Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 11, No. 63, January, 1863
Part 5 out of 5
We ask your attention under this head to the declaration of their
Vice-President, Stephens, in that remarkable speech delivered on the
21st of March, 1861, at Savannah, Georgia, wherein he declares the
object and purposes of the new Confederacy. It is one of the most
extraordinary papers which our century has produced. I quote from the
_verbatim_ report in the Savannah "Republican" of the address as it was
delivered in the Athenaeum of that city, on which occasion, says the
newspaper from which I copy, "Mr. Stephens took his seat amid a burst of
enthusiasm and applause, such as the Athenaeum has never had displayed
within its walls, within 'the recollection of the oldest inhabitant.'"
"Last, not least, the new Constitution has put at rest _forever_ all
the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution,--African
Slavery as it exists among us, the proper _status_ of the negro in our
form of civilization. _This was the immediate cause of the late rupture
and present revolution_. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated
this, as the 'rock upon which the old Union would split.' He was right.
What was conjecture with him is now a realized fact. But whether he
fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock _stood_ and
_stands_ may be doubted. _The prevailing ideas entertained by him and
most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old
Constitution were that the enslavement of the African was in violation
of the laws of Nature, that it was wrong in principle, socially,
morally, and politically_. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal
with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that,
somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be
evanescent, and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the
Constitution, was the prevailing idea at the time. The Constitution, it
is true, secured every essential guaranty to the institution, while
it should last; and hence no argument can be justly used against the
Constitutional guaranties thus secured, because of the common sentiment
of the day. _Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested
upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error_. It was
a sandy foundation; and the idea of a government built upon it--when
'the storm came and the wind blew, it fell.'
"_Our new government is founded upon on exactly the opposite ideas: its
foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that
the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to
the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. (Applause.) This
our new government is the first, in the history of the world, based upon
this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth_.
"This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all
other truths in the various departments of science. It is so even
amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well that this
truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of
the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago.
Those at the North who still cling to these errors with a zeal above
knowledge we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an
aberration of the mind, from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of
insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many
instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous
premises. So with the _anti-slavery_ fanatics: their conclusions are
right, if their premises are. They assume that the negro is equal, and
hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with
the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would
be logical and just; but their premises being wrong, their whole
* * * * *
"In the conflict thus far, success has been on our side complete,
throughout the length and breadth of the Confederate States. It is upon
this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I
cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition
of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world.
"As I have stated, the truth of this principle may be slow in
development, as all truths are, and ever have been, in the various
branches of science. It was so with the principles announced by Galileo;
it was so with Adam Smith and his principles of political economy; It
was so with Harvey in his theory of the circulation of the blood. It is
said that not a single one of the medical profession, at the time of
the announcement of the truths made by him, admitted them; now they are
universally acknowledged. May we not, therefore, look with confidence
to the ultimate universal acknowledgment of the truths upon which our
system rests? It is the first government ever instituted upon principles
in strict conformity to Nature and the ordination of Providence in
furnishing the material of human society. Many governments have been
founded upon the principles of certain classes; but the classes thus
enslaved were of the same race and in violation of the laws of Nature.
Our system commits no such violation of Nature's laws. The negro, by
Nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition
which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of
buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material,--the granite;
then comes the brick or marble. The substratum of our society is made of
the material fitted by Nature for it; and by experience we know that it
is best not only for the superior, but the inferior race, that it should
be so. It is indeed in conformity with the Creator. It is not safe for
us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them.
For His own purposes He has made one race to differ from another, as one
star differeth from another in glory. The great objects of humanity are
best attained, when conformed to His laws and decrees in the formation
of government as well as in all things else. Our Confederacy is founded
on a strict conformity with those laws. _This stone, which was rejected
by the first builders, has become the chief stone of the corner in our
Thus far the declarations of the slave-holding Confederacy.
On the other hand, the declarations of the President and the Republican
party, as to their intention to restore "the Union as it was," require
an explanation. It is the doctrine of the Republican party, that Freedom
is national and Slavery sectional; that the Constitution of the United
States was designed for the promotion of liberty, and not of slavery;
that its framers contemplated the gradual abolition of slavery; and
that in the hands of an anti-slavery majority it could be so wielded as
peaceably to extinguish this great evil.
They reasoned thus. Slavery ruins land, and requires fresh territory
for profitable working. Slavery increases a dangerous population, and
requires an expansion of this population for safety. Slavery, then,
being hemmed in by impassable limits, emancipation in each State becomes
_By restoring the Union as it was_ the Republican party meant the Union
in the sense contemplated by the original framers of it, who, as
has been admitted by Stephens, in his speech just quoted, were from
principle opposed to slavery. It was, then, restoring a _status_
in which, by the inevitable operation of natural laws, peaceful
emancipation would become a certainty.
In the mean while, during the past year, the Republican Administration,
with all the unwonted care of organizing an army and navy, and
conducting military operations on an immense scale, have proceeded
to demonstrate the feasibility of overthrowing slavery by purely
Constitutional measures. To this end they have instituted a series
of movements which have made this year more fruitful in anti-slavery
triumphs than any other since the emancipation of the British West
The District of Columbia, as belonging strictly to the National
Government, and to no separate State, has furnished a fruitful subject
of remonstrance from British Christians with America. We have abolished
slavery there, and thus wiped out the only blot of territorial
responsibility on our escutcheon.
By another act, equally grand principle, and far more important in its
results, slavery is forever excluded from the Territories of the United
By another act, America has consummated the long-delayed treaty with
Great Britain for the suppression of the slave-trade. In ports whence
slave-vessels formerly sailed with the connivance of the port-officers,
the Administration has placed men who stand up to their duty, and for
the first time in our history the slave-trader, is convicted and hung as
a pirate. This abominable secret traffic has been wholly demolished by
the energy of the Federal Government.
Lastly, and more significant still, the United States Government has in
its highest official capacity taken distinct anti-slavery ground, and
presented to the country a plan of peaceable emancipation with suitable
compensation. This noble-spirited and generous offer has been urged on
the Slaveholding States by the Chief Executive with an earnestness and
sincerity of which history in after-times will make honorable account in
recording the events of Mr. Lincoln's administration.
Now, when a President and Administration who have done all these things
declare their intention of restoring "_the Union as it was_," ought not
the world fairly to interpret their words by their actions and their
avowed principles? Is it not _necessary_ to infer that they mean by it
the Union as it was in the intent of its anti-slavery framers, under
which, by the exercise of normal Constitutional powers, slavery should
be peaceably abolished?
We are aware that this theory of the Constitution has been disputed
by certain Abolitionists; but it is conceded, you have seen, by the
Secessionists. Whether it be a just theory or not is, however, nothing
to our purpose at present. We only assert that such is the professed
belief of the present Administration of the United States, and such are
the acts by which they have illustrated their belief.
But this is but half the story of the anti-slavery triumphs of this
year. We have shown you what has been done for freedom by the simple use
of the ordinary Constitutional forces of the Union. We are now to show
you what has been done to the same end by the Constitutional war-power
of the nation.
By this power it has been this year decreed that every slave of a Rebel
who reaches the lines of our army becomes a free man; that all slaves
found deserted by their masters become free men; that every slave
employed in any service for the United States thereby obtains his
liberty; and that every slave employed against the United States in any
capacity obtains his liberty: and lest the army should contain officers
disposed to remand slaves to their masters, the power of judging and
delivering up slaves is denied to army-officers, and all such acts are
By this act, the Fugitive-Slave Law is for all present purposes
practically repealed. With this understanding and provision, wherever
our armies march, they carry liberty with them. For be it remembered
that our army is almost entirely a volunteer one, and that the most
zealous and ardent volunteers are those who have been for years fighting
with tongue and pen the Abolition battle. So marked is the character of
our soldiers in this respect, that they are now familiarly designated
in the official military despatches of the Confederate States as "The
Abolitionists." Conceive the results, when an army, so empowered by
national law, marches through a slave-territory. One regiment alone has
to our certain knowledge liberated two thousand slaves during the past
year, and this regiment it but one out of hundreds. We beg to lay before
you some details given by an eye-witness of what has recently been done
in this respect in the Department of the South.
