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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 10, No. 61, November, 1862 by Various

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community has ever displayed a more glaring ignorance of the character
of the contest here waged than was exhibited by most Americans in the
early months of that contest, and down to a recent period. The war
was treated by nearly the whole people as if slavery had no possible
connection with it, and as if all mention of slavery in matters
pertaining to the war were necessarily an impertinence, a foreign
subject lugged into a domestic discussion. Three-fourths of the people
were disposed querulously to ask why Abolitionists couldn't let slavery
alone in war-time. It was a bad thing, was Abolitionism, in time of
peace; but its badness was vastly increased when we had war upon our
hands. Half the other fourth of the citizens were disposed to agree with
the majority, but very shame kept them silent. It was only the few who
had a proper conception of the state of things, and they had little
influence with the people, and, consequently, none with Government. Had
they said much, or attempted to do anything, probably they would have
found Federal arms directed against themselves with much more of force
and effectiveness in their use than were manifested when they were
directed against the Rebels. When a Union general could announce that
he would make use of the Northern soldiers under his command to destroy
slaves who should be so audacious as to rebel against Rebels, and the
announcement was received with rapturous approval at the North, it was
enough to convince every intelligent and reflecting man that no just
idea of the struggle we were engaged in was common, and that a blind
people were following blind leaders into the ditch,--even into that
"last ditch" to which the Secessionists have so often been doomed, but
in which they so obstinately continue to refuse to find their own and
their cause's grave.

That Government was not much ahead of the people in 1861, and through
most of the present year, respecting the position of slavery, is very
evident to all who know what it did, and what it refused to do, with
regard to that institution. With a hardiness that would have been
strongly offensive, if it had not been singularly ridiculous, Mr. Seward
told the astonished world of Europe that the fate of slavery did not
depend upon the event of our contest,--which was as much as to say that
we should not injure it, happen what might; and no one then supposed
that the Confederates would willingly strike a blow at it, either to
conciliate foreign nations or to obtain black soldiers. The words of the
Secretary of State did us harm in England, with the religious portion of
whose people it is something like an article of faith that slavery is
an addition to the list of deadly sins. They injured us, too, with the
members of the various schools of liberal politicians over all Europe;
and they furnished to our enemies abroad the argument that there really
was no difference between the North and the South on the slavery
question, and that therefore the sympathies of all generous minds
should be with the Southrons, who were the weaker party. Our cause was
irreparably damaged in Europe through the indiscretion of the Honorable
Secretary, who cannot be accused of any love for slavery, but who was
then, as he appears to be up to the present hour, ignorant of the nature
and the extent of the contest of which his country is the scene. Other
members of the Administration had sounder ideas, but their weight in it
was not equal to that of the Secretary of State.

It is but fair to the President to say, that his conduct was such that
it was obvious that he did not favor slavery because he had any respect
for it. He pulled so hard upon the chains that bound him, that his
desire to throw them off was clear to the world; but they were too
strong, and too well fastened, to be got rid of easily. He feared that
all the Unionists of the Border States would be lost, if he should adopt
the views of the Emancipationists; and the fear was natural, though in
point of fact his course had no good effect in those States, beyond that
of conciliating a portion of the Kentuckians. North Carolina, under the
old system the most moderate of the Slave States, was as far gone in
Secession as South Carolina, and furnished far more men to the Southern
armies than her neighbor. The Virginians and Missourians who went with
us would have pursued the same course, had the President's opinions
on slavery been as radical and pronounced as those of Mr. Garrison.
Maryland was kept from wheeling into the Secession line only by the
presence on her soil, and in her vicinity, of strong Federal armies. In
Tennessee, at a later period of the war, as in North Carolina, Federal
power extended as far as Federal guns could throw Federal shot, though
Tennessee had not been renowned for her extreme attachment to slavery.
But the heavy weight on the Presidential mind came from the Free States,
in which the Pro-Slavery party was so powerful, and the nature of the
war was so little understood, that it was impossible for Government to
strike an effective blow at the source of the enemy's strength. Before
that could be done, it would be necessary that the Northern mind should
be trained to justice in the school of adversity. The position of the
President in 1861 was not unlike to that which the Prince of Orange held
in 1687. Had William made his attempt on England in 1687, the end would
have been failure as complete as that of Monmouth in 1685. It was
necessary that the English mind should be educated up to the point of
throwing aside some cherished doctrines, the maintenance of which stood
in the way of England's safety, prosperity, and greatness. William
allowed the fruit he sought to ripen, and in 1688 he was able to do with
ease that which no human power could have done in 1687. So was it with
Mr. Lincoln, and here. Had the Proclamation lately put forth been issued
in 1861, either it would have fallen dead, or it would have met with
such opposition in the North as would have rendered it impossible to
prosecute the war with any hope of success. There would probably have
been _pronunciamientos_ from some of our armies, and the Union might
have been shivered to pieces without the enemy's lifting their hands
further against it. We do not say that such would have been the course
of events, had the Proclamation then appeared, but it might have taken
that turn; and the President had to allow for possibilities that perhaps
it never occurred to private individuals to think of,--men who had no
sense of responsibility either to the country, to the national cause, or
to the tribunal of history. He would not move as he was advised to move
by good men who had not taken into consideration all the circumstances
of the case, and who could not feel as he was forced to feel because he
was President of the United States. Probably, if he had been a private
citizen, he would have been the foremost man of the Emancipation party;
but the place he holds is so high that he must look over the whole land,
and necessarily he sees much that others can never behold. He saw that
one of two things would happen in a few months after the beginning of
active warfare, toward the close of last winter: either the Rebels would
be beaten in the field, in which event there would be reasonable hope
of the Union's reconstruction, and the people could then take charge
of slavery, and settle its future condition as to them should seem
best,--or our armies would be beaten, and the people would be made to
understand that slavery could no longer be allowed to exist for the
support of an enemy who had announced from the beginning of their
war-movement that their choice was fixed upon conquest, or, failing
that, annihilation.

It was written that we should fail in the field. We sought to take
Richmond, with an army of force that appeared to be adequate to the
work. We were beaten; and after some months of severe warfare, the
country had the supreme felicity of celebrating the eighty-sixth
anniversary of its Independence by thanking Heaven that its principal
army had escaped capture by falling back to the fever-laden banks of a
river on which lay a naval force so strong as to prevent the further
advance of the victorious Southrons. The exertions that were made to
remove that army from a place that threatened its total destruction
through pestilence led to another series of actions, in which we were
again beaten, and the Secession armies found themselves hard by the very
station which they had so long held after their victory at Bull Run.
Had their numbers been half as large as we estimated them by way of
accounting for our defeats, they could have marched into Washington,
and the American Union would have been at an end, while the Southern
Confederacy would have taken the place which the United States had
possessed among the nations. Fortunately, the enemy were not strong
enough to hazard everything upon one daring stroke. General Lee was
as prudent, or as timid, after his victories over General Pope, as,
according to some authorities, Hannibal was after winning "the field
of blood" at Cannae. What he did, however, was sufficient to show
how serious was the danger that threatened us. If he could not take
Washington, which stood for Rome, he might take Baltimore, which should
be Capua. He entered Maryland, and his movements struck dismay into
Pennsylvania. Harrisburg was marked for seizure, and the archives of the
second State of the Union were sent to New York; and Philadelphia was
considered so unsafe as to cause men to remove articles of value thence
to her ancient rival's protection. That the enemy meant to invade the
North cannot well be doubted; but the resistance they encountered,
leading to their defeat at South Mountain and Antietam, forced them to
retreat. Had they won at Antietam, not only would Washington have been
cut off from land-communication with the North, but Pennsylvania would
have been invaded, and the Southrons would have fattened on the produce
of her rich fields. While these things were taking place in Virginia and
Maryland, Fortune had proved equally unfavorable to us in the South and
the Southwest. We had been defeated near Charleston, and most of our
troops at Port Royal had been transferred to Virginia. Charleston and
Mobile saw ships constantly entering their harbors, bringing supplies to
the Secession forces. Wilmington and Savannah were less liable to attack
than some Northern towns. An attack on Vicksburg had ended in Federal
failure. By the aid of gunboats we had prevented the enemy from taking
Baton Rouge, and destroyed their iron-clad Arkansas; but our soldiers
had to abandon that town, and leave it to be watched by ships, while
they hastened to the defence of New Orleans, a city which they could not
have held half an hour, had the protecting naval force been withdrawn.
The Southwest was mostly abandoned by our troops, and the tide of war
had rolled back to the banks of the Ohio. Nashville was looked upon as
lost, Louisville was in great danger of being taken, and for some days
there was a perfect panic throughout the country respecting the fate of
Cincinnati, the prevailing opinion being that the enemy had as good
a chance of getting possession of that town as we had of maintaining
possession of it. There was hardly a quarter to which a Unionist could
look without encountering something that filled his mind with vexation,
disappointment, shame, and gloom. All that the most hopeful of loyal men
could say was, that the enemy had been made to evacuate Maryland, and
that they had not proceeded beyond threats against any Northern State:
and that was a fine theme for congratulations, after seventeen months
of warfare, in which the Rebels were to have been beaten and the Union
restored!

