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LEST the neutral title of the following work should
be that its influence has guided the general tenor of the argument with an unintentional bias. If this be so, the reader will not complain that he has been thus forewarned; and may form his own deductions from the evidence placed before him. Complete impartiality of opinion on a subject of this nature, and during the excitement of its progress, is simply an impossibility. Whoever re
NOV 12 '36
quires it must be contented to wait for thirty years. The
pen of impartial history needs for its subject the events of a generation not our own.
There is, however, an essential difference between the plea of an advocate and the convictions expressed by one devoid of all interest in the case. The former may be composed of words expressly elaborated to entangle the judgment; the latter will represent conclusions, sincere, be they ever so
With the warning already given, it may be permitted to observe, that personal considerations and valued friendships incline me, without exception, to the Northern side. Hence the opinions formed and expressed have not been adopted from choice, and are directly opposed to interest : they are convictions forced upon the mind by the facts and reasoning now submitted to the reader's judgment.
I have carefully avoided the use of figures whenever possible. Those who desire detailed information can always command it in statistical works. Figures certainly impart a glittering appearance to the page; but I have found their effect upon myself, when so introduced, like that
of surveying a landscape through a window framed with a number of partitions interlacing innumerable little panes. Such an arrangement may enhance architectural effect, but the view is generally clearer through a plain sheet of glass.
It may appear an omission that when alluding so often to the interests we have at stake, I should not have ventured to suggest any course for this country to adopt. It cannot, indeed, be supposed that we shall long continue dumb and passive when the most numerous of our industrial classes shall be pining in submissive destitution. The views or passions of any section of a foreign country can hardly be more binding or solemn than the existence of a helpless million at home.
What, then, is to be done? I take the blockade to be an act of arbitrary power, akin to that now building bastiles for those who differ in opinionunauthorised by any law-opposed directly to the letter and spirit of the Federal compact-contradicting the principles recently professed by the same Government. Still it has been acknowledged. This fact now precludes argument upon its merits; and because it will prove so disastrous to ourselves, I see
in that strong reason to respect it the more.
We have maintained the right of blockade when in our favour; it becomes us to uphold it as rigidly when against us.
Whichever be the American institutions we are to copy, let us never copy their practice—so frequently illustrated in the following pages—of adopting a principle at one time and reversing it at another, to suit the convenience of the hour.
There is, however, a measure we have a clear right to take. By the invariable policy both of America and of Europe, it is but a question of time and judgment when to acknowledge a de facto Government. Had we been permitted to remain disinterested, a wide latitude of time might have been afforded to the people of the North to subjugate their fellow-countrymen. The course they have deliberately adopted, by involving in the strife the existence of large masses of our people, forces the question upon us.
What are the ele. ments to be weighed to arrive at a sound judgment on this point ?
If we find that the States of the South are exercising a just constitutional right—that the attempt
to subdue them is a hopeless delusion—that persistence in it may bend free institutions beneath the yoke of military despotism, and must inevitably burthen the North with a crushing load of debtand further, that the restoration of the Union, were it possible, would be of uttermost injury to the true welfare of the people—if these conclusions be arrived at, there need then be no long hesitation in adopting a course thus really beneficial to all parties. It may, indeed, be said, that after that event the war and the blockade might still continue. But this is a war entirely dependent on a series of loans; these loans entirely depend on the chance duration of the present excitement. Whenever the independence of the South is acknowledged by England and France, the bankers of New York will have little desire to take another loan. A war sustained by borrowing at the rate of eighty millions a year, in a community exposed to panics such as that but four years distant, is an enormous superstructure overhanging a basement of glass, and needs no very weighty blow to level it in a moment with the ground.
It may, perhaps, be said that the defects of the American system have been criticised with too