"_On Board Steamer from Fortress Monroe to Baltimore_, Nov. 14, 1862.
"Events of no ordinary interest have just occurred in the Department of
the South. The negro troops have been tested, and, to their great joy,
though not contrary to their own expectations, they have triumphed, not
only over enemies armed with muskets and swords, but over what the black
man dreads most, sharp and cruel prejudices.
"General Saxton, on the 28th of October, sent the captured steamer
Darlington, Captain Crandell, down the coast of Georgia, and to
Fernandina, Florida, to obtain recruits for the First Regiment
South-Carolina Volunteers. Lieutenant-Colonel O.T. Beard, of the
Forty-Eighth New-York Volunteers, was given the command of the
expedition. In addition to obtaining recruits, the condition and wants
of the recent refugees from slavery along the coast were to be looked
into, and, if occasion should offer, it was permitted to 'feel the
enemy.' At St. Simond's, Georgia, Captain Trowbridge, with thirty-five
men of the 'Hunter Regiment of First South-Carolina Volunteers,' who had
been stationed there for three months, together with twenty-seven more
men, were received on board. With this company of sixty-two men the
Darlington proceeded to Fernandina.
"On arriving, a meeting of the colored men was called to obtain
enlistments. The large church was crowded. After addresses had been made
by the writer and Colonel Beard, one hundred men volunteered at once,
and the number soon reached about one hundred and twenty-five. Such,
however, were the demands of Fort Clinch and the Quartermaster's
Department for laborers, that Colonel Rich, commanding the
fort, consented to only twenty-five men leaving. This was a sad
disappointment, and one which some determined not to bear. The
twenty-five men were carefully selected from among those not employed
either on the fort or in the Quartermaster's Department, and put on
board. Amid the farewells and benedictions of hundreds of their friends
on shore they took their departure, to prove the truth or falsity of
the charge, 'The black man can never fight.' On calling the roll, a
few miles from port, it was found our twenty-five men had increased
to fifty-four. Determined not to be foiled in their purpose of being
soldiers, it was found that thirty men had quietly found their way on
board just at break of day, and had concealed themselves in the hold of
the ship. When asked why they did so, their reply was,--
"'Oh, we want to fight for our liberty, and for de liberty of our wives
"'But would you dare to face your old masters?'
"'Oh, yes, yes! why, we would fight to de death to get our families,'
was the quick response.
"No one doubted their sincerity. Muskets were soon in their hands, and
no time was lost in drilling them. Our steamer, a very frail one, had
been barricaded around the bow and stern, and also provided with two
twelve-pounder Parrott guns. These guns had to be worked by black men,
under the direction of the captain of the steamer. Our fighting men
numbered only about one hundred and ten, and fifty of them were raw
recruits. The expedition was not a very formidable one, still all seemed
to have an unusual degree of confidence as to its success.
* * * * *
"_November_ 6. The women and children (about fifty) taken from St.
Simond's on the day previous were now landed for safety in St.
Catharine's, as a more hazardous work was to be undertaken. Much of the
night was spent in getting wood for the steamer, killing beeves, and
cooking meats, rice, and corn, for our women and children on shore, and
for the troops. The men needed no 'driver's lash' to incite them to
labor. Sleep and rest were almost unwelcome, for they were preparing to
go up Sapelo River, along whose banks, on the beautiful plantations,
were their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, and children.
Weeks and months before, some of the men had left those loved ones, with
a promise to return, 'if de good Lord jis open de way.'
"At five o'clock on Friday morning, November 7, we were under way.
Captain Budd, of the gun-boat Potomska, had kindly promised the evening
before to accompany us past the most dangerous places. On reaching his
station in Sapelo Sound, we found him in readiness. Our little fleet,
led by the Potomska, and followed by the Darlington, sailed proudly
up the winding Sapelo, now through marshes, and then past large and
beautiful plantations. It was very affecting to see our soldiers
watching intensely the colored forms on land, one saying, in the agony
of deepest anxiety, 'Oh, Mas'r, my wife and chillen lib dere,' and
another singing out, 'Dere, dere my brodder,' or 'my sister.' The
earnest longings of their poor, anguish-riven hearts for landings, and
then the sad, inexpressible regrets as the steamer passed, must be
imagined,--they cannot be described.
"The first landing was made at a picket-station on Charles Hopkins's
plantation. The enemy was driven back; a few guns and a sword only
captured. The Potomska came to anchorage, for lack of sufficient water,
a few miles above, at Reuben King's plantation. Here we witnessed a
rich scene. Some fifty negroes appeared on the banks, about thirty
rods distant from their master's house, and some distance from the
Darlington. They gazed upon us with intense feelings, alternately
turning their eyes toward their master, who was watching them from
his piazza, and toward our steamer, which, as yet, had given them no
assurances of landing. The moment she headed to the shore, their doubts
were dispersed, and they gave us such a welcome as angels would be
satisfied with. Some few women were so filled with joy, that they ran,
leaped, clapped their hands, and cried, 'Glory to God! Glory to God!'
* * * * *
"After relieving the old planter of twenty thousand dollars' worth of
humanity, that is, fifty-two slaves, and the leather of his tannery, we
reembarked. Our boats were sent once and again, however, to the shore
for men, who, having heard the steam-whistle, came in greatest haste
from distant plantations.
"As the Potomska could go no farther, Captain Budd kindly offered to
accompany us with one gun's crew. We were glad to have his company and
the services of the crew, as we had only one gun's crew of colored men.
Above us was a bend in the river, and a high bluff covered with thick
woods. There we apprehended danger, for the Rebels had had ample time to
collect their forces. The men were carefully posted, fully instructed as
to their duties and dangers by Colonel Beard. Our Parrotts were manned,
and everything was in readiness. No sooner were we within rifle-shot
than the enemy opened upon us a heavy fire from behind the bank and
trees, and also from the tops of the trees. Our speed being slow and the
river's bend quite large, we were within range of the enemy's guns for
some time. How well our troops bore themselves will be seen by Captain
"Our next landing was made at Daniel McDonald's plantation. His
extensive and valuable salt-works were demolished, and he himself taken
prisoner. By documents captured, it was ascertained that he was a Rebel
of the worst kind. We took only a few of his slaves, as he drove back
into the woods about ninety of them just before our arrival. One
fine-looking man came hobbling down on a crutch. McDonald had shot off
one of his legs some eighteen months before. The next plantation had
some five hundred slaves on it; several of our troops had come from
it, and also had relatives there, but the lateness of the hour and the
dangerous points to be passed on our return admonished us to retreat.
"Our next attack was expected at the bluff. The enemy had improved the
time since we parted from them in gathering reinforcements. Colonel
Beard prepared the men for a warm fire. While everything was in
readiness, and the steamer dropping down hard upon the enemy, the writer
passed around among the men, who were waiting coolly for the moment of
attack, and asked them if they found their courage failing. 'Oh, no,
Mas'r, our trust be in de Lord. We only want fair chance at 'em,' was
the unanimous cry.
* * * * *
"Most people have doubted the courage of negroes, and their ability to
stand a warm fire of the enemy. The engagements of this day were not an
open-field fight, to be sure, but the circumstances were peculiar. They
were taken by surprise, the enemy concealed, his force not known, and
some of the troops had been enlisted only two days. Captain Budd, a
brave and experienced officer, and eye-witness of both engagements, has
kindly given his opinion, which we are sure will vindicate the policy,
as well as justness, of arming the colored man for his own freedom at
"'United States Steamer Potomska,
"'Sapelo River, Ga., Nov. 7, 1862.
"'Sir,--It gives me pleasure to testify to the admirable conduct of
the negro troops (First S.C. Volunteers) under the command of
Lieutenant-Colonel Beard, Forty-Eighth New-York Volunteers, during this
day's operations. They behaved splendidly under the warm and galling
fire we were exposed to in the two skirmishes with the enemy. I did not
see a man flinch, contrary to my expectations.
"'One of them, particularly, came under my notice, who, although, badly
wounded in the face, continued to load and fire, in the coolest manner
"'Every one of them acted like veterans.
"'Acting-Lieutenant Commanding Potomska.