Such was the state of affairs, when, six days after the Battle of
Antietam, President Lincoln issued his Proclamation against slavery.
Some persons were pleased to be much astonished when it appeared. They
said they had been deceived. They were right. They were self-deceived.
They had deceived themselves. The President had received their pledge
of support, which they, with an egotism which is not uncommon with
politicians, had construed into a pledge from him to support slavery at
all hazards, under all circumstances, and against all comers. He had
given no pledge either to them or to their opponents. Plainly as man
could speak, he had said that his object was the nation's safety,
either with slavery or without it, the fate of slavery being with him a
secondary matter. If any construction was to be put upon his words to
Mr. Greeley beyond their plainest possible meaning, it was that he
preferred the destruction of slavery to its conservation, for it was
known that he had been an anti-slavery man for years, and he had been
made President by a party which was charged by its foes with being
so fanatically opposed to slavery that it was ready to destroy the
Constitution in order to gain a place from which it could hope to effect
its extermination. But Mr. Lincoln meant neither more nor less than what
he said, his sole object being the overthrow of the Rebels. He has done
no more than any President would have been compelled to do who should
have sought to do his duty. Mr. Douglas could have done no less, had he
been chosen President, and had rebellion followed his election, as we
believe would have been the fact. The Proclamation is not an "Abolition"
state-paper. Not one line of it is of such matter as any Abolitionist
would have penned, though all Abolitionists may be glad that it has
appeared, because its promulgation is a step in the right direction,--a
step sure to be taken, unless the first Federal efforts should also have
been the last, because leading to the defeat of the Rebels, and the
return of peace. The President nowhere says that he seeks the abolition
of slavery. The blow he has dealt is directed against slavery in the
dominions of the Confederacy. That Confederacy claims to be a nation,
and some of our acts amount to a virtual recognition of the claim which
it makes. Now, if we were at war with an old nation of which slavery was
one of the institutions, it could not be said that we had not the
right to offer freedom to its slaves. Objection might be made to
the proclamation of an offer of the kind, but it would be based on
expediency. England would not accept a plan that was formed half a
century ago for the partition of the United States, and which had for
its leading idea the proclamation of freedom to American slaves; but
her refusal was owing to the circumstance that she was herself a great
slaveholding power, and she had no thought of establishing a precedent
that might soon have been used with fatal effect against herself. She
did not close her ears to the proposition because she had any doubt
as to her right to avail herself of an offer of freedom to slaves,
or because she supposed that to make such an offer would be to act
immorally, but because it was inexpedient for her to proceed to
extremities with us, due regard being had to her own interests. Had
slavery been abolished in her dominions twenty years earlier, she would
have acted against American slavery in 1812-15, and probably with entire
success. President Lincoln does not purpose going so far as England
could have gone with perfect propriety. She could have proclaimed
freedom to American slaves without limitation. He has regard to the
character of the war that exists, and so his Proclamation is not threat,
but a warning. In substance, he tells the Rebels, that, if they shall
persist in their rebellion after a certain date, their slaves shall be
made free, if it shall be in his power to liberate them. He gives
them exactly one hundred days in which to make their election between
submission and slavery and resistance and ruin; and these hundred days
may become as noted in history as those Hundred Days which formed the
second reign of Napoleon I., as well through the consequences of the
action that shall mark their course as through the gravity of that
action itself.

Objections have been made to the time of issuing the Proclamation. Why,
it has been asked, spring it so suddenly upon the country? Why publish
it just as the tide of war was turning in our favor? Why not wait, and
see what the effect would be on the Southern mind of the victories won
in Maryland?--We have no knowledge of the immediate reasons that moved
the President to select the twenty-second of September for the date of
his Proclamation; but we can see three reasons why that day was a good
one for the deed which thereon was done. The President may have argued,
(1,) that the American mind had been brought up to the point of
emancipation under certain well-defined conditions, and that, if he
should not avail himself of the state of opinion, the opportunity
afforded him might pass away, never to return with equal force; (2,)
that foreign nations might base acknowledgment of the Confederacy on the
defeats experienced by our armies in the last days of August, on the
danger of Washington, and on the advance of Rebel armies to the Ohio,
and he was determined that they should, if admitting the Confederacy
to national rank, place themselves in the position of supporters of
slavery; and, (3,) that the successes won by our army in Maryland,
considering the disgraceful business at Harper's Ferry, were not of that
pronounced character which entitles us to assert any supremacy over the
enemy as soldiers. Something like this would seem to be the process
through which President Lincoln arrived at the sound conclusion that the
hour had come to strike a heavy blow at the enemy, and that he was the
man for the hour.

Thus much for the Proclamation itself, the appearance of which indicates
the beginning of a new period in the Secession contest, and shows that
the American people are capable of conquering their prejudices, provided
their schooling shall be sufficiently severe and costly. But the
Proclamation itself, and without any change in our military policy,
cannot be expected to accomplish anything for the Federal cause. Its
doctrines must be enforced, if there is to be any practical effect from
the change of position taken by the country and the President. If the
same want of capacity that has hitherto characterized the war on our
part is to be exhibited hereafter, the Proclamation might as well have
been levelled against the evils of intemperance as against the evils
of slavery. Never, since war began, has there been such imbecility
displayed in waging it as we have contrived to display in our attacks on
the enemies of the Union. It used to be supposed that Austria was the
slowest and the most stupid of military countries; but America has
got ahead of Austria in the art of doing nothing--or worse than
nothing--with myriads of men and millions of money. We stand before the
world a people to whom military success seems seldom possible, and,
when possible, rarely useful. If we win a victory, we spend weeks in
contemplating its beauties, and never think of improving it. Had one of
our generals won the Battle of Jena, he would have rested for six weeks,
and permitted the Prussian army to reorganize, instead of following it
with that swiftness which alone can prevent brave men from speedily
rallying after a lost battle. Had one of them won Waterloo, he would
not have dreamed of entering France, but would have liberally given to
Napoleon all the time that should have been necessary for his recovery
from so terrible a defeat. They have nothing in them of the qualities
even of old Bluecher, who never was counted a first-class commander.
Forbearance has never ceased to be a virtue with them. Whether their
slackness is of native growth, or is the consequence of instructions
from Government, it is plain that adherence to it can never lead to
the conquest of the Southrons. There is now a particular reason why
it should give way to something of a very different character. The
Proclamation has changed the conditions of the contest, and to be
defeated now, driven out of the field for good and all, would be a far
more mortifying termination of the war than it could have been, if we
had already failed utterly. We have committed the unpardonable sin
against slavery, and to fail now would be to place ourselves in the same
position that is held by the commander of a ship of war who nails his
colors to the mast, and yet has to get them down in order to prevent his
conqueror from annihilating him. The action of the Confederate Congress
with reference to the Proclamation, so far as we have accounts of it,
shows that the President's action has intensified the character of the
conflict, and that the enemy are preparing to fight under the banner of
the pirate, declaring that they will show no quarter, because they
look upon the Proclamation as declaring that there shall be no quarter
extended to them. The President of the United States, they say, has
avowed it to be his purpose to inaugurate a servile war in their
country, and they call fiercely for retaliation. They mean, by using
the words "servile war," to convey the impression that there is to be
a general slaying and ravishing throughout the South, on and after the
first of next January, under the special patronage of the American
President, who has ordered his soldiers and his sailors, his ships and
his corps, to be employed in protecting black ravishers of white women
and black murderers of white children. All they say is mere cant, and
is intended for the European market, which they now supply as liberally
with lies as once they did with cotton. Our foolish foes in England
accept every falsehood that is sent them from Richmond, and hence the
torrent of misrepresentation that flows from that city to London. Let
it continue to flow. It can do us no harm, if our action shall be in
correspondence with our cause and our means. If we succeed, falsehood
cannot injure us; if we fail, we shall have something of more importance
than libels to think of. We should bear in mind that our armies are not
to succeed because the slaves shall rise, but that the slaves are to be
freed as a consequence of the success of our armies. That our armies may
succeed, there must be more energy displayed both by their commanders
and by Government. The Proclamation must be enforced, or it will come to
nought. There is nothing self-enforcing about it. Its mere publication
will no more put an end to the Rebellion than President Lincoln's first
proclamation, calling upon the Rebels to cease their evil-doings and
disperse, could put an end to it. Its future value, like that of all
papers that deal with the leading interests of mankind, must depend
altogether upon the future action of the men from whom it emanates, and
that of their constituents. It stands to-day where the Declaration of
Independence stood for the five years that followed its promulgation,
waiting for its place in human annals to be prepared for it by its
supporters. Of what worth would the Declaration of Independence be now,
had it not been for Trenton and Princeton, Saratoga and Yorktown? Of
no worth at all; and its authors would be looked upon as a band of
sentimental political babblers, who could enunciate truths which neither
they nor their countrymen had the capacity to uphold and practically
to demonstrate. But the Declaration of Independence is one of the
most immortal of papers because it proved a grand success; and it was
successful because the men who put it forth were fully competent to the
grand work with the performance of which they were charged. It is for
Mr. Lincoln himself to say whether the Proclamation of September 22,
1861, shall take rank with the Declaration of July 4, 1776, or with
those evidences of flagrant failure that have become so common since
1789,--with the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, and Mexican
Constitutions. That it is the people's duty to support the President is
said by almost all men; but is it not equally the duty of the President
to support the people? And have they not supported him,--supported him
with men, with money, with the surrender of the enjoyment of some of
their dearest rights, with their full confidence, with good wishes and
better deeds, and with all the rest of the numerous moral and material
means of waging war vigorously and triumphantly? And if they have
done and are doing all this, who will be to blame, if the enemy shall
accomplish their purpose?

