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Atlantic Monthly, Volume 8, Issue 49, November, 1861 by Various

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long and lonely years of toil in which no one sympathized; or in cynical
bitterness and misanthropy an old disappointment never got over. There
is a hard knot in the wood, where a green young branch was lopped away.
I have a great pity for old bachelors. Those I have known have for the
most part been old fools. But the more foolish and absurd they are, the
more pity is due them. I believe there is something to be said for even
the most unamiable creatures. The shark is an unamiable creature. It
is voracious. It will snap a man in two. Yet it is not unworthy of
sympathy. Its organization is such that it is always suffering the most
ravenous hunger. You can hardly imagine the state of intolerable famine
in which that unhappy animal roams the ocean. People talk of its awful
teeth and its vindictive eye. I suppose it is well ascertained that the
extremity of physical want, as reached on rafts at sea, has driven human
beings to deeds as barbarous as ever shark was accused of. The worse a
human being is, the more he deserves our pity. Hang him, if _that_ be
needful for the welfare of society; but pity him even as you hang. Many
a poor creature has gradually become hardened and inveterate in guilt
who would have shuddered at first, had the excess of it ultimately
reached been at first presented to view. But the precipice was sloped
off: the descent was made step by step. And there is many a human being
who never had a chance of being good: many who have been trained, and
even compelled, to evil from very infancy. Who that knows anything of
our great cities, but knows how the poor little child, the toddling
innocent, is sometimes sent out day by day to steal, and received in his
wretched home with blows and curses, if he fail to bring back enough?
Who has not heard of such poor little things, unsuccessful in their
sorry work, sleeping all night in some wintry stair, because they durst
not venture back to their drunken, miserable, desperate parents? I could
tell things at which angels might shed tears, with much better reason
for doing so than seems to me to exist in some of those more imposing
occasions on which bombastic writers are wont to describe them as
weeping. Ah, there is One who knows where the responsibility for all
this rests! Not wholly with the wretched parents: far from _that_.
_They_, too, have gone through the like: they had as little chance as
their children. _They_ deserve our deepest pity, too. Perhaps the deeper
pity is not due to the shivering, starving child, with the bitter wind
cutting through its thin rags, and its blue feet on the frozen pavement,
holding out a hand that is like the claw of some beast; but rather to
the brutalized mother who could thus send out the infant she bore.
Surely the mother's condition, if we look at the case aright, is the
more deplorable. Would not you, my reader, rather endure any degree of
cold and hunger than come to this? Doubtless, there is blame somewhere,
that such things should be: but we all know that the blame of the
most miserable practical evils and failures can hardly be traced to
particular individuals. It is through the incapacity of scores of public
servants that an army is starved. It is through the fault of millions of
people that our great towns are what they are: and it must be confessed
that the actual responsibility is spread so thinly over so great a
surface that it is hard to say it rests very blackly upon any one spot.
Oh that we could but know whom to hang, when we find some flagrant,
crying evil! Unluckily, hasty people are ready to be content, if they
can but hang anybody, without minding much whether that individual be
more to blame than many beside. Laws and kings have something to do
here: but management and foresight on the part of the poorer classes
have a great deal more to do. And no laws can make many persons managing
or provident. I do not hesitate to say, from what I have myself seen
of the poor, that the same short-sighted extravagance, the same
recklessness of consequences, which are frequently found in them, would
cause quite as much misery, if they prevailed in a like degree among
people with a thousand a year. But it seems as if only the tolerably
well-to-do have the heart to be provident and self-denying. A man with a
few hundreds annually does not marry, unless he thinks he can afford it:
but the workman with fifteen shillings a week is profoundly indifferent
to any such calculation. I firmly believe that the sternest of all
self-denial is that practised by those who, when we divide mankind into
rich and poor, must be classed (I suppose) with the rich. But I turn
away from a miserable subject, through which I cannot see my way
clearly, and on which I cannot think but with unutterable pain. It is an
easy way of cutting the knot, to declare that the rich are the cause of
all the sufferings of the poor; but when we look at the case in all its
bearings, we shall see that that is rank nonsense. And on the other
hand, it is unquestionable that the rich are bound to do something. But
what? I should feel deeply indebted to any one who would write out, in
a few short and intelligible sentences, the practical results that are
aimed at in the "Song of the Shirt." The misery and evil are manifest:
but tell us whom to hang; tell us what to do!

One heavy burden with which many men are weighted for the race of life
is depression of spirits. I wonder whether this used to be as common in
former days as it is now. There was, indeed, the man in Homer who walked
by the seashore in a very gloomy mood; but his case seems to have been
thought remarkable. What is it in our modern mode of life and our
infinity of cares, what little thing is it about the matter of the brain
or the flow of the blood, that makes the difference between buoyant
cheerfulness and deep depression? I begin to think that almost all
educated people, and especially all whose work is mental rather than
physical, suffer more or less from this indescribable gloom. And
although a certain amount of sentimental sadness may possibly help the
poet, or the imaginative writer, to produce material which may be very
attractive to the young and inexperienced, I suppose it will be admitted
by all that cheerfulness and hopefulness are noble and healthful
stimulants to worthy effort, and that depression of spirits does (so to
speak) cut the sinews with which the average man must do the work of
life. You know how lightly the buoyant heart carries people through
entanglements and labors under which the desponding would break down,
or which they never would face. Yet, in thinking of the commonness of
depressed spirits, even where the mind is otherwise very free from
anything morbid, we should remember that there is a strong temptation to
believe that this depression is more common and more prevalent than it
truly is. Sometimes there is a gloom which overcasts all life, like
that in which James Watt lived and worked, and served his race so
nobly,--like that from which the gentle, amiable poet, James Montgomery,
suffered through his whole career. But in ordinary cases the gloom is
temporary and transient. Even the most depressed are not always so.
Like, we know, suggests like powerfully. If you are placed in some
peculiar conjuncture of circumstances, or if you pass through some
remarkable scene, the present scene or conjuncture will call up before
you, in a way that startles you, something like itself which you had
long forgotten, and which you would never have remembered but for this
touch of some mysterious spring. And accordingly, a man depressed in
spirits thinks that he is always so, or at least fancies that such
depression has given the color to his life in a very much greater
degree than it actually has done so. For this dark season wakens up the
remembrance of many similar dark seasons which in more cheerful days are
quite forgot; and these cheerful days drop out of memory for the time.
Hearing such a man speak, if he speak out his heart to you, you think
him inconsistent, perhaps you think him insincere. You think he is
saying more than he truly feels. It is not so; he feels and believes
it all at the time. But he is taking a one-sided view of things; he is
undergoing the misery of it acutely for the time, but by-and-by he will
see things from quite a different point. A very eminent man (there can
be no harm in referring to a case which he himself made so public)
wrote and published something about his _miserable home_. He was quite
sincere, I do not doubt. He thought so at the time. He _was_ miserable
just then; and so, looking back on past years, he could see nothing but
misery. But the case was not really so, one could feel sure. There
had been a vast deal of enjoyment about his home and his lot; it was
forgotten then. A man in very low spirits, reading over his diary,
somehow lights upon and dwells upon all the sad and wounding things; he
involuntarily skips the rest, or reads them with but faint perception
of their meaning. In reading the very Bible, he does the like thing.
He chances upon that which is in unison with his present mood. I think
there is no respect in which this great law of the association of ideas
holds more strictly true than in the power of a present state of mind,
or a present state of outward circumstances, to bring up vividly before
us all such states in our past history. We are depressed, we are
worried; and when we look back, all our departed days of worry and
depression appear to start up and press themselves upon our view to the
exclusion of anything else; so that we are ready to think that we have
never been otherwise than depressed and worried all our life. But when
more cheerful times come, they suggest only such times of cheerfulness,
and no effort will bring back the depression vividly as when we felt
it. It is not selfishness or heartlessness, it is the result of an
inevitable law of mind, that people in happy circumstances should
resolutely believe that it is a happy world after all; for, looking
back, and looking around, the mind refuses to take distinct note of
anything that is not somewhat akin to its present state. And so, if any
ordinary man, who is not a distempered genius or a great fool, tells you
that he is always miserable, don't believe him. He feels so now, but he
does not always feel so. There are periods of brightening in the darkest
lot. Very, very few live in unvarying gloom. Not but that there is
something very pitiful (by which I mean deserving of pity) in what
may be termed the Micawber style of mind,--in the stage of hysteric
oscillations between joy and misery. Thoughtless readers of "David
Copperfield" laugh at Mr. Micawber, and his rapid passages from the
depth of despair to the summit of happiness, and back again. But if you
have seen or experienced that morbid condition, you would know that
there is more reason to mourn over it than to laugh at it. There
is acute misery felt now and then; and there is a pervading,
never-departing sense of the hollowness of the morbid mirth. It is but
a very few degrees better than "moody madness, laughing wild, amid
severest woe." By depression of spirits I understand a dejection without
any cause that could be stated, or from causes which in a healthy mind
would produce no such degree of dejection. No doubt, many men can
remember seasons of dejection which was not imaginary, and of anxiety
and misery whose causes were only too real. You can remember, perhaps,
the dark time in which you knew quite well what it was that made it so
dark. Well, better days have come. That sorrowful, wearing time, which
exhausted the springs of life faster than ordinary living would have
done, which aged you in heart and frame before your day, dragged over,
and it is gone. You carried heavy weight, indeed, while it lasted. It
was but poor running you made, poor work you did, with that feeble,
anxious, disappointed, miserable heart. And you would many a time have
been thankful to creep into a quiet grave. Perhaps that season did you
good. Perhaps it was the discipline you needed. Perhaps it took out your
self-conceit, and made you humble. Perhaps it disposed you to feel for
the griefs and cares of others, and made you sympathetic. Perhaps,
looking back now, you can discern the end it served. And now that it has
done its work, and that it only stings you when you look back, let that
time be quite forgotten!

* * * * *

There are men, and very clever men, who do the work of life at a
disadvantage, through _this_, that their mind is a machine fitted for
doing well only one kind of work,--or that their mind is a machine
which, though doing many things well, does some one thing, perhaps a
conspicuous thing, very poorly. You find it hard to give a man credit
for being possessed of sense and talent, if you hear him make a speech
at a public dinner, which speech approaches the idiotic for its
silliness and confusion. And the vulgar mind readily concludes that he
who does one thing extremely ill can do nothing well, and that he who is
ignorant on one point is ignorant on all. A friend of mine, a country
parson, on first going to his parish, resolved to farm his glebe for
himself. A neighboring farmer kindly offered the parson to plough one
of his fields. The farmer said that he would send his man John with a
plough and a pair of horses, on a certain day. "If ye're goin' about,"
said the farmer to the clergyman, "John will be unco' weel pleased, if
you speak to him, and say it's a fine day, or the like o' that; but
dinna," said the farmer, with much solemnity, "dinna say onything to him
aboot ploughin' and sawin'; for John," he added, "is a stupid body, but
he has been ploughin' and sawin' all his life, and he'll see in a minute
that _ye_ ken naething aboot ploughin' and sawin'. And then," said the
sagacious old farmer, with extreme earnestness, "if he comes to think
that ye ken naething aboot ploughin' and sawin', he'll think that ye ken
naething aboot onything!" Yes, it is natural to us all to think, that,
if the machine breaks down at that work in which we are competent to
test it, then the machine cannot do any work at all.

If you have a strong current of water, you may turn it into any channel
you please, and make it do any work you please. With equal energy and
success it will flow north or south; it will turn a corn-mill, or a
threshing-machine, or a grindstone. Many people live under a vague
impression that the human mind is like that. They think,--Here is so
much ability, so much energy, which may be turned in any direction, and
made to do any work; and they are surprised to find that the power,
available and great for one kind of work, is worth nothing for another.
A man very clever at one thing is positively weak and stupid at another
thing. A very good judge may be a wretchedly bad joker; and he must go
through his career at this disadvantage, that people, finding him silly
at the thing they are able to estimate, find it hard to believe that he
is not silly at everything. I know, for myself, that it would not be
right that the Premier should request me to look out for a suitable
Chancellor. I am not competent to appreciate the depth of a man's
knowledge of equity; by which I do not mean justice, but chancery law.
But, though quite unable to understand how great a Chancellor Lord Eldon
was, I am quite able to estimate how great a poet he was, also how great
a wit. Here is a poem by that eminent person. Doubtless he regarded it
as a wonder of happy versification, as well as instinct with the most
convulsing fun. It is intended to set out in a metrical form the career
of a certain judge, who went up as a poor lad from Scotland to England,
but did well at the bar, and ultimately found his place upon the bench.
Here is Lord Chancellor Eldon's humorous poem:--

"James Allan Parke
Came naked stark
From Scotland:
But he got clothes,
Like other beaux,
In England!"