"'_To the Rev. M. French, Chaplain, U.S.A._'
"On reaching his ship, Captain Budd led our retreat. It had been agreed,
after full consultation on the subject, that, in our descent down the
river, it was best to burn the buildings of Captain Hopkins and
Colonel Brailsford. Both of these places were strong picket-stations,
particularly the latter. Brailsford had been down with a small force
a few days before our arrival at St. Catharine's, and shot one of our
contrabands, wounded mortally, as was supposed, another, and carried
off four women and three men. He had also whipped to death, three weeks
before, a slave for attempting to make his escape. We had on board Sam
Miller, a former slave, who had received over three hundred lashes for
refusing to inform on a few of his fellows who had escaped.
* * * * *
"On passing among the men, as we were leaving the scenes of action,
I inquired if they had grown any to-day. Many simultaneously
exclaimed,--"'Oh, yes, Massa, we have grown three inches!' Sam said,--'I
feel a heap more of a man!'
"With the lurid flames still lighting up all the region behind, and the
bright rays of the smiling moon before them, they formed a circle on the
lower deck, and around the hatchway leading to the hold, where were the
women and children captured during the day, and on bended knees they
offered up sincere and heartfelt thanksgivings to Almighty God for the
mercies of the day. Such fervent prayers for the President, for the
hearing of his Proclamation by all in bonds, and for the ending of the
war and slavery, were seldom, if ever, heard before. About one hour was
spent in singing and prayer. Those waters surely never echoed with such
* * * * *
"Our steamer left Beaufort without a soldier, and returned, after an
absence of twelve days, with one hundred and fifty-six fighting colored
men, some of whom dropped the hoe, took a musket, and were at once
soldiers, ready to fight for the freedom of others."
It is conceded on all sides, that, wherever our armies have had
occupancy, there slavery has been practically abolished. The fact was
recognized by President Lincoln in his last appeal to the loyal Slave
States to consummate emancipation.
Another noticeable act of our Government in behalf of Liberty is the
official provision it makes for the wants of the thousands of helpless
human beings thus thrown upon our care. Taxed with the burden of an
immense war, with the care of thousands of sick and wounded, the United
States Government has cheerfully voted rations for helpless slaves, no
less than wages to the helpful ones. The United States Government pays
teachers to instruct them, and overseers to guide their industrial
efforts. A free-labor experiment is already in successful operation
among the beautiful sea-islands in the neighborhood of Beaufort, which,
even under most disadvantageous circumstances, is fast demonstrating how
much more efficiently men will work from hope and liberty than from fear
and constraint. Thus, even amid the roar of cannon and the confusion
of war, cotton-planting, as a free-labor institution, is beginning its
infant life, to grow hereafter to a glorious manhood.
Lastly, the great, decisive measure of the war has appeared,--_The
President's Proclamation of Emancipation_.
This also has been much misunderstood and misrepresented in England. It
has been said to mean virtually this:--Be loyal, and you shall keep your
slaves; rebel, and they shall be free.
But let us remember what we have just seen of the purpose and meaning of
the Union to which the rebellious States are invited back. It is to
a Union which has abolished slavery in the District of Columbia, and
interdicted slavery in the Territories,--which vigorously represses
the slave-trade, and hangs the convicted slaver as a pirate,--which
necessitates emancipation by denying expansion to slavery, and
facilitates it by the offer of compensation. Any Slaveholding States
which should return to such a Union might fairly be supposed to return
with the purpose of peaceable emancipation. The President's Proclamation
simply means this:--Come in, and emancipate peaceably with compensation;
stay out, and I emancipate, nor will I protect you from the
That continuance in the Union is thus understood is already made
manifest by the votes of Missouri and Delaware in the recent elections.
Both of these States have given strong majorities for emancipation,
Missouri, long tending towards emancipation, has already planted herself
firmly on the great rock of Freedom, and thrown out her bold and
eloquent appeal to the Free States of the North for aid in overcoming
the difficulties of her position. Other States will soon follow; nor is
it too much to hope that before a new year has gone far in its course
the sacred fire of freedom will have flashed along the whole line of the
Border States responsive to the generous proposition of the President
and Congress, and that universal emancipation will have become a fixed
fact in the American Union.
Will our sisters in England feel no heart-beat at that event? Is it not
one of the predicted voices of the latter day, saying under the whole
heavens, "It is done: the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms
of our Lord, and of His Christ"?
And now, Sisters of England, in this solemn, expectant hour, let
us speak to you of one thing which fills our hearts with pain and
It is an unaccountable fact, and one which we entreat you seriously to
ponder, that the party which has brought the cause of Freedom thus
far on its way, during the past eventful year, has found little or no
support in England. Sadder than this, the party which makes Slavery
the chief corner-stone of its edifice finds in England its strongest
The voices that have spoken for us who contend for Liberty have been few
and scattering. God forbid that we should forget those few noble voices,
so sadly exceptional in the general outcry against us! They are, alas,
too few to be easily forgotten. False statements have blinded the minds
of your community, and turned the most generous sentiments of the
British heart against us. The North are fighting for supremacy and the
South for independence, has been the voice. Independence? for what?
to do what? To prove the doctrine that all men are _not_ equal. To
establish the doctrine that the white may enslave the negro.
It is natural to sympathize with people who are fighting for their
rights; but if these prove to be the right of selling children by the
pound and trading in husbands and wives as merchantable articles, should
not Englishmen think twice before giving their sympathy? A pirate-ship
on the high seas is fighting for _independence_! Let us be consistent.
It has been said that we have been over-sensitive, thin-skinned. It is
one inconvenient attendant of love and respect, that they do induce
sensitiveness. A brother or father turning against one in the hour of
trouble, a friend sleeping in the Gethsemane of our mortal anguish, does
not always find us armed with divine patience. We loved England; we
respected, revered her; we were bound to her by ties of blood and race.
Alas! must all these declarations be written in the past tense?
But that we may not be thought to have over-estimated the popular tide
against us, we shall express our sense of it in the words of an English
writer, one of the noble few who have spoken the truth on our side.
Referring to England's position on this question, he says:--
"What is the meaning of this? Why does the English nation, which has
made itself memorable to all time as the destroyer of negro slavery,
which has shrunk from no sacrifices to free its own character from that
odious stain, and to close all the countries of the world against the
slave-merchant,--why is it that the nation which is at the head of
Abolitionism, not only feels no sympathy with those who are fighting
against the slaveholding conspiracy, but actually desires its success?
Why is the general voice of our press, the general sentiment of our
people bitterly reproachful to the North, while for the South, the
aggressors in the war, we have either mild apologies or direct
and downright encouragement,--and this not only from the Tory and
anti-Democratic camp, but from Liberals, or _soi-disant_ such?
"This strange perversion of feeling prevails nowhere else. The public of
France, and of the Continent generally, at all events the Liberal part
of it, saw at once on which side were justice and moral principle, and
gave its sympathies consistently and steadily to the North. Why is
England an exception?"
In the beginning of our struggle, the voices that reached us across the
water said, "If we were only sure you were fighting for the abolition of
slavery, we should not dare to say whither our sympathies for your cause
might not carry us."
Such, as we heard, were the words of the honored and religious nobleman
who draughted this very letter which you signed and sent us, and to
which we are now replying.
When these words reached us, we said, "We can wait; our friends in
England will soon see whither this conflict is tending." A year and a
half have passed; step after step has been taken for Liberty; chain
after chain has fallen, till the march of our enemies is choked and
clogged by the glad flocking of emancipated slaves; the day of final
emancipation is set; the Border States begin to move in voluntary
consent; universal freedom for all dawns like the sun in the distant
horizon: and still no voice from England. No voice? Yes, we have heard
on the high seas the voice of a war-steamer, built for a man-stealing
Confederacy with English gold in an English dockyard, going out of an
English harbor, manned by English sailors, with the full knowledge of
English Government-officers, in defiance of the Queen's proclamation of
neutrality. So far has English sympathy overflowed. We have heard of
other steamers, iron-clad, designed to furnish to a Slavery-defending
Confederacy their only lack,--a navy for the high seas. We have heard
that the British Evangelical Alliance refuses to express sympathy with
the liberating party, when requested to do so by the French Evangelical
Alliance. We find in English religious newspapers all those sad
degrees in the downward sliding scale of defending and apologizing for
slaveholders and slaveholding with which we have so many years contended
in our own country. We find the President's Proclamation of Emancipation
spoken of in those papers only as an incitement to servile insurrection.