The President and his immediate associates are placed so high by their
talents and their positions that they must be supposed open to the love
of fame, and to desire honorable mention in their country's annals,
especially as they have to do with matters of such transcendent
importance, greater even than those that absorbed the attention of
Washington and Hamilton, of Jefferson and Madison, of Jackson and
Livingston. It is for themselves to decide what shall be said of them
hereafter, and through all future time,--whether they shall be blessed
or banned, cursed or canonized. The judgment that shall be passed upon
them and their work will be given according to the result, and from it
there can be no appeal. The Portuguese have a well-known proverb, that
"the way to hell is paved with good intentions;" but it is not
the laborers on that broad and crowded highway who gain honorable
immortality. The decisions of posterity are not made with reference to
men's motives and intentions, but upon their deeds. With posterity,
success is the proper proof of merit, when nothing necessary to its
winning is denied to the players in the world's great games. Richmond is
worshipped, and Richard detested, not because the former was good and
great, and the latter wicked and weak, for Richard was the better and
the abler man, but for the reason that the decision was in Richmond's
favor on Bosworth Field. The only difference between Catiline and
Caesar, according to an eminent statesman and scholar, is this: Catiline
was crushed by his foes, and Caesar's foes were crushed by him. This
may seem harsh, but we fear that it is only too true,--that it is in
accordance with that irreversible law of the world which makes success
the test of worth in the management of human affairs. If Mr. Lincoln
and his confidential officers would have the highest American places in
after-days as well as to-day, let them win those places by winning the
nation's battle. They can have them on no other terms. That is one of
the conditions of the part they accepted when they took upon themselves
their present posts at the beginning of a period of civil convulsion. If
they fail, they will be doomed to profound contempt. In the words of the
foremost man of all this modern world, uttered at the very crisis of his
own fortunes,--Napoleon I., in the summer of 1813,--"To be judged by the
event is the inexorable law of history."

HOW TO CHOOSE A RIFLE.

_To the Editors of the_ ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

Some thirty years ago, a gentleman who had just returned from Europe was
trying to convey an idea of the size and magnificence of St. Peter's
Church to a New-England country-clergyman, and was somewhat taken aback
by the remark of the good man, that "the Pope must require a very
powerful voice to fill such a building."

The anecdote has been brought to my mind by the unexpected position in
which I am placed, as the recipient of such a multitude of letters,
and from such widely separated portions of the country, elicited by my
article on Rifle-Clubs in the "Atlantic" for September, that I find
myself called upon to address an audience extending from Maine to
Minnesota. Fortunately for me, however, the columns of the "Atlantic"
afford facilities of communication not enjoyed by the Pope, and through
that medium I crave permission to reply to inquiries which afford most
gratifying proof of the wide-spread interest which is awakened in the
subject.

Almost every letter contains the inquiry, "What is the new
breech-loading rifle you allude to, and where is it to be had?"--but a
large proportion of them also ask advice as to the selection of a rifle;
and with such evidence of general interest in the inquiry, I have
thought I could not do better than to frame my reply specially to this
point.

The rifle above alluded to is not yet in the market, and probably will
not be for some time to come. Only three or four samples have been
manufactured, and after being subjected to every possible test short
of actual service in the hands of troops, it has proved so entirely
satisfactory that preparations are now making for its extensive
production. Thus far it is known as the Ashcroft rifle, from the name of
the proprietor, Mr. E.H. Ashcroft of Boston, the persevering energy
of whose efforts to secure its introduction will probably never be
appreciated as it deserves, except perhaps by those who have gone
through the trial of bringing out an idea involving in its conception a
great public benefit.

Lieutenant Busk, in hid "Hand-Book for Hythe," says, "I cannot imagine a
much more helpless or hopeless position than that of an individual who,
having determined to expend his ten or twenty guineas in the purchase
of a rifle, and, guided only by the light of Nature, applies to
a respectable gun-maker to supply his want. I never hear of an
inexperienced buyer in search of a rifle without being reminded of the
purchaser of a telescope, who, on asking the optician, among a multitude
of other questions, whether he would be able to discern an object
through it four miles off, received for reply, 'See an object _four_
miles off, Sir? You can see an object four-and-twenty thousand miles
off, Sir,--you can see the moon, Sir!' In like manner, if you naively
inquire of a gun-maker whether a particular rifle will carry two hundred
yards, the chances are he will exclaim, emphatically, 'Two hundred
yards, Sir? It will carry fifteen hundred.' And so no doubt it may. The
only question, is, How?"

The questions which have been addressed to me for a few weeks past have
given me a keen appreciation of the difficulties alluded to, in which
multitudes are at this moment plunged, to whom I shall be but too happy
if it is in my power to extend a helping hand.

At the outset, however, it is but fair to declare my conviction that
no man who has any just appreciation of the subject would attempt to
_choose_ a gun for another, any more than he would a horse, or, I had
almost said, a wife; but he may lay down certain general rules which
each individual must apply for himself, exercising his own taste in the
details. Thus, I have elsewhere declared my own predilection for Colt's
rifle; and I hold to it notwithstanding a strong prejudice against it
which very generally exists. I do not mean to assert that it is a better
shooter than many others, and still less would I urge any one else to
procure one because I like it, but I simply say that its performance is
equal to my requirements, and that the whole construction and getting-up
of the gun suit my fancy; and the fact that another man dislikes it is
no reason why I should discard it.

I have known men who were continually changing their guns, and seemed
satisfied only with novelties. With such a taste I have no sympathy,
but, on the contrary, my feeling of attachment to a trusty weapon
strengthens with my familiarity with its merits, till it becomes so near
akin to affection that I should find it hard to part with one which had
served me well, and was associated in my mind with adventures whose
interest was derived from its successful performance.

The first piece of advice I would offer to a novice in search of a gun
is, "Don't be in a hurry."

