaign, not a concession demanded for a while were together able to contest by the moral feeling of the nation at the palm of political supremacy. Gradu- large. If there is something to be said ally the conviction forced itself upon for it, there is much to be said against them that the tide had turned ; that it. It would be a violent interference their day was over; and that the with the laws of property ; it might, collected strength of the North was for aught that human knowledge can about to drive them into the unenvi- decide, result in the infernal bloodshed able position of a hopeless political and massacre of a servile war, and it minority. The mercies of an American would raise a tumult of stormy dissatismajority are cruel; and a vanquished faction in many districts where the party in that land of political liber Union flag still waves. Too clearsighted tinism reaps little enjoyment from its to overlook the real nature of the constitutional privileges. The election American conflict, English semi-Liberal of Mr. Lincoln was a signal gun which critics at once laid a cynical finger on the showed that power had for ever passed blot in the case which the English phiinto the hands of the Protectionists lanthropists were seeking to make out. and Abolitionists. The passing of Only poets, or at best prophets, could the Morrill tariff was a second signal fairly call the Northern cause the cause of gun that showed the North were not in Abolition, when the vast majority of the clined to abandon the fruits of their Northern States were not Abolitionists great victory. The South seceded in a in theory. The North might be allowed, body; not because slavery was at stake, at least, to know what they were fighting but because henceforward they had for. nothing to hope from the constitution. That the negro's interests were not

A small but liberal-minded party in directly at stake, was acknowledged this country, misled by the exalted en before long by public opinion. Semithusiasm of the New England philan- Liberals and Conservatives immediately thropists, and infected with the Utopian jumped to the illogical conclusion that, chivalry of Transatlantic literary cliques, because the war was not a war of abolibelieved themselves, and endeavoured tion, it must therefore be unnecessary to persuade their countrymen, that the and unnatural. It is the pretentious freedom of the Negro was the secret practice of certain political writers, to object of the aspirations of the North. call everything wicked which does not The North, as a body, were inclined to immediately tend to the advantare of be neither so philanthropic nor so un

their own country. Those who hud practical. The leaders of the Republican characterised the Italian var as criminal,

came forward once more and denounced States in times past, hereafter we shall the indignant patriotism of the North possibly be of opinion that it was as nefarious. The Times newspaper led both clumsy and ungenerous to take the van of denunciation, and was over the present opportunity for revenging come with the sense of the wickedness them. Though the North is not conof the Northern manufacturers. This tending for the forcible emancipation of famous, and often manly journal, which the negro, it is contending for a noble has long represented the virtues and the and a sacred stake. If love of country prejudices of the English people, during means anything at all, if national honour the last year has itself been passing is a cause for which war is lawful, if through no slight ordeal. Its circula the existence of a great empire is worth tion and influence have been materially preserving, if the patriotic traditions of affected by the sudden success of the its unity and strength have a right to penny papers, the best of which are by touch the hearts of its citizens, the North no means wanting in ability and moral may claim our sympathies.

It is a elevation. English daily journalism still miserable Tory quibble to assert that remains for the most part a monarchical the United States, having risen into nasystem; but the Times has been compelled tional existence by means of revolution, to descend one step towards the level of are bound to acquiesce patiently in their its economical opponents, and a further dissolution by the same agency. There reduction in its price may convert the is no divine virtue about the historical monarchy of letters into a republic. Its origin of the Old World kingdoms, which conduct in some things has neither been makes loyalty to a European throne a so judicious nor so successful since its duty, but fidelity to a Transatlantic Resuperiority has begun to be questioned. public a chimera. By the grace of God Its policy with respect to the Ame- kinys reign. By the grace of God repubrican contest has been seriously im lics are formed. Loyalty to an hereditary provident. On the other side of the crown is a debt we owe to the traditions Atlantic, the New York Herald, and a which we have inherited with our councrowd of contemptible journals, have try; and what sacred sentiment is there sinned extravagantly against good feeling connected with legitimacy or a Salic and generosity, in their animadversions Law, which may not attach itself in as upon ourselves. Sane and intelligent high a degree to the cause of national Americans acknowledge that England union or the name of Washington ? The may fairly be indignant at the daily in contract that binds together the difsults she receives from the viler portion ferent parts of the American Union is of their press. But the Times has ap one of the most solemn social compacts parently determined to avenge us upon which history knows. A baffled mi. the New York IIerald. From the first nority, in their impatience of an electoral it eagerly announced that the efforts of defeat, may determine on their country's the North must fail. It exulted over dissolution, and call on her to abdicate the panic at Bull's Run. It predicted for ever her grand and prominent place that the military enthusiasm of the on the world's stage. To avert such Union must issue in an iron despotism. a catastrophe, their fellow-countrymen Throughout the late complication its appeal to arms. The appeal is naturally bitterness and pessimism contrasted made in the name of loyalty itself. badly with the more manly and English The prevalent impression that Great calmness of more than one of its contem Britain will be benefited by the dissoluporaries. Heaven knows that America tion of the Union has, beyond allquestion, has faults enough. The Times of 1861 contributed not a little to the interest with devoted itself to the unpatriotic task of which the public watches the fortunes of exaggerating them in the eyes of England. the South. Grave doubt remains whether