Nay, more,--we find in your papers, from thoughtful men, the admission
of the rapid decline of anti-slavery sentiments in England. Witness the
"The Rev. Mr. Maurice, Principal of the Working-Men's College, Great
Ormond Street, delivered the first general lecture of the term on
Saturday evening, and took for his subject the state of English feeling
on the Slavery question. He said, a few days ago, in a conversation on
the American war, that some gentlemen connected with the College had
confessed to a change in their sympathies in the matter. On the outbreak
of the war, they had been strong sympathizers with the Government and
the Northern States, but gradually they had drifted until they found
themselves desiring the success of the seceded States, and all but free
from their anti-slavery feelings and tendencies. These confessions
elicited strong expressions of indignation from a gentleman present, who
had lectured in the College on the war in Kansas. He (Mr. Maurice) felt
inclined to share in the indignation expressed; but since, he could not
help feeling that this change was very general in England."
Alas, then, England! is it so? In this day of great deeds and great
heroisms, this solemn hour when the Mighty Redeemer is coming to break
every yoke, do we hear such voices from England?
This very day the writer of this has been present at a solemn religious
festival in the national capital, given at the home of a portion of
those fugitive slaves who have fled to our lines for protection,--who,
under the shadow of our flag, find sympathy and succor. The national day
of thanksgiving was there kept by over a thousand redeemed slaves, and
for whom Christian charity had spread an ample repast. Our Sisters, we
wish _you_ could have witnessed the scene. We wish you could have heard
the prayer of a blind old negro, called among his fellows John
the Baptist, when in touching broken English he poured forth his
thanksgivings. We wish you could have heard the sound of that strange
rhythmical chant which is now forbidden to be sung on Southern
plantations,--the psalm of this modern exodus,--which combines the
barbaric fire of the Marseillaise with the religious fervor of the old
"Oh, go down, Moses,
'Way down into Egypt's land!
Tell King Pharaoh
To let my people go!
Stand away dere,
Stand away dere,
And let my people go!
"Oh, Pharaoh said he would go 'cross!
Let my people go!
Oh, Pharaoh and his hosts were lost!
Let my people go!
You may hinder me here,
But ye can't up dere!
Let my people go!
"Oh, Moses, stretch your hand across!
Let my people go!
And don't get lost in de wilderness!
Let my people go!
He sits in de heavens
And answers prayers.
Let my people go!"
As we were leaving, an aged woman came and lifted up her hands in
blessing. "Bressed be de Lord dat brought me to see dis first happy day
of my life! Bressed be de Lord!" In all England is there no Amen?
We have been shocked and saddened by the question asked in an
association of Congregational ministers in England, the very
blood-relations of the liberty-loving Puritans,--"Why does not the North
let the South go?"
What! give up the point of emancipation for these four million slaves?
Turn our backs on them, and leave them to their fate? What! leave our
white brothers to run a career of oppression and robbery, that, as sure
as there is a God that ruleth in the armies of heaven, will bring down a
day of wrath and doom?
Is it any advantage to people to be educated in man-stealing as a
principle, to be taught systematically to rob the laborer of his wages,
and to tread on the necks of weaker races? Who among you would wish your
sons to become slave-planters, slave-merchants, slave-dealers? And shall
we leave our brethren to this fate? Better a generation should die
on the battle-field, that their children may grow up in liberty and
justice. Yes, our sons must die, their sons must die. We give ours
freely; they die to redeem the very brothers that slay them; they give
their blood in expiation of this great sin, begun by you in England,
perpetuated by us in America, and for which God in this great day of
judgment is making inquisition in blood.
In a recent battle fell a Secession colonel, the last remaining son of
his mother, and she a widow. That mother had sold eleven children of
an old slave-mother, her servant. That servant went to her and
said,--"Missis, we even now. You sold all my children. God took all
yourn. Not one to bury either of us. _Now_, I forgive you."
In another battle fell the only son of another widow. Young, beautiful,
heroic, brought up by his mother in the sacred doctrines of human
liberty, he gave his life an offering as to a holy cause. He died. No
slave-woman came to tell _his_ mother of God's justice, for many slaves
have reason to call her blessed.
Now we ask you, Would you change places with that Southern mother? Would
you not think it a great misfortune for a son or daughter to be brought
into such a system?--a worse one to become so perverted as to defend it?
Remember, then, that wishing success to this slavery-establishing effort
is only wishing to the sons and daughters of the South all the curses
that God has written against oppression. _Mark our words!_ If we
succeed, the children of these very men who are now fighting us will
rise up to call us blessed. Just as surely as there is a God who governs
in the world, so surely all the laws of national prosperity follow in
the train of equity; and if we succeed, we shall have delivered the
children's children of our misguided brethren from the wages of sin,
which is always and everywhere death.
And now, Sisters of England, think it not strange, if we bring back the
words of your letter, not in bitterness, but in deepest sadness, and lay
them down at your door. We say to you,--Sisters, you have spoken well;
we have heard you; we have heeded; we have striven in the cause, even
unto death. We have sealed our devotion by desolate hearth and darkened
homestead,--by the blood of sons, husbands, and brothers. In many of our
dwellings the very light of our lives has gone out; and yet we accept
the life-long darkness as our own part in this great and awful
expiation, by which the bonds of wickedness shall be loosed, and abiding
peace established on the foundation of righteousness. Sisters, what have
_you_ done, and what do you mean to do?
In view of the decline of the noble anti-slavery fire in England, in
view of all the facts and admissions recited from your own papers, we
beg leave in solemn sadness to return to you your own words:--
"A common origin, a common faith, and, we sincerely believe, a common
cause, urge us, at the present moment, to address you on the subject"
of that fearful encouragement and support which is being afforded by
England to a slave-holding Confederacy.
"We will not dwell on the ordinary topics,--on the progress of
civilization, on the advance of freedom everywhere, on the rights and
requirements of the nineteenth century; but we appeal to you very
seriously to reflect and to ask counsel of God how far such a state of
things is in accordance with His Holy Word, the inalienable rights
of immortal souls, and the pure and merciful spirit of the Christian
"We appeal to you, as sisters, as wives, and as mothers, to raise your
voices to your fellow-citizens, and your prayers to God for the removal
of this affliction and disgrace from the Christian world."
In behalf of many thousands of American women,
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.
WASHINGTON, _November_ 27, 1862.
THE SOLDIERS' RALLY.
Oh, rally round the banner, boys, now Freedom's chosen sign!
See where amid the clouds of war its new-born glories shine!
The despot's doom, the slave's dear hope, we bear it on the foe!
God's voice rings down the brightening path! Say, brothers, will ye go?
"My father fought at Donelson; he hailed at dawn of day
That flag full-blown upon the walls, and proudly passed away."
"My brother fell on Newbern's shore; he bared his radiant head,
And shouted, 'Oh! the day is won!' leaped forward, and was dead."
"My chosen friend of all the world hears not the bugle-call;
A bullet pierced his loyal heart by Richmond's fatal wall."
But seize the hallowed swords they dropped, with blood yet moist and red!
Fill up the thinned, immortal ranks, and follow where they led!
For right is might, and truth is God, and He upholds our cause,
The grand old cause our fathers loved,--Freedom and Equal Laws!
"My mother's hair is thin and white; she looked me in the face,
She clasped me to her heart, and said, 'Go, take thy brother's place!'"
"My sister kissed her sweet farewell; her maiden cheeks were wet;
Around my neck her arms she threw; I feel the pressure yet."
"My wife sits by the cradle's side and keeps our little home,
Or asks the baby on her knee, 'When will thy father come?'"
Oh, woman's faith and man's stout arm shall right the ancient wrong!
So farewell, mother, sister, wife! God keep you brave and strong!
The whizzing shell may burst in fire, the shrieking bullet fly,
The heavens and earth may mingle grief, the gallant soldier die;
But while a haughty Rebel stands, no peace! for peace is war.
The land that is not worth our death is not worth living for!