Now the fact that Lord Eldon wrote that poem, and valued it highly,
would lead some folk to suppose that Lord Eldon was next door to an
idiot. And a good many other things which that Chancellor did, such as
his quotations from Scripture in the House of Commons, and his attempts
to convince that assemblage (when Attorney-General) that Napoleon I. was
the Apocalyptic Beast or the Little Horn, certainly point towards the
same conclusion. But the conclusion, as a general one, would be
wrong. No doubt, Lord Eldon was a wise and sagacious man as judge and
statesman, though as wit and poet he was almost an idiot. So with other
great men. It is easy to remember occasions on which great men have
done very foolish things. There never was a truer hero nor a greater
commander than Lord Nelson; but in some things he was merely an awkward,
overgrown midshipman. But then, let us remember that a locomotive
engine, though excellent at running, would be a poor hand at flying.
_That_ is not its vocation. The engine will draw fifteen heavy carriages
fifty miles in an hour; and _that_ remains as a noble feat, even though
it be ascertained that the engine could not jump over a brook which
would be cleared easily by the veriest screw. We all see this.

But many of us have a confused idea that a great and clever man is (so
to speak) a locomotive that can fly; and when it is proved that he
cannot fly, then we begin to doubt whether he can even run. We think he
should be good at everything, whether in his own line or not. And he is
set at a disadvantage, particularly in the judgment of vulgar and stupid
people, when it is clearly ascertained that at some things he is very
inferior. I have heard of a very eminent preacher who sunk considerably
(even as regards his preaching) in the estimation of a certain family,
because it appeared that he played very badly at bowls. And we all know
that occasionally the Premier already mentioned reverses the vulgar
error, and in appointing men to great places is guided by an axiom which
amounts to just this: this locomotive can run well, therefore it will
fly well. This man has filled a certain position well, therefore let us
appoint him to a position entirely different; no doubt, he will do
well there too. Here is a clergyman who has edited certain Greek plays
admirably; let us make him a bishop.

It may be remarked here, that the men who have attained the greatest
success in the race of life have generally carried weight. _Nitor in
adversum_ might be the motto of many a man besides Burke. It seems to
be almost a general rule, that the raw material out of which the finest
fabrics are made should look very little like these, to start with. It
was a stammerer, of uncommanding mien, who became the greatest orator
of graceful Greece. I believe it is admitted that Chalmers was the most
effective preacher, perhaps the most telling speaker, that Britain has
seen for at least a century; yet his aspect was not commanding, his
gestures were awkward, his voice was bad, and his accent frightful. He
talked of an _oppning_ when be meant an _opening_, and he read out the
text of one of his noblest sermons, "He that is fulthy, let him be
fulthy stall." Yet who ever thought of these things after hearing the
good man for ten minutes? Ay, load Eclipse with what extra pounds you
might, Eclipse would always be first! And, to descend to the race-horse,
_he_ had four white legs, white to the knees; and he ran more awkwardly
than racer ever did, with his head between his forelegs, close to the
ground, like a pig. Alexander, Napoleon, and Wellington were all little
men, in places where a commanding presence would have been of no small
value. A most disagreeably affected manner has not prevented a barrister
with no special advantages from rising with general approval to the
highest places which a barrister can fill. A hideous little wretch has
appeared for trial in a criminal court, having succeeded in marrying
seven wives at once. A painful hesitation has not hindered a certain
eminent person from being one of the principal speakers in the British
Parliament for many years. Yes, even disadvantages never overcome
have not sufficed to hold in obscurity men who were at once able and
fortunate. But sometimes the disadvantage was thoroughly overcome.
Sometimes it served no other end than to draw to one point the attention
and the efforts of a determined will; and that matter in regard to which
Nature seemed to have said that a man should fall short became the thing
in which he attained unrivalled perfection.

A heavy drag-weight upon the powers of some men is the uncertainty of
their powers. The man has not his powers at command. His mind is a
capricious thing, that works when it pleases, and will not work except
when it pleases. I am not thinking now of what to many is a sad
disadvantage: that nervous trepidation which cannot be reasoned away,
and which often deprives them of the full use of their mental abilities
just when they are most needed. It is a vast thing in a man's favor,
that whatever he can do he should be able to do at any time, and to
do at once. For want of coolness of mind, and that readiness which
generally goes with it, many a man cannot do himself justice; and in a
deliberative assembly he may be entirely beaten by some flippant person
who has all his money (so to speak) in his pocket, while the other must
send to the bank for his. How many people can think next day, or even
a few minutes after, of the precise thing they ought to have said, but
which would not come at the time! But very frequently the thing is of no
value, unless it come at the time when it is wanted. Coming next day, it
is like the offer of a thick fur great-coat on a sweltering day in July.
You look at the wrap, and say, "Oh, if I could but have had you on the
December night when I went to London by the limited mail, and was nearly
starved to death!" But it seems as if the mind must be, to a certain
extent, capricious in its action. Caprice, or what looks like it,
appears of necessity to go with complicated machinery, even material.
The more complicated a machine is, the liker it grows to mind, in the
matter of uncertainty and apparent caprice of action. The simplest
machine--say a pipe for conveying water--will always act in precisely
the same way. And two such pipes, if of the same dimensions, and
subjected to the same pressure, will always convey the self-same
quantities. But go to more advanced machines. Take two clocks or two
locomotive engines, and though these are made in all respects exactly
alike, they will act (I can answer at least for the locomotive engines)
quite differently. One locomotive will swallow a vast quantity of water
at once; another must be fed by driblets; no one can say why. One engine
is a _fac-simile_ of the other; yet each has its character and its
peculiarities as truly as a man has. You need to know your engine's
temper before driving it, just as much as you need to know that of your
horse, or that of your friend. I know, of course, there is a mechanical
reason for this seeming caprice, if you could trace the reason. But not
one man in a thousand could trace out the reason. And the phenomenon, as
it presses itself upon us, really amounts to this: that very complicated
machinery appears to have a will of its own,--appears to exercise
something of the nature of choice. But there is no machine so capricious
as the human mind. The great poet who wrote those beautiful verses could
not do _that_ every day. A good deal more of what he writes is poor
enough; and many days he could not write at all. By long habit the mind
may be made capable of being put in harness daily for the humbler task
of producing prose; but you cannot say, when you harness it in the
morning, how far or at what rate it will run that day.

Go and see a great organ of which you have been told. Touch it, and you
hear the noble tones at once. The organ can produce them at any time.
But go and see a great man; touch _him_,--that is, get him to begin to
talk. You will be much disappointed, if you expect, certainly, to hear
anything like his book or his poem. A great man is not a man who is
always saying great things, or who is always able to say great things.
He is a man who on a few occasions has said great things; who on the
coming of a sufficient occasion may possibly say great things again;
but the staple of his talk is commonplace enough. Here is a point of
difference from machinery, with all machinery's apparent caprice. You
could not say, as you pointed to a steam-engine, "The usual power of
that engine is two hundred horses; but once or twice it has surprised us
all by working up to two thousand." No; the engine is always of nearly
the power of two thousand horses, if it ever is. But what we have been
supposing as to the engine is just what many men have done. Poe wrote
"The Raven"; he was working then up to two thousand horse power. But
he wrote abundance of poor stuff, working at about twenty-five. Read
straight through the volumes of Wordsworth, and I think you will find
traces of the engine having worked at many different powers, varying
from twenty-five horses or less up two thousand or more. Go and hear a
really great preacher, when he is preaching in his own church upon a
common Sunday, and possibly you may hear a very ordinary sermon. I have
heard Mr. Melvill preach very poorly. You must not expect to find people
always at their best. It is a very unusual thing that even the ablest
men should be like Burke, who could not talk with an intelligent
stranger for five minutes without convincing the stranger that he had
talked for five minutes with a great man. And it is an awful thing, when
some clever youth is introduced to some local poet who has been told how
greatly the clever youth admires him, and what vast expectations
the clever youth has formed of his conversation, and when the local
celebrity makes a desperate effort to talk up to the expectations formed
of him. I have witnessed such a scene; and I can sincerely say that I
could not previously have believed that the local celebrity could have
made such a fool of himself. He was resolved to show that he deserved
his fame, and to show that the mind which had produced those lovely
verses in the country newspaper could not stoop to commonplace things.

* * * * *

Undue sensitiveness, and a too lowly estimate of their own powers, hang
heavily upon some men,--probably upon more men than one would imagine.
I believe that many a man whom you would take to be ambitious,
pushing, and self-complacent, is ever pressed with a sad conviction of
inferiority, and wishes nothing more than quietly to slip through life.
It would please and satisfy him, if he could but be assured that he is
just like other people. You may remember a touch of nature (that is, of
some people's nature) in Burns; you remember the simple exultation of
the peasant mother, when her daughter gets a sweetheart: she is "well
pleased to see _her_ bairn respeckit _like the lave_," that is, like the
other girls round. And undue humility, perhaps even befitting humility,
holds back sadly in the race of life. It is recorded that a weaver in a
certain village in Scotland was wont daily to offer a singular petition;
he prayed daily and fervently for a better opinion of himself. Yes, a
firm conviction of one's own importance is a great help in life. It
gives dignity of bearing; it does (so to speak) lift the horse over many
a fence at which one with a less confident heart would have broken down.
But the man who estimates himself and his place humbly and justly will
be ready to shrink aside, and let men of greater impudence and not
greater desert step before him. I have often seen, with a sad heart, in
the case of working people that manner, difficult to describe, which
comes of being what we in Scotland sometimes call _sair hadden down_. I
have seen the like in educated people, too. And not very many will take
the trouble to seek out and to draw out the modest merit that keeps
itself in the shade. The energetic, successful people of this world are
too busy in pushing each for himself to have time to do _that_. You will
find that people with abundant confidence, people who assume a good
deal, are not unfrequently taken at their own estimate of themselves. I
have seen a Queen's Counsel walk into court, after the case in which he
was engaged had been conducted so far by his junior, and conducted
as well as mortal could conduct it. But it was easy to see that the
complacent air of superior strength with which the Queen's Counsel took
the management out of his junior's hands conveyed to the jury, (a common
jury,) the belief that things were now to be managed in quite different
and vastly better style. And have you not known such a thing as that a
family, not a whit better, wealthier, or more respectable than all
the rest in the little country town or the country parish, do yet, by
carrying their heads higher, (no mortal could say why,) gradually elbow
themselves into a place of admitted social superiority? Everybody knows
exactly what they are, and from what they have sprung; but somehow,
by resolute assumption, by a quiet air of being better than their
neighbors, they draw ahead of them, and attain the glorious advantage
of one step higher on the delicately graduated social ladder of the
district. Now it is manifest, that, if such people had sense to see
their true position, and the absurdity of their pretensions, they would
assuredly not have gained that advantage, whatever it may be worth.

But sense and feeling are sometimes burdens in the race of life; that
is, they sometimes hold a man back from grasping material advantages
which he might have grasped, had he not been prevented by the possession
of a certain measure of common sense and right feeling. I doubt not, my
friend, that you have acquaintances who can do things which you could
not do for your life, and who by doing these things push their way in
life. They ask for what they want, and never let a chance go by them.
And though they may meet many rebuffs, they sometimes make a successful
venture. Impudence sometimes attains to a pitch of sublimity; and at
that point it has produced a very great impression upon many men. The
incapable person who started for a professorship has sometimes got it.
The man who, amid the derision of the county, published his address to
the electors, has occasionally got into the House of Commons. The vulgar
half-educated preacher, who without any introduction asked a patron for
a vacant living in the Church, has now and then got the living. And
however unfit you may be for a place, and however discreditable may have
been the means by which you got it, once you have actually held it for
two or three years people come to acquiesce in your holding it. They
accept the fact that you are there, just as we accept the fact that any
other evil exists in this world, without asking why, except on very
special occasions. I believe, too, that, in the matter of worldly
preferment, there is too much fatalism in many good men. They have a
vague trust that Providence will do more than it has promised. They are
ready to think, that, if it is God's will that they are to gain such a
prize, it will be sure to come their way without their pushing. That is
a mistake. Suppose you apply the same reasoning to your dinner. Suppose
you sit still in your study and say, "If I am to have dinner to-day, it
will come without effort of mine; and if I am not to have dinner to-day,
it will not come by any effort of mine; so here I sit still and do
nothing." Is not _that_ absurd? Yet that is what many a wise and good
man practically says about the place in life which would suit him, and
which would make him happy. Not Turks and Hindoos alone have a tendency
to believe in their _Kismet_. It is human to believe in that. And we
grasp at every event that seems to favor the belief. The other evening,
in the twilight, I passed two respectable-looking women who seemed like
domestic servants; and I caught one sentence which one said to the other
with great apparent faith. "You see," she said, "if a thing's to come
your way, it'll no gang by ye!" It was in a crowded street; but if
it had been in my country parish, where everyone knew me, I should
certainly have stopped the women, and told them, that, though what they
said was quite true, I feared they were understanding it wrongly, and
that the firm belief we all hold in God's Providence which reaches to
all events, and in His sovereignty which orders all things, should be
used to help us to be resigned, after we have done our best and failed,
but should never be used as an excuse for not doing our best. When we
have set our mind on any honest end, let us seek to compass it by every
honest means; and if we fail after having used every honest means,
_then_ let us fall back on the comfortable belief that things are
ordered by the Wisest and Kindest; _then_ is the time for the _Fiat
Voluntas Tua_.

