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Hillsborough (NC) Recorder

Hillsborough (NC) Recorder

June 12, 1861

Page 1


                                    From the London Times, 9th May


            We on this side are disposed to take a very grave and dispassionate view of the American quarrel.  If we were somewhat indignant at the fell celerity with which the seceding States rushed into violence, perhaps we have also begun to suspect that in the cause they were ready to maintain unto death there might not be more than we had thought of.  So we wish it were possible that England or some other Power might arbitrate in this unnatural conflict, and we all feel sure that the matter might be arranged.  People are apt to think so in a quarrel which is not their own.  In this case there are suggestions so obvious, as they seem to us, that they have only to be offered and they are sure to be adopted.  A reference, a terrible division at once, a mixed commission—anything seems better than the barbarous ordeal of mutual destruction in order to find out, not which is most in the right, but which is the strongest.  But vain our compassion and our wishes.  America has declared, and no one can doubt it, that she will not abide the arbitration of any Power, much less one of the Old World.  But what if some happy suggestion might be wafted across the ocean, or some scheme of settlement which might seem an inspiration from above?  Even this is impossible.  Any comment or advice that can be made on the existing state of affairs, whatever that is, cannot arrive in the States earlier than twenty days?  The fortress may have surrendered, the city may have opened its gates, the fleet may have been wrecked, or some one of the chief actors in the sanguinary piece may have been suddenly eliminated from the scene.  Who, then, can guess the state of things now, though it be only thirteen days since the last bulletin from the seat of war?  What flag waves over the Capitol?  How many ships survive the Federal Government?  What is the number of the Seceding States?  How have the Northern Generals kept up the communications between Washington and their basis of operations?  Yet, if we are wholly in the dark upon any or all of these points, our wishes for peace must be the haziest of all idle sentiments, open even to the suspicion of absolute unreality.

            What have we, then, to do but to watch and see the issue of these “fell incensed points of mighty opposites!”  Since it must be, let us note the providential uses hidden in this calamity.  Is not this a necessary passage in the history of the nation?  There are few great rivers that have not at some period of their course to struggle through the gorges of a mountain chain, in which they seem almost to reappear in ampler channels and more abundant streams.  It used to be said that every nation must go through the feudal state, or show for ages the effect of an imperfect education like unhappy Ireland; and it has been added that where this discipline was wanting, the chivalry of war might do the work.  War, it has been said, takes up nations as the drill sergeant takes up the war recruit, and teaches them grace, harmonious movement, and mutual consideration.  The army, say parents, is the best school for manners.  The sight of the battlefield has chastened the ambition even of Emperors.  You may tell the man who has been in a great battle.  He will not talk of war, of wounds, or dread artillery, and the sword’s edge quite so glibly as other people.  Like Dante, “he has seen hell.”  Recollections haunt his mind, and special images rivet his gaze.  This is not the man to carry about with him a secret armory of destruction, and to rush into any quarrel, simply because he is prepared.  May we not perceive in this awful conflict the appointed means for chastening the quarrelsome spirit of the Americans, for elevating self-defence [sic] into a public principle, and for changing the brave into a soldier?  All American has been long playing at war.  Such a game ought to have a touch of seriousness, and seriousness is not to be obtained without suffering and cost.  One thing is certain—America was never likely to be taught her duty by England, or any neighbor in the Old World.  We have been too anxious to avoid a quarrel with this infant terrible, who would be certain to inflict more damage on us than the quarrel was worth.  America is now supplying for herself the missing part of her education.

            Thus far the war is one out of all precedent and beyond all calculation.  At this moment it is impossible to say what is its object, and how it is to be conducted.  The reduction of the Seceding States is an almost inconceivable idea.  The territory is immense, the country difficult, the climate unhealthy, and the population twelve millions.  Even if we could suppose a Republican army of 50,000 men making good its passage from Baltimore to the Gulf of Mexico, in the face of every difficulty, several such armies might accomplish the feat, and yet leave the question as they found it.  The effect, and even the possibility of a blockade, a stoppage of supplies, or an embargo upon duties, has yet to be seen.  As for the slave population there is not the smallest symptom of their disaffection, or of their wish to leave their masters en masse.  Here and there it is likely enough that a sullen slave who has quarreled with his master or one who really is in the hand of a tyrant, or one conscious of a figure and qualities worthy of freedom, may be ready to seize an opportunity of escape.  But the present is an affair, not of individuals, but of millions.  So what chance is there of any result to be obtained from the war, unless the possession of the capital be a result worth considering?  That, in fact, is the contest at this moment. It is a contest for the dead body of Patroclus; for the Holy Places; for a name, for a prestige, for a reality.  If we suppose the Northern States victorious in several battles, they are left with 30,000 men in possession of a worthless site in an enemy’s country.  While these 30,000 are locked up there, and sustained by immense efforts and at an intolerable expense, the Southern States may be steadily pursuing their own course of secession, self-government and consolidation.  With the single exception of the Capitol, not a fort, not an arsenal, not a yard, not a ship, not a bit of wood or stone will be left the Federal Government in the Seceding States.  If, too, their commerce should be at the mercy of the Northern privateer, that is a game in which the Northerners have the most to lose and the balance must be ever against the richer.  The Government now at Washington, if still there, and, if it be there, supposing it still free to act, must have these considerations before it.  We know not how it can escape the conclusion that such a war is contrary to the very rules of war, seeing that it has no object.  A day may throw light on the struggle and show that the vast efforts of the Northern States are not to be lavished in vain and all that noble blood spent like water.  We only reason upon what we see and know, and we are driven to the conclusion that thus far these thirty millions of our own flesh and blood are fighting for a shadow.

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