Then rally round the banner, boys! Its triumph draweth nigh!
See where above the clouds of war its seamless glories fly!
Peace, hovering o'er the bristling van, waves palm and laurel fair,
And Victory binds the rescued stars in Freedom's golden hair!
* * * * *
OVERTURES FROM RICHMOND.
A NEW LILLIBURLERO.
"Well, Uncle Sam," says Jefferson D.,
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"You'll have to join my Confed'racy,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, that don't appear O, that don't appear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, that don't appear," says old Uncle Sam.
"So, Uncle Sam, just lay down your arms,"
"Then you shall hear my reas'nable terms,"
"Lero, lero, I'd like to hear O, I'd like to hear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, I'd like to hear," says old Uncle Sam.
"First, you must own I've beat you in fight,"
"Then, that I always have been in the right,"
"Lero, lero, rather severe O, rather severe," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, rather severe," says old Uncle Sam.
"Then, you must pay my national debts,"
"No questions asked about my assets,"
"Lero, lero, that's very dear O, that's very dear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, that's very dear," says old Uncle Sam.
"Also, some few I.O.U.s and bets,"
"Mine, and Bob Toombs', and Slidell's, and Rhett's,"
"Lero, lero, that leaves me zero, that leaves me zero," says Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, that leaves me zero," says Uncle Sam.
"And, by the way, one little thing more,"
"You're to refund the costs of the war,"
"Lero, lero, just what I fear O, just what I fear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, just what I fear," says old Uncle Sam.
"Next, you must own our Cavalier blood!"
"And that your Puritans sprang from the mud!"
"Lero, lero, that mud is clear O, that mud is clear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, that mud is clear," says old Uncle Sam.
"Slavery's, of course, the chief corner-stone,"
"Of our NEW CIV-IL-I-ZA-TI-ON!"
"Lero, lero, that's quite sincere O, that's quite sincere," says old
"Lero, lero, filibustero, that's quite sincere," says old Uncle Sam.
"You'll understand, my recreant tool,"
"You're to submit, and we are to rule,"
"Lero, lore, aren't you a hero! aren't you a hero!" says Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, aren't you a hero!" says Uncle Sam.
"If to these terms you fully consent,"
"I'll be Perpetual King-President,"
"Lero, lero, take your sombrero, off to your swamps!" says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, cut, double-quick!" says old Uncle Sam.
* * * * *
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
_Titan: A Romance_. From the German of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter.
Translated by CHARLES T. BROOKS. In Two Volumes. Boston: Ticknor and
Jean Paul first became one of the notabilities of German literature
after he had published "Hesperus," a novel which contains the originals
of the characters that reappear under different names in "Titan." His
previous popularity did not penetrate far within the circle of scholars
and thinkers, and never knocked at the charmed threshold of the Weimar
set, whose taste was controlled by Goethe and Schiller. But "Hesperus"
made a great noise, and these warders of the German Valhalla were
obliged to open the door just a crack, in order to reconnoitre the
pretentious arrival. Goethe first called the attention of Schiller to
the book, sending him a copy while he was at Jena, in 1795. Schiller
recognized at once its power and geniality, but was disposed to regard
it as a literary oddity, whose grotesque build and want of finish rather
depreciated the rich cargo,--at least, did not bring it handsomely into
port. The first book of "Wilhelm Meister" had appeared the year before,
and that was more acceptable to Schiller, who had cooled off after
writing his "Robbers," and was looking out for the true theory of poetry
and art. He and Goethe concluded that "Hesperus" was worth liking,
though it was a great pity the author had not better taste; he ought to
come up and live with them, in an aesthetic atmosphere, where he could
find and admire his superiors, and have his great crude gems ground
down to brilliant facets. Schiller said it was the book of a lonely and
isolated man. It was, indeed.
But it was a book which represented, far more profoundly and healthily
than Schiller's "Robbers," that revolt of men of genius against every
species of finical prescription, in literature and society, which
ushered in the new age of Germany. And it expresses with uncalculating
sincerity all the natural emotions which a century of pedantry and
Gallic affectation had been crowding out of books and men. It was a
charge at the point of the pen upon the dapper flunkeys who were keeping
the door of the German future; the brawny breast, breathing deep with
the struggle, and pouring out great volumes of feeling, burst through
the restraints of the time. He cleared a place, and called all men to
stand close to his beating heart, and almost furiously pressed them
there, that they might feel what a thing friendship was and the ideal
life of the soul. And as he held them, his face grew broad and deep with
humor; men looked into it and saw themselves, all the real good and the
absurdly conventional which they had, and there was a great jubilation
at the genial sight. And it was as if a lot of porters followed him,
overloaded with quaint and curious knowledge gathered from books of
travel, of medicine, of history, metaphysics, and biography, which they
dumped without much concert, but just as it happened, in the very middle
of a fine emotion, and all through his jovial speech. What an irruption
it was!--as if by a tilt of the planet the climate had changed suddenly,
and palm-trees, oranges, the sugarcane, the grotesque dragon-tree, and
all the woods of rich and curious grain, stood in the temperate and
Schiller met Jean Paul in the spring of 1796. In writing to Goethe about
their interviews, he says,--"I have told you nothing yet about Hesperus.
I found him on the whole such as I expected, just as odd as if he had
fallen from the moon, full of good-will, and very eager to see things
that are outside of him, but he lacks the organ by which one sees";
and in a letter of a later date he doubts whether Richter will ever
sympathize with their way of handling the great subjects of Man and
The reader can find the first interviews which Richter had with Goethe
and Schiller in Lewes's "Life of Goethe," Vol. II. p. 269. Of Goethe,
Richter said, "By heaven! we shall love each other!" and of Schiller,
"He is full of acumen, but without love." The German public, which loves
Richter, has reversed his first impression. And indeed Richter himself,
though he could not get along with Schiller, learned that Goethe's
loving capacity, which he thought he saw break out with fire while
Goethe read a poem to him, was only the passion of an artistic nature
which impregnates its own products.
Richter's love was very different. It was a sympathy with men and women
of all conditions, fed secretly the while that his shaggy genius was
struggling with poverty and apparently unfavorable circumstances. He was
always a child, yearning to feel the arms of some affection around him,
very susceptible to the moods of other people, yet testing them by a
humorous sincerity. All the books which he devoured in his desultory
rage for knowledge turned into nourishment for an imagination that
was destined chiefly to interpret a very lofty moral sense and a very
democratic feeling. And whenever his humor caught an edge in the
easterly moments of his mind, it was never sharpened against humanity,
and made nothing tender bleed. Now and then we know he has a caustic
thing or two to say about women; but it is lunar-caustic for a wart.
Goethe did not like this indiscriminate and democratic temper. The
sly remarks of Richter upon the Transparencies and Well-born
and Excellencies of his time, with their faded taste and dreary
mandarin-life varied by loose morals and contempt for the invisible,
could not have suited the man whose best friend was a real Duke, as it
happened, one of Nature's noblemen, one whose wife, the Duchess Sophia,
afterwards held Bonaparte so tranquilly at bay upon her palace-steps.
Goethe had, too, a bureaucratic vein in him; he spoke well of dignities,
and carefully stepped through the cumbrous minuet of court-life without
impinging upon a single Serene or Well-born bunyon. Mirabeau himself
would have elbowed his way through furbelows and court-rapiers more
forbearingly than Richter. It was not possible to make this genius
plastic, in the aesthetic sense which legislated at Weimar. Besides,
Goethe could not look at Nature as Richter did. To such a grand observer
Richter must have appeared like a sunset-smitten girl.
An American ought to value Richter's books for the causes which made
them repulsive to all social and literary cliques. The exquisite art,
and the wise, clear mind of Goethe need not come into contrast, to
disable us from giving Richter the reception which alone he would value
or command. Nor is it necessary to deny that the frequent intercalations
and suspensions of his narrative, racy and suggestive as they are, and
overflowing with feeling, will fret a modern reader who is always "on
time," like an express-man, and is quite as regardless of what may be
"Titan" is not a novel in the way that Charles Reade's, or Eugene Sue's,
or Victor Hugo's books are novels. The nearest English model, in the
matter of style and quaint presuming on the reader's patience, is
Sterne. But if one wishes to see how Richter is _not_ sentimental, in
spite of his incessant and un-American emotion, let him read Sterne, and
hasten then to be embraced by Richter's unsophisticated feeling, which
is none the less refreshing because it is so exuberant and has such a
habit of pursuing all his characters. And where else, in any language,
is Nature so worshipped, and so rapturously chased with glowing words,
as some young Daphne by some fiery boy?