You would not wish, my friend, to be deprived of common sense and of
delicate feeling, even though you could be quite sure that once _that_
drag-weight was taken off, you would spring forward to the van, and make
such running in the race of life as you never made before. Still, you
cannot help looking with a certain interest upon those people who, by
the want of these hindering influences, are enabled to do things and
say things which you never could. I have sometimes looked with no small
curiosity upon the kind of man who will come uninvited, and without
warning of his approach, to stay at another man's house: who will stay
on, quite comfortable and unmoved, though seeing plainly he is not
wanted: who will announce, on arriving, that his visit is to be for
three days, and who will then, without farther remark, and without
invitation of any kind, remain for a month or six weeks: and all
the while sit down to dinner every day with a perfectly easy and
unembarrassed manner. You and I, my reader, would rather live on much
less than sixpence a day than do all this. We _could not_ do it. But
some people not merely can do it, but can do it without any appearance
of effort. Oh, if the people who are victimized by these horse-leeches
of society could but gain a little of the thickness of skin which
characterizes the horse-leeches, and bid them be off, and not return
again till they are invited! To the same pachydermatous class belong
those individuals who will put all sorts of questions as to the private
affairs of other people, but carefully shy off from any similar
confidence as to their own affairs: also those individuals who borrow
small sums of money and never repay them, but go on borrowing till the
small sums amount to a good deal. To the same class may be referred
the persona who lay themselves out for saying disagreeable things, the
"candid friends" of Canning, the "people who speak their mind," who form
such pests of society. To find fault is to right-feeling men a very
painful thing; but some take to the work with avidity and delight. And
while people of cultivation shrink, with a delicate intuition, from
saying any thing which may give pain or cause uneasiness to others,
there are others who are ever painfully treading upon the moral corns of
all around them. Sometimes this is done designedly: as by Mr. Snarling,
who by long practice has attained the power of hinting and insinuating,
in the course of a forenoon call, as many unpleasant things as may
germinate into a crop of ill-tempers and worries which shall make the
house at which he called uncomfortable all that day. Sometimes it
is done unawares, as by Mr. Boor, who, through pure ignorance and
coarseness, is always bellowing out things which it is disagreeable
to some one, or to several, to hear. Which was it, I wonder, Boor or
Snarling, who once reached the dignity of the mitre, and who at prayers
in his house uttered this supplication on behalf of a lady visitor who
was kneeling beside him: "Bless our friend, Mrs. ----: give her a little
more common sense; and teach her to dress a little less like a tragedy
queen than she does at present"?

* * * * *

But who shall reckon up the countless circumstances which lie like a
depressing burden on the energies of men, and make them work at that
disadvantage which we have thought of under the figure of _carrying
weight in life?_ There are men who carry weight in a damp, marshy
neighborhood, who, amid bracing mountain air might have done things
which now they will never do. There are men who carry weight in an
uncomfortable house: in smoky chimneys: in a study with a dismal
look-out: in distance from a railway-station: in ten miles between them
and a bookseller's shop. Give another hundred a year of income, and the
poor struggling parson who preaches dull sermons will astonish you
by the talent he will exhibit when his mind is freed from the dismal
depressing influence of ceaseless scheming to keep the wolf from the
door. Let the poor little sick child grow strong and well, and with
how much better heart will its father face the work of life! Let the
clergyman who preached, in a spiritless enough way, to a handful of
uneducated rustics, be placed in a charge where weekly he has to address
a large cultivated congregation, and, with the new stimulus, latent
powers may manifest themselves which no one fancied he possessed, and he
may prove quite an eloquent and attractive preacher. A dull, quiet
man, whom you esteemed as a blockhead, may suddenly be valued very
differently when circumstances unexpectedly call out the solid qualities
he possesses, unsuspected before. A man devoid of brilliancy may on
occasion show that he possesses great good sense, or that he has the
power of sticking to his task in spite of discouragement. Let a man be
placed where dogged perseverance will stand him in stead, and you may
see what he can do when he has but a chance. The especial weight which
has held some men back, the thing which kept them from doing great
things and attaining great fame, has been just this: that they were not
able to say or to write what they have thought and felt. And, indeed,
a great poet is nothing more than the one man in a million who has the
gift to express that which has been in the mind and heart of multitudes.
If even the most commonplace of human beings could write all the poetry
he has felt, he would produce something that would go straight to the
hearts of many.

It is touching to witness the indications and vestiges of sweet and
admirable things which have been subjected to a weight which has
entirely crushed them down,--things which would have come out into
beauty and excellence, if they had been allowed a chance. You may
witness one of the saddest of all the losses of Nature in various old
maids. What kind hearts are there running to waste! What pure and gentle
affections blossom to be blighted! I dare say you have heard a young
lady of more than forty sing, and you have seen her eyes fill with tears
at the pathos of a very commonplace verse. Have you not thought that
there was the indication of a tender heart which might have made some
good man happy, and, in doing so, made herself happy, too? But it was
not to be. Still, it is sad to think that sometimes upon cats and dogs
there should be wasted the affection of a kindly human being! And you
know, too, how often the fairest promise of human excellence is never
suffered to come to fruit. You must look upon gravestones to find the
names of those who promised to be the best and noblest specimens of
the race. They died in early youth,--perhaps in early childhood. Their
pleasant faces, their singular words and ways, remain, not often talked
of, in the memories of subdued parents, or of brothers and sisters now
grown old, but never forgetting how _that_ one of the family, that
was as the flower of the flock, was the first to fade. It has been a
proverbial saying, you know, even from heathen ages, that those whom the
gods love die young. It is but an inferior order of human beings that
makes the living succession to carry on the human race.

* * * * *


We have chosen a guarded and passionless wording for a topic on which
we wish to offer a few frankly spoken, but equally passionless remarks.
With the bitterness and venom and exaggeration of statement which both
English and American papers have interchanged in reference to matters of
opinion and matters of feeling connected with our national troubles we
do not now intermeddle. We would not imitate it: we regret it, and
on our own side we are ashamed of it. We have read editorials and
communications in our own papers so grossly vituperative and stinging in
the rancor of their spirit, that it would not have surprised us, if some
Englishmen, of a certain class, had organized a hostile association
against us in revenge for our truculent defiance. The real spirit of
bullyism, of the cockpit and the pugilistic ring, has been exhibited in
this interchange of newspaper opinion. The more is the reason why we
should not overlook or be blind to the real grievances in the case, nor
fail to give expression to them in the strongest way of which their
emphatic, but unembittered, statement will admit. Whether the London
"Times" is or is not an authoritative vehicle for the utterance of
average English opinion, and an index, in its general tone, of the
prevailing sentiment of that people, is a question which, so far from
wishing to decide, we must decline to entertain, as mainly irrelevant to
our present purpose. As a matter of fact, however, if we did accept that
print as an authority and a standard in English opinion, we should throw
more of temper than we hope to prevent escaping through our words into
the remarks which are to follow. That paper evidently represents the
opinion of one class, perhaps of more than one class of Englishmen. An
intelligent American reader of its comments on our affairs can always
read it, as even the best-informed Englishman cannot, with the skill and
ability to discern its spirit, often covertly mean, and to detect its
misrepresentations, some of the grossest of which are made the basis of
its arguments and inferences. From the very opening of our strife to the
last issue of that print which has crossed the water, its comments and
records relating to our affairs have presented a most ingenious and
mischievous combination of everything false, ill-tempered, malignant,
and irritating. It is at present exercising itself upon the financial
arrangements of our Government, and uttering prophecies, falsified
before they have come to our knowledge, about the inability or the
unwillingness of our loyal people to furnish the necessary money.

But enough of the London "Times." We have in view matters not identified
with the spirit and comments of a single newspaper, however influential.
We have in view graver and more comprehensive facts,--facts, too, more
significant of feelings and opinion. Stating our point in general terms,
which we shall reduce to some particulars before we close, we affirm
frankly and emphatically, that the North, we might even say this Nation,
as a government standing in solemn treaty relations with Great Britain,
has just cause of complaint and offence at the prevailing tone and
spirit of the English people, and press, and mercantile classes, towards
us, in view of the rebellion which is convulsing our land. That tone
and spirit have not been characterized by justice, magnanimity, or
true sympathy with a noble and imperilled cause; they have not been in
keeping with the professions and avowed principles of that people; they
have not been consistent with the former intimations of English opinion
towards us, as regards our position and our duty; and they have sadly
disappointed the hopes on whose cheering support we had relied when the
dark hours which English influence had helped to prepare for us should

Before we proceed to our specifications, let us meet the suggestion
often thrown out, that we have been unduly and morbidly sensitive to
English opinion in this matter; and let us gratefully allow for the
exceptions that may require to be recognized in the application of our
charges against the English people or press as a whole. It has been
said that we have shown a timid and almost craven sensitiveness to the
opinions pronounced abroad upon our national struggle, especially those
pronounced by our own kinsfolk of England. It is urged, that a strong
and prosperous and united people, if conscious of only a rightful cause,
and professing the ability to maintain it, should be self-reliant,
independent of foreign judgment, and ready to trust to time and the sure
candor and fulness of the expositions which it brings with it, to set us
right before the eyes of the world. But what if another nation, supposed
to be friendly, known even to have recommended and urged upon us
the very cause for which we are contending, represents it in such a
contumelious and disheartening way as to show us that we have not even
her sympathy? Further, what if there is a spirit and a tone of treatment
towards us which suggests the possibility that at some critical moment
she may interfere in a way that will embarrass us and encourage our
enemies? The sensitiveness of a people to the possible power of mischief
that may lie against them in the hands of a jealous neighbor, ready to
be used at the will or caprice of its possessor, may indicate timidity
or weakness. But Great Britain, knowing very well what the feeling is,
ought to understand that it may consist with real strength, courage, and
right purposes. It is notorious now to all the civilized world, as
a fact often ludicrously and sometimes lugubriously set forth, that
millions of sturdy English folk have lived for many years, and live at
this hour, in a state of quaking trepidation as to the designs of a
single man of "ideas" across their Channel. What bulletin have the
English people ever read from day to day with such an intermittent pulse
as that with which they peruse quotations from the "Moniteur"? The
English people, whatever might have been true of them once, are now
the last people in the world--matched and overawed as they are by the
French--to charge upon another people a timid sensitiveness for even the
slightest intimations of foreign feeling and possible intentions.

We must allow also for exceptions to the sweep of the specific charges
under which we shall express our grievances at the general course of
English treatment towards us. There have been messages in many private
letters from Englishmen and Englishwomen of high public and of dignified
private station, there have been editorials and communications in a few
English papers, there have been brief utterances in Parliament, and
from leading speakers at political, mercantile, literary, and religious
assemblies, which have shown a full appreciation of the import of our
present strife, and have conveyed to us in words of most precious and
grateful encouragement the assurance that many hearts are beating with
ours across the sea. That the truculence and venom of some of our own
papers may have repressed the feeling and the utterance of this same
sympathy in many individuals and ways where it might otherwise have
manifested itself is not unnatural, and is very probable. We acknowledge
most gratefully the cheer and the inspiration which have come to us from
every word, wish, and act from abroad that has recognized the stake of
our conflict; and we will take for granted the real existence and the
glowing heartiness of much of the same which has not been expressed, or
has not reached us. Farther even than this we will go in tempering or
qualifying the utterance of our grievances. We will take for granted
that very much of the coldness, or antipathy, or contemptuousness, or
misrepresentation which we have recognized in the general treatment of
us and our cause by Englishmen is to be accounted to actual ignorance
or a very partial understanding of our real circumstances and of the
conditions of the conflict, and of the relations of parties to it. De
Tocqueville is universally regarded among us as the only foreigner
who ever divined the theoretical and the practical method of our
institutions. Englishmen, English statesmen even, have never penetrated
to the mystery of them. Many intelligent British travellers have seemed
to wish to do so, and to have tried to do so. But the study bothers
them, the secret baffles them. They give it up with a gruff impatience
which writes on their features the sentence, "You have no right to have
such complicated and unintelligible arrangements in your governments,
State and Federal: they are quite un-English." Our foreign kinsfolk seem
unwilling to realize the extent of our domain, and the size of some
of our States as compared with their own island, and incapable of
understanding how different institutions, forms, limitations, and
governmental arrangements may exist in the several States, independently
of, or in subordination to, the province and administration of the
Federal Government. Nearly every English journal which undertakes
to refer to our affairs will make ludicrous or serious blunders,
if venturing to enter into details. The "Edinburgh Review" kindly
volunteered to be the champion of American institutions and products in
opposition to the extreme Toryism of the "Quarterly." Sydney Smith took
us, our authors and early enterprises, under his special patronage,
and he wrote many favorable articles of that character. One would have
supposed, that, in the necessary preparation for such labors, he would
have acquired some geographical, statistical, and other rudimentary
knowledge about us, enough to have kept him from gross blunders.
Unluckily, for him and for us, for the sake of getting here on his money
double the interest which he could get at home, and not considering
that the greater the promised profit the greater the risk, he made
investments in some of our stock companies and bonds. When these
investments proved disastrous, he raved and fumed, calling upon our
Government--which had nothing more to do with the matter than had the
English Parliament--to make good his losses.