The demand is such that a buyer is constantly urged to close a bargain
by the assurance that it may be his last chance to secure such a weapon
as the one he is examining,--and great numbers of mere toys have thus
been forced upon purchasers, who, if they ever practise enough to
acquire a taste for shooting, will send them to the auction-room, and
make another effort to procure a gun suited to their wants. Several new
patterns of guns have been produced within the last year, some of which
are very attractive in their appearance, and to an inexperienced person
seem to possess sufficient power for any service they may ever be called
upon to perform. They are well finished, compact, light, and pretty.
A Government Inspector, indeed, would be apt to make discoveries of
"malleable iron," which would cause their instant rejection, but which
in reality constitutes no ground of objection to guns whose parts are
not required to be interchangeable. They might be described as "well
adapted for ladies' use, or for boys learning to shoot;" but it gave me
a sickening sense of the inexperience of many a noble-hearted youth who
may have entered the service from the purest motives of patriotism, when
a dealer, who was exhibiting one of these parlor-weapons, with a calibre
no larger than a good-sized pea, informed me that he had sold a great
many to young officers, being so light that they could be carried slung
upon the back almost as easily as a pistol. It is with no such kid-glove
tools as these that so many of our officers have been picked off by
Southern sharp-shooters. At a long range they are useless; at close
quarters, which is the only situation in which an officer actually needs
fire-arms, a revolver is far preferable. I know of no rifle so well
adapted to an officer's use as Colt's carbine,--of eighteen or
twenty-one inch barrel, and not less than 44/100 of an inch calibre. It
may be depended upon for six hundred yards, the short barrel renders
its manipulation easy in a close fight, and the value of the repeating
principle at such a time can be estimated only by that of life.

In a perfectly calm atmosphere, the light guns I have alluded to will
shoot very well for one or two hundred yards; but no one can conceive,
till he proves it by actual trial, what an amazing difference in
precision is the result of even a very slight increase of weight of
ball, when the air is in motion. Even in a dead calm no satisfactory
shooting can be done beyond two hundred yards with a lighter ball than
half an ounce, and any one who becomes interested in rifle-practice will
soon grow impatient of being confined to short ranges and calm weather.
This brings us, then, to the question of calibre, which I conceive to be
the first one to be decided in selecting a gun, and the decision rests
upon the uses to which the gun is to be applied. If it is wanted merely
for military service, nothing better than the Enfield can be procured;
but if the purchaser proposes to study the niceties of practice, and to
enter into it with a keen zest, he will need a very different style of
gun. A calibre large enough for a round ball of fifty to the pound, or
an elongated shot of about half an ounce, is sufficient for six hundred
yards; and a gun of that calibre, with a thirty-inch barrel, and a
weight of about ten pounds, is better suited to the general wants of
purchasers than any other size. In this part of the country it is by no
means easy to find a place where shooting can be safely practised even
at so long a range as five hundred yards,--which is sixty yards more
than a quarter of a mile. It is always necessary to have an attendant
at the target to point out the shots, and even then the shooter needs
a telescope to distinguish them. For ordinary purposes, therefore, the
calibre I have indicated is all-sufficient; but if a gun is wanted for
shooting up to one thousand yards, the shot should be a full ounce
weight. These are points which each man must determine for himself, and,
having done so, let him go to any gun-maker of established reputation,
and, before giving his order, let him study and compare the different
forms of stocks, till he finds what is required for his peculiar
physical conformation,--and giving directions accordingly, he will
probably secure a weapon whose merits he will not fully appreciate
till he has attained a degree of skill which is the result only of
long-continued practice.

But never buy a gun, and least of all a rifle, without trying it; and do
not be satisfied with a trial in a shop or shooting gallery, but take it
into the field; and if you distrust yourself, get some one in whom you
have confidence to try it for you. Choose a perfectly calm day. Have a
rest prepared on which not only the gun may be laid, but a support may
also be had for the elbows, the shooter being seated. By this means, and
with the aid of globe- and peek-sights, (which should always be used in
trying a gun,) it may as certainly be held in the same position at every
shot as if it were clamped in a machine. For your target take a sheet of
cartridge-paper and draw on it a circle of a foot, and, inside of that,
another of four inches in diameter. Paint the space between the rings
black, and you will then have a black ring four inches wide surrounding
a white four-inch bull's-eye, against which your globe-sight will be
much more distinctly seen than if it were black. Place the target so
that when shooting you may have the sun on your back. On a very bright
day, brown paper is better for a target than white. Begin shooting
at one hundred yards and fire ten shots, with an exact aim at the
bull's-eye, wiping out the gun after each shot. Do not look to see where
you hit, till you have fired your string of ten shots; for, if you
do, you will be tempted to alter your aim and make allowance for the
variation, whereas your object now is not to hit the bull's-eye, but to
prove the shooting of the gun; and if you find, when you get through,
that all the shots are close together, you may be sure the gun shoots
well, though they may be at considerable distance from the bull's-eye.
That would only prove that the line of sight was not coincident with the
line of fire, which can be easily rectified by moving the forward sight
to the right or left, according as the variation was on the one side
or the other. Having fired your string of ten shots, take a pair of
dividers, and, with a radius equal to half the distance between the two
hits most distant from each other, describe a circle cutting through the
centre of each of those hits. From the centre of this circle measure the
distance to each of the hits, add these distances together and divide
the sum by ten, and you have the average variation, which ought not to
be over two inches at the utmost, and if the gun is what it ought to be,
and fired by a good marksman, would probably be much less. This is a
sufficient test of the precision for that distance, and the same method
may be adopted for longer ranges. But if the gun shoots well at one
hundred yards, its capacity for a longer range may be proved by its
penetrating power. Provide a number of pieces of seasoned white-pine
board, one inch thick and say two feet long by sixteen inches wide.
These are to be secured parallel to each other and one inch apart by
strips nailed firmly to their sides, and must be so placed that when
shot at the balls may strike fairly at a right angle to their face.
Try a number of shots at the distance of one hundred yards, and note
carefully how many boards are penetrated at each shot. The elongated
shots are sometimes turned in passing through a board so as to strike
the next one sideways, which of course increases the resistance very
greatly, and such shots should not be counted; but if you find generally
that the penetration of those which strike fairly is not over six
inches, you may rest assured the gun cannot be relied on, except in
a dead calm, for more than two hundred yards, and with anything of a
breeze you will make no good shooting even at that distance. Nine inches
of penetration is equal to six hundred yards, and twelve inches is good
for a thousand.

A striking proof of the prevailing ignorance of scientific principles in
rifle-shooting is afforded by the fact that it is still a very common
practice to vary the charge of powder according to the distance to be
shot. The fact is, that beyond a certain point any increase of the
initial velocity of the ball is unfavorable both to range and precision,
owing to the ascertained law that the ratio of increase of atmospheric
resistance is four times that of the velocity, so that, after the point
is reached at which they balance each other, any additional propulsive
power is injurious. The proper charge of powder for any rifle is about
one-seventh the weight of the ball, and the only means which should ever
be adopted for increasing the range is the elevating sight.

In conclusion, I would impress upon the young rifleman the importance
of always keeping his weapon in perfect order. If you have never looked
through the barrel of a rifle, you can have no conception what a
beautifully finished instrument it is; and when you learn that the
accuracy of its shooting may be affected by a variation of the
thousandth part of an inch on its interior surface, you may appreciate
the necessity of guarding against the intrusion of even a speck of rust.
Never suffer your rifle to be laid aside after use till it has
been thoroughly cleaned,--the barrel wiped first with a wet rag,
(cotton-flannel is best,) then rubbed dry, then well oiled, and then
again wiped with a dry rag. In England this work may be left to a
servant, but with us the servants are so rare to whom such work can be
intrusted that the only safe course is to see to it yourself; and if you
have a true sportsman's love for a gun, you will not find the duty a
disagreeable one.

* * * * *

THE PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION.

In so many arid forms which States incrust themselves with, once in a
century, if so often, a poetic act and record occur. These are the jets
of thought into affairs, when, roused by danger or inspired by genius,
the political leaders of the day break the else insurmountable routine
of class and local legislation, and take a step forward in the direction
of catholic and universal interests. Every step in the history of
political liberty is a sally of the human mind into the untried future,
and has the interest of genius, and is fruitful in heroic anecdotes.
Liberty is a slow fruit. It comes, like religion, for short periods, and
in rare conditions, as if awaiting a culture of the race which shall
make it organic and permanent. Such moments of expansion in modern
history were the Confession of Augsburg, the plantation of America, the
English Commonwealth of 1648, the Declaration of American Independence
in 1776, the British emancipation of slaves in the West Indies, the
passage of the Reform Bill, the repeal of the Corn-Laws, the Magnetic
Ocean-Telegraph, though yet imperfect, the passage of the Homestead
Bill in the last Congress, and now, eminently, President Lincoln's
Proclamation on the twenty-second of September. These are acts of
great scope, working on a long future, and on permanent interests, and
honoring alike those who initiate and those who receive them. These
measures provoke no noisy joy, but are received into a sympathy so deep
as to apprise us that mankind are greater and better than we know. At
such times it appears as if a new public were created to greet the
new event. It is as when an orator, having ended the compliments and
pleasantries with which he conciliated attention, and having run over
the superficial fitness and commodities of the measure he urges,
suddenly, lending himself to some happy inspiration, announces with
vibrating voice the grand human principles involved,--the bravoes and
wits who greeted him loudly thus far are surprised and overawed: a new
audience is found in the heart of the assembly,--an audience hitherto
passive and unconcerned, now at last so searched and kindled that they
come forward, every one a representative of mankind, standing for all
nationalities.