Neither are there any characters in this novel, in the sense of marked
idiosyncrasies, or of the subtile development of an individual.
Sometimes Richter's men and women are only the lay-figures upon which
he piles and adjusts his gorgeous cloth-of-gold and figured damask. But
Siebenkaes and his wife, in "Flower-, Fruit-, and Thorn-Pieces," are
characters, quite as much as any of Balzac's nice _genre_ men and
women, and on a higher plane. Richter uses his persons of both sexes
principally to express the conditions of his feeling; they are cockles,
alternately dry and sparkling, underneath his mighty ebb and flow.
On one point we doubt if the American mind will understand Richter. He
believed in a love that one man might have for another man, which as
little corresponds to the average idea of friendship as the anti-slavery
sentiment of the "People's party" corresponds to Mr. Garrison's. In this
respect Richter creates an ideal and interfuses it with all his natural
ardor, which a German can understand better than the men of any other
nation, for in him is the tendency that Richter seeks to set forth by
his passionate imagination. Orestes and Pylades, David and Jonathan, and
the other famous loves of men, are suspected by the calculating breeds
of people. Brother Jonathan seldom finds his David, and he doubtless
thinks the Canon ought to have transferred that Scriptural friendship
into the Apocrypha. We shall sniff at the highly colored intercourse
of Richter's men, for it is often more than we can do to really love a
woman. We shall pronounce the relation affected, and the expression of
it turgid, even nauseous. But there is a genuine noble pulse in the
German heart, which beats to the rhythm of two men's heroic attachment,
and can expand till all the blood that flows through Richter's style
is welcomed and propelled by it. Still, we think that the unexpressed
friendship may also stand justified before the ideal.
The reader must be content to meet this stout and fervent man as he is,
not expecting that his genius will consult our tastes or prejudices,
or that his head will stoop at all for the sake of our company. Then
beneath his dense paragraphs and through his rambling pages his humility
will greet us, and fraternal regards draw us irresistibly to him. He is
a man for a people's reading, notwithstanding all the involutions of
style and thought which might suggest a different judgment. He certainly
does not write like Cobbett or Franklin, nor has he the thin, clear
polish of the popular historian. Yet his shrewdness and tenderness will
touch all simple-minded men; and twenty Cobbetts, or people's writers,
sharply rubbed together, could never light the flame of his imperial
imagination, for it is a kind of sunshine, sometimes hot enough, but
broad, impartial, and quickening, wherever there is something that waits
And scarcely one man in a century appears so highly gifted with that
wonderful quality for which we have no better name than Humor. His humor
is the conciliation that takes place between love and knowledge. The two
tendencies create the bold and graceful orbit on which his well-balanced
books revolve. With one alone, his impetuosity would hasten to quench
itself in the molten centre; and with the other alone, he would fly
cynically beyond the reach of heat. This reconciling humor sometimes
shakes his book with Olympic laughter; as if the postprandial nectar
circulated in pools of cups, into which all incompatibilities fall and
are drowned. You drink this recasting of the planet's joys and sorrows,
contempt and contradictions, while it is yet fluent and bubbling to the
lip. There are all the selfish men, and petulant, intriguing women in
it, all their weaknesses, and the ill-humor of their times. But the
draught lights up the brain with an anticipation of some future solution
of these discords, or perhaps we may say, intoxicates us with the serene
tolerance which the Creative Mind must have for all His little ones. Is
not humor a finite mood of that Impartiality whose sun rises upon the
evil and the good, whose smile becomes the laughter of these denser
It is plain from what we have said that the task of translating this
novel must be full of difficulties. There are strange words, allusions
drawn from foreign books that are now a hundred years old or more and
never seen in libraries; the figurative style makes half the sentences
in a page seem strange at first, they invite consideration, and do not
feebly surrender to a smooth consecutive English. Just as you think you
are at the bottom of a paragraph and are on the point of stepping on the
floor, he stops you with another stair, or lets you through: in other
words, you are never safe from a whimsical allusion or a twist in the
thought. The narrative extends no thread which you may take in one hand
as you poke along: it frequently disappears altogether, and it seems as
if you had another book with its vocabulary and style.
It is not too high praise to say that Mr. Brooks has overcome all
these difficulties without the sacrifice of a single characteristic
of Richter's genius. We have the sense and passion unmutilated. The
translation is accurate, and also bold. By the comparison of a few
test-passages with the original, Mr. Brooks's adroit and patient labor
appears clearly. We desire to pay him the meed of our respect and
gratitude. Few readers of "Titan" will appreciate the toil which has
secured them this new sensation of becoming intimate with "Jean Paul the
Only." It is new, because, notwithstanding several books of Jean
Paul have been already translated, "Titan" is the most vigorous and
exhaustive book he wrote. He poured his whole fiery and romantic soul
into it. It may be said that all the fine and humane elements of the
revolutionary period in which he lived appear in this book,--the
religious feeling, the horror of sensuality, the hatred of every kind of
cant, the struggle for definite knowledge out of a confusing whirl of
man's generous sentiments all broken loose, the tendency to worship duty
and justice, and the Titanic extravagance of a "lustihood," both
of youth and emotion, which threatens, in Alexander's temper, to
appropriate the world. All this is admirably expressed in the Promethean
title of the book. We do not think that it can be profitably read, or
with an intelligent respect for its great author, unless we recall the
period, the state of politics, religion, domestic life, the new German
age of thought which was rising, with ferment, amid uncouth gambolling
shapes of jovial horn-blowing fellows, from the waves. He is the
divinity who owns a whole herd of them. As we sit to read, let the same
light fall on the page in which it was composed, and there will appear
upon it the genius which is confined to no age or clime, and addresses
_The Works of Rufus Choate, with a Memoir of his Life_. By SAMUEL GILMAN
BROWN, Professor in Dartmouth College. In Two Volumes. Boston: Little,
Brown, & Co.
In estimating the claims of any biographical work we must bear in mind
the difficulties of the subject, the advantages which the writer enjoys,
and the disadvantages under which he labors. The life, genius, and
character of Mr. Choate present a stimulating, but not an easy task to
him who essays to delineate them. We have read of a man who had taught
his dog to bite out of a piece of bread a profile likeness of Voltaire;
it was not more difficult to draw a caricature of Mr. Choate, but to
paint him as he was requires a nice pencil and a discriminating touch.
The salient traits were easily recognized by all. The general public
saw in him a man who flung himself into his cases with the fervor
and passion of a mountain-torrent, whose eloquence was exuberant and
sometimes extravagant, who said quaint and brilliant things with a very
grave countenance, and whose handwriting was picturesquely illegible. We
verily believe that Mr. Choate's peculiar handwriting was as well known
to his townsmen and neighbors, was as frequent a topic of observation
and comment, as any of the traits of his mind and character. We need
hardly add that this popular image which was called Mr. Choate resembled
the real man about as much as a sign-post daub of General Washington
resembles the head by Stuart. The skill of the true artist is shown in
catching and transferring to the canvas the delicate distinctions which
make a difference between faces which have a general similarity. No man
had more need of this fine discrimination in order to have justice done
him than Mr. Choate; for there was no man who would have been more
imperfectly known, had he been known only by those prominent and obvious
characteristics which all the world could see. He was a great and
successful lawyer, but his original taste was for literature rather
than law. Few men were more before the public than he, and yet he loved
privacy more than publicity. He had acquaintances numberless, and facile
and gracious manners, but his heart was open to very few. His eloquence
was luxuriant and efflorescent, but he was also a close and compact
reasoner. He had a vein of playful exaggeration in his common speech,
but his temperament was earnest, impassioned, almost melancholy. The
more nearly one knew Mr. Choate, the more cause had he to correct
Professor Brown has many qualifications for the task which was devolved
upon him. He knew, loved, and admired Mr. Choate. A graduate and
professor of Dartmouth College, the son of a former president, he caught
a larger portion of the light thrown, back upon the college by the
genius and fame of her brilliant son. A good scholar himself, he is
competent to appreciate the ripe scholarship of Mr. Choate, and his love
of letters. His style is clear, simple, and manly. He has, too, the
moral qualities needed in a man who undertakes to write the biography
of an eminent man recently deceased, who has left children, relatives,
friends, acquaintances, and rivals,--the tact, the instinct, the
judgment which teaches what to say and what to leave unsaid, and refuses
to admit the public into those inner chambers of the mind and heart
where the public has no right to go. But he has one disqualification:
he is not a lawyer, and no one but a lawyer can take the full gauge and
dimensions of what Mr. Choate was and did. For Mr. Choate, various as
were his intellectual tastes, wide as was the range of his intellectual
curiosity, made all things else secondary and subservient to legal
studies and professional aspirations. To the law he gave his mind
and life, and all that he did outside of the law was done in those
breathing-spaces and intermissions of professional labor in which most
lawyers in large practice are content to do nothing.