We are tempted for a moment to drop the graver thread of our theme to
relate an anecdote in illustration of our present point. It happened a
few years ago that we had as a household guest for two or three weeks an
English gentleman, well-informed, courteous, and excellent, who had been
for several years the editor of a London paper. On the day after his
domestication with us, which was within the first week of his arrival
at New York, sitting where we are now writing, after breakfast, he
announced that "he had a commission to execute for a friend, with a
person residing in Springfield." Opening his note-book, he handed us a
slip of paper bearing the gentleman's name and address, "Springfield,
Ohio." Furnishing him with writing-materials, we were about turning to
our own occupation, when, suddenly, with a quick exclamation, as if
recalling something, he said, "Sure, I have been in Springfield. I
remember a short, a very short time was allowed for dinner, as I came
from New York." We explained, or tried to explain to him, that the
Springfield through which he had passed and the Springfield to which he
was writing were in different States widely separated, and that there
were also several other "Springfields." To this he demurred, protesting
that it made matters quite confusing to foreigners to have the same
names repeated in different parts of the Country. In vain did we suggest
that all confusion was avoided by adding the abbreviated name of the
State. No! "It was very confusing." Suddenly, a thought occurred to
us, and, refreshing our memory by a glance at the Index of our English
"Road-Book," we suggested triumphantly that names were repeated for
different localities in England: thus, there are four Ashfords, two
Dorchesters, six Hortons, seven Newports, etc., etc. Our guest, with an
air and vehemence that quite outvied our triumph, exclaimed,--"Oh! but
they are in different shi_rrr_hes, in different shi_rrr_hes!" Sure
enough, one of his own _shires_ is a larger thing to an Englishman than
one of our States. He lives on an island which is to him larger than all
the rest of the world, though any one starting from the centre of it, on
a fast horse, unless he crossed the border into Scotland, could scarcely
ride in any direction twenty-four hours without getting overboard.

To the actual ignorance or obfuscation of mind of the majority of the
English people, as regards our country and its institutions, we are
doubtless to refer much of the ill-toned and seemingly unfriendly
comments made upon our affairs in their organs. Thus, it is intimated
to us by many English writers, that they regard the North now as
simply undertaking to patch up a Union founded and sustained by mean
compromises, an object which has already led us into many humiliating
concessions,--and that the moment we announce that we are striking a
blow for Liberty, we shall have their sympathy without stint or measure.
No Englishman who really understood our affairs would talk in that way.
One of the chief lures which instigated and encouraged the Southern
rebellion was the assurance, adroitly insinuated by the leading traitors
into their duped followers, that opposition by the rest of the country
to their schemes would take the form of an anti-slavery crusade, in
which form the opposition would be put down by the combined force of
those who did not belong to the Republican party. They were deceived.
Opposition to them took the form of a rallying by all parties to the
defence of the Constitution, the maintenance of the Union. For any
anti-slavery zeal to have attempted to divert the aroused patriotism of
the land to a breach of one of its fundamental constitutional provisions
would have been treacherous and futile. The majority of our enlisted
patriotic soldiers would have laid down their arms. If the leadings of
Providence shall direct the thickening strife into an exterminating
crusade against slavery, doubtless our patriots will wait on Providence.
But we could not have started in our stern work avowing that as an
object of our own. And as to the meanness of our concessions and
compromises for Union, we have to consider what woes and wrongs that
Union has averted. Has England no discreditable passages in her own
Parliamentary history? Have her attempts at governing large masses of
men, Christian and heathen, Roman Catholic and Protestant, and of all
sects, privileged and oppressed, never led her into any truckling or
tyrannical legislation, any concessions or compromises of ideal or
abstract right?

But we must come to our specifications, introducing them with but a
single other needful suggestion. We have not to complain of any acts or
formal measures of the English Government against us,--nor even of the
omission of any possible public manifestation which might have turned
to our encouragement or service. But it will be admitted that we have
grievances to complain of, if the tone and the strain of English opinion
and sentiment have been such as to inspirit the South and to dispirit
the North. If English comments have palliated or justified the original
and the incidental measures of the Rebellion,--if they have been zealous
to find or to exaggerate excuses for it, to overstate the apparent or
professed grounds of it, to wink at the meannesses and outrages by which
it has thriven,--if they have perverted or misrepresented the real
issue, have ridiculed or discouraged the purposes of its patriotic
opponents, have embarrassed or impeded their hopes of success, or have
prejudged or foreclosed the probable result,--it will be admitted, we
say, that we have grievances against those who have so dealt by us in
the hour of our dismay and trial. And it is an enormous aggravation of
the disappointment or the wrong which we are bearing, that it is visited
upon us by England just as we have initiated measures for at least
restraining and abating the dominant power of that evil institution for
our complicity in the support of which she has long been our unsparing
censor. We complain generally of the unsympathizing and contemptuous
tone of England towards us,--of the mercurial standard by which she
judges our strife,--of the scarcely qualified delight with which she
parades our occasional ill-successes and discomfitures,--of the baste
which she has made to find tokens of a rising despotism or a military
dictatorship in those measures of our Government which are needful
and consistent with the exigencies of a state of warfare, such as the
suspension, on occasions, of the _habeas corpus_, the suppression of
disloyal publications, the employment of spies, and the requisition of
passports,--and finally, of the contemptible service to which England
has tried to put our last tariff, and of her evident unwillingness to
have us find or furnish the finances of our war. Not to deal, however,
with generalities, we proceed to make three distinct points of an
argument that crowds us with materials.

Foremost among the grievances which we at the North may allege against
our brethren across the water--foremost, both in time and in the harmful
influence of its working--we may specify this fact, that the English
press, with scarce an exception, made haste, in the very earliest stages
of the Southern Rebellion, to judge and announce the hopeless partition
of our Union, as an event accomplished and irrevocable. The way in which
this judgment was reached and pronounced, the time and circumstances of
its utterance, and the foregone conclusions which were drawn from it,
gave to it a threatening and mischievous agency, only less prejudicial
to our cause, we verily believe, than would have been an open alliance
between England and the enemies of the Republic. This haste to announce
the positive and accomplished dissolution of our National Union was
forced most painfully upon our notice in the darkest days of our opening
strife. Those who undertook to guide and instruct English opinion in
the matter had easy means of informing themselves about the strangely
fortuitous and deplorable, though most opportune and favoring
combination of circumstances under which "Secession" was initiated and
strengthened. They knew that the Administration, then in its last days
of power, was half-covertly, half-avowedly in sympathy and in active
cooperation with the cause of rebellion. The famous "Ostend Conference"
had had its doings and designs so thoroughly aired in the columns of the
English press, that we cannot suppose either the editors or the readers
ignorant of the spirit or intentions of those who controlled the policy
of that Administration. Early information likewise crossed the water to
them of the discreditable and infamous doings and plottings of members
of the Cabinet, evidently in league with the fomenting treachery. They
knew that the head of the Navy Department had either scattered our
ships of war to the ends of the earth, or had moored them in helpless
disability at our dockyards,--that the head of the War Department had
been plundering the arsenals of loyal States to furnish weapons for
intended rebellion,--that the head of the Treasury Department was
purloining its funds,--and that the President himself, while allowing
national forts to be environed by hostile batteries, had formally
announced that both Secession itself and all attempts to resist it were
alike unconstitutional,--the effect of which grave opinion was to
let Secession have its way till _Coercion_ would seem to be not only
unconstitutional, but unavailing. Our English kinsfolk also knew that
our prominent diplomatic agents abroad, representing solemn treaty
relations with them of this nation as a unit, under sacred oaths of
loyalty to it, and living on generous grants from its Treasury, were
also in more or less of active sympathy with traitorous schemes. So far,
it must be owned, there was little in the promise of whatever might grow
from these combined enormities to engage the confidence or the good
wishes of true-hearted persons on either side of the water.

But whatever power of mischief lay in this marvellous combination of
evil forces, so malignly working together, the Administration in which
they found their life and whose agencies they employed was soon to yield
up its fearfully desecrated trust. A new order of things, representing
at least the spirit and purpose of that philanthropy and public
righteousness to which our English brethren had for years been prompting
us, was to come in with a new Administration, already constitutionally
recognized, but not as yet put into power. It was asking but little of
intelligent foreigners of our own blood and language, that they should
make due allowance for that recurring period in the terms of our
Government--as easily turned to mischievous influences as is an
interregnum in a monarchy--by which there is a lapse of four months
between the election and the inauguration of our Chief Magistrate. A
retiring functionary may work and plan and provide an immense amount of
disabling, annoying, and damaging experience to be encountered by his
successor. That successor may at a distance, or close at hand, be an
observer of all this influence; but whether it be simply of a partisan
or of a malignant character, he is powerless to resist it, and good
taste and the proprieties of his position seem to suggest that he make
no public recognition of it. Every Chief Magistrate of this Republic,
before its present head, acceded to office with its powers and dignities
and facilities and trusts unimpaired by his predecessor. We have thought
that among the thorns of the pillow on which a certain "old public
functionary" lays his head, as he watches the dismal working of elements
which he had more power than any other to have dispelled, not the
least sharp one must be that which pierces him with the thought of the
difference between the position which his predecessors prepared for him
and that which he prepared for his successor. Not among the least of
the claims which that successor has upon the profound and respectful
sympathy of all good men everywhere is the fact that there has been no
public utterance of complaining or reproachful words from his lips,
reflecting upon his predecessor, or even asking indulgence on the score
of the shattered and almost wrecked fabric of which we have put him in
charge. We confess that we have looked through the English papers for
months for some magnanimous and high-souled tribute of this sort to the
Man who thus nobly represents a sacred and imperilled cause. If such
tribute has been rendered, it has escaped our notice.

Now, as we are reflecting upon the tone and spirit of the English press
at the opening of the Rebellion, we have to recall to the minds of our
readers the fact, that in all its early stages, even down to and almost
after the proclamation of the President summoning a volunteer force to
resist it, we ourselves, at the North, utterly refused to consider the
Seceders as in earnest. We may have been stupid, besotted, infatuated
even, in our blindness and incredulity. But none the less did we, that
is, the great majority of us, regard all the threats and measures of the
South as something less formidable and actual than open war and probable
or threatening revolution. We were persuaded that the people of the
South had been wrought up by artful and ambitious leaders to wild alarm
that the new Administration would visit outrages upon them and try to
turn them into a state of vassalage. Utterly unconscious as we were of
any purpose to trespass upon or reduce their fullest constitutional
rights, we knew how grossly our intentions were misrepresented to them.
We applied the same measure to the distance between their threats and
the probability that they would carry them out which we knew ought to be
applied to the difference between our supposed and our real
intentions. In a word,--for this is the simple truth,--we regarded the
manifestations of the seceding and rebelling States--or rather of the
leaders and their followers in them--as in part bluster and in part a
warning of what might ensue, though it would not be likely to ensue when
their eyes were open to the truth. We were met by bold defiance, by
outrageous abuse, and with an almost overwhelming venting of falsehoods.
There was boastfulness, arrogance, assured claims of sufficient
strength, and daring prophecies of success, enough to have made any
cause triumphant, if triumph comes through such means. Still we were
incredulous, perhaps foolishly and culpably so,--but incredulous, and
unintimidated, and confident, none the less. We believed that wise,
forbearing, and temperate measures of the new Administration would
remove all real grievances, dispel all false alarms, and at least leave
open the way to bloodless methods of preserving the Union. Part of our
infatuation consisted in our seeing so plainly the infatuation of the
South, while we did not allow for the lengths of wild and reckless folly
into which it might drive them. We could see most plainly that either
success in their schemes, or failure through a struggle to accomplish
them, would be alike ruinous to them; that no cause standing on the
basis and contemplating the objects recognized by them could possibly
prosper, so long as the throne of heaven had a sovereign seated upon it.
Full as much, then, from our conviction that the South would not insist
upon doing itself such harm as from any fear of what might happen to
us, did we refuse to regard Secession as a fixed fact. At the period of
which we are speaking, there was probably not a single man at the North,
of well-furnished and well-balanced mind--who stood clear in heart
and pocket of all secret or interested bias toward the South--that
deliberately recognized the probability of the dissolution of the Union.
Very few such men will, indeed, recognize that possibility now, except
as they recognize the possibility of the destruction of an edifice of
solid blocks and stately columns by the grinding to powder of each large
mass of the fabric, so that no rebuilding could restore it.