The extreme moderation with which the President advanced to his
design,--his long-avowed expectant policy, as if he chose to be strictly
the executive of the best public sentiment of the country, waiting only
till it should be unmistakably pronounced,--so fair a mind that none
ever listened so patiently to such extreme varieties of opinion,--so
reticent that his decision has taken all parties by surprise, whilst
yet it is the just sequel of his prior acts,--the firm tone in which he
announces it, without inflation or surplusage,--all these have bespoken
such favor to the act, that, great as the popularity of the President
has been, we are beginning to think that we have underestimated the
capacity and virtue which the Divine Providence has made an instrument
of benefit so vast. He has been permitted to do more for America than
any other American man. He is well entitled to the most indulgent
construction. Forget all that we thought shortcomings, every mistake,
every delay. In the extreme embarrassments of his part, call these
endurance, wisdom, magnanimity, illuminated, as they now are, by this
dazzling success.

When we consider the immense opposition that has been neutralized or
converted by the progress of the war, (for it is not long since the
President anticipated the resignation of a large number of officers in
the army, and the secession of three States, on the promulgation of this
policy,)--when we see how the great stake which foreign nations hold in
our affairs has recently brought every European power as a client into
this court, and it became every day more apparent what gigantic and
what remote interests were to be affected by the decision of the
President,--one can hardly say the deliberation was too long. Against
all timorous counsels he had the courage to seize the moment; and such
was his position, and such the felicity attending the action, that he
has replaced Government in the good graces of mankind. "Better is virtue
in the sovereign than plenty in the season," say the Chinese. 'Tis
wonderful what power is, and how ill it is used, and how its ill use
makes life mean, and the sunshine dark. Life in America had lost much of
its attraction in the later years. The virtues of a good magistrate undo
a world of mischief, and, because Nature works with rectitude, seem
vastly more potent than the acts of bad governors, which are ever
tempered by the good-nature in the people, and the incessant resistance
which fraud and violence encounter.

The acts of good governors work at a geometrical ratio, as one midsummer
day seems to repair the damage of a year of war.

A day which most of us dared not hope to see, an event worth the
dreadful war, worth its costs and uncertainties, seems now to be close
before us. October, November, December will have passed over beating
hearts and plotting brains: then the hour will strike, and all men of
African descent who have faculty enough to find their way to our lines
are assured of the protection of American law.

It is by no means necessary that this measure should be suddenly marked
by any signal results on the negroes or on the Rebel masters. The force
of the act is that it commits the country to this justice,--that it
compels the innumerable officers, civil, military, naval, of the
Republic to range themselves on the line of this equity. It draws the
fashion to this side. It is not a measure that admits of being taken
back. Done, it cannot be undone by a new Administration. For slavery
overpowers the disgust of the moral sentiment only through immemorial
usage. It cannot be introduced as an improvement of the nineteenth
century. This act makes that the lives of our heroes have not been
sacrificed in vain. It makes a victory of our defeats. Our hurts are
healed; the health of the nation is repaired. With a victory like this,
we can stand many disasters. It does not promise the redemption of the
black race: that lies not with us: but it relieves it of our opposition.
The President by this act has paroled all the slaves in America; they
will no more fight against us; and it relieves our race once for all of
its crime and false position. The first condition of success is secured
in putting ourselves right. We have recovered ourselves from our false
position, and planted ourselves on a law of Nature.

"If that fail,
The pillared firmament is rottenness,
And earth's base built on stubble."

The Government has assured itself of the best constituency in the world:
every spark of intellect, every virtuous feeling, every religious heart,
every man of honor, every poet, every philosopher, the generosity of the
cities, the health of the country, the strong arms of the mechanics, the
endurance of farmers, the passionate conscience of women, the sympathy
of distant nations,--all rally to its support. Of course, we are
assuming the firmness of the policy thus declared. It must not be a
paper proclamation. We confide that Mr. Lincoln is in earnest, and, as
he has been slow in making up his mind, has resisted the importunacy of
parties and of events to the latest moment, he will be as absolute in
his adhesion. Not only will he repeat and follow up his stroke, but the
nation will add its irresistible strength. If the ruler has duties, so
has the citizen. In times like these, when the nation is imperilled,
what man can, without shame, receive good news from day to day, without
giving good news of himself? What right has any one to read in the
journals tidings of victories, if he has not bought them by his own
valor, treasure, personal sacrifice, or by service as good in his own
department? With this blot removed from our national honor, this heavy
load lifted off the national heart, we shall not fear henceforward
to show our faces among mankind. We shall cease to be hypocrites and
pretenders, but what we have styled our free institutions will be such.

In the light of this event the public distress begins to be removed.
What if the brokers' quotations show our stocks discredited, and the
gold dollar costs one hundred and twenty-seven cents? These tables are
fallacious. Every acre in the Free States gained substantial value on
the twenty-second of September. The cause of disunion and war has been
reached, and begun to be removed. Every man's house-lot and garden
are relieved of the malaria which the purest winds and the strongest
sunshine could not penetrate and purge. The territory of the Union
shines to-day with a lustre which every European emigrant can discern
from far: a sign of inmost security and permanence. Is it feared that
taxes will check immigration? That depends on what the taxes are spent
for. If they go to fill up this yawning Dismal Swamp, which engulfed
armies and populations, and created plague, and neutralized hitherto
all the vast capabilities of this continent,--then this taxation, which
makes the land wholesome and habitable, and will draw all men unto
it, is the best investment in which property-holder ever lodged his
earnings.

Whilst we have pointed out the opportuneness of the Proclamation, it
remains to be said that the President had no choice. He might look
wistfully for what variety of courses lay open to him: every line but
one was closed up with fire. This one, too, bristled with danger,
but through it was the sole safety. The measure he has adopted was
imperative. It is wonderful to see the unseasonable senility of what is
called the Peace party, through all its masks, blinding their eyes to
the main feature of the war, namely, its inevitableness. The war existed
long before the cannonade of Sumter, and could not be postponed. It
might have begun otherwise or elsewhere, but war was in the minds and
bones of the combatants, it was written on the iron leaf, and you
might as easily dodge gravitation. If we had consented to a peaceable
secession of the Rebels, the divided sentiment of the Border States made
peaceable secession impossible, the insatiable temper of the South made
it impossible, and the slaves on the border, wherever the border might
be, were an incessant fuel to rekindle the fire. Give the Confederacy
New Orleans, Charleston, and Richmond, and they would have demanded St.
Louis and Baltimore. Give them these, and they would have insisted on
Washington. Give them Washington, and they would have assumed the army
and navy, and, through these, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. It
looks as if the battle-field would have been at least as large in that
event as it is now. The war was formidable, but could not be avoided.
The war was and is an immense mischief, but brought with it the immense
benefit of drawing a line, and rallying the Free States to fix it
impassably,--preventing the whole force of Southern connection and
influence throughout the North from distracting every city with endless
confusion, detaching that force and reducing it to handfuls, and, in the
progress of hostilities, disinfecting us of our habitual proclivity,
through the affection of trade, and the traditions of the Democratic
party, to follow Southern leading.