But Professor Brown's biography is satisfactory in all respects, even in
the delineations of the professional character of Mr. Choate, where, if
anywhere, we should have looked for imperfect comprehension. The members
of the bar may rest assured that justice has been done to the legal
claims and merits of one of whom they were so justly proud; and the
public may be assured that the traits of Mr. Choate's character, the
qualities of his mind,--his great and conspicuous powers, as well as his
lighter graces and finer gifts,--have been set down with taste, feeling,
judgment, and discrimination. This seems but measured language, and yet
we mean it for generous praise; bearing always in mind the difficulties
of the subject, and, as Professor Brown has happily said in his preface,
that "the traits of Mr. Choate's character were so peculiar, its lights
and shades so delicate, various, and evanescent." We confess that we sat
down to read the biography not without a little uneasiness, not without
a flutter of apprehension. But all feeling of this kind was soon
dissipated as we went on, and there came in its place a grateful sense
of the grace, skill, and taste which Professor Brown had shown in his
delineation, and the faithful portrait he had produced. And one secret
of this success is to be found in the fact that he had no other object
or purpose than to do justice to his subject. He is entirely free from
self-reference. There is not in the remotest corner of his mind a wish
to magnify his office and draw attention from the theme of the biography
to the biographer himself. He permits himself no digressions, he
obtrudes no needless reflections, enters into no profitless discussions:
he is content to unfold the panorama of Mr. Choate's life, and do little
more than point out the scenes and passages as they pass before the
It was not an eventful life; it was, indeed, the reverse. It was a life
passed in the constant and assiduous practice of the law. We do not
forget his brief term of service in the House of Representatives, and
his longer period in the Senate; but these were but episodes. They were
trusts reluctantly assumed and gladly laid aside; for he was one of
those exceptional Americans who have no love of political distinction
or public office. A lawyer's life leaves little to be recorded; the
triumphs of the bar are proverbially ephemeral, and lawyers themselves
are willing to forget the cases they have tried and the verdicts they
have won. Had Mr. Choate been merely and exclusively a lawyer, the story
of his life could have been told in half a dozen pages; but though
he was a great lawyer and advocate, he was something more: he was an
orator, a scholar, and a patriot. He had no taste for public life, as
we have just said; but he had the deepest interest in public subjects,
loved his country with a fervid love, had read much and thought much
upon questions of politics and government Busy as he always was in
his profession, his mind, discursive, sleepless, always thirsting for
knowledge, was never content to walk along the beaten highway of the
law, but was ever wandering into the flowery fields of poetry and
philosophy on the right hand and the left. These volumes show how
untiring was his industry, how various were his attainments, how
accurate was his knowledge, how healthy and catholic were his
intellectual tastes. The only thing for which he had no taste was
repose; the only thing which he could not do was to rest. When we see
what his manner of life was, how for so many years the nightly vigil
succeeded the daily toil, how the bow was always strung, how much he
studied and wrote outside of his profession, even while bearing the
burden and anxiety of an immense practice, we can only wonder that he
lived so long.
The whole of the second volume and a full half of the first are occupied
with Mr. Choate's own productions, mainly speeches and lectures. Many of
these have been published before, but some of them appear in print for
the first time. Mr. Choate's peculiar characteristics of style and
manner--his exuberance of language, his full flow of thought, his
redundancy of epithet, his long-drawn sentences, stretching on through
clause after clause before the orbit of his thought had begun to turn
and enter upon itself--are well known. We cannot say that the contents
of these volumes will add to the high reputation which Mr. Choate
already enjoys as a brilliant writer, an eloquent speaker, a patriotic
statesman; but we can and do say that the glimpses we herein get of his
purely human qualities--of that inner life which belongs to every man
simply as man--all add to the interest which already clings to his name,
by showing him in a light and in relations of which the public who hung
with delight upon his lips knew little or nothing. He had long been one
of the celebrities of the city; his face and form were familiar to his
towns-people, and all strangers were anxious to see and hear him: but,
though he moved and acted in public, he dwelt apart. His orbit embraced
the three points of the court-room, his office, and his home,--and
no more. He had no need of society, of amusement, of sympathy, of
companionship. We are free to say that we think it was a defect in his
nature, at least a mistake in his life, that he did not cultivate his
friendships more. Few men of his eminence have ever lived so long and
written so few letters. But his diaries and journals, now for the first
time given to the light, show us the inner man and the inner life. Here
he communed with himself. Here he intrusted his thoughts, his hopes,
his dreams, his aspirations to the safe confidence of his note-book.
No portions of the two volumes are to us of more interest than these
diaries and journals. They bear the stamp of perfect sincerity. They
show us how high his standard was, how little he was satisfied with
anything he had done, how deep and strong were his love of knowledge and
his love of beauty, how every step of progress was made a starting-point
for a new advance. And from these, and other indications which these
volumes contain, we can learn how modest he was, how gentle and
courteous, how full of playfulness and graceful wit, how unprejudiced,
how imbued with reverence for things high and sacred, how penetrated
with delicate tact and sensitive propriety. He nursed no displeasures;
he cultivated no antipathies; he was free from dark suspicions, sullen
resentments, and smouldering hates; he put no venom upon his blade.
The life and labors of a man like Mr. Choate present many points on
which it would be easy to dwell with more or less of fulness, but we
can only touch upon one or two. We have always thought him especially
remarkable for the felicity with which the elements in him were so
mingled that the bright gift was not accompanied by the usually
attendant shadow. All would admit, for instance, that his temperament
was the temperament of genius. The strings of an Aeolian harp are not
more responsive to the caressing wind than were the fibres of his frame
sensitive to the influence of beauty. His organization was delicate,
nervous, and impassioned. The grandeur and loveliness of Nature, fine
poetry, stirring eloquence, music under certain forms and conditions,
affected him to an extent to which men are rarely susceptible. And yet
with all these "robes and singing garlands" of genius about him, he was
entirely free from the irritability which usually accompanies genius.
His temper was as sweet as his organization was sensitive. The life of a
lawyer in great practice is very trying to the spirit, but no one ever
saw Mr. Choate discomposed or ruffled, and the sharp contentions of the
most protracted and hotly contested trial never extorted from him a
testy remark, a peevish exclamation, a wounding reflection. He never
wasted any of his nervous energy in scolding, fretting, or worrying.
Such invincible and inevitable sweetness of temper would have made the
most commonplace man attractive: we need not say what a charm it gave to
such powers and accomplishments as those of Mr. Choate.