This was the state of mind and feeling with which we, who had so much at
stake and could watch every pulsation of the excitement, contemplated
the aspect of our opening strife. But with the first echo from abroad of
its earliest announcements here came the most positive averments in the
English papers, with scarcely a single exception, that the knell of this
Union had struck. We had fallen asunder, our bond was broken, we had
repudiated our former league or fellowship, and henceforth what had been
a unit was to be two or more fragments, in peaceful or hostile relations
as the case might be, but never again One. It would but revive for us
the first really sharp and irritating pangs of this dismal experience,
to go over the files of papers for those extracts which were like
vinegar to our eyes as we first read them. Their substance is repeated
to us in the sheets which come by every steamer. There were, of course,
variations of tone and spirit in these evil prognostications and these
raven-like croaks. Sometimes there was a vein of pity, and of that kind
of sorrow which we feel and of that other kind which we express for
other people's troubles. Sometimes there was a start of surprise, an
ejaculation of amazement, or even profound dismay, at the calamity which
had come upon us. In others of these newspaper comments there was
that unmistakable superciliousness, that goading contemptuousness
of self-conceit and puffy disdain, which John Bull visits on all
"un-English" things, especially when they happen under their unfortunate
aspects. In not a few of these same comments there was a tone of
exultation, malignant and almost diabolical, as at the discomfiture of
a hated and dangerous rival. We have read at least three English
newspapers for each week that has passed since our troubles began; we
have been readers of these papers for a score of years. In not one of
them have we met the sentence or the line which pronounces hopefully,
with bold assurance, for the renewed life of our Union. In by far the
most of them there is reiterated the most positive and dogged averment
that there is no future for us. We are not unmindful of the manliness
and stout cheer with which a very few of them have avowed their wish and
faith that the Rebels may be utterly discomfited and held up before the
world in their shame and friendlessness, and have coupled with these
utterances words of warm sympathy and approval for the North. But these
ill-wishes for the one party and these good wishes for the other
party are independent of anything but utter hopelessness as to the
preservation or the restoration of the Union.

Now some may suggest that we make altogether too much of what so far
is but the expression of an opinion, and, at worst, of an unfavorable
opinion,--an opinion, too, which may yet prove to be correct. But the
giving of an opinion on some matters has all the effect of taking a
side, and often helps much to decide the stake. On very many accounts,
this expression of English opinion, at the time it was uttered and with
such emphasis, was most unwarranted and most mischievous. It is very
easy to distribute its harmful influence upon our interests and
prospects into three very different methods, all of which combined to
injure or obstruct the Northern cause,--the National cause. Thus, this
opinion of the hopelessness of our resistance of the men of our
Union was of great value to the Rebels as an encouragement under any
misgivings they might have; it was calculated to prejudice our position
in the eyes of the world; and it had a tendency to dispirit many among
ourselves. A word upon each of these points.--How quickening must it
have been to the flagging hopes or determination of the Rebels to read
in the English journals that they were sure of success, that the result
was already registered, that they had gained their purpose simply by
proposing it! Nor was it possible to regard this opinion as not carrying
with it some implication that the cause of the Rebels was a just one,
and was sure of success, if for other reasons, for this, too, among
them, namely, that it was just. Why else were the Rebels so sure of a
triumph? Was it because of their superior strength or resources? A very
little inquiry would have set aside that suggestion. Was it because
of the nobleness of their cause? A very frank avowal from the
Vice-President of the assumed Confederacy announced to liberty-loving
Englishmen that that cause was identified with a slavocracy. Or was
the Rebel cause to succeed through the dignity and purity of the means
enlisted in its service? It was equally well known on both sides of the
water by what means and appliances of fraud, perfidy, treachery, and
other outrages, the schemes of the Rebellion were initiated and pursued.
If, in spite of all these negatives, the English press prophesies
success to the Rebels, was not the prophecy a great comfort and spur
to them?--Again, this prophecy of our sure discomfiture prejudiced us
before the world. It gave a public character and aspect of hopelessness
to our cause; it invited coldness of treatment towards us; it seemed to
warn off all nations from giving us aid or comfort; and it virtually
affirmed that any outlay of means or life by us in a cause seen to be
impracticable would be reckless, sanguinary, cruel, and inhuman.--And,
once more, to those among ourselves who are influenced by evil
prognostications, it was most dispiriting to be told, as if by cool,
unprejudiced observers from outside, that no uprising of patriotism, no
heroism of sacrifice, no combination of wisdom and power would be of any
avail to resist a foreordained catastrophe.--In these three harmful
ways of influence, the ill-omened opinion reiterated from abroad had
a tendency to fulfil itself. The whole plea of justification offered
abroad for the opinion is given in the assertion that those who have
once been bitterly alienated can never be brought into true harmony
again, and that it is impossible to govern the unwilling as equals.
England has but to read the record of her own strifes and battles and
infuriated passages with Scotland and Ireland,--between whom and herself
alienations of tradition, prejudice, and religion seemed to make harmony
as impossible as the promise of it is to these warring States,--England
has only to refresh her memory on these points, in order to relieve us
of the charge of folly in attempting an impossibility. So much for the
first grievance we allege against our English brethren.

Another of our specifications of wrong is involved in that already
considered. If English opinion decided that our nationality must
henceforth be divided, it seemed also to imply that we ought to divide
according to terms dictated by the Seceders. This was a precious
judgment to be pronounced against us by a sister Government which
was standing in solemn treaty relations with us as a unit in our
nationality! What did England suppose had become of our Northern
manhood, of the spirit of which she herself once felt the force? There
was something alike humiliating and exasperating in this implied advice
from her, that we should tamely and unresistingly submit to a division
of continent, bays, and rivers, according to terms defiantly and
insultingly proposed by those who had a joint ownership with ourselves.
How would England receive such advice from us under like circumstances?
But we must cut short the utterance of our feelings on this point, that
we may make another specification,--

Which is, that our English critics see only, or chiefly, in the fearful
and momentous conflict in which we are engaged, "a bursting of the
bubble of Democracy"! Shall we challenge now the intelligence or the
moral principle, the lack of one or the other of which is betrayed
in this sneering and malignant representation--this utter
misrepresentation--of the catastrophe which has befallen our nation?
Intelligent Englishmen know full well that the issue raised among us
does not necessarily touch or involve at a single point the principles
of Democracy, but stands wide apart and distinct from them. We might
with as much propriety have said that the Irish Rebellion and the Indian
Mutiny showed "the bursting of the bubble of Monarchy." The principles
of Democracy stand as firm and find our people as loyal to them in every
little town-meeting and in every legislature of each loyal State in the
Union as they did in the days of our first enthusiastic and successful
trial of them. Supposing even that the main assumption on which so many
Englishmen have prematurely vented their scorn were a fact; we cannot
but ask if the nation nearest akin to us, and professing to be guided
in this century by feelings which forbid a rejoicing over others' great
griefs, has no words of high moral sympathy, no expressions of regretful
disappointment in our calamities? Is it the first or the most emphatic
thing which it is most fitting for Christian Englishmen to say over the
supposed wreck of a recently noble and promising country, the prospered
home of thirty millions of God's children,--that "a bubble has burst"?
We might interchange with our foreign "comforters" a discussion by
arguments and facts as to whether a monarchy or a democracy has about it
more of the qualities of a bubble, but the debate would be irrelevant
to our present purpose. We believe that Democracy in its noblest and
all-essential and well-proved principles will survive the shock which
has struck upon our nation, whatever the result of that shock may yet
prove to be. We believe, further, that the principles of Democracy will
come out of the struggle which is trying, not themselves, but something
quite distinct from them, with a new affirmation and vindication. But
let that be as it may, we are as much ashamed for England's sake as
we are aggrieved on our own account that from the vehicles of public
sentiment in "the foremost realm in the world for all true culture,
advanced progress, and the glorious triumphs of liberty and religion,"
what should be a profoundly plaintive lament over our supposed ruin
is, in reality, a mocking taunt and a hateful gibe over our failure in
daring to try an "un-English" experiment.[A]

[Footnote A: The following precious utterances of John Bull moralizing,
which might have been spoken of the Thugs in India, or some provincial
Chinese enterprise, are extracted from the cotton circular of Messrs.
Neill, Brothers, addressed to their correspondents, and dated,
Manchester, Aug. 21. We find the circular copied in a _religious_
newspaper published in London, without any rebuke. "The North will have
to learn the limited extent of her powers as compared with the
gigantic task she has undertaken. One and perhaps two defeats will be
insufficient to reverse the false education of a lifetime. Many lessons
will probably be necessary, and, meantime, any success the Northern
troops may obtain will again inflame the national vanity, and the
lessons of adversity will need to be learned over again. More effect
will probably be produced by sufferings at home, by the ruin of the
higher classes and pauperization of the lower, and by the general
absorption of the floating capital of the country"! There, good reader,
what think you of the cotton moralizing of a comfortable factor,
dwelling in immaculate England, dealing with us in cotton, and with the
Chinese in opium?]

The stately "Quarterly Review," in its number for July, uses a little
more of dignity in wording the title of an article upon our affairs
thus,--"Democracy on its Trial"; but it makes up for the waste of
refinement upon its text by a lavish indulgence in scurrility and
falsehood in its comments. As a specimen, take the following. Living
here in this goodly city of Boston, and knowing and loving well its
ways and people, we are asked to credit the following story, which the
Reviewer says he heard from "a well-known traveller." The substance of
the story is, that a Boston merchant proposed to gild the lamp over his
street-door, but was dissuaded from so doing by the suggestion of a
friend, that by savoring of aristocracy the ornamented gas-burner would
offend the tyrannical people and provoke violence against it! This, the
latest joke in the solemn Quarterly, has led many of its readers here to
recall the days of Madame Trollope and the Reverend Mr. Fiddler, those
veracious and "well-known travellers." There are, we are sorry to say,
many gilded street-lamps, burnished and blazing every night, in Boston.
But instead of standing before the houses of our merchants, they
designate quite a different class of edifices. Our merchants, as a
general thing, would object, both on the score of good taste and on
grounds of disagreeable association with the signal, to raise such an
ornament before the doors of their comfortable homes. The common people,
however, so far from taking umbrage at the spectacle, would be rather
gratified by the generosity of our grandees in being willing to show
some of their finery out of doors. This would be the feeling especially
of that part of our population which is composed of foreigners, who have
been used to the sight of such demonstrations in their native countries,
which are not democracies. In fact, we suspect that the reason why
English "flunkeys" hate American "flunkeyism," with its laced coachmen,
etc., is because mere money, by aping the insignia of rank, its gewgaws
and trumpery, shows too plainly how much of the rank itself depends upon
the fabrics and demonstrations through which it sets itself forth. We
can conceive that an English nobleman travelling in this country, who
might chance in one of our cities to see a turn-out with its outriders,
tassels, and crests, almost or quite as fine as his own, if he were
informed that it belonged to a plebeian who had grown vastly rich
through some coarse traffic, might resolve to reduce all the display
of his own equipage the moment he reached home. The labored and
mean-spirited purpose of the writer of the aforesaid article in the
Quarterly, and of other writers of like essays, is to find in our
democracy the material and occasion of everything of a discreditable
sort which occurs in our land. Now we apprehend, not without some means
of observation and inquiry, that the state and features of society in
Great Britain and in all our Northern regions are almost identically the
same, or run in parallelisms, by which we might match every phenomenon,
incident, prejudice, and folly, every good and every bad trait and
manifestation in the one place with something exactly like it in the
other. During a whole score of years, as we have read the English
journals and our own, the thought has over and over again suggested
itself to us that any one who had leisure and taste for the task might
cut out from each series of papers respectively, for a huge commonplace
book, matters of a precisely parallel nature in both countries. A simple
difference in the names of men and of places would be all that would
appear or exist. Every noble and every mean and every mixed exhibition
of character,--every act of munificence and of baseness,--every
narrative of thrilling or romantic interest,--every instance and example
of popular delusion, humbug, man-worship, breach of trust, domestic
infelicity, and of cunning or astounding depravity and hypocrisy,--every
religious, social, and political excitement,--every panic,--and every
accident even, from carelessness or want of skill,--each and all these
have their exact parallels, generally within the same year of time in
Great Britain and in our own country. The crimes and the catastrophes,
in each locality, have seemed almost repetitions of the same things on
either continent. Munificent endowments of charitable institutions, zeal
in reformatory enterprises and in the correction of abuses, have shown
that the people of both regions stand upon the same plane of humanity
and practical Christian culture. The same great frauds have indicated
in each the same amount of rottenness in men occupying places of trust.
Both regions have had the same sort of unprincipled "railway kings" and
bankers, similar railroad disasters, similar cases of the tumbling
down of insecure walls, and of wife-poisoning. A Chartist insurrection
enlists a volunteer police in London, and an apprehended riot among
foreigners is met by a similar precaution in one of our cities. An
intermittent controversy goes on in England about the interference of
religion with common education, and Boston or New York is agitated at
the same time with the question about the use of the Bible in the public
schools. Boston rowdies mob an English intermeddler with the ticklish
matters of our national policy, and English rowdies mob an Austrian
Haynau. England goes into ecstasies over the visit of a Continental
Prince, and our Northern States repeat the demonstration over the visit
of a British Prince. The Duke of Wellington alarms his fellow-subjects
by suggesting that their national defences would all prove insufficient
against the assaults of a certain terrible Frenchman, and an American
cabinet official echoes the suggestion that England may, perhaps, try
her strength in turn against us. There are evidently a great many
bubbles in this world, and, for all that we know to the contrary, they
are all equally liable to burst. Some famous ones, bright in royal
hues, have burst within the century. Some more of the same may, not
impossibly, suffer a collapse before the century has closed. So that,
for this matter, "the bubble of Democracy" must take its chance with the