Whatever be the insults and mortifi the separation of the South and North cations we have received from the United would render an English war with

the sea.

[ocr errors]

America more distant. The Northern penetrated with a belief that the life of States, whatever the result of the re the rebellion is sustained by hopes of rebellion, must continue to be a first-rate cognition in England and in France. The naval power, and the South are not Government at Washington have signifilikely soon to eclipse them

upon

cantly warned the British Cabinet that Both Federals and Confederates at the they are not prepared to tolerate such a close of this war will find themselves diplomatic injury. “It seems to me,” financially disqualified for a contest with says Mr. Seward, in his despatch of the any great European navy. But the 30th of November last, “ that the British North has internal resources that will " Government has been inattentive to enable her to recover rapidly from her “ the currents that seemed to be bringprostration, while the South cannot “ing the two countries into collision. easily surmount the desperate and ap ... I have never for a moment beparently permanent blow which the war “ lieved that such a recognition could take has inflicted upon the cultivation of the “ place without producing immediately cotton plant. Maryland, Delaware, a war between the United States Western Virginia, and part of Missouri “and all the recognising Powers.” That and Kentucky, in any case, must be lost the French Government should be bent to the slave-owner. The consequent upon such a measure is not unlikely. Trade weakness of the South, coupled with the in France finds itself terribly affected by material necessities which urge the planter the stoppage of all Confederate exports. continually to annex fresh territory, will It would seem, too, in the interests of probably in time impose a restless the world that the nominal blockade, foreign policy on the Confederate Go which is too ineffectual to do more than vernment; and, if the Slave States stretch intimidate Southern commerce, should southwards, the Federal Union may not either be broken or, at least, confined improbably look for corresponding com within valid limits. Charleston Harbour pensation in the direction of the Canadian has been wantonly and vindictively lakes. Europe cannot count with too injured, even if, as Northern apologists much assurance on the jealousy which assert, it has not been effectually a struggle for the privilege of secession destroyed ; and an act of such blind may have bred between the two kindred atrocity is certainly an outrage upon the and coterminous Republics. Southern commonwealth of nations. Southern politicians have always rivalled and sur commissioners are actively engaged, both passed the North in hostility and inso in this country and in Paris, in purchaslence towards the English people; and ing the moral support of England and of the sister communities may find it their France, on such terms as they judge best best interest to combine for purposes of suited to please the manufacturers and foreign policy and intimidation.

philanthropists whose mediation they Meanwhile the cold and unfriendly require. While no consideration should attitude of this country is exasperating prevent our loudly denouncing the still further the old animosities and objectless destruction of Southern ports, petulance of the North towards us. To it is our duty to control rather than to add to the gloomy nature of the prospect, obstruct the military and naval energy the Federals are determined to mark of the officers of the North. No temptwith suspicion and anger any steps we ing proffer of gradual negro emancipamay take towards recognising their rebel tion-if any such be made by the Southenemies as an independent nation. In ern commissioners in accordance with numerable problems of international law the programme of M. Renouf--should may evidently arise in the course of a tempt us to abandon a friendly aud conflict, which we, from the magnitude free Government in the hour of its of the interests involved, call war, but distress. The eyes of the Continent to which the Union refuses to give its are upon us this day to see if we act formal name.

Obviously the North is with manly generosity, or with insular

« ElőzőTovább »