So, too, there is the old, traditionary commonplace about genius
being one thing and application another, and their being in necessary
antagonism to each other. But Mr. Choate was a man of genius, at least
in its popular and generally received sense. The glance of his mind was
as rapid as the lightning; he learned almost by intuition; his fancy was
brilliant, discursive, and untiring; his perceptions were both quick
and correct: if there ever were a man who could have dispensed with the
painful acquisitions of labor, and been content with the spontaneous
growth of an uncultivated soil, that man was Mr. Choate. And yet who
ever worked harder than he? what plodding chronicler, what prosaic
Dryasdust ever went through a greater amount of drudgery than he? His
very industry had the intense and impassioned character which belonged
to his whole temperament and organization. He toiled with a fiery
earnestness and a concentration of purpose which burned into the very
heart of the subject he was investigating. The audience that hung with
delight upon one of his addresses to the jury, at the close of a long
and exciting trial, in which the wit and eloquence and poetry seemed to
be the inspiration of the moment,--electric sparks which the mind's own
rapid motion generated,--thought as little of the patient industry
with which all had been elaborated as they who admire an exquisite
ball-dress, that seems a part of the lovely form which it adorns, think
of the pale weaver's loom and the poor seamstress's needle. We have
known brilliant men; we have known laborious men; but we have never
known any man in whom the two elements were met in such combination as
But we must pause. We are insensibly going beyond our limits. We are
forgetting the biography and recalling Mr. Choate himself, a theme too
fruitful for a literary notice. We conclude, then, with an expression of
thanks to Professor Brown for the entirely satisfactory manner in which
he has performed a task of no common difficulty. The friends of Mr.
Choate will find in these volumes not only ample, but new matter, to
justify the admiration which he awakened; and to those who did not know
him they will show how just was his title to their admiration.
_The Story of the Guard, a Chronicle of the War._ By JESSIE BENTON
FREMONT. 16mo. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.
The subject, the authorship, and the style of this book combine to
secure for it the immediate attention of American readers. In our own
case, this attention has deepened into hearty interest and sympathy; and
we are so confident that such will be the result in every mind, that we
the more cheerfully resign ourselves to the necessity which renders a
full and fair review of this little book an impossible thing for us. Let
us briefly call to notice some of its peculiar excellences, and indicate
the line of thought which we think its sympathetic critic will follow.
Certainly no worthier subject could be chosen than the deeds of that
brave young Guard, which was at first the target for so many slanders,
and at last the centre of heartiest love and pride to all the North. Its
short and brilliant career lacks nothing which chivalry find romance
could lend, to render it the brightest passage in the history of the
war. It is but a few days since Fremont's Virginia Body-Guard--now that
of General Sigel--made a bold dash into Fredericksburg, rivalling
the glory of their predecessors; but, though every one of Fremont's
campaigns should boast a Body-Guard, and every Guard immortalize a new
Springfield, the crown of crowns will always rest on the gallant little
major and his dauntless few whose high enthusiasm broke the spell of
universal disaster, sounding the bugle-notes of victory through the
dreary silence of national despair.
General Fremont's practice in the West was invariably to educate his raw
troops in the presence of an enemy. Whether this was of choice or of
necessity we do not pretend to say; but the fact remains, that the tide
of war was turned back upon our enemies by an army composed of men who
had but just taken up their weapons. We once had the pleasure of hearing
General Fremont explain the system which he pursued with this army; and
we remember being struck with the fact that he laid great stress on
_constant skirmishing_, as the means of acquiring a habit of victory.
We cannot enlarge here upon this interesting topic. We design only to
adduce the circumstance, that the charge at Springfield concluded a
series of five fights within a single week, every one of which resulted
in triumph to our arms with the exception of that at Fredericktown. They
were slight affairs; but, as Fremont so well says, "Little victories
form a habit of victory."
The charge of the Guard we shall not eulogize. It is beyond the praise
of words. It is wonderful that Major Zagonyi should have been able in so
few days to bring into such splendid discipline a body of new recruits.
The Prairie Scouts (who seem to have been a band of brave men under a
dashing young leader) had not the perfect training which carried the
Guard through a murderous fire, to form and charge in the very camp
of the enemy. They plunged into the woods, and commenced a straggling
bush-fight, as they were skilled to do. Worthy of praise in themselves,
(and they have earned it often and received it freely,) the Scouts on
this occasion serve to heighten the effect of that grand combination of
impulse and obedience which makes the perfect soldier.
We cannot but add a word or two (leaving many points of interest
untouched) upon the manner in which Mrs. Fremont has treated her
subject. It is novel, but not ineffective. Zagonyi tells much of the
story in his own words; and we are sure that it loses nothing of
vividness from his terse and vigorous, though not always strictly
grammatical language. "Zagonyi's English," says some one who has heard
it, "is like wood-carving."
The letters of the General himself form one of the most interesting
features of the book. We would only remark, in this connection, the
wide difference between the General's style and that of his wife. Mrs.
Fremont is a true woman, and has written a true woman's book. The
General is a true man, and his words are manly words. Her style is full,
free, vivid, with plenty of dashes and postscripts,--the vehicle of much
genius and many noble thoughts; but in itself no style, or a careless
and imperfect one. The Pathfinder writes as good English prose as any
man living. We cannot be mistaken. The hand that penned the "Story of
the Guard" could not hold the pen of the Proclamation or the
Farewell Address, or the narrative of the Rocky-Mountain Expedition.
Nevertheless, it has done well. Let its work lie on our tables and dwell
in our hearts with the "Idyls of the King,"--the Aeolian memories of a
chivalry departed blending with the voices of the nobler knighthood of
_Seven Little People and their Friends_. New York: A.F. Randolph.
This is a charming book for the holidays. Not that it requires such
a temporary occasion to give it interest, elevated as it is by its
inherent excellence above that class of books which may be said almost
entirely to depend upon such factitious accidents for whatever of
success they may reasonably hope to obtain. It is, irrespective of time
or occasion, a genuine story-book, adapted particularly to children
between the ages of six and sixteen years, yet not, as is usually the
case in books for children, confined to these narrow limits in either
direction; since there is somewhat for any child that can be supposed to
have an interest in narrative, and a great deal for every man who
has genius, according to Coleridge's well-known definition of
genius,--namely, that it is the power of childhood carried forward into
the developments of manhood. This is saying, indeed, quite as much as
could be said for the general features of the book, and more than could
be said for any other child's book, excepting alone Hans Andersen's
Speaking of the book as compared with the works of Hans Andersen, it is
more consciously a work of art, in an intellectual sense; it is more
complicated in incident, or rather, we should say, in the working-up
of the incident, whether that be an advantage for it or not. In almost
every instance, Hans Andersen's stories could be told apart from the
book,--indeed, it is true that many of them were thus told to children,
whom the Danish storyteller casually met, before they were committed to
writing; and they were written, we imagine, very much as they were told.
The seven stories of which this book is made up, on the other hand,
could none of them be told naturally, and yet preserve every artistic
feature which belongs to them, as they are written. As there is more of
intellectual consciousness in their development, giving them more finish
and greater multiformity as products of art, so also there is more depth
of idea in their design. The writer is evidently not satisfied with
simple narrative; the _movement_ of his stories is more important in his
eye than _incident_, and to the former there must have been considerable
sacrifice of the latter,--that is, much of the incident which might have
been given in a simple narrative has been left out, because it would mar
the formal design.
From what has been said it will be evident that the book is not one
of those designed to affect the reader mainly through a scrupulous
conscience, or indeed distinctively through conscience at all. It
appeals to the imagination preeminently, and through that to the will.
It is the greatest merit of the book, that it is designed for the
culture and development of the imagination in children,--a faculty
almost entirely neglected, or, what is worse, oftentimes despotically
crushed and thwarted in children.
In "The Three Wishes" is developed for the child the mystery of work
and of worship; but it is all accomplished through incidents
appealing wholly to imagination, and with beautiful art. "The Little
Castaways"--really a deliberate farce, "taking off," the stories of
similar incident written for older folk--is yet, in itself, for the
child much more than that which is thus "taken off" ever could be for
the older and more romantic reader. "The Rock-Elephant" is full of humor
and imaginative pathos. "A Faery Surprise-Party" is as delicate as are
Jack Frost's pencillings, through which all the events of the story
curiously move. "New-Year's Day in the Garden" has equal delicacy, and
even greater beauty.
In all the stories there is a humanizing of all elements introduced,
even the most material. We are assured that the author's efforts will
meet with success. Children, certainly, and all those especially
interested in children, will hail the book with delight. It is finely
illustrated by F.A. Chapman, who, it is evident, has spared no pains to
render it attractive. The engravings, be it said in their favor, are
not too directly suggestive, as is generally the case, but, from their
delicate insinuations, particularly beautiful.
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