These necessities which have dictated the conduct of the Federal
Government are overlooked, especially by our foreign critics.
The popular statement of the opponents of the war abroad is the
impossibility of our success. "If you could add," say they, "to your
strength the whole army of England, of France, and of Austria, you
could not coerce eight millions of people to come under this Government
against their will." This is an odd thing for an Englishman, a
Frenchman, or an Austrian to say, who remembers the Europe of the last
seventy years,--the condition of Italy, until 1859,--of Poland, since
1793,--of France, of French Algiers,--of British Ireland, and British
India. But, granting the truth, rightly read, of the historical
aphorism, that "the people always conquer," it is to be noted, that,
in the Southern States, the tenure of land, and the local laws, with
slavery, give the social system not a democratic, but an aristocratic
complexion; and those States have shown every year a more hostile and
aggressive temper, until the instinct of self-preservation forced us
into the war. And the aim of the war on our part is indicated by the
aim of the President's Proclamation, namely, to break up the false
combination of Southern society, to destroy the piratic feature in it
which makes it our enemy only as it is the enemy of the human race, and
so allow its reconstruction on a just and healthful basis. Then new
affinities will act, the old repulsions will cease, and, the cause
of war being removed, Nature and trade may be trusted to establish a
lasting peace.

We think we cannot overstate the wisdom and benefit of this act of the
Government. The malignant cry of the Secession press within the Free
States, and the recent action of the Confederate Congress, are decisive
as to its efficiency and correctness of aim. Not less so is the silent
joy which has greeted it in all generous hearts, and the new hope it has
breathed into the world.

It was well to delay the steamers at the wharves, until this edict could
be put on board. It will be an insurance to the ship as it goes plunging
through the sea with glad tidings to all people. Happy are the young who
find the pestilence cleansed out of the earth, leaving open to them
an honest career. Happy the old, who see Nature purified before they
depart. Do not let the dying die: hold them back to this world, until
you have charged their ear and heart with this message to other
spiritual societies, announcing the melioration of our planet.

"Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
And Peace proclaims olives of endless age."

Meantime that ill-fated, much-injured race which the Proclamation
respects will lose somewhat of the dejection sculptured for ages in
their bronzed countenance, uttered in the wailing of their plaintive
music,--a race naturally benevolent, joyous, docile, industrious, and
whose very miseries sprang from their great talent for usefulness,
which, in a more moral age, will not only defend their independence, but
will give them a rank among nations.

* * * * *

REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.

_History of Friedrich the Second, called Frederick the Great._ By THOMAS
CARLYLE. In Four Volumes. Vol. III. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1862.

Although History flows in a channel never quite literally dry, and for
certain purposes a continuous chronicle of its current is desirable,
it is only in rare reaches, wherein it meets formidable obstacles to
progress, that it becomes grand and impressive; and even in such cases
the interest deepens immeasurably, when some master-spirit arises to
direct its energies. The period of Frederick the Great was not one of
these remarkable passages. It was marked, however, with the signs that
precede such. Europe lay weltering and tossing in seemingly aimless
agitation, yet in real birth-throes; and the issue was momentous and
memorable, namely: The People. From the hour in which they emerged from
the darkness of the French Revolution, they have so absorbed attention
that men have had little opportunity to look into the causes which
forced them to the front, and made wiser leadership thenceforth
indispensable to peaceful rule. The field, too, was repulsive with the
appearance of nearly a waste place, save only that Frederick the Second
won the surname of "Great" by his action thereon. And it may be justly
averred that only to reveal his life, and perhaps that of one other, was
it worthy of resuscitation. To do this was an appalling labor, for the
skeleton thereof was scattered through the crypts of many kingdoms; yet,
by the commanding genius of Mr. Carlyle, bone hath not only come to
his bone, but they have been clothed with flesh and blood, so that the
captains of the age, and, moreover, the masses, as they appeared in
their blind tusslings, are restored to sight with the freshness
and fulness of Nature. Although this historical review is strictly
illustrative, it is altogether incomparable for vividness and
originality of presentation. The treatment of official personages is
startlingly new. All ceremony toward them gives place to a fearful
familiarity, as of one who not only sees through and through them, but
oversees. Grave Emptiness and strutting Vanity, found in high places,
are mocked with immortal mimicry. Indeed, those of the "wind-bag"
species generally, wherever they appear in important affairs, are so
admirably exposed, that we see how they inevitably lead States to
disaster and leave them ruins, while their pompous and feeble methods of
doing it are so put as to call forth the contemptuous smiles, yea, the
derisive laughter, of all coming generations. In fine, the alternate
light and shade, which so change the aspect and make the mood of human
nature, were never so touched in before; and therefore it is the saddest
and the merriest story ever told.

In bold and splendid contrast with this picture of national life flow
the life and fortunes of Frederick. If the qualities of his progenitors
prophesied this right royal course, his portrait, by Pesne, shows him
to have been conceived in some happy moment when Nature was in her most
generous mood. What finish of form and feature! and what apparent power
to win! Yet in what serene depths it rests, to be aroused only by some
superb challenger! No strength of thought or stress of situation seems
to have had power to line the curves of beauty. Observe, too, the
full-blown mouth, which never saw cause to set itself in order to form
or fortify a purpose. When it is remembered that in opening manhood this
prince was long imprisoned under sentence of death for attempting to
escape from paternal tyranny, and that his friend actually died on the
gallows merely for generous complicity in this offence against the state
of a king, and that neither of the terrible facts left permanent trace
on his countenance or cloud on his spirit, it should create no surprise
that nothing but the march of time was ever visible there. Though
trained in such a school, and in the twenty-eighth year of his age when
he reached the throne, he yet gave a whole and a full heart to his
subjects, and sought to guide them solely for their good. From this
purpose he never swerved; and though his somewhat too trustful methods
were rapidly changed by stern experience, his people felt more and more
the consummate wisdom of his guidance, and they became unconquerable
by that truth and that faith. Almost on the first day of his reign, he
invited Voltaire, the greatest of literary heroes, the most adroit and
successful assaulter of king-craft and priest-craft that ever lived, to
his capital and to his palace; and in a most friendly spirit consulted
him on the advancement of art and letters, exhausted him by the
touchstone of superior capacity, and even fathomed him by a glance
so keen and so covert that it always took, but never gave, and then
complimented him home in so masterly a manner that he was lured into the
fond belief that he had found a disciple. A mind so capacious and so
reticent is always an enigma to near observers. Hence it is that the
transcendently great may be more truly known to after-ages than to
any contemporary. By the patient research and profound insight of Mr.
Carlyle, Frederick the Great is thus rising into clear and perennial
light. What deserts of dust he wrought in, and what a jungle of false
growths he had to clear away, Dryasdust and Smelfungus mournfully hint
and indignantly moralize,--under such significant names does this new
Rhadamanthus reveal the real sins of mankind, and deliver them over to
the judgment of their peers. Frederick, indeed, is among them, but not
of them. The way in which he is made to come forth from the mountains of
smoke and cinders remaining of his times is absolutely marvellous. As
some mighty and mysterious necromancer quickens the morbid imagination
to supernatural sight, and for a brief moment reveals through rolling
mist and portentous cloud the perfect likeness of the one longed for
by the rapt gazer, so Frederick is restored in this biography for
the perpetual consolation and admiration of all coming heroes. In
comprehension and judgment of the actions and hearts of men, and in
vividness of writing, not that which shook the soul of Belshazzar in the
midst of his revellers was more powerful, or more sure of approval and
fulfilment. It is not only one of the greatest of histories and of
biographies, but nothing in literature, from any other pen, bears any
likeness to it. It is truly a solitary work,--the effort of a vast and
lonely nature to find a meet companion among the departed.

1. _The Rejected Stone; or, Insurrection vs. Resurrection in America._
By a Native of Virginia. Second Edition. Boston: Walker, Wise, & Co.
1862.

2. _The Golden Hour._ By MONCURE D. CONWAY, Author of "The Rejected
Stone." _Impera parendo._ Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1862.

Seldom have political writings found such accomplices in events as
these, whose final criticism appears in the great Proclamation of the
President. Two campaigns have been the bloody partisans of this earnest
pen: the impending one will cheerfully undertake its final vindication.
Not because these two little books stand sole and preeminent, the
isolated prophecies of an all but rejected truth, nor because they have
created the opinion out of which the President gathers breath for his
glorious words. Mr. Conway would hardly claim more, we think, than to
have spoken frankly what the people felt, the same people which hailed
the early emancipationing instinct of General Fremont. We see the fine
sense of Mr. Emerson in his advice to hitch our wagon to a star, but
there must be a well-seasoned vehicle, with a cunning driver to thrust
his pin through the coupling, one not apt to jump out when the axles
begin to smoke.