We have one more specification to make under our general statement
of reasons why the North feels aggrieved with the prevailing tone of
sentiment and comment in the English journals in reference to our great
calamity. We protest against the verdict which finds expression in all
sorts of ways and with various aggravations, that, in attempting to
rupture our Union, and to withdraw from it on their own terms, at their
own pleasure, the seceding States are but repeating the course of the
old Thirteen Colonies in declaring themselves independent, and sundering
their ties to the mother country. There is evidently the rankling of an
old smart in this plea for rebels, which, while it is not intended to
justify rebellion in itself, is devised as a vindication of rebels
against rebels. There is manifest satisfaction and a high zest, and
something of the morally awful and solemnly remonstrative, in the way in
which the past is evoked to visit its ghostly retribution upon us. The
old sting rankles in the English breast. She is looking on now to see us
hoist by our own petard. These pamphlet pages, with their circumscribed
limits and their less ambitious aims, do not invite an elaborate dealing
with the facts of the case, which would expose the sophistical, if not
the vengeful spirit of this English plea, as for rebels against rebels.
A thorough exposition of the relations which the present Insurrection
bears to the former Revolution would demand an essay. The relations
between them, however, whether stated briefly or at length, would be
found to be simply relations of difference, without one single point
of resemblance, much less of coincidence. We can make but the briefest
reference to the points of contrast and unlikeness between the two
things, after asserting that they have no one common feature. It might
seem evasive in us to suggest to our English critics that they should
refresh their memories about the causes and the justification of our
Revolution by reading the pages of their own Burke. We are content to
rest our case on his argument, simply affirming that on no one point
will it cover the alleged parallelism of the Southern Rebellion.

The relations of our States to each other and to the Union are quite
unlike those in which the Colonies stood to England. England claimed by
right of discovery and exploration the soil on which her Colonies here
were planted, though she had rival claimants from the very first. A
large number of the Colonists never had any original connection with
England, and owed her no allegiance. Holland, Sweden, and other
countries furnished much of the first stock of our settlers, who thought
they were occupying a wild part of God's earth rather than a portion of
the English dominions. The Colonies were not planted at public charge,
by Government cost or enterprise. The English exiles, with but slender
grounds of grateful remembrance of the land they had left, brought with
them their own private means, subdued a wilderness, extinguished the
aboriginal titles, and slowly and wearily developed the resources of the
country. Often in their direst straits did they decline to ask aid from
England, lest they might thereby furnish a plea for her interference
with their internal affairs. Several of the Colonies from the first
acted upon their presumed independence, and resolved on the frank
assertion of it as soon as they might dare the venture. That time for
daring happened to be contemporaneous with a tyrannical demand upon them
for tribute without representation. Thus the relations of the Colonies
to England were of a hap-hazard, abnormal, incidental, and always
unsettled character. They might be modified or changed without any
breach of contract. They might be sundered without perjury or perfidy.

How unlike in all respects are the relations of these States to each
other and to the Union! Drawn together after dark days and severe
trials,--solemnly pledged to each other by the people whom the Union
raised to a full citizenship in the Republic,--bound by a compact
designed to be without limitation of time,--lifted by their
consolidation to a place and fame and prosperity which they would never
else have reached,--mutually necessary to each other's thrift and
protection,--making a nation adapted by its organic constitution to the
region of the earth which it occupies,--and now, by previous memories
and traditions, by millions of social and domestic alliances, knit by
heart-strings the sundering of which will be followed by a flow of the
life-blood till all is spent,--these terms are but a feeble setting
forth of the relations of these States to each other and to the Union.
Some of these States which have been voted out of the Union by lawless
Conventions owe their creation to the Union. Their very soil has been
paid for out of the public treasury. Indeed, the Union is still in debt
under obligations incurred by their purchase.

How striking, too, is the contrast between the character and method of
the proceedings which originated and now sustain the Rebellion, and
those which initiated and carried through the Revolution! The Rebellion
exhibits to us a complete inversion of the course of measures which
inaugurated the Revolution. "Secession" was the invention of ambitious
leaders, who overrode the forms of law, and have not dared to submit
their votes and their doings to primary meetings of the people whom
they have driven with a despotic tyranny. In the Revolution the
people themselves were the prime movers. Each little country town and
municipality of the original Colonies, that has a hundred years of
history to be written, will point us boastfully to entries in its
records showing how it _instructed_ its representatives first to
remonstrate against tyranny, and then to resist it by successive
measures, each of which, with its limitations and its increasing
boldness, was dictated by the same people. The people of Virginia,
remembering the ancient precedent which won them their renown,
_intended_ to follow it in an early stage of our present strife. They
allowed a Convention to assemble, under the express and rigid condition,
that, if it should see fit to advise any measure which would affect the
relations of their State to the Union, a reference should be made of it,
prior to any action, to the will of the people. The Convention covertly
and treacherously abused its trust. In secret session it authorized
measures on the strength of which the Governor of the State proceeded
to put it into hostile relations with the Union. When the foregone
conclusion was at last farcically submitted to the people, a perjured
Senator of the National Congress notified such of them as would not
ratify the will of the Convention, that they must leave the State.

Once more, in our Revolution, holders of office and of lucrative trusts
in the interest of England were to a man loyal to the Home Government,
and our independence was effected without any base appliances. In the
work of secession and rebellion, the very officials and sworn guardians
of our Government have been the foremost plotters. They have used their
opportunities and their trusts for the most perfidious purposes. Nothing
but perjury in the very highest places could have initiated secession
and rebellion, and to this very moment they derive all their vigor in
the council-chamber and on the field from forsworn men, most of whom
have been trained from their childhood, nurtured, instructed, and fed,
and all of whom have been fostered in their manhood, and gifted with
their whole power for harming her, by the kindly mother whose life they
are assailing. If the Man with the Withered Hand had used the first
thrill of life and vigor coming into it by the word of the Great
Physician to aim a blow at his benefactor, his ingratitude would have
needed to stand recorded only until this year of our Lord, to have been
matched by deeds of men who have thrown this dear land of ours into
universal mourning. Yet our English brethren would try to persuade
us that these men are but repeating the course and the deeds of the
American Revolution!

* * * * *


Only the dusty common road,
The glaring weary heat;
Only a man with a soldier's load,
And the sound of tired feet.

Only the lonely creaking hum
Of the Cicada's song;
Only a fence where tall weeds come
With spiked fingers strong.

Only a drop of the heaven's blue
Left in a way-side cup;
Only a joy for the plodding few
And eyes that look not up.

Only a weed to the passer-by,
Growing among the rest;--
Yet something clear as the light of the sky
It lodges in my breast.


In the month of August, 1620, a Dutch man-of-war from Guinea entered
James River and sold "twenty negars." Such is the brief record left by
John Rolfe, whose name is honorably associated with that of Pocahontas.
This was the first importation of the kind into the country, and the
source of existing strifes. It was fitting that the system which from
that slave-ship had been spreading over the continent for nearly two
centuries and a half should yield for the first time to the logic of
military law almost upon the spot of its origin. The coincidence may not
inappropriately introduce what of experience and reflection the writer
has to relate of a three-months' soldier's life in Virginia.

On the morning of the 22d of May last, Major-General Butler, welcomed
with a military salute, arrived at Fortress Monroe, and assumed the
command of the Department of Virginia. Hitherto we had been hemmed up in
the peninsula of which the fort occupies the main part, and cut off from
communication with the surrounding country. Until within a few days our
forces consisted of about one thousand men belonging to the Third and
Fourth Regiments of Massachusetts militia, and three hundred regulars.
The only movement since our arrival on the 20th of April had been
the expedition to Norfolk of the Third Regiment, in which it was
my privilege to serve as a private. The fort communicates with the
main-land by a dike or causeway about half a mile long, and a wooden
bridge, perhaps three hundred feet long, and then there spreads out a
tract of country, well wooded and dotted over with farms. Passing from
this bridge for a distance of two miles northwestward, you reach a creek
or arm of the bay spanned by another wooden bridge, and crossing it you
are at once in the ancient village of Hampton, having a population
of some fifteen hundred inhabitants. The peninsula on which the fort
stands, the causeway, and the first bridge described, are the property
of the United States. Nevertheless, a small picket-guard of the
Secessionists had been accustomed to occupy a part of the bridge,
sometimes coming even to the centre, and a Secession flag waved in sight
of the fort. On the 13th of May, the Rebel picket-guard was driven from
the bridge, and all the Government property was taken possession of by a
detachment of two companies from the Fourth Regiment, accompanied by a
dozen regulars with a field-piece, acting under the orders of Colonel
Dimick, the commander of the post. They retired, denouncing vengeance
on Massachusetts troops for the invasion of Virginia. Our pickets then
occupied the entire bridge and a small strip of the main-land beyond,
covering a valuable well; but still there was no occupation in force of
any but Government property. The creation of a new military department,
to the command of which a major-general was assigned, was soon to
terminate this isolation. On the 13th of May the First Vermont Regiment
arrived, on the 24th the Second New York, and two weeks later our forces
numbered nearly ten thousand.

On the 23d of May General Butler ordered the first reconnoitring
expedition, which consisted of a part of the Vermont Regiment, and
proceeded under the command of Colonel Phelps over the dike and bridge
towards Hampton. They were anticipated, and when in sight of the second
bridge saw that it had been set on fire, and, hastening forward,
extinguished the flames. The detachment then marched into the village. A
parley was held with a Secession officer, who represented that the men
in arms in Hampton were only a domestic police. Meanwhile the white
inhabitants, particularly the women, had generally disappeared. The
negroes gathered around our men, and their evident exhilaration was
particularly noted, some of them saying, "Glad to see you, Massa,"
and betraying the fact, that, on the approach of the detachment, a
field-piece stationed at the bridge had been thrown into the sea. This
was the first communication between our army and the negroes in this

The reconnoissance of the day had more important results than were
anticipated. Three negroes, owned by Colonel Mallory, a lawyer of
Hampton and a Rebel officer, taking advantage of the terror prevailing
among the white inhabitants, escaped from their master, skulked during
the afternoon, and in the night came to our pickets. The next morning,
May 24th, they were brought to General Butler, and there, for the first
time, stood the Major-General and the fugitive slave face to face. Being
carefully interrogated, it appeared that they were field-hands, the
slaves of an officer in the Rebel service, who purposed taking them to
Carolina to be employed in military operations there. Two of them
had wives in Hampton, one a free colored woman, and they had several
children in the neighborhood. Here was a new question, and a grave one,
on which the Government had as yet developed no policy. In the absence
of precedents or instructions, an analogy drawn from international
law was applied. Under that law, contraband goods, which are directly
auxiliary to military operations, cannot in time of war be imported by
neutrals into an enemy's country, and may be seized as lawful prize when
the attempt is made so to import them. It will be seen, that, accurately
speaking, the term applies exclusively to the relation between a
belligerent and a neutral, and not to the relation between belligerents.
Under the strict law of nations, all the property of an enemy may be
seized. Under the Common Law, the property of traitors is forfeit. The
humaner usage of modern times favors the waiving of these strict rights,
but allows,--without question, the seizure and confiscation of all
such goods as are immediately auxiliary to military purposes. These
able-bodied negroes, held as slaves, were to be employed to build
breastworks, to transport or store provisions, to serve as cooks or
waiters, and even to bear arms. Regarded as property, according to their
master's claim, they could be efficiently used by the Rebels for the
purposes of the Rebellion, and most efficiently by the Government in
suppressing it. Regarded as persons, they had escaped from communities
where a triumphant rebellion had trampled on the laws, and only the
rights of human nature remained, and they now asked the protection of
the Government, to which, in prevailing treason, they were still loyal,
and which they were ready to serve as best they could.

The three negroes, being held contraband of war, were at once set to
work to aid the masons in constructing a new bakehouse within the fort.
Thenceforward the term "contraband" bore a new signification, with which
it will pass into history, designating the negroes who had been held as
slaves, now adopted under the protection of the Government. It was used
in official communications at the fort. It was applied familiarly to the
negroes, who stared somewhat, inquiring, "What d' ye call us that
for?" Not having Wheaton's "Elements" at hand, we did not attempt an
explanation. The contraband notion was adopted by Congress in the Act
of July 6th, which confiscates slaves used in aiding the Insurrection.
There is often great virtue in such technical phrases in shaping public
opinion. They commend practical action to a class of minds little
developed in the direction of the sentiments, which would be repelled by
formulas of a broader and nobler import. The venerable gentleman,
who wears gold spectacles and reads a conservative daily, prefers
confiscation to emancipation. He is reluctant to have slaves declared
freemen, but has no objection to their being declared contrabands. His
whole nature rises in insurrection when Beecher preaches in a sermon
that a thing ought to be done because it is a duty, but he yields
gracefully when Butler issues an order commanding it to be done because
it is a military necessity.

On the next day, Major John B. Cary, another Rebel officer, late
principal of an academy in Hampton, a delegate to the Charleston
Convention, and a seceder with General Butler from the Convention at
Baltimore, came to the fort with a flag of truce, and, claiming to act
as the representative of Colonel Mallory, demanded the fugitives.
He reminded General Butler of his obligations under the Federal
Constitution, under which he claimed to act. The ready reply was, that
the Fugitive-Slave Act could not be invoked for the reclamation of
fugitives from a foreign State, which Virginia claimed to be, and she
must count it among the infelicities of her position, if so far at least
she was taken at her word.

The three pioneer negroes were not long to be isolated from their race.
There was no known channel of communication between them and their old
comrades, and yet those comrades knew, or believed with the certainty of
knowledge, how they had been received. If inquired of whether more were
coming, their reply was, that, if they were not sent back, others would
understand that they were among friends, and more would come the next
day. Such is the mysterious spiritual telegraph which runs through the
slave population. Proclaim an edict of emancipation in the hearing of a
single slave on the Potomac, and in a few days it will be known by his
brethren on the Gulf. So, on the night of the Big Bethel affair, a squad
of negroes, meeting our soldiers, inquired anxiously the way to "the
freedom fort."

The means of communicating with the fort from the open country became
more easy, when, on the 24th of May, (the same day on which the first
movement was made from Washington into Virginia,) the Second New York
Regiment made its encampment on the Segar farm, lying near the bridge
which connected the fort with the main-land, an encampment soon enlarged
by the First Vermont and other New York regiments. On Sunday morning,
May 26th, eight negroes stood before the quarters of General Butler,
waiting for an audience.

They were examined in part by the Hon. Mr. Ashley, M.C. from Ohio, then
a visitor at the fort. On May 27th, forty-seven negroes of both sexes
and all ages, from three months to eighty-five years, among whom were
half a dozen entire families, came in one squad. Another lot of a dozen
good field-hands arrived the same day; and then they continued to come
by twenties, thirties, and forties. They were assigned buildings outside
of the fort or tents within. They were set to work as servants to
officers, or to store provisions landed from vessels,--thus relieving
us of the fatigue duty which we had previously done, except that of
dragging and mounting columbiads on the ramparts of the fort, a service
which some very warm days have impressed on my memory.

On the 27th of May, the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, the First
Vermont, and some New York regiments made an advance movement and
occupied Newport News, (a promontory named for Captain Christopher
Newport, the early explorer,) so as more effectually to enforce the
blockade of James River. There, too, negroes came in, who were employed
as servants to the officers. One of them, when we left the fort, more
fortunate than his comrades, and aided by a benevolent captain, eluded
the vigilance of the Provost Marshal, and is now the curiosity of a
village in the neighborhood of Boston.

It was now time to call upon the Government for a policy in dealing with
slave society thus disrupted and disorganized. Elsewhere, even under
the shadow of the Capitol, the action of military officers had been
irregular, and in some cases in palpable violation of personal rights.
An order of General McDowell excluded all slaves from the lines.
Sometimes officers assumed to decide the question whether a negro was a
slave, and deliver him to a claimant, when, certainly in the absence of
martial law, they had no authority in the premises, under the Act of
Congress,--that power being confided to commissioners and marshals. As
well might a member of Congress or a State sheriff usurp the function.
Worse yet, in defiance of the Common Law, they made color a presumptive
proof of bondage. In one case a free negro was delivered to a claimant
under this process, more summary than any which the Fugitive-Slave Act
provides. The colonel of a Massachusetts regiment showed some practical
humor in dealing with a pertinacious claimant who asserted title to a
negro found within his lines, and had brought a policeman along with
him to aid in enforcing it. The shrewd colonel, (a Democrat he is,)
retaining the policeman, put both the claimant and claimed outside of
the lines together to try their fleetness. The negro proved to be the
better gymnast and was heard of no more. This capricious treatment of
the subject was fraught with serious difficulties as well as personal
injuries, and it needed to be displaced by an authorized system.

On the 27th of May, General Butler, having in a previous communication
reported his interview with Major Cary, called the attention of the War
Department to the subject in a formal despatch,--indicating the hostile
purposes for which the negroes had been or might be successfully used,
stating the course he had pursued in employing them and recording
expenses and services, and suggesting pertinent military, political, and
humane considerations. The Secretary of War, under date of the 30th of
May, replied, cautiously approving the course of General Butler, and
intimating distinctions between interfering with the relations of
persons held to service and refusing to surrender them to their alleged
masters, which it is not easy to reconcile with well-defined views of
the new exigency, or at least with a desire to express them. The note
was characterized by diplomatic reserve which it will probably be found
difficult long to maintain.

The ever-recurring question continued to press for solution. On the 6th
of July the Act of Congress was approved, declaring that any person
claiming the labor of another to be due to him, and permitting such
party to be employed in any military or naval service whatsoever against
the Government of the United States, shall forfeit his claim to such
labor, and proof of such employment shall thereafter be a full answer
to the claim. This act was designed for the direction of the civil
magistrate, and not for the limitation of powers derived from military
law. That law, founded on _salus republicae_, transcends all codes,
and lies outside of forms and statutes. John Quincy Adams, almost
prophesying as he expounded, declared, in 1842, that under it slavery
might be abolished. Under it, therefore, Major-General Fremont, in a
recent proclamation, declared the slaves of all persons within his
department, who were in arms against the Government, to be freemen, and
under it has given title-deeds of manumission. Subsequently President
Lincoln limited the proclamation to such slaves as are included in the
Act of Congress, namely, the slaves of Rebels used in directly hostile
service. The country had called for Jacksonian courage, and its first
exhibition was promptly suppressed. If the revocation was made in
deference to protests from Kentucky, it seems, that, while the loyal
citizens of Missouri appeared to approve the decisive measure, they were
overruled by the more potential voice of other communities who professed
to understand their affairs better than they did themselves. But if, as
is admitted, the commanding officer, in the plenitude of military power,
was authorized to make the order within his department, all human beings
included in the proclamation thereby acquired a vested title to their
freedom, of which neither Congress nor President could dispossess them.
No conclusive behests of law necessitating the limitation, it cannot
rest on any safe reasons of military policy. The one slave who carries
his master's knapsack on a march contributes far less to the efficiency
of the Rebel army than the one hundred slaves who hoe corn on his
plantation with which to replenish its commissariat. We have not yet
emerged from the fine-drawn distinctions of peaceful times. We may
imprison or slaughter a Rebel, but we may not unloose his hold on a
person he has claimed as a slave. We may seize all his other property
without question, lands, houses, cattle, jewels; but his asserted
property in man is more sacred than the gold which overlay the Ark of
the Covenant, and we may not profane it. This reverence for things
assumed to be sacred, which are not so, cannot long continue. The
Government can well turn away from the enthusiast, however generous his
impulses, who asks the abolition of slavery on general principles of
philanthropy, for the reason that it already has work enough on its
hands. It may not change the objects of the war, but it must of
necessity at times shift its tactics and its instruments, as the
exigency demands. Its solemn and imperative duty is to look every
issue, however grave and transcendent, firmly in the face; and having
ascertained upon mature and conscientious reflection what is necessary
to suppress the Rebellion, it must then proceed with inexorable purpose
to inflict the blows where Rebellion is the weakest and under which it
must inevitably fall.

On the 30th of July, General Butler, being still unprovided with
adequate instructions,--the number of contrabands having now reached
nine hundred,--applied to the War Department for further directions. His
inquiries, inspired by good sense and humanity alike, were of the most
fundamental character, and when they shall have received a full answer
the war will be near its end. Assuming the slaves to have been the
property of masters, he considers them waifs abandoned by their
owners, in which the Government as a finder cannot, however, acquire a
proprietary interest, and they have therefore reverted to the normal
condition of those made in God's image, "if not free-born, yet
free-manumitted, sent forth from the hand that held them, never to
return." The author of that document may never win a victor's laurels
on any renowned field, but, depositing it in the archives of the
Government, he leaves a record in history which will outlast the
traditions of battle or siege. It is proper to add, that the answer of
the War Department, so far as its meaning is clear, leaves the General
uninstructed as to all slaves not confiscated by the Act of Congress.

The documentary history being now completed, the personal narrative of
affairs at Fortress Monroe is resumed.

The encampment of Federal troops beyond the peninsula of the fort and in
the vicinity of the village of Hampton was immediately followed by an
hegira of its white inhabitants, burning, as they fled, as much of the
bridge as they could. On the 28th of May, a detachment of troops entered
the village and hoisted the stars and stripes on the house of Colonel
Mallory. Picket-guards occupied it intermittently during the month of
June. It was not until the first day of July that a permanent encampment
was made there, consisting of the Third Massachusetts Regiment, which
moved from the fort, the Fourth, which moved from Newport News, and the
Naval Brigade, all under the command of Brigadier-General Pierce,--the
camp being informally called Camp Greble, in honor of the lieutenant of
that name who fell bravely in the disastrous affair of Big Bethel.
Here we remained until July 16th, when, our term of enlistment having
expired, we bade adieu to Hampton, its ancient relics, its deserted
houses, its venerable church, its trees and gardens, its contrabands,
all so soon to be wasted and scattered by the torch of Virginia Vandals.
We passed over the bridge, the rebuilding of which was completed the day
before, marched to the fort, exchanged our rifle muskets for an older
pattern, listened to a farewell address from General Butler, bade
good-bye to Colonel Dimick, and embarked for Boston. It was during this
encampment at Hampton, and two previous visits, somewhat hurried, while
as yet it was without a permanent guard, that my personal knowledge of
the negroes, of their feelings, desires, aspirations, capacities, and
habits of life was mainly obtained.

A few words of local history and description may illustrate the
narrative. Hampton is a town of considerable historic interest. First
among civilized men the illustrious adventurer Captain John Smith with
his comrades visited its site in 1607, while exploring the mouth of
James River to find a home for the first colonists. Here they smoked the
calumet of peace with an Indian tribe. To the neighboring promontory,
where they found good anchorage and hospitality, they gave the name of
Point Comfort, which it still bears. Hampton, though a settlement was
commenced there in 1610, did not become a town until 1705. Hostile
fleets have twice appeared before it. The first time was in October,
1775, when some tenders sent by Lord Dunmore to destroy it were repulsed
by the citizens, aided by the Culpepper riflemen. Then and there was the
first battle of the Revolution in Virginia. Again in June, 1813, it was
attacked by Admiral Cockburn and General Beckwith, and scenes of pillage
followed, dishonorable to the British soldiery. Jackson, in his address
to his army just before the Battle of New Orleans, conjured his soldiers
to remember Hampton. Until the recent conflagration, it abounded in
ancient relics. Among them was St. John's Church, the main body of which
was of imported brick, and built at the beginning of the eighteenth
century. The fury of Secession irreverently destroyed this memorial of
antiquity and religion, which even a foreign soldiery had spared. One
inscription in the graveyard surrounding the church is as early as 1701,
and even earlier dates are found on tombstones in the fields a mile
distant. The Court-House, a clumsy old structure, in which was the
law-office of Colonel Mallory, contained judicial records of a very
early colonial period. Some, which I examined, bore date of 1634.
Several old houses, with spacious rooms and high ornamented ceilings,
gave evidence that at one time they had been occupied by citizens of
considerable taste and rank. A friend of mine found among the rubbish of
a deserted house an English illustrated edition of "Paradise Lost,"
of the date of 1725, and Boyle's Oxford edition of "The Epistles of
Phalaris," famous in classical controversy, printed in 1718. The
proximity of Fortress Monroe, of the fashionable watering-place of Old
Point, and of the anchorage of Hampton Roads, has contributed to the
interest of the town. To this region came in summer-time public men
weary of their cares, army and navy officers on furlough or retired, and
the gay daughters of Virginia. In front of the fort, looking seaward,
was the summer residence of Floyd; between the fort and the town was
that of John Tyler. President Jackson sought refuge from care and
solicitation at the Rip Raps, whither he was followed by his devoted
friend, Mr. Blair. So at least a contraband informed me, who said he had
often seen them both there.