At the first overt act of this great Rebellion, anti-slavery men
perceived the absurdity of resisting a symptom instead of attacking the
disease. They proclaimed the old-fashioned truth, that an eruption can
be rubbed back again into the system, not only without rubbing out
its cause, but at the greatest hazard to the system, which is loudly
announcing its difficulty in this cutaneous fashion. But Northern
politicians saw that the inflammatory blotches made the face of the
country ugly and repulsive: their costliest preparations have been well
rubbed in ever since, without even yet reducing the rebellious red;
on the contrary, it flamed out more vigorously than ever. Their old
practice was not abandoned, the medicines only were changed. The wash
of compromise was replaced by the bath of blood. And into that dreadful
color the tears and agony of a million souls have been distilled, as if
they would make a mixture powerful enough to draw out all our trouble
by the pores. The very skin of the Rebellion chafed and burned more
fiercely with all this quackery.

If Slavery is our disease, the Abolition of Slavery is our remedy. Our
bayonets only cupped and scored the patient, our war-measures in and out
of Congress only worked dynamically against other war-measures far more
dogged and desperate than our own. The sentence of Emancipation is the
specific whose operation will be vital, by effecting an alteration in
the system, and soon annihilating that condition of the blood which
feeds our fevers and rushes in disgusting blotches to the face. "No,"--a
Northern minority still says,--"every fever has its term; only watch
your self-limiting disease, keep the patient from getting too much hurt
during his delirium, and he will be on 'Change before long."

No doubt of that. He loves to be on 'Change; of all the places in the
country, out of his own patriarchal neighborhoods, not even Saratoga
and Newport were ever so exhilarating to him as Wall Street and State
Street, and he longs to be well enough to infest his whilom haunts.
Slavery is a self-limited disease, for it suffers nothing but itself to
impose its limits. In that sense the North would soon have his old crony
on the pavement again, with one yellow finger in his button-hole, and
another nervously playing at a trigger behind the back. For the North
was paying roundly in men and dollars to renew that pleasurable
intercourse, to get the dear old soul out again as little dilapidated as
possible, with as much of the old immunities and elasticities preserved
as an attack so violent would allow.

The President said to the deputation of Quakers, "Where the Constitution
cannot yet go, a proclamation cannot." This was accepted by a portion of
the North as another compact expression of Presidential wisdom. It was
the common sense, curtly and neatly put, upon which our armies waited,
and for whose cold and bleached utterances our glorious young men were
sent home from Washington by rail in coffins, red receipts of Slavery to
acknowledge Northern indecision. It was the kind of common sense which,
after every family-tomb has got its tenant, and wives, mothers, sisters
tears to be their bread and meat continually, would have jogged on
'Change snugly some fine morning arm in arm with the murderer of their
noble dead.

For, though neither the Constitution nor a proclamation can quite yet go
down practically into Slavery, Slavery might come up here to find the
Constitution in its old place at the Potomac ferry, and without a toll
or pike to heed.

It seemed so sensible to say, that, where one document cannot go,
another cannot! And yet it depends upon what is in the document. If the
Constitution _could_ go South now, it would be the last thing we should
want to send, at this stage of the national malady. It contains the
immunity out of which the malady has flamed. Its very neutrality is the
best protection which a conquered South could have, and a moral triumph
that would richly compensate it for a military defeat. Would it not have
been quite as sagacious, and equally aphoristic, if the President had
said, "Where a proclamation cannot go, the Constitution never can
again"? He has said it! And if the proclamation goes first, the
Constitution will follow to bless and to save.

Both of these little books of Mr. Conway are devoted to showing the
necessity for a proclamation of emancipation, as simple justice, as
military policy, as mercy to the South, to put us right at home and
abroad, to destroy at once the cause of the Republic's shame and sorrow.
He combats various objections: such as that a proclamation of that
nature would send home instantly the pro-slavery officers and men who
are now fighting merely to enhance their own importance or to restore
the state of things before the war: that a proclamation of emancipation,
finding its way, as it surely would, to the heart of every slave, would
breed insurrections and all the horrors of a servile war: that such
a document would not be worth the paper which it blotted, until the
military power of the South was definitively broken: that it would
convert the Border States into active foes, and make them rush by
natural proclivity into the bosom of Secession. Mr. Conway disposes well
of a great deal of trash which even good Republican papers, upon which
we have hitherto relied, but can do so no longer, have vented under all
these heads of objections.

He writes with such enthusiasm, and is so plainly a dear lover and
worshipper of the justice which can alone exalt this nation, that we are
carried clear over the wretched half-republicanism which has been trying
all the year to say eminently sound and unexceptionable things, we
forget the deceit and expediency whose leaded columns have been more
formidable than those which rolled the tide of war back again to the
Potomac. Great is the animating power of faith, when faithfully brought
home to the universal instinct for righteousness. Mr. Conway was born
and bred among slaveholders, knows them and their institution, knows
the slave, and his moral condition, and his expectations: so that these
inspiriting prophecies of his are more than those of a lively and
talented pamphleteer.

His earnest purpose in writing lifts us pretty well over some things in
his style which seem to us discordant with his glorious theme. He has
a way, as good as the President's, to whom much of his matter is
addressed, of making his apologues and stories tell; they are apt, and
give the reader the sensation of being clinched. One feels like a nail
when it catches the board. But sometimes the transition to a grotesque
allusion from a fine touch of fancy or from the inbred religiousness
of the subject is abrupt. Jean Paul may offer you, in his most glowing
page, a quid of tobacco, if he pleases; the shock is picturesque, and
sometimes lets in a deep analogy. But the hour in which Mr. Conway
writes, the height of faith from which his pen stoops to the mortal
page, the unspeakable solemnity of the theme, which our volunteers are
rudely striving to trace upon their country's bosom with their blood,
and our women are steeping in their tears, ought to drive all flippancy
shuddering from the lines in which sarcasm itself should be measured and
awful as the deaths which gird us round.

But the two volumes are full of power and feeling. They are written
so that all may read. Their effect is popular, without stooping
deliberately to become so. They are among the brightest and simplest
pages which this exciting period has produced. It would be a great
mistake to gauge their effect by what they bring to pass in the minds of
cabinet-officers, editors, and party-leaders: for they put into plain,
stout language the growing instinct of the people to get at the cause of
the war which lays them waste.

Some of the most effective pages in these volumes are those which lament
the dread alternative of war, and which show that emancipation would be
merciful to all classes at the South. It is no paradox that to free the
slaves to-morrow would restore health to the South and regenerate its
people.

And we are glad that Mr. Conway speaks so emphatically against that
measure of colonization, whether the proposition be to deport the
contrabands to Hayti, or to tote them away to Central America under the
leadership of intelligent colored representatives of the North. All
these are plans which look to the eventual removal of the only men
at the South who know how to labor, and who are now the only
representatives there of the country's industrial ideas. We pray you,
Mr. President, to use the money voted for colonizing purposes to rid the
country of the men in the Border and Cotton States who cannot or will
not work, slave-owners and bushwhackers, who kill and harry, but who
never did an honest stroke of work in their lives, and whom, with or
without slavery, this Republic will have to support. Take some Pacific
Island for a great Alms-House, and inaugurate an exodus of the genuine
Southern pauper; he is only an incumbrance to the industrious and
humble-minded blacks, from whose toil the country may draw the staples
of free sugar and free cotton, raised upon the soil which is theirs by
the holy prescription of blood and sorrow. "If it were not for your
presence in the country," says the President to the colored men, "we
should have no war!" If it were not for silverware and jewelry, no
burglaries would be committed! Don't let us get rid of the villains, but
of the victims; thereby villainy will cease!

Let Mr. Pomeroy be sent to annex some of the Paumotu or Tongan groups,
where spontaneous bread-fruit would afford Mr. Floyd good plucking, and
Messrs. Wigfall, Benjamin, and Prior could even have their chewing done
by proxy, for the native pauper employs the old women to masticate his
Ava into drink. There they might continue to take their food from other
people's mouths, with the chance now and then of a strong anti-slavery
clergyman well barbecued, a luxury for which they have howled for many a
year. That is the place for your oligarchic pauper, where the elements
themselves are field-hands, with Nature for overseer, manufactures
superfluous and free-trade a blessing, and plenty of colored persons to
raise the mischief with. That is the sole crop which they have raised at
home. Let their propensities be transferred to a place unconnected with
the politics or the privileges of a Christian Republic.