Nevertheless, the town bore no evidence of thrift. It looked as though
it were sleepy and indolent in the best of times, having oysters for its
chief merchandise. The streets were paved, but the pavements were of
large irregular stones, and unevenly laid. Few houses were new, and,
excepting St. John's Church, the public edifices were mean. All these
have been swept away by the recent conflagration, a waste of property
indefensible on any military principles. The buildings might have
furnished winter-quarters for our troops, but in that climate they were
not necessary for that purpose, perhaps not desirable, or, if required,
could be easily replaced by temporary habitations constructed of
lumber imported from the North by sea. But the Rebel chiefs had thrown
themselves into heroic attitudes, and while playing the part of
incendiaries, they fancied their action to be as sublime as that of the
Russians at Moscow. With such a precedent of Vandalism, no ravages of
our own troops can hereafter be complained of.

The prevailing exodus, leaving less than a dozen white men behind,
testifies the political feelings of the people. Only two votes were
thrown against the ordinance of Secession. Whatever of Union sentiment
existed there had been swept away by such demagogues as Mallory, Cary,
Magruder, Shiels, and Hope. Hastily as they left, they removed in most
cases all their furniture, leaving only the old Virginia sideboard, too
heavy to be taken away. In a few exceptional cases, from the absence of
the owner or other cause, the house was still furnished; but generally
nothing but old letters, torn books, newspapers, cast-off clothing,
strewed the floors. Rarely have I enjoyed the hours more than when
roaming from cellar to garret these tenantless houses. A deserted
dwelling! How the imagination is fascinated by what may have there
transpired of human joy or sorrow,--the solitary struggles of the soul
for better things, the dawn and the fruition of love, the separations
and reunions of families, the hearth-stone consecrated by affection and
prayer, the bridal throng, the birth of new lives, the farewells to the
world, the funeral train.

But more interesting and instructive were the features of slave-life
which here opened to us. The negroes who remained, of whom there may
have been three hundred of all ages, lived in small wooden shanties,
generally in the rear of the master's house, rarely having more than one
room on the lower floor, and that containing an open fireplace where the
cooking for the master's family was done, tables, chairs, dishes, and
the miscellaneous utensils of household life. The masters had taken with
them, generally, their waiting-maids and house-servants, and had
desired to carry all their slaves with them. But in the hasty
preparations,--particularly where the slaves were living away from
their master's close, or had a family,--it was difficult to remove them
against their will, as they could skulk for a few hours and then go
where they pleased. Some voluntarily left their slaves behind, not
having the means to provide for them, or, anticipating a return at no
distant day, desired them to stay and guard the property. The slaves who
remained lived upon the little pork and corn-meal that were left and the
growing vegetables. They had but little to do. The women looked after
their meagre household concerns, but the men were generally idle,
standing in groups, or sitting in front of the shanties talking with the
women. Some began to serve our officers as soon as we were quartered in
the town,--while a few others set up cake-stands upon the street.

It was necessary for the protection of the post that some breastworks
should be thrown up, and a line was planned extending from the old
cemetery northward to the new one, a quarter of a mile distant. Our own
troops were disinclined to the labor, their time being nearly expired,
and they claiming that they had done their share of fatigue duty both
at the fort and at Newport News. A member of Brigadier-General Pierce's
staff--an efficient officer and a humane gentleman--suggested the
employment of the contrabands and the furnishing of them with rations,
an expedient best for them and agreeable to us. He at once dictated
a telegram to General Butler in these words:--"Shall we put the
contrabands to work on the intrenchments, and will you furnish them with
rations?" An affirmative answer was promptly received on Monday morning,
July 8th, and that was the first day in the course of the war in which
the negro was employed upon the military works of our army. It therefore
marks a distinct epoch in its progress and in its relations to the
colored population. The writer--and henceforth his narrative must
indulge in the frequent use of the first person--was specially detailed
from his post as private in Company L of the Third Regiment to collect
the contrabands, record their names, ages, and the names of their
masters, provide their tools, superintend their labor, and procure their
rations. My comrades smiled, as I undertook the novel duty, enjoying
the spectacle of a Massachusetts Republican converted into a Virginia
slave-master. To me it seemed rather an opportunity to lead them from
the house of bondage never to return. For, whatever may be the general
duty to this race, to all such as we have in any way employed to aid our
armies our national faith and our personal honor are pledged. The
code of a gentleman, to say nothing of a higher law of rectitude,
necessitates protection to this extent. Abandoning one of these faithful
allies, who, if delivered up, would be reduced to severer servitude
because of the education he had received and the services he had
performed, probably to be transported to the remotest slave region as
now too dangerous to remain near its borders, we should be accursed
among the nations of the earth. I felt assured that from that hour,
whatsoever the fortunes of the war, every one of those enrolled
defenders of the Union had vindicated beyond all future question, for
himself, his wife, and their issue, a title to American citizenship, and
become heir to all the immunities of Magna Charta, the Declaration of
Independence, and the Constitution of the United States.

Passing through the principal streets, I told the contrabands that when
they heard the court-house bell, which would ring soon, they must go to
the court-house yard, where a communication would be made to them. In
the mean time I secured the valuable services of some fellow-privates,
one for a quarter-master, two others to aid in superintending at the
trenches, and the orderly-sergeant of my own company, whose expertness
in the drill was equalled only by his general good sense and business
capacity. Upon the ringing of the bell, about forty contrabands came to
the yard. A second exploration added to the number some twenty or
more, who had not heard the original summons. They then came into the
building, where they were called to order and addressed. I had argued to
judges and juries, but I had never spoken to such auditors before in a
court-room. I told them that the colored men had been employed on the
breastworks of the Rebels, and we needed their aid,--that they would
be required to do only such labor as we ourselves had done,--that they
should be treated kindly, and no one should be obliged to work beyond
his capacity, or if unwell,--and that they should be furnished in a day
or two with full soldiers' rations. I told them that their masters
had said they were an indolent people,--that I did not believe the
charge,--that I was going home to Massachusetts soon and should be glad
to report that they were as industrious as the whites. They generally
showed no displeasure, some even saying, that, not having done much for
some time, it was the best thing for them to be now employed. Four or
five men over fifty years old said that they suffered from rheumatism,
and could not work without injury. Being confirmed by the by-standers,
they were dismissed. Other old men said they would do what they could,
and they were assured that no more would be required of them. Two of
them, provided with a bucket and dipper, were detailed to carry water
all the time along the line of laborers. Two young men fretted a little,
and claimed to be disabled in some way. They were told to resume their
seats, and try first and see what they could do,--to the evident
amusement of the rest, who knew them to be indolent and disposed to
shirk. A few showed some sulkiness, but it all passed away after the
first day, when they found that they were to be used kindly. One
well-dressed young man, a carpenter, feeling a little better than his
associates, did not wear a pleasant face at first. Finding out his
trade, we set him to sawing the posts for the intrenchments, and he was
entirely reconciled. Free colored men were not required to work; but
one volunteered, wishing, as he said, to do his part. The contrabands
complained that the free colored men ought to be required to work on the
intrenchments as well as they. I thought so too, but followed my orders.
A few expressed some concern lest their masters should punish them for
serving us, if they ever returned. One inquired suspiciously why we took
the name of his master. My reply was, that it was taken in order to
identify them,--an explanation with which he was more satisfied than I
was myself. Several were without shoes, and said that they could not
drive the shovel into the earth. They were told to use the picks. The
rest of the forenoon being occupied in registering their names and ages,
and the names of their masters, they were dismissed to come together on
the ringing of the bell, at two, P.M.

It had been expressly understood that I was to have the exclusive
control and supervision of the negroes, directing their hours of labor
and their rests, without interference from any one. The work itself was
to be planned and superintended by the officers of the Third and Fourth
Regiments. This exclusive control of the men was necessarily confided
to one, as different lieutenants detailed each day could not feel a
responsibility for their welfare. One or two of these, when rests were
allowed the negroes, were somewhat disgusted, saying that negroes
could dig all the time as well as not. I had had some years before an
experience with the use of the shovel under a warm sun, and knew better,
and I wished I could superintend a corps of lieutenants and apply their
own theory to themselves.

At two, P.M., the contrabands came together, answered to their names,
and, each taking a shovel, a spade, or a pick, began to work upon the
breastworks farthest from the village and close to the new cemetery. The
afternoon was very warm, the warmest we had in Hampton. Some, used only
to household or other light work, wilted under the heat, and they were
told to go into the cemetery and lie down. I remember distinctly a
corpulent colored man, down whose cheeks the perspiration rolled and who
said he felt badly. He also was told to go away and rest until he was
better. He soon came back relieved, and there was no more faithful
laborer among them all during the rest of the time. Twice or three times
in the afternoon an intermission of fifteen minutes was allowed to all.
Thus they worked until six in the evening, when they were dismissed for
the day. They deposited their tools in the court-house, where each one
of his own accord carefully put his pick or shovel where he could find
it again,--sometimes behind a door and sometimes in a sly corner or
under a seat, preferring to keep his own tool. They were then informed
that they must come together on the ringing of the bell the next morning
at four o'clock. They thought that too early, but they were assured
that the system best for their health would be adopted, and they would
afterwards be consulted about changing it. The next morning we did not
rise quite so early as four, and the bell was not rung till some minutes
later. The contrabands were prompt, their names had been called, and
they had marched to the trenches, a quarter of a mile distant, and were
fairly at work by half-past four or a quarter before five. They did
excellent service during the morning hours, and at seven were dismissed
till eight. The roll was then called again, absences, if any, noted,
and by half-past eight they were at their post. They continued at the
trenches till eleven, being allowed rests, and were then dismissed until
three, P.M., being relieved four hours in the middle of the day, when,
the bell being rung and the roll called, they resumed their work and
continued till six, when they were dismissed for the day. Such were the
hours and usual course of their labor. Their number was increased some
half dozen by fugitives from the back-country, who came in and asked to
be allowed to serve on the intrenchments.

The contrabands worked well, and in no instance was it found necessary
for the superintendents to urge them. There was a public opinion among
them against idleness, which answered for discipline. Some days they
worked with our soldiers, and it was found that they did more work, and
did the nicer parts--the facings and dressings--better. Colonels Packard
and Wardrop, under whose direction the breastworks were constructed, and
General Butler, who visited them, expressed satisfaction at the work
which the contrabands had done. On the 14th of July, Mr. Russell, of the
London "Times," and Dr. Bellows, of the Sanitary Commission, came to
Hampton and manifested much interest at the success of the experiment.
The result was, indeed, pleasing. A subaltern officer, to whom I had
insisted that the contrabands should be treated with kindness, had
sneered at the idea of applying philanthropic notions in time of war. It
was found then, as always, that decent persons will accomplish more when
treated at least like human beings. The same principle, if we will but
credit our own experience and Mr. Rarey, too, may with advantage be
extended to our relations with the beasts that serve us.

Three days after the contrabands commenced their work, five days'
rations were served to them,--a soldier's ration for each laborer, and
half a ration for each dependant. The allowance was liberal,--as a
soldier's ration, if properly cooked, is more than he generally needs,
and the dependant for whom a half-ration was received might be a wife
or a half-grown child. It consisted of salt beef or pork, hard bread,
beans, rice, coffee, sugar, soap, and candles, and where the family was
large it made a considerable pile. The recipients went home, appearing
perfectly satisfied, and feeling assured that our promises to them would
be performed. On Sunday fresh meat was served to them in the same manner
as to the troops.

There was one striking feature in the contrabands which must not be
omitted. I did not hear a profane or vulgar word spoken by them during
my superintendence, a remark which it will be difficult to make of any
sixty-four white men taken together anywhere in our army. Indeed, the
greatest discomfort of a soldier, who desires to remain a gentleman in
the camp, is the perpetual reiteration of language which no decent lips
would utter in a sister's presence. But the negroes, so dogmatically

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