But let this great Republic drive into exile the wheat-growers of the
West, the miners and iron-men of Pennsylvania, and the farmers of New
England, as soon as these men who have created the cotton-crop which
clothes a world, and who only wait for another stimulus to supersede the
lash. Let them find it, as in Jamaica, in a plot of ground, their seed
and tools, their hearth-side and marriage, their freedom, and the
shelter of a country which wants to use the products of their hands.

If it be an object to stretch a great band of free tropical labor across
Central America, to people those wastes with ideas which shall curb
the southward lust of men, and nourish a grateful empire against the
intrigues of European States, let that be done, if the colored American
of the Border States is willing to advance the project. Let the project
be clearly understood, and its prospective upholders frankly invited to
become men, and aid their country's welfare. But never let colonization
be opened like an artery, through whose "unkindest cut" some of the best
blood of the country shall slip away and be lost forever. We want the
cotton labor even more extensively diffused, to conquer John Bull with
bales, as at New Orleans. Let no cotton-grower ever budge.

_The Life and Letters of Washington Irving._ By his Nephew, PIERRE M.
IRVING. Vols. I and II. New York: G.P. Putnam.

If to be loved and admired by all, to have troops of personal friends,
to enjoy a literary reputation wide in extent and high in degree, to
be as little stung by envy and detraction as the lot of humanity will
permit, to secure material prosperity with only occasional interruptions
and intermissions, make up the elements of a happy life, then that of
Washington Irving must be pronounced one of the most fortunate in the
annals of literature. It is but repeating a trite remark to say that
happiness depends more upon organization than upon circumstances, more
upon what we are than upon what we have. Saint-Simon said of the Duke of
Burgundy, father of Louis XV., that he was born terrible: it certainly
may be said of Washington Irving that he was born happy. Some men
are born unhappy: that is, they are born with elements of character,
peculiarities of temperament, which generate discontent under all
conditions of life. Their joints are not lubricated by oil, but fretted
by sand. The contemporaries of Shakspeare, who for the most part had
little comprehension of his unrivalled genius, expressed their sense
of his personal qualities by the epithet gentle, which was generally
applied to him,--a word which meant rather more then than it does now,
comprising sweetness, courtesy, and kindliness. No one word could
better designate the leading characteristics of Irving's nature and
temperament. No man was ever more worthy to bear "the grand old name
of gentleman," alike in the essentials of manliness, tenderness, and
purity, and in the external accomplishment of manners so winning and
cordial that they charmed alike men, women, and children. He had the
delicacy of organization which is essential to literary genius, but it
stopped short of sickliness or irritability. He was sensitive to beauty
in all its forms, but was never made unhappy or annoyed by the shadows
in the picture of life. He had a happy power of escaping from everything
that was distasteful, uncomfortable, and unlovely, and dwelling in
regions of sunshine and bloom. His temperament was not impassioned; and
this, though it may have impaired somewhat the force of his genius,
contributed much to his enjoyment of life. Considering that he was an
American born, and that his youth and early manhood were passed in a
period of bitter and virulent political strife, it is remarkable how
free his writings are from the elements of conflict and opposition. He
never put any vinegar into his ink. He seems to have been absolutely
without the capacity of hating any living thing. He was a literary
artist; and the productions of his pen address themselves to the
universal and unpartisan sympathies of mankind as much as paintings
or statues. His "Rip Van Winkle" and "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" are
pictures, in which we find combined the handling of Teniers, the
refinement of Stothard, and the coloring of Gainsborough.

Fortunate in so many other things, Irving may also be pronounced
fortunate in his biographer, whom he himself designated for the trust.
His nephew has performed his labor of love in a manner which will
satisfy all but those who read a book mainly for the purpose of finding
fault with it. In his brief and tasteful preface he says: "In the
delicate office of sifting, selecting, and arranging these different
materials, extending through a period of nearly sixty years, it has
been my aim to make the author, in every stage of his career, as far as
possible, his own biographer, conscious that I shall in this way best
fulfil the duty devolved upon me, and give to the world the truest
picture of his life and character." To this purpose Mr. Pierre M.
Irving has adhered with uniform consistency. He makes his uncle his own
biographer. To borrow a happy illustration which we found in a newspaper
a few days since, his own portion of the book is like the crystal of
a watch, through which we see the hands upon the face as through
transparent air. And luckily he found ample materials in his uncle's
papers and records. Washington Irving was not bred to any profession,
and had a fixed aversion, not characteristic of his countrymen, for
regular business-occupation; his literary industry was fitful, and not
continuous: but he seems to have been fond of the occupation of writing,
and spent upon his diaries and in his correspondence a great many hours,
which he could hardly have done, if he had been a lawyer, a doctor, or
even a merchant, in active employment. His warm family-affections, too,
his strong love for his brothers and sisters, from most of whom he was
for many years separated, were a constant incitement to the writing of
letters, those invisible wires that keep up the communication between
parted hearts. For all these peculiarities of nature, for all these
accidents of fortune, we have reason to be grateful, since from these
his biographer has found ample materials for constructing the fabric of
his life from the foundation.

Many of Irving's letters, especially in the second volume, are long and
elaborate productions, which read like chapters from a book of travels,
or like essays, and yet do not on that account lose the peculiar charm
which we demand in such productions. They are perfectly natural in tone
and feeling, though evidently written with some care. They are not in
the least artificial, and yet not careless or hasty. They have all that
easy and graceful flow, that transparent narrative, that unconscious
charm, which we find in his published writings; and we not unfrequently
discern gleams and touches of that exquisite humor which was the best
gift bestowed upon his mind. Brief as our notice is, we cannot refrain
from quoting in illustration of our remark a few sentences from a letter
to Thomas Moore, written in 1824:--

"I went a few evenings since to see Kenney's new piece, 'The Alcaid.' It
went off lamely, and the Alcaid is rather a bore, and comes near to be
generally thought so. Poor Kenney came to my room next evening, and
I could not have believed that one night could have ruined a man so
completely. I swear to you I thought at first it was a flimsy suit of
clothes had left some bedside and walked into my room without waiting
for the owner to get up, or that it was one of those frames on which
clothiers stretch coats at their shop-doors, until I perceived _a thin
face, sticking edgeways out of the collar of the coat like the axe in
a bundle of fasces._ He was so thin, and pale, and nervous, and
exhausted,--he made a dozen difficulties in getting over a spot in the
carpet, and never would have accomplished it, if he had not lifted
himself over by the points of his shirt-collar."

The illustration we have Italicized is rather wit than humor; but be it
as it may, it is capital; and the whole paragraph has that quaint and
grotesque exaggeration which reminds us of the village-tailor in "The
Sketch-Book," "who played on the clarionet, and seemed to have blown his
face to a point," or of Mud Sam, who "knew all the fish in the river by
their Christian names."

We think no one can read these volumes without having a higher
impression of Washington Irving as a man. There was no inconsistency
between the author and the man. The tenderness, the purity of feeling,
the sensibility, which gave his works an entrance into so many hearts,
had their source in his mind and character. It is a very truthful record
that we have before us. The delineation is that of a man certainly not
without touches of human infirmity, but as certainly largely endowed
with virtues as well as with gifts and graces. It is very evident that
it is a truthful biography, and that the hand of faithful affection has
found nothing to suppress or conceal. When we have laid down the book,
we feel that we know the man. And we can understand why it was that he
was so loved. Enemies, it seems, he had, or at least ill-wishers; since
we learn--and it is one of the indications of his soft and sensitive
nature--that he was seriously annoyed by a persecutor who persistently
inclosed and forwarded to him every scrap of unfavorable criticism he
could find in the newspapers: but the feeling that inspired this piece
of ill-nature must have been envy, and not hatred,--the bitterness which
is awakened in some unhappy tempers by the success which they cannot
themselves attain. No man less deserved to be hated than Irving, for no
man was less willing himself to give heart-room to hatred.

We need hardly add that these volumes--of which the larger part is
by Irving himself--are very entertaining, and that we read them from
beginning to end with unflagging interest. Sketches of society and
manners, personal anecdotes, descriptions of scenery, buildings, and
works of art, give animation and variety to the narrative. The whole is
suffused with a golden glow of cheerfulness, the effluence of a nature
very happy, yet never needing the sting of riot or craving the flush of
excess, and finding its happiness in those pure fountains that refresh,
but not intoxicate.

The close of the second volume brings us down to the year 1832, and his
cordial reception by his friends and countrymen after an absence of
seventeen years; so that more good things are in store